Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Rant: House Headaches - Part 2

Way back in September I wrote a blog (House Headaches - Part 1) about the state of the house I was living at the time and the battles with Reliance Properties over the numerous issues my housemate Iain and I were facing. Before starting, I would like to say that we have now moved and everything is now sorted but it seems silly not to finish the story. I finished the first part by saying that Reliance Properties were going to send around a housing inspector because of all the problems with damp and broken plaster. This never happened. For the next week I rang them almost daily trying to find out what was happening about this to no avail. A few days later I found out that the man who had been dealing with our case had 'left' Reliance Properties, and after that I never felt that any of the employees really took it upon themselves to help us. Due to the lack of news about a housing inspector, I rang up Environmental Health at Leicester City Council and tried to organise an inspection of my own. They took well over the given time of 5 working days to get back to me, but I did not mind so much because they are genuinely busy and do an important job. Eventually I decided to call them back and got put straight through to the lady who would be dealing with us and immediately we organised an appointment for the following week.

While all this was going on, Reliance Properties were doing just enough to make it appear that they were doing their job properly. The gas safety man came back and fixed the cooker, which was a relief as I was sick of microwave food or going out to the pub. A really awful odd-job man came over to fix the dodgy bathroom ceiling tiles and the broken back of the bath, but to be honest I feel that I could have done a better job. Within an hour one of the ceiling tiles was back on the floor where it had started and we found piss all over the floor where he had tried to use the toilet and failed. By this point I was just despairing. The shoddy repairmen and the lack of a housing inspector was a sign that nothing concrete was ever going to happen. However, Reliance Properties soon annouced that the much needed work to rectify the damp and the broken plaster would start the next day! The Landlord (who was the same person who said he was the Landlord's son..) came over to take a look at everything that needed doing. He said he was going to find out where the leak that was causing the damp was coming from and fix the plaster in Iain's room. He seemed to think it would be a big job (obviously..) and hinted that us being there would make the work harder. He tried to offer us another house that he had that was still empty, but it would cost us atleast another £15 a week each more. We told him that we could not afford to do that, but he kept going on and on about this house. Infuriated, we told him just to do the work as that was his responsibility as a Landlord - yes we read our contracts all you idiot agencies and Landlords out there! Angry, we went to bed and thought we would see what the builders were going to do the next day.

True to their word, the builders turned up bright and early the next morning and got to work finding the cause of the damp. It did not take them long to realise that it was coming from the down-pipe from the toilet and further inspection showed that the pipe was cracked beneath the ground. They set about fixing this actually did a decent job to my surprise. When they left though, we had a chance to take a closer look at their work. While they had fixed the pipe properly, they had filled in the hole with totally the wrong stuff and used the same stuff to 'fix' the subsidence cracks in the back of the house which was doing absolutely nothing in that situation. They had also attempted to sort the plaster out in Iain's room but the job was so bad it was already cracking. Plus they had not even done the whole wall, just the bit exposed by the ripped wall paper. The Landlord came back and told us some more about his other house, and lowered the price so it would be the same as what we were currently paying. We decided it would be worth a look so the next morning we went down to Reliance Properties and were taken to see this other house. Well, it was almost as bad! The furniture was basically falling apart, and despite being told it had a 'brand new' kitchen it actually had a new second-hand oven and the same old dirty cupboards that looked like they had been there for decades. We said that we were not interested and decided to start looking elsewhere for houses.

The lady from Environmental Health came in the mean time and confirmed to us what we already knew: that the house should have never been let out in the state it was in. Disappointingly though, it turned out the powers advertised by Environmental Health about forcing work to be done was not quite true - atleast not in the short term. This convinced us that we had to find somewhere else to live, and after a few dead ends we found that Sulets had a property left that fitted our needs. We organised a viewing and were pleased with the house from the off. Many emails and phonecalls were then exchanged and we set the wheels in motion for moving. We got Reliance Properties to agree to release us from our contract at the end of the month without any extra cost and Sulets let us move in a day early to make transportation easier. Finally we had a solution and then it was just all about counting down the days and packing. It had been a very stressful month but the move calmed everything down and we are very happy in our new place. The rent is cheaper too!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Epica - Nottingham Review


