Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Another short week

I seem to have had a few of these recently - this time it is the National Yank holiday of Thanksgiving which is tomorrow and then Friday as well (which is the National Yank day of shopping as far as I can tell).

Actually, the office closes at 3pm today as well so only really a half week.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Random music

The thought occurred that I haven't written about any new bands I've been listening to for a while - the main reason being that I haven't really come across anything that has been particularly great really but here are a couple you might want to try.

Los Campesinos! - despite the odd name I think this band is actually from Wales. Anyway, slightly odd pop sound to them but try "You! Me ! Dancing!".

Hunter S. Thompson
- the "Gonzo Tapes" were recently released and cover the recordings made during the work which would become his books on the Hells Angels and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas - one of the tracks can be found here. OK, so this isn't music but looking down my iTunes it is the only other new stuff I've added recently that is worth checking out.

That's it - that's all I can find. This has been a bad year for new bands.

Monday, 24 November 2008

We Are Scientists

After a long day of beer and rugby I did mange (contrary to many predictions) to make it to the "We Are Scientists" concert on Saturday night. OK, I missed all the support bands but I was in nice time for the main band.

One thing these guys are good at is the banter between the band members and the crowd. Unlike a lot of bands they don't just get up and run through their set list and leave - they actually seem to make an effort to make the crowd feel involved.

Anyway, still unconvinced by the second album but the first gets better almost every time I listen to it.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Getting dressed in a rush on minimal sleep can cause problems

Slight addendum to yesterday's story, I didn't get back until past midnight from the AC/DC gig (although this was partially my fault as we got on a train going the wrong way and by the time we got off and got a train going the right way it was 40 mins later) and had to get up at about 5am to fly to Chicago at 7am. In fact I only woke up at 5.45am and was running around frantically in order to try and make my flight. Now I don't in any way claim to know anything at all regarding fashion but I have to suspect that a striped suit, checked shirt and spotted tie are not a combination to go for...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

AC/DC

So if The Ting Tings represent one end of the music I listen to AC/DC is probably at the other extreme. I suppose I view them as one of the bands that given the opportunity to see you definitely should - but I can't really figure out why. Maybe its just because they've been around for years.

Anyway, to the Izod Centre (which is next to Giants Stadium in New Jersey) and last nights concert. Well, they were actually really good.

I actually surprised myself with how many songs I knew (other than a couple from the new album there were only a couple I didn't recognise). Additionally. even though the event was indoors they had the full AC/DC stage show props you would expect - a giant bell for "Hells Bells"; giant inflatable "Rosie" for "Whole Lot Of Rosie"; the cannons for "For Those About To Rock"; flame throwers for "TNT"; and a hydraulic platform in the middle of the crowd for Angus Young to play on:

Definitely one to check out even if you're not much of a fan - you'll know more songs than you realise and see one of those bands that you really should see (even if I can;t work out why).

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Bermuda Rugby Classic

After a pretty heavy Friday night we managed to resurrect ourselves enough to explore the bay area of Hamilton during the day (manging to catch the Scotland v SA game too). This culminated with a wander up into the island to the rugby ground. Actually, the rugby ground is a temporary structure set up on the cricket pitch.

Having settled ourselves on the half way line with a stack of Corona we awaited the first match which was the Plate final between France and Argentina. The ethos of this tournament can be summed up with the story of the first try of this match which went to France in the first few minutes. France were pressing on the Argentinean line and when the ball was fed out from a ruck on the right it was inadvertently passed to the referee who proceeded to pass the ball on and award the resulting try under the posts...

France missed the conversion and the game continued. Over the rest of the game Argentina became more and more dominant but it took until the 2nd half for them to score and convert to go 7 - 5 ahead and that was the final score.

The main event was The Classic Lions v South Africa (as expected) - what was not expected was the Lions scoring two tries in quick succession and leading 12 -0 at the half.

The South Africans got on the score board midway through the 2nd half with a try by Deon Kayser to make it 12 - 5 but another Lions score from Anthony Foley settled the game at 19 - 5 for the Lions.

We then headed to the after match party in the beer tent for several hours...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Friday Night

Let's go back to the beginning with this - having arrived on Friday afternoon and after a swim in the hotel pool we headed off to the big Friday night rugby party in Bermuda which was held in a park next to the harbour. Actually, we hit a few bars first and arrived at the party at about 9.30pm.

This event seemed to be being run by the local rugby club as it was a case of buy drink tickets and exchange them for whatever you liked at the drink tents which had been set up. As these were being manned by the rugby club it was free pour (so rather large measures) - I fairly sure we spent the majority of the night on vodka & Red Bull...

