Hayseed Dixie rock!

OK, I don’t often go on about the gigs I go to much, except to say whether I enjoyed them or not. I’m going to make an exception because I saw a band last night who really deserve as much publicity as they can get.

The aforementioned Hayseed Dixie are a 4-piece playing predominantly cover versions. They’re a bunch of hard-drinkin’, cousin-shaggin’ rednecks from the backwaters of the Southern States of the US, and by hell are they good live. They’re one of those bands that you can tell just live for live music.

You may well have heard them on the radio in the UK where they’re getting a fair bit of airplay for the novelty value of a blue grass country band playing covers of classic rock tracks. At present, they’ve got one album out which is all AC/DC covers, another which is all KISS, and two more (one in the US, one in Europe) which are a mixture along with other bands and some original material.

Some of the songs come off better than others, but there’s no denying how damn good they are. The lead singer plays acoustic guitar and fiddle, there’s an electric bass, one banjo and a mandolin. No percussion (other than some tiny thumb cymbals taking the place of the opening tolling on Hell’s Bells) which is surprising, but you just don’t notice.

Given that I’ve downloaded virtually everything by them, and could buy the albums for less online, I felt completely obliged to pick up at least one CD after the gig. The band proceeded to sign anything and everything thrust at them. My only disappointment was that there were no t-shirts available. It’s the first gig I’ve been to in years where I’d actually have quite happily forked out for one.

This is their second trip to the UK in 3 months or so, and they’re hoping to be back over in July – with any luck playing some festivals. The venue last night was damn small and absolutely crammed, but the atmosphere was fantastic. Halfway through the first song, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand. Covers ranged from AC/DC’s Big Balls to Sabbath’s War Pigs via Spinal Tap’s Big Bottom and Motörhead’s classic Ace of Spades. Then onto their own Keepin’ Your Poop in a Jar plus a new one (guaranteed to bar the next album from Wal-Mart’s shelves) I’d Be You So I Could Fuck Me, they were pretty non-stop for 2 hours.

I will definitely be going to see them again if I get the chance. Take the time out, download an MP3 or two and if you like them go see them, too. They even actively encourage people to make their own live recordings of the shows!

Spyware authors must die

I get two days off a week – Saturday and Sunday. Saturdays are my "get stuff done" days, Sundays my "chill if I have time" days.

This week, I spent 1 hour and 20 minutes on Thursday night clearing spyware off a mate’s PC. This Sunday, at about 11:00, some malignant evil spyware program trolleyed one of my system files and my PC died around me.

Five hours, one reinstallation of XP on a spare hard drive and some selection cpoy/pasting later (after an unsuccesful re-installation of SP2 and two system rollbacks that didn’t help, plus a manual dissection of the registry to spot some stuff that SpyBot couldn’t find) and I’m back up and running.

That’s half my fucking day off. And as I’m off out tonight (to see Hayseed Dixie in Nottingham), that’s pretty much my day gone.

As such, I’d like to raise a request that everyone lobbies their MPs so that if I catch someone cunt who write spyware or viruses, I’m allowed to cut each of their fingers off, then smash their feet to a pulp and then leave them alone in a locked coffin to starve to death. I’d prefer to get away without any fear of arrest, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t at least kick the shit out of anyone I find who writes this stuff.

Fuckers.

I am a programming god

As a quick disclaimer, the above isn’t true. But the feeling of euphoria I got earlier today made me think so. Briefly. Story…

I got "tested" at work today. It was actually subtler than was first apparent and for any of you toying with looking for work soon, it’s worth reading through. Boss Man (Roy) lunged at my desk just before lunch and said he had something for me to do. Great – a task!

Basically, they’ve got some problems with the Import / Conversion routine that they needed fixing. Now, I am not a programmer. I’m a bodger who knows a bit of coding as it’s needed. But it’s part of the job and I have studied SQL a bit so I can get my head round code. Two specific issues were pointed out and I was asked to resolve them.

*GULP*

It’s fine to have a set of textbooks in front of you and a coursework question. Another with no references and a live system to repair.

I stared at the first problem. In my head I knew how to do it – in fact I could suss three ways. I could get it to work in single lines, but not as a routine. I stared some more. Blood started to seep from the pores in my forehead. OK, it didn’t really. If it had then I may not have finished unless they have wireless LANs in casualty.

I tackled it another way. No. I’m missing something. Eyes left. John’s not busy. So I asked him. Five minutes and some pointers later and I had a routine that worked. A few more and some clarification from the boss and I had it spot on, compiled and merged in with the other live code. Cool!