Monday, 10 December 2012

Mostly Autumn - Bilston Review


Friday, 7 December 2012

Little Angels - Nottingham Review


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Europe - Nottingham Review


Friday, 23 November 2012

Heather Findlay - Leicester Review


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Panic Room - Leicester Review


Monday, 12 November 2012

Motörhead - Leicester Review


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Nightwish - Birmingham Review


Friday, 9 November 2012

Steel Panther - Nottingham Review


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Sabaton - Wolverhampton Review


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Dear Superstar - Leicester Review


Thursday, 25 October 2012

'Gone Fishing' Convention Review

An amazing weekend in Leamington!


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wolfsbane - Leicester Review


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Reckless Love - Nottingham Review


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Karnataka - Leicester Review


Saturday, 6 October 2012

DragonForce - Nottingham Review


Sunday, 30 September 2012

W.A.S.P. - Nottingham Review


Monday, 24 September 2012

Rant: House Headaches - Part 1

Some of you will be aware that since I got back to Leicester on saturday 15th September, I have been almost constantly dealing with a whole host of problems with my new rented student house for the year. The problems actually began on the thursday when Dad and I popped into the house on our way to Sheffield to turn the fridge on ready for food when we returned on saturday. Upon finding that the fridge would not turn on, we walked the fairly short walk down to Reliance Properties' office to report the faulty fridge and some damp that we saw in the kitchen (I will get to this later..). One of the employees of the lettings agency accompanied us back to the house to take a look at the issues. He saw that the fridge would indeed not turn on, and went to check the electricity meter and found out that the previous tennants had left it over £20 in debt so the electricty would not come on. There was a similar story with the gas meter, which sported an 'Emergency Credit Used' message on it's little LCD display. After finally finding out that BT were the suppliers of gas and electricity, we looked all over the house for the BT gas card and electricity key to no avail. We did however find ones from Southern Electric and E.ON. After many frustrating phone calls, I finally got a new BT electricity and gas account set up which wiped the debt on the electricity meter (but not the gas debt). I am still owed about £12 which is the debt I paid off on the gas meter. Leaving for Sheffield annoyed, we did not know that this was only to be the tip of the iceberg..

After coming back to the house on saturday and unloading the shopping into the working fridge. We started to clear out and clean the filthy kitchen. We filled four industrial size bin bags full of old food, broken crockery and kitchen gadgets which were clearly well past their best. The cupboards were left in a disgusting state, and I must have cleaned each one four times over the next few days before I dared to put any food in them. This is when we realised that the house had no hot water at all. Angry at the prospect of not being able to have a shower, I rang up Reliance Properties to tell them of this problem. While I was doing this, Dad was checking the cooker and found that only one of the four hob rings worked. In an understandable fit of pique, he stormed down to Reliance Properties and demanded that somebody came and sorted out all the problems. It seemed that our cries fell on largely deaf ears so we went to bed unhappy and frustrated.

Dad left on sunday morning, and I had a day pondering what the best course of action was to take with everything. Luckily the Landlord's son came over, with a gas safety man, to look at the damp and the boiler. When the gas safety man worked out what the problem was, he left with the promise to return with the new part the following day and fix it. To his credit, he came around on monday afternoon and fixed the boiler, replacing the old rusted part with a new one and pulling a lot of dirty boiler from the inside of the boiler. The hot water was fixed, which temporarily raised my spirits as I could once again shower. Reliance Properties, and more importantly the Landlord, seemed to be dragging their feet about the cooker. I heard nothing until wednesday morning when I was told that the filthy cooker would be cleaned on friday and it would be fixed on saturday. A woman came to clean the cooker on friday, and showed me how she could basically pull it out of the wall which was something I had not noticed. I kept it in mind to tell the repairman when he came on saturday, except no-one ever showed up. I sat in my house all day waiting, and after three 'head against the wall' phone calls to Reliance Properties, I realised that nothing was in motion at all. Very angry, I vowed to go down to their office on monday morning and demand a solution.

