Saturday, April 30, 2005

Random tidbits

1. Saw a bit of The Have last night, and I was quite impressed again. They're kind of like The Datsuns or The D4, but good.

2. Saw Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I'm not sure what I think yet. Some of it was very funny, some of it was pretty lame. They'd changed the story quite a bit from the book, but apparently it was all done with Douglas Adams' approval, and they didn't take anything out that I missed.

3. Went into town and saw the aftermath of the rugby, weird... people comatose on Columbo St. at 1am, and everyone who was still walking about seemed sober.

4. It occurs to me that all my regular readers were there with me for all of those things. I give my blog a hug and a handjob to stop it from feeling worthless.

5. Midnight release for the new NIN album on Sunday night!

Friday, April 29, 2005

They took out a piece of my brain, and replaced it with a bag of sand!


Elvis and JFK, now living in an east Texas nursing home under fake identities, fight an evil mummy. Starring Bruce Campbell.

The movie's pretty much as good/bad as you'd predict from those two sentences. And damned funny too. Highly recommended.

Super mega excitement time!

If you have a decent net connection and are willing to sign up to myspace you can hear the entirety of the new NIN album here.

My connection's too crap so I've only heard the first song, but it's pretty fucking awesome. The album comes out sometime next week...

Thursday, April 28, 2005


by Neil Gaiman

I'd heard mediocre things about this one, so I wasn't planning on buying it (especially not in a big expensive hard back format), but I had a fit of impulse shopping and it got thrown in the cart during the frenzy. Fortunately it turned out to be pretty good, although not Gaiman's best.

As the big, tacky, out of place banner ruining the front cover will tell you, this is a Marvel superhero comic. The twist is that all the familiar characters, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Spiderman and so on, are transplanted into the 17th century, and appear to be fully native to the period, working with and against factions such as Queen Elizabeth I, King James and the Inquisition.

The story is pretty tame and predictable, at least by Gaiman's standards, but there's some nice dialog, and even though I'm not a big Marvel fan it was still kind of cool seeing his unusual take on these iconic characters. A bit of Gaiman's normal brilliance shines through near the end though, when we get all the big revelations that tie the story up.

The art is very 'generic superhero' in style, but very well done in execution. They could have done a lot more to make the characters stand out from their modern day counter parts (with a couple of exceptions, like Captain America a as American Indian), but it was all very detailed and easy on the eye.

The ending sets the story up for continuing adventures in this world, and I guess if Gaiman were to write another one I'd probably buy it, although hopefully I'll wait for a less expensive paperback edition this time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

And everyone lost everything, and perished with the rest

Laibach – Opus Dei

Back when I first graduated from uni and got a real job, one of the first things I spent my new found wealth on was a whole bunch of random CDs ordered from overseas, all by bands that I'd been curious about but never actually listened to before. Most of them turned out to be a big disappointment. Some where just not that great, while others proved to me that you can take the concept of confrontational difficult-listening music to a point where it's really just a load of stupid bullshit (and if you don't believe me, go and look up the genre of Power Electronics).

So I pretty much just ditched the whole lot of them at the bottom of my drawer and forgot about them. But recently I started thinking that maybe one or two of them were worth giving a second chance. So I picked out 'Opus Dei', which I had a relatively good impression of the first time around, and listened to it a few times.

Laibach are a Slovenian industrial band (Laibach is the German name for Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia), who are very overtly political, although only in a subversive way. They dress like Nazis, they stage their live shows like political rallies, and their music is often bombastic and Wagnerian. But of course their actual message is probably not too far afield from the likes of Rage Against the Machine. According to the Wikipedia page, they're considered to be influences of Rammstein. I don't see it myself, the vocalists sound very similar, and they both have very martial sounding drums, but beyond that they have little in common.

This particular album begins with a few sarcastic covers, 'Leiber Heist Leiber' by Opus (the original of which I'm not familiar with) and 'Geburt Einer Nation', which transforms Queen's 'One Vision' into a fascist anthem, complete with strings and organ. Later on we get into more traditional industrial styles, long, repetitive electronic tracks, heavy on the samples and stomping rhythms. They still keep the theme of the first few songs, with most of the samples being related to war or angry Germans.

