L.O.B. vs Copa ’90 – Keep Playin’

Keep Playin'
The latest third-person account of my weekly attempt to play eight-a-side football – we wear grey… Keep playin’

Usually, our heroes in grey start out strong and tail off, as injuries, work commitments, Friday nights and an eventual sobering mid-table finish kick in. But so far, they’re still undefeated, six games into the new season – with a healthy five-goal-a-game average. And really, a top-of-the-league dogfight is unfamiliar territory. But that’s exactly what the Greys faced tonight, against second-placed – with a game in hand – Copa ’90.

Playing in matching orange Netherlands kits, with a big man at the back wearing an actual captain’s armband, Copa ’90 kick-off. They look fit, physical and intimidating. Buoyed by their recent form, however, the Greys stand toe-to-toe, passing the ball around and spreading the play patiently.

Early in the game, Greys winger Karim is brought down just outside the box. He takes the free-kick himself and fires a stinging shot at the bottom left corner of the Orange goal, but the big keeper gets down surprisingly quickly to keep it out.

Next, Karim fires a corner at Greys forward Martin, whose low, hard shot hurtles towards the middle of Copa ’90’s goal. But again, the keeper reacts well, showing surprising agility to readjust from his position on the near post and keep the score level.

Then a long throw from Ollie, his first of the match, finds Adam at the back post. Unfortunately, Copa ’90’s defenders scramble his header out for a corner, but it’s a good start for the Greys. Then Copa ’90 start to flex their muscles…

Their big centre-forward throws his weight around like Diego Costa, jumping into players rather than for the ball. He’s good, but he’s sneaky. Finally, a long punt from Copa ’90’s keeper ends up in that dreaded no-man’s land between Greys last-defender Julien and keeper Yusuf. The hulking forward reads the situation well and throws himself between them like Andy Carroll flattening David De Gea. He gets a head on it but Julien stands up holding his face. It looks like a foul but the ref disagrees. One nil Orange.

The Greys fight back but they’re up against it. Martin and Karim can’t find the same kind of space to dance past players like they usually do. It seems crowded in the Orange box. Their defenders are ice-cool on the ball, often taking the John Stones approach and sending Greys forwards the wrong way with a few neat step-overs rather than booting it out of play.

A long throw from Greys right-back Koyes finds Martin on the edge of the box. He scoops the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net, but the ref blows for a foul on Copa ’90’s last defender.

Then a torpedo throw from Ollie sails right into the top corner of Copa ’90’s goal. The Greys claim the keeper got a touch, but again, the ref disagrees. Goal kick.

The second half is just as tight. Physical. Intense. And end-to-end. But the play is stop-and-start, as Copa ’90 make a number of cynical fouls. On top of the tight defending, their keeper catches everything in his box, thwarting the Greys’ long throws, crosses and corners and breaking up play even further.

Then the Greys win a pretty non-threatening-looking free-kick just inside Copa ’90’s half. Karim whips a long ball into the box and Greys defender Paolo jumps to meet it. Incredibly, he dives backwards and glances the ball off the side of his head perfectly, looping it over the sprawling keeper, into the top right corner. 1-1.

Meanwhile, the Orange forwards clatter into Yusuf every time he jumps for the ball. At one point, a gung-ho defender smashes into him, elbow out, and bundles him over the line. No free-kick. With minutes to go, Copa ’90 win another corner. The ball’s whipped in and the Oranges’ Costa jumps straight into Yusuf, this time sneakily holding his arm down as he jumps. The ball ends up in the back of the net and it looks like the ref’s given the goal. The Greys are incensed, until they realise he did spot the foul and the goal doesn’t count. I’m sure this ref’s just bored and goes out of his way to irritate people and wind them up by being as ambiguous and pedantic as possible.

Towards the end, Copa ’90 are relentless, and the Greys can’t seem to get the ball out of their own box. But thankfully, that’s how it ends. 1-1. Exhale. The Greys walk off like they’ve been in a fight. A battle. And to be fair, the draw is a fair result.