My housemate Iain came back on  sunday so we spent a lot of time out of the house, and he decided to come to Reliance Properties on monday too as he had to collect his key. While putting his stuff in his room, he noticed that some of his wall paper was swollen and some of the plastering appeared to be crumbling away. We noted this and went down to Reliance Properties this morning to report yet more problems and find out where we were on the cooker situation. In the midst of all this, I had forgotten that a damp inspector was coming to look at the damp. He came before we went down to the Reliance Properties office, and his first words after looking at the kitchen and in the cupboards underneath the sink was: 'This house should not have been let in this state!'. He summised that there must be (or atleast there used to be) a leak somewhere in the bathroom above and that to properly fix the damp in the kitchen the whole thing would have to be stripped out, cleaned and a new kitchen fitted. Reliance Properties came to look at the problem in Iain's room and found it to be much worse than we first thought. After tearing down some of the wallpaper, we found that pretty much all of the plaster on his wall had cracked and was now all over his floor. The damp had caused this, which told us that basically the whole back wall of the house was totally riddled with it and had been covered up with wallpaper or only partially cleaned off. Iain's wall will have to be totally replastered, meaning he will be greatly inconvenienced while this takes place. Because of the sheer amount of damp in the house, Reliance Properties are going to send around a housing inspector to come around and make sure the house is actually safe to live in and find the main source of the damp. This is basically where we are at the moment, and I shall update you all with another blog when I know more.

I have only really talked about the major problems in great detail, but we have had many other issues such as falling bathroom tiles, faulty aerial sockets and wardrobes that do not open. It is clear to me that this house was not inspected after the previous tennants moved out, and this maked Reliance Properties look totally awful. Some of you may be asking 'Well surely you looked around the house before you signed the contract?', and the answer to that is yes we did look around in January. We were basically forced out of our last house by Sulets (a story for another day) so we were really in a rush to find somewhere. Couple that with Reliance Properties' scare-mongering tactics of showing about 12 people the house at the same time, we really had to jump at the chance to get a decent looking 2 bedroom house that we could actually afford. This will hopefully explain to some of you why I have been upset and stressed this week. The back end of this house is so riddled with damp that it could potentially be uninhabitbale! 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Headspace/Haken - Leicester Review

A progtastic night in Leicester!


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Firewind - Sheffield Review


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Marillion - Sheffield Review

My review of a great, yet frustrating, night with one of my favourite bands:


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Cambridge Rock Festival 2012

My review of a fantastic four days in a tent in Cambridge..


Monday, 9 July 2012

So It Goes: Why Indifference can be a Positive Thing

You may well have heard the term 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing'. While there are a few interpretations of it's meaning, for me it says that being only vaguely informed on a certain issue is actually less helpful than knowing nothing at all. That, coupled with another saying - 'any idiot can have an opinion' - creates something akin to the society we have today. With constant ,speedy access to 24 hour news from all over the world it would seem to be safe to assume that everyone now has a greater knowledge of world events. It would seem however, that this is not true.

The title of this blog entry comes from Kurt Vonnegut's 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five which is a satirical novel about World War II, and other things such as time travel and extra-terrestrial activity. The phrase 'So it goes' is used 106 times throughout the book to convey the passing of time, life or just to move the story on to the next section. After reading the novel, that phrase now sums up for me the whole meaning of the word 'indifference', and creates a feeling that goes further than the pejorative, rather off-hand definition of the word. To me, indifference can be seen as a positive thing because you are in a state of uncorrupted thought on a particular issue; which can then be built upon with proper knowledge and intelligent discussion. While in Slaughterhouse-Five it is often used to convey tragic irony or for comic effect; it is also used in a more positive light aswell.

