Thursday, 20 March 2008

Doomsday

As I’ve said before I don’t want to write a bunch of movie reviews but this film was too much to pass up without commenting on.

The best way I can describe Doomsday it is a remake of the Mad Max films in Scotland – throw in bits from 28 Days Later, Resident Evil and Braveheart. Can you imagine that? Probably not. I’m not saying its good but it is a hell of a lot of fun. Added bonus, so great music choices: when the lunatic leader introduces himself to his crowd its to “Good Thing” by the Fine Young Cannibals; the big car chase (which is a straight Mad Max rip) is to “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood; and the film closes to “Club Foot” by Kasabian. Also, only about a dozen people in the cinema so no morons talking through the whole thing.

Right, I'm off on holiday for the next week and a bit so you won't be hearing any more from me until 1 April - Hong Kong 7s awaits.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Rangers v Penguins

I haven’t been to a Rangers game for a while (since early January I think) and with the regular season nearly over I thought I’d squeeze one more game in. Last night saw the Pittsburgh Penguins in town who come complete with the guy who seems to be generally accepted as the best player in the game at the moment – Sidney Crosby.

That was the plan anyway but Crosby was out injured. Still, there were a fair number of goals with the Rangers eventually winning quite easily 5 - 2.


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

St Guinness’ day / Ash

Obviously a hell of a lot of Septics claim to be Irish – actually the largest ethnic group from the last census here is German but you don't see any Oktoberfests here do you. Anyway, every year there is a big parade up 5th Avenue so, seeing as I work near there I took a look:

This goes on for hours with bands marching then police marching then bands marching then police marching...you get the idea. A quick aside before I continue, I had no idea who St Guinness actually was so I looked it up and it seems to me he was English.

But back to today's story, when I worked in NY in March 1999 I was also here for St Guinness day and remember that it is amateur night in the bars of NY with every single one of them packed out. Luckily I was off to a concert for the evening to see the Northern Irish band Ash - this was back in the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn which is the same venue I saw The Kooks a few weeks ago.

As per usual there were three bands on the bill so here's a quick run down:

Levy - this lot seemed to be hammered, the drummer definitely was. Anyway, none of their songs were came across that well live.

Nightmare of You - an improvement on the first band definitely but still nothing special. They did seem to think they were Muse at a couple of points with ridiculously long weird solos.

Ash - I’ve seen Ash a few times in the past but never actually paid to see them. To explain, I first saw them at the Edinburgh New Year party in 1995 and then also when they supported U2 at Twickenham a couple of years ago. So I wouldn't count myself as a massive fan but they've put out enough stuff over the years to put on a decent concert and I can't fault them for length anyway - they were on stage for more than 1hr 30 mins last night (with a set including cover versions of "Whiskey In The Jar" and "Teenage Kicks") meaning they didn't finish up until about 12.45am. What do you want for less than £10?

I was looking for mp3s of "Burn Baby Burn" or "Orpheus" which are my favs from the band but I can't find any so you'll have to go to the Ash website to watch them online. I did however find "Girl From Mars" which is probably the next best thing.

Monday, 17 March 2008

6 Nations – thank f##k that’s over

Dan Parks is the devil – I’m pretty sure of that (at the very least he is party Italian). How else can you explain his farce of a display on Saturday. Let’s not dwell on the fact that Hadden completely bottled selection by bringing back into the team – that’s probably lost him his job. It wasn’t just a Parks interception (his third of the game) that stuffed it – his awful positional play stuffed up the last five minutes. What do you do with 5 minutes left and possession on the halfway line? Answer is stick it in the corner so you have position. You don’t run it and risk giving up the ball and position which is what they did.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Last day of the week...

...and a tedious week it has been too.

I can't think of much to talk about today, I went out for a couple of beers last night but nothing interesting to report from that. I finally made it to the gym yesterday lunchtime and didn't die so that was a plus. Quiet night tonight before the all day bar session that is the last day of the 6Nations tomorrow.

Being honest, wouldn't like to pick a winner for any of the three matches. I don't expect Wales to lose by 20 points so they'll win the Championship but as for winning the three games. Scotland are lucky winger is a position we have strength in depth at the moment as we have now lost both Lamont's, Nikki walker and Thom Evans - I'd like to say I expect to win but I'm not sure I do. Eng v Ire will go to whichever team finds some form.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Still jetlagged

This is really getting beyond a joke - last night I was asleep by 8pm and didn't wake up until 7am...and I still feel tired now! I brought my gym kit with me to work on Tuesday and it is still sitting at the edge of my desk unused because I feel so tired at lunchtime I can't face going.

I've never been great with jetlag but this really is getting ridiculous.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The Pigeon Detectives

Here's a list of things I didn't need last night - to stay out until 1.30am at a gig.

I was still suffering from a fair amount of jetlag last night when I headed off out to the concert last night - luckily the venue wasn't too far away though (about 15 blocks south of my flat). I got my timings a bit confused so managed the whole of the first band so only two bands to report on today:

Your Vegas - I'd never heard of them before but these guys were pretty damn good. They reminded me of early U2 stuff. Check them out.

Pigeon Detectives - Now I do like the album but, like the Kaiser Chiefs, I see them as a bit of a "one trick pony". Unlike the Kaiser Chiefs however they are actually good live. I don't think they will have a particularly long shelf life but we'll see.

