Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why Does It Have To Be So Loud?

The perennial cry of the metal widow.

The question was first asked by Fritz Spiegl of Pink Ployd in the 6os and still exists on a clip, stored in the BBC archives, that pops up from time to time. Roger Waters gives the best, the only, answer; the answer that poor old Fritz can't understand.

"We like it that way".

At which point Fritz witters on about how he was brought up on string quartets; while Roger says, well, he wasn't.

There is no necessity, no compulsion, no rational argument that requires you to burn your eardrums off listening to the Floyd or the Zep or the Ramones - and the latter particularly can play quite happily at modest volumes. But sometimes you need total immersion. Intellectual appreciation of fine nuances is all very well on occasion - but sometimes you want the energy rush and the emotional involvement. To feel the power chords. It's a bit like incense in church - it's not suited to all occasions and some folk can't do with it, but an extra sense can be brought into play - with loud rock it's touch (you feel it).

And if you think it isn't like worship, you've never seen the Darkness or the Quo or the Zep or the Floyd live (the Floyd seem to use the elements, I'm told). And you've missed something. Surround sound? This is "all through" sound. Poor old Fritz.

Glenn Hughes has a fantastic new version of "Nights in White Satin", by the way. A review of Trivium's album will follow (maybe).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Loud Music In Cars

Picked up an issue of Metal Hammer for the first time in a while. It's getting controversial.

The free CD has band names you'd expect: Trivium, Hammerfall, 3 Inches of Blood, Venom, Battleheart, Conquest of Steel, and, er ... Fairyland? Well, an advert says they are "symphonic metal meets speed metal", so that's all right then, had me worried. But a letter supports the recent coverage of "other genres" - and apparently much other support exists to. 21 to 8 seems unnecessarily precise ...

However there's quite a lot of religious content, too. Turned (somehow, spooky) to a page in memory of Stryper (Salvation Through Redemption, Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness? Yeah right.) with a mention of the place for "God-loving metallers". Add news of Norma Jean "Christian metalcore" and a worying trend develops, only reassured by feature on The Meads of Asphodel (how do they think of them?) who often dress as Templars (not quite sure where the gas mask fits in here). But even this page has ... book reviews (OK paragraphs about) of Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, and two more about "the other lives of the Big J".

I also need to know about Abigail Williams (as female as Alice Cooper, but she does take a mean picture), Arch Enemy (who really are fronted by a girly) and Blind Guardian (iffy name) who follow in the footsteps of Dragonforce (better name) down the quasi-operatic route. I need to do some serious catching up. Oh yes, Killswitch Engage are still in the mag but who are the rest of these guys?

Title of this post: an old track by Billy Bremner (appalling name) which is somehow relevant to where I shall mostly listen to the free CD. Sleep tight.

I wonder what Kerrang! is up to these days ...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The desire to know more is not balanced by the desire to write about it.

Monday, December 18, 2006


I got sent shopping again this morning. It doesn't happen very often because I always come back with the wrong thing. Well who knew that coffemate comes with a blue top or a gold top? And I found the wrong one - the only one there, I insist.

And the request to find Kerrygold spreadable? It doesn't say spreadable on the tub, so I came home without it. The cereal packets were too small (that's why there were cheaper.)

0/3. Must try harder. Or perhaps someone could make it simpler?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Eleven To Go

If I hadn't been away/forgotten/otherwise occcupied/moved around I could easily have had my gold card for 50 blood donations by now, but as it is I got to 39 today so in just under four years I should be there.

I told them about the two of us being ill and the doctor said it was fine so long as it was enough days and we are both well now. In fact they were impressed both with the quality (the finger sample went straight to the bottom of the tube) and speed of delivery (it's all in the right arm, you know) and the fact that I agreed to help them get off earlier by coming 15 minutes earlier than I had booked, so today was a great success all round. In and out in 30 minutes including the cup of tea and not a needle in sight.

In turn the staff are friendly and cheerful even at nearly seven on a dark cold Friday evening, with time for a joke and a chat. They really are a treasure. They are now being asked to work on Boxing Day. Well I can see the point and all that but I wonder how many people are going to think of going out to donate then.

God bless all those who work hard on this important demanding service.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drugs on Radio 4

Two consecutive programmes on Radio 4 today about legal drugs.

On "Thinking Aloud" Laurie Taylor was discussing qat with a Somali friend - which I have done too. It's legal and it can get you high - if you chew for about 20 minutes. My friend doesn't indulge, but Laurie's does and described the effect. It is illegal elsewhere in the world (like Canada) but there's no pressure to make it so here. However, I think I'll pass.

