Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rock The Charts - UK

I have another little side project going on, don't know yet if we can make it work, but it's all about the music I love...

Rock The Charts - UK

Rock The Charts UK Blog

@RockthechartsUK

RockthechartsUK@gmail.com


It's always better having a photo of Angela Gossow than one of myself.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Album Review : Nitrogods - Nitrogods 8*

Well if there's enough room in the world for Airbourne to re-create the sound of AC/DC, then there's probably enough space for Nitogods' re-imaginings of Motorhead.

When the opening track 'Black Car Driving Man' kicks in with its heavy and bluesy riff it is really Motorhead all over, and it takes a bit of listening, on this track at least, to differentiate Oimel Larcher's vocals from Lemmy's. 'Demolition Inc.' follows in a familiar but highly enjoyable vein and then Nitrogods prove that they are not a one trick homage band by filtering Gogol Bordello via heavy metal and and quart of Jagermeister on 'At Least I'm Drunk.'

Nitrogods can't really be described as an upcoming young band, all three members, Oimel Larcher on guitar/vocals, Henny Wolter (Guitar & Vocals) and Klaus Sperling (Drums) have been around the block a bit. Wolter has put in two stints with Judas Priest-alikes Primal Fear, Larcher and Sperling both have over 20 years each in the music industry behind them.

The experience and contacts that the members of Nitrogods have made have allowed them to pull a few strings and get some mates to guest on their debut, listen out for Fast Eddie Clarke's solo on 'Wasted In Berlin' and the (now retired) Dan McCafferty's vocals on 'Whisky Wonderland'.

Nitrogods is a grin inducing, headbang triggering dozen tracks of alcohol soaked heavy metal fun. It rocks, it rolls, it thunders, if you like your music loud, fast and played with honesty then this is for you. Sung in English, made in Germany, fuelled by booze and love of what they they do, Nitrogods may not be young guns, but they're a real blast of rock and rock pleasure.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Jokers - HardRockHell VII

(TheJokers.com)
Someone has to draw the wake 'em slot. It's midday rather the break of dawn, but judging by bags under the eyes and slightly befuddled expressions, the fifty-odd souls who have dragged themselves out of bed and into Stage Two were all up late and partying hard way into the early hours.

The meagre crowd, clutching more Starbucks than Stella, doesn't make for a great atmosphere, but The Jokers set out their stall from the off, in their minds this is Monsters of Rock, this is Wacken, this is Graspop, and The Jokers are headlining.

Guitarist Paul Hurst leads the charge and steals much of the limelight from singer Wane Parry, while Parry calmly gets on with the job in hand, Hurst prances and headbangs, grins like a loon, throws shapes and in general fulfils al the stereotypes expected of a rock axeman, and all the time he's driving the band through some stonkingly good hard rock songs.

This is just what the doctor ordered for the final day of a festival, with two days and nights of bands and drinking behind you it takes something special to perk up your jaded senses as you head into the last third of a music marathon. The Jokers are just perfect, wildly energetic and with great music to boot. In their 30 minute slot The Jokers do themselves proud, the shambling hangover victims are transformed into cheering fans, and when Hurst takes his guitar for a walk through the audience and plays his solo up close with the crowd, he has become, just for 5 minutes, a real rock god.

Well done The Jokers, when the festival promoter gives you the 'bugger off I feel like death' slot, what to do is play like you're in front of a hundred-thousand adoring fans. The Jokers were among the best bands of the weekend, on exuberance and attitude alone, they came out pretty much on top.


TheJokers.com

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Cultural Forms and Time Depth

Sign with a libertarian political slogan in Re...
Sign with a libertarian political slogan in Renfrew County, Ontario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"The meaning of a cultural form and its place in the cultural field is not inscribed inside its form. Nor is its position fixed once and forever. The years's radical symbol or slogan will be nuetralized into next year's fashion; the year after, it will be the object of a profound cultural nostalgia."

Hall, S., 'Notes on Deconstructing the 'Popular' ' in Storey, J., (2006) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader, Harlow, Pearson Prentice Hall.
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Sunday, December 01, 2013

What I Did On My Weekend

Phil Campbell Live at Reds, Edmonton, May, 2005
Phil Campbell Live at Reds, Edmonton, May, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Airbourne
Alunah
Arthemis
Arthur Brown
Bernie Torme
Black Spiders
Black Star Riders
Blaze Bailey
Chrome Molly
Crucified Barbara
Desert Storm
Enos
Fake Club
Fatal Smile
Grifter
Groan
Kyrbgrinder
Logan
Massive Wagons
Michael Monroe
Pat MacManus
Paul Di'Anno
Phil Campbell's All Star Band
Screamer
Screaming Eagles
Skarlett Riot
Skindred
Snake Charmer
Spit Like This
States of Panic
The Answer
The Jokers
The Treatment
Tygers of Pan Tang
Uli Jon Roth

And Guinness, pint after pint after pint of Guinness.

