Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Confession time – Oasis are stamped straight into my history of music in two instances – the first is that they have the impressive feat of being the first ever album I got making it historic and another good Bebo Trivia question. The second is that they are one of the few bands that I listen to that I have no desire to hear them play live. The debut album I missed totally, being only 9 and 10 during their ascendancy that the Arctic Monkeys have mirrored so well, so my introduction to Oasis was big balladry. In this time of confessions is that Be Here Now, the titular album of this post, is universally slated in the same fashion as the Matrix sequels were – big, overbloated version of the original, retreading ideals that really should have been thrown aside. The only thing that might be slightly different with Be Here Now is there was probably much more cocaine involved.
In fact, I missed the release of Be Here Now when it first came out. My father, ever the music critic, read a review and told me that it was rubbish, and in fairness, the review did say it was shit. The problems were it was too long, indulgent, wankery and had little redeeming factors. A few years later, in 2000, I bumped into Be Here Now at the same time as its follow-up was also floating around. Standing on the Shoulder of Giants is now regarded, along with Heathen Chemistry, as Oasis’s lost years, before “regaining their mojo” with Don’t Believe the Truth. (As an aside how awful are the album titles!)
So, I concede that SOtSoG is harsh on the ears, except for a few tracks, but I dismissed it and Be Here Now on the grounds that everyone else said they were gash. 11 years and 8 years later…
…And they stand up well, at least, in my eyes. Be Here Now is sprawling, wide, long, and technically impressive, even if it is steeped in overblown guitar and production. Johnny Depp (yes, Johnny Depp) appears as a slide guitar solo on Fade In – Out which might be an indication of how mental it went for Oasis in those years. The words “fucking mental” are a good descriptor for it, which might have caused the following album too. The guitar is awesome and the production, if it was a concept album, would be excellent – but it wasn’t. It was a follow-up to an album of great pop ballads and 4 minute long songs so 8 and 9 minutes is a stretch for the normal listening public to contest with.
This did not end with Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. This might be the darkest and oddest of all the Oasis records, and as such, I love it. I think at first I hated the unusual songs and silly lyrics, but in my older more matured tastes tracks such as Sunday Morning Call and Gas Panic! Are not only the most interesting Oasis tracks, but some of the best Noel has written. Don’t believe me? Have a listen.
I fear the backlash on Oasis was far too harsh and far too sudden compared to the darlings of the rock and roll age that we had in the 60s and 70s – and the backlash is still happening today with much gayer abandon that ever before, and a good example is the current fascination with Amy Winehouse who has not really done anything other than be “rock and roll”. I can only imagine what Oasis’s career might have ended up like if they were vilified for the indulgence that they had in the 1990s but had to contend with today’s press.
Listen to their albums and see what you think. I might be wrong, but both albums are actually quite good…
In other news, I am really enjoying writing these posts, so expect some more this week I think.
Monday, January 28, 2008
In the past I have tried to editorialise my musical tastes with trips into seriousness, walks down ranting avenue and a best of 2007 type thing that really missed the mark in terms of what I was trying to say rather than what I did in fact say. But, I have decided to be rather original and review albums that not only I have listened to to death, but after a gap of a few years and go back to them. The albums are from superstars and non events, bands who made it and those who failed and this will be a series that I hope will last longer than most of my other attempts, ie more than one entry.
The first is an album we all know from a band who are probably one of the biggest of our generation – Coldplay’s Parachutes. I stumbled into this album and band very early on by way of my father and Jonny Walker on Radio 2. I was handed the album Christmas 2001 and I was not aware of them in anyway other than being told by the adverts that it was the “Album of Year” and other such PR things that really did make me slightly aware, but what was to follow was an album that I was to become to love and only recently has been replaced in my top albums (and my top album of all time). They exploded into the biggest band in the world for a while and I saw them live…
…Fast forward seven years and I have changed a lot. I am no longer the inexperienced muso, I have a taste that is no longer defined either by adverts, parents and what my mates are into but that is intended as in no way to diminish the success that those three factors have had in giving me my taste right now – but I don’t depend on it any more. I like much more extravagant bands, like Godspeed and Mars Volta, but also love simple pop songs like The Beatles, The Smiths and even Girls Aloud. I am no longer shamed into haing pop – I can spot a good melody a mile away, especially in this age of almost no melody in music.