I'm going to guess that there were about 800 people at this party which we think went on until about 2am. This included a rather good cover band playing exactly what you would expect: U2; Franz Ferdinand; Coldplay; etc (including the obvious "Living on a Prayer" & "Summer of 69"). These guys probably played for about 2 hours so earned their money:

We think we went to one more bar after leaving this party (although it may have been more) and rolled back into the hotel at about 4am. I'll run through Saturday tomorrow.

Monday, 17 November 2008

No voice

As a result of:
- a rugby related party until 4am on Friday
- the Autumn internationals and Bermuda Classic matches on Saturday
- the after match party until 3am on Saturday

I wasn't in great shape come Sunday morning - luckily, this was next to my hotel:


This was all I could manage on Sunday and my voice has completely gone today.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

(Short) holiday

No post tomorrow as I'm off on holiday for the weekend - it turns out Bermuda is only a couple of hours flight from NY so I'm off there to watch the World Rugby Classic (basically a World Cup for over 35s I think)...having said that the Safa's are taking it too seriously and have sent a ridiculously strong team including Skinstad, Paulse, Fleck & Kayser

All the squads are listed here.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Strange way of commuting to work

I noticed something last week that I meant to mention but forgot about. However, I saw the same thing yesterday which reminded me - there's a guy in NY (at least I assume its the same guy) who commutes to work in his suit on a unicycle.

To be fair he makes pretty good time along the street. Thinking about this, I'm not sure what he does when he has to stop at a junction - does he balance on the spot or have to get off and then start again? If I see him again I'm going to find out.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Calzaghe v Jones Jr.

OK, I'm back to about 85% of normal now so let's recap the fight from Saturday night. First of all the entire top tier of MSG (where I'd watched the Trinidad v Jones Jr fight in January) wasn't open and the lower tiers weren't quite full - so nowhere near a sell out.

The undercard had nothing too exciting on it, I caught the two fights prior to the main event (Dmitry Salita v Derrick Campos and Zab Judah v Ernest Johnson) which both went the distance neither of which were particularly interesting. Actually, the undercard has been heavily criticised in all the reports I have read.

However, to the fight itself - Calzaghe v Jones Jr:

Well, as I'm sure you all know, other than a knockdown in the first round Calzaghe was never in any trouble in this fight and it was one way traffic virtually all the way. It never really looked like he would knock Jones Jr out but he never looked like losing either.

I think the punches thrown/landed statistics tell the story fairly well:
- Calzaghe threw 985 and landed 344
- Jones Jr threw 475 and landed 159

To be honest, I think that is it for me and boxing - I don't find it particularly interesting and it is not a cheap night out.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Ouch, still hurts

Saturday was a long day - 9.30am to about 6.00pm in the Red Lion on Guinness would have been more than enough but I then had the Calzaghe fight to go to...this meant I was still going at about 2am when I finally rolled in home.

Yesterday was a complete write-off. I was only awake for about 6 hours and felt awful for the whole day. Still not 100% today being honest. Still no evenings out planned this week until Friday so plenty of time to recover.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Rangers v Lightning

I saw a few things I'd never seen before at the ice hockey last night- a goalie fighting, a 6 on 3 powerplay and a hatrick (all of which occurred in the last couple of minutes of the game).

Up until then it had been a pretty good performance by the Rangers who were leading 4 -2 (the second Lightning goal was one of the most skillful I have seen but I can't find it on Youtube yet). With only a couple of minutes left Tampa started taking a load of penalties and ended up with only 3 skaters against the Rangers 5 - at this point they took another penalty which allowed the Rangers to pull their goalie and have 6 on 3 which is rarely seen. The Rangers got one last goal in the last few seconds tro make the final score 5 -2.

There then followed several beers until about 2am and a hangover for me today. Luckily I'm not planning anything tonight as I have all the rugby to watch tomorrow (starting at 9.30am) and then I'm off to the Calzaghe fight - a long day...

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Giants v Cowboys

I'm still working my way through all the sports teams in NY but this is another one ticked off the list. I had planned to try and go to a Giants game as early in the season as possible before it got ridiculously cold and suppose I managed that - although it was still damn cold at the back row of the top tier. This wasn't helped by the fact that it was a 4pm kick off so it was dark by the start of the 2nd half.

As for the game, well the Cowboys have lost a couple of their star players in the last few weeks so what was expected to be a close game was a bit of a blowout really. The Giants led 14 - 0 after the first quarter and never really looked like losing.

They proceeded to score another touchdown in each quarter with the Cowboys only responses an interception touchdown in the 2nd quarter and another score in the 4th quarter. The final score being 35 - 14.

