Friday, 31 December 2010

Top Ten Things of 2010

As I don’t get to the cinema that often, but don’t want to be left out and feel as if I should post something on the blog this year at least, I’ve knocked up a wee list of 10 things of note from the year from my completely irrelevant perspective. I’ll steer clear of mawkish stuff about my family who are always the highlight of the year for me and stick with more personal stuff. No particular order btw.

The Chilean Miners

Charlie Brooker pretty much summed this up on his excellent (if slightly overlong) 2010 wipe the other night, but I have to admit I shed a wee tear when the first guy came up and his wee girl came over to hug him.

This was a genuinely pleasant story, during which the vagaries of the “24 hour news cycle” seemed slightly less irksome. There was still plenty of narrative fabrication and absolutely loads of reporters standing around reporting on sod all from where sod all was happening (live!) but all in all it was nice to see the news media focus on a positive event for once rather than see them default to their seemingly natural position of spouting a generally inaccurate and ceaseless account of world wide fear, death and disaster.

Inception

This astonishing film (#2 in Tom’s annual Top Ten) was so good, it made me forget that I was watching what was in large part a fairly dry tale of industrial espionage involving the highly unethical mental manipulation of an unwitting individual. The fact that you are rooting for characters who are to say the least ethically suspect provides an aside about the power of cinema and indeed perspective. This result is achieved thanks to a series of excellent performances, (particularly from Tom Hardy) and visual effects that leave you little time to ruminate on any fleeting misgivings.

It’s also of course at its heart a love story and it is the compelling, passionate tragedy of this aspect of the story that provides the beam on which the rest of the film is balanced.

A sensational, brilliantly executed film from one of the most exciting talents in Hollywood. I cannot wait for The Dark Knight Rises.

Getting an Xbox 360

Self-explanatory really – one of the main reasons I have written nothing of any great substance this year.

Discovering Spotify

I tend to rely on Tom when it comes to finding out about new online thingamajigs and thankfully he managed to persuade me that Spotify was worth a try. And what a joy it is. As much as I’ve enjoyed the playlists of many friends and strangers alike, what I really love about it is you can find something to match your exact mood at any given time of the day. This has led me to discover that Saturday mornings are all about disco era Kiss for me, and how could I have possibly been expected to live without knowing that about myself?

Getting a Smartphone

What a revelation this was. As you may have guessed from the last entry, I am a bit rubbish when it comes to embracing new tech. This is partly because I’m not easy and need be wooed over a lengthy spell – it’s also probably because I’ve never really had the money for gadgets before so have consciously or otherwise characterised any new development as crap in order to assuage disappointment in not being able to join in.

Peer pressure eventually told. Genuinely bewildered by the various options, I got a Blackberry because all my mates had one. As soon as I joined them they almost all switched to the iPhone, as if my joining the Blackberry squad was in itself some kind of jump the shark moment. But to say I’m happy is an understatement. I can’t imagine how I functioned in what I now lovingly refer to as “the before times”.


The 75th Anniversary of DC Comics


The 75th Anniversary of DC Comics has been marked by some wonderful books and ephemera celebrating the home of Batman, Superman and many, many others.

My personal favourites have been the vertebrae crumblingly substantial “The Art of Modern Mythmaking” by Paul Levitz and "DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book".

“The Art of Modern Mythmaking” is a 720 page, beautifully presented tome weighting in at 15.9 pounds and is genuinely difficult to read without superpowers of your own. It’s worth the extra effort though and is brim full of Levitz’s taut, scholarly prose and amazing artwork from down the years reproduced on high quality heavy stock paper. Some may find it a bit pricey at £76.23 (Price from Amazon 31/12/10).

"The 75th Anniversary Poster Book" is slightly less of a struggle coming as it does in softcover. Here, we are treated to page after page of full colour reproductions of classic DC covers down the decades, each page perforated in case you want to neatly pull one out for framing. It’s just a very nice, simple and effective encapsulation of what has made DC a veritable icon factory over the years and it’s a bit less of a strain on the pocket as well at a modest £12.49.