Now, the thing is he wasn’t actually testing my technical ability. He was testing whether I’d ask someone if I got stuck. In my second interview, with their techy guy, he’d posed me a question along the lines of what I’d do if faced with a situation I wasn’t sure about. I answered honestly – try my best, look at it, refer to anything I had to hand and then ask someone who’d know. I was told that the last bit was just the thing he was after.

So bear that in mind – don’t pretend you know everything. They actually appreciate a bit of honesty!

And my posts just haven’t been funny recently have they? Sorry about that. But at least it means I’ve spared you the details of the fact that I feel like I’ve got a brick in my stomach cos I’ve not shit in 36 hours.

Make-up time

I’ve got a few posts to bang up here after being away for a long weekend. I’ll start with a short email that Joe got from a mate after Liverpool got kicked out of the cup by Burnley:

"I’m going to the Tsunami concert on Saturday so I can’t make the Cardiff – Burnley game.

Are you interested in my spare ticket?

They’re obviously a massive club, Burnley…"

Her response: "Bastard"

Now, watch us get turfed out by Coventry at the weekend…

The rest of the weekend posts are below this one, in chronological (if backdated) order.

Monday is gigday

We had tickets for Napalm Death at the Camden Underworld on Monday night. Actually, we had the first two tickets. In the meantime, Amy had half a day of college and I had to wander in to London. No real reason other than I felt like it. Public transport be damned, I walked it.

I am still regretting that decision. I think I trolled about 10 miles (no exaggeration). Camden to the Gherkin and Lloyds buildings. Both amazing. From there to Buckingham Palace, then the Houses of Parliament. Over the river to the Golden Hind and back along past the big silly wheel thing to the Imperial War Museum where I spent about 2 hours.

At that point, I thought about getting the tube then… nah. Like a fool, I started plodging all the way back again. Via KFC for my only daily refuel. I managed to wolf my way through the majority of a variety bucket (plus dessert), allowing Amy to beg for scraps. It was actually a variety box because it’s one of those crap KFCs that doesn’t do buckets, but hey – I was starving and wasn’t going to argue if it meant delaying food intake.

So, food done. Next stop – pub (obviously). Then another pub where I got to watch Diouf cheat his way to a goal and Savage get a yellow card (how predictable). And then downstairs… to the gig that had by now sold out. It was heaving. This was good.

But what was better was that stagediving was allowed. Hell, it was encouraged. For the first time in years I got to hurl myself like a fecking maniac off a low stage, narrowly avoiding the ceiling and collapsing to the floor with the aid of umpteen people as mental as me. Except once when I overshot the crowd and landed on my shoulder but let’s forget about that. Not that my shoulder will let me. I can’t reach round behind me or press down with my right hand. Ow.

Great bunch of people and a fantastic venue. Quite a mix, too. One lad must have been about 10 and was there with his dad. There were two Scots lads in the pit as well. One landed on me and I told him to "go on a diet you fat bastard", to which he replied "I am on a diet – chips and Mars Bars!"

Highlight had to be stagediving to Nazi Punks Fuck Off. Sadly, some poor bugger in the crowd took a right whack to the head and couldn’t stand up. Me being me, I managed to get him out and to a seat. He was gone. Couldn’t focus, couldn’t stand up, couldn’t speak. He couldn’t count how many fingers I was holding up (hell, he couldn’t even get the words out of his mouth) and couldn’t follow my finger with his eyes without moving his head.

I’m no medic – my first aid certificate expired a few years ago – but thankfully the staff were superb. I’ve been in venues before where they’d just tell you to bugger off outside in case he died on their property. A paramedic turned up inside of 10 minutes by which time he was a lot more coherent.

Nice end to the story, though. Him and his mate just went home with instructions to keep an eye on him and the bar staff gave me free drinks. Amy then got talking to one of them and – at last – she seems to have landed a bar job. She’s got a trial tomorrow – go girl!

Sadly, the chunder count that night wasn’t kept as low as Saturday… though I hasten to add it wasn’t your author doing the chundering! I didn’t sleep to well, though, because my shoulder really is knackered. An early rise and an uneventful trip back to discover cat poo in the bathroom and smeared on two windowsills, but hey. I’m assuming KitKat had a rather large tagnut that smeared. I think I’ve cleared all of it. But it’s time for KK to have a bum-shave…