The other programme was much more scary. "Am I Normal?" was about alcohol. And it said that normal is not a good guide, in this case, as normal in Britain means you are probably damaging your liver. The presenter thought that the majority/typical (of) Radio 4 listener(s) probably drinks too much - 2 glasses of wine a night qualifies, and pub measures of wines are large - and is unaware that they are doing so. Sobering stuff, literally.

An obvious conclusion - Radio 4 listeners should drink less alcohol and chew more qat. Wow.

Both programmes available online. You must hear the second one. Especially if you think it doesn't apply to you.

Here's the link to the Radio 4 Listen Again page where the programmes are easy to find - so long as you're sharp. You can even email them to a friend, if you think anyone needs to hear it.

Health Warning

Browsing idly through the newsagent's I discovered my new magazine has a competitor. Really! It is called Kindred Spirit. However I will not be switching allegiance.

KS only comes out bi-monthly and the Jan/Feb 2007 issue is not out yet. How am I going to plan for January without a horoscope? In any case, the horoscopes in KS are not nearly as detailed. One paragraph to cover two months? Come on. (I haven't checked whether they're accurate.)

Then it has some very strange disturbing stuff. There is an article (this is all from a quick skim, you understand, I haven't bought it) about pentagrams which I had to quickly put down when I came to the words MATHEMATICS and PYTHAGORAS. Yes, really. I nearly fainted, I can tell you. Are their readers, if they have any, still at school? Does anyone else need to read this?

Then there's even stranger stuff about some "scientists" who believe the universe is full of something called "Dark Matter" which you can't see (it's dark, geddit?) but "solves all the scientific problems about what's out there". Or something. Believable? As if. There's a mention of the Big Bang too, but nothing about Gaia at all.

There might be some interest in the article about Sufism, but I'm not buying it just for that. And there's some stuff on Mayan healing (didn't help them, did it?).

I didn't check out the letters page - I suppose they must have readers. However, I have heard that some magazines invent the letters they'd like to receive ....

But crucially, .... no spells. No wicca. Not a sniff of a candle or a ritual. What good is that then? Self-help only takes you so far .... what we need is the supernatural. Magick, if you like.

You can make your own mind up but I know what I prefer to read.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sick and Tired

I hate being sick and I thought I'd resolved not to do it. You get to lie around all day and do nothing (good) but you don't get to enjoy it (bad). It's so depressing and boring. And you still have to later catch up on all the stuff you had to cancel because you weren't up to it (worse). Occasionally you can get out of things you didn't want to do (but not this time, all good stuff got cancelled) or get a chance to read or think (but not this time, head too fuzzy). Bah.

Anyway tomorrow I shall be baaaack. Are you ready?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christianity - A Good Thing?

Other people read books, I only seem to have time for book reviews ...

Anyway, there is a new book out, "Letter to a Christian Nation" by Sam Harris, apparently a follow-up after his first was greeted by "thousands of emails from enraged Christians" - I don't know of what persuasion.

His arguments are that Christianity is "dangerously irrational" (I don't recognise that at all although it may be true of some Christians, I guess), "its persecution of other religions is deeply-rooted" (rather a strong phrase, but perhaps it shows that we are at least sincere and consistent), "sin is a guilt-inducing concept" (can't argue with that - is it a bad thing?), and "faith perverts trust, respect and tolerance" (er, what? I'd have to see that argument).

(All quotes are from New Statesman, whose reviewer feels that he "[fails] to address the most challenging arguments".)

The book has a foreword by our good friend Richard Dawkins, of whom Terry Eagleton said in the London Review of Books "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is The British Book of Birds and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology." (also quoted in NS.)

Anybody up with where the latest debate is? Answer in not more than 500 words.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Worst Thing about Examinations

... is waiting for them to start.

You Can't Make an Omelette

.... without breaking some eggs.

We're going to break a few tonight. I wonder if they'll be the right ones?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

They're After My Blood

Every three or four months I get a letter telling me how valuable I am. In particular I always get one as Christmas approaches. I duly got one today. Yes, I am a blood donor.

I am especially valuable (no really) as I am type O+ which is the "universal donor". 84% of the population can accept my blood. And they particularly need extra around Christmas time.

Also they say the number of blood donors is dropping. So at the end of next week I shall give half an hour of my time and get an excuse for a lie down (not that I've ever felt the need to). These days regular donors can even make timed appointments to cut down on the waiting.

Maybe I'll see you there?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


A mondegreen is the part in a song where what you hear is not quite what the lyrics are supposed to say. The name comes from an old folk song, whose exact title and quote I don't recall (it's something about a group who killed Lord someone and Lady Mondegreen)

As an example, here is a picture of Jimi Hendrix performing Purple Haze singing "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" - listen to it again and you'll see what I mean.
(This used to be a popular feature in Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Maybe still is.)

