Friday, April 30, 2010


I've not really been listening to any 'new' music of late. I have questioned this. I have wondered if it was a case of me getting older and not have the same level of enthusiasm for music in general. Perhaps there is an element of that. I do think though, that there hasn't really been anything 'out' there that I've really wanted to listen to.

I have tried to counter that. In the end though, I just ended up downloading new albums by bands I already now. I'm not sure if that really counts as 'new' exactly?

First up, Crystal Castles. Definitely, definitely not everyone's cup of tea. It mostly seems like an audio assault but scratch deeper and there is definitely something to behold. It's more composed and indeed melodic than the first album. It's also what I would describe as 'heavy' electronic music in much the same way as metal is 'heavy'. The opening song is by far the most extreme and 'painful' to listen to. 'Year of Silence' simply pulses with menace however and with it's lo fi melody hints at the 'future'. 'Birds' meanwhile has the 'pulse' of 'electricity'. It's like the noise that was made when firing in the Spectrum ZX classic Jetpac. It's like lasers getting fired and works fantastically well. Liking it.

The second album is LCD Soundsystem. I am a big fan. They really opened up a new style of music that I hadn't heard before, not only through their albums but through DFA. This new album has been eagerly awaited. I liked the last album but I must be honest and say that I kind of liked the first album more due it's 'rawness'. There's no 'Losing My Edge' on 'Sound of Silver'. Anyway, I digress and confess that because of the Crystal Castle's album, I've only listened to this passing! Update to follow!

And that's yer lot.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Ho-ho. An Inter Bayern Champions League final!

I wonder what the odds for that occurring where?

Out go the reigning champions, Barcelona and in go Inter. A 1-0 win to Barca was not enough to overturn a 3-1 deficit. Of course, Barcelona are very easy on the eye. Yet, they became unstuck by either a truly wonderful example of tactical nous or as some people might describe it 'anti-football'. I would probably got for the tactical nous argument. Attacking is certainly part of the game. It can be breathtaking at times, yet with that, defending is also part of the game. No question of it. The skills required for both aspects are very different. To attack, a degree of risk and cunning is required. A spark. Defending though requires discipline, structure and perhaps a degree of luck. Often, both seem to negate each other into a stalemate.

Barca though, for all their attacking verve just couldn't get round Inter, even though they were down to 10 men for an hour. 2 rows of 4 defenders with little eagerness to press forward and try to score. Barca huffed and puffed but had nothing to show for it. In the end, Inter won through and boy did Mourinho love it. He has the ego and soundbites but crucially he backs what he says up with words. He annoys yet he does it.

There's no reason to think that his team won't go all the way this time. That'll be 2 Champions League medals - the same number as Ferguson, in a quarter of the time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Oh dear Mr. Brown. Oh dear. And the reason for this was indeed an old dear. Some random granny from Northern England to be exact. A lifelong Labour voter no less.

The current British PM, Gordon Brown was out and about trying to save his career as PM. He was wired up so that when he met the people, everyone could hear him. He spoke to some old woman who questioned him on a range of subjects including immigration and specifically the number of Eastern Europeans coming to the UK. He was nice and pleasant to her. But, disaster struck...

When he got back into his car he lambasted his aides and the old dear, calling her a 'bigot'. Whether she was or wasn't isn't really the point. The point is that he should have remembered that he was wired up. He is prone to 'gaffs'. He may be highly intelligent but he just doesn't have the people skills. He couldn't invigorate people or set the pulses racing. He can't motivate or lead by example. He says he 'listens to the people'. That may be so but he can't articulate 'stuff' with any degree of passion. I haven't seen the live debates with the 3 party leaders but what I can gather, he didn't shine. He may have stated the 'facts' but the facts aren't enough in this day and age. His time is up. He will be remembered as the unelected PM and all his good work in the Treasurey will be largely forgotten. No amount of PR or spin can help him now.

His party had a chance last year to take action. They could have removed him. Then they would have had a chance of winning this election. They bottled it however. And now, we are witnessing the demise of Labour. They may not even come 2nd. The Lib Dems seem to have the momentum and in many respects it could be between them and the Tories. A hung parliament might be on the cards and that probably won't suit anyone. God forbid a Tory government. Cameron, no thanks. It seems they are anti-most things. Anti Euro, Anti Immigration, Anti electoral reform, and sadly, Anti BBC. Why not though when Murdoch has had a word with them.

