Greasing palms

St James' Park, Newcastle
We don't need no - advertisements!

Well, despite over 500 objections being listed on the council’s website Fat Mike Ashley has been given the go-ahead to drape adverts for his dodgy merchandise all over a landmark in Newcastle city centre – to whit, St James’ Park. I mentioned the story a few weeks ago.

One wonders who’s getting a few free tickets for the executive l0unge in exchange for this travesty. And, yes, I am insinuating that someone on the council is corrupt. Much as I assume someone was getting backhanders to shut the Mayfair to allow construction of The Gate all those years ago.

Permission has been granted “subject to conditions” but the website’s down right now so the link to this information isn’t working.

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Black and White and Shitting all over

Newcastle United F.C.

Anyone else here bricking themselves about today’s little kickabout? I’ll likely be in a pub in Dundee that sells reasonably-priced Brown Ale and as near the comforting arms of my better half in case the worst happens. And which sells comfortable-priced Brown Ale and is near the celebratory arms of my better half should the best happen.

Realistically, sorry Sharon, Boro are down – short of some excessive goalscoring. Other than that I’d say it’s even stevens between us, Hull and the forces of darkness as to who takes that third Place of DOOM.

Anything could happen not accounting for massive goal difference shifts):

  • We lose, we’re down. End of.
  • We draw and Hull lose, Hull are down.
  • We draw and Hull draw, we’re down.
  • We win and Hull lose or draw, Hull are down.
  • We win and Hull win and  mackems lose, mackems are down.

This is it unless Hull can overcome a 5-goal goal difference as compared to the scum, in which case a draw could be enough for them to push the mackems down. It does depend on Chelsea winning by five or more clear goals…

I’m actually shaking slightly as I type this. Nerves or excitement, I don’t know which. Perhaps just blind panic.


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Footie round-up

A football (soccer ball) with full icosahedral...
A football. Yesterday.

Mixed bag this weekend. Newcastle United unsurprisingly thrashed by Liverpool escaping lightly, in all honesty, by only shipping three goals. The mackem filth, thankfully, failed to score at home against Everton who ran out 0-2 winners. Both of us are now hoping for Hull to maintain their poor run of form while we’ve got a game against Middlesbrough next week that we simply must take three points from.

Better news in the lower tiers, though. Newcastle Blue Star (not Brown Star as reported by the BBC – that’s… not quite right) secured promotion to the Unibond Premier League. And Gateshead played out a 1-1 draw at home against Southport to win their playoff 2-1 on aggregate and now have home advantage against AFC Telford in the one-legged final. With luck this will get them into the Conference. This game on May 8th, and my fingers are heartily crossed for them!

Oh, and not to forget Whitley Bay FC in the FA Vase final at Wembley next weekend. It’s all go.

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Secondary football team

Gateshead FC Logo
Gateshead FC

Thanks to the wonders of the interwebnetsupermegahighway it’s now easier to get details of even the smaller football teams. While you’ll almost never see a team below the second division (or whatever it’s called this week) on TV unless they get into a decent cup tie, they all have web pages that are well updated by fans or club members.

As such, I’m turning my attention to my home side of the River Tyne and checking out my real “home town” team of Gateshead FC. Currently they sit at the top of the Blue Square North division, a point clear of Tamworth, but have just squandered what should have been an easy three points against bottom-half opposition.

They’re certainly doing well this season, and I can check all the information on their web site without having to pay anyone any money – unlike the upper divisions with their pay-per-view or subscription-based websites which all look the bloody same.

Will I ever get the Gateshead FC logo tattooed on my arm to go with my Newcastle United one? I doubt it. But it’s great being able to follow another local team and should I ever be home at the right time I’ll likely pick up a ticket and go to watch them. It’s £9 compared to Newcastle’s £26 upwards, and the parking’s easier. Plus, it’s good to support the lower levels of the football leagues.

The best thing is I don’t feel “guilty” about having a second team as I’ve got connections to both. In fact, if anything, I should be more of a Gateshead than a Newcastle fan given that I was born and raised on the south side of the Tyne.

With the costs of supporting a Premiership team, if you’ve given up a season ticket or regular match attendance for financial reasons, why not look around your area for another team that would welcome your support? You still get live football, most of the lower leagues still kick off at 3pm on a Saturday so you’ll still be able to watch the Premiership games on the telly courtesy of their frequently buggered-about kick-off times and you’ll be pumping cash into football where it’s needed.

It’s win/win.

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Emo whingers!

The Black Parade album cover

Just to show I’m not biased for/against groups of people, but prefer to judge individuals, there are two stories in the news over the weekend relating to the whole “emo” thing.

First up was the so-called “Black Parade” in London, where a load of emo kids marched in protest against the Daily Mail’s comments about their music and lifestyle. OK, it wasn’t an enormous protest like the ones around the time of the fox-hunting ban, or the whole Ban Trident thing back in the day – but these are teenagers we’re talking about and it was a Saturday morning.

Full marks to them organising it, and attending it and – by all accounts – not causing any bother. The Mail’s response was typically bullshit, though, as they attempted to defend themselves and say that they were reporting accurately. Which would be a first, let’s face it.

Let’s take this in sections:

The Daily Mail‘s coverage of the ‘Emo’ movement has been balanced, restrained and above all, in the public interest. Genuine concerns were raised at the inquest earlier this month on 13 year old emo follower Hannah Bond who had been self-harming and then tragically killed herself.” [Daily Mail statement]

First off, the Daily Mail has never – in my view – been balanced. Nor has it been restrained. And the only interests it has is in selling papers and making money. After all, it’s a business. It has to to survive so they can hardly be faulted for it. However, I’d say that their coverage is usually biased and alarmist. If they’re to be believed then there’s a paedo under every bed, Al Quaeda live next door and anyone with a Black Sabbath album is a potential serial killer.