Getting Worryingly Enthusiastic About Toys

Bad enough really that I never chucked a lot of my old ones away, however this year has seen me buy among other things a Blammoid Batman (Series 2) and Mini Mate versions of Booster Gold and The Blue Beetle, the latter mainly so I could recreate this harrowing scene of senseless murder from classic DC crossover series "Infinite Crisis"…



Having More Money Than Usual

This year has pretty much been the first that I’ve been able to pay the bills and have some money left over. Not loads, but some. I mention this not to suggest I’ve achieved anything because of course I haven’t but really because it’s been the most unnerving and unsettling experience. Proper weird. Having never had any before, I genuinely don’t know what to do with any extra money. If I do spend some, I second guess the purchase to death and think of 10 other things I should have done with it instead. If I save it, I worry some disaster will hit the house or the family and it will be gobbled up in one. It’s been a long road leading me to the final conclusion that I’m a twat who should worry less. Now excuse me while I head over to Amazon…

News of the Avengers Movie

People who aren’t into comics, sci-fi or all that gubbins will have no idea what I’m talking about but the few of us who do will know what a huge waste of time comic/pop culture conventions are. If you actually go, you pay through the nose to fight with other allergy infested nerds for panel seats on the off-chance that someone might say something that hasn’t already been all over the internet. If you don’t, the Internet is fairly bulging with sites and bloggers dying to feed you every tiny mini-morsel of what can often be laughingly referred to as “news”.

But…once in a while, a convention produces a spine tingling moment, and so it was at the San Diego Comic Con when Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. brought on the full cast for the Avengers film followed by director Joss Whedon. A whispered half-rumour for such a long time, the fact that this film will finally be made with this cast and director is possibly the most exciting movie news I’ve ever heard.



Discovering Twitter

By far and away the most impactful discovery of the year for me was Twitter. Again, I have to thank Tom for persevering with me on this – I resisted for a looooong time.

As dull as it can sometimes be and as full of bots and twots as it plainly is, Twitter is also home to a huge array of just genuinely brilliant people, communicating away right in the face of all the doomsayers who tell us the dialogue is over, that people just have nothing left to say to each other. What rot.

I started tweeting in March and so far I’ve reconnected with people I’d lost touch with, made some new and very amusing pals and have even managed to make a few quid in the process.

I should have realised really that this 140-character world would be the ideal place for a lazy but attention seeking plum such as myself.

2010’s been a mixed bag really as years tend to be. A lot of good, some bad and the hardest part to get through, the vast grey bulk that makes up the lion's share. But at least there have been a few things, people and events worth pulling back the covers for. See you hopefully a bit more often on Talking Pish in 2011.

Tom's Films of 2010

It’s that time of year you’ve all been waiting for where I unveil my top 10 films of the year. Like last year I’ve left it too late to write anything insightful about any of them, so I’ll just try to link to other people’s thoughts. So here we go...

1. Four Lions

Directed by Chris Morris
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, Adeel Akhtar and Craig Parkinson

Funny and surprisingly moving the eagerly awaite feature film debut from Chris Morris takes my top spot. For everything Four Lions related head over to the Cook’d and Bomb Four Lions forum thread.

2. Inception

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger and Michael Caine

A stunning piece of filmmaking from one of cinema’s most exciting filmmakers.

What the hell was it about? The best analysis of it can be found on the excellent blog ‘Go Into the Story’. Scott Myers offers his own and links to several other theries and opinions on it. If you’re interested start with this one.

3. The Social Network

Directed by David Fincher
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Brenda Song, Rooney Mara and Rashida Jones

A film written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher was always going to be a must-see for me. Not much happens in the film, yet it’s still absolutely compelling. Here’s Go Into the Story again on why The Social Network should not have worked, and why it does.

If you want some more reading here’s an in-depth article on the film from New York magazine. It also goes into some detail explaining how although Sorkin’s script was credited in the film as being an adaptation of Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires”, he could be nominated for an Oscar in the Original Screenplay category.

4. Up In The Air

Directed by Jason Reitman
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick

A Terrific script, superb cinematography, some great acting and a story that doesn’t really go where you expect it to.

Here’s Go Into the Story on the relationship between the two screenwriters Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner.

5. Precious

Directed by Lee Daniels
Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz and Sherri Shepherd

Brutal yet, on occasion, funny. Amazing performances from Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique. Yes, Mo’Nique really is fantastic in this.

Here's an interview with screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher from the Writers Guild of America, West.