Getting back to the main point, too many opinions these days are formed based on very little information. We are all guilty of this (including me), just watch an episode of BBC's Question Time to see what I mean. With the sheer amount of debates that go on on the TV, radio, internet and print media, it is hard not to have some sort of opinion on all the big stories of the time; infact we are almost pressured into it with the constant barrage of coverage. An interesting casing point is the conflict in Syria. Despite the fact that very little concrete evidence is known about either side of the disagreement; you are seen as some sort of fascist sympathiser if you do not denouce the current regime as evil. They may well be, but then again they may not be. This is not intended to be a controversial statement, but instead a demonstration of my point that we use very little firm knowledge to form damning opinions of others, policy ideas etc.

Linking into this is the subject of 'passion'. Another thing I have always though is that the more passionate one is about a particular subject, the less likely they are to be able to have a reasoned and rational discussion on the subject without resorting to emotional arguments (which, in my opinion, carry very little merit) or personal insults (which are totally unhelpful). This is why so many discussions on socal issues are sitting at stalemate and very little social progress is made. 'Controversial' topics such as abortion and gay marriage are destined to move forward very slowly despite the fact that the impact they have on people not directly involved is next to nothing. What effect does a same-sex couple getting married have on a straight person, or even a gay person who does not want to get married? The answer is absolutely none, but it greatly effects the same-sex couple who want to get married for the better which leads to a happier society overall. While this is a slight diversion from my main point on indifference, it highlights how indifference can actually lead to great social progression. I am 'indifferent' on the subject of gay marriage because it does not directly have any impact on me, but I can still make a sensible decision on the matter; and one which would greatly benefit many people in the country. Instead of this however, emotional arguments made by the anti-gay marriage brigade and the relative pragmatism of governments means that the arguments of the gay community fall on deaf or tired ears which only creates unhappiness for a fairly large section of society.

I am aware that this has turned into a rather long and convoluted 'discussion' on gay marriage, a topic which effects me very little, but I hope my point on indifference is clear if a little abstract. I think what I am trying to say is that emotion needs to be taken out of discussions so that rational and clear facts can be presented; and also governments and individuals need to think who is actually effected (and being against something in principle even though it effects you little, is not being 'effected') while discussing anything in the news. If just for once, someone sat down with a clear and indifferent head and looked at all the valid evidence, then maybe we would see better social progress in the world :)  

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

My Current Top 10 Gigs

I have been meaning to compile a list of my top ten gigs for a while; firstly because I have been to so many now that it seems a good idea to just reflect upon the vast number of great bands I have seen and secondly because it is always interesting to see what other people (especially those who have also been to these gigs) think. I have chosen to exclude sets by bands at festivals because they are usually not as good as a proper headline show for various reasons (dodgy sound, no soundcheck, crowd not fully appreciative, reduced stage set etc.) and since I am now not going to another gig until I see Marillion in september, this seems a perfect time to take stock. While looking back through the list of gigs that I have been to in my life, I was surprised just how many I have been to. These gigs are not all recent ones (although some are very recent) but there is a good selection from the last few years of regular gigging. Obviously these things can change depending on what I am currently enjoying musically, but I think that these ten gigs will be in the list whatever my current favourite sub-genre. I hope you enjoy reading this, and maybe you can share experiences of some of these gigs, other gigs we've been to or any gigs that you have fond memories of. These gigs have all been reviewed on, so go there for the full review/setlists as I will not post links here. Here is my top ten:

10) The Reasoning (The Peel, Kingston-upon-Thames on 23/07/2010)
Support: Acoustic Zeppelin

I have seen a few gigs by The Reasoning but this one stands out as the best that I have seen. The-then seven piece lineup really gelled well that night creating a tight set that set the mood well for the High Voltage Festival weekend. Starting with a short acoustic set that showcased their songs in a beautiful stripped-down way; before the main electric set tore the roof off the place. The crowd were excellent, silent as the grave throughout the acoustic numbers and wildly enthusiastic during the main set, especially during the ending song Aching Hunger. The sound was excellent during the set, and this added to a great atmosphere and a great show by a band who I do not think have bettered this (yet..)!