Thanks HardRockHell VII, it was awesome.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

How We Construct Identity

中文: 綠色交通
Bilingual sign.
"...the social environment of almost any individual would by definition by polycentric, with a wide range of overlapping and criss-crossing centres to which orientations need to be made, and evidently with multiple 'belongings' for individuals (often understood as 'mixed' or 'hybrid' identities).

- Blommaert (2005), p.394, quoted in Seargeant, P., and Swann, J., (2012) English in the World: History, Diversity, Change, Abingdon / Milton Keynes, Routledge / The Open University.
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Essay - Minecraft - Essay

Must not play Minecraft, must write an essay on the etymology of the word 'skirt'. Must research another essay on the role of Homer and John Donne and their respective places within the canon of literature.

Taking on two university modules at the same time suddenly seems rather tougher than I thought it was going to be. I thought the two modules might dovetail nicely together with one of them (U214 Worlds of English) being language based and the other (A150 Voices and Texts) being text based, and therefore based on language as well. The reality though is that the actual essay work is so specific that the two modules are some distance apart.

With a Monday morning deadline looming for my U214 essay I sat up late on Friday at my computer trying to get 1000 words written about 'skirt' without waffling or wandering away from the subject. This has been the hardest essay so far. Examining the mechanics of language has a distinctly scientific feel to it. For most of the work there are only correct or incorrect answers. I have not been able to argue a case and back it up with supporting evidence or opinion in the way I have been working through the arts and religions modules. Instead it has very much been a case of 'this is how this word functions' or 'this is not a present participle.'

Very late on Friday night I was almost in tears when it suddenly struck me that I should have presented all my individual references for the OED Online in alphabetical order. After some minutes of panic I rejected the alphabetical idea, because surely that would have meant re-working all of my in-line references every time I added a new one. I hope this is the correct choice.

Anyway, with some brief linguistic descriptions of language terminology done, and a thousand words in which I hope I did not 'skirt' the issue, Tutor Marked Assignment 01 for this module has gone.

Red-figure pottery by Sosias. Achilles bandages the arm of wounded Patroclus
in a scene inspired by The Iliad.


Essay weeks come hard and fast when you're doubled up, and this week we have a group wiki to build in which we need to compare and contrast Homer's Iliad with John Donne's poetry and examine the authors places within the canon and look at their relative measures of authority.

Come on then Team Red, let's make it good.

And don't get (too) distracted by playing Hexxit Minecraft when I should be studying.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Holiday Reading

The Crock of Gold - James Stephens 7*
Gone Bamboo - Antony Bourdain 9*
The Merchant of Venice - William Shakespeare 6*
Beowulf - Anon 10*
What Is Enlightenment ? - Immanuel Kant 6*
95 Theses - Martin Luther 7*
Ghosts - Henrik Ibsen 8*
House Of Chains - Steven Erikson 9*
The Land That Time Forgot - Edgar Rice Burroughs 8*
The People That Time Forgot - Edgar Rice Burroughs 6*
Gone - Michael Grant 6*
America Pacifica - Anna North 6*
Human, All Too Human - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 8*
Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals - Immanuel Kant 3*
The Tiger's Wife - Tea Obreht 8*
Diary Of A Nobody - George and Weedon Grossmith 9*
The Scarlet Plague - Jack London 9*
The Fox Princess - Charlie Flowers 7*

Also, Blogger have made lists build from the bottom up rather than the top down, this has ruined my order of reading for the year.


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Skindred "WARNING " from the album Union Black



Reggae heavy metal, it seems like it shouldn't work yet it does. I'm really looking forward to seeing these guys at HardRockHell.

Nice Ship - I'll Have It

Sunday Mining Op
Sunday Mining Op (Photo credit: Morphisat)
Well what's this ?

I just warped into a mining site, with nothing more nefarious on my mind than harvesting some asteroid ore. There are already two ships in the site, but, there's only a single pilot!  As quickly as I can turn my Dominix around I warp back to station, eject and then warp back to the site with fingers crossed.

The fool is still there, he's using a Retriever to slowly fill the massive ore holds of an Orca. And he's in the mining ship. As I speed across the gap between us he sees me coming, and rapidly ejects from the ore barge and climbs swiftly back aboard the Orca.