I wouldn't like to call who 'wins'. What does need to change is the way we do things. This first past the post thing just isn't working. We need PR or some form of it. First past the post isn't democracy. If I had to stick my neck out, I might go for Lib Dem simply because they have the ideas. Traditionally that has meant a vote being 'wasted' but on this occasion, I'm not so sure it is. They might just surprise a few people.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


No new Bond film in the forseeable future is the word on the street. No money or something like that cited as the reason for it. First of all, if that's true, it's disappointing. The last time Bond went on hiatus, the old Bond got booted and in came a new one. Dalton to Brosnan. You could argue also that happened with the move from Brosnan to Craig. I hope the postponement doesn't signal the end of Daniel Craig's reign. That would be a big anti-climax. I felt that his Bond was really good. Much better than Brosnan and indeed, it could be argued that he is second only to Connery. What makes this even more appealing is that he could potentially have only played Bond 1 more time than Lazenby. That would be shockingly bad. He should stay for at least a further Bond, that's for certain.

Since I'm on the topic, I might actually come to the defence of Quantum of Solace (QofS) as people have been quite critical of it. Granted, Casino Royale is better and more fulfilling and has Eva Green in it. However, QofS I liked. It has that 'middle' film feel about and it. It's not exactly a stand alone Bond much like all the others but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing at all. It gives it a narrative and a purpose. It might be argued that The Empire Strikes Back is not as enjoyable at episodes 4 and 6, but it has a purpose and that is to explain and move the story onto the final installment. It sets things up nicely. QofS does that too. We learn more about Mr White and Quantum. We get a bit of 'closure' over Vesper and her dodgy dealings.

What makes QofS a very decent Bond film is it's set plays and, surprisingly or a Bond is the editing. It's sharp and does not have long scenes. It adds pace to the film and makes it 'feel' more 'real'. The opening sequence could be atypical Bond but it grabs you. The Aston Martin, the steep 'cliff's', the police, the dust and the realisation that the mysterious Mr White has been bleeding in the boot all along. Indeed, the whole 'interrogation' scene and the subsequent chase of the MI6 agent over and through the old buildings is very good, particularly with the horse race taking place at the same time.

The best film for me though is arguably the Opera section. It's huge in it's ambition. One of Roger Moore's Bond's (Spy who loved me?) tried something similar in the Egyptian desert but that descended into 'farce' with Jaws becoming involved. QofS does not though. The audience is there watching it. We see it in all its glory. When Bond interrupts then makes his escape, the a chase ensues. There is no dialogue and indeed, from memory,  the post production work is excellent. It's not simply a bog standard 'chase'. For a Bond movie, it's thrilling.

The remainder of the film isn't all bad. Perhaps it suffers from coming right after Casino Royale. That set the tone and indeed set the bar very high too. I wonder how the next one will turn out. It seems though that we will be waiting awhile.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I've been having severely bad internet connectivity issues of late. So much so that it's totally doing my head in. Sometimes, I can log on in 2 seconds flat. Other times it takes a little longer but there are an increasing number of times in which nothing will load up at all despite it showing that I've got a signal. At other times, it just cuts off for no apparent reason.

I had heard that some marine internet cables had been damaged somewhere and that that was causing users in the U.A.E issues. That though was a few weeks ago. Perhaps I'm still experiencing issues relating to that.

Or, alternatively Etisalat (telephone company here) is just offering a really crap service. Of course, I couldn't say that officially because they are a very large company and are *extremely* good at what they do and that is serving their customers to the best of their ability. Honest guv'.

It could also be my laptop. It's a Mac though and Mac's are perfect. Even their employees are perfect and would never dream of losing a new 'secret' product in a bar. No siree. That just wouldn't happen. It must all be some kind of 'hoax' that a new Iphone is being tested. Scandalous rumour only. Yep.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Who would have thought tiny particles of ash could cause such havoc?!

I'm fairly bewildered by the complete closure of European airspace due to this volcano eruption in Iceland. I can see that safety is paramount, no question of that but it's hard to get your head around the sheer size of it all. Thousands and thousands of flight cancelled per day, and multiply that by how every many days it continues. Then you have the number of passengers who haven't been able to fly and then those who were in transit, en route to and from Europe. Here in Dubai, it has been reported that 3, 000 hotel rooms have had to be found for passengers who are in transit to Europe. And that's just 1 airline!

It's been relatively quiet at the airport here actually. Certainly, a lot of planes are sitting idle and I did see Virgin and Lufthansa planes sitting about too. In the city itself, I have noticed a lot of Brits wandering around. In some ways, it's must be quite nice to be stuck in a place that is hovering around 30 ish degrees and sunny. You'd be gutted if you were stuck in some random hell hole!

