Thursday, January 31, 2008

SuperMac



A wave of apathy engulfed Elland Road (and St. James' Park, ha ha ha ha) as shortarsed manager Dennis Wise announced he was leaving, hey ho.

Spirits were soon lifted however as Leeds United Legend Gary McAllister was given the manager's job. I'm sure I'm not alone amongst Leeds fans in thinking that the brains of our managerial team went to Spurs, and all we were left with was a shouty, angry dwarf.

With SuperMac on board though, surely we'll be promoted to Division 2.

Winter Arrived...

...at 3.45pm exactly.



The sky turned dark, and lumps of hail fell at a furious pace.



There you are, with the flash on you can see the lumps of hail falling at a furious pace.

Winter doesn't seem to last right long these days, so under the circumstances you've got to make the most of the situation and.......



......build a 4 inch tall snowman !

All Hail Mister Snowey.

Behold his Carroty Magnificence.

Fall to Your Knees in Awe of his Cabbage Sack Scarf.

Avert your eyes from His Terrible Peppercorn Gaze!!!!!!
Just Weird

The phone rings......

Waitress - "You're weird, you know that don't you ?"

YS - (laughs)"Why do you say that ?"

Waitres - "'Cos if one of my mates texted her boss for to ask some work the reply would be like 6.30 on Saturday or something like that, and you're reply was ?......"

YS - "Er....."

Waitress - "I've got the text here, it says 'Have you considered selling yourself to to Great Cthulu, MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!, you see, that's just weird."

YS - "MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"

Waitress - "WEIRD!"

YS - "MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!"

Waitress - "What the hell is a Great Cthulu anyway ?"

YS - "He is the Lord of Utter Darkness, the Knower of Madness, the Beast from Beyond Time, and he wants you to work 6.30 Saturday"

Waitress - "Fine. Weirdo."

You too can use YS's Cthulu Staff Management Programme, would you like your staff to be driven screaming into the maw of madness ? Yes ! Then chant 'Come Lord Cthulu' three times after midnight.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Album Review : Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga**



For Fans Of : The Flaming Lips, The Shins, The Decemberists

The album opens with on of the strongest songs on Ga Ga, the downbeat but catchily repetitive 'Don't Make Me A Target'. In a bit of a creativity failure the second track 'The Ghost Of You Lingers' has the piano following a similar repetitive staccato note that the guitar did in the opener which makes the song sound like a thee minute intro, you just keep hoping it's going to break out into a proper song.

'You got Yr. Cherry Bomb' is the next best track, and along with the opener they are the only two songs to have remained in the memory after repeated listens. Everything else is much of a muchness.

Oh, hang on, there is another track that stands out, 'The Underdog' kicks in so much a shanty by The Decemberists that you really expect Colin Meloy to be singing rather than Britt Daniel.

There is nothing stunning here, although, there is nothing that would make me turn the radio off if Spoon came on, there isn't anything that would make me crank the volume up either.
Album Review : The Meanest Of Times - Dropkick Murphys****




For Fans Of : Gogol Bordello, The Pogues, Rancid

On this, the Dropkick Murphys 6th album, the band are like atestosterne injected nightmare version of The Pogues, actually, come to think of it, The Pogues are are a nightmare version of The Pogues, but I digress.

From the opener 'Famous for Nothing' to the closing number 'Never Forget' (there is another track, a truly awful reworking of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak, but let's pretend that never happened) the pace barely lets up. There are still some traditional celtic instruments and sounds here but they are blended with enough raucous guitars and pounding drums to ensure that their folk-punk fusion is much more biased to the latter of the two styles.

The Dropkick Murphys sound is angry but infectious, Al Barr and Ken Casey roar and bellow over the highly danceable / moshable racket going on behind them.

the lyrics are tales of loss and revelry, family and friends, 'Vices And Virtues' tell of four brothers killed by "whisky, war, suicide and guns" whilst 'Flannigan's Ball' is the description of the most uproarious, riotous party you could ever wish to be invited to.

I forgot to include this in my 'Top Albums of 2007', but the relentless and aggressive energy of TMOT has meant that it has been on my i-pod almost constantly since its release last year.

A barnstorming, booze drenched, blood on the concert hall floor album, the Dropkick Murphys on fine and furious form.
Cute

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Not Cute

Go to Google Picture Search, and type in 'Victorian Swimming Costume'.
Those Crazy Victorians




From David Carpenter's 'Ilkley:The Victorian Era', a visitor to Ilkley's White Wells describes the experience......"The shock of plunging into the Ilkey bath is excessive, and an irresistible urge to escape from its influence is the first sensation produced."