No worries, I'd have loved to grab a free Orca, but I'll settle for a free mining barge. I jump aboard, turn the ship around and head back for the station. The aggrieved pilot opens a chat channel and asks me why I have stolen his "worthless mining barge."

"It's worth 25 million isk unfitted," I reply. "And if you were any slower you'd have lost the Orca, then you'd be crying."

I'm not normally a pirate or griefer in the game, so I offered him the ship back for 10 million, complete with all of its fittings. The pilot said he could build 10 Retrievers with 10m isk and turned me down. Oh well, I've got a 25m isk ship plus fittings, and I've stripped another 25m isk of rare ore from the site, and there's another pilot out there who is a little bit older and little bit wiser.  My morning's work is done.
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Gone, (and hopefully) Never to Return

Losing Weight
Losing Weight (Photo credits: www.mydoorsign.com)
In March of this year my best fried Wosser asked if I'd like to join him at a WeighWatchers meeting. This is the sort of thing best friends can do, you have to be really close to a person to point out that they're fat and ought to do something about it and get away with it without getting slapped.

He was correct though. At the initial weigh-in I tipped the scales at 16 stone 6 pounds. I weighed myself this Monday morning, 6 months after beginning my food and exercise programme...

11 stone 6 pounds. In 6 months I have shed 5 stone or 70 pounds in weight, and on the fitness side I have moved from plodding, blowing and halting along a flat mile to regularly doing cross-country distances of over 10 miles.

I think that if you have allowed yourself to become overweight, then perhaps you need a number of things to line up in your life before you can lost the weight. I think for myself these things were WeightWatchers, support from friends and family, and self motivation.

Without my best friend I would not have gone to a WeightWatchers meeting in the first place, and the continued help and support from my wife and my close friends has been invaluable. Doing the plan together, my friend and I have been able to cook dinner party meals for ourselves and our families that didn't send us over our ProPoints allowances. My wife has also joined me in WeightWatchers, she has lost a stone and has set a target to lose more and we have been able to help and support each other.

Finding a professional that suits you to assist with your weight loss can be vital, and with my WeightWatchers' leader I just clicked. She is always positive and cheery, full of practical advice and help, supportive when you've had a poor week, and your personal cheerleader when you've achieved a target.

The WeightWatchers ProPoints system has been very easy to use. It doesn't take long to get used to your personal points allowance and the relative points cost of various food types. One of my personal worries was that if  I did not feel full after a meal, then I would just nibble and snack until the next meal came around. With the ProPoints plan I have been abler to make meals that are as large or small as I fancy and still come inside the points needed for regular weight loss.

On top of changing my diet I have picked up running again. Currently I try to run three times a week. My routes vary from 5.5 miles up to a 10 mile moorland circuit. I have twice run a half marathon distance.

Last month I threw away all of my clothes. I no longer owned a single item of clothing that didn't engulf me. When I was big I wore even larger clothes to try and hide my size. Now I'm slimmer I've taken to wearing skinny jeans and slim fit shirts. The only clothing I haven't thrown away are some of my treasured gig t-shirts, if anyone wants to join me inside a marquee sized Monsters of Rock shirt just let me know.

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Major Series North 2013

So after not learning my lesson in the Over The Odda I entered a second race, this time as a team with my lovely companions Mary and Heloise. Major Series is an undulating 10k with lots of obstacles and mud pools thrown in. Although the pictures show us to be reasonably clean, there were points in the race when we were covered fairly head to toe in stinking black mud.
Mary, Heloise and YS - before

The race began fairly well, we trotted along to the first series series of mud baths where a minor disaster struck. In the 3 foot deep cloying mud Heloise's trainer came adrift. As none of us fancied suffocating in the mire we didn't bother to launch any sort of rescue attempt. A few hundred yards further on, and wading through another thigh deep lake of gloop and Heloise's other trainer was buried as well. Mother and daughter exchanged footwear and Mary, who may be variously called madly keen / hard as nails / verging on mental, ran the remaining 9 kilometres in her socks!

The obstacles en route included an ice bath, mud and water pools of varying depth and stickiness, and the jumps that are normally navigated by horse and rider at the Bramham Park horse trials. Some of the more athletic competitors actually jumped across the horse obstacles, those of us without the long jumping ability of the four-legged had to climb down one side of each obstacle and then climb back up the other side. Being in a team came in very handy at this point, some of the jumps were a bugger to get up and down.

