Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Runes of the Earth

By Stephen Donaldson

Like I mentioned a couple of posts ago, the Thomas Covenant novels were my favorite series of books when I first read them years ago. Twenty years after the last one, he's started a new trilogy. I was initially skeptical, since I always got the impression that he wrote the second trilogy mainly because of fan pressure and worried that a third one might be even more unnecessary. But according to his statement on his website he conceived of the second and third chronicles together, and it's just taken him this long to decide he's become a good enough writer to finish the tale.

The new series starts ten years after the last series, and the protagonist is Covenant's sidekick from the second chronicles, Linden Avery. Once again she is summoned to the Land (a magical fantasy world), where several thousand years have passed since the last time she was there, and encounters Lord Foul, Donaldson's Sauron stand-in. This time Foul is working through Roger and Joan Covenant, Thomas' son and ex-wife. It's all somewhat complicated and twisted, but it's a good setup for a potent climax to the story. The first book just explains what's happened to the Land in the intervening time, and introduces all the main characters.

The book is no disappointment, although it will be hard to really judge it until the series is complete. It does seem obvious that he set it all up in the previous series, although he cleverly made it seem like there were no loose ends at the end of the second chronicles. Lord Foul's primary weapon has always been despair, and evoking despair has always been one of Donaldson's strengths as a writer. For the first six books, it almost always seemed like the heroes were truly fucked, and there was no way they could ever win. A real achievement when you know it's an epic fantasy story and the good guys have to win in the end anyway. In the first series he did this by making Covenant a real fucked up mess of a man, and when he sorted himself out at the end of the first series introduced Linden Avery, a real fucked up mess of a woman. Now both Covenant and Avery have saved the Land in the past, and defeated their personal demons in the process. They're confidant that they can do so again. As a result, The Runes of the Earth is vastly more upbeat than the previous books. I'm not sure if this is a mis-step on the authors part, a deliberate change of direction, or if he's deliberately lulling us into a false sense of comfort before really fucking things up. Based on the surprising twist at the end of the book, and the various ominous hints dropped along the way, I'd bet on the latter.

A note on titles, 'The Runes of the Earth' - mysterious and evocative, in a numinous sort of way. Not all that menacing. The next book is 'Fatal Revenant'. Sounds brutal. I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, December 27, 2004

They Were Right About You

aMotion - A Perfect Circle

It took me a while to track this one down, as for some reason they weren't selling it in the boring mall CD stores, but it turned out to be well worth the wait. For some reason I thought this was a live concert DVD, but it turns out it's actually a music video collection. This is excellent news because I rate APCs videos right up there with Tools.

So the DVDs got all of their videos, including a few that I'd never seen before. There are commentary tracks by Maynard for most of them, and a few commentaries from Billy too. And of course there are a whole bunch of random special features, such as the obligatory photo gallery (which includes a tactless but amusing upskirt shot of James Iha dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ). The best feature is undoubtedly Maynards commentaries, in which he talks plainly about the meaning behind the songs and the ideas behind the videos. They're very interesting, and it's just a pity that there isn't one for Imagine. The second best feature is the video clips, which are mostly just random weird home video footage of the band backstage, but it's funnier and cooler than you'd think.

The videos themselves are pretty cool too of course. Three Libras and Imagine are quite easily two of my favorite music videos ever made. Judith and Weak and Powerless are pretty awesome too. The unedited version of The Outsider is quite good too. It's still ridiculous and stupid, but that's kind of the point. Like The Outsider, Thinking About You is another Bikini Bandits video, only even dirtier and more obscene. Aside from that, it's also not as professionally done, and doesn't really make a good video. It's not really any surprise that I havn't seen it shown on tv before. Another one I hadn't seen before was Blue. They had a competition for fan-submitted videos, and this one won. (I guess it's a cheap way to get a video done). It's actually pretty good. And of course, there's Counting Bodies Like Sheep. I still don't like this one that much, it's just way too obvious and shrill. (Or maybe it's just that this is the only APC video with no hot chicks in it.) Lastly, there's a live concert version of The Noose. The video's a bit wanky (all dark with weird effects over the band), but it's a cool version of the song.

It also comes with a audio CD of remixes which I don't rate very much. I think they would all work a lot better with Maynards voice taken out since it never seems to match with the radically reshaped songs. The best tracks are James Iha's remixes, which leave the structure of the songs unchanged and merely change the instruments, and the two versions of The Hollow at the end, done by Paz and Troy (the two who left the band before Thirteenth Step).

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Seasons Greetings

Well tomorrow I'm off to the Tron for a week or so (assuming my flight isn't overbooked!) to see the progenitors for christmas, and for the remainder of the holidays I'm planning on being inebriated. For these reasons, expect little to no blogging for a while.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

He Clenched His Necessity

The guy who wrote Band of Brothers is writing a movie adaptation of the first Thomas Covenant novel.

The first two Thomas Covenant trilogy were my favorite books ever the last time I read them, which was about five years ago. The author, Stephen Donaldson, has released the first book in the third and final trilogy this year, over twenty years since the last Thomas Covenant book (and I'm in the middle of reading it right now).

I'm not too happy about the news of the movies. These books delve deep into the psyche of the protagonist, and I think it would be very hard to do justice to them on the big screen. While a really good writer and director could make an excellent series, I can see it easily turning into a ginormous shit fest in the wrong hands.

Well, the movie probably won't even happen, but if it does, and it turns out good, I'll be very very happy. If it turns out to star Tom Hanks as Thomas Covenant (a leper and a rapist by the way) and Catherine Zeta Jones as Linden Avery, I will be very very angry.

The Appointed Time Comes

The Axe Attack - New Zealand Metal Volume 1

I bought this compilation because it contains a single Cripple Mr Onion song, but I was hoping I'd find a few good tracks from bands I'd never heard of as well.

Barefoot Over Nails is the new Cripple song, and while the album version seems to lack a bit of the brutality compared to the way they play it live, it's still pretty cool. You can appreciate the more subtle aspects better when you're not being buffeted around in a moshpit.

As for the album as a whole, it was almost worth it for Barefoot alone. There are good tracks from Subtract and Chuganaut as well, but I already knew I liked those bands. There are a few others that seem interesting (New.Way.Home seem kinda cool), but unfortunately I'd have to say that 3/4 of the CD is competant but average, and one or two tracks are just rubbish (including Malevolence, (but unfortunately there's no Meatyard or Hatred)). Still, it's good to own this album in case I ever need an hour of noisy obnoxious death metal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Goodness! Gordon Freeman!

Half-life 2 - Valve

So it's the most anticipated PC game of the year and, as reported, it's pretty cool. It continues right on from the end of the last game (literally, I wonder how many days has Gordon gone without sleep now?) although you are immediately transported some years into the future. The Earth has been taken over by a bunch of nasty aliens called the Combine, and it's up to Gordon Freeman to kick their arses.

The gameplay is much the same as the original, which is a very good thing. The only real changes are the vehicles (a boat and a buggy, nothing super exciting, but fun to use all the same), and the realistic physics engine. The physics engine works pretty well, you very rarely see it fuck up, and it makes the game a lot more realistic and immersive.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. There's some excellent level design, and a lot of work has been put into the atmosphere of the game. There's only one complaint I have. The story, she is no good.

Spoilers follow....

That's not to say the story is rubbish, I was pretty interested in finding out what the Combine were, and what they were up to. The problem is that it just ends without explaining anything. Apparently there is to be a third game which will finish off the story, and that's fine, but for those few of us who actually like a reasonable narrative in our games it would be nice to be rewarded with a bit of plot advancement after battling your way through the entire game. Game designers often skimp on the story like this, cackling away but promising to reveal all in the next game. And then of course the series gets cancelled (see Gabriel Knight) or new designers decide they don't like the old story and change everything to suit themselves, resulting in an incomprehensable mess. And then they get cancelled anyway (see Command and Conquer/Red Alert).

Another thing that pisses me off is the lame climax. After fighting your way through 10 levels, the final confrontation happens because... you get captured. Well gee, maybe I should have just surrendered right at the start (OK, right after I got the gravity gun) and saved myself some time. It pisses me off in books and movies when the results of the climax depend in no way on whatever it is the characters have done along the way, and it's even worse in a game, when you've done all this stuff yourself. It's really a deus ex machina, but it's still a big fucking cop out.

One thing that did impress me with the story is pointed out on Game Matters (in the comments). The gameplay actually reflects the theme of the story. Throughout the game your character is referred to as 'The One Free Man', yet the gameplay is completely linear! You have almost no choices at all! I would have just laughed this off as a bit of unintentional irony, except for the comments of the man in the suit in the closing scene, "Rather than offer you the illusion of free choice..." (referring to the stupid choice you had to make at the end of the first game). So it would appear that despite what all the other characters think, Gordon Freeman the character truly does have as little freedom as the player. It makes me wonder what the third game will do with this, will the climax actually let you make real choices? Maybe the guy in the suit will set you up on the side of the Combine... anyway, I guess we'll find out in another five years, assuming Valve doesn't go bankrupt or get bought out by morons.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Land Untouched By Modern Dentistry

Molvania - a Jetlag Travel Guide.

A pisstake travel guide to a made up eastern European country. In Molvania the countryside is littered with minefields, the local delicacies are things like maggot infested cheese and horsemeat, and the natives are dour, unpleasant alcoholics. Of course, the travel guide is obliged to put the best possible spin on everything, leading to statements like "Gone are the days when it was necessary for visitors to come equipped with personal first aid kits and their own blood-supplies (although it still wouldn't hurt)".