I'd have to agree with that, on my annual plunge into White Wells my first thought is always "Great, now I can get out again."

The visitor continues...."The plunge is immediately succeeded by shivering - the extremities grow numb and pale - there is a contraction of the living fibre; the diameter of the superficial vessels is lessened and the blood is driven from the surface to internal parts..."

Yes, my living fibre certainly suffered some contraction.

"On emerging from the bath, the phenomena just enumerated are speedily followed by a very different series....the cold is now gradually succeeded by an equally universal sense of warmth and the weight in the head is almost instantaneously relieved. The bather feels invigorated....the vigour of the muscles is increased, and there is an aptitude for action...."

My aptitude for action was to get a pint of hot coffee and a bacon butty inside me.

"In short, the whole body is in a glow, every function appears to be carried on with increased alacrity - and all this is accompanied with great cheerfulness and a buoyancy of the spirits"

Well, that sounds more or less like our experiences.

Monday, January 28, 2008

As an aeroplane is about to crash, a female passenger jumps up frantically and announces, "If I'm going to die, I want to die feeling like a woman."

She removes all her clothing and asks, "Is there someone on this plane who is man enough to make me feel like a woman?"

A man stands up, removes his shirt and says, "Here, iron this!".
A man walked into a bar room one day. He walked up to the bartender and said, “Bartender, I’d like to buy the house a round of drinks”. The bartender said, “No problem sir, but I’ll need to see some money first”. The guy pulls out a huge wad of bills and sets them on the bar. Well, the bartender can’t believe what he’s seeing. “Where did you get all that money?”, asked the bartender. “I’m a professional gambler”, replied the man. The bartender said, “There’s no such thing! I mean, your odds are 50-50 at best, right?”. “Well, I only bet on sure things” said the guy.

“Like what?” asked the bartender. “Well, for example, I’ll bet you $50 that I can bite my right eye.” The bartender thought about it. “OK”. So, the guy pulls out his false right eye and bites it. “Aw, you screwed me”, said the bartender, and paid the guy his $50. “I’ll give you another chance. I’ll bet you another $50 that I can bite my LEFT eye” said the stranger. The bartender thought again and said, “Well, I know you’re not blind, I mean I watched you walk in here. I’ll take that bet”. So, the guy pulls out his false teeth and bites his left eye. “Aw, you screwed me again”. “That’s how I win so much money, bartender. I’ll just take a bottle of your best scotch in leiu of the $100″, said the man.

With that, the guy went to the back room and spent the better part of the night playing cards with some of the locals. After many hours of drinking and card playing, he stumbled up to the bar. The guy, drunk as a skunk, said, “Bartender, I’ll give you one last chance. I’ll bet you $500 that I can stand on this bar here on one foot and piss into that whiskey bottle on that shelf behind you without spilling a drop”.

The bartender once again pondered the bet. The guy couldn’t even stand up straight on two feet, much less one. “OK, you’re on”. The guy climbed up on the bar, stood on one leg, and began pissing all over the place. He hit the bar, the bartender, himself, but not a drop made it into the whiskey bottle.

The bartender was ecstatic. Laughing, the bartender said, “Hey pal, you owe me $500!”. The guy climbed down off the bar and said, “That’s OK. I just bet each of the guys in the poker room $1000 that I could piss all over you AND the bar AND still make you laugh!”.
Real Ale and Big Beards

...and that's just the women !

Seriously though, my friend Chez laughs at me because I like a bit of folk music, but here are 10 songs to demonstrate why folk music is brilliant.....

1) He Was My Brother - Simon & Garfunkel
If you've ever pumped your first to Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In The Name Of' then here is a song with the same anti-racist sentiment, a short human rights story beautifully sung.

2) Winter Song - Lindisfarne
Left wing politics and religion in a minor key, wonderful.

3) The Mariner's Revenge Song - The Decemberists
A long and violent tale of a scurrilous gadabout and his eventual fate in the belly of a whale, darkly humourous.

4) Reynardine - Fairport Convention
From the album Liege & Lief, described as 'the most important folk album ever released'. "Her eyes were blue, her lips as red as wine", beautiful, just beautiful.

5) 1952 Vincent Black Lightning - Richard Thompson
Biker boy meets red headed leather clad girl, falls in love, gets shot when commiting an armed robbery, easily Thompson's best solo song.

6) Raven Girl - Rachel Unthank & The Winterset
The Unthank sisters put their lovely voices to great use on this multi layered almost pop song.

7) Blowin' In The Wind - Bob Dylan
I think Dylan's got to be compulsory on a best of folk list.