6. Big Fan

Directed by Robert D. Siegel
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport, Marcia Jean Kurtz and Matt Servitto

A career best performance fromone of my favourite comedians, Patton Oswalt. A dark comedy in the vein of The King of Comedy.

Here’s an interview with Siegel and Oslwat from Cinema Blend.

7. A Prophet

Directed by Jacques Audiard
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup and Adel Bencherif

The only foreign language film in my top ten. This brutal French prison drama was gripping, with a fine central performance from Tahar Rahim as a young man who grows in prison.

Here’s Blog on the Box talking with Rahim.

8. American: The Bill Hicks Story

Directed by Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas
Starring: Kevin Booth, John Farneti and Bill Hicks

An interesting well-made documentary that takes a device seen in ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture’ to tell the story of Bill Hicks. The DVD has a wealth of interesting extras that makes it well worth a purchase.

Here's a video interview with the directors from Screen Rush.

9. The Town

Directed by Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper

Affleck's d├ębut feature 'Gone Baby Gone' topped my list in 2008, so this film now confirms him as one of my favourite current directors. Great to see Mad Men's Jon Hamm starting to get meatier film roles now too.

Here's a screenwriting analysis of it from Go Into the Story.

10. A Single Man

Directed by Tom Ford
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult

An incredibly stylish film I don't think anyone on screen this year looked better than Colin Firth.

Here's an interview with director Tom Ford from The Guardian.

This has been the seventh Talking Pish round up of the films of the year. You can find the others below.

Tom's Films of 2009

Tom’s Films of 2008

Tom’s Films of 2007

Tom’s Films of 2006

Tom’s Films of 2005

Tom’s Films of 2004

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Man in the Middle

For the last ten weeks I've been attending the SFA's referees training course. Tomorrow night I should receive my ref's registration number and whatever other paraphernalia we're awarded at the end of the course. This I'll be receiving from Scotland's newest most hated man, Willie Collum.

This of course means that the job I'm now most qualified to do is arguably the most thankless task in all of the country. I don't think there could be a worse time to become a referee. The overturned penalty scandal and the subsequent fallout would suggest it's a profession best body swerved.

This statement by Hearts doesn't exactly make you want to rush into refereeing any time soon either.

The course itself was pretty interesting and has sharpened my knowledge of the rules. Over the weeks probably the favourite thing that I have learned is that the goal shown in the YouTube clip down below is now, as it was then, perfectly legal. I'm told though that 90% of referees would disallow it.

Monday, 13 September 2010

To Jump the Shark

Here's a good article from Fred Fox Jr., the man who by writing an episode of 'Happy Days' inadvertently coined the phrase 'Jump the Shark'.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Arcade Fire Live 2003

Here's a 15 minute film of Arcade Fire live in Toronto in 2003.

ARCADE FIRE Live 2003 from Bennett on Vimeo.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Frightened Rabbit Live

Here's a full hour of Frightened Rabbit live in San Francisco.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I'm Still Here Trailer

Is Joaquin Phoenix off his nut? Possibly.

Booze, Broads and Bowling

Meet Rocky Salemmo. He’s a ramblin’ gamblin’ man. A short documentary by Sean Dunne.

The Bowler from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

Arena: The Confessions of Robert Crumb

The whole documentary.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Inception Infographic

If you've seen Inception then this infographic will maybe amuse you.

You may also want to compare the music from it in this clip down below.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Ok Go - End Love

Another elaborately staged video from Ok Go.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Brazilian Lullaby

This is my pal Natalie in the new viral for Irn-Bru.

video

The Last Hooray For Tuesday

For my last show on Sub City (until September at least) I had Sandy Nelson and Elaine Malcolmson come in to blether and pick music. You can listen to it here.

I finished my series off with a run of guests.

You can hear my show with John Ross of Dance Monkey Boy Dance here.

Eve and Travis from Hippykiller are here.

And from the 18th of May Wounded Knee is here.

For all the people asking where the name comes from (actual count: no one) it's a song by a band called The Minders, produced by the Apples in Stereo's Robert Schneider. Elliott Smith occasionally covered it in his live shows. Down below is a video of The Minders playing it.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Some Crazy Drumming

Rick K. and the Allnighters take on ZZ Top's 'Sharp Dressed Man'. But it's the drummer you need to keep your eye on.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Incredibly Sexy Firefighter Tragically Dies In Steamy Blaze

From the Onion News Network, this is very funny. I think my favourite bit is the station chief talking about him.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Rue McClanahan 1934-2010



I was always a big fan of The Golden Girls. It was a staple of Friday nights when I was growing up. Sad to see another member of the cast passing away.