I couldn't say how accurate this books satire of real travel guides is, although I suspect that the character of Phillipe, a travel writer who thinks you've only had an authentic travel experience if you get mugged at least once and sleep in a stable, is based on someone real.

It's a pretty funny book, but tends to just repeat the same sorts of jokes over and over, so it's best sampled a bit at a time.

Friday, December 17, 2004


So I've seen a bunch of movies recently.

Rock Star: Based on the real life story of the guy who replaced Rob Halford in Judas Priest. I knew it would be crap, but I watched it anyway because there just aren't that many mainstream movies about heavy metal. Well the music was a little too 80s to really interest me, and Jennifer Aniston makes the worst rock chick ever.

Team America: World Police: Very funny, but not as good as the South Park movie. Probably suffers a bit from being overly political, although they do skewer both liberals and conservatives pretty solidly. The best scenes are the ones where they take the piss out of Bruckheimer-style action blockbusters. And the one where they mock the UN.

Bad Santa: Absolutely classic. The main character is an alcoholic criminal who works as a mall santa as a cover to burgle the mall on Christmas Eve. What starts out as a bitter anti-Christmas movie eventually works its way around to a somewhat happy ending, but without any schmaltz and without compromising its initial cynicism. The perfect Christmas movie for a mean spirited old cynic like me.

Sean of the Dead: The funniest movie I've seen all year. While at it's core it's a pretty standard zombie movie, wedded to a pretty standard romantic comedy, it's so well written that it had the whole theatre laughing hysterically in a way that I haven't seen since I was 8 and watching Daffy Duck get hit on the head with a hammer. It starts to take itself a bit too seriously toward the end, but it goes out with a few very funny scenes, and the first hour or so is absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Random Crap Just Keeps Coming

(From Boingboing): Some idiot in Aussie makes an electric pump driven beer bong, and rips a hole through his stomach.

You know those silly horoscopes that they have on the Onion? Well mine (Leo) actually came true this week. (I guess it means that the writers of the Onion read the same blogs I do.)

And something I forgot to mention from the weekend, Trent Reznor plans to bring NIN to Australia 'a few different times' the next time they tour. Hopefully that includes NZ too, even though the tour is probably not happening until 2016...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Random Crap Day 2

Over at Uncertain Principles they're talking about the idea of the perfect three minute pop song. Which has resulted in everyone going through their iTunes playlists, listing all the songs that are exactly 3:00 and discussing how well they deserve the label of perfect pop song.

I arrived a bit late to the discussion to post mine over there, but my results were somewhat amusing, so I'll put it here.

I have four 3 minute songs in my collection:

'In the Flesh' - Pink Floyd (this is the live version off of Is There Anybody Out There?)
Pink Floyd doing a sarcastically bombastic rock song. While it may seem like a pop-rock song at first, I'd say that it's not pop, since it doesn't have a standard rock structure, and it doesn't really make much sense out of the context of The Wall.

'Bili Rubin' - Einsturzende Neubauten
About as pop as Neubauten ever get, which is to say, not very.

'Garofandi Allo Spiedo' - Mike Patton
Off one of Mike Patton's neo-classical solo albums. Fucked up and bizzare, even for Patton. Not pop.

'Reclamation' - Skinny Puppy
Are you kidding? Not pop. (But a fucking awesome album closer.)

The odds of four songs which so represent everything which pop is not coming up randomly like that is pretty unusual, even in my collection.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

From the Department of People With Nothing to Do

It's random crap day here at the Wildebeest Asylum:

Shihad admit that their last album sucked, and explain why.

Scribe's posse beat the crap out of some dude from bFM. Cue dozens of unfunky middle aged white DJs (Scribe's most vocal fan base) flipping out because he's behaving like a real rapper, and not a tame top 40 pop-tron. On the other hand, it's pretty fucking stupid for a top 40 musician to get on the bad side of the music press.

Random forum discussion
about old Lois Lane comics from the 60s and 70s. Believe it or not it was one of the most popular comic series of the day. Every issue can be dropped into one of several categories, (and you can tell which based just by what's on the cover): 'Lois leaves Superman for someone else because he won't marry her', 'Lois turns evil and tries to kill superman (possibly because he refuses to marry her)', 'Lois and Superman get married but it turns out that one of them is a robot', and 'Superman tries to kill Lois because he's sick of her bugging him to marry her'. No, I am not making that last one up. You can really see the progressive 60s attitude of female empowerment coming through there...

Monday, December 13, 2004

Hmm, Smells Like... Chloroform!

A few weeks ago I was talking to someone about the old Tintin comics, and how Tintin seemed to be knocked out with chloroform at least once in every book. Lo and behold, a report has been published in a medical journal concerning Tintin's regular "significant loss of conciousness" (not just restricted to chloroform but involving concussion from explosions, blows to the head and so on). The researcher suggests that a disorder of the pituitary gland resulting from the repeated head trauma may have caused his never aging youthfulness over the 50 or so years that the series ran.

Classic quote:
"We identified the cause of the trauma, the length of loss of consciousness (calculated by the number of cartoon frames before Tintin returns to normal activity) and the apparent severity of the trauma (indicated by the number of objects e.g., stars, candles revolving above Tintin's head)," he said.

I bet something similar was going on with Tintin's dog Snowy, who not only had more than a few run ins with the old chloroform, but also seemed to end up getting blind drunk fairly often.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Big Day Out Final Announcement

They've made the final announcement for the big day out next year. Unlike my last two posts, I won't say something about each act because half of them I know nothing about and most of the other half are hip hop and dance groups I care nothing about. But as for the rest...

Crusty Demons: The obligatory bike stunt group.

Kid Koala: I think he's some kind of scratchy DJ guy. I might go and see him, since he was on the Lovage album with Mike Patton.

Evermore: A nice Coldplay-esque kiwi band. Their big single is alright, (if a little twee and girly) so I might go along to this one too.

8 Foot Sativa: [stupid munter bogan voice] 8 FOOT!!!! YEAH!!!!!!! DUHHHH!!!!!

Deja Voodoo: They were fucking awesome last year, in an unbelievably shit way, and I expect they will be the same this year.

The Have, Pitch Black, Chuganaut: All good kiwi bands that should be worth seeing too.

48 May: Must miss!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Drinks at Trent;'s House Again, I Suppose

So I was listening to the radio the other day, and they were giving away the new Perfect Circle DVD. The question you had to answer in order to win it was: "Which member of APC was recently spotted working in the studio with Nine Inch Nails". The answer turned out to be Jeordie White, but I could think of at least two other people who would be potentially correct answers.

See, I don't think it means much that such and such was spotted working with Trent Reznor, because I think Trent's studio is just where all those guys go when they've got nothing to do and they want to hang out.

You can imagine the scenario, Trent's lying on the coach playing Gamecube, and Jeordie walks in the door, "Hey man, what's up?". "Oh nothing, just working on the new NIN album." Trent replies, "We can go upstairs and record a few tracks later, if you can be bothered". Meanwhile Maynard's getting a beer from the fridge, he's been hanging out here a lot because the guys from Tool keep bugging him to come in and record some vocals for the new album. "I just told them I'm still touring with APC," he says, "I go home for a shave and a change of clothes every now and again, but mostly I just hang out here, I can't be bothered dealing with those guys at the moment."

So when the new NIN album finally comes out, I expect every man and his dog will be credited for something in the liner notes, but I don't think any of them will have actually done all that much.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The System of the World

The last book in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.

The Baroque Cycle is a prequel trilogy to Stephenson's geek-classic Cryptonomicon. Before he wrote Cryptonomicon Stephenson was known as a cyberpunk author. But while that novel had cyberpunk elements half of it was set during the second world war, and the other half was set in the modern day, so not really much crazy far out internet stuff there.

With the Baroque Cycle Stephenson really went off into strange and unusual genres. The story is set in the late 1600s and early 1700s and the main characters are the ancestors of those in Cryptonomicon. While there are some science-fictional elements, these books could easily fit in the historical fiction shelf, but of course as Stephenson has been established as a science fiction author, he is forever condemned to the geek ghetto.

The books themselves are three huge fucking bricks, and I would probably not have finished any of them without the aid of several long plane journeys.

Oh dear. I'm feeling very tired. I'll post this as it is, (since I've neglected the blog for a few days) and finish it off tomorrow.


OK, I'm back now. My internet connection has been fucked for the last few days, which is a good excuse for not posting.

So the Baroque Cycle. The sheer amount of research and attention to detail that went into this series is astounding. The books are filled with asides about historical details, the way people lived and the way the world worked back in the days of the Enlightenment, and it's all presented from a geeks point of view, which gives it all an original spin and makes it more appealing to nerds like me. For example, the main character is a member of the British Royal Society, who were the first modern scientists. The first book contains loads of details about their theories and experiments, which would be glossed over in most historical novels, but which is still endlessly fascinating to Stephenson's readers.

Unfortunately the first book is probably the best in the series. While the others are still good, the diversions and details are gradually phased out in favour of more focus on the main plot, and the series suffers a little from this. Another problem is that after almost 3000 pages of dense action and exhausting prose, the reader can be quite weary of Stephenson's style, even if you read the books six months apart. This is inevitable I guess but it detracts from the story all the same. Finally, Stephenson has always had a reputation for being bad at endings. He's clearly made an effort to improve this time around, and he has a little, but the ending still struck me as being somewhat abrupt. There are two reasons for this, firstly the narrative was very loose, and while there was a central plot, I was still left with the feeling that it was just the story of three people's lives, from birth to old age, with no particular message or meaning. The other is that he leaves a whole lot of unanswered questions. I know that at one stage he was talking about writing a sequel to Cryptonomicon, so maybe that's where the answers will be found.

