Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fantasy Shuffle Selection: Twenty Something Tracks From 2010

As the final part of my review of the year, my second annual 'fantasy shuffle' selection. Again I tried really hard to whittle my ipod down to a varied selection of twenty-odd tracks that were released during 2010.

So here goes, in no particular order :-

Surfacing - Chapel Club
The Wrestle - Frightened Rabbit
I Don't Want To See You Like This - The Joy Formidable
Ready To Start - Arcade Fire
Lights - Interpol
The Boy Who Cried Wolf - Futures
Here It Comes - The Sunshine Underground
Bastard - Babybird
Bury Parts 1 and 3 - The Fall
Post Break Up Sex - The Vaccines
Renegades - Feeder
Bad Blood - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Palm Road - Wolf Parade
Brian Eno - Mgmt
The Weekenders - The Hold Steady
Sorrow - The National
Straight In At 101 - Los Campesinos!
I Don't Bite - We Are Scientists
The Lost Estate - Delays
Say No To Love - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Chemistry - Detroit Social Club

Ok, so that's twenty one and as I'm getting carried away, here's three more, ones that I should be ashamed of... a festive one, a guilty pleasure and a cover version. Two of which are 80's retro!

Christmas Was Better In The 80's - Futureheads
The Only Exception - Paramore
Not In Love - Crystal Castles featuring Robert Smith

Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Puppy

Doggo got a new football for Christmas and he’s like a puppy with a new toy. I’ve not seen him so animated about anything in years. Particularly not his agility competitions, sadly. Unfortunately our reborn puppy will be ten this year and he’s not really up to such shenanigans any more. Consequently he appears to suffer with a few aching limbs afterwards. I can sympathise. The same thing happens to me, when I think I can keep up with the youngsters in my 10k’s.

In the afternoon a rare victory for Derby at Preston is overshadowed by the antics of a duck. The duck in question being Deepdale Duck, Preston's mascot.

DD got in trouble for continually distracting Derby’s goalkeeper Stephen Bywater during the match. Bywater seem to complain to the referee who ignored his pleas at first, that is until the duck allegedly flicked two fingers at Bywater. The referee then requested that he be removed. Cue a couple of stewards trying to corner the duck, who was reluctant to be removed before finally he was marched down the tunnel and off the ground.

The duck has plenty of 'previous' but I won't go into that here.

We have a race tomorrow, finally, so we stay in but an intention to be AF doesn’t quite go to plan and quite a bit of wine is sunk. Which I shall regret if I’m down the field tomorrow.

(Saturday 1st January)

Favourite Albums Of 2010

Third part of my review of the year, my favourite ten albums of the past year.

10. The Winter Of Mixed Drinks - Frightened Rabbit

A more commercial offering from Frightened Rabbit. It's no 'Midnight Organ Fight' but then what could be. That's what happens when you set the bar so high.

9. Your Future, Our Clutter - The Fall

I haven't listened to a Fall album in years. I'm glad I did this year.

8. Existence - Detroit Social Club

Detroit Social Club's d├ębut album seems to tick every box for every musical style that it can but somehow comes out sounding pretty fine.

7. Renegades - Feeder

The album spawned from their Renegades side project, marking a welcome return to their noisier earlier days.

6. Romance Is Boring - Los Campesinos!

The sound of Los Campesinos! maturing slightly whilst still telling meandering tales of Gareths's multiple relationship failures and sexual disappointments.

5. Nobody's Coming To Save You - The Sunshine Underground

Welcome back to the Sunshine Underground. Another band who had the impossible task of trying to surpass a near perfect album. They gave it a decent shot.

4. Interpol - Interpol

Like Feeder, Interpol go backwards to go forwards. It's no 'Turn On The Bright Lights' but it's in the same moody sort of vein.

3. Ex Maniac - Babybird

Whatever happened to Stephen Jones. Well actually he's never been away and now his new record is Johnny Depp's album of the year, but he would say that, he played guitar on it. It's dark and depressing whilst at the same time oddly amusing and uplifting. Quite brilliant actually. Surprise of the year.

2. Expo 86 - Wolf Parade

I'd only just got into Wolf Parade's first two albums when they bring out 'Expo 86' which it could be argued is the best thing they've ever done.

1. High Violet - The National

Here's one band who have managed to achieve the same sort of heights as their previous works. As good, maybe, as both 'Boxer' and 'Alligator'. Simply Brilliant.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Seriously Hot Pot

Much to my surprise and delight, we get released from work at 3.15pm. It’s been a fairly uneventful three days at work, which is how I like it. A few support issues but nothing much. Though I do always get the impression over Christmas each year that our customers who do work, don’t have much to do themselves, so instead take the opportunity to try and break our systems by thinking up the most stupid of things to try to get it to do. This year is no exception.

We have booked a Chinese meal for this evening as we usually take my parents out on New Years Eve. The restaurant, the Dancing Dragon, claims to offer something new, a Chinese Hot Pot. The restaurant is full of oriental customers which is usually a good sign. Their Hot Pot is like a fondue but instead of skewering one item at a time as you cook it you load the pot up with meat and vegetables of your choice then spoon them out once they are ready onto your plate.