So, Parachutes then. What is it like now I have changed my taste? Well, my favourite song on the album is different from the start. The lovely acoustic guitar I enjoy much more after it died a death – the new Acoustic movement, with Elbow and Turin Brakes has died as Emo and Metal became more par for the course, but I will always love these bands. High Speed, a non single, is expansive and large, and much more the type of track I like now. Even Trouble, the staple Coldplay song, which is still my favourite song of all time (one for my Bebo quizzes that one) because of what it means to me and the time it became so meaningful are defined by it. Still, today, it gives me those pangs of memory that Snow Patrol did for me (the spark that led to this series of posts).
In effect, this album is great. It lays out a manifesto and is much more charming to hear a band who are now huge before they had even thought of Hollywood wives, massive arena gigs and children called Moses and Apple. It is a great little short album, and if you have not listened to it in years give it a go. I think you might be smiling whilst listening to it…
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Watch the clip, and tell me this is not Daily Mail style sensationlism. I'll explore the points in the video. The first is the obvious "full nuduty" and "sex" which appear. Ummmm... no. No full nudity, no full sex, and as Jeff Keighly points out, the game does not just as you "U WANT P0RN? YES/NO" you have to create a relationship with ht echaracter. Also, the woman who laughs at even thining about playing a game points out that it is a "man seeking out woman" before being told that you, the protaginist in this space RPG, can choose to be a Woman character, where you can change many of the features of her persona. Whoops.
The best part about the clip is the panel of "opinions" you have never played a game in years, and probably have nanny's to look after thier children (I now that is speculation, but hey, if the real media can use non-facts to mae a story, I am allowed some simple artistic license). One says "there is no way Mass Effectwill be in my house", but before says his daughter was playing "Pony Princesses" which maes me thin that she might not be the targetted audience, and also not the correct age. As mentioned, the game is M for mature - a child who enjoys "games" where Ponies are rode by princesses a full 30 hour long space ROG is not going to ticel her fancy to be honest.
This is a hot topic, especially with Grand Theft Auto IV around the corner. Wait until the games companies are hit with "VIOLENCE FOR REAL" and "EASTERN EUROPEANS BOYCOTT GAME" and other such headlines. The main character in the new game is russi I believe. I suppose in the world where media based soley on telling us news, and commerical news stations at that, they must mae the news, and computer games gets viewers (I have posted a clip to this haven't I, and I am talking about it) and sensationalism also gets readers (Daily Mail par example). The media needs to realise something.
Computer games are here, they are real, and they are now as important as movies, and parents should not buy their child an 18 or a 15 rated game. For shame if you do, just don't complain about the violence within them.
For the record, here are many other outlets, including some rants about the game, for futher reading.
First article that started it.
(Note: It is deleted from the site, but lo the internets nothing is gone!)
Original First reaction.
And a very good breakdown of what is wrong.
Also, the offending images:
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
"By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States ... We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards. Additionally, we may share account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies."
From the Facebook terms of service. It should be noted that I have a facebook account and probably have the impressive feat of having one since last year, rather than just signing up recently. I have already stated my disdain for social networking sites and I indeed did say that I would be deleting my presence from them, but I have decided to change that - I am delting my Myspace and my Facebook, and keeping Bebo, because even my Sister uses it to contact me.
But this is where I found out one of the maddest things about Facebook. You can't delete your profile. Once you have made it, it stays active. For some reason, I seem to have added friends and had "Apps" added to my page without me even knowning what they are and mean. Facebook is horrendeous to use, which is saying something as I can put up with even the most obtusesly built websites, and I still have not been able to find out how to add friends. Also, it is so boring too, as it does nothing that Myspace or Bebo don't already do. "Connecting" with mates that I am already "connected" with on other sites makes no sense. I also like the idea that Bebo is British, meaning it goes uner rule of the English law, something I can understand and with which I have a good idea over copyright and identity theft legislation.