Of course, despite these complaints, the series as a whole is just so impressive that I can't say it's anything short of excellent. The series' style is just so charming that there's no way anyone who plows through the whole thing could be disappointed. So even though I spent a big paragraph above dissecting it's flaws, I'm confident that this series will be remembered as a classic, at least within the sci-fi ghetto.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Random Links

KiwiPundit puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day by espousing some obnoxious rightist views about student loans.

The Civil Union Bill passes and I'm in a good mood again. Well, at least until the Gay Agenda comes around to forcibly convert me to homosexuality. (Of course, only half of ACT voted for it. Social libertarians my arse...)

From the Pretty Damn Funny Department: The 10 least successful Christmas specials of all time.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Monk! Bought! Lunch!

The Doors - The Soft Parade

Widely regarded as The Doors' shittest album, The Soft Parade merges country and brass band elements with their trademark psychedelia. The results failed to please most of their fans, but it was only ten bucks so I thought what the hell.

While it's definitely not their best work, I kind of like it. There is some pretty dull stuff on this album, but I've always liked the big single Touch Me, and the upbeat opener Tell All the People is pretty memorable and catchy. The only genuine stinker is Runnin' Blue, a sort of minimalist folk song. Other good tracks are Wishful Sinful, and of course The Soft Parade, eight minutes of schizophrenic psychedelia, which shows off Jim Morrison's manic, trippy side more than any other of their songs.

If all else fails, we can whip the horses eyes!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Life of Pi

By Yann Martel

I got this book for christmas last year, and I only got around to reading it last month. I've had this huge 'to-read' pile sitting in my bookshelf since last year, and I've only just got it down to a couple of books, and then I realise it's almost christmas again, which usually means lots more books for me.

Anyway, this one was a Booker prize winner. Ooooh, I feel litemarary. It's about an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck and ends up stranded on a lifeboat with a 450-pound tiger. You might think that two characters in a boat in the middle of the Pacific for months and months would be a fairly dull setup, but the author generates quite a bit of mileage out of it.

I was a little concerned that, being a literary prize winner, it'd be filled with all sorts of turgid symbolism and pretentious prose, but I found it a very easy agreeable read, as demonstrated by the fact that I read it in less than a day (of course, it was a day that involved 7 or 8 hours in airports and airplanes). There's a little bit of a twist at the end, which caused me to at first think 'Lame'. And then, 'Oh hang on, this relates back to all the stuff at the start...'. And then, 'Hey, cool, this book made me think!'. (Which goes to show what a sci-fi snob I am, being surprised that the kind of book that gets praised by the New York Times would have actually made me think.)

Anyway, pretty cool book. Short and breezy so it doesn't take too long to read. Completely unlike Neal Stephensons Baroque Trilogy, which I'll be writing about shortly.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah

Nirvana's live album. Not nearly as good as Unplugged in New York, but it's interesting to hear what they were like in concert. Basically they were messy as hell, which probably made for a great concert to attend, but not such a good one to listen to on cd.

Hmm, not much enthusiasm for writing about this stuff at the moment, Half-life 2 calls...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Legends II

Edited by Robert Silverberg

This is a collection of short stories by popular fantasy authors. I bought it because it contained stories by George Martin and Neil Gaiman, which I knew would be guaranteed good reads, but I vainly held out hope that some of the other stories might be good too. I should have known better, since I read the first Legends compilation years ago, and it was pretty shit.

The first story is 'Homecoming' by Robin Hobb. Once upon a time she was one of my favorite authors. Her Assassin trilogy is one of the best fantasy series I've ever read. Unfortunately then she wrote a sequel trilogy, which was OK, but a bit of a disappointment compared to the first series. It's a good thing she never wrote a third series, which not only was incredibly crap, but completely ruined the first series retroactively. Boy, I sure would have been pissed if she'd done that. Her story here relates to the second series, and is about equivalent to it in terms of quality, which is to say, pretty average. Little did I know when I read it that 'pretty average' would make it one of the best stories in the book.

'The Sworn Sword' by George Martin. One of the stories I bought the book for, and it didn't disappoint. It's set hundreds of years before the events of his big epic series 'A Song of Ice and Fire', but is a sequel to the story he wrote for the first Legends. Don't buy either book just for his story though, as they're both also coming out in graphic novel form. I've got the first one, and the stories really lend themselves to the comic format.

'The Yazoo Queen' by Orson Scott Card. I've never read any of his books before, and maybe if I had I would have liked this one more, but while he seems like a pretty good writer, I found this story, set in an alternate history colonial America, quite dull.

'Lord John and the Succubus' by Diana Galbadon. It took me a while to figure out that this was the same woman who writes the big epic soft porn historical books that the girls are always reading. I quite enjoyed the start of this one, but by the end it had gotten pretty rubbish. Still, ends up being one of the better stories.

'The Book of Changes' by Robert Silverberg. I remember virtually nothing about the first Legends book except that Silverberg's story was really shit. Well this one is even worse. I honestly couldn't believe that someone would publish a story this uninteresting, trite, and predictable.

'The Happiest Dead Boy in the World" by Tad Williams. Tad Williams can be pretty good sometimes, but not in this case unfortunately. It's a bit of a sequel to his series Otherland, showing what happened to the main character afterwards. It builds up to a big sci-fi style twist at the end which is really just uninteresting. It occurs to me that all of these authors are famous for writing huge long series' of books. I guess it's no surprise that they're not that great at short stories.

"Beyond Between" by Anne McCaffrey. McCaffrey's written about a billion books, all called Dragon-something-or-other. I read one of them as a kid and that was enough. All I'll say about this story is that it was mercifully short. Actually, I'll say one other thing, how is it that someone who's been writing since the late 60s can still be such a godawful writer?

"The Messenger" by Raymond E. Feist. I've read a few a Feist's books and they're not bad, but not good enough for me to spend time on reading any more of them when there's so much better stuff out there. His short story is nothing special, even for this collection. At least I'll give him credit for coming up with a decent idea for a short story: a day in the life of a messenger boy during a big war that occurred during one of his novels. It still ends up being cheesy and boring, but gosh darn it, Feist just really wants you to know that this kid was just the Bravest Little Boy in the World!

"Threshold" by Elizabeth Haydon. I've never heard of her before, and even after looking up the story in the book it took me a little while to remember anything at all about this one. Like most of these stories, the author has decided to take an element of the backstory of her Big Series and retell it in tedious detail. Fortunately she seems to be a decent enough writer, so this one wasn't as much of a chore to read as some of the others.

"The Monarch of the Glen" by Neil Gaiman. At last, a decent story! It comes after American Gods, featuring the main character from that book, and presumably linking it to the forthcoming sequel, but also standing pretty well on it's own. I had a great deal of trouble figuring out what was actually going on, as most of the characters are mythical figures with their identities concealed, and unlike in American Gods, Gaiman doesn't explain who they are, you just have to figure it out from the clues. I consider that a good thing though, I'll have to do a bit of reading to find out about it, and maybe I'll learn something.

"Indomitable" by Terry Brooks. I read a lot of Brooks when I was in intermediate school. He's not very good, but I thought maybe I'd feel a bit of enjoyable nostalgia from reading about his characters again. No, I didn't.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I Saw Some Ordinary Slaughter, I Saw Some Routine Atrocities

Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

For some reason I feel vaguely guilty that I've never bought any Nick Cave before now. I've always liked his singles (except for the one with Kylie Minogue in it, but that's probably just the music snob in me), and he's one of these indie guys who everyone loves. And I've been hearing a lot of people say that it's his best album ever, so I picked it up as an impulse buy.

I've always mentally lumped Nick Cave in with Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. God knows why, because all I can think of that they have in common is uncommonly deep voices. Anyway this album seems to be more conventional and upbeat than the older songs of his that I'm familiar with. The songs are largely based around the piano, and range in tone from maudlin and slow to rhapsodic and upbeat.

I can see why people like this album so much, it's very well written, and Nick Cave has always written great lyrics, but somehow it's just not exciting me so much. I'm liking the more upbeat songs, which is unusual for me, but it's still not enough to make me listen to both disks back to back. So while I don't feel guilty for not owning any Nick Cave anymore, I now feel guilty for putting it aside to listen to Slipknot again...

Monday, November 22, 2004


Over at Crooked Timber they're talking about assigned reading for high school kids, and how one guy assigned American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and got some interesting responses. There's also a mildly amusing comment thread about what vocabulary young nerds learned from fantasy novels and comic books.

Quit complaining about your job. The first picture is actually pretty awesome.

Science doesn't really have an explanation yet as to why humans like listening to music, but what they've discovered about it so far is still pretty interesting.

Plus I just realised that the D4 were in both of the Big Day Out announcements so far. I guess they must have meant The Datsuns the first time, but got them confused.

What Have You Got to Lose, Except Your Soul?

Slipknot - Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses

For a long time I dismissed Slipknot as just another stupid nu-metal band, (although I did always think the gimp suits they always wear were kind of cool). "What kind of stupid band has two drummers, two guitarists and two singers anyway?" I said. Then their single Duality came out, and I thought it was not too bad, and Trent Reznor wrote on his website that he'd been listening to their new album, and they announced that they were coming to the big day out. So I thought, "Maybe it's about time I gave these Slipknot guys a chance".