During


Although 10k isn't all that far, some of the obstacles really took their toll. I found it hard to get going again after doing a belly crawl along a chilling stream under barbed wire, and the muddy river crossing - heads under, and the triple muddy marine plunge - heads under three times in a row, were very energy sapping.

As the race went on the competitors became more and more strung out on the trails and through the woods. Periodically you would become aware of shrieks and yells from ahead, alerting you that another mud or water plunge was imminent.

Nevertheless we made it around the course, and have the t-shirts and survivors medals to prove it. I salute Mary for running in bare feet, and Heloise for getting round despite feeling unwell. A tough but fun morning out and now we'll have to decide what to do to top this. 

After!


Tough Mudder anybody ?

This morning - I thought I'd got myself fairly fit, but today my shoulder muscles are making themselves known with every move, and my upper legs and glutes are sore and stiff. I shall be hobbling around like an old man at work today.





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Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind - Jean-Jacques Rousseau 6*

Jean Jacques Rousseau
Jean Jacques Rousseau (Photo credit: Stifts- och landsbiblioteket i Skara)
If you take Edward Said's statement that the West constructed a false image of the Orient that suited their purpose (and therefore of Africa, the Americas and anywhere else that did not contain 'civilised' Western Europeans) then some of the blame for that image building must be laid at the feet of philosophers like Rousseau and his idea of the 'noble savage.'

In Rousseau's mind the savage lives in a state of simple grace. He is not educated enough to feel the finer emotions of love, desire and loss and therefore lives happily in his own way, unknowing and uncaring of the woes of modern society.

Rousseau does make some interesting points though. His thoughts on the origin and development of language are astute and would chime with the research done by many contemporary linguists.

His final thoughts that possessions and the human desire to own things are the root of conflict and evil is argued eloquently and stands up better to scrutiny than many of his ramblings on so-called savages.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review : An Image Of Africa - Chinua Achebe 8*

This is a short book in the Penguin Classics Great Ideas series and compromises two essays by Achebe.

In the first essay Achebe de-constructs Conrad's Heart Of Darkness and re-presents it as an essentially racist work. In this he seems to echo sentiments also expressed by Edward Said in Orientalism, that Westerners needed to construct other parts of the world to suit their own narrow world view, and that within this world view they were unable to accept other civilisations and their works as being in any way comparable to the 'great' civilisations of Europe.

The second and longer essay dwells on the politics of Nigeria (in the early 1980's) and the corruption and moral emptiness of the country's leaders. It is a fascinating essay and many of the points Achebe makes could be applied to governments and politicians in almost any nation. Achebe rails against both corruption in government and the prevailing idea that this is the way that Nigerian life is and has to be. Achebe tackles both the big political picture and fine points which he feels would improve day to day life for most Nigerians. Whether this be the irrational behaviour of car drivers or the martial image presented by politicians Achebe presents a series of thoughtful and common-sense arguments to counter some of Nigeria's woes.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Yer Marks - Go!

An Essay concerning Humane Understanding in fo...
An Essay concerning Humane Understanding in four books (1690) by John Locke (1632-1704) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And we're off, almost. The U214 website has opened, we have received the first instalment of our study materials and perhaps most important of all, we can see the TMA questions (that is, Tutor Marked Assignments) for the whole of the module.  Not that we have actually been assigned a tutor or a lecture schedule yet. I do hope that my lectures fall on my days off, fat chance I suppose, and that they are in Leeds or Bradford and not Sheffield as the A217 lectures were.

I did not manage to attend a single lecture on the Introducing World Religions module, although it didn't seem to harm my work much. I scored a 1st in the exam and a high 2:1 in the TMA's.

The TMA's for U214 Worlds of English look fascinating. After getting locked in to a normal essay structure of introduction - arguments - conclusion for the last three modules it will be odd to drop that structure for most of this course.

The first essay asks us to describe, in a linguistic sense, three words, and then to write a 1000 words on one word of our choice that must have been in English use for at least 250 years. Then we have a three article forum piece to write, followed by an audio transcription and discussion, then what looks like a fairly straight essay on use of technology within English development, a discussion on English use in education and finally 3000 words on varieties of English for the EMA (End of Module Assignment).

As the Open University has switched its module timetable around and is condensing some of its 30 point modules into 60 point modules, I have been forced (along with many other students) to double up on modules this winter. I will be taking Year 2 U214 Worlds of English alongside Year 1 A150 Voices and Texts which will complete both my Year 1 and 2 studies.