So basically, I am worried about us putting our itimate details onto sites. I have came up with an idea for a movie.
A man has a revelation. He sees Big Brother from 1984 as the worst kind of thing, and then realises that we are putting our selves in that position anyway with everything we do being tracked. What we buy, what we say, who we know, what we are interested in, who we love, who we hate, our personal opinions, and even what we look at and plan to go on holiday, what we do each night, what we watch, who we listen to; all of this is stored somewhere. Imagine if the government got access to this massive database of everything we did. (This is where it gets cool). They have this database to determine who to save - the intelluctual minds and those who will obey rule - this is because the world is ending. Our hero has to stop the government from using the information to orchastrate a mass genocide and try to find out the source of who fed information to the world about the end of all things.
Sound good? Well, I am one step away from phoning Gordon Brown...
Sunday, January 13, 2008
In my first few days I encountered some of the most interesting moments that anyone can have whilst going offshore. At first, I was bumped by a day due to weather. This meant I got paid for a day on the rig when I was really in my own bed. Then, once offshore, I saw calm waters and the most amazing sunrise and sunset that I can remember. Then, the weather went mental again, and the rig was bouncing about like a child on a new bed, and some people were told that thier flight back had been cancelled, and the unhappy riggers were aplenty. Then, today, I was phoned by the new FCO.
He asked me this: "Have I finished what I was setting out to do?"
There are many ways to answer this pointed question, and I shall detail them here.
Firstly, there is the honest answer, which is "Kind of". I have spent the first few days finding everything, then the last few days typing it all up - an activity that I could do when I am onshore in the office. I'd rather be here though earning the extra money I tell myself.
Secondly, the wrong answer. "No". This means that I am to stay till Thursday and not go about my work but instead fanny around on my blog, BBC Website and Googlewhacking words for the rest of the time, earning a little cash at the same time.
Thirdly, there is smart answer. "Yes". This guaruntees getting off this rust bucket as soon as possible, and frees up some beds.
Guess which I said. Three's a charm. Instantly he was glad - he could get my dayshift bed for the next few days, and would get onto sorting it out as soon as. I asked when he was wanting to get me off and he replied "Tomorrow."
So, you are wondering, will I get off tomorrow? No. The problem is that there ain't any spaces on the flights and the closet I could get was Wednesday. A full day less! Wow. At least the flight is in the morning which means that I can away with doing nowt while I wait for the chopper to come in.
In a more repulsive and insightful point, I was sitting at dinner a few days ago, and the room was packed. This meant sharing my table with some of the seasoned riggers. The final seat at the table was filled by one that I would call the banter hub of the floor - someone who seems to always have a word or a phrase for any time of the day and any situation. A bit annoying, sure, but remarkably funny when he pulls it off. So, to greet the table he says "Hey, Andy, whit ye gonna do tonight? Choke the Chicken?" to which Messer Andy replys "Aye, whit else is thur tae do?". Now I thought this was a joke, so I smiled, but stopped when...
The banter-centre says "Seriously, you goat any porn wi' ye?"
So, my predictions in brackets, real score in normal.
Arsenal 1(3 v 1)1 Birmingham
Aston Villa 3(2 v 0)1 Reading
Chelsea 2(3 v 3)0 Tottenham
Derby 0(2 v 0)1 Wigan
Everton 1(1 v 1)0 Man City
Middlesbrough 1(1 v 4)1 Liverpool
West Ham 2(3 v 4)1 Fulham
Man Utd 6(3 v 0)0 Newcastle
God that was embarrassing.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
So, in the office where I have made my little desk, there is a radio that plays all the time, and it seems to not be able to be switched off. The station that it is tuned to is Virgin Radio, a station that I have never listened to, and did not even now still really existed. The problem, however, is not really the station that it is tuned to. Well, not quite. I think this rant is most directed at any radio station. Over the last five days I have heard Amy McDonald, The Hoosiers, Scouting for Girls and Valerie by Mark Ronson more times than I have heard my name being called out. They play, wihtout fail, every hour, in some sort of mad rotation to get the unwashed masses to think they are great and that they will then go out and buy them. It really annoys me. It also seems that for the hours that I am in the office, there is not a DJ in sight, instead some kind of Windows Media Player hooked up to antenna, that every 15 minutes reads out banner ads from the internet. So, today, I switched it off, and got a round of applause. It seems that no one (including the electrical guys) could figure out how to turn the thing off.