9) Mostly Autumn (The Assembly, Leamington Spa on 02/04/2010)
Support: N/A

Again, I have seen many great shows by Mostly Autumn, but this one stands out. It was the last show the band did with then-lead singer Heather Findlay before her departure to start a solo career. As a result, the band were firing on all cylinders and emotions were running high. While no real different material was played from the previous couple of tours, the setlist was a perfect retrospective of what the band had achieved up until that point. Hearing the 13 minute epic Mother Nature is always special, and chosing to finish the show with a particularly rocking version of Evergreen was an inspired move which really put the icing on the cake.

8) Alter Bridge (HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London on 22/10/2010)
Support: Slaves to Gravity

While Alter Bridge do not always come to mind while thinking about my favourite bands, this show always sticks with me. It was relentless, and Alter Bridge played a great selection of songs from their three excellent albums. The moody Slip to the Void set the tone and only a small acoustic section in the encore lowered the energy. The Apollo is always a great venue to see live music because of the excellent sound and sloped floor mean you can havea  good view wherever you are. It was just a really powerful evening of heavy rock/metal music, by one of the best contemporary bands in the genre!

7) Nine Inch Nails (O2 Arena, London on 15/07/2009)
Support:  Janes' Addiction & Mew

Nine Inch Nails come and go fairly regularly from my musical radar. I will go for long periods of time without listening to them, and then listen to them almost non-stop for days. This will always be a memorable gig for me though because of the variety of songs played, the amazing light show and the fact that this was part of NIN's 'Wave Goodbye' tour, as Trent Reznor was retiring NIN as a live act for the forseeable future. The O2 Arena is an excellent venue too, and even though we were seated right at the very top we had an excellent view of the proceedings. They played nearly all of my favourite NIN songs, often with particularly heavy arrangements; and a guest appearance by Gary Numan was a fun treat.

6) Saxon (O2 Academy, Leicester on 14/12/2011)
Support: HammerFall

My first time seeing Saxon was a great show, but this (my second) was just out of this world. I was right at the front and determined to have a good time despite feeling rather down at the time. Playing a large proportion of their new album Call to Arms was great as this is probably one of the greatest Saxon albums for a long while. All the classics were out in force, and the enthusiastic crowd helped Biff Byford sing each song. HammerFall had many fans in the audience too, so at some moments it almost felt like a double-headline show despite the fact Saxon had much more time than HammerFall. NWOBHM is pretty unfashionable in the 21st Century, but Saxon prove night after night why that should not be the case.

5) Journey (Wembley Arena, London on 04/06/2011)
Support: Foreigner & Styx

Three of the biggest names in melodic rock/AOR on one bill was always going to be a popular night. Styx and Foreigner were both amazing, but for me Journey really rocked the house. With a few numbers from recent album Eclipse (which is excellent) and a diverse selection of Journey classics had the crowd really singing along. It was almost a karaoke night, as all three bands played hit after hit to the adoring fans. Even the slightly more obscure or new songs got greeted with rapturous applause and enthusiasm. AOR will always have a large amount of cross-appeal, even to those who do not classify themselves as 'rock fans', so this gig will always be a special moment.

4) Nightwish (O2 Academy Brixon, London on 11/03/2009)
Support: Pain & Indica

Nightwish are, and have been, one of my favourite bands for a long time now; so I was obviously excited when they annouced a London date as part of their final leg of shows supporting 2007s excellent Dark Passion Play album. The band were on fire all night, especially frontwoman Anette Olzon who nailed old and new material alike. I was over the moon that two of my favourite Nightwish songs (The Poet and the Pendulum and Ghost Love Score) were played, and the second of those was defiantely a huge surprise for the crowd as it was the first time it had been played since Tarja Turunen had been fired from the band. That, and a first ever live performance of Romanticide made it a very magical evening by easily the greatest symphonic metal band.

3) Kamelot (The Koko, London on 28/03/2010)
Support: Leaves' Eyes & Adagio

Again, Kamelot are a band very high on my list of bands because of their unique blend of power, symphonic and progressive metal. In retrospect, I am very glad I made the effort to go to this show, as it was the last UK show the band ever did with singer Roy Khan who left the band a year later for medical and personal reasons. Although I am sure the band will hire a more than capable replacement, it was great to hear the songs sung by the great Khan, whose voice is just perfect for the dark and moody Kamelot sound. All my favourite songs were played, including a great deal from the Ghost Opera album which was my favourite album by the band at the time. Khan was mesmorising, despite the fact he is a rather 'reserved' frontman and the guitar pyrotechnics from Thomas Youngblood was great to watch. Just a fantastic show!