Oh well, if I wasn't studying I'd only be wasting time playing Eve Online or sleeping or eating or something.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ARCH ENEMY - Under Black Flags We March (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

BUTCHER BABIES - Magnolia Blvd (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

BOMBUS - Enter The Night (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

I'm a Rampaging Ravager of Books

San Diego City College Learing Recource City r...
OK, so that's this months' reading organised.
English teacher Andrew Barnard came up with a list of r based categories for the various levels of reading which he sees children achieving.

Relisher - Reads 30-40 books a year

Regular - Reads 10-15 books a year

Rusher - Reads in bursts

Reluctant - Reads occasionally

Realist - Lacks the focus to read novels

Rejecter - Only reads if forced to

Rechanneler - Distracted by the online world

Regretter - Wants to read but has reading difficulties

I managed 131 books last year, and I suspect that for many of my GoodReads / BookCrossing friends this isn't an unusually high sum, thus we need a further category...

Rampaging Ravisher - two books a week is the bare minimum, any less than that and we'd actually have to re-engage with the real world from time to time.




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The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 1

English: Stamp of Moldova: 50th anniversary of...
English: Stamp of Moldova: 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood"
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 "Everywhere heaps of debris, refuse, and offal; standing pools for gutters, and a stench which alone would make it impossible for a human being in any way civilised to live" - Engels on Manchester.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Are You Ready For University ?

Sesame magazine
Sesame magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Following a wholly unscientific and biased study of assorted students, I'd have to say that the answer is both yes and no.  The Open University intake are ready, over-prepared even, the brick uni intake are lazing around, more interested in freshers than their course and are, mostly, a disgrace to the fine tradition that is a university education.

Now I know that this is only partly true. Many brick uni students are going to work very hard indeed as soon as they have got out of bed at 3pm and on the slim chance that their hangover will allow them to focus on their text books.

In the run-up to the new university year beginning, I am struck by the sometimes large organisational and motivational properties of the average OU student when compared to some ingoing brick uni students.

Here's a case in hand, Cody, name not changed to shame the guilty, is taking Criminology. When questioned about what preparatory work she had undertaken this summer she gave the interviewer a blank look, eventually followed by the question...

"Reading list ? What's a reading list ?"

Compare this to the informal Facebook forum for this years U214 and A150 modules. Both forums have been very active months before the opening date for the modules with students discussing strategies, study plans and getting to grips with the reading list. The OU doesn't actually give us a 'must read' list, but for A150 we know in advance that we'll have to get through Dickens' Hard Times towards December this year - the result being that half the intake read the novel during the summer.

The story is the same over in U214 Worlds Of English where the OU suggested that we might like to read some suggested titles. As this is a Year 2 module and the intake are already used to the pace of OU study and the personal drive it requires, this group have been even busier. The forum is alive with people recording that they have read and taken notes on most of the 'suggested' list, in addition the group have been tracking down podcasts, websites and useful video clips and exchanging them all summer. When the module actually opens in October we're going to be uber-organised.

Of course, the OU students have to be this organised. They are expected to study for a minimum of 16 hours a week, which is fine when you're a full time brick uni student with no other demands. The OU though is packed with people who are both full time workers and full time parents, their study has to fit around the dual challenges of raising a family and paying the bills. As always, I salute the working parents who are managing a degree in their spare time. Spare time being a relative term here.

Fran is going to train to be a teacher. Fran also doesn't know what a reading list is, but she assures me that the course she is enrolled on will teach her everything she needs to know. When she begins of course. Well, after Fresher's Week anyway.

The different attitude of the (mostly) more mature OU students brings a historically older perspective to study. Although many OU students have a career progression or change in mind with their degree, many OU students are engaged in study with the intention of improving their education and broadening their world view. This latter distinction used to be the driving force behind a university education, but one that has been consumed by the financial imperative.

Best wishes then to everyone starting or continuing their education this Autumn. No thanks though to the bloody Conservatives and their useless, two-faced Liberal allies. Thanks to the way the Government has changed university funding, many OU students have found themselves in the potentially over-worked situation of having to take two modules at the same time this year in order to comply with new funding rules. Thanks Cameron/Clegg, let me shake you both warmly by the throat if we ever meet up.

It's just under a month before our modules officially begin, but you'll be able to spot the OU intake quite easily if you look around, they're the ones trying to take notes on the train and the bus, frantically reaching for textbooks in their lunch hours, studying on holiday - early mornings - weekends - late nights.