Full of sharp writing and spot-on performances I don't think I saw a poor episode. I'm a fan of co-creator Susan Harris in general. Among other shows Harris also created Soap and either wrote or co-wrote every episode.

Above is a ten minute playlist of Rue McLanahan talking about The Golden Girls and appearing in a couple of clips from the show.

Down below is a letter she wrote to my Limmy's Show colleague Omar Raza after he sent her a fan letter. I think it exemplifies her class.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Rainn Wilson Initiated into Indie Films by Dennis Hopper

Stadium Love

The Video for Metric's single 'Stadium Love'. It does feature animals attacking each other in the wild, so if you don't like seeing that sort of carry on then don't click.

Clydebank 2 - 0 Ashfield

Clydebank won the Central League cup last night, despite being outplayed for most of the first half. This means that they now have potentially another four games in the Evening Times Cup Winners' Cup before they can schedule their last league game and the two-legged play-off. The first of those being tomorrow night.

Then again if they do a My Lovely Horse then they'll play the last league game on Saturday and the play-offs on Wednesday and Friday of next week.

The photo above is at the final whistle. You can see the top of my head out of focus down at the bottom alongside Paul in the brown T-shirt. The highlights of the game are down below.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Clydebank's Season in 6 Weeks



You may (or may not) remember this time last year I was trumpeting my 50th football match of the season. Well, this year I failed to update the blog that went along with my game going. However, I've still been going along to a game once a week or more. In fact I've lost count of the number of games I've been to.

For the last few weeks I'm been going to see my boyhood team Clydebank. Having lost their senior status in 2002, they were resurrected as a Junior team the following year. As I'm never by saying to folk who aren't into football, in Scotland 'Junior' means 'non-league' and not juvenile.

Since they lost the second-leg of the Scottish Junior Cup semi-final to Largs Thistle on the 17th of April they've played 18 games. Tomorrow night they play Ashfield in the final of the Central League Cup. Should they win that game then on Thursday they'll play in the Evening Times Cup Winners' Cup.

The run of cup games is preventing the club from scheduling their last remaining league game and their two-legged play-off with Lanark for promotion to the Super Premier League.

Effectively the games with Lanark will be Clydebank's most important games since they joined the Juniors.

If Celtic or Rangers were about to play their 19th game inside six weeks you wouldn't have to read about it on a blog. The papers and radio would be exhausted from talking about nothing but that for weeks.

The video below is highlights of the 3-2 win over Petershill on Friday night.

Friday, 2 April 2010

David Mills and Treme

David Mills, one of the writers and producers on 'The Wire' died unexpectedly a few days ago. It was the involvement of Mills that convinced HBO to let David Simon make the 2000 TV series 'The Corner'. Mills went on to play a big part in the five seasons of The Wire, writing one of my favourite episodes, the season 5 episode 'React Quotes', where Omar gets ambushed in Monk's apartment by Chris, Snoop and Michael.

Mills was working on David Simon's new series 'Treme' when he died. Set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, 'Treme' starts in just over a week in America. Taken from Mills' blog 'Undercover Black Man' below is a 14 minute preview of the show.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tickets

Here's a good guide to buying concert tickets in Scotland avoiding booking fees where possible, from The Pop Cop.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Neil Young - Don't Be Denied

Just so that 'Pish has a post for March. Here's a wee clip from the Neil Young documentary 'Don't Be Denied'.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Justice Colombian Style

Here's the story of Javier Florez, midfielder for Columbian football team Junior Barranquilla. In July of last year Florez shot dead a fan who heckled him for his part in a defeat.

Florez was tried for manslaughter and after agreeing to pay the victim's family 150 million pesos he received 3 years probation. On Thursday he made his return to playing for his team in the Copa Colombia.

The film below made by ESPN runs to 7 and a half minutes.






Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Well Done Tom & Limmy

A big well done to the actor Tom Brogan who I'm sure you'll agree delivered some sterling performances on yon Limmy's Show what has been on the tele recently. I honestly can't think of anyone more deserving and I was proud of the big man for grabbing his opportunity with both hands and bringing the funny as only he can. No surprise to see Brian relying on him as much as he did.

