Films of the Year 2018 (Iain)

Stornoway (where I grew up) had a small one-screen cinema. The first film I saw there was E.T.  I think I was 5 years old. I remember a man in a ticket booth took the money for the film from my Mum before handing me a small bit of paper that had “Admit one” written on it. 

I then gave that ticket to another man who ripped it in to two half’s. He kept one half. I then handed my remaining half to another man as I entered the screening room. All three transactions occurred in a single corridor that couldn’t have been more than 5 meters long.

I clearly remember this because even back then, with my limited knowledge of the world, I thought to myself – this is really inefficient. The first man could have done all three of these jobs. 

The cinema closed down shortly after this. Probably due to high staffing costs.

I don’t think this year has been a classic year for films. I can count on one hand the number of films I saw that were truly great so I wont list my top films of the year as there’s not enough. Instead I present my list of”things I noticed at the cinema that deserve a mention” I need to work on a better name for my list.

Best Stunt that deserves a mention

The Mission Impossible films aren’t films. They are potential crime scene recordings. Each one records an attempt on Tom Cruise’s life. From getting Tom to free-climb rock faces in MI2 to getting Tom to hang off aircraft in MI5 each film ups the ante in trying to kill off TC.

MI: Fallout wins this award for its closing action sequence – Tom Cruise hangs off an aircraft and then hangs off a rock face whilst a nuclear bomb threatens to go off. It’s a superbly filmed and choreographed sequence, which made me fear Tom would not make it out alive to be able to do MI7.

If the world was ever to end in a nuclear Armageddon, the only things that would survive are Cockroaches and Tom Cruise.

Scariest real life cinema Incident that deserves a mention

Whilst watching A Quiet Place I had to ask a woman to stop talking over the film. It’s afilm about people who get killed for making a noise. She could have get me  killed !!!!

The film that I think deserves a mention but lots of people hate

I loved the Han Solo Star Wars movie but afterwards the guy I saw it with said “I hated every f’ing second of it!” I think it’s fair to say reviews were mixed.

The film I think doesn’t deserve a mention but lots of people love

Black Panther has a 97% rating on rotten tomatoes. I must have seen a different film because the pantherI watched was boring! It should be called Bland Panther.

The cinema display that deserves a mention 

Spiderman and Ironman look ok but then someone at Cineworld must have said “We need a female Marvel character for our display but we don’t have an official Marvel model we can use. Lets make one! How can difficult can it be?”

Its very difficult. It looks like a the hulk in drag.

The film that most deserves a mention

There is only one film that came to mind when I thought about a film of the year. Its not the best made film of the year – in fact, it looks very cheap in places. Its not the best written film of the year – some of it makes no sense what so ever. Its not the best acted film of the year – the lead actor is notoriously hammy. Its not the best directed film of the year – its overlong with scenes that add nothing to the story BUT its the only film I saw this year which made me think “what the fuck did I just watch???” 

Its also the only film I saw that would only work when viewed at a cinema because it needs to overpower you with its visuals and sound. 

The film is Mandy. A film its best to know nothing about before viewing. Just be aware that its going to be a head fuck of sound, visuals and performance. I still have no idea after viewing it what it was I saw but I’m glad I did. 

Getting Started On Zwift (Andrew)

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A few weeks ago I bought a smart trainer. Until then I had a dumb trainer, it would only do what I told it, and I told it to “woah – take it easy, there’s no need to go too fast!”

What I needed was a trainer with a PHD. That’s a trainer with a Pedal Harder Damnit attitude – and a smart trainer seemed the answer. A smart trainer is one that links to a laptop or tablet and adjusts your workout as you ride. And not just to make it easier, as I would adjust it, but it also makes it harder (damnit!).

With the trainer sorted, I knew I needed a training programme that would help me ride smarter too. I had a look at a few but Training Peaks seemed to require a spreadsheet and Sufferfest had the word Suffer in it’s title and who wants to suffer? Harderfest maybe? PushYouALittleBitMoreFest? But not Sufferbest? You might as well call it Quitfest. ‘Cause that’s what I’d be doing…

Instead, I tried Zwift on an iPad linked to my trainer because it promised I wouldn’t suffer as I’d be using it like a computer game. And, instead of spreadsheets like Training Peaks, I’d see a wee rider cycle round New York’s Central Park and the centre of London. It would be like Mario Kart!