2) Lynyrd Skynyrd (HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London on 03/06/2012)
Support: Red White & Blues

This is the most recent gig that I have been to, and although it is still very fresh I can tell it will be one that I will always remember. Lynyrd Skynyrd are a band that are never far from my radar because of their easy-going brand of southern rock that suits all moods and occations. Southern rock has to be one of the easiest genres to get into because of it's simplistic but fun nature. All the essential Skynyrd were played by the band and the sold-out Apollo just had a big party in the pit singing along and dancing to the boogie tunes. The encore section of Free Bird with an extended guitar solo by the excellent Rickey Medlocke was easily the highlight of an excellent evening.

1) Guns N' Roses (Capital FM Arena, Nottingham on 19/05/2012)
Support: Thin Lizzy

Many people complain about Guns N' Roses for various reasons these days, but I wonder how many of the nay-sayers have actually been to a GN'R show recently? This is easily the longest show I have been to, as the band were on the stage for just shy of three hours. All the classic songs from the old days were played with a healthy selection of 'new' songs from the excellent Chinese Democracy album. This was another show that almost felt like a double-header as Thin Lizzy were played for well over an hour and recieve almost as much applause from the capacity crowd. Axl Rose was on top form vocally and being at the barrier right infront of the excellent DJ Ashba seeing him effortlessly solo and riff away was an experience in itself. Easily the best gig I have been to as it had everything; great songs, a great band and a great stageshow with tonnes and tonnes and pyro!

I hope you have enjoyed reading these rather truncated gig reviews, and I encourage people to share their own gig experiences :)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Lynyrd Skynyrd - London Review

P.S. I am aware that I have not written much for this blog in a while, this is because of exams but now they are over I shall hopefully get back to writing 'proper' blogs again and not just linking to my gig reviews on I am not going to another gig now until the Cambridge Rock Festival in August anyway, so between now and then expect posts of a variety of matters :)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Guns N' Roses - Nottingham Review


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Delain - Birmingham Review


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Rant: FIFA 12

Over the last few days I have decided that EA Sports' FIFA 12 is one of the most frustrating games ever made. As a disclaimer, I have never been the best at console football games nor do I dedicate hours of my life to them; but I just feel that this one has so many flaws that it is beginning to affect my enjoyment of it. While the presentation side of it is excellent: official licenses, great graphics and realistic player movement makes the game an visual feast; the gameplay this year really lets it down for me. I am aware that many people like the new features, but just google 'How to defend on FIFA 12' and you will see that plenty of people feel the same as me. Most of my game hours has been on career mode where I am playing as Plymouth Argyle. I finished my first season mid-table and though I am only in October of my second season, I cannot see anything other than mid-table happening again. I can win games, and sometimes I can even win convincingly (i.e. 3-0, 4-1 etc.) but it seems this is happening less and less now and my frustration with the game is building. Bearing in mind I am in League 2, my opposition are not world class opponents. My player average is probably about 57/58 so for the league I have a reasonably strong side.

The first thing I noticed when I had played a few exhibition matches was how hard it was to tackle anyone. In the old FIFAs it was so satifying to slide in, take a player out and come away with the ball but now slide tackling seems almost redundant. As a result, I spent a game trying to kill an opponent player with a Vinnie Jones style two footed hack but I just could not do it! Even the most cumbersome central defenders can dodge every tackle you try and throw in with Messi-esque aplom and leave your players sliding around metres from where the ball actually is. The only times I can get a slide tackle to work every time is when I am chasing a winger down the flank but tackling him will send the ball out for his throw in anyway so it seems pointless. The conservative tackle is equally annoying to excecute. While this one is easier and often I can get it to work, it just seems equally random. It is so easy to give away free kicks and penalties accidentally with the lightest of tackles because the oppostion players manage to move into a position where you commit a foul without meaning to.