6am Saturday morning and the kids are still in bed ? Might as well get that copy of Criticism and Truth off the shelf and take some notes, time and Barthes wait for no man.
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Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

Costume of the allegorical figure "Rhetor...
Costume of the allegorical figure "Rhetoric" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"It is undeniable that negotiation and conflict resolution are skills, and that in certain situations those skills are valuable. In other situations, however, negotiation may not be the best strategy. The general devaluation of argument as a communication skill has some potentially worrying implications. Taken to its logical conclusion it would undermine the belief - in fact the classic, liberal belief - in the value of rational discourse for revealing the truth and correcting error."

- Cameron, D., (2000) Good To Talk, Sage, London.
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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Fatty Boom Boom Metal Version

Die Antwoord - Dis iz why I'm hot - HERRSCHAFTIZED

It's Just A Boring Book...

Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies (Photo credit: jumpinjimmyjava)
...about a bunch of boys stuck on an island.

Thus one of my teenage comrades summed up William Golding's Lord Of The Flies.

This led to a moment of inarticulate rage from me which went something along the lines of "Aaaaargh, boring ?! How can you can it's boring ? It contains some truly shocking, breath-taking scenes, you're very blase about about life and death if you found the murder scene boring. And it isn't about boys stuck on an island, it's about tearing away the thin veneer of civilisation, it's about control and power and what happens when power is placed into the hands of those who shouldn't wield it, it's about the natural cruelty of children and what happens when the established order is overturned. But it isn't about boys on an island, that's just the plot that carries the themes."

Imagine, Lord of the Rings isn't about the eternal struggle of good versus evil and the determination of good people to do the right thing even under the most extreme circumstances, it's just a dull book where some little people have to chuck a magic ring in a volcano.

Harry Potter isn't about friendship and trust, education and wisdom, faith in your friends, questioning corrupt authority and finding strength within yourself, it's just about a group of kids who have to kill a noseless freak.

Twilight though is just as it reads, it's a book that teaches girls that the most important thing in life is to give up everything you once thought important in order to get a boyfriend.
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Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Dominance Of English

Teaching
Teaching (Photo credit: DBduo Photography)
"...the dominance of English as the global lingua franca is a linguistic phenomenon with an economic imperative."

- Gardner, C., (2007) 'English and the new media' in Goodman, S., Graddol, D., and Lillis, T., (Eds.) U211 Book 4; Redesigning English, Abingdon and Milton Keynes, Routledge and The Open University.
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Friday, August 30, 2013

The Middle Class Have Ruined Festivals

Leeds Festival
Leeds Festival (Photo credit: Effervescing Elephant)
So another weekend of Leeds/Reading Festival has come and gone, tens of thousands of kids are shell-shocked and stinking by Monday morning and are crawling home. Later they'll be out and about telling everyone about how their first festival experience was amazing and that Leeds Fest 2013 was the best thing ever.

Well it wasn't, Leeds/Reading has become a bit shit.

The first problem with these new breed of mega-fests is the line-up. It does not matter that the organisers have grabbed every indie rock band in the UK and shoved them into a tent, you're still only going to see 10 bands' worth of full sets in a day.

Look at this line-up from a festival I once went to. It was called Monsters Of Rock....

Iron Maiden
KISS
David Lee Roth
Megadeth
Guns N' Roses
Helloween

I know that most middle class kids festival goers won't understand this as a festival bill, so let me explain. Monsters Of Rock did what it said on the tin, it presented 6 really big bands, all on the same stage on the same day. Look at the that line-up! Guns N' Roses are fifth on the bill, and they were already shifting millions of albums, the album Appetite For Destruction #1 in the US charts, #15 in the UK charts and would stay in the charts eventually rising to the #5 position in the weeks after their Donington appearance. The bottom placed band on the bill, Helloween, were at the time at their most popular following the release of their Keeper Of The Seven Keys album pair.

Who were positioned 5 and 6 on this years Leeds bill ? Editors and Don Broco, Bring Me The Horizon and New Found Glory, and for Sunday, Twin Atlantic and Earlwolf. I think perhaps there are two bands from that six who might fill the O2 Leeds, and two or three who would might well be regarded as pub bands. We got Guns N' Roses fifth on the bill, you got Don Broco, guess it sucks to be you.

The best festival idea was Reading 1987 where there were two main stages side by side but in front of the main audience, thus allowing bands to play in quick rotation without the half wait for monitor testing and guitar tuning. Although as I remember, there was a delay to clear bottles of piss from the stage after Bad News played.

The main problem with the modern festival though is that all my whining about crap line-ups does not matter. Kids don't go to festivals for the music, they go because all their mates are going, they go because Leeds Fest has become the middle-class rite of passage, the thing you do at the end of the summer. I know of kids who have gone to Leeds and have only seen a single band over the whole weekend, honestly, I'm not making this up. You go now to the festival because it's the scene thing to do.

