October 25, 2013

Keeping It Peel

For Keeping It Peel Day, in honour of the Word spread by the Rev. John, thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded (ta, the British!), we present a special mix. Every second of every last track has been lovingly, tenderly, gorgeously hand-picked from the archive of sessions performed for Peel's programmes, spanning [counts] thirty-four years of broadcasting excellence? Bloody hell, even if we do say so ourselves. Our dedicated team of expert music-listening technicians has curated this unique blend especially for your aural delight and, possibly, oral ensquealment. (Side effects may vary. By reading this, you waive all statutory rights.) And because we have total faith in the quality of our product, we believe in being completely transparent with you, our trusted client, about the ingredients that have gone into this unique, one-off, unique, special and unique one-time unique podcast, including the date each was recorded:

(0:00) Ivor Cutler, "Life in a Scotch Sitting Room, Volume II, Episode 10" (15/7/1985)

(0:35) The Delgados, "Last Rose of Summer" (16/10/2002)

(3:25) Dawn of the Replicants, "Windy Miller" (28/4/1998)

(6:01) David Bowie, "Moonage Daydream" (23/5/1972)

(10:52) Supergrass, "Pumping on Your Stereo" (23/7/1999)

(14:02) Dick Dale, "Surf Trip" (28/8/2002)

(16:47) Bhundu Boys, "Ndoita Sei" (17/1/1987)

(21:27) Dexys Midnight Runners, "Tell Me When My Light Turns Green" (26/2/1980)

(24:38) The Fall, "He Pep!" (7/12/1995)

(28:44) Public Image Ltd., "Poptones" (10/12/1979)

(33:12) The Auteurs, "Buddha" (20/2/1996)

(37:29) Eric Bogosian, "The Coming Depression" (10/8/1983)

(39:17) Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, "Give Booze A Chance" (5/5/1968)

(41:51) Super Furry Animals, "Fragile Happiness" (12/7/2001)

(44:10) Boards of Canada, "Olson (Version 3)" (16/6/1998)

(46:32) Half Man Half Biscuit, "Song for the Siren" / "Vatican Broadside" (3/9/2002)

(49:36) Young Marble Giants, "N.I.T.A." (18/8/1980)

The mix is 53 minutes long, and will take up no more than 49 of your hard-earned megabytes should, as we hope, you choose to load it down (or "download" it) to your digital datum storage unit. Sound quality varies because of the nature of these things and because what do we look like, some kind of professional Audacity users or something, geddouttahere.

Listen. Enjoy. Treasure. And sing along! The singer out of Slipknot went to Rome to see the Pope, everybody!, the singer out of Slipknot...

Visit the Keeping It Peel site for more Peel-related wondrousness from around the web.


October 16, 2012

Trapattoni's team talks: Germany and the Faroe Islands

(The above in words here.)


August 24, 2012

The Normanthology may or may not save your life

News for you, darlings. Those of you who have hung around hereabouts since days of yore, God love you, will remember that I occasionally contibuted to Norman Einstein's, a monthly online sports magazine. It went for 21 issues, and it was bloody good. Now, the editor, Cian O'Day, has picked some of the best pieces and arranged them in book form. There's something of mine in there, but if that doesn't put you off, please consider giving something to the Normanthology's Kickstarter drive. $10 will get you a copy of the book; more dollars will get you more stuff. Give $150 and I will write that article of mine on Venezuelan winter league baseball you've fantasised about for so long.

Some of the Einstein's crew can be found at Steven Lebron talking about the book and the site and whatnot. Cian and Einstein's contributor Graydon Gordian do likewise with David Roth at that Classical.

You have two weeks to give give give — even less if you're reading this after I write it. We'll be forever grateful if you do, and you'll be one great book to the good. Go raibh míle!


July 26, 2012

John the Baptist knows the score

Something new from me at The Classical. It's a companion to this. Both were basically inspired by the fact that the imminent departure of my favourite player from Arsenal doesn't overly bother me. This is a sign of either my growing maturity, my conquering of optimism, or the faint possibility that [BENDTNER JOKE].

Above is a song by Laughing Clowns to accompany your reading. What if football clubs split up like bands do?

In other news, here's a nice bit of video in which Nigel Half Man Half Biscuit and Geoff Probe talk about John Peel.


June 30, 2012

Sport good, says Partridge

So what had happened to me? How had I gone from the cossetted glamour of Our Price radio to the snarling, balls-out toughness of sports reporting? Well, I’d always been a keen sports fan. It seemed to me that the world of sport – with its reliance on stats, facts, trivia and rules – provided modern man with certainty and structure. Just as a well-fitting jockstrap cups the cock and balls of a sportsman, so sport cradled me. You know where you are with sport. It’s good.

And it’s all so logical. Watch a play by Shakespeare or go to a modern art gallery, and no one has the faintest idea what the hell is going on.

Take Shakespeare. Not a play goes by without one character whispering something about another character that is clearly audible to that character. By virtue of the fact it has to be loud enough for the audience to hear it, it’s inconceivable that it can’t also be heard by the character in question. It’s such an established technique in Shakespeare’s canon people just think no one will notice. Well I’ve got news for you – this guy did.

