Top 5

February’s topermost of the popermost:

1) Peach Blossom – Eels

Another slice of excellence from Mark Oliver Everett.

2) Perfect Day – Lou Reed

Danny Baker mentioned Transformer on his TV show about albums. I’d not listened to it in ages so I thought it was good time to dig it out. Plus, this month I found out that the Welsh rugby team has a player called Lou Reed.

3) Teenage – Veronica Falls

Love this band, love this album, love this song.

4) Impossible – The Charlatans

Whenever I see James Arthur mentioned I always think of this track rather than whatever song called Impossible he actually covered. I also found myself singing, “you can’t kill an idea just cos it’s raining” as I was walking in the rain.

5) Richard III – Supergrass

Just cos they found his bones in Leicester

A Great British Bake Off

Cake - high in fat, low in fat?

Cake – high in fat, low in fat?

To paraphrase Shaun, “she’s not my mum!”

When I was round my dad’s the other week, eating my second Sunday lunch, I asked him to give me the addresses of  all of my relatives so that we could send them wedding invites. Aunt & uncle, a couple of cousins – job done. He also gave me the address of his girlfriend (ladyfriend? partner? special lady?) Now, I thought that was a bit presumptuous bearing in mind that we’d only ever met her once. Plus, it might be awkward for her since she won’t know anyone at the wedding apart from my dad and he’ll be on the top table for a lot of the reception. Then, it hit me – we could put her onto the same table as the rest of our family. I’m sure that my aunt; my dad’s sister, will have a few stories to tell her.

Back round my dad’s this weekend and she had made him some cakes. This got me thinking about some of my mum’s attempts to bake. I used to play rugby when I was growing up and every year the club would have a big firework display on bonfire night to raise some money for the club. They asked all of the parents if they could make some cakes to sell on a stall on the night. So my mum made some and gawd-bless-er, they weren’t very good. My dad bought a couple of them to make her feel better but the rest went unsold and got thrown on the bonfire at the end of the evening. My dad gave me a couple of cakes on Sunday and while we’ve not eaten them yet, they certainly look better than some of my mum’s efforts…

Website Updates

The Internet – don’t type “Google” into Google

This post serves a couple of purposes. Firstly to test that the new Twitter and Book of Faces links I’ve set up work properly and secondly just to chat a bit about the future of the website. At the start of the year, I said that I was going to be posting gig write-ups every week. I’ve now finally set up the first few of these to be published on Saturdays. However, there are over fifty of these so we’ll be well into 2014 before they’re all up. I’m also going to start doing some reviews of music. I’d said that I was going to do a BRIT-baiting awards post but after looking through all of 2012’s albums I realised that there were a lot I really liked but no real stand out. Similarly, I couldn’t remember which were my favourite tracks off certain albums and I couldn’t find the time to re-listen to everything. Hopefully by reviewing them at the time they first come out, I’ll be able to remember them come next January.

If anyone has anything that they’d like to see on the blog, or on the website in general, let me know!

Meat Is Murder

Moz has made his position clear

With all the furore about horsemeat being found in beef mince, I’ve been thinking about my eating habits. I’ve always been an omnivore so the idea of eating horse doesn’t bother me but the idea that companies don’t know what’s going into their products is a real concern. Then, we were talking at work about becoming vegetarian. When I think about how badly animals are treated before being killed I feel a real pang of guilt. I often try to disguise it by saying that animals like chickens and cows wouldn’t even exist if we didn’t eat them. I’ll then try to assuage myself by telling myself that the human race has spent millions of years evolving to get to the top of the food chain.

There are two main reasons I don’t give up eating meat though. Firstly, I really like the taste. Secondly, having eaten meat my entire life, I’ve got no idea what I’d replace it with. Tofu? Quorn? They might be meat substitutes but it’s like taking Lionel Messi off to rest him for the last twenty minutes of a game.

Part of me would like to eat only well reared free-range animals but, unfortunately it’s a bit cost prohibitive. However, looking forward, I’m starting to think that I should cur down on the amount of meat that I eat. It remains to be seen how much longer meat will be a viable foodstuff when you consider the environmental pressures rearing livestock puts on the planet.

One of the vegetarian food companies is suggesting a “meat free Monday” in their current advertising campaign. Maybe that would be the start of a good compromise. Although, if I could ever become vegan, it would mean that I’d get vegan powers…

Link Of The Week

Anthony has always been a fan of The Independent newspaper while I’m more of a fan of its evil right-wing nemesis The Guardian. Yes, I acknowledge the existence of the full gamut of British newspaper publications from left-wing to centre-left. Anyway, if you ever find yourself wanting to comment on The Guardian’s website, may I suggest this tool:

Guardian Comment Generator

David Moyes & The Glass Ceiling

He’s got red hair but we don’t care

During his pre-match press conference last week David Moyes announced that he wouldn’t be considering a contract extension until the end of the season. With his current deal expiring in the summer, a lot of Everton fans are starting to worry that, after 11 years at the club, he could be on the verge of leaving. Moyes has done an amazing job at Everton, we have consistently punched above our weight while he has been in charge but does he now feel he’s hit the glass ceiling?