I'm very glad I rediscovered this album. I'm not sure why it left such a poor impression when I first got it. The covers are fun and over-the-top, but the best tracks are the later ones, which are very good examples of 80s industrial.

Monday, April 25, 2005


by Iain M. Banks

Iain Banks' novels are a bit of a hit or miss affair for me. For every brilliant one, like 'Use of Weapons' or 'The Wasp Factory', there's one that just bores me, like 'Feersum Enjin' or 'The Business'. I had high expectations for 'Excession' though, the 'mysterious artifact in space' plot hook is one that's always aroused my interest. Unfortunately though, this ended up being a Banks book that I didn't like.

Like most of Banks' science fiction novels, this one is set in the Culture, a huge galaxy spanning civilisation with almost limitless resources.

Right from the start we're introduced to a whole slew of characters, none of whom I found particularly likable, and many of whom turn out to be mostly irrelevant to the story. The most interesting ones are the Affront, a race of aliens who Banks does a good job of making seem initially friendly and fun, but more and more sinister as he reveals more about them. They pose an interesting ethical dilemma for the Culture, should they tolerate having friendly diplomatic relations such a brutal and sadistic race? Even if they do get on well with other civilisations, they treat their own people and other species on their planet shockingly inhumanely.

Anyway, the larger plot deals with the Affront, several different factions within the Culture, and a couple of other interstellar powers as they figure out what to do with the Excession, a mysterious artifact evidentially sent by a technologically advanced power from another dimension. However the story devotes just as much time to the personal relationships between two of the major human protagonists, which I found to be rather dull. There's a bit of an interesting twist in the middle that I didn't see coming, but for the most part whenever this plot thread came up I was just impatient to get back to the space battles and the explosions.

The pacing of the whole book seemed very off to me. Even half way through the book we're still being introduced to new characters (and the abundance of strange ship names makes it very difficult to keep track of who's who), and very little seems to happen until the very end.

On a more positive note, I did like the ending, even if some of it was contrived. Plus this book gives a whole new perspective to the Culture, showing that while it's a pretty cool civilisation, it's not perfect and the actions of immoral individuals within it can still ruin it for everyone. He also shows a bit more of the larger picture of the galaxy, mentioning Sublimed races (those who have transcended the material universe), Hegemonistic Swarms (kind of like the Borg from Star Trek) and other far fetched ideas that the characters of course all take for granted.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I am the angel of your destruction

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral [Deluxe Edition]

Yeah, I already own the ordinary version of this album, and I don't have a surround setup, so I don't get anything out of the 5.1 mix on the album. And my ears are too fucked to tell the difference between SACD format and regular CD format, so that does nothing for me either.

So why did I buy it? Two reasons - the first of which is really dorky. While my original Downward Spiral was left behind when almost my entire CD collection was stolen a few years ago, they still took the album case, and I really liked the artwork that came with it. Lots of rust brown backgrounds with random objects strewn across it. It's abstract but very evocative, and it complements the mood of the album perfectly.

On it's own that's a pretty geeky reason to spend a lot of money on an album I already have, so fortunately it comes with a bonus b-sides disc. There's a lot of filler on the disc, a couple of tracks from the remix album 'Further down the spiral', which I already have. A "quiet" version of 'Hurt' which sounds almost identical to the main version. And a bunch of demo versions of other songs, which are mildly interesting in that they show a bit of how the songs developed, but aren't worth listening to more than once. Having said that there's some damn good stuff on there too. 'Burn' from the 'Natural born killers' soundtrack is an excellent song (apparently they've been playing it live recently). A pair of covers, 'Memorabilia' (originally by Soft Cell) and 'Dead souls' (Joy Division) are great tracks that I've wanted to own for a while. And last but not least there's the Coil remix of 'Closer'. A great bunch of tracks that I would never have bought while they were scattered over half a dozen singles, but am happy to pay for on one disc.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Show me the way to the next little girl

The Doors – The Doors

I probably shouldn't have bothered buying this album. Between the best of collection and the three or four live albums I own, I've already got four versions of half the songs on this album. Still, I'm a big enough fan of The Doors to get it just for the four songs I don't already have.