Well the album wasn't really what I expected. There's a strong death metal influence, making them a lot heavier than just another stupid nu-metal band. Having two drummers means there's some pretty insane percussion happening on there, always a plus for a metal album. The two singers work well together too, and they keep it more interesting than 'there's one guy who sings, and one guy who screams'. Another pleasant surprise was that there were a few acoustic(-ish) tracks included to break up the heavy metal, and they work a lot better than you'd expect than from a band with eight members.

While the lead single (Duality) is still my favorite track, most of the rest of the album lives up to it. The only criticisms I'd make are that they veer off into stupid death metal wankery once or twice, and the lyrics aren't that great. While the vocalists have an ear for a catchy turn of phrase, there isn't much substance to back it up. They're fond of saying things like "I've gotta say what I've gotta say!", but I never really figured out just what that was. They're kind of like the Monkee's in that respect. However by and large this album is well written and infectiously agressive. The mellow tracks are very good and contrast nicely with the brutal heavy tracks that surround them. The heavy tracks are well written and varied in style (a lack of variety is a common shortcoming of many metal bands). This is the full-on, hardcore metal album album I was hoping Reise Reise would be.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Moon Musick

So now that John Balance has passed away, I'm not sure if Coil are going to keep going, so I thought it's probably about time for a great big Coil post.

Our story begins, Dear Reader, far back in the mists of history. Come with me now, back to the 1970s...

[Whooo, whooo, time travel effects....]

Once upon a time there was a band called Throbbing Gristle. They were one of the original industrial bands. They considered themselves 'anti musicians', and their goal was to make the most bewildering unpredictable sounds they could. In ideology they were similar to the original punks, believing that society was corrupt and about to collapse, but their music was completely different. While the kind of music that normally comes to mind when thinking of industrial are ambient droning songs or god-awful electronic noise songs, Throbbing Gristle's songs incorporate influences from jazz to pop, even writing a twisted but sincere football anthem. I could go on about industrial music for a while, but it's a subject for another post. In 1981 Throbbing Gristle disbanded and declared industrial music to be over.

Two of the former members of Throbbing Gristle, Peter Christopherson and Genesis P. Orridge formed a new band, Psychic TV, with a bunch of other guys, one of whom was John Balance. (Since industrial music was declared over, it's usually called a post-industrial band.) Genesis and Christopherson had a falling out (a subject for yet another post), and Christopherson left with Balance to form Coil.

Compared to Throbbing Gristle, Coil is more accessible and somewhat less confrontational. To begin with, their albums were similar in format and style to TG, but as the years went on their style became, for the most part, more contemplative and peaceful.

Coil's first album was called 'How to Destroy Angels', they only ever made something like twelve copies of it so they're probably worth a billion dollars now. Their first album that's widely available is Scatology. As you might guess from the title, it has a somewhat dodgy theme. Apparantely they used samples of people shitting, having anal sex, and other scatologically themed sounds in the recording of this album. To this day I've been too scared to buy it.

Their second album was 'Horse Rotorvator'. Out of all of their albums it's probably the most accessible, although this is a very relative statement. The songs aren't too long, and stick to a relatively normal structure. It's still pretty feral though, as you'd expect from an album with a song called 'The Anal Staircase'. Lots of confrontational disturbing content, but not as unrelenting as Throbbing Gristle's work, and with a mellow side too.

Their next album was 'Loves Secret Domain', which was a bit of a departure into the realm of house music, although their interpretation of house was of course pretty twisted. It's widely regarded as one of their best albums, and I can see why as it neatly combines catchy electronic dance tracks with peaceful and moving ambient tracks, while keeping the thread of perverse experimentation that makes them who they are.

By now we're into the early 90s, and here Coil's discography starts to a bit get hard to follow, with lots of EPs, b-sides and rarities albums, limited editions and releases under other names. The only album from this period that I own is 'A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room', released under the name Black Light District. It's a very ambient album (it actually gets quite boring during the middle), but it contains some of the best ambient music I've ever heard.

In the last few years they released 'Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil', a noise album, which means lots of rhythmic static, and uh, non-rhythmic static. One of the least accessible albums in an inaccessible discography, but I mention it just to highlight the variety of their releases.

They also released the Moons Milk series, four EPs, each relating to a different season. The autumn equinox disk (subtitled 'Amethyst Deceivers') is probably my favorite Coil album. They're very varied releases, switching between styles from song to song, but retaining a constant tone and topic.

The two 'Musick to Play in the Dark' CDs are regarded to be their best, and they certainly are some of the best albums in my collection. The songs on these disks are all very dark, but peaceful (as the title would imply). As all the songs are about ten minutes long, it gives them room to show off both their ambient and their conventional sides, often within one song.

John Balance was the main vocalist of the band, and while there was nothing special about his voice he's one of my top three favorite lyricists. Between their beyond new-age philosophy and their obsessions with death, drugs, (gay) sex and the paranormal, it's always interesting subject matter and would probably come out pretentious and cheesy in the hands of most, but Balance had the talent to keep it original and thought-provoking. It just goes to demonstrate the inspirational power of hallucinogens.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Link Roundup

The Coil post won't be finished until the weekend.

In the meantime, here's some random links:

An interview with the former chief interrogator of Israel's security service. This guy's pretty tough.

Bill Gates gets 4 million emails a day, and most of it's spam.

Israeli tank blows up 3 Egyptian police. Pissing off one of their only neighbours who they're at peace with.

More doom and gloom for the American dollar.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Why Coil Are Awesome

I've got a huge coil post halfway out of the chute and dangling into the bowl. I meant to post it tonight, but I figured after spending over an hour and only being about half done I should finish it off later, so hopefully I'll post it tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

RIP John Balance

John Balance, the singer from Coil, died over the weekend. He fell off a first floor landing whilst drunk. It's very sad news for me, as Coil is one of my favorite bands ever. He was a brilliant musician and lyricist, and while almost no one knows who he is, his death is a great loss to the music world.

"Whichever stars we walk among
We both seek out the darkest red
The wine was turned to blood again
Without this blood we'd both be dead "

Monday, November 15, 2004

Big Day Out Announcement 2

It's that time of the month again, here we go...

Yay! I like these guys, and as far as I know they haven't done anything for yonks. I'll be pretty keen to see them.

Believe it or not I was actually into house music for a little while, and I saw this guy the last time he played the BDO (2000 I think) and I thought he was alright, so I might go along.

Similar to Regurgitator, but not quite as good. I'll try and see these guys too though.

[Cookie Monster Voice] Oh yeah! It's going to be Hard Core!
Best band in this announcement anyway.

Wow. I've never heard of any of these guys.

I always get the Hives mixed up with the Vines. I think the Vines are the ones I hate and the Hives are the ones who are kind of alright. Well the Hives new song is pretty shit at any rate, so this one's probably on the Must Miss list.

Last time they played I thought they were the Datsuns. Or maybe it was the Datsuns and I thought they were the D4. Anyway, even if I see them, I won't remember it.

Three excellent reasons to stay away from the hip-hop tent!

KID 606
A 'gabba' band from Mike Patton's record label Ipecac. If you don't know what that is, it's basically insanely fast dance music. I've got one of their albums, and while I don't listen to it much, I'm pretty sure this will be a kick ass show.


By A Perfect Circle

Well I've wanked on about this album a bit before, and now it's finally come out.

My overall verdict is 'pretty damn good for a covers album'. There's a few filler songs on there, but even they are worth listening too. Most of the tracks are incredibly mellow. I've mentioned 'Imagine' previously, but there's also an incredibly laid back, almost ambient version of 'What's Going On' (by Marvin Gaye), which is very pretty, and 'When the Levee Breaks' (traditional, apparently, but covered earlier by Led Zeppelin) with pianos and floaty far-away vocals.

The heavier songs are all in the middle of the album, I've already talked about 'Passive', which still kicks arse, and 'Counting Bodies Like Sheep', which I previously didn't like, but have now revised my opinion of. What came across as a crappy uninspired remix over the radio or streamed off the net sounds a whole lot better when played on a decent stereo which can reproduce the more fucked up crazy aspects.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


By Greg Egan

Greg Egan is a science fiction author who writes stories with actual science in them. The kind of science that you can only really get your head around if you've got a degree in physics. Luminous is a collection of his short stories. It's definitely not light reading, but very interesting if you can plow through and understand all the technical stuff.

The title story is a discussion of weird questions about philosophy of mathematics, dressed up with a few gun wielding assassins and a bit of corporate espionage to make it a proper science fiction story. He shouldn't have bothered as the story is really quite dull compared to the mind bending ideas. 'Transition Dreams' is probably my favorite story of the lot, it returns to the subject of some of Egan's earlier novels, people making electronic copies of their brains and putting them into robot bodies. The ending is a particularly twisted mind fuck.

Some of the other stories are a bit week, 'Mitochondrial Eve', 'Silver Fire' and 'Our Lady of Chernobyl' all make the same point, "Hippies are stupid and would kill us all if they could", a sentiment I agree with, but the stories come across as being a bit hysterical and preachy.

Other than that it's a pretty good book, if you've got a reasonable scientific background.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Minor Fall and the Major Lift

Grace - Jeff Buckley, 10th anniversary edition

So for many years I've heard a lot about Jeff Buckley, but I always just wrote him off as 'some indie rock dude' until I heard the new single 'Forget Her' on the radio. It's pretty cool, so I bought the album, and while it's not really my sort of thing, I quite like it.

The album came out at the height of the grunge era, but it doesn't really fit in with most other big albums of the time, while there are some heavy Nirvana-esque tracks, a lot of the songs are very blues or country. In fact, part of Buckley's lasting appeal probably comes from the way he wrote so well in so many different genres. My favorite track has to be 'Dream Brother', a dreamy but memorable album closer a bit in the vein of OK-Computer.