Here are a couple of links to sites currently hosting mp3s of the Pigeon detectives:
"I'm Not Sorry"
"The Power Of Love" - a cover of the Huey Lewis and the News song

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Airline rankings revisited

A long time ago I wrote a post talking about the various airlines I had used – well I’ve been on a few more in recent weeks so its time to revisit that topic. The three airlines I used were:

Jet Airways (NY to Chennai) – these guys are going straight to the top of the table – absolutely great. The seats in business class were the best I've ever had going completely flat and being comfortable (rather than similar to a plank of wood).

Swiss Air (Delhi to London) – not happy with this one. The entertainment system was still using the loop rather than choose your start time and the seats were like premium economy rather than the kind that go flat.

EOS (London to NY) – this is a business class only flight from Standsted and was pretty damn good (even with a massive hangover). The lounge happily showed the last 6 Nations game of the week and the trip was very comfortable . Huge choice of films and TV to watch as well - just a shame all movies that have come out recently really don't appeal.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Fortune favours the brave

In this case me and my decision to go back to NY from India via London on the weekend of the Calcutta Cup match. Now I didn’t rate the English team really at all but Scotland have been so bad this year I wasn’t expecting much.

So was this 15 – 9 win a case of a vast Scottish improvement or a dire English display – annoyingly I think I’ll have to go with the latter more than the former. Scotland (and England for that matter) never looked like scoring a try. Scotland just controlled the ball and territory much better than England.

Looking at the English team there are still a lot of players living on past glories (e.g. Vickery and Wilkinson) and a lot of the newer guys just aren’t up to it (i.e. Easter, Sackey) and they badly miss any sort of leader in the pack. It’ll be interesting to see what Ashton does for the final game next week – does he have the guts to drop his captain and the world’s highest points scorer?

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Goodbye to India

Right, my last day here and I can’t say that I’m too bothered by that. India is probably the only country I have visited which I have no desire to ever visit again. To be fair I had no desire to ever come here myself and its only due to work that I have.

Anyway, I'm off to London for a day on the way back to NY (almost all flights transfer in Europe so I might as well watch one set of 6 Nations games in normality rather than at 8am).

Lastly, a final story from the roads of India which I read in the paper yesterday – shouldn’t be funny but is.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Need normal food...

Now I like Indian food, I limited myself to one a week in London but could easily have done more. Well here I've had Indian every day for lunch (including one week of vegetarian Indian)...and I'M READY FOR SOME NON-SPICY FOOD. Our current hotel (apparently) has a world famous Indian restaurant called Bukhara and it is packed out every night. But we can't face it and have been using the Italian restaurant instead.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Air Pollution

I mentioned last week that the air quality in Vadodara wasn’t the best – Delhi is even worse with constant smog over the city (OK, I’ve lived almost all of the last 10 years in major cities so air quality isn’t great but they aren’t this bad). Yesterday morning it was so bad you couldn’t see more than about 100 yards.

Obviously Beijing is getting a lot of attention for this issue with the Olympics there later this year but the Commonwealth Games are due in Delhi in 2010 so they face the same problem. An article from the Times of India from last month states:

“Compared to Beijing, which will host the 2008 Olympics, Delhi has done very little to clear the air before the Commonwealth Games in 2010... To Delhi's credit, it has taken action in nearly all sectors to control air pollution over the past decade by relocating polluting industries and introducing Euro II and Euro III standards. Most of its public transport runs on CNG and 15-year-old commercial vehicles have been taken off roads; transit freight traffic is restricted and controls on power plants are tighter. The city has also banned open burning of leaves, among other measures.”

Whatever they are doing they need to do a lot more of it.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Delhi

After the exertions of going to Agra and back on Saturday I wasn’t really in the mood to travel too far on Sunday so I kept my sightseeing to the centre of the city and went to see the Presidential Palace and the India Gate.

Completed in 1929, the palatial building was formerly the Viceroy's House during the British rule. After India became independent the Viceroy's house was re-named Government House and when the country became a republic in 1952 it was re-christened as Rashtrapati Bhavan (President Quarters):

At the other end of the 2½ km “Rajpath” (Kings Avenue) is the India Gate (looking down this road reminds me a lot of the Champs-Élysées in Paris – you’ll see the India Gate is similar to the Arc de Triomphe):

This is a 42-meter high War memorial built (between 1921 to 1931) in memory of the soldiers who died during the Afghan war and World Wars – it bears the name of the 85,000 Indian Army Soldiers who died during the wars. A flame, Amar Jawan Jyoti, is kept perpetually alive here and below the arch is the memorial to the Unknown Soldier.

Off on a tangent, but you can download the new Charlatans album for free from the XFM website here.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Taj Mahal

You can’t really come to Delhi and not make the effort to visit the Taj Mahal. However, its not as easy as you might think as it isn’t in Delhi – or even very near it. Its actually in Agra which is just over 200km away.

So 7.30am we jumped in a car and off we went. If you’ve been reading my notes from India you’ll have picked up that driving here is “entertaining” to say the least so a round trip that takes better part of 10 hours in total was really fun!

But to the building itself:

A little bit of history I suppose, construction started in 1631 and was completed in 1653 - the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan (which I’m pretty sure was the name of a character in Angel) ordered it built in memory of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1629.

The Emperor actually planned to build another one (but black this time) for himself at the opposite side of the river but never happened as Shahjahan was imprisoned by his son and work on the Black Taj Mahal was stopped - actually there seems to be a bit of debate as to whether this is true or not but I found it interesting.