Friday, 31 December 2010

At The Years End

Welcome once again to another blog entry from yours truly. It’s that dodgy period of time that nobody seems to have a proper name for, that week of emptiness between Xmas and New Years where nobody is quite sure what’s going on.

It’s a good time of year though, as the football schedule ramps right up and we get games nearly every day. The players may not like playing so many games close together but for the fans it’s great to see, especially if your team wins a game! And thankfully my beloved Hammers notched up a very important victory on Boxing Day away to Fulham. It was the first away win for the team since the start of last season, and gave us a much-needed boost in the busy Xmas schedule. Tuesday the team weren’t as lucky, managing only a draw with Everton in a game we quite clearly could have won. So West Ham are still bottom of the league as January draws near, changes need to be made and victories are needed if the club are to perform a great escape. Sticking with sport we also have the World Darts Championships taking place, with big Phil being the favourite once again, and of course the Ashes are taking place in Australia. There’s only one test left now, and England have already retained the urn, now it’s just off to Sydney to hopefully win the series 3-1.

This past year has been an interesting one I must say, it’s been a full year working with LOROL, and just that alone has seen a fair few alterations. The boss that hired me left early on in the year, I was part of the team that opened up a brand new line in April, and I’ve changed roles for a period of time and am now working in the control centre at Swiss Cottage. It’s still going well though; I am enjoying myself and gaining new experience in the new role. The year has also seen the Hammers leave it late but stay in the Premiership as the season ended in the summer, the shambles that was the World Cup, and me picking up a silver medal in the Darts at the Railsport games in July. It’s also been another year with Gemma, we’ve had ups and downs but we’re still going strong. We also had our first proper “alone” holiday as such, spending 3 nights away and going to Alton Towers, which was a lot of fun! I wont do a full and detailed year review, that takes far too long, and add to that most of the events that occurred this year have been in these very blogs!

Christmas was a wonderful couple of days, had a great Xmas day at home with my brothers, sister and mum, who put on a blinder of a meal. Got plenty of presents, including 2 bottles of whisky, £150 vouchers to buy whisky, couple of blu-rays, and of course the typical socks! Mum also paid for my tickets to see Rush that will be coming later next year. Boxing Day was spent round Dads, enjoying a Turkey Tikka Masala for dinner which was superb! We also wandered down to the snooker hall for a couple of frames, which I lost! Although I did make up for it by winning at Darts back at Dads! I was also off work on Monday as there was a huge derby match due to be played, but it was called off due to a frozen pitch. Canvey Island has two non-league football teams, CIFC and Concord, and they were due to play each other for the first time in the league on that day. I know a lot of people were up for it, and it was a shame it was called off, but it’s been rescheduled for the 22nd February now and I’m gonna make sure I can attend then!

Next year will be the same as every other year, just with a different number on the end! But there are a few things I am really looking forward to, including seeing Rush, Journey, Foreigner, Styx, Peter Frampton and Thin Lizzy in concert in the coming months. Also at the beginning of March my favourite day of the year returns, as Whisky Live comes back to London. It’s in a new venue this year, hopefully a bit bigger than the last one, but I’m sure that myself, Nick and Andy will enjoy ourselves as we have done the previous couple of years! It’s not on the same level as the one I attended in October, but after going for the past 3 years I hold a bit of a torch for the cheaper and more down to earth Whisky Live show!

And that’s it for another year of blogs. Thanks to those of you who have read these on Facebook throughout the year, and I’ll be back in 2011 to bring you a lot more sports and whisky based waffle. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, and thanks again for reading!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Standouts of The Year

The year is quickly coming to an end, so I thought I would get another blog in, this time going over some highlights of the year. You know, things like album, movie of the year, that sort of thing. Obviously my choices are not the ultimate be all and end all, I’ve not seen everything, it’s purely a personal choice for you to glance over!

So I’ll start with music, and the album that’s really done it for me this year has to be the “solo” effort from Slash. By no means is he the greatest guitarist around, but he gets the job done, and on this album he’s brought in a few friends to make sure of it! Rock staples such as Lemmy, Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Ian Astbury of the Cult have all added their voices to tracks on the album. There are a couple of surprises though, Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge lends his voice to two tracks, and is now Slash’s touring vocalist, and Fergie (of the Black Eyed Peas) shows her rock credentials on the track Beautiful Dangerous. It’s one of the best tracks on the album, and she surprised a lot of people with how well she suits the track. Definitely the best album I heard all year. Honourable mentions go to the debut from Black Country Communion, Mojo by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Le Noise by Neil Young, and the inexplicably titles Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards by Joe Satriani.

Sticking with music, I move on to my gig of the year. Now this year I’ve attended a fair few events, but one has stood out for pure enjoyment and fun value, and that was Lynyrd Skynyrd. Myself and my brother Ben went to see them at the Hammersmith Apollo in March, and although there’s just 1 original member left, it still sounded like Skynyrd. The atmosphere was fantastic within the audience, and the support (Gun) were energetic and entertaining as well. A decent mix of new stuff and classics were performed, and the immense rendition of Freebird to close the show was the stuff of legend. It was easy to put that as my top gig of the year, it really did stand out. Honourable mentions must go to being in the front row for Joe Satriani, to seeing Joe Bonamassa live with special guest Ian Anderson, to seeing the Barenaked Ladies for the second time, and to having my ears truly blown by Motorhead!