You get them in hymns too. A particular favourite of mine is the one about what God does to the stabling arrangements for the Great Giraffe.
You know: "He is trampling on the village where the Great Giraffe is stored .."

Contributions invited.

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out

I need to post a warning. This comes also from my new favourite magazine.

In the September issue there was a feature article in which they reported on regressing couples to previous lives to see if they had had earlier connections - a soulmate thing.

One woman experienced several previous lives, and saw her (current) husband in a couple of them, although none in which they were a couple. In one of these lives, she reported seeing him having sex with a prostitute.

He didn't see his current wife at all in any previous life.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Recommended Reading

Anyway, down at the Magistrates' Court last week I discovered the most wonderful magazine which has me absolutely captivated so that I've fallen under its spell (more of that later). It's a women's magazine that men should read too and it's called Spirit and Destiny.

Now I'm not a connoisseur of women's magazines but this one is useful, educational and inspirational. The January issue has two pages dedicated to telling you how good oranges are for you. You'd be amazed. (Or maybe you wouldn't, I don't know.) You can do more than eat them, anyway (again, more later). There's also two pages on eco-friendly skiing called Respecting the Mountain, and lots of stuff about organic, friendly eco-conscious ways of living.

Then there's the useful stuff - spells provided by the resident Wicca, Silja. Candles are a big theme here so it's time to invest. There's an "easy-to-cast money spell" (green candle), as requested by a reader, one (red candle) to make someone at work ask you out (a curiously old-fashioned approach for such an up-to-date publication it seems to me, but we'll let it pass), a spell to boost your luck (nutmegs and an old shoe, for a change) accompanied by a testimony from someone who tried it, a spell to make you less depressed in the winter (here's where the oranges come in) and a New Year celebration for if you missed 31 October, for which you need white wax. Add some general advice about meditation and some ruminations about why we get depressed in the winter and how to combat it (honey stirred clockwise into orange juice) and you have a whole lifestyle.

What else? Seven-day guide to detox for the new year; after a day of preparation, day 2 is the liver flush (the liver is where your spiritual soul lives, so don't poison it), day 3 cleanses the skin, day 4 helps your digestion (by a technique I am not personally going to try), day 5 clears your lungs (a use for frankincense!) and day 6 sorts out your kidneys (load up on the salt, which you also need for the feng shui exercise elsewhere) so that on day 7 you can finish by polishing your spirit. What a start to the new year!

I said that men should read it too, and I meant it. From the September issue I learned to be careful whenever a lady offers me a cappucino. Apparently if you want to seduce a man, he is more likely to agree if he has accepted said drink. True. Not that this is a situation I feel likely to occur, however forewarned is forearmed. (Mind you I haven't read the feature article on 7 steps to higher love, copiously illustrated, and based apparently on the Kama Sutra.) This advice does seem more suited to the modern miss than that above, though, if I'm any judge.

Anyway back to the research. Did you know that chidren who watch lots of TV are likely to be more unruly in school? You did. There's a feature on alternative schools, too.

Oh, there's too much. Almost at random, I could find more. Psychic healing, holistic makeovers, useful hemp bags, homeopathic and naturopathic remedies, recycling to save money, spiritual paths to material prosperity (before you spend money on bills, always spend some on spiritual growth and fun or celebration - you don't find that in the Financial Times) and recognise how much you need (er?)

There is plenty of other research, too.
Did you know that if teenage girls live with their dads the moment when they're biologically ready to have sex can be delayed by up to three months? Not stated whether this is approved of, or not. And bad luck too to have an older sister, as it holds you back further; stepbrothers help you though. There is no suggestion thankfully of what to do if you're caught in this predicament.

I should mention that as it's the January issue there's a proper horoscope with actual dates in January, not one of these cobbled-together two-paragraph jobs in other mags. If it applies to men too then I'm likely to be short of money at the end of the month and be cautious especially on the 22nd if I want to buy an internet cafe. (Er, I wasn't actually thinking of that, so I might get away, I suppose. Anyone want to make me an offer?)

You really must read this, especially if you're a leader of worship and want to know where your congregation is. I've just sent off for a year's subscription. It's the ultimate proof of G.K Chesterton's famous statement that when folk stop believing in something they don't believe in nothing they believe in anything. Did I mention the bollocks? Not sure.

I've barely scratched the surface. Buy it, read it. Ignore it at your peril.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

High Stakes

Blood Pressure

My blood pressure is higher in my right arm than my left. The doctor checked it to make sure. Then he wrote it in my notes. Hmmm. However my eyesight is 6/6 which is good for someone my age.