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The first time I used it, I didn’t know what I was doing. My wee man on screen was surrounded by other riders. I tried to ride round New York’s Central Park and keep my speed around 20mph. And I didn’t get it. It was slow. The trainer would increase resistance as I rode up hills and I didn’t understand why because I’d just drop the gears to make it easier and then –

– someone shot past me and I thought “follow them!” and then

– a group formed around me and I was in a peloton and we’re all doing 25mph and I’m thinking “I can’t be dropped”.

– then I’m climbing a hill and a message is telling me that if I keep this pace I’ll be in the top 50.

And I think “Now, I get it!”. Zwift is for folk who need a bit of competition to motivate themselves. It’s a game of jealousy and better my neighbour. Even though you don’t know the people around you, you suddenly want to be better than them just because they’re real people too. You’re no longer training on your own. You’re not just Mario – you’re also racing Luigi!

Since then, I’ve spent around 10 hours on Zwift trying various routes and features. But, despite the ability to customise my wee man on screen, I’ve point blank refused to do so. I know I can change the colour of his socks but why would you?! This is Zwift not Barbiefest.

In a few weeks I’ll report again and see how a month of Zwift compares to a month of trying to cycle in Scotland in December.

Top Of The Pops 2018 (Iain)

When I was 18 I wanted to be in a rock and roll band There was only one problem – I couldn’t sing. I had this confirmed when I auditioned for the school choir. The choir master asked me to sing “Doe Ray Me Far Sew La TeaDoh!” I got as far as Ray before he said “NEXT!”

In fact there was two problems. I also can’t play a musical instrument. I bought a guitar when I was 18 years old. 23 years later I still have it. I’ve never changed the strings on it. It sounds the same now as it did back then – bloody awful!

Whenever I look at the guitar, I remember what the great philosopher Homer Simpson said “If something’s hard to do, then it’s not worth doing”

I often wonder what would have happened if I had formed a band. What would the name be? It’s a tricky choice. The name would have to reflect both my personity and musical syle. I don’t think I’m shouty or angry enoughto carry off the name “Tropical Fuck Storm.”  or am I prog rock enough to call myself “King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard“ 

I could use my own name but someone has beaten me to it.

 All the band name’s I mentioned above are real names of bands! Surprisingly, Tropical Fuck Storm are not as punk and angry as the name suggests. 

So in ourannual brak from sports blogs here’s my top 5 tunes of the year:

5. Neon Church by Tim Mcgraw

I like going musical exploring in Spotify – I choose a genre I don’t normally listen to and then try out various random songs and artists in it. I recently started listening to random Country & Western songs to see if were any I like. Whilst musical panning for gold I’ve had to listen to allot of nuggets of rock but this a great pop rock country song with a catchy chorus.

 4. Don’t Fuck With Joe by The Blackwater Fever

I discovered this song at the same time as I discover Tim. Its a bluesy/rock blast. When played on daytime radio the lyrcis are changed to Don’t Mess With The Crows. I also work with a man called Joe so it has some relvance.

3. Lovely Stornoway by Calum Kennedy

I’d never heard of this song until this year but as I’m from Stornoway it has to make my top 5. My only complaint about the song is the lyric

Make your way to Stornoway,
On the road to Orinsay,

Orinsay is not on the road to Stornoway!  Orinsay is an island! He should sing

Make your way to stornoway.

On the ferry to Orinsay. 

2. Eat Shiitake Mushrooms – Let’s Eat Grandma

The worst named band on the list but probably the most musically interesting is Lets Eat Grandma. They mix musical styles from all out pop to drone rock. The amazing things is they are Teenagers. At their age I was getting rejected from the school choir.

 1. Danny Nedelko by Idles

I don’t normally like punk rock. It can be a bit one dimensional but Idles delivered the most intelligent and prescient album of the year with songs dealing with toxic masculinity, immigration and the loss of a child. The description sounds somber but the tunes are surprisingly upbeat.

2019 – part 2 (Iain)

 A few blogs ago, I wrote about my plan for 2019:

The only race I’ve never done before is an Ultra marathon. I’ve always been scared of the distance and the loneliness of running that far. 

So, as its the only event I’m scared of and its the only running distance I’ve never done before then I know that’s what I have to do in 2019.

Now I just need to decide which one….

I can now exclusively reveal my choice of race isn’t just one ultra but two!

I did ask Runners World Magazine if they wanted the exclusive but after they said “Who are you? Why would we want that? How did you get this number?” I decided to reveal it here instead. 