There is a choice of two sauces, a slightly creamy stock and a spicy chilli sauce. Now I like hot food but this chilli sauce was truly evil. They called it fiery and they weren’t kidding. I have never had anything approaching hot and spicy in a Chinese restaurant before so this was quite a shock. My parents steered well clear of it and my body will probably wish tomorrow that I had too. Not a bad meal though, although service a bit sluggish, particularly the table clearing. Oh and their credit card machine was broke so we had to have a whip-round.

Afterwards my parents head home to see the new year in at home whilst L and I have a few beers in the Ropewalk and see the year in there. It’s not too dissimilar from a normal Saturday and that's not a bad thing at all really.

We walk home, although there are some late buses running. I find it odd that Nctx stop running buses at 8pm and then restart them after midnight. Don’t really see the point of that.

(Friday 31st December)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blame The Weather

With my bike out of action, I run in to work. Which isn’t particularly memorable other than for being quite a painful experience and the weather, which was dark and miserable, although dry, didn’t help.

The coffee at work is now black. At lunch time I walk to Sainsbury’s to fetch some milk and other supplies. No wonder no one works over Christmas when we are subjected to such third world hardship. No milkman and no sandwich vans.

In the afternoon L joins everyone else who’s on a prolonged Christmas skive at the pantomime. Yes another one, her third of the season. That must be worth some sort of award. She warns me that she doesn’t intend being AF. That’s totally understandable. I wouldn’t be AF if I was going to a pantomime either.

She goes to the pantomime with her parents who then come back to our place afterwards and we have another present giving session. We could blame the weather for being five days late, everybody else does, but we won’t. The post office would probably be elated at only being five days late.

When her folks are gone I get around to submitting that tax return, after only two glasses of wine as well.

(Thursday 30th December)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So Good To Be Doing Something

Ah, cycling, I remember that. So back at work today, back on the bike and a debut for the new snug cycling trousers that L got me for Christmas. How did she know that's what I wanted... must have been the email with the hyperlink in it. The snow, ice and the cold have gone and in their place... fog, drizzle and a generally dark, dank morning. Wonderful. It's so good to be doing something. Although I have a gear problem and lose half my gears.

It’s so foggy in fact that had L been awake and looked out of the window, she’d have probably tried anything to stop me cycling. Damn, should have woke her and opened the curtains.

There's five of us in work and I’m the only one not in jeans, due to the fact having cycled in I have to wear what have stashed at work, e.g. normal work clothes, either that or stay in my cycling gear.

At lunch I have to wander to Greggs as unsurprisingly no sandwich vans have turned up. There's no fresh milk for coffee either. Our milkman hasn’t turned up this year, he usually does. So we’re drinking five day old semi-skimmed and out of date skimmed. We're assuming skimmed doesn't actually go off as it's just coloured water isn't it?

I notice in the news that the manager sacking madness isn’t confined to the Premier League. Burnley, ok they were Premier League last year, dismiss Brian Laws after less than a year in charge.

It was an odd appointment in the first place with Laws having just been sacked by League One bound Sheffield Wednesday. Laws was never the right appointment for Burnley but getting rid of him now seems odd.

Burnley sit ninth in the table, having lost just 6 of 22 games this season and only two points off the play off spots. In other words well placed. When they were promoted two years ago they scraped into the play offs by two points. So they’re in a similar position now to do the same.

I have a look at my bike and discover a frayed gear cable which is why I can’t switch to my large chain ring and have therefore lost half my gears. I manage to make it to the pool though, which is quite busy. Probably busier than usual actually. Then afterwards I meet L for mocha.

In the evening it’s the local derby, Forest v Derby. Which should have been yesterday but was moved to tonight, just to be annoying and I think in some misguided attempt to curtail the pre-match drinking... on a day when most people are not at work...

Anyhow I declined to go because at £32 a seat it wasn’t worth it, not for another defeat. Which is probably worse than I expected, losing 5-2. Although Derby scoring two goals was quite a surprise.

(Wednesday 29th December)

Favourite Films Of 2010

The second part of my review of the year, my favourite films of the past year. Usually I do a top ten but this year I haven't got out to see enough films to make a top ten meaningful. So here are just five.

5. Killer Inside Me (June)

A fascinating but meandering film about a disturbed individual, that I needed a stiff drink to get over.

Read My Review

4. Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (April)

A grisly tale of murder, set amongst the cold Swedish winter, lightened somewhat by an upbeat ending. Not as good as the book obviously but a good effort and the best of the three films, which were all released this year.

Read My Review

3. Four Lions (May)

Chris Morris tackles terrorism. An excellent film, entertaining, well written, thought provoking, very well performed and yes, funny.

Read My Review

2. Sex n Drugs n Rock n Roll (February)

A biopic of the late Ian Dury. An excellent and playful film, just like its subject matter.

Read My Review

1. Kick-Ass (April)

A very odd choice for me to pick... a superhero spoof movie. However, this one is funny, very knowing, it has a plot, a sharp script and even character development. It also has Nicolas Cage and of course 'Hit Girl'.

Read My Review