Sleep, becomes me.
Working for 12 hours is tough, but I can't complain really - everyone is doing it and has been doing it for longer than me. Also, I knew what I was letting my self in for when I said okay, but it has made me so appreciative of just a few hours kip. I sleep from 10pm to 6.30am, which is longer than I would (and did) whilst working on shore in the office. My body needs it though, as those hundreds of miles that I have walked up and down this metal monster is startling.
Highs and Lows
Up and down, around and in, the lengths I have had to go to find some valves, or to even find them not there, is astonishing. It is a true test of my patience. It is as if the designers of this thing in the first place threw a bunch of spaghetti down onto the ground and said "Yup, thats the way we wants thems pipes." and to be honest, it is a real ball ache. Today, I had to find T71. T71 is supposed to be big, so I thought it would be easy to find it, until I followed a line from a vessel to it, and it dived under the deck. I thought "I am sure I am on level 1" and walked outside, to find the raging North Sea below. Too right. This vessel was under where I was looking, and had to accessed from a hatch way so obscure I am certain they only built it after I had decided to look for the thing and went out side. Down a ladder, underneath the bulkhead, with the wind, waves, and overboard water pipes thrashing me in the face, I had to unfold my bits of A3 paper and try and write on them, finding where pipes go and all that. And, it gets worse. I had also to climb atop a vessel today, 50 ft or so from the deck and 200ft from the sea, while a ship is thrashed about akin to a bucking bronco in the swell. It was not swell.
And the forth one is this:
I have never appreciated a Twix before in my life.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
As I have found, working amongst true working class member of our species is something I have never encounter before. Sure, I work, but I regard my self as middle class - my family had a car, a good house, and we went on holiday to places outside of Britain. So, this leads me to a culture clash of sorts, or there abouts, with the men who swear more than they use syllables. One such creature is in the office where I have created a simple desk by moving the fax and the copier, and stealing a broken chair.
He swears all the time, with sentences consisting of "Fuck", "Fucking", and "Cunt", with a few other words like "The", "Daft" and "Wee Prick" appearing as well. But today he sank to a new low...
He has seemingly just found the internet. So today I was bombarded with Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Numa Numa, and the Stare at this picture till it scares you ("Oh ya fucking daft prick, that was minted"). The internet meme has been around for years, and I remember when Peanut Butter Jelly Time was okay to watch - now it is just so 2003.
However, today was not only mixed up with making notes in my pocket notebook for this blog, as we were hit with force 10 gales today, meaning the Rig was shifting about like a buckaroo set on top of a washing machine on full spin. The juddering at first was slight, but we moved a whole foot or so every few minutes in the afternoon, causing me to ask on member of the team "Is this bad?"
"Nah, I worked in the Northern Sector, and one day we were hit by a 100ft (!!!) wave, and it moved the whole steel jacket about 4 inches. The rest of the platform had to adjust it self."
Gulp. It also means no flights out, so a bunch of grumpy riggers to be sure. I can imagine (and would bet on it) that next Thursday is the same.