Everybody buys their tickets early and it doesn't matter who is on the bill, you're still going to buy them. This faux popularity is commercially spot on, I can't argue with that, but it has packed the festivals with hundreds of bands that you wouldn't go and see for free if they they played in the pub down your road, so don't kid me that seeing half of these bands is the "most amazing thing ever."  The main stage line-up is weak, and most of the satellite tents feature bands who normally play in front of their girlfriends and parents.

This early must-buy mentality has even affected the over festival I go to these days, Hard Rock Hell.  HRH is a niche festival, indoors and in the winter in a holiday park in North Wales. It caters to an older classic rock audience and features mostly older or well established bands alongside a small host of small acts. A few years ago I could afford to wait until the bill was announced before buying tickets, now it's become so popular that 75% of next years gig + accommodation tickets will sell out during this year's festival. Would I have bought festival tickets for this year knowing that Black Star Riders (a 'supergroup' featuring mostly ex Thin Lizzy musicians) were headlining ? Possibly not. If I don't buy next year's tickets this year, and then they announce Coheed & Cambria and The Dropkick Murphys as headliners, then I'll be kicking myself for not buying in.

The other reason that the middle-class have ruined festivals is this. We took tents to festivals, and then we packed them up and brought them home. We also tidied up what rubbish we could and left it bagged up. Apart from plastic bottles of course, we threw those at other audience members all weekend.

Gund N' Roses versus Don Broco ? Perhaps I'm wearing my rose tinted specs, or perhaps festivals just did use to be a whole lot better.
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why Are You Wearing A Ramones T-Shirt ?

At work...

YS's boss - "Now YS, I want to make sure you know what we're doing here"

YS - "We're selling ice cream"

Boss - "Yes, so why hasn't that little boy got any ?" points to teenage boy

YS - "He's wearing a Ramones T-shirt"

Boss - "Er....and ?"

YS - "He can't sing the lyrcis to Beat On The Brat"

Boss - "But this is awful!"

YS - "I know, it's a travesty. I said 'Gabba Gabba' to him and he didn't even say 'Hey!' in return"

Boss - "No, I mean it's awful if you won't serve ice cream to kids wearing punk t-shirts"

YS - "But they're ridiculing a great legacy boss"

Boss - "No, just serve ice cream to everyone please."

YS - "Well, I suppose so"

Teenage girl - "I'd like an ice cream please"

YS - "I see you're wearing a Doors t-shirt. Do you know who The Doors were ? Sing the Alabama Whisky Song, now!""

Clueless teenage girl in Jim Morrison tee - "I don't know what you mean"

YS - "NO ICE CREAM FOR YOU!"

Today's Special


Monday, August 12, 2013

At The Chinese Supermarket

On my day off last week I popped into Sing Kee in Leeds to top up on the sort of ingredients that that the mainstream supermarkets tend not to carry, or to charge wildly over the odds for.



The preserved black beans I mainly use along with Oyster sauce for stir-fry dishes. The packet at the upper right in Chinese writing is preserved vegetable, this is intensely sour and I use it in Hot and Sour Soup along with the Shredded Black Ear Fungus in the packet in the centre of the photo.. The more mundane items are the lemon juice and bamboo shoot.

I bought some new items, new to me, this week. Some air dried duck liver sausages, Instant Tom Yam Soup Mix and a jar of Satay An Pho Bo Vien which is a deep red, looks intensely hot and is made up of 16% minced chilli with prawns and peanuts, sounds appetising! The Ayam Malaysian curry I cooked last week and it was delicious. The pack contains enough spice paste and coconut milk to make four servings of curry - I added chicken, onion, bamboo shoot, water chestnuts and peppers.

The young lady on the checkout was intrigued by the stuff I had bought and kept holding the items up and asking "Have you tried this before ?" or "Have you eaten this before ?" to which I answered yes to everything but the sausages which I had bought on a whim. "Chinese sausages, dice them and steam them with rice" Rebecca told me before adding. "English people never buy stuff like this, they only come in for Soy sauce and sweet and sour, you are very adventurous."

And so with shopping bag full and ego inflated I went on my way.

Shopping

I don't have a 'before' shot of what our weekly shopping used to contain, but here is today's haul...


Our weekly shop before we started WeightWatchers would have included ready meals along the lines of frozen pizzas and pasta dishes, cream for making sauces, cheese, steak, pork pie and dessert items like chocolate tarts and sundaes.