This all leads into the overall defending system in FIFA 12. No matter who you are against, the opposition players can just walk through your defense unless you can somehow get a tackle in. More often than not though you are praying that your goalkeeper can save you. The artifical intelligence (AI) is such that only the defender you are controlling actually makes any effort to try and win the ball back. There is a way to get another defender to close down on the player with the ball but in the heat of the moment it is likely that you will forget you can even do this. Opposition attackers also seem to have a force field around them, which kicks in when you get within a couple of metre of them. Even the lowliest Accrington Stanley striker can pull every trick out of the bag, leaving your defenders stranded like lemons wondering what just happened to them. The only reliable defender is the keeper and rushing him out can often quell the attack but if there is a rebound off him/the post/another defender then it will always fall to another on-rushing attacking player who is then faced with an open net, and ofcourse they never miss. This is how most of the goals against me are scored because I have choice than to use the goalkeeper to come and try and claim the ball.

Going forward poses a new set of problems, mostly because the issues above do not apply to the opposition defenders. Getting into a good attacking position though is difficult because the passing is really hard to get right. It seems that as soon as you pass to one of your players, they stand stock still and this leaves the ball open to be snatched up at any time by opposition defeneders or midfielders. Your player makes no attempt to move towards the ball being played to him and so often what looks like an easy pass is intercepted by a defender coming from nowhere because your player makes no effort to collect the ball. Making a decent run is also very tricky. It seems your players only have two speeds. The first is sprinting really fast which means any slight movement of the stick will often run your player into a defender or out of play if you are trying to hug the touchline. The other is slow as hell which gives you more control but leaves you open to the tackles from opposition defenders who never make a mistake. It is vitually impossible to take the ball around an opposition player, and trying to dribble around the keeper is a total non-starter. The attacking AI is nearly as bad as the defending AI. Attacking players rarely make any runs, even when you can see a perfect place to play a perfect defence-splitting through ball. What is even more frustrating though is when you see a player starting to make a run, and play said ball, the player just decides to not finish the run so the ball is once again at the feet of a defender. Even if you do somehow manage to get in the box, the you will be gang-raped by 3 defenders and nine times out of ten you will lose the ball. The total opposite of what goes on in your box!

These are my main gripes with the game. There are plenty of others: heading the ball is next to impossible (a 6'6 defender will win one out of about fifteen headers against a 5'9 winger all game), set pieces are virtually impossible to make anything out of and the fact you rarely ever get freekicks or penalties all add up to a very frustrating game. People in reviews have said it takes patience to get it right and building up attacks is essential but considering most people play 5min halfs, there is just no time to build up, unless you change it to 45min halfs and play in real time, but who wants to do that?! :)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Paradise Lost - Nottingham Review

I have been writing gig reviews on for ages now, so despite the fact I have this blog now I shall continue to write them there to keep them all together. However, I will post links to any new ones I write here so you can read them there on Here is my review of yesterday's gig by Paradise Lost in Nottingham:

I will not post links to all my old ones as there are loads, but those who are interested can read back through them if you are interested :)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Rant: Supermarkets

Now I am aware that supermarkets are often quite an indifferent, and necessary, experience; but I just cannot help but be annoyed at many things to do with them. Before moving to Leicester to go to university, I did not really go to supermarkets very often. They are now very much a part of my routine and it is very rare that the local Morrisons does not get a visit from me. While it is a perfectly good shop, with everything I want easily avaliable; I cannot help but notice plently of things that annoy me as I trundle around with my trolley on a monday morning.

The first thing that annoys me is old people who seem to see it as some great social outing, rather than a necessary part of one's day. Despite the fact most of them have come together on the free bus anyway, they still insist on blocking up the aisles to have a chat with "Doris who I haven't seen since last thursday". This makes it totally impossible to get down the asiles often, especially if their conference call takes place right by one of the big support pillars (which is usually does). This coupled with minimum-wage John stacking the shelves with his enormous cage on wheels make the supermarkets a treacherous place to navigate.

