Book: Paul Stanley “Face the Music”

May 13, 2017

KISS were the first band I can remember discovering from a friend – they weren’t a commercial success at that time in the UK, no airplay or TV so when someone put on their big brother’s ‘Alive’ LP I hadn’t heard or seen anything like it before.  I quickly collected everything they had put out at that point and followed them ever since.  However I’ve never really read much about the band or cared much about their life or legend outside the music.  This might be partly because of the loudest self publicist in the band Gene Simmons – who is so full of himself I really don’t want to read about it.

Also, as I’ve said before, I’m not really interested in autobiographies – however this is now the third I’ve read in recent months!  But there are a couple of reasons I did get hold of this book – when Paul appeared on some shows publicising the book he said he hadn’t done it before for the sort of reasons I wouldn’t like to read such a book, i.e. it’s self serving or gossip, bad-mouthing people to sensationalise episodes and draw in readers. Paul says he hadn’t put out a book before now because he didn’t have a story to tell till now.  He also reveled that he was born with microtia – an ear deformity and was deaf in one ear.  I have a nephew with similar microtia and I was interested to read about how it affected Paul in his early years but also how did he overcome this to become a very successful musician.

Well this book was far from disappointing.  The early years were interesting but what I found fascinating was the self analysis of what he was doing during some of the most successful years of the band.  While filling stadiums across America Paul would go home alone and be socially unable to connect and make friends due to mistrust and unwillingness to open up.  It is such a pleasure to read through that to find how he does, only much later in his career find happiness and peace.  I would not be interested in reading any other book about KISS or any of it’s members.  But this is a great book for any KISS fans and for those who may have been bullied or marginalised as a child or anyone with self-conscious body image hang ups…. a good book!


Book: Nelson DeMille “The Lion’s Game”

May 13, 2017

This is the second book in a series about the Ex-NYPD cop, John Corey, who we first met in the novel “Plumb Island“.  This story takes place just a few months after the events covered in Plumb Island and Corey is now part of the FBI Anti-Terrorist Task Force in New York City.  His team are to collect and escort a known terrorist, who has apparently become an informer, meeting him at JFK Airport.  However, when the flight lands (on auto pilot) everyone on board is dead.

In the unfolding investigation John Corey is always the first to jump to the correct assumptions, to figure out the terrorist behind it and believe that this isn’t the only thing he has traveled to the US to do.  A chase across the country begins – but as with my previous complaint about this author if feels difficult to use the word ‘chase’ ..  this should be a fast paced novel but several times it grinds to a halt.  But if you battle through that there is an interesting and compelling story which certainly kept me interested.


Cycling: Tearfund Drumlanrig Challenge

April 29, 2017

29th April and our 2nd Sportive of the year (following last month’s No Excuses Falkirk ), first of all the stats:

  • Distance: 57 miles
  • Moving time: 4:42
  • Total Time: 5:21
  • Elevation: 3040 ft
  • Average Speed: 12.2 mph
  • Max Speed: 30 mph

 


Book: Chris Froome “The Climb: The Autobiography”

April 14, 2017

Having recently read David Millar’s autobiography I wasn’t that keen to read another autobio – never mind another cycling one.  But for some reason I picked this up intending to just have a quick look and immediately got hooked.

Obviously, as an autobiography the book starts with Chris growing up in Kenya and how he was interested in cycling.  All of which was a great read.  The early Kenyan national team, commonwealth races and entry into the pro world is eye opening and fascinating.  However the latter part of the book when Chris is with Team Sky is when it really hots up.

The insight into Froome’s training, focus and determination is great but the stage descriptions are without doubt the best aspect of this book.  The stage by stage breakdown of a grand tour from the inside perspective is utterly fascinating to a cycling fan.  I would love to read more of this.  I was deeply disappointed when the book finished (when Chris Froom one the Tour de France for the first time in 2013) and would really like to read about what has happened since from this same insider view point.