The bonus disk is pretty good too, but not quite up to the standard of the original. It contains 'Forget Her', as well as two new versions of 'Dream Brother'. There are a few country and blues covers which tend to bore me a bit, but it also contains Kanga-Roo, which is 4 minutes of song followed by 10 minutes of badass drum solo.

All in all, recommended if you like a bit of loosely defined indie rock.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


I didn't expect the result of the presidential election to affect me much, but it's really put me in a very bad mood all day. I think the USA is in for a pretty bad four years, to tell the truth. Jeremy's predictions of an impending economic disaster are being echoed in various places and I'm starting to concur myself. Lets not even get started on the civil liberties and foreign policy stuff. It almost feels like I'm watching the start of the decline of the American empire.

And I for one welcome our new Chinese overlords! I have no doubt that they will run the world much better than the Americans ever did. Imagine how easily Iraq could have been sorted out by a superpower with a total disregard for human rights and an army of giant robot soldiers imported from Japan. In fact, in the new global order pop culture will be dominated by Japan. Think about it, no more stupid American sitcoms and lame teenybopper pop music! The most popular TV shows will be anime, like Pokemon and the new Transformers, and all the girls will wear schoolgirl uniforms. I can't wait!

OK, I'll go take my pills now.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

This is not a Love Song

Well right now I'm glued to the presidential election results. It doesn't look good for the democrats at the moment, but it's still up in the air.

So in the meantime, I'll take my mind off it by talking about:

Reise Reise - the new Rammstein album.

Rammstein's fourth album is a little mellower than their previous ones. While it opens with a pair of hard out metal tracks, Reise Reise and Mein Tiel (the second being about the German cannibal who ate that other dude earlier this year, you can always rely on these guys for some perverted subject matter), the rest of the album is more subdued, finishing on a trio of 'Rammstein ballads'. 'Los' is a quirky track that I can only describe as 'country metal'. I'm not sure yet if I like it or not. The centerpiece (and highlight) of the album is a pair of political anthems, 'Amerika' and 'Moskau'. Amerika is their new single, so you might know it, Moskau is just as catchy, and just as amusing (if you translate the lyrics).

Overall I found the album a little dissapointing, since it's not as good as Mutter or Sensucht, but it's certainly a worthwhile purchase. I'd say that the songs all stand fairly well on their own, but don't quite fit together as an album.

Monday, November 01, 2004

More on Eminem

Ken Layne has more on Eminems new video, about why it's getting so much airplay in the US.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Mosh - The New Eminem Video

Paul Musgrave loves it!

The Pink Bunny of Battle loves it!

Boing Boing loves it!

Scott Spiegelberg loves it!

A bunch of other blogs love it but I can't find the links!

I watched the video and I don't think it's anything special. While Eminem shows admirable passion, it seems to me that the only people who it would really appeal to are unfunky middle aged white guys who are excited about Getting Out The Youth Vote!

Personally I'm very dissapointed that, while the Clinton era produced Rage against the Machine and System of a Down, in the lead up to this dramatic 'mediocre vs evil' election showdown, the best protest song has been made by Eminem.

I've already expressed my dissapointment with APCs effort. And while NIN and System would almost certainly have released some solid contenders, they haven't gotten their shit together in time to release an album this year.

So in the meantime we're stuck with Eminem. For shame, mainstream metal. For shame.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Behold, The End Times Approach...

A respectable economist agrees with Jeremy.

From Paul Musgrave Dot Com:
Probably the best reason to be concerned about the U.S. domestic deficit is that it opens us up to a major shock in the dollar. True, the U.S. meets the Maastricht criteria for joining the EMU, but when serious, sober people like Harvard President and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers start saying that we're on the edge of a precipice, it is a very good idea to start contemplating a change in fiscal policy.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Nancy Drew

I was thinking today about those Famous Five books I used to read when I was a little kid, and how if Enid Blyton died today the publishers would probably put out a Famous Five Xtreme series. Then I remembered that they did exactly that with the Hardy Boys. I can't remember what the series was called, but the Hardy Boys were a little bit older and the typical plot was something like 'The Hardy Boys save a plane from terrorist hijackers', or 'The Hardy Boys are trapped on an island where crazed mercenaries hunt the Ultimate Game'. Some of them probably had dinosaurs in them.

Then I naturally started thinking I wonder if they ever made Nancy Drew Xtreme Edition. 'Nancy Drew must go undercover as a high class call girl to expose a sex slavery ring...'

Actually, forget you read that.

Go read the Onion instead.

"Countdown to the Recount 2004"
-Polls show Supreme Court split 5-4: A closer look at the swing justices.
-Your dead relatives, how they'll vote and why.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Oh Fuck Yeah

Channel Z are posting bits of the new Perfect Circle album online, complete with commentary by Maynard. Currently there are two songs there, (I think they're going to put up a new one every day or something).

The first track is about 30 seconds of a cover of 'What's going on' by Marvin Gaye. It's OK. Very mellow and laid back.

The second is 'Passive', which Maynard confirms is a reworking of an old Tapeworm song (probably 'Vacant'). This alone is great news, and I'll tell you why. Tapeworm was a side project of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, supposedly allowing him to collaborate with other musicians, in a way that his control freak tendancies wouldn't allow him to do with NIN.

Tapeworm consisted basically of the NIN live band to start with, and they got a bunch of guest vocalists in (Maynard and Phil Anselmo from Pantera among them, if I recall correctly).

Now as any NIN fan knows, Trent can't put out an album until enough time has passed since the last one that he's run out of money, his fans have forgotten about him, and his record label is shitty with him. Only after these conditions are met will he be depressed enough to start writing good music again. So not much happened with Tapeworm for many years, other than that Trent would emerge every now and again and say 'It'll be out in a year or so.'

The rest of the band got bored and went off to do other things, so Tapeworm ended up being Trent, Maynard and Atticus Ross from 12 Rounds. At the beginning of the year, it looked like the album might be out soon. Every week or so Trent would post a picture to of the three of them working in the studio, or a blurred out tracklisting, or Trents dog. A Perfect Circle even played one of the songs (Vacant) live, even though it made Trent mad.

Then a few months ago, out of nowhere, Trent announced that Tapeworm was over, and that the material would never be released. (So much for the collaborative idea). Apparently there were too many legal hassles, although Trent says "if the music had been great, all of this probably could have been worked out".

Well, it's very sad that after literally years and years of rumours and teasers, the whole thing got shitcanned, but fortunately you can hear one song off it if you follow the title link. And it's fucking awesome, so do it.

Monday, October 25, 2004


By Jack Yeovil

Yes, I read a Warhammer novel. If you go into the Sci-fi/Fantasy section of a bookstore, and look down at the bottom of the last shelf, you'll see a big section of books based on various geek franchises. Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Buffy, Dungeons and Dragons and so on. They're almost always at least as bad as you'd expect, unless you're a thirteen year old boy, in which case you will probably think they're pretty awesome. When I was a thirteen year old boy I must have read dozens of these sort of books. Eventually my reading material expanded beyond books with 'Dragon' in the title, but I still have a vague nostalgia for a few of the better ones, Jack Yeovil's Warhammer books being among them. So when I saw Drachenfels in the bookstore for ten bucks I grabbed it.

Warhammer is a table top fantasy war-game, which means you get a whole bunch of little miniatures representing dwarves, vampires, unicorns etc, and make them fight each other. As you can imagine, this is not the ideal source material for great literature. Drachenfels is definitely a cut above most of these kind of books, but I can't say I enjoyed it as much this time as I did when I was thirteen. It starts out OK, with a portentous and intriguing set up, but gets steadily cheesier and more melodramatic, until the author pulls out a genuine deus ex machina for the ending. But at least it was relatively short and painless to read, and there was plenty of gore and hardcore shit to satisfy my inner thirteen year old.


So, National Novel Writing Month is coming up. Last year I signed up but gave up before the month even started. I really want to do this sometime, but I've just got no time at the moment. Maybe next year.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Free Ahmed Zaoui With Every Purchase Over $20

I read the transcript of a lecture by Ahmed Zaoui. It's fairly interesting, definitely not crazy terrorist talk at all. In it he blames the western media for presenting only the negative aspects of the Muslim world, such as "absence of democracy, human rights abuses and terrorism". It's a point I agree with, but in the course of making it he seems to end up demonising the west in the same way. Anyway, it's a really long article but there's some interesting stuff there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Go read it

I found a new blog that I like. Paul Musgrave dot com, like almost all blogs nowadays, deals with American politics occasionally, but, as of the time of writing, he also has posts on the front page about the smell of old books, and the relevance of Emily Post to todays world. He also has a semi-daily world news digest, which contains lots of interesting news items from around the world that you might not otherwise see.

It's one of the better written blogs I've come across recently, I think I shall add it to my sidebar.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Well the poor old blog has been somewhat neglected over the last few days. I wasn't feeling well last week, and I was hungover in the weekend.

In the absence of anything else to write about, I'm going to comment on Jeremy's recent post.
Iran and nukes...
Can`t blame them really, given the US is running rampant across the middle-east
Of course, if Iran were to get nukes it would make them and Israel the only two nuclear powers in the region, it'd be like India/Pakistan except about 10 times worse.
Intel has discovered they have a bit too much inventory, no-one is buying anymore...
Good. It's about time people woke up to the fact that the only reason to upgrade your computer every year is that Intel and Microsoft want you to.
US Airways has been granted permission to cut it`s workers pay by up to 21%
But none of their executives are taking a pay cut. I'm continually astonished by the lack of accountability of management in big companies like that. There should be laws requiring them to financially contribute somehow when their company goes under.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How to be a Music Snob

If you ever wanted to sound as cool as I do when I talk about obscure music, now you can.