Now the stadium is really in no-mans land in New Jersey - apparently its location was decided upon as it is next to a major highway. That may be true but it isn't near anything else (i.e. bars, restaurants train links). Therefore, at the end of the game it is a mad scramble for people to get out. I (along with about 50% of the crowd) headed for the exit with about 5 mins left to play and made for the bus which I needed to get to the train station - it actually went relatively smoothly but really - not a clever place to build the ground.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Ting Tings (again)

There are plenty of bands I have listened to for years that I have never seen live or only seen once. Then we have The Ting Tings, who only really appeared this year and this is their third gig in NYC in the last six months. I'm not complaining as I'm still listening to their album more than any other at the moment. They've moved up too - the first gig was a Bowery Ballroom (capacity 550), the second was as a support act and now they are headlining at Webster Hall (capacity 1,400).

Yoav
- I highly recommend you check this guy out, he was easily one of the best support acts I have seen here. Basically it was just him, his guitar and a sampling machine. He taps to guitar and replays that, then plays a couple of chords and plays that over the top, sings into the guitar and plays that over the top and so on building up a backing track over which he will then play and sing - probably not the best description in the world but very talented and very good. Definitely worth checking out.

The Ting Tings - Its quite interesting to see how the show has changed over the year with a couple more songs added to their original set and a couple of changes to the way some songs are performed - notably "Traffic Light" which (although it still stands out as being very different to the other songs) is a lot more fun now.

Otherwise, it was the same tunes I've been listening to almost solidly for the last six months - "Shut Up And Let Me Go" is still their best live song.

I've found a live session they recorded here which has four tracks available for download as mp3.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

US Election

Having outlined my solution to airline security queues a couple of weeks ago, today I'm going to set out how to fix democracy (because it doesn't work). I used to subscribe to the view that everyone should vote and thought that the various schemes to entice people to vote were a good thing - this is completely and utterly wrong. Why bother trying to get people with no clue as to what is going to vote...the whole thing just degenerates into a popularity contest. A good example can be found here in Yankland where, in the last few weeks, the Republican Party has descended to having both McCain and Palin appear on Saturday Night Live and all the political advertising on TV is about why the other guy is wrong and what they have previously voted for...

Basically, in order to fix this system, I suggest that in order to qualify to vote you have to be able to show at least a basic grasp of what the candidates polices are - a multiple choice test. Fail the test - no vote for you, try again in 4 years time. As this will never be allowed, how about a toned down version where, before you vote, you have to answer questions on your views on various topics (i.e. the war, climate, income tax, economy) which indicates which candidate is closest to your view (actually there are a few sites like this on the internet already). I'm not just saying this is needed in Yankland - I suspect every country should do it.

Maybe Blackdder had it more right than wrong (can;t find the video so you'll have to make do with the script):
Edmund: Well, Mrs. Miggins, at last we can return to sanity. The hustings are over, the bunting is down, the mad hysteria is at an end. After the chaos of a general election, we can return to normal.
Mrs. Miggins: Oh, has there been a general election, then, Mr. Blackadder?
Edmund: Indeed, there has, Mrs. Miggins.
Mrs. Miggins: Oh, well, I never heard about it.
Edmund: Well of course you didn't -- you're not eligible to vote.
Mrs. Miggins: Well, why not?
Edmund: Because virtually no one is: women, peasants, (looks at Baldrick) chimpanzees (Baldrick looks behind himself, trying to see the animal), lunatics, Lords...
Baldrick: That's not true -- Lord Nelson's got a vote!
Edmund: He's got a *boat*, Baldrick. Marvelous thing, democracy. Look at Manchester; population 60,000, electoral role, 3.
Mrs. Miggins: Well, I may have the brain the size of a saltine...
Edmund: Correct...
Mrs. Miggins: ...but it hardly seems fair to me.
Edmund: Of course it's not fair -- and a damn good thing too. Give the like of Baldrick the vote and we'll be back to cavorting druids, death by stoning, and dung for dinner.
Baldrick: Oh, I'm having dung for dinner tonight.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Halloween Parade

The biggest Halloween event in NYC seems to be a parade in the West Village which runs from 7pm to 10pm. I ended up working until 6.30pm (better an extra couple of hours on a Friday evening than on a Saturday morning) so didn't actually get there until after 7.30pm so was nowhere near the front of the crowd.

Additionally, as you'll see from the pictures below, I couldn't find any setting on my camera which allowed me to take any particularly good shots.

To be honest this isn't a major miss as it was all very amateurish - did I really need to see 100 people doing the "Thriller" dance? In fact the rest of the night is 2nd only to Guinness Day with the bars filled with amateur drinkers dressed like idiots.

To steal a line from Peep Show, "I'm Louis Theroux, I'm Louis Theroux!"