I think Froome is very honest in this book, he pulls no punches about his relationship with other riders, in particular with Bradley Wiggins.  Also his attitude to dopping is clear and I really hope honest.  All in this is a fascinating book which opens up the world of pro cycling.  I would be interested to know how someone with no prior interest in cycling might read this but as a cycling fan it is a must read book.


Cycling: Wattbike No Excuses Falkirk Sportive

April 7, 2017

OK, a new category to blog about.  Last year Ross and I did a ‘sportive’ (well more of a fun-ride) for the first time.  That was the Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh ride.  So far for 2017 we have signed up for three rides, this was the first:

26th March 2017: Wattbike No Excuses Falkirk Sportive

  • Distance: 45 miles
  • Moving time: 3:58
  • Total Time: 5:26
  • Elevation: 2416 ft
  • Average Speed: 11.4 mph
  • Max Speed: 34.4 mph

For somethings called “No Excuses” there were a lot of things that started getting in the way of us doing this.  Firstly it turned out to be Mother’s day, not the most popular day to disappear on your bike for half the day.  It also was the day the clocks changed which didn’t make getting up for 7am any easier.  However, when we got there and got started it was worth it.

The weather was great, bright and sunny, very little wind but a little cold especially first things or when we stopped.  This was our first run out for the year and with little training we deliberately took it easy.  It was also my first serious ride on the Specialized Diverge Sport A1 – my first real road bike since I was a teenager :-0

Unfortunately I had a number of ‘mechanicals’ firstly the front mech wouldn’t change in to the small ring (easier) then the rear derailleur wasn’t correctly limited which threw the chain off the biggest (innermost) cog and into the spokes.  I then tried to avoid the lower breaks so this didn’t happen again but found that the lowest 4 cogs on the rear cassette were all jumping when I put down any power.  The mechanic at the first rest stop was able to sort out the front problem but for the rest of the day I simply avoided my lowest gears and really lost a lot of confidence in the bike.  This was particularly annoying as this was a fairly hilly route and certainly a challenge to our level of cycling.  (PS Got the bike sorted out and all seems fine now, though I’m not sure how it was all knocked out of alignment).

It was a fun day, I kind of wish we were fitter to have had a better go at this ride but certainly a good day.

 

For comparison:  11th Sep 2016: Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh

  • Distance: 45 miles
  • Moving time: 3:25
  • Total Time: 4:17
  • Elevation: 1600 ft
  • Average Speed: 13 mph
  • Max Speed: 30 mph

 


Movie: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

April 6, 2017

I am a big fan of the Jack Reacher character.  I’ve read all the books and do find that the character is better in the books than as played by Tom Cruise in the movies.  It is odd really but while I think the movies are great and both movies so far closely follow two of the novels they are still very different.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I read the novel “Never Go Back” in 2014 and going by the blog post I wasn’t that impressed by the plot.  The movie however was excellent.  Reacher is enigmatic and distant as ever but can see clues no one else can and put the pieces together faster than anyone.  Of course he can handle himself in fights as well but it’s the problem solving that keeps the plot moving.

Great movie, would watch again!


Movie: Dr Strange

April 5, 2017

While on holiday at Crieff Hydro, I had the rare opportunity to catch a movie and this is what was showing.  I’m somewhat ambivalent to Marvel movies and don’t fully understand the relationships between the different superheros.  I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this one at the cinema but really enjoyed it.

I didn’t know anything about the Dr Strange character before watching, but was aware of the movie and I like Benedict Cumberbatch.

The movie is the origin story of Dr Strange who, when we first meet him is a highly intelligent and skilled neurosurgeon with a massive ego.  As a man who has always been in control of his own destiny when he is in a car accident and looses the use of his hands he is a broken man.  He eventually find his way to Nepal where he studies under the Ancient One (which is a fantastic performance by Tilda Swinton)

After that lots of metaphysical, interdimensional, mystic arts stuff happens.

I really enjoyed this film, it’s a good stand alone movie for someone like me who doesn’t know the back story or context of this character within the Marvel universe and frankly isn’t intereted in finding out – but just wants to watch a good movie.