From a website called Your Music Sucks. Check it out, I damn near pissed myself laughing (at work, even). I particularly recommend 'Jack Johnson and John Meyer', and 'Radiohead Sucks', but they're all worth reading.

Monday, October 11, 2004


By David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace must be one of the smartest writers around. Infinite Jest, which runs to over 1000 pages, (in a large sized paperback with small print (and not counting the 200 or so pages of footnotes)), is one of the best books I've ever read. Even though it's a mammoth effort to get through the whole thing, I've read it twice.

So he's got a new short story collection out, Oblivion, and it's a lot darker and even more difficult to read than his last one (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men). I'll write about each story individually.

Mister Squishy: I'd just finished American Gods, had an hour to kill in Auckland airport, was feeling extremely sick and tired, and needed something light to read. Unfortunately, all I had was this. This first story is the hardest to read out of all of them. It's about a market research company, and it's written in an incredibly dense style, full of incomprehensable jargon and extraordinarily long sentences. It's a fairly depressing read and, like certain other of his stories, ends without any resolution, although the outcome is hinted at by the last few paragraphs. I didn't enjoy it that much, but mostly because I was in the entirely wrong frame of mind for it.

The Soul Is Not a Smithy: This one's just weird, but very cool. Wallace describes an exciting dramatic situation from the point of view of a semi-autistic kid who is more interested in his own private fantasies than in what's going on in front of him. This one's more grotesque than depressing, but continues the dark theme of the collection.

Incarnations of Burned Children: Yes there is actually a burned child in this story, and I found it much more affecting than I thought I would. This one's not only depressing, but chilling in a weird way.

Another Pioneer: Probably my favorite story, and not coincidentally the least disturbing out of the collection. Bizarre framing device aside, it's about a supernaturally brilliant child born to a group of primitive jungle tribespeople. There's more humour in this one than in the other stories, but of course it does have it's twisted undercurrent too.

Good Old Neon: Written from the point of view of someone who's commited suicide, this story is actually one of the more straightforward, until you get to the bizarre twist at the end. In fact, the twist makes this story more like the stories out of 'Brief Interviews', several of which involved quirky, confrontational post-modern twists.

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature: Another short weird one. I couldn't tell you why, but for some reason I found this one of the more depressing stories.

Oblivion: Up until the twist at the end I really liked this one. Normally when reading Wallace's stories I get the feeling that I'm completely missing all the subtext and a lot of the plot, but I felt like I was keeping up with this one. However the end completely lost me, so there you go.

The Suffering Channel: Constant allusions to 9/11, themes linking childhood abuse, unconscious physical mannerisms and the way we view our bodily functions, a very David Lynch like style to some of the latter parts of the story. Between all these things I have no idea at all what this one was really about. But it was pretty cool all the same. I especially found the ending quite memorable and profound (despite it's somewhat gross nature).

Well, all these stories are typical of old DFW, dense prose, weird framing devices and overly ambiguous endings, if it even has an ending. Worth every penny, if you like that sort of thing.


Directed by James Cameron

Watching Alien vs. Predator made me want to watch an Alien movie that was actually good. Aliens is pretty much the perfect action movie. There are no stupid plot holes, it's original in terms of both story and direction (despite being a sequel) and the action scenes fit into the overall story. The only other action movie I've seen in recent years that got all these things right was X-men 2, and it still didn't work nearly as well as Aliens.

If they remade this movie now, the stupid movie execs would probably insert a lame romance subplot, replace the soundtrack with soft cock metal songs by Seether and Puddle of Mud, and make all the action scenes full of frenetic jump cutting so you couldn't tell what was going on. (Speaking of the soundtrack, it's mostly servicable yet forgettable, but I really like the opening theme (which I think is based on the one from the first movie.))

Unfortunately, unlike Armies of Darkness, this movie doesn't get better the more you drink. It's still pretty good though, even if you have to take a huge pee near the end and miss most of the climactic battle.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Big Day Out 2005

I think I anticipate the BDO lineup announcements almost as much as the actual event. I always know who I think should be coming, and of course I'm inevitably dissapointed. Lets go through the first announcement one band at a time, shall we?

Beastie Boys: This should be pretty cool. I'm not their hugest fan, but I like them, and they'll probably put on an awesome show.

System of a Down: Saw them in 2002 and they were fucking awesome. They even covered Pink Floyd. I'd go just to see these guys again.

Chemical Brothers: I always liked the chemical brothers, until I saw them at the big day out in 2000. Shittest live show ever. I'm not kidding (well maybe better than the covers band we saw in Methven the other weekend, and maybe better than some of the bands I've seen at battle of the bands and stuff like that. But easily the worst of any real band I've ever seen).

The Music: I saw these guys in 2003 I think. Can't remember a damn thing about them.

The Streets: Crap.

The Donnas: Shite.

Freestylers: Bollucks.

Powderfinger: Fuck off.

Grinspoon: Boring.

John Butler Trio: Their single's kind of catchy. Not sure if I really like it though.

Concord Dawn: I like these guys, they might get me into the dance tent for a little while.

Misfits of Science: More shite.

The Bleeders: I used to like these guys, until my sister told me how her friend slagged them off on an internet message board, and they tracked him down and kicked the shit out of him. Kicking the shit out of people is punk, but internet stalking is not.

Trinity Roots: Lame.

D4: I'll probably see them and think it was the Datsuns.

Steriogram: They're shite too.

Shihad: Depends what their new albums like, and how much old stuff they play. We'll see...

So as you can probably tell, I'm really looking forward to it.

The Downward Spiral

So NIN are rereleasing one of my favoritist albums of all time in super hi-tech SACD and DVDA formats (like my deaf fucking ears could hear the difference), they've just posted a tracklisting on the website. The first CD is just the album (I didn't think Trent would change anything about it), but the second disk is a b-sides/demos collection. Damn it, I think I might have to buy it now. Oh well, if I'm going to own two copies of one album, it may as well be this one.

Plus their Closure DVD has been delayed until next year. Stink.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Armies of Darkness

It had been a long time since I first watched this movie, but I saw it again last week, and it's still pretty funny. It's hard to know if it's deliberately absurd or if it was actually taking itself seriously (I suspect the former). Either way, you can still see Sam Raimi's skill as a director despite the incredibly low budget and cheesy story.

One thing to remember is that this movie gets better the more you drink. We should probably have made a drinking game out of it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Jeremy vs. the World, pt 2

[Jeremy says the USD will become worthless pretty soon. Weimer Republic styles.]
Keep the USD high, make sure everything happens in slow mo, how? by stopping others from getting out of the USD, like Iraq for instance... then once *your* money is out, to hell with it!
So you're saying that the US invaded Iraq to keep Iraq's oil money invested in dollars? I see two problems with this, 1) It implies that the Bush administration is farsighted enough to see this economic singularity event on the horizon, while other well informed economists have no idea. Based on Bush & Co's track record on economic issues, I find this a bit of a stretch. 2) It implies that the Bush administration knows what they're doing and has a secret cohesive economic and foriegn policy. They've shown no evidence of having a cohesive public policy, let alone a secret one.
I also found another conspiracy site that claims a plane crashed into the pentagon despite absolutely no evidence to back this up... The whole wacky conspiracy faux-character-assasination thing is a bit tired, any claims for a particular event occuring must be backed by evidence, no evidence, no truth.
Other than that there was a big bloody hole in the side of the building, the same day two planes crashed into the WTC, (and two other planes were hijacked, only one of which showed up anywhere else).

As for the conspiracy theorist bit, you say that no plane crashed into the Pentagon, that's a theory. The news media and the US government contradict your theory, plus you also have to explain where an entire 757 dissapeared to, therefore your theory requires a conspiracy. Hence conspiracy theorist...

[Referring to the story that a sarin bomb was found in Iraq in May]
The news media would be all over this if it were Sarin,
Yeah, I agree that the fact there was no follow up to this story means that it may well have been misreported (it does come from Fox after all), but I maintain that sarin gas would not have been too complicated to produce, for terrorist groups or for Saddam.
"According to this report, Iraq could have produced the mustard and tabun chemicals on it's own."

From US supplied pre-cursors...
You can make mustard gas in your garage if you want, tabun is harder but still well within the capabilities of even the smallest crazy dictator state, there's no need to assume another country (the USSR was blamed at the time) helped them make it. Hell, I don't think either of those chemicals even have precursors. Tabun is the first in the G-series of chemical weapons (which includes sarin). They were both some of the first chemical weapons made (by the Germans during the world wars).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


By Jordan Reyne

It's a bit of fourth album blues here for one of my favorite artists ever. Her last two albums, released under the name Dr. Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine, are probably my top two kiwi albums ever. Unfortunately this one doesn't quite live up to their high standards, but it's still pretty good.

The title track 'Passenger', is a nice but somewhat forgetable opener that sets the tone for the album. Musically it's similar to the previous album 'The Loneliest of Creatures'. Lots of droning synths and random noise and samples. However Passenger is a lot lighter and less ambient. Plus she actually sings on most of the tracks this time, whereas TLoC was mostly instrumental. The ambient noises are all derived from the sounds of planes, airports and trains, in keeping with the theme of the album.