Green Room (2015)


Green Room is not a horror movie. In fact, it reminds me exactly why I’m semi-retired from the horror game. Really, it’s a gruesome (just for the sake of it), blood-splatter-by-numbers torture thriller with weak characters, a predictable plot and a disturbingly unsatisfying resolution. There’s absolutely nothing to it, really. Director Jeremy Saulnier has just swapped stoner teenagers for a punk rock band, hillbillies for Nazis and surgically removed all traces of artistic film-making. And By the end, you don’t even care who lives or dies.

It all started about a week ago. I was talking to a friend, who I’d just discovered is a massive horror movie fan. The way she talked about the films she’d seen recently made me feel nostalgic. It had been ages since I’d watched a good horror. I missed it.

The last one I sat through was The Babadook, which typifies recent horror flicks. It’s just so predictable, uninspiring and… meh… More a collection of forced-seeming and overly familiar scenes than a movie you actually connect to. There’s no craft. No suspense. No tension. Yet it’s got INSANELY good reviews on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. People love it. I guess I’m just looking for something a little different. More engaging. More sensory. Less shlock. Less cliches and cheap thrills, and blood just for the hell of it. There’s got to be something you can hook it all to.

So anyway, this friend started telling me about Green Room, and how it’s about this punk band called the Ain’t Rights. I checked it out, and it, too, is universally acclaimed, with a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 79% rating on Metacritic. “What the hell, must be good,” I thought.

Things start off well. The Ain’t Rights are literally running on empty, scraping their way through the Pacific Northwest on fumes. They’re wearing all the right t-shirts, they’ve got all the right stickers and they’re dropping all the right band names; Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Misfits, Poison Idea, Slayer, The Distillers… And I’m sucked in. So far so good.


spoiler alert
Down on their luck, and desperate for cash, the Ain’t Rights take a gig at a Nazi skinhead bar deep in the woods. First they piss off the crowd by opening with the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” Then they see something they weren’t supposed to see backstage, in the green room. Dun dun dun…

One of the Nazi locals, Werm (Brent Werzner) has stabbed a woman in the head and her body’s lying, nonchalantly, in the middle of the room. The girl’s friend, Amber (Imogen Poots), asks Ain’t Rights bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin) to call the cops. But the Nazis grab his phone and lock the band in the green room with the dead girl, Amber and a massive Nazi dude called Big Justin (Eric Edelstein).

And that’s all there is to it, really – minus a trivial lovers spat. From there, it’s all about them trying to escape the room. Being systematically killed, ripped to shreds and even getting their throats torn out by killer pit bulls. Then, of course, the two surviving members, Pat and Amber, extract some kind of revenge and things end.


The biggest surprise is Patrick Stewart’s role as Nazi club owner, leader and drug kingpin Darcy. What was his agent thinking. And more importantly, why do people like these kind of movies? There’s no suspense. No creativity. No originality. No character depth. Nothing. Just a bunch of teenagers. A bunch of Nazis. And buckets of blood. It’s not even scary. Do people even feel anything watching these films? I just felt annoyed.

I don’t get it. I’m not even sure what I’m looking for. Something more like Drag Me to Hell, Event Horizon, Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Chucky… Not all this two-dimensional, imitative and soulless crap like Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring, The Purge, Hostel… and Green Room. I know, I feel like an old man trying to listen to tween wave. But surely there are good horror movies out there. Classic horror movies. Movies you actually care about. Movies that actually terrify you and make you feel alive. Or just feel anything, really.

L.O.B. vs Anon – Keep Playin’

Keep Playin'
The latest third-person account of my weekly attempt to play eight-a-side football – we wear grey… Keep playin’

Forget what I said about Friday nights, 6:00pm starts are the Greys’ new kryptonite. And predictably, two players – who clearly live in the real world – dropped out hours before kick-off. Throw in signal failures and severe delays on the Piccadilly line and our heroes face Anon two men down. But Anon have a man stuck on the Tube as well. Six vs seven – the pitch seems massive.

Shine a light, Ollie’s here. Seven vs seven. And luckily, the Greys’ red-shirted opposition don’t look like they’re going to pose much of a threat. Greys forward Martin seems to dribble through them at will. But for some reason, all his shots are straight at the keeper. Adam and Ollie soon join in, but their shots hit him as well. He’s like a magnet.

Finally, the Greys get their breakthrough. Ollie winds up for another one of his trademark long throws – it’s always fun watching an opposition team get their first taste of Ollie. His throw sails over all the Reds’ defenders and Martin half-volleys it in at the back post. 1-0.