In a similar vein, the second thing that annoys me is people who abandon their trolleys at the end of the asile, across the Butcher's counter or infront of the toilet door. Granted, this is usually so they can get past Doris and Marjory's weekly meeting about Eastenders and the Daily Mail to get to a pint of milk; but leaving the trolley totally in the way of everyone else is just a pain. If I see a trolley left unattended I put the most expensive thing I can see in it; so if you have ever found some fancy olive oil that you never wanted in your shopping when you get home you now know why!

Thirdly, what annoys me also about supermarkets are robotic checkout staff with no common sense. Yes I am aware that many people I know have or still work in Waitrose in Saltash and this does not apply to any of you, as it is usually the 50-something year old woman who sees the Leicester Morrisons as a career option or the 16 year old from Scumbag college. I am aware that checkout staff are indoctrinated to say certain lines to me such as: 'Do you want any bags?' or else face the wrath or supervisor Adolf with absolutely no sense of humour; but if I have two huge bags for life already opened ready do I really need more? The other thing that gets me is 'Do you want some help packing?' Do you think I really need someone to move my shopping from the end of the till less than a metre to my bag in the trolley? I do not think so.. I seem to get more sensible conversations from the self-checkout machines, and if they were designed for weekly shops I would gladly use them more often. 

I am sure that other people will have different things that annoy them about supermarkets so intelligent discussion is always welcome. :)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Who is Sam Lewis?

I guess, in truth, I'm actually way behind the blogging curve. With the rise of the social networks, blogging seems to have been pushed to one side because greater connectivity can be found on Facebook and Twitter; with Myspace and Bebo before them. However, I have come to think that blogs represent a much more 'personal' form of internet interaction. Facebook has become very cliquey and is not always the best place to air opinions, especially if they can be seen as 'controversial':

*posts an opinion which is slightly outside the norm* - *gets abusive status comments and sees friend count go down* - *deletes status to preserve one's sanity*

This seems to be the same for everyone and I have deduced that Facebook really is not the place for most of my musings. This is why I have decided to create this blog, as Facebook trolls are unlikely to be bothered with it and only people who actually have some interest in what I have to say will read it (or possibly no-one but we'll see..). I'm sorry that this has been a rather long introduction but I felt the need to explain the purpose for this blog. I chose the name 'Who is Sam Lewis?' in direct reference to the famous line 'Who is John Galt?' from Ayn Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged which has had a profound difference on my world outlook. Despite the overt literary reference, it is not supposed to be witty, pithy or 'creative' in any shape or form. It seems that these days everyone is trying to create an image for themselves; but I try to remain as indifferent as ever, above all trends - which although is probably a trend in itself (thank you marketing people..) I really do not feel the need to qualify reasons for anything and use the Atlas Shrugged reference purely to amuse myself.

Ok, so what will be covered here? The answer is as of yet unclear to me. I expect this will be where I air my opinions on whatever my mind will ponder over in the future. General rants are the going to be the most likely blogging 'subjects' because I enjoy pontificating about various things. As a general rule, I am very one-sided and will not sit and objectively weigh up the pros and cons of each little subject. This isn't an academic piece of writing so I do not feel the need to please everyone here. Politics will also be covered at times, as this is what I am studying plus I have an interest in it. I shall most likely argue from a neo-liberal point of view, which I make no apologies for. I know this is seen as 'radical' by many young people who seem to be embroiled in the virtues of the left, but I sit firmly on centre-right ground and I do not pretend otherwise. Music will probably also be covered here, as I will link to my concert reviews on and may just post other musical musings here too (for example: I am listening to Aqualung by Jethro Tull as I write this is anyone is interested..).

I am not going to claim that this is going to a coherant blog, particularly intelligent, or even frequent. I shall write what I want, when I want. It will be a very indifferent blog. I think indifference is an underrated quality these days, as everyone decides that they need an opinion on everything! Linking Facebook to The Guardian newspaper hasn't helped this.. But anyway, thank you for reading and I hope you pop back when I get round to writing some more stuff :)