8) 5 Feet High And Rising - Johnny Cash
Never was lsoing your livelihood to flood water made so much fun.

9) Letter From America - The Proclaimers
The Reid twins debut single does it all, wonderfully accented voices and run through with the stubborn Scots pride that colours so much of their work.

10) Not A Pretty Girl - Ani DiFranco
This is folky, but with more of an Alanis Morisette attitude to it.

I'm not saying these are the 10 best folk songs ever, they're just 10 folk songs that I like a lot, if you think you don't like folk try downloading them and have a listen. Or sign up for Audio Scrobbler and you can probably listen to most of them for free.

Any other great folk songs I ought to have mentioned ?
Calling Mr Moosehead

Chez is providing the taxi service on Sunday night.

Shall we meet for a pint first ? And how we know you ? Will you be carrying a copy of the FT under your arm and be wearing a black carnation ?

Just so you know what the three of us (YS, Chez, P) look like, here's a picture of us at an earlier gig. That's us 9th row back, 11th from the left, I'm the one in the Iron Maiden t-shirt.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Album Review : A New Beginning - La Ventura****



For Fans Of - Evanescence, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil

Sometimes you try to indicate what a band will sound like to someone by comparing them to similar sounding bands, thus I might try to advertise Coheed & Cambria by saying that they might appeal to fans of Rush. That said, if you like either Amy Lee's, Sharon del Adel's or Christina Scabbia's outfits, then you really are going to enjoy La Ventura.

The band are from the Netherlands, and their name means 'luck' in Spanish, eh ? Dutch band, Spanish name, sings in English, ok, so they're cosmopolitan Europeans.

Musically then they are solidly in the goth metal camp, or perhaps goth metal dungeon. I did think on the first few listens to the album that perhaps they were a little too generic, a little too close to 'The Open Door' and 'Karmacode', but after I've heard the album over and over it has really grown on me, I would even say now that it is a better album than 'TOD'.

Singer Carla Douw has a really good voice, soaring, swooping and crystal clear, and she is ably supported by a polished and tight band behind her. I think the band could stretch themselves a little, they have a fine guitarist in Sascha Kondic and it would be nice on future releases to allow the guitar to come to the top of the music for a couple of songs. It would be good if Carla as well would try something with a little more punch just once or twice.

I don't want this to be a whinge though, I have given the album four stars out of five so I must think it is pretty good right ? The songs are well written, really well played and the production on the album is top notch, as this is an album made without record company assistance it is a really good effort. The band have signed a distribution with US label Renaissance Records so the album will be released in the USA, Canada and Mexico in mid March. At the same time the album should be available from internet retailers. If you want to get hold of a copy before that, try contacting the band through their MySpace.

There are three tracks that I think stand out on the album, 'Cry', 'Trefoil' and 'A New Beginning', but there are no tracks of the 10 that you could describe as fillers, it's all strong, well crafted material put together by accomplished musicians.

There is a huge market for this type of metal in both Europe and the States at the moment, I know it is very hard for one small band to get themselves heard above the masses of new music that appear all the time, but if La Ventura get just a bit of the luck they have named themselves after then they could be following fellow countrymen Within Temptation into serious album sales.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gig Review : The Almighty + Head Inc - Leeds Rio's 26/01/08*****



20 years on, and we're back in the crowd for another 'back from the dead tour'. Look what happened, most of us got short almost sensible haircuts, some of us have no hair, quite a few of us are carrying a few extra pounds, and it's the same for The Almighty, except Ricky Warwick who still looks like a mean fucker.

Support act Head Inc., come on stage to a crowd of about two dozen, this doesn't bother frontman Gary Buckley though who proceeds to mug it up, throw shapes and pose like he's in front of an adoring crowd of thousands. It's a good attitude to have, you can easily lose the plot in front of a small audience. Head Inc., work hard though and are warmly received by the few people that have turned up early.

I've met Gary before, he used to front a band called Horse London, and way back when I was writing for bits of the metal press, he and his guitarist once threw me out of an interview, literally chucked me out of the door onto the street. No hard feelings though mate, I enjoyed Head Inc's hardworking, no nonsense, proper metal set.

They don't come much more proper metal than The Almighty, they've rumbled on for 20 years or so (with a hiatus for five years or so at the end of the last century), and they've produced some fine songs along the way.

The Almighty play a tight set, and they work hard, they were onstage for a little under 2 hours and despite a slightly shambolic end to the show it was a really good gig.

Warwick and Co crank out the big riffs,'Adiction', 'Over The Edge', 'Wild & Wonderful', 'Crucify', 'Full Force Loving Machine', 'Devil's Toy', I'd almost forgotten just how good this band really are. Warwick dedicates 'Jesus Loves You But I Don't' to George Bush and then has a little rant about the state of modern metal.