The next track is 'Green' (no, not a cover of the Goodshirt song). For the first half of the song it is just a single bass drone, with the vocals over the top. It immediately made me glad she decided to sing again on this album. Her voice and her lyrics are both great.

This is followed by 'The Nothing'. Pretty much just very low bass droning and nothing else. That might sound a bit boring, but it doesn't go for very long. It sounds like a musical reference to TLoC, and that fits with what it says about the relationship between two albums on the website. Anyway, I'll repeat what I said when I first listened to TLoC, "You can't go wrong with a good bass drone!"

Next is 'Empty Stations'. I don't like this one so much. The upbeat vocals and drums are a bit too trancey for me.

Fortunately it's followed by the haunting instrumental 'Warsaw', probably my favorite track on the album, all spooky droning and tribal drums.

The next three songs are 'Waiting for the Sun', 'Letters Home' and 'Fear of Flying'. They're all pretty good, but a little samey, in the same vein as 'Passenger'. Nice lyrics though.

'Karlsruhe' is quite similar in tone and style to 'Empty Stations', but I liked it a whole lot more. Probably because she sounds a lot angrier in this one.

'The Machines of B' is next. I like this one too. For some reason it always strikes me as being somewhat pop compared to the rest of the album, but that doesn't stop it from being good.

Finally, there is the secretish track 'The Freeing of Baghdad', which is really good. The music is overlayed by traditional arabic singing, and a fairly ominous spoken sample by some British dude, talking about an unspecified group commiting unspecified atrocities. I don't know exactly what context the quote is from, but it's quite unsettling.

Anyway, while this album is a little disappointing when compared to its predecessors, it's still one of my better purchases recently. She's got a new album coming out next year (sponsored by DOC apparently), which I'm really looking forward too.

More Politics

Jeremy has replied to me again, but I'll get to him tomorrow. For now I'd just like to link to a post on Brad DeLongs website that offers some possible explanations of just what the hell the Bush administration is actually thinking.

Monday, October 04, 2004

In response to Jeremy

Two things:

Firstly Jeremy says that the Oil-for-Food program changing from US-dollars to Euros was what triggered the US invasion of Iraq. Besides the fact that this happened well before Sept 11th, and I believe even before Bush was president. It seems unlikely to me that the negative effect on the USDs value would justify the billions and billions of dollars required to wage the war, even if everything had turned out well for the Americans.

Secondly, last week he responded to my post about WMDS in Iraq. He claims that it was probably the Iranians who carried out chemical attacks on the Kurds in the 80s, as the chemical used was HCN rather than VX. Now I found a wacky consipiracy theory site that backs him up here, but more reputable sites confirm that it was actually sarin gas that was used, a chemical that the Iraqis definately had.

Curiously enough, while I was looking this stuff up I found out something related to my original post. Sarin has a very short shelf life. If Saddam wasn't still producing it recently, his stockpiles from the 80s would almost certainly be useless by now. On the other hand, he had plenty of other kinds of chemical weapons, and in May this year, US soldiers found a roadside bomb containing Sarin gas, which they claimed originated from Saddams stockpile.

As for the claim that the US supplied Saddam with these weapons to begin with, I find that pretty dubious myself. According to this report, Iraq could have produced the mustard and tabun chemicals on it's own. Sarin is similar to tabun, and in the 90s the Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo produced it themselves and used it in the Tokyo subway bombings. Admittedly they were a very well funded group with a lot of scientific expertise, but if a crazy terrorist cult could do it, a nation could certainly do it as well.

Note 1: I'd link to the specific posts on Jeremy's site, but he doesn't seem to have permalinks.

Note 2: Apologies if this post is a bit garbled. Daylight savings has not been kind to me so far this week.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Alien vs. Predator

Directed by Who Cares

I didn't expect much from this movie and that's exactly what I got. I won't bother describing the plot, since as you can imagine it's pretty irrelevent, but the movie is divided into three parts. The first part is the exposition part, where they introduce the characters and set the scene. Despite being cheesy as hell, this part wasn't too bad. It does a decent job of building tension before the main part of the movie.

The second part is the foighting. This part was pretty good too. There were lots of good action scenes, as you'd hope, and lots of cool shit, including the obligatory extended Alien vs. Predator one on one face off. I was more than satisfied with the movie up until here.

The last part was the climax, and that's where it all turned to shit. Huge huge plot holes, lame twists, and lackluster action scenes completely ruin the end of the movie. And there was even an incredibly contrived sequel set up. Great.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Grover's Thoughts

This site is fairly amusing.

For some reason whenever I click on the 'Next Blog' button at the top of the site I get taken to some young Asian girls blog full of broken english, most of which is just gushing about boys. Either that or to a vile LGF-style right wing political blog. But today for a change I actually found something interesting.

The Greatest Show Off Earth

By Robert Rankin

When I was back there in high school, Robert Rankin was one of my favorite authors. He wrote roughly in the style of Terry Pratchett, but without the serious insight-into-human-nature side of it.

I decided to reread one or two of them, to see if they still held up ten years later. The first one I read was 'Armaggeddon: The Musical', but I found it not all that funny, and thought it was trying a little too hard to be 'Brazil'. But I decided to give him another chance and read the sequel, 'Armaggeddon II: The B-Movie'. Subtitled 'They Came And Ate Us'. It wasn't very good either, but it was a bit better than the first one. So I decided to give him one more shot, and read what was once my favorite book of his, 'The Greatest Show Off Earth'.

TGSOE follows the stories of two friends Raymond and Simon. Raymond is kidnapped by Abdullah, the Flying Starfish from Uranus, and taken to Venus, where human flesh is a delicacy. Meanwhile on Earth, Simon battles a satanic conspiracy, with the help of a book from the future that tells the story of his and Raymond's lives. The two stories have almost nothing to do with each other in the end, but they build up to dual climaxes at the same time, and there is lots of jump cutting between them.

Unfortunately, this book was not very good either. Sure, there were a few funny jokes in it, for example:

'I have often wondered,' Andy said, 'why is it that members of the opposition party always waste half of the Prime Minister's question time asking the PM what his appointments are for the day.'

'Ah.' Simon bought his teeth into play. 'I have a theory about that. I reckon they think that if they keep on asking him again and again, then one day he'll simply crack and say something like, "This morning I had meetings with Cabinet colleagues and others and at lunchtime I had a naked Filipino lass lowered onto my honourable member in a rotating split-cane basket. Oh damn, now what have I said? I resign."'

But most of it's not that good. One joke which gets it's payoff towards the end of the book revolves around the fact that one of the characters surnames is Bum-Poo. Ha ha, he said poo.

Plus, every now and again he still seems to think he's Terry Gilliam, and tries to evoke some sort of romantic, mythical atmosphere. It doesn't work.

So anyway, I think that's the last Rankin book I'll read. I sure thought they were pretty funny when I was 14, but unfortunately they just didn't age that well.

Jon breaks his promises

So I've been fairly busy this week. It looks like I won't be responding to Jeremy's post after all, as my social, professional and masturbational obligations have prevented me from composing the witty and enlightening post I had in mind.

I was also going to write a review of Passenger by Jordan Reyne, but that will have to wait until monday, because I left the CD at work.

But fortunately for you, dear reader, there's lots of other stuff I want to write about. So read on...

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

An American Prayer

By Jim Morrison (and the Doors)

This album was recorded years after Jim's death, with the remaining members of the Doors putting new and old music to surviving recordings of Jim Morrison reciting his lyrics and poetry.

Some of it's a bit forgettable, but most of it's is pretty cool. My favorites are the Ghost Song, "The music and and voices are all around us, Choose, they croon, the ancient ones, the time has come again..." and Stoned Immaculate, "Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of God, Wandering, wandering in hopeless night, Out here on the perimeter there are no stars...".

The music's pretty good too, nice and understated, which makes sense considering that the musicians are supposed to be taking a backstage to Jim on this album, but it's still a little out of character for them. The backing music for Lament is especially nice, based around a very mellow bass riff, with the guitar playing sadly over the top of it.

Plus, this album has Jim's excellent astrology speech on it!

Jim: "I don't know how many of you believe in astrology..."
Random Chick in Audience: "JIM! JIM! I do!"
Jim: "Yeah baby, I'm a Sagittarius, the most philosphical of all the star signs..."
RCIA: "Me too Jim! I'm a Sagittarius too!"
J: "Well I don't believe in it myself."
RCIA: "Neither do I Jim!"
J: "I think it's a bunch of bullshit."


Good, that's that out of the way. Now tomorrow I can write about the new Jordan Reyne album, which just came in the mail today. I've only listened to half of it so far, but I can tell already that I'll have a lot to say about it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

A Perfect Circle

APC have a covers album called eMotive coming out on November 2, coincidentally the day of the presidential elections. I have to admit that I was skeptical about them doing a political album, I was afraid it would turn out to be incredibly shrill (not that I think there's anything wrong with being shrill about old GWB, but generally it doesn't make good music). But I just listened to their version of John Lennon's Imagine on their website, and it's pretty good.

OK, now I just saw the video for 'Count the Bodies Like Sheep', an original song (actually just a remix of 'Pet', from their last album) from the new album, and it's crap. Pet is an excellent song, I wish they hadn't touched it. The video isn't very good either, they don't like George Bush, no kidding. Six minutes of caricaturing him makes a pretty dull video when none of it is insightful or entertaining.

But you know I'll buy it the day it comes out anyway.

