Top 5

As the end of another month looms, let’s take a look at what’s been tickling my eardrums for the past 31 days…

1) State Hospital – Frightened Rabbit

Why did no-one tell me that these guys had a new EP out last year? I only realised when I was pre-ordering their new album and so got this as a kind of aperitif.

2) Greatest Hits – Mystery Jets

I loved this song when it came out last year but only got round to getting the album during my traditional january hoovering up of albums from last year. The rest of the album is pretty good but none of it matches the heights of this track.

3) Rattled By The Rush – Pavement

Writing about Darren this month reminded me that he was a big Pavement fan (he even managed to get tickets to their reunion gig a couple of years ago) So, out came the awesome Wowee Zowee, represented here by the opening song.

4) Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide – David Bowie

Trying to pick a Bowie song to cover drove me back to the classic albums Hunky Dory and The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. I always loved this, the closer from the later, and it made it to the final few cover choices but just lost out at the death.

5) Race For The Prize – The Flaming Lips

With my iPod set to shuffle, this is what was randomly chosen as the track that took us from 2012 into 2013.

Pie Club

The first rule of pie club is; you do not talk about pie club

We’ve started a pie club at work. With the proliferation of local pubs now doing pie nights, it seemed like a good way of having team nights out. I figured I’d record a few thoughts about the quality of tonight’s pie night. We went to The Cheney Arms in Gaddesby and I have to say that the pie itself was amazing. I had Steak & Stilton and it had proper big chunks of meat in it and just enough Stilton to give it a taste but not overpower the whole thing. The only disappointment to the whole night were the chips. They were small fries-like and seemed to be overcooked when what was really need was big chunky hand-cut chips. The only other drawback is that you have to order you pies in advance as they are all handmade so you can’t just rock up on the night if you suddenly fancy a pie. However, it was clearly a very popular night and with pies that good it’s easy to see why.

Four strings good, six strings better?

(First part to be read in the voice of Ray Liotta)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a Fender Jaguar Bass…

Isn’t that beautiful? Just look at all those knobs, wheels and switches, just imagine the tonal control. The problem was that I could never really afford one and then, when I could, Fender had discontinued it. Then when they did a re-issue, it didn’t come in black and I only really wanted a black one. Candy apple red? Cobalt Blue? 3-colour sunburst? Pah!

Then, last week, Fender re-issued the Fender VI:

Slightly different from the orignal in that it doesn’t have the switches on it but a six string bass with a tremelo is still pretty cool.

So, at the moment, I’m quite lucky in that, following the sale of my house I have some money in the bank account and Elmo has said that I’m allowed to buy a new bass (after the amount of money that she spent on a handbag and shoes at the weekend, she couldn’t really say otherwise) The question is do I buy the one that I’ve always wanted even though I don’t really like the colours it’s available in or do I get the Fender VI? Hmm, since Elmo has picked cobalt blue as the colour for the dress that her bridesmaid is going to be wearing, maybe I should get that. At least it would fit in at the wedding then.

As a brief coda to this decision, I once had a dream about buying a bass and I asked Fender if they could make me a double-necked bass that was a combination of Fender Jaguar Bass and Fender VI. If only that dream could come true.

Carry That Weight

Yesterday was weigh-in day:

Weight 72.2kg
BMI 21.5
Fat 15.8%
Water 58.9%
Muscle 42.4%

A bit ho-hum compared to last week but I was kind of expecting that after I ate another Toblerone and didn’t really go to the gym enough. Fortunately that’s the last of the Christmas Toberlones but I do really need to work on my diet. I do keep thinking about taking a protein supplement to try and build up my muscle but I just remember seeing that really early episode of South Park and I really don’t want to end up like Cartman:

Casual Casualty

Elmo and I were out in Melton last night; going to the Thai restaurant to see off our friends Graham and Gemma, who are emigrating to Australia. Also there was a, well not friend exactly, more a friend of a friend; an acquaintance from school to be specific. He’s been qualified as a doctor for a year or so and, knowing that Elmo is a midwife, asked her if she ever watched the TV programme, One Born Every Minute. For those not familiar, it’s a fly on the wall documentary following a midwifery team in a hospital. Elmo replied that she used to watch it but had stopped because she started to get annoyed when the midwives were doing things differently to how she would do them. At this point, he nodded and then, with a straight face, said that he felt the same way about Casualty! I’m not entirely sure how the two programmes compare but Elmo did feel the need to point out to him that Casualty was fictional.