Now our weekly shop is incredibly healthy. Most of the high fat food we used to buy has either been dropped from our diet (cream, pastry, desserts) or we have exchanged them for healthier versions like WeightWatchers cream, Morrisons NuMe cheese, sweet biscuits and hummus, and semi-skimmed milk for full fat. Half fat cheese some years ago had the exact taste and consistency of shredded car tyres, I am pleased that this is a product which has improved greatly.

Our diet is very much weighted towards vegetables. I like to have a large evening meal, and if the meat content is limited to 100-150g (even less in a low ProPoint stir-fry) and the carbohydrate content is similarly low, then I have to bulk it out with plenty of vegetables otherwise I'm just going to raid the biscuit cupboard afterwards.

The Quorn is an experiment. I'm not giving up on meat, but I'm happy to reduce the fat content. If it turns out to be foul we won't have it again. I shall report back when I've cooked it.

There is some beer in there, and the gin and red wine are just out of shot - I'm not giving up on the real essentials.

Some diet things that are not worth trying...

Zero alcohol white wine - when they removed the alcohol they also removed the acidity, flavour and mouth-feel of the wine leaving a flabby, sweet and ghastly liquid. The other 90% of the bottle went into casseroles and risotto. I have a bottle of lo-cal WeightWatchers wine in the fridge, but I'm in no rush to actually sample it.

Skimmed milk - it doesn't colour your coffee and tastes just like water. Awful.

Coleslaw made with low fat fromage frais - this seemed like a good idea when I thought of it, but it just doesn't work. Coleslaw needs the fatty creaminess of the mayonnaise, even reduced fat mayonnaise, to carry the dish.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dreams

I have just woken up from the strangest dream, I'll try to recant some of it before it fades.



I was living with a large group of people in a ramshackle building in a forest. We were preparing for the imminent visit by the Shrike and her partner.  I was giving advice to everyone to remain calm when the Shrike arrived and to do nothing that might be construed as a threat.

When the people arrived it was sudden, they were just in the building with us, and they came with an entourage of children all wearing the same blue uniform.

The Shrike herself was a short-haired, pretty girl wearing a military uniform, she was wreathed in green lightning. I felt compelled to tell her that at one point in my life I had been able to talk to cats, big cats, not the house variety, she was rather underwhelmed by this news. I felt sure that although the Shrike looked frightening, it was her unseen partner that actually held the power.

A small boy of Indian/Pakistani appearance ran up to me and gave me a hug. He was wearing one of the blue uniforms and I asked him whether his father knew that he was going with the Shrike. He said he did.

The Shrike and her group took food, supplies and clean clothing, and left behind three bags of laundry which I thought was a good thing as it would encourage them to return and then the small boy's grandmother would get to see him again.

Anyway, that was my dream, analyse that.


Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Countryside - Perhaps It Isn't For You

A swaledale ewe on the rolling fells of the La...
A swaledale ewe on the rolling fells of the Lake District near Keswick, in Cumbria, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I do like to encourage people to visit the countryside and get out and about in the more remote parts of beautiful Yorkshire, so long as you pick your litter up as you go. An incident on the way to work this week though reminded me that the countryside is a wild and dangerous place, full of unexpected hazards and strange terrors and that on that basis, perhaps it just isn't for everyone.

I was driving to work over the moor road when the car ahead of me braked for no apparent reason, and came to a halt. Then the cars' indicators started flashing.

Thinking that the driver had broken down I got out and went to see if there was any help I could offer. I am least mechanically minded person around so this was more a gesture of human solidarity that an actual offer of anything more practical.

Are you alright ? I asked the driver.

"There's a sheep" replied the young lady, and pointed. She was right, and not only was there a single ewe half concealed in the bracken, but the ewe had this year's twins close by. I must admit to being a bit confused at the lady's reaction.

"But why have you stopped ?"

"Because it might run out and get hurt."

What I wanted to say at this point was something along the lines of "Oh get a grip woman." What I actually did was to laugh a little, and then I pointed out that perhaps she could drive quite slowly past the sheep, and that in that way the beasts wouldn't get hurt and nor would angry road users (of which a fair queue was already building up) cause any sort of unpleasant confrontation.

In some trepidation the young lady put the car in gear and proceeded to pass the sheep so widely that she almost ran her own car into a ditch. I made the international hand symbol for 'that person is a nutter' to the driver behind me and we all proceeded on our way, just very slowly in case of unexpected ruminants.

Never before have I considered sheep to be a terror of the wilds. But before setting out for a drive along the moor and fell roads in Yorkshire perhaps you should consider whether the countryside is really for you, or whether you'd just be better off with a nice cup of tea and some re-runs of Eastenders.
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