Tired Jonny and Coming Soon

Now I haven't posted anything for a few days, as I was out of town and drunk for most of the weekend, and I'm still rather exhausted now. But anyway, there are lots of things I want to post:

Coming soon:

Why Jeremy is wrong - he's replied to my post about WMDs in Iraq, and as soon as I have time to do a bit of research, I'll put him in his place. On the other hand, he's linked to something called Mr. Teapot, which is pretty amusing.

American Prayer - by the Doors. A fucking good album.

More SF short stories.

Some cool websites.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Miscellania 2

I remembered the other thing I wanted to post.

Classic Onion. Matchbox Twenty Finally Finishes Watering Down Long-Awaited New Album.

"There was a similar problem, band members said, with the guitar solos, some of which contained trace elements of what musicians call 'passion.'"


Good news everyone. Shihad have changed their name from 'Pacifier' back to 'Shihad'. Hopefully they have also decided to change their musical style from 'shit' back to 'good'.

This site has a whole lot of photoshop reproductions of Gary Larson cartoons. Some of them are pretty cool.

Cat Stevens gets deported from the US for being a Muslim.

There was something else but I've forgotten it. I'll let you know if I remember.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

No WMDs in Iraq

(From NoRightTurn)

So after 15 months of searching the Iraq Survey Group has concluded that there are absolutely no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor were there any signs that Saddam had plans to start on them any time soon.

As far as I can see, this is bad news. It's an undeniable fact that Saddam had chemical weapons at the end of the Gulf War (just ask the Kurds and the Iranians), that's why the inspectors were there in the first place. In fact, after doing a little searching I found that the UN inspectors destroyed samples of VX gas found in Iraqi labs as recently as 1999. (The Iraqi government claimed the Americans planted it there.) Now five years is a long time, but those that he had left over must have gone somewhere, and why would he have jerked the weapons inspectors around for so long if he wasn't hiding anything? I can't help but think that the jerking around was in order to buy time while he sold them, either to neighbouring nutcase dictators, or to some nutcase terrorists.

As far as I know no one knows just how much he had, but even a little bit is too much. That VX gas is pretty horrible stuff. I guess it's possible that he buried them out in the desert somewhere no one would ever look. That's probably the best case scenario...

Monday, September 20, 2004

The internet is full of scary people

Gamers With Jobs is a reasonable game review site, but this is an entertaining article they had about the bizarre search terms showing up in their Google referrals. I read this at work, which was a mistake, since a) it's quite sordid (well OK, that didn't really bother me), and b) it damn near made me piss myself laughing.

My favorites are 'gangsta way to tie my shoes' and 'how has vegemite helped society'. It makes me look forward to the day when people will find this site by searching for 'olsen twins scat movie big boobs'.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Village

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

I saw this movie on Friday night. While it was a reasonably agreeable way to spend the evening, I would probably have preferred to see something else. Not that it was a bad movie, it was well directed, had an original and engaging style and was quite suspenseful at times. But on the other hand the plot was very predictable, and at the end it came down with a bad case of Spielberg-itis.

Spielberg-itis is when a movie thinks it's much better than it actually is, and starts pulling out the ultra-cheesy swelling orchestral soundtrack, dialogue-free scenes of the protagonist running/walking/flying where ever (possibly in slow motion), and general all round pretentiousness. I find it especially grating when it only happens at the climax of an otherwise good film (see also Saving Private Ryan).

This is only the second of Shyamalan's films that I've seen (the other was The Sixth Sense), and in both cases I guessed what the big twist was going to be ten minutes into the movie. This inevitably makes it a bit of a disappointment when the twist is revealed, so that probably contributed to my dislike of the last part of the film.

Having said all that, I enjoyed most of the movie, and I don't regret seeing it at all.

Now Jon is very tired and needs to go to bed...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Music! White Rabbit! 2

I lasted under 24 hours in Auckland before succumbing to the lure and visiting Real Groovy. Fortunately I managed to keep my purchases to a mere $40.

The Best of Jefferson Airplane: Somebody to Love

The only Jefferson Airplane song I knew before I got this album was White Rabbit, but listening to it made me realise that I actually like all this 60s folk rock. So I bought this album, and it's not too bad. The slower songs tend to bore me somewhat, but the faster more upbeat songs are all pretty good. I especially like 'Somebody to Love' and 'Today'.

My Iron Lung – Radiohead

Believe it or not, my Radiohead collection is nowhere near complete, so I grabbed this one because it was cheap, and because it had a nice acoustic version of 'Creep' on it. The rest of the album is all very good, basically just a lot of Bends era b-sides. The only thing wrong with it is that the songs are a bit samey, but seeing as the album is less than 40 minutes long, this doesn't bother me much. Favorite songs are the aforementioned 'Creep' and 'The Trickster'.

Random notes:

I couldn't find the new Dr. Kevorkian album there, damn their eyes. I'll have to go on a mission here, where I know the record stores like the back of my hand, next weekend.

New Rammstein album out in a week or so. I'll have to get that too. Damn you, credit card debt!

Friday, September 17, 2004

We All Live In America, Coca-Cola, Wonderbra

That new Rammstein song is tremendously catchy.

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman

So I've been a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's graphic novels for years now, but I've only just gotten round to reading one of his written novels, and I have to say, it's pretty damn good. American Gods is the story of a man named Shadow, who, after his life falls apart (he gets sent to jail, his wife dies, etc), is hired by a mysterious man called Mr. Wednesday as a kind of personal assistant. Naturally Mr. Wednesday is much more than what he seems, and Shadow goes on to have all sorts of interesting adventures.

This book is brilliantly written, and I can't say enough good things about it. Plot, characters and writing style are all tremendously engaging, and I can say without hesitation that this is the best book I've read all year.

American Gods is about belief and sacredness in the modern western world. However it was written shortly before the World Trade Centre attacks (as far as I can tell), so what it has to say about America comes across as somewhat untopical. But as far as I'm concerned that's another plus, it makes a good counterpoint to reading about the war in Iraq, or the presidential elections.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Muse - Live in Concert

Well I'm completely exhausted now, but man was it worth it. We got in line an hour before the doors opened, and secured a spot right in front of the stage. The opening act was Pluto, who got a fews boos, but I thought they were quite good. They were probably the most suitable kiwi band to have as an opener.

I've written a song by song description of the show, but I may well have gotten the order of the songs wrong. I'm sure most of them are right though.

Hysteria: Well, they didn't keep us waiting for too long between sets. There was a big cheer as soon as the drum kit was unveiled, and an even bigger one when they took the cover off the piano. Then, after the usual roadie's shenanigans, the lights went out and the band came on. The deceptively mellow looking crowd immediately went completely mental.

New Born: More cheering when Matt walks up to the piano. After the initial quiet piano intro, Matt grabs his guitar and walks up to the edge of the stage to play an extended feral improvisation as a lead into the first chorus. Needless to say, more absolute madness in the mosh pit followed.

The Small Print: Another heavy song. This one's not really one of my favorites, but it still went off, of course.

Dead Star: This one is one of my favorites, but I got the impression not as many people knew it, probably because it's only on their live album. I tried to make up for them by going extra crazy for it myself, but I don't know if the people in front of me appreciated it...

Citizen Erased: I was hoping they would play a few more album tracks from Origin of Symmetry than they did at the big day out. Unfortunately this was the only one they played, but on the other hand it's one of my favorites. A very nice mood from the crowd during the soft outro, with everyone waving their arms and singing along.

Ruled by Secrecy: A bit of an odd choice I thought, since this is a fairly low key repetitive song. The audience didn't seem to be that into it either. At least it gave everyone a bit of a rest.

Muscle Museum: Not too much to say about this one. The only thing I can remember about it was that I kept getting the words wrong. How embarrassing!

Butterflies and Hurricanes: I had to bail for a glass of water during this one, so again I don't have much to add, other than that the chick working at the bar was hot and had nice dreads.

Bliss: One of my favorite songs, and apparently a popular one among the rest of the audience too. After seeing everyone bouncing up and down together in the middle of the theatre to the chorus of this song, I decided to forsake the mosh pit and join them. It was a good idea too. It was much more fun away from the sweaty face-in-armpit crowd. It looked to me like Matt was playing the arpeggio on his guitar, I'm not sure though, I was a bit too far away. Anyway, if he was, that's very impressive.

Time is Running Out: Another popular one. Matt pointed out that their bass player was playing with a broken wrist. Man, that guy is hardcore...

Sunburn: Another song I was really hoping to hear! Matt played the whole thing, including the bit that's a guitar solo on the album, on the piano.

Plug-In Baby: Last song of the main set, and one of their most popular. The audience went nuts, and Matt played the main riff like a madman, spinning around, jumping up and down, and not missing a note. Just awesome.


Apocalypse Please: The band walked off for all of thirty seconds, and then came back to the unique rhythm of this song. Everyone clapped and stomped along, it was pretty cool, but not as cool as...

Stockholm Syndrome: A kickass song that they just had to end with. During the soft gentle chorus, they fired a whole lot of confetti into the air and turned all the lights on, and during the heavy outro, they threw giant balloons filled with confetti out into the audience, and kept playing a long epic improvisation until all the balloons had been popped. It might sound a bit gimmicky, but I thought it was a pretty memorable and effective way of ending the show. Anyway, after that they walked off, and I left on a massive high.

Random notes:

Matt has a seven string. Hardcore.

After the show we walked past the entrance to the backstage area, which was for some reason left open with no security guards around. A slowly growing group of people began to congregate around it, peeking inside and wondering if we should go in. Then a security guard showed up, shut the door, and told us to piss off.

Sorry to whoever was standing behind me during Stockholm Syndrome. I realise you probably got a faceful of dreads more than once during that song.