Push The Button

I had a slight panic today when I saw that I’d missed a phone call from my estate agent. My house sale completed on thursday and as far as I was concerned that was it; all sorted. So, to get a call out of the blue worried me a bit and I called them straight back. It turns out that the woman who has bought my house couldn’t open the door to the washing machine. I calmly explained that there’s a button, you push the button and hey presto! The door opens. To be fair, I can’t be too harsh since I had some problems with the washing machine when I first moved it. I loaded it up with clothes, put in some washing powder, some fabric softener and shut the door. I selected a program, it clicked round and nothing happened. So, I sent for the expert. However, my mum couldn’t get it working either. Neither could my dad or the lady from the sales office on the estate. Eventually, I had to get a guy out from Whirlpool to look at it. He walked into the house and sorted it in less than 10 seconds. Turned out that we just hadn’t shut the door hard enough! Hmm, maybe I’d been shutting it too hard and that’s why the new owner can’t get it open…

Mytunes

Looking through my iTunes library for a David Bowie song to cover, I noticed that most of his back catalog was classified as “rock”. However, the Berlin-era stuff was classified as “alternative”. This got me thinking about genres yet again – what exactly is the difference between “alternative”, “rock” and “indie rock” and who decides which is which?

Link Of The Week

Currently loving this blog featuring an archive of  issues of Smash Hits. This is what was happening the fortnight I was born – an interview with The Buggles and the lyrics to Mongoloid by Devo. While the issue celebrating the birth of Anthony featured The Jam and the lyrics to the awesome Peel classic Where’s Captain Kirk by Spizz Energi.

Even though I never actually read Smash Hits at the time, it’s great to see a magazine that features all elements of the music spectrum rather than just kiddy pop or cooler than thou indie. Can’t wait to see the mid-’80s when The Smiths arrive…

Second Season Striker Syndrome

After his awful miss against Southampton last night, Nikica Jelavic now has just 2 goals in his last 12 Premier League games. It’s a complete turnaround to his form when he signed for us this time last year when he was on fire. However, he’s not the first striker that David Moyes has brought in that has suffered from “second season syndrome”

Marcus Bent

1st season – 6 in 37
Afterwards – 1 in 18

NB 6 in 37 might not sound that impressive but compared to the scoring records of some of the players a couple of years earlier when Walter SMith was in charge, it makes Bent look like Gerd Muller

James Beattie

1st season – 10 in 32
Afterwards – 2 in 33

NB Beattie actually joined at the end of the 2004/5 season but didn’t really become a first team regular until 2005/6 so I counted that as his first season.

Andrew Johnson

1st season – 11 in 32
Afterwards – 6 in 29

Yakubu

1st season – 15 in 29
Afterwards – 10 in 53

Louis Saha

1st season – 6 in 24
Afterwards – 21 in 73

NB Saha actually had a much better 2nd season scoring 13 in 33 before scoring just 8 in his final 40 games.

Jo

1st season – 5 in 12
Afterwards – 0 in 15

NB As well as scoring no league goals in his second loan spell, he also took a trip back to Brazil without permission.

Jermaine Beckford

1st season – 8 in 32
Afterwards – 0 in 2

NB Moyes clearly decided to get rid before he succumb to second season syndrome!

Nikica Jelavic

1st season – 9 in 13
Afterwards – 6 in 22

Even if the drop-off isn’t statistically significant, it’s still a bit of an oddity that Moyes very rarely gets three full seasons out of the strikers he buys. So, why could that be? Well, personally, I think that there are a couple of reasons for this second season syndrome and they’re related to each other.

Firstly, even though a lot of the players above were at the club at the same time, there were very few occasions when they were actually fit at the same time. With Moyes preferring to play one up front, this has meant a lack of competition for that single place. If we look at the current squad, who is there to pressure Jelavic? Naismith, who Moyes prefers on the wing, Mirallas, who has unfortunately been injured, Vellios who is still learning the game and Anichebe, who has also had injury problems.

Of course the other upshot of not having options is that there is no opportunity to rest Jelavic. I think that it’s in the second season that strikers get what Moyes wants from them – running into the channels, challenging for the ball, holding it up, pressuring defenders. It’s not an easy task to perform on your own and all of that intensity is bound to have an impact on your sharpness, which is crucial for when the ball comes to you in the box.

So, is there a solution? Unfortunately, unlike some clubs, we can’t go and spend £18 million on a new striker. However, with Big Vic looking like he’s back to fitness, I’d like to see Jelavic given a couple of weeks off. Hopefully, he’ll come back fit, fresh and firing on all cylinders…

Pleased to meet you

On Wednesday my dad and I cleared out my house ready for the new owner to move it this week. We made quite short work of moving a settee, a sofa-bed, a bed and various other bits and pieces thanks to fact that my dad has a huge car. Once we’d finished, I decided that it was time to grasp the nettle and I suggested that Elmo and I meet his hmm, not girlfriend, partner let’s say. I’d thought that this was something that would take a couple of weeks for him to sort out especially as she was only back from three months in New Zealand on Wednesday. However, my dad had worked pretty quickly and arranged for us to meet yesterday. Her name is Bettyne and she was a bit older than I was expecting and a blonde. She seems nice though and what was really obvious was how happy she made my dad, which is all that really matters. Unfortunately, she seems intent on getting some vegetables into my dad’s diet which is a really worthy thing to do but I fear that she is on a hiding to nothing since he refuses to eat anything green.