As for the show itself I thought it was real step in the right direction for Scottish TV comedy. It kept well away from the cosy parochialism that has characterised output for so long and delivered a contemporary and eclectic programme that focused on an individual vision rather than the sludge of disparate ideas you can sometimes get from a multi-writer sketch show. There were ideas, characters and gags aplenty. There was also plenty of scope for the humour to give way to an uneasy, jarring sense of despair and dissatisfaction. A number of styles were handled with equal aplomb and I think therein lay the great strength of the show. There seemed a real lack of any kind of fear, of second-guessing what the audience wanted. Instead we got the confident delivery of a genuinely considered vision. It also suggested there is so much more to come but in the meantime, for me it was an assured first foray into the mainsteam for a genuine talent with a big say in how broadcast comedy is going to be shaped in Scotland for a good while to come.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Thanks For Watching

That's Limmy's Show done. Six episodes all finished. Thanks a lot for watching, if you did so. It's been good fun seeing people's reactions to it, both online and in person.

Of the notable folk who went out of their way to comment on it Graham Linehan, Robert Popper, Grace Dent, Pearl of Pearl and the Puppets and bizarrely Joan Burnie all loved it. Unfortunately Tam Cowan and John Smeaton didn't. Can't win them all.

Thanks for all the nice comments youse have been hitting me up with. Basically I turned up on time and did what I was told, but I'll take all the praise going anyway.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Limmy's Youngest Fan

It shouldn't be funny, but it is.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Some Funny Things in the News

There's been a lack of posts on 'Pish of late, since we're both so busy with the chatty whirlwind of Twitter, but I thought I'd try to get a few more updates on here.

Anyway this is for anyone who missed these cracking video clips this past week. The first one is the astonishingly mental video Richard Madeley put together for The Daily Politics. In it he mounts a defence of Tony Blair, making himself out to be a prize fud.

The second one is Labour MP Jim Devine's hilariously out-of-his-depth defence of his expenses claims on the Channel 4 News on Friday night. You have to think that any defence where you used the word 'Whatdoyoucallit?' more than once hasn't gone well.

After that you've got 'Pish favourite Doug Stanhope's slot from last week's Newswipe.

The whole things runs to about 16 minutes, with Devine's blabberings taking up 11 minutes.

(If you're reading this on Facebook and can't see the videos the blog post is here.)

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Hooray For Saturday in February

Here's my Sub City radio show from earlier this morning. On it you can find some stand-up by Doug Stanhope and Aziz Ansari as well as tunes from The Auteurs, Bob Evans, Steve Burns and the Struggle, The Dears and more. Go and give it a listen.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Comics Journal Menshy


Blogging? We don't seem to be bothering much in this age of the tweet, not that I was doing much anyway.

But now I have something to crow about so here I am.

Me and Iain Laurie and our strip Blackcape got a nice write up in The Comics Journal in this interesting article about the Scottish Underground Comics scene. I've linked to the bit that bigs me up of course, but you can skip back for the 1st part as well.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Less Than an Hour to Limmy's Show

Just a reminder for youse all to tune in to Limmy's Show at 10 tonight on BBC2 Scotland or Sky Channel 990 should you be anywhere in the UK outside Scotland.

Here's the trailer. Very slightly different from the first one posted. This one has the fantastic Debbie Welsh in it. Briefly though it may be.

Anyway get it watched and hopefully enjoy it.

Friday, 8 January 2010

STV in Good Programme Shock

Much to my astonishment STV showed a good original programme last night. The Football Years is a new series looking at certain years in Scottish football history. Last night they looked at 1967 the year that Celtic won the European Cup, Rangers made the European Cup Winners' Cup final nd Scotland beat England 3-2 at Wembley.

The show had interviews with a lot of the main players and as well as the usual clips they showed some rare footage. So well done STV for making a good original programme for once.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Limmy's Show Trailer

Less than a week to go now before Limmy's Show hits the screens. Here's an interview with him from The Scotland on Sunday. Down below is the trailer. You can spot my fat face briefly, you can also see me getting a bit of headbanging going. Monday the 11th on BBC2 Scotland at 10pm, or see it on the iPlayer at a time of your convenience.