The Greys continue to threaten Anon’s goal but can’t make the most of all their possession. Until another Ollie throw finds Martin, again unmarked, at the back post. This time the ball bounces a few more times, but otherwise; same result. Two nil. And with that, Greys defender Theo and Anon’s missing player show up, and finally, both teams are back up to eight. Game on.

Suddenly, completely against the run of play, Anon launch their first meaningful attack. The Greys give Anon’s midfielder way too much time on the ball and he makes the most of it. He hits a hard, stinging shot straight at Greys keeper Yusuf, who spills the ball to a grateful Reds forward. The gift horse doesn’t think twice and fires one back for Anon. 2-1. Imbued with confidence, Anon look more of a threat as the half-time whistle sounds. But that’s where their story ends…

Early in the second half, Greys midfielder Chris passes the ball to Martin, who cuts through two Anon defenders like he’s skating on ice down the right wing and sneaks the ball in at the near post. Anon counter, and Yusuf clashes with a red-shirted striker in the box. But moments later, Paolo feeds the ball to Martin, who does the same twinkle toes routine down the right-hand side, this time beating Anon’s keeper at his far post. 4-1.

Next, Martin turns provider, laying the ball off to Adam, who finishes coolly to put the Greys 5-1 up. Then, soon after Anon kick-off, Adam wins the ball back and plays a long ball towards Martin. He turns his man, easily, and rolls the ball to Ollie, who slots it into the bottom left corner. 6-1 Greys.

Looking to claw one back for pride, Anon pass their way into space on the edge of the box and feed the ball to their long-haired man up front. To be fair, the striker has been a threat all game, but luckily, he’s been expertly marked by Greys defender Julien. This time, though, he’s brought down inside the box. Surprisingly, he bounces back up quickly and thumps the ball past Yusuf. But referee Nev had already blown his whistle. Penalty. No goal.

After some complaints, the striker composes himself and lines up for the penalty. He hits it hard but Yusuf guesses well and dives to the right to keep it out. Then, smearing the Greys’ cake with icing – and wrapping up an Aguero-like five-goal haul – Martin steps past another assortment of confused Reds defenders and smashes the ball past Anon’s beleaguered keeper, who looks like he’s already back on the Piccadilly line and heading home. 7-1 Greys.

The Burger Chronicles #17 – Patty & Bun, Goodge Street


Imagine my excitement when I heard there was a new Patty & Bun store opening in Goodge Street, and EVERYTHING was half price… for the first week. Needless to say, I was drinking beers in the queue, mentally willing people to leave, quicker than Fred Flintstone gets a side of ribs when that bird sounds the hometime alarm.

We get there early and the queue’s already spiralling out of control. Some of our team members catch Pokemons while others discuss our last trip to Patty & Bun, and how this time, as it’s half price, we’re all going to order our own Winger Winger Chicken Dinner smoked confit wings side. My mouth waters at the thought, as a group of inconsiderate stragglers does their Citymapping inside, after they’ve paid their bill, instead of outside on the street like decent people. Eventually, we’re in.

Heartbreak. They’re sold out of wings. We discuss the possibility of Deliverooing some over from the James Street store while we eat, but eventually settle for fries and cheese balls. Hardly a worthy consolation prize.

The joint itself is awesome. A perfect, although slightly roomier, version of the James Street store. The Liverpool Street one lacks the same moodily lit, loud music and bustling, cramped eating feel. It’s more of a lunchtime market stall for hungry office workers, with no vibe and a few chairs lining the perimeter. This is the real deal. Vibe for days.

When the burgers arrive I can’t believe my eyes. The presentation’s perfect and my Ari Gold with bacon’s cooked exactly how I requested. Pretty impressive when you consider how many burgers the kitchen’s churning out – at half price.

As soon as my teeth sink in my eyes light up. You can’t beat an Ari Gold. Simple, classy and delicious; a high-quality, well flavoured beef patty with that perfect smokey mayo and pickled onions twist. However, with Patty & Bun, it’s their confit wings that really seal the deal.