I shall now pass on my luck (what ever that means. Basically I am saying "Do Well") to my fellow compatriots who are stuck doing exams whilst I earn a living. Much pity, and love, but mostly pity.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
A few days in to the oddest two weeks of my life and I have a serious appreciation for what riggers have to go through. I can imagine that it gets easier everytime you go away (each Holiday I have ever been on has felt shorter than the last one) but by working from 7am to 7pm it feels like I have spent years on this thing and it is only Tuesday! I return a week this Thursday (the 17th) which right now feels ages away, but in truth it is only 8 real days. My flight leaves FB at 1pm or so, returning to shore by 2pm or something thereabouts.
My thoughts: The problem I seem to have is something that I have encountered throughout the last few months and it appears to be becoming worse. Basically, I have trouble with banter. I know, you might be shocked, but I find it difficult to think of a not stupid and not silly remark back to anyone who witticises with me. For example, if someone who I knew said "Aye, fair old wind oot there today ken" I'd remark back "Yup, funny there is no wind in here though", getting either a "Shut the fuck up" or a look of annoyance, but when it comes to talking to someone who has lived here for the last few years, lived the life for more than that, sometimes I find it hard to converse.
It also doesn't help that I am on my own. My project is a one man job really. I have to check the isolations made when the plant went from Production (separating the Oil and Gas before exporting it) to DX (Direct Export, where everything they pump and drill is sent on to Charlie). The field is split into five main platforms (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo, with a seixth small platform called Unity. All pump onto Charlie, as well as some others like Buchan and Montrose, and the Charlie sends them away to Grangemouth. I have the check the bits that the cut away and bypassed around and switched off, using the P&IDs as a plan.
This means a lonesome trek around the plant.
I was kind of unleashed upon the endless corridors of pipes, vessels and ladders, and if you can imagine what you think a chemical plant is like, you will almost certainly think of what Bravo looks like inside.
There are some exciting moments - like today, I had to inspect a vessel (a deoxygenation vessel for those who are interested) and it is about 40ft tall. So, what am I looking for? Ah yes, the pipe and valve, 38ft from the deck. So trapse up a long ladder to the top, in windy conditions, to look to my left to see a 300ft drop into the H2O. The cold H2O. Which is remarkably blue. Some of my peers might find this terrifying, like I kind of did.
I don't know how long I can keep this being a two day thing as things never really happen to me. If you want some questions answered, comment below and I'll endeavour to answer them. No technical ones though, please.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
It is with great pleasure that I bring to you the first real and important installment of my Tales of Wood Group, and these will be interesting to almost anyone who knows me, and those who look to follow my foot steps, and most importantly, it will be funny. Or at the very least, close to humourous.
So, on the 4th of January I was kitted out in my thermal trousers and my bag filled with Safety Gear, and I taxied to the Scotia Heliport with the aim of going offshore for the first time - and interestingly I failed, because someone somewhere wanted me to tidy my flat before I left, and due to high winds offshore, after a nervous and agonising wait, I was told to beat it, returning tomorrow afternoon.
So, on the 5th of January I was kitted out in my thermal trousers and my bag filled with Safety Gear, and I taxied to the Scotia Heliport with the aim of going offshore for the first time - and I passed! Leaving Dyce (Aberdeen for those who are about as proficient in North of Scotland geography as I am with the intricacies of how to parachute using a bin bag and some chicken wire) we headed into the unknown. At least for me, as I was the only one on our flight that had never been offshore, and had never been to the Forties field before. Oh well.
So what is it like?
Okay, I suppose. I start at 7am, and finish at about 6pm, so it is a fair shift. I have a comfy bed, a warm room, a TV with Sky, occasional internet and telephone, and also the food is pretty good too. But the sight of the sea?
Wow. It is the most amazing thing about it - you are literally miles from anything, and the wind is something else. Mr Sea has a problem with us taking the piss by putting a big steel tower in his garden, sucking his life blood from him. Also, it doesn't help that you are 200ft from the sea level to begin with, and then they throw in sea through walkways and wobbly rusting ladders at you - I am not scared of heights in anyway, but you do get a sense of Vertigo from walking up these platforms, whilst watching a huge boat swaying mentally in the raging waters.
These are my first impressions, and the fun will continue I am sure. I plan to try and make this a two day thing, so we shall see.