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Richard Sykes said: “The Emo overtones concerning death and associating it with glamour I find very disturbing.”

The “genuine concerns” were raised by a pathologist. It doesn’t take a huge leap of faith (and as ever, I am more than happy to be corrected) to assume this gentleman is likely in his 40’s or 50’s. Much as I’m certain he’s a qualified coroner, I’d not really want to listen to his views on modern-day popular culture. He’s entitled to an opinion, sure, but don’t paint a whole subculture with one brush-stroke, Richard.

“In common with other newspapers we ran an accurate news story recording the Coroner’s remarks and the parents’ comments.”

Now I’ve not read the parents’ comments, but bear in mind that these people had just faced a horrific loss. As is natural, they’ll have been looking for someone or something to blame. Music and lifestyle seem to top that list all the time. Don’t forget that Marilyn Manson was to blame for at least one gun-rampage in a US school, Ozzy Osbourne’s at fault for a handful of suicides and Judas Priest should all burn in hell because one of their fans attempted to blow his own head off with a shotgun. And missed.

In each and every one of these cases, the band/artist has been found not guilty in a US court (I don’t think we’ve ever been stupid enough in his country to actually take it that far) and the parents have instead just looked like idiots. Idiots who’ve lost any sympathy by trying to get a huge cash settlement in return for the death/injury of their child.

It’s not the accurate reporting of the comments that’s the issue. It’s the spin put on them and how they’re followed up. Somehow I can’t see the Daily Mail saying that they disagree with the coroner as it suits their agenda to stir up suspicion against a perfectly harmless group of people.

As a partial aside, I’ve been told by people more closely linked with the genre that My Chemical Romance aren’t even an emo band. I’m not one to pigeon-hole music myself – it’s too hard to compartmentalise with so many crossings-over and changes in style between albums. So I just wanted to make it clear that at leasy I have done a little research.

I also seriously doubt that the Daily Mail’s taken the time to look into the band itself. I can’t find the web page I looked at a while ago, but they’d picked out some lyrics from an older album as “proof” that the band were all about death, dying, killing yourself, misery, depression and so on. Strangely, I recall one of their reports from maybe 15 years ago after a young lad was killed. His killer had one – one – Sepultura album in his collection. The Mail went on an anti-Seps kick, quoting lyrics from a different album and taken completely out of context with the rest of the song that they’d picked. Accurate? Or manipulative?

Go and take a look at the lyrics sheet for MCR’s current release, The Black Parade. Yup, there’s a miserable song about a guy with cancer. But does he kill himself? Erm, no. The hook of the song is that “the hardest part is losing you”. In my interpretation, the guy doesn’t want to die. He’s clinging on to spend as long as he can with his family before he carks it. Depressing, yes, but poignant. Aside from that, the rest of the album’s pretty upbeat. The message throughout, to me at least, is “don’t give up; whatever’s happened, brush it off, stand up and fight on”.

If we’re going to all have to avoid songs about depression and how much you want to just roll over and give up then I suggest the Daily Mail takes a long hard look at the evil that is country music. Pick a random selection of albums and you’ll have warblings about spousal abuse, murder, divorce, infidelity, incest, child abuse, bestiality… But the audience is mainly adult so it’s not so “scary”.

After all, here, we’re dealing with a newspaper that just fell for a fake news report that Al Qaeda are spending time generating CGI images of destroyed US monuments. I did post a comment on their story, but I doubt it’ll get published:

Hahaha! You do realise the image is from a computer game? Unless you’re going to start a campaign to get the entire staff of Bethesda and anyone else linked to the release of Fallout 3 shipped to Guantanamo for “questioning”, I think your reporters should start checking their facts for a change.

Do you honestly believe Bin Ladin is in a cave somewhere with a huge computer system running mock-ups of destroyed US monuments? The guy’s a nut-job, for sure, but he’s obviously not stupid. Unless he wants the US to find him by looking for the cave with the highest electricity bill.

Oh yeah, that other story

From emo kids doing the right thing, to one being a numpty. And his mother. A dopey little sod in Newcastle has launched an appeal over a £50 littering fine after he was caught dropping a burst balloon in Old Eldon Square.

His argument for the defence? “I know I did something wrong, but if the warden had asked me to pick it up I would have done. But it was just a balloon.” So he admits it, knows it was the wrong thing to do and was aware of the fine… but reckons he should just be told off while everyone else gets away with dropping stuff because it was only a balloon.

OK, drop a McDonald’s cup holder and you’ll get the same fine. Difference? Cup holder is biodegradable low-quality paper/cardboard. Balloon is non-biodegradable rubber which will never mush down and which could choke a bird if it ate it. Remember kid – and you might learn this if you ever lose your virginity – it’s not the size that counts.

His mum, the deluded soul, says “I think it is vindictive and just a way of trying to break up the kids who hang around Old Eldon Square.” They’re trying to break people up and move them on by fining them for dropping litter?! Are you mad, woman? If they wanted to break them up, they’d use anti-loitering laws.

I’m not having a go at the kids on Old Eldon Square. For enough years I was one of them. Which is why I know there are bins around there. And, if they’re still there, signs telling you that if you didn’t use them you’d get fined. I also recall the place being a tip by a Saturday evening because so many people didn’t use them.

All that’s changed is that the council have hired someone to keep an eye out and catch the litterbugs. £50 seems excessive, but he won’t do it again.