All this did get me thinking - what if, for some reason, I couldn't fly to Europe to get home in the future? I'd be fairly stuck. Well, kind of. In theory, I could drive but that would take ages and ages and I wonder what additional Visa's I'd need. I could take a boat. But from where? I'd probably have to travel up via the Suez. Knowing my luck, I'd get taken hostage by the pirates. Train? Hmm. Not any trains in the Middle East. Once I hit Turkey or Greece, I could take the train across Europe. Perhaps I should start to plan and save for such an eventuality? I mean, this volcano last erupted in the 19th century and did so for 2 years. What if it did that again?!

And finally, this is probably Iceland's way at getting back at the U.K for stuffing their economy. Who needs weapons of mass destruction when you have an active volcano and favourable winds.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Barcelona photos can be found right about here.

Yes, yes, probably not the most exciting photos ever, ever but I like taking pictures of things I see around me. Isn't that the whole point of taking photos?

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Sunday 11th April. Another early start. Before 5am in fact. But this time it was to take a certain lady to the Airport so that she could get her flight back to Scotland. In all, she had been in Dubai since the previous Monday. It wasn't exactly a holiday for her; instead it was a 3 day long job 'interview'. I'm not sure what it was actually. It was following people around in the Department that she might end up working for. Here's me thinking that a job interview consisted of a panel of people asking you questions about related 'stuff'. Maybe I'm old school however.

I was back to work also after my week back in Scotland via Barcelona. It's always a pain in the ass going back to work. That wasn't exactly helped by getting home at 3am and being up for work a mere 3 hours later having just been on a 7 hour long, fully booked flight in economy. I must be mental. I think that might well be the last time I do that. Not big, not clever. Let's just say that particular day in the office was one spent hidden behind my desk clearing all my E-mails or in slacker speak, 'looking busy without actually being busy'.

But, I only had a 3 day working week, so any tiredness I felt was countered by the notion that the weekend was close at hand at that I could cope until then. Easier said than done however, particularly in the middle of giving tests right after lunch. My goodness, I nearly fell off the chair because I'd almost did fall asleep. I did try to compose myself and pretend that I had dropped something on the floor and that I was trying to look for it. I don't think I pulled it off.

The weekend came soon enough and sleep was garnered, though there was a late night of joyous boozing and indeed dancing. Shock horror. Clearly, the 2 were linked. The club we were at wasn't the biggest or even the biggest but my goodness was the music sublime. Modern indie I would say mixed in with the likes of the Smiths, old Oasis, Daft Punk and even a bit of the Charlatans. The next morning I went through my pockets to find a series of bar receipts. Let's just say, there were more than I thought. I sifted through them and to my horror, I noticed that I had been at the bar every 15 minutes for 2 hours. When I say 'every 15 minutes' I totally mean that. Scary.

By Sunday morning, she was gone and I was in the thick of it at work. No time to really reflect on what the heck had happened in the previous 2 weeks. A momentous 2 weeks, it must be said. Indeed, life changing. More of that to come however.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Not been on this for ages and ages and ages.

I guess that is mostly to do with the fact that I've not been anywhere near a computer for ages and ages and ages. I'm on holiday!

I flew back to Scotland from Dubai the other week. I didn't have a confirmed ticket and instead I only had a standby ticket. It's cheaper but then you don't know if you're going to get on the flight until 40 minutes before it departs. If you get on, its a mad dash to the departure gate and if you don't get on it, you're stuffed. I can check the number of bookings at work and it was touch and go as to whether there would be free seats on the flight. I was worried, let's say that.

I don't really like flying all that much in any case, so not knowing wasn't pleasant. Finally, I was called and given a boarding pass. I would like to say that I was pleased but I wasn't. I just had to get going to the flight. I made it but had a crappy seat between to people. I tried to relax but about 40 minutes into the flight - we were over Iraq - the flight got bumpy. Not just a little bumpy but really bumpy. The Captain came on the tannoy to instruct the cabin crew to take their seats. You know it's bad when that happens. This bumpiness went on for about at hour. It felt like longer, let me say that. I tried to read my book and not worry but, I just feel every movement of the plane. Urgh.

Thankfully though, the remainder of the flight passed without incident and indeed I got into Glasgow a bit earlier than advertised. I got in to a balmy 10 degrees. Spring is definitely not here despite the snowdrops and daffodils being out. Still, I got home which I was unsure would happen. No more standby flights methinks.