Moving on to the silver screen now, and my movie of the year is a fairly obvious one to those of you who know what TV shows I love and enjoy! It may not have had the most enthralling storyline, it may not have been the most serious, it may not win any awards, but my movie of the year is The A-Team. The film was never going to be the same as the TV show, but it was funny, cheesy, full of explosions and entertaining to watch. The casting was great as well, Liam Neeson did extremely well as Hannibal, and even the MMA fighter Rampage Jackson pulled off a decent BA Baracus. Just one honourable mention in this category, and that’s The Expendables. It was the ultimate in cheesy 80s action movies, with an absolutely stellar cast, and was the perfect bloke movie!

Going down to the small screen, and the TV show that’s kept me entertained the most this year is Castle. I’ve written about it before in blogs, but I can’t get over how great it is. It stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, and is based around Richard Castle (Fillion) who is a writer shadowing the NY Police Dept for inspiration for his new books. It’s currently on the 3rd season, but it’s been this year that I’ve started watching it and managed to really get up to date with it. Other shows of note this year have been Sons of Anarchy, Burn Notice, and Chuck.

Quite short really when you think about it, but thanks for reading!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Tis The Season To Be Sick

Hello one and all, welcome to yet another blog from yours truly. I got a few things to mention this time including 3 xmas events, my sporting loves and how I’m feeling!

So we’ll start with a sob story, I’ve been in bed for the past 3 days sick as a parrot. A chesty cough, sneezing all over the shop, and getting very little sleep, so I’m in great shape at the moment! I’m also off work because of it right now, hoping to back on Wednesday as I am slowly on the mend.

As everyone is aware it’s nearly Christmas time, and with that comes Xmas parties and events either with friends or through work. I’ve been lucky enough to attend 3 over the past week or so, the first of which was with some of my old colleagues from c2c in Southend. It was good to see some old faces again, considering it had been this time last year that I’d previously seen many of them! Although it didn’t start too well as first thing one person said to me was that I’d put on weight! That’s the way to win people over! The do was held at the Westcliff Hotel, and it started with a decent little meal (the emphasis being on the word little). A disco then followed, and after laughing at a few old faces doing their thing on the dance floor we left for home. Next up was Gemma’s work Xmas do for the Queens Theatre. Again it was a meal followed by a disco, but this one generally a bit of a higher class than that of the previous do! Again the meal may not have been the biggest, but it was very nice and I enjoyed it! It was a great night at a very swish place, and both me and Gem loved it! Finally it was the LOROL xmas do in London, themed as a Las Vegas night (bit different to Xmas I know, but it kinda worked). For a change I thought I would make an effort, and for those that have seen my latest profile pic you’ll know what I looked like. I wanted to go for the Frank Sinatra look, you think I pulled it off? It was a great night, free drinks helped! To add to the Las Vegas theme there were free Blackjack and Roulette tables, which were good fun to spend a bit of time on!

On to football now, and my beloved Hammers. It’s not been an easy season so far, with just 2 wins in the league over Wigan and Tottenham, but there have been some big positives, mainly the 4-0 win over Man Utd in the League Cup to get through to the semis. It’s not easy being a Hammers fan, but to be honest I don’t think I would have it any other way! January approaches now and therefore so does the transfer window, who will go and who will stay at Upton Park? And will anyone come to Upton Park? Changes need to be made, both with the playing staff and the managerial staff, but of course money talks and it may not be that easy to make the required changes. The New York Jets have been a bit kinder to me this season, storming to a 9-2 record over the start of the season. However the past two weeks the Jets hit a stumbling block and got destroyed by the Patriots then turned over by the Dolphins. This meant that an away trip to Pittsburgh this past weekend was not an entertaining prospect! Due to being unable to sleep I was able to listen to the game on Radio 5 Live Sports Xtra, and although I slept through the 3rd quarter, the game was a bit tight and closely fought. The Jets had a 3 point lead as the game ticked towards the final whistle, and the lead increased to 5 when a rare Safety was scored thanks to Jason Taylor, and that gave the Jets the win! Are things back on track for Rex and the Jets? Hopefully! And finally the NBA, and the Chicago Bulls have put together a great opening to the season, winning 7 games in a row recently, and working really well as a team. There were a fair few changes in the Bulls squad over the summer, including the addition of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, and now that Boozer is back playing the team are looking better and better. Still a long way to go in the season, but my confidence is high!

I used to watch wrestling an awful lot when I was younger, going to the live shows here when the WWF/E came over, and even going to Madison Square Garden in 2004 to see Wrestlemania 20. But after that I got bored with the whole thing, the storylines were too predictable and it didn’t hold the same enjoyment for me as it once did. Well lately I’ve been reliving the glory days so to speak, as my brother Stephen downloaded all the WWF Raw episodes from 1999 (when we got right back into it), and I’ve been watching them with great joy! The memories have been flying back, watching factions like the Corporation, the Ministry, Union, and wrestlers such as Ken Shamrock, Steve Blackman, Al Snow, Hardcore Holly, and shitloads more. The storylines also came flooding back and I was calling it before it happened, but it has been really enjoyable. It’s not enough to get me back into watching up to date WWE, but it’s re-ignited my love for the classics!

This blog isn’t just appearing on facebook now, I’ve also started on Blogger so I can show my blogs to my followers on Twitter. So for anyone that’s just seen this through the latter, welcome aboard and thanks for reading!

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