"You need bands like us and The Wildhearts (too right !), otherwise you'll be stuck listening to all that 'feel my pain' shit," he says. He's right, we need bands that can rock like a bastard and write decent songs. The thing is, we might be a generation older than the current metal sceners, we might be balder and fatter than we were in in our first flush of youth, but we were the generation that grew up with The Almighty and The Wildhearts, we had Iron Maiden and AC/DC in their prime, Metallica and Megadeth when they were setting the world on fire. You can keep your Paramore and your Madina Lake and your Good Charlotte because they wouldn't know real rock if they saw it.

God bless The Almighty, for the generation that really rocked.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Jennifer Makes Things From Pencils



And nails and pins and things.

Jennifer Maestre Sculpture
FMB's

At the rugby last week i was introduced to a phrase used to describe a certain type of women's footwear (i.e the type that good friend Chez wears) which I had never heard before.

I mentioned FMB to Mrs YS and she laughed, she didn't believe I had never heard it before.

Then, I found a website dedicated to FMB's.

Mis Botas, a link especially for Wosser, and it's in Spanish, that's the theme for this week !
I'm feeling A Bit Down

I was depressed last night so I called the Samaritans.

Got a call centre in Pakistan .

I told them I was suicidal.

They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.





Any complaints about this joke should be sent in a padded envelope packed with nails to......

G W Bush
The White House
United Empire of America
I've Put 50p In The Meter

Thanks to everyone that e-mailed me to point out the blog was down this morning. This is what happens when you forget to pay your hosting fee, oops. Anyway, I've fed the meter and will be online for another year.

Unless they catch me posting pron again.
Oiga Por Favor...

...quiero dos cerveza, gracias.

How long now Wosser ?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Don't Shoot Me, I Only Work Here

Lake Havasu



Lake Havasu is an artificially created lake based around London Bridge in the centre of the resort.



It is popular with Moorhen.



Really popular.



Sometimes you see big signs on fences that say thing like "Private, go away, secret, you're not wanted here", that sort of thing. Sometimes I just get the urge to see what is beyond these sort of signs, quite often I find that people just want to keep the really pretty views all for themselves.



Lake Havasu Golf Club, if you've chosen to live in the middle of a desert, you may as well build a putting green on you front lawn.



Discount for cash buyer.
Music When The Lights Go Down

So, I'm sat in a booth at the back of a pub, there are three booths along the wall, one is empty and the other is occupied by four blokes playing dominoes. I'm reading over my second pint of bitter, when, without warning, the lights in the booths go out. There is some laughter from the blokes behind me and we all look over quizzically at the barmaid.

After a moment I wander across to the bar and ask if they could put the lights back on as I was quite happily reading, one of the men calls out in a good natured manner that he can no longer see the spots on his doms and he thinks his mates are cheating.

'No', comes the reply. I ask why, 'Because we always turn the lights down at 7.30' Right, but as the booths are occupied by 5 drinkers, and we would all like them turned back on, couldn't you do that ? 'No' comes the reply, 'It's the rules.'

Five minutes later, the four blokes have left the pub to find somewhere else to drink, and I'm sat grumpily at the bar finishing my pint, then I too leave to find somewhere else, and better lit, to drink.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

London Bridge - Lake Havasu



We arrived at Lake Havasu at dusk, found ourselves a nice motel then went out for dinner. The Lake Havasu Lights Festival was just begining.



That's London Bridge, the focal point around which the resort was created.
Yuma to Lake Havasu



In the morning we visited the gaol at Yuma, whihc is about the only touristy thing to do in town. We had read that there was a historic town centre, but a lot of the shops and restaurants were closed / deserted.

The reception staff at the hotel laughed when we told them we were on holiday, they couldn't understand why anyone would want to visit Yuma, but they were very friendly and helpful and found us a really nice family run Mexican restaurant to eat at.



Pigeons flying over Yuma rail bridge, with the road bridge just behind.



Outside Yuma, in addition to the vast cattle fattening sheds, there are miles and miles of lettuce fields, they stretch along the road side as far as the eye can see. No rain seems to fall here, but they grow the most water hungry plants there are.



The road, this was a driving holiday after all so we saw quite a lot of this view.



Much of Arizona is flat as a pancake, but hills and mountains rise up out of the plain just like kids draw mountains, big steep peaks with no foothills. The scenery in the hills and mountains is stunning and the camera never really seems to capture the stark beauty your eyes can see.