Leaving with that sticky, smoky BBQ sauce stuck to the inside of your lips is what convinces you it’s the best. Those wings are a miracle. And tonight, the mighty Patty & Bun does seem a bit more mortal without them. The burger’s still probably the best, but it’s a lot closer. My last Stokey Bears burger really gave the Ari Gold a run for its money. Damn, now I’m hungry again.

Stokey Bears 2

Watch: Red Dwarf XI – Episode 2


To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of episode one, “Twentica.” The production values are great and, of course, it’s awesome to see the old gang back in action again, in HD – thanks to a couple of bottles of hair dye and a well let out mechanoid suit. But the episode seems to lack that tight, smeg-in-the-head spark that makes Red Dwarf so rewatchable.

It’s almost like the ideas and set designs are too complicated and fleshed out. It was nice to see the full evolution of the simulants though. From this to this. Here’s the link for episode two, “Samsara.” Just about to watch it myself…

L.O.B. vs Daily Grind – Keep Playin’

Keep Playin'
The latest third-person account of my weekly attempt to play eight-a-side football – we wear grey… Keep playin’

Another Friday night kick-off. Another mixed bag of assorted heroes; this time, the Greys were seriously lacking at the back, with big Mark Ustun the only out-an-out defender in the lineup. Playing in matching Barcelona kits, tonight’s opposition, Daily Grind, look tough. They even have a big dude at the back with a massive afro, who kind of looks like Brazilian defender Dante. And while the Greys make sure they’ve got eight players on the pitch, Daily Grind run through drills like the Champions League song’s playing in the background.

The Greys kick off and they’re all over Daily Grind. Karim wins the ball down the right wing early on, cuts past two defenders and strikes an audacious shot that beats Daily Grind’s keeper at his near post. He has no right to score from there. 1-0 Greys.

Seemingly straight afterwards, the Greys win a corner on the right hand side. Adam’s cross squeezes past Daily Grind’s man on the front post and hits a group of bodies. Karim gets a touch and Martin bundles it in. 2-0 Greys.

A couple of minutes later, Long-Throw Ollie whips one in from just past the halfway line. The ball sails into the box, Martin jumps unchallenged and flicks it past Daily Grind’s stunned keeper to put the Greys three goals up. They’re tearing Daily Grind apart.

Then, against the run of play, Daily Grind hit a long ball deep in Greys’ territory. The flick finds an unmarked Barcelona shirt, who runs onto the ball and sends Greys keeper Yusuf the wrong way to pull one back.

Suddenly, the momentum swings, as Daily Grind launch a wave of long balls past Greys defenders Mark and Hammam. And eventually, another neat flick splits the Greys’ defence. Yusuf dives early and can only palm the shot across the line. 3-2. Half-time.

The Greys struggle against Daily Grind’s long-ball tactics early in the second half as well. And Mark and Hammam do well to keep them in the game. Mark, in particular, takes shots like Rocky Balboa – he starts to look like he’s had cupping therapy.

Daily Grind break down the right. The cross comes in and Mark jumps with the striker in the box. Somehow, the ball hits Daily Grind’s forward on the shoulder and spins into the top corner. 3-3.

The Greys are still struggling. Daily Grind sense it. One of their midfielders finds some space on the edge of the box and hits a sensational shot past Yusuf to put Daily Grind 4-3 up. At one point, it felt like the Greys might win 8-0. Now they’re staring defeat in the face.

Another long ball flies into that dangerous area between the goalie and the last defender. This time Yusuf comes for the ball and flicks it out for a corner, but his follow through catches Ollie right in the face. He staggers off the pitch, his top lip brimming with blood.

Meanwhile, the Greys launch an attack. Martin jumps to head the ball in. 4-4. But the ref doesn’t give it. It looks like it bounces well over the line but it doesn’t stand. 4-3 to Daily Grind. Still.

Not willing to let go of their undefeated streak just yet, the Greys press with a minute left on the clock. Mark jumps for a header just inside his own half. Then Ollie, who goes in bravely with his damaged nose. Likewise, Karim jumps with Daily Grind’s goalkeeper and beats him to the ball. 4-4. Not quite the victory they sensed. But it feels like a victory. Well, sort of…

Beavertown – Lupuloid IPA


They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s pretty damn difficult when the cover looks this good. From its pink top and green ring pull, to its raging hop monster, rocketships and ’50s spacemen, illustrator Nick Dwyer has really outdone himself with Beavertown’s newest addition, the Lupuloid IPA. I walked into Mother Kelly’s, Church Street and it was the only thing that caught my eye.