This is widely believed to be the best of their albums, I'm not so sure about that but it's still pretty good, and it contains many of their best songs. Jim's lyrics aren't as mental and trippy as they became later (not enough LSD yet I guess), but there's still 'The End', which remains one of my favorite songs of all time. The lyrics to that song are pretty good, but it's that eerie guitar, with all the trippy micro tones, that really does it for me.

'The Crystal Ship' and 'End of the Night' are two more sad, spacey songs which I like. 'Alabama Song' and 'Back Door Man' are two covers that are worth it just for Jim's dodgy interpretations, “The men don't know, but those little girls understand”. Plus we've got the full version of 'Light My Fire', complete with full wank solos for both organ and guitar.

It might not be my favorite Doors album, but I can see why it's got a reputation as one of the great classic rock albums.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

They make a living out of arts and crafts

Nirvana - Bleach

From back in the day when they were just a bunch of scabby kids with long hair making a racket. They didn't give a shit about anything except the music, and they didn't like to let on that they cared about that either.

The music is messy as hell, even compared to their later stuff, but Kurt's vocals seem more restrained than they became later on. It's a nice album, if you're in the mood for something noisy with a 'we just don't give a fuck' vibe, but it's not as good as their later stuff, and most of the best songs can be found on their live albums.

Monday, April 18, 2005

What did you expect in an opera, a happy ending?

Fantomas – Suspended Animation

So after a year of delays, the new Fantomas album has finally been released. (And I didn't find out until it had been out for a week. Hey, wake up Ipecac mailing list, you're supposed to tell me about these things!) Fantomas' last release was 'Delirium Cordia', a single hour long track of dark and moody electronica, with a little bit of metal. According to the band, these two albums were supposed to focus on the two separate styles of Fantomas. 'Delirium Cordia' is the dark, ambient, serious side, and 'Suspended Animation' is the upbeat, silly side. (In fact, I think part of the philosophy behind Fantomas is that all heavy metal has this duality. Most bands just don't like to admit to the latter one...)

The packaging reflects the music well. The CD comes tucked into the back of an April 2005 calendar. (Each track is named after a day in the month, e.g. 04/18/05 Monday). Every page is decorated by a weird anime cartoon, with an upbeat style but morbid subject matter. The liner notes and track listing are done in a silly, bright pink 'Hello Kitty' style, with Japanese writing everywhere. It's about as far as you can possibly get from a typical metal album cover. Certainly a direct contrast to 'Delirium Cordia''s dark, minimalist style.

The music itself is very similar to their first (self-titled) album, thirty short tracks of high speed, frantic metal, with occasional interludes. It even sounds like they borrowed some riffs from the first album. There are two main differences though. Firstly it's a lot easier to listen to than the earlier one, without being any more accessible or mainstream. It seems as if over the last few years they've learned to make their music defy convention and be catchy at the same time. The coolest riffs might only last ten seconds, but they fit in with one another so well that it doesn't bother you too much (and gives you an incentive to listen to the album again right away). The other difference is the theme. The first album was based on a comic book. It was very abstract and without being familiar with the book, it didn't do much for me. 'Suspended Animation' has a much simpler concept. It's filled with samples from cartoons (Bugs Bunny quotes, cheesy springing noises and so on) and samples of children playing (in the liner notes they thank all their friends who've had babies, are Fantomas getting clucky?!).

It looks like this one's going to stay in the playlist for a while. 'Delirium Cordia' might still be my favorite of their albums, but it's so long and morose that you really have to be in the right mood for it. This album seems almost like an attempt to do their first album (good, but weak compared to their later stuff) over again, and they've done a great job. It's fast, heavy and fun. A perfect party album, or at least it would be if everyone who came to my parties had any taste.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Don't Get Me Wrong, He's a Nice Guy, but He's a Mouth Breather

The Jesus Lizard - Bang

The Jesus Lizard sound pretty much like the name would imply. Fucked up and weird. These crazy noise rockers broke up some years ago, and this is their final release, a best of/live/rarities type thing. Like with their music, they seem to have deliberately eschewed order and gone out of their way to confound expectations when compiling this album.