I have no doubt about it that David Moyes wants a big job one day. Sir Alex Ferguson is clearly a big fan and he keeps getting linked with the Manchester United job once Fergie finally retires. Moyes must ruefully look at those rumours. He knows in his heart of hearts that the United board would never consider a manager who has never won a trophy and whose Champions League experience amounts to two games. It would be a similar story at any of the big clubs in England; Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur. In fact the only “big” club that might take a chance on such a manager is the one that I hope he’d never join.

In England, that would leave him the option of joining a club that’s a similar size to Everton but one that has more money. A club like Aston Villa or Sunderland would fit into this category; both have stadiums that are a similar size to Goodison Park but both clubs have been outspending us in recent transfer windows. Part of Moyes’ frustration at Everton clearly comes from thoughts of what he could accomplish if only he had more money to spend. However, there is no doubt that Moyes has the best first XI that he’s had during his tenure while both Villa and Sunderland have been underachieving. Much like Achilles and the tortoise, before either could overtake Everton, they’d have to catch them.

Then there are the smaller clubs that are often described, slightly patronisingly, as being “well run”. However, could Moyes demonstrate anything at Fulham, Stoke or West Bromwich Albion that would change the minds of the big clubs?

How about going abroad then? In my opinion, not enough of our footballers or managers go abroad and I thought that Steve Mclaren did a great job in winning the Dutch leage title. I think that Moyes could probably do a good job abroad and there will doubtless be a number of ambitious clubs willing to give him a chance. However, would he be willing to move his family? Would he be willing to learn a new language and a new style of football. Would he be willing to risk the continental managerial merry-go-round where even successful managers find themselves sacked?

And what of Everton? Moyes may feel that he’s taken the club as far as he can but is the feeling reciprocated? Occasionally, we do have a performance that makes you wonder if Moyes still has the capacity to manage and motivate. Have the players heard it all before? If Bela Guttman is right about the third season being fatal then what does that make the 11th?

Personally, I think Moyes could stay at the club and continue to consistently finish between 6th and 8th with the sporadic good cup run. Would that be enough for Moyes though? Even if he does leave and he is replaced, we’re still going to have the same financial constraints. We are very shallow below that first XI and a new manager would have the same dilemma of whether or not to sell a player like Baines or Fellaini in order to finance new players.

In conclusion, I think that in an ideal world Moyes would stay at Everton and we’d miraculously attract some major investment. I’m sure that if Moyes was told that he’d have £50M to spend in the summer without having to sell anyone then he’d sign a new contract immediately. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world and I really could see Moyes walking away in the summer. Only time will tell whether that would put him on the path to a bigger club. From our point of view, it at least gives us four months to start putting out some feelers to some other managers just in case.

Having said that, if we can beat the Latics in the replay and then beat the Latics in the quarter-finals then it would set up another trip to Wembley. That would put us so close and if Moyes could lift that elusive debut trophy I think that it would remove all doubt and we’d see him sign and stay for the foreseeable future.

Blood for Baal

More blood flowing than in a Tarantino film

More blood flowing than in a Tarantino film

In line with my New Year’s resolutions, I went to give blood yesterday. For the first time ever, they came to work to take donations which just made it very convenient. I hadn’t realised that it was over three years since I last donated which isn’t good. With them coming into work now, I should hopefully be able to get back into doing it regularly. The only downside that I could see to the whole thing was that when I had a biscuit afterwards, they didn’t have any Penguins in the biscuit jar and yet they had a big box of them on the side. How can you keep Penguins just for people who donate in the afternoon. It was a good job that they had some mint Clubs or I may have been forced to ask for my blood back.

Was Black Mirror misogynistic?

A scene from the Black Mirror episode White Bear

I really enjoyed Monday night’s episode of Black mirror. In fact it was probably my favourite of the five that have so far been aired. However, I was a little surprised to see a number of people on Twitter saying it was misogynistic. I started thinking about whether they had a point.

The main character is through what turns out to be an amusement park, her psychological torture a punishment for a previously committed crime. This fear and panic is played out daily in front of a live, interactive audience.

Would it have worked with a male protagonist? Yes, but I don’t think it would have worked as well. The shock at the end came from the flipping of our expectations. We’d been feeling sympathy for her but then we discovered that she’s not a victim at all. Maybe it is easy to feel sympathy for a “damsel in distress” The programme obviously ramped this up when it made her (and us) believe that the picture of the girl was her daughter.

Am I being misogynistic just by using the phrase damsel in distress?

For me the programme had some really interesting thoughts on justice. Our current system is all about rehabilitation but how can you be rehabilitated if everyday your mind is wiped of the crime you committed? Does it make the punishment worse if you don’t understand until afterwards why you were being punished?

I also thought that the main target of the programme was the baying mob. How often do we see the obsession over the press conferences, the poring over the minute details, especially when a child goes missing. I can’t really point the finger as I’m doing exactly the same thing over the Oscar Pistorious case at the minute. Then, when the perpetrator is captured, instant justice is demanded; the return of capital punishment is always mooted.

Interestingly, in Black Mirror’s future, hanging turns out to be too good for them.

I still don’t think that I’ve answered the accusations of misogyny in the programme. As a man, I’m not totally sure that I could anyway and as a fan of Charlie Brooker I’m not sure that I would be impartial enough to see it. I certainly didn’t think it was when I watched it but looking back I could see how someone might level such accusations.

What does everyone else think?