I had to remind myself, I did try the Lupuloid series once before, at the Beavertown Taproom back in May. There were two then; Delta Unda and Uy Scuti, and the trial wave was dubbed The Invasion of the Lupuloids. But this September, the Lupuloid IPA officially joined Beavertown’s tasty range of colourful core beers.

According to the brewery it’s their, “first straight up IPA, no funny business, just malt, yeast, water and hops. Lots of hops.” Specifically, citra, mosaic and equinox hops.

And in this case, less is definitely more; the 6.7 ABV Lupuloid IPA tastes as good as it looks – well, almost. It’s fruity, with a thick, dense, tropical consistency that’s strong and rich, yet refreshing at the same time. Unsurprisingly, it’s less complex than the Gamma Ray, but, perhaps, even tastier – with more punch. Definitely a new favourite. In fact, I went to the Taproom again this Saturday, just to double-check.

toyGuitar – Move Like A Ghost

toyGuitar – Move Like A Ghost
Fat Wreck Chords (2016)

I love toyGuitar frontman Jack Dalrymple; from his fuzzy, indie-punk guitar riffs and old-fashioned ’70s crooner rasp, to his perfect long hair and denim jacket, San Francisco swagger. It’s all good.

In my opinion, Dalrymple’s previous band Dead to Me peaked on their 2008 EP Little Brother. And when he left, none of his replacements had the same charisma. The same infectious, magnetic personality. Luckily, Move Like A Ghost is soaked in it.

Hot on the heels of toyGuitar’s catchy as fuck debut full-length, 2015’s In This Mess, Move Like A Ghost features six hip-jangling new anthems, which I’ve listened to on repeat for days now. Dalrymple’s timeless garage-rock, pop-punk flair is in full-swing on the EP. And in many ways, it’s the follow up to Little Brother we didn’t get to hear – yet, by the sound of things.

By now, toyGuitar’s really nailed their sound down – like Charles Bronson booby trapping a house. There’s jangly, up-tempo rock ‘n roll jams, perfectly crafted slower tunes and more hooks than a ’90s horror movie. The band sounds like a tight outfit, and Dalrymple’s groovy melodies are perfectly backed by drummer Rosie Gonce, bassist Paul Oxborrow and guitarist Miles Peck, who seem to realise they’ve got something special (and allow him to thrive). Gonce’s party-on drumming suits the band’s sound perfectly; never stepping on any toes but getting toes to step.

More than anything, Move Like A Ghost sounds like a good time. A party you’d love to snag an invite to. Short, sweet and memorable. In truth, toyGuitar cram a lot into their 13 minutes. It’s a total trip. A mixed bag of bouncy, in-your-face lightning bolts and swirly slower jams. Dark. Entertaining. And uplifting. All at once. Ending with “Turn It Around,” a “cathartic” Dalrymple ode to his former One Man Army and Re-Volts bandmate Heiko Schrepel, who, sadly, died in 2015. My only complaint is that it’s too short…

Camden Town Brewery – India Hells Lager


I wasn’t a big fan of Camden Town Brewery. Their Hells, Pale and Gentleman’s Wit beers seem to lack flair and imagination. And the weekend after Beavertown’s Taproom experience, Camden Town’s brewery bar in Camden Road was a massive letdown. But a couple of nights ago I ended up at their newish pub Camden’s Daughter in Kentish Town, knocking back pints of India Hells Lager, and I came around.

I’m a sucker for strong, tasty, hoppy beers that go down smooth. And India Hells Lager is just that beer. It’s a weird one, really. Boasting all the flavour of an IPA, repackaged as a lager, the IHL is hoppy and citrussy, yet tantalizingly bitter and refreshing. Not as sweet as usual; a really complete experience.

To achieve this, Camden Town have thrown magnum, mosaic, chinook and simcoe hops over a knockout pilsner, munich and cara pils malt, delivering a hazy, rich and cloudy brew bursting with aroma and punch – and a powerful 6.2% ABV backbone! And as you can see, I went back for more.