Overall the music is reminiscent of Nirvana more than anything else, with the singer's mumbly vocals and the loose and messy style of the other musicians, but a whole lot more experimental (for want of a better term!) and with far less mainstream appeal. As I mentioned last week, the guitarist of The Jesus Lizard, Duane Denison, went on to form Tomahawk with Mike Patton. I was expecting his guitarwork to be even further into the realm of crazy noise on this album than it is in Tomahawk's stuff, but while there are certainly a few freak-outs by and large it's not too far afield from your standard grunge stuff. The weirdness comes more from the erratic structures and melodies, and the lyrics and vocals, more than from the way they play their instruments.

For me the best track is the second to last, 'White Hole', which is a mellow ambient track with the guitar playing harmonics over low noise, completely different to everything else on the album, but you can see shades of Tomahawk in it. The rest of the album is good too, but a little samey for me to listen to for an hour solid. It's pretty good stuff, but I expect more variety from insane noise bands.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Due to family commitments, blogging will be erratic, infrequent, and possibly non-existant this week.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Jon Tells You What to Think Part 3

(Part 1, Part 2)

We continue our countdown of the best albums of all time - from number 15 to number 11.

15: Undertow - Tool

Their first full album, but you wouldn't guess it. Danny Carey's drumming is already awesome and the band as a whole has vastly improved it's songwriting skills since their EP Opiate. Maynard's lyrics are a lot more personal and angsty on this album, but that turns out to be a strength, some of that 'fiery passion of youth' I guess. I like this one better than Aenima for it's weird linear drug induced song structures, and it's bleak heavy mood. Music for angsty teenagers has never been this good since.

14: Too Dark Park - Skinny Puppy

When people think of 80s music they normally either think of ghastly crap in the vein of Madonna and Duran Duran, or morose post-punk bands like The Cure and The Smiths. A few former bleeding edge hipsters might think of techno and early house, and lots of people would just drone "Metallica!!!" but for those of us with taste, industrial music was the best thing to come out of the 80s (OK this album actually came out in 1990, but these guys are essentially an 80s band). Bands like Skinny Puppy and Front242 moved away from the aggressive anti-mainstream attitude of the earliest industrial bands, and while they still never got played on the radio after Madonna, the grinding chaotic noise of industrial gained a danceable beat.

Along with 'Last Rights' this is supposed to be one of Skinny Puppy's best albums. While 'Last Rights' really went off the deep end into crazy noise, this album strikes a good balance between the danceable grooves and the screaming and wailing, starting with 'Convulsion' which combines Ogre's distinctive vocals (you can't call it singing) with an erratic but catchy beat, lots of tortured grinding drilling noises, and some cool samples "He's seeing monsters... he's losing his mind and he feels it going...". The album closes with 'Reclamation' which starts out as a collection of low menacing noises and vocals, and builds to a climax of, well, loud menacing noises. A perfect example of a crazy noise song.

13: Tomahawk - Tomahawk

The first time I saw these guys live, in summer of 2001/2, I was standing behind a pair of guys who represented a very typically Kiwi archetype. It was the big good natured Maori guy and his short smart-ass Pakeha mate. You can see them nowadays in Sky's TV ad campaign. The big guy was obviously a huge fan of the band, whereas the little guy had no clue who they were. He'd been instructed well by his friend though, and was able to rattle off the standard Tomahawk speil when they took the stage - "Lets hear it for the singer from Faith No More, the drummer from Helmet, the bass player from the Melvins and the guitarist from the Jesus Lizard!". He was taking the piss, but he got it right.

Tomahawk is easily my favorite out of all Mike Patton's bands. Unlike Fantomas, where his vocals are mostly confined to his 'gibbering' style, Patton uses all sorts of styles in Tomahawk, from crazy gibbering to slow spanish love songs. The music is mostly bass driven, giving Duane Denison plenty of opportunities to go nuts with his trademark 'fucked up super crazy' guitar style. He's one of the only guys who can give Tom Morrello a run for his money with the weird guitar improvisation.

I was a little disappointed by their second album 'Mit Gas', but only because their debut set such a high standard. The tone is dark but off kilter, I've never listened to Jesus Lizard or Helmet (although I've been meaning to for 4 years) but you can hear the influence of The Melvins in the album's heavy menace, and that of Mr. Bungle in it's irreverent genre switches and Patton's gleefully manic persona.