Sport, on the other hand, is straightforward. In badminton, if you win a rally, you get one point. In volleyball, if you win a rally, you get one point. In tennis, if you win a rally, you get 15 points for the first or second rallies you’ve won in that game, or 10 for the third, with an indeterminate amount assigned to the fourth rally other than the knowledge that the game is won, providing one player is two 10-point (or 15-point) segments clear of his opponent. It’s clear and simple.
Alan Partridge there, from his second volume of autobiography, I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan.

For other views on what sport is and what you get out of it, you should read this by Richard Whittall and this by Terry Duffelen. You could even read this by me. If you want. You don't have to, like. Just, it's there, is all I'm saying.


June 27, 2012

Bonus batter

Oh, hey there. From the looks of you — your eyes weighed down with hope betrayed, your face deadened by months of uncaring and ceaseless weather, your split ends really acting up — it seems that you have been waiting here like a dog lying by his master's grave, his ever-dimming yearning for said m. to reappear forming an ever-weakening web of love keeping his heart from sinking past its terminal point, somewhere between six feet under and Hell itself.

But what's this you see? What's making your eyelids audibly creak open, your tail wag so furiously it might send you into orbit? Could it be...

No. I'm not really here. I'm afraid that if you're that keen to look on my works and, who knows, maybe despair a little, you'll have to go to The Classical, which is where you'll find (amongst other delights) a piece of mine on Spain in their Imperial Phase. In it, I touched upon the "are Spain, like, actually dead boring? And stuff?" argument that has gone on for ... well, a couple of years now, but especially strongly since their win in their Euro 2012 quarter-final against France's formation genuflection team. But it's crying out to be touched upon even more, so here are my thoughts on the subj. Apologies in advance for using forty-nine words where fifty would do. Good dog.


People are entitled to their boredom. Some less lovely than me might say that being offended by how boring a game is is like sitting out in the rain for an hour and a half and raging against the disgraceful water cycle. But hey, sometimes complaining is fun. And I don't think those who found themselves in the warm embrace of tedium on Saturday were necessarily being contrary. I'm inclined to give people the benefit of whatever doubt there may be in such things, and assume that these feelings are sincere.

Naturally, it's easier to do that when you have some sympathy for them. For my part, I did find the game a bit on the leadránach side. In fact, most of the time that I watch Spain, I find myself having to admire what they do more than being thrilled by it.

Now, there's an odd strain of criticism about Spain and Barcelona** that they are somehow meek, airbrushed, "frictionless", when in truth, they are badass to the core. It's one thing having the technical ability to play their kind of possession football. It's another to actually do it, and do it so comprehensively that it becomes you, and not just dominates the match itself but invades your opponents' dreams beforehand. Its practitioners may be self-confident to the point of self-righteousness, but they haven't just happened upon their superiority; there weren't born with it. And their style may seem dainty at times, but it's mean as hell. They may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but they have the heart and the stomach of a concrete elephant.

(**Yes, no, Spain ≠ Barcelona, but there's an undeniable overlap both in the teams' respective styles and the criticism — positive and negative — of those styles.)

The trouble, so to speak, is that they can deal so easily with teams who play them almost entirely reactively. Which is most teams. They won a World Cup by dealing with that sort of thing time after time. They don't even flinch anymore. So unless a team is willing to dare (as Italy were in the opening Group C game), you pretty much know what the outcome is going to be**. All you can do is appreciate what Spain are doing. You won't be falling to your knees thanking the god you don't even believe in for what you have just witnessed. So there's no tension. And I love me some tension.

(**See? Badasssss.)

But there are two points to make here.

Firstly, it takes two to tango, and it's no good when one partner lets their body go limp. Of course, Spain are always going to dictate terms to a great extent, but some teams who should know better (les enfants de la patrie amongst them, I'd say) make it too easy for them. If Spain games are boring, their opponents are complicit. Grumbling about how boring Spain were while ignoring the other lot is weird.

Secondly, when Spain do take wing, it is incredible. Infuckingcredible. I'm willing to sit through (almost?) any amount of eleven-man, full-size-pitch rondo because I know that if I wait long enough, something mad will happen that you'd think you'd have seen coming given that you've seen it so often before, but somehow never do. And besides, even if it doesn't happen, there's always Andrés Iniesta and David Sliva to watch. That's some consolation prize.

But then, I love that kind of football. Not everybody does, nor is it compulsory for them to do so, nor does a failure (probably not the right word) to do so indicate some lower status of football love. As if that's the point, anyway: fans aren't, or shouldn't be, in competition with one another. I would find it strange if anyone with a feel for the game doesn't at least appreciate the greatness of what Spain do, but if you don't love it, you don't love it, and that's fine. Those of us who do love it should do those who don't the courtesy of not presuming them to be deficient.

But so too should those who don't get it do everyone else the courtesy of not parading their boredom as if they've uncovered a conspiracy. It may be frustrating to hear people bang on how great Spain are and how if you don't like them, you don't like football, and similar guff. That doesn't mean you have to take them at face value. Which is often the problem with debates like these. We're really talking about matters of the heart, but discussing them as if they were completely rational. So when someone strikes a blow against what we feel on such matters, we're apt to take it personally. God knows that's true when it come to football. In the glossary of the first FreeDarko book, soccer is described as "a sport [...] whose cult of style puts the NBA's to shame". That seems about right. As I say in the piece, if something bores you, then to you, it's boring. If it doesn't, then it's not. "Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home," Arsène Wenger once said. Arguing over whose is the prettiest might be even fun, for a while.





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