Suddenly amidst the desert, a lake and a river with miles of rushes crowding its banks and shallows.

We set off from Yuma with the iea of staying at Quartzsite, but this turned out to be miles upon mile of mobile homes and big camper vans, a petrol station and three fast food outlets, so we pressed on Northwards to Lake Havasu.



I love this hill, it looks like the peak from Close Encounters.
Yuma

Yuma, close to the Mexican border, wasn't the most picturesque place we visited.



In fact, this was the high point of our afternoon there, that and getting age checked at the Yuma branch of TGI Fridays.

Note for any particularly stupid waiting on staff, I am 40, even with the best will in the world I don't look anything like 21. I'm at the sort of age when getting age checked is actually offensive, especially as the moronic waitress wouldn't let me buy a beer until I'd shown her my passport.
The Largest Bag Of Crisps Ever Seen



The standard size American crisp packet, about the size of a child's sleeping bag. It's got a 'Buy 2 for a $ less offer', which is useful because then you've got some cheap pillows. The Americans do like their supersizes, a hint for Europeans travelling in the USA, don't ever ask for a large soft drink, they are roughly the size of a jacuzzi.
Arizona - Sonoma Desert Museum

Desert Museum Website

After beautiful Sedona we hit the road again and drove South to parched, sun baked Sedona.



It's not a cactus, but I forget what it is, spiky though.



The landscape, semi-scrub desert with lots of cowboy film cacti.



A hummingbird, they are really fast, I seem to have lots of photographs of blurry green streaks at the edge of the frame, this one is the closest I got to getting one in good focus.



....and some more plants that I have forgotten the name of....

It was a good day out, I would recommend it to anyone in and around Sonoma.
Easy Quiz Question


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Waters Receded

At 10 o'clock last night we could see that the level of the flood had fallen by almost two feet, the lights reflecting on the engorged river from Skipton Road above were now showing dark patches of grass here and there in the flow. At the height of the flood, in the dark, the river looked eerily beautiful, the streetlights shone shimmering bands of orange and white light across it and the soft rushing, liquid noises produced a comforting sound.




8 o'clock this morning and most of the flood has gone, here you can see trees around the 18th green reflected in a pool of water at the edge of the course.



Obviously the course will remain closed for some days yet, but it is beautiful with the ice and water on it this morning.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Golf Today For The Foreseable Future



Of course, if any visitors do come, they would be well advised to bring a wetsuit and oxygen tank.



This was the 1st fairway at Ilkley Golf Club at about 1.30pm this afternoon, the river has come up much further since then.



The footbridge from the 4th tee over the Wharfe.



The sign on the tree says 'Fire Assembly Point', so, basically your choice is burn or drown.



The 13th green, 6th & 10th tees.



Looking from the elevated ladies tee down the 16th fairway.



A stream pouring down out of Owler Park Wood and filling up the 16th & 17th.



Car trouble on Nesfield Road, what was this bloke thinking ? The water is now deep enough and fast flowing enough for this car to almost have been pushed in to the deepest part of the dip, as it was it took a big swerve and only just made it out to the carpark.



Looking across the 18th & 1st fairways at Ilkley Golf Club at about 4.30 this afternoon.



This 4WD owner was wise enough not to chance his luck in the dip. No golf today then, and Duncan will no doubt be happy to accept volunteers for the clean up when the Wharfe does recede again.
Book Reveiw : The Lover - Marguerite Dumas**



I have read only a handful of novels translated from French, and with the exception of Jules Verne's Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, I havn't really enjoyed any of them.

This is no exception, I didn't enjoy the terse, taught dialogue free literary style at all, and wed to a story that wasn't wildly exciting or particularly well told it made for a damp squib of a book.

The back page blurbs are hugely enthusiastic, 'a perfect tour de force' - New York Times Book Review, 'Rarely have I read a novel so flawlessly written' - Spectator, and so on.

The plot, young daughter of French family on the down in the last days of France's imperial reach into the far East meets rich young son of wealthy Chinese family, has a lot of odd sex, sort of falls in love, family are withdrawn, uncommunicative and emotionally stunted.

French authors (admittedly, in my limited experience of them) seem to love wallowing in some form of existential emotional angst, or just general weirdness. The last three French novels I have read (Atomised, School's Out and The Lover) all seem to edge around a similar theme of unrequited love, no, not unrequited, uncommited would be a better word. The French appear unable in these novels to commit to love, to lose themselves in it, to give themselves over to another person wholeheartedly, and thus they hover on the sidelines of love and passion, forever wondering and agonising over whether they should be experiencing something better but failing to see that this, the here and now, the present is actually what they are looking for.