The highlight track is 'Point and Click', where a slow moody rhythm section is topped with eerie guitar feedback and Patton's floating singing, but it's not really representative of the rest of the album, which features mainly raucous rock and metal, with a quirky twist I can only describe as 'evil country & western'.

Well that's enough about them, I could go on, but that's a post for another time. Probably a 'best live shows I've seen' post.

12: Waiting for the Sun - The Doors

Yeah, it starts with the dismal 'Hello, I Love You', but the rest of this album is filled with some beautifully sad songs, 'Yes, the River Knows', 'Love Street' and 'Summer's Almost Gone' are the best examples. It's also the big rocking hit single 'Five to One', and 'The Unknown Soldier', which may or may not have been a single, but which is popular and in the same vein. But best of all it's got 'Not to Touch the Earth', the central part of Jim's super crazy LSD trip 'The Celebration of the Lizard'. You have to listen to one of the live albums to get the whole thing, but even just this one section is pretty damn cool.

11: Silence is Sexy - Einsturzende Neubauten

Back in the old days (2000), I was a hard core noise head, if you expressed an interest in anything that didn't sound like two angry Belgians pushing a washing machine down the stairs, I'd sneer at you and call you a 'brainless mainstream drone' or something. The fact that I've included this album on this list shows how much I've mellowed in my old age.

Back in the 80s Neubauten were one of the noisiest of noise bands, but over the years they've shed most of the noise and even though they still make use of some peculiar instruments in their compositions, they tend more towards the gentle and beautiful side.

Silence is Sexy is their most poppy release (as always when talking about Industrial, a relative term), but it makes up for that shortcoming by being packed with one brilliant song after another. Blixa Bargeld's lyrics are great too, even after being translated from German to English.

[Update 26 Oct 05: Realised that I'd posted this entry incomplete for some reason and finished it off]

Thursday, April 07, 2005

April Fucking Fools

So it turns out Maynard from Tool hasn't found Jesus and quit the band after all. It was a pretty lame attempt at an April Fools joke, which is a shame, because they do one every year and it's usually pretty funny. The post about it on their official site is mildly amusing though...

More Wacky Referrals

"vampire poetry jeffrey nine inch nails"
"jim morrison sucks"
"knocked out with chloroform"

Seriously, this shit cracks me up. Although I'd prefer it if people who think that Jim Morrison sucks and people that read vampire poetry would stay the hell off my website.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Jon Tells You What to Think, Installment 2

(Installment 1)

Yeah it's been a few weeks, but here are numbers 20 through 16 of my authoritative best albums of all time.

20: Unsound Methods - Recoil

Recoil is the solo project of a former member of Depeche Mode, Alan Wilder. The music is moody electronica, with guest appearances from all sorts of interesting vocalists. He only has a handful of albums out, the last one was in 2000, and he's done nothing since, which is a pity because he's got a completely unique sound, and a hell of a lot of talent. Unsound Methods is probably his strongest album, it opens with 'Incubus' which uses quotes from 'Apocalypse Now' as lyrics, and the eerie music perfectly evokes that movie. Another highlight is 'Luscious Apparatus', where a female vocalist delivers deadpan a story of a torrid fucked up sexual encounter between two people with some unusual fetishes. The climax, which involves her screaming 'sex' over and over while the most fucked up sounding guitar you ever heard screeches away in the background. If you've ever heard it, you won't forget it.

19: Mezzanine - Massive Attack

Well everyone's probably heard this one. I like the whole thing, even 'Exchange', but the standout track is definitely 'Group Four', which at eight minutes is still too short.

18: California - Mr. Bungle

Their least insane album, I can usually get away with putting this on at a party without people complaining too much. As with all their stuff, it's a mix of surf rock, electronica, swing, traditional middle eastern music and metal, but this time round a little less heavy on the screaming and white noise, and a little more focused on melodic songwriting, but with enough of the former style to keep things interesting. Also contains the saddest song ever written, 'Pink Cigarette'.

17: The Fragile - Nine Inch Nails

It probably shouldn't have been a double album but 