My first ultra is the John Muir Way Ultra. A 50KM race in East Lothian. I chose it because it’s flat, I love visiting East Lothian and I get a funky looking t-shirt if I complete it. 

https://foxtrailscotland.co.uk/races/ultra/

My second ultra is the Devil O The Highlands race. A hillier longer race comprising 42 miles from Tyndrum to Fort William. I choose this because I wanted a distance that was scary (31 miles isn’t that different from a marathon but 42 is very different) I love this section of the West Highland Way, and, if I complete it, I get a funky looking t-shirt….there is a theme developing about how I choose events. 

 https://www.devilothehighlandsfootrace.co.uk/

The race also has one of the best disclaimers I’ve seen. 

The event strives to be as inclusive as possible and the organizers have a zero tolerance policy to any form of discrimination. We are not fond of Donald Trump.

I think that’s one person most people are happy to discriminate against!

Game of Tat (Andrew)

“Christmas is coming, the runners are getting fat, look at the rain out the window, we ain’t going out in that!”

It’s December, it’s Christmas, and this year, Iain’s not getting anything sporty for his Christmas present…

Glasgow Mural Run (Iain)

The best graffiti I’ve ever seen was in London shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack. I noticed someone had sprayed a wall with the phrase “Osama Bin Laden has a small willy”


Which distils the complicated geopolitics of western and eastern religions down to a simple playground insult.


Bin Laden is not the only one whose nether regions have been mocked. Similarly, during World War Two, Hitler was ridiculed in an equally childish manner with a song claiming he only had one ball


Hitler has only got one ball
The other is in the Albert Hall
His mother, the dirty bugger
Cut it off when he was small


Glasgow has recently launched a Mural trail. Mural is a posh word for graffiti. The murals are helping to rejuvenate streets and revitalize buildings and vacant sites that look a bit tired, reincarnating them as beautiful pieces of public street art.


You can see some example here from Andrew’s post https://twinbikerun.com/2018/11/26/glasgow-mural-run-andrew/

The official route is a good 5K run but I wanted to do something a bit longer and visit some of the unofficial murals.


You can find a GPX of my route here  https://strathcloud.sharefile.eu/d-s662eebc93b242119


I won’t list any of the murals because I think the joy of them is the surprise you get when you see them for the first time. Much like that joy I got the day I discovered Bin Laden and his small winky. Which is a phrase I never thought I’d use in a public forum!

Woman, A Warning! (Andrew)

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Sky News when they cut to a report of a man, Ross Edgely, who had just swum round the whole of the UK. 

“Wow,” said the reporter, as he reached the shore.

“Wow,” said the crowd, as he raised his arms in triumph. 

“What a dick,” I thought, as I watched him explain how swimming in salt water for months and months had gradually destroyed his tongue. Or, as he said it: “Swumming ‘n sawt wather ‘as detroyth ma tong!”.

While I admire all athletes who take on and achieve an epic challenge. I couldn’t help think this time that there’s a danger in automatically admiring them.  They’re creating a dangerous trend. They’re creating the idea that longer is better, when it’s not. Long races are boring. Long races are hard. Instead give me a medium length race. A half-marathon. A half-ironman. Just the thought of entering a race with the word half in it, gives me a boost. “It can’t be that bad,” I think, “it’s only a half!”.

The word “ultra” on the other hand makes me we want to avoid it like a colleague from work on a train station when you know you’ve got an hour’s journey ahead of you and don’t want to sit beside them because you know you’ll run out things to say in five minutes. 

Yet, despite the difficulty, there are longer and longer races all the time. Board of IronMan? Why not run a double, triple or even ten times IronMan? Want to go for a swim, why not avoid the pool and head towards Norway instead? It’ll only take three weeks, a yacht and a willingness to lose your tongue within sight of Bergin.

I blame guys. Guys are daft and macho. We want to take on harder and harder challenges. Which is okay, but I think we should call them what they are. IronIdiots. And, when they complete a race. When they swim 3 miles, cycle 112 miles and run a marathon they should be greeted at the finish line with a cry of “YOU ARE AN IRONIDIOT!”

Which is better than IronMan because it’s not sexist, woman can be idiots too.

Except they’re not. The number of woman who take part in longer events is significantly smaller than the number who take part in short events like 10k or half-marathons. 

But it’s starting to grow. I’m seeing more woman take part in longer races. And I have this to say to them: “STOP! DON’T DO IT! DON’T BE AN IRONIDIOT!”

Instead, women, invent your own races. Races that are fun and people actually want to do. Don’t copy the guys. They don’t know what they’re doing. Why would anyone want to run a marathon after cycling 112 miles? It’s stupid and arbitrary and random and proves nothing except guys will follow any instructions provided they get a medal at the end.

If there was a medal for swimming 3 miles then cycling 112 miles then punching yourself in the face until you make your nose bleed then sign me up!

Women, don’t repeat the mistake of men. Men are idiots. Who invented the marathon? A man? And what happened to him? He died running it. Yet other men thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea – let’s do it too!”

Invent your own races. Don’t follow the guys into extreme triathlons. Invent benign triathlons. Races where the water is warm, the courses are downhill and, if you get a puncture, everyone has to stop until you’ve fixed it. That sounds like a nice race.

Just don’t follow the guys, they’re only leading you on an adventure that should be banned on health & safety grounds!

 

Glentress Trail Race (Iain)

“My Baws are on fire!!!”

It was the end of the race and a man was discussing the state of his ‘baws’ with a friend. I assume it was a friend. Discussing your ‘baws’ with a stranger would be an unusual conversation starter. 

The friend replied “Did you wear your new pair of shorts?”

“Aye! And now my baws have more cuts than a Tory budget!” He actually only said “Aye” but I’m using artistic licence. 

“Did you wear pants?” His friend asked.

His friend tried to walk “It burns!” he screamed. I took that as a no to the pants question. 

Thankfully my race was friction free although I did get annoyed by how slow some of the  sections of the course were.

My pet hate at races is people who stand at the front at the start who should be at the back. If you’re going to run slowly then start further back. I spent the first ten minutes of the race trying to get past people who had no intention of running quickly.

I don’t blame the runners as it happens at every race because people don;t want to start at the back but there’s a simple fix. Start the race in two waves. One wave for people who want to race and then five minutes later start the wave for people who just want to run. 

Because congestion is inevitable when there are too many slower runners on a single track course 

Last year it wasn’t noticeable as there was only 235 runners but this year there was 439. People were walking on sections that last year could be easily run because someone up ahead was blocking the way by going slowly. 

Hopefully next year they fix the start so that the race doesn’t feel as congested as this years race. 

SUP Yoga (Iain)

During the summer I tried Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board Yoga through https://www.scotlandsup.com/

If you’re not familiar with SUP then Wikipedia describes it as:

“Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddle boarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water.”

I couldn’t find any info about who invented SUP Yoga but I’d guess they’re American and that they have an Instagram account as it’s a hobby ideally suited to warm weather and looking good in photos.

It definitely wasn’t invented by a Scotsman as my first reaction when hearing about it was – “You want to do what? Float on an ironing-board and try to do a handstand in the loch? In winter? You must be mental!”

So why do SUP Yoga? According to experts (also known as a Google search of the phrase “why do SUP Yoga?”) there are 10 reasons to try it. Google’s reasons are in bold and my response is below each one

1. SUP and yoga keeps you in the present….
It did. It kept me present fearing falling off the board into the water.

2. A greater sense of mindfulness will develop….
It did. I had to pay attention to every breath and body movement, every placement of a foot as I was mindful that any mistake would mean I would fall in the water.

3. You don’t have to be an advanced yoga student.
That’s true. I received praise for doing something I would consider easy. I was praised for standing up! The last time I got praise for standing was when I was a baby or that time I had 10 pints and fell over. “oh look – he’s standing. Well done you!”

4. Advanced students can bring another level of challenge to their yoga practice.
True – I thought I was okay at yoga but doing it on a board is so difficult my downward dog became a drowned dog.

5. The pace of your practice will slow down.
Because I was scared of falling in the water.

6. The same muscles are challenged, but in a different way.
Because you’ll say to them,  “please muscles don’t fail me and cause me to fall in the water”

7. It’s like Hot yoga but with instant refreshment.
Not in Scotland – it’s cold yoga with instant refrigeration!

8. No practice will ever be the same.
They will all be the same. I always spend my time thinking “please don’t fall in the water”.

9. A chance to experience the beauty of the outdoors.
What outdoors? I was too busy concentrating on not falling in the water that I didn’t even realize I was outside.

10. SUP and yoga is fun and challenging.
Its great fun and once I fell in I realized that falling in was actually fun too. I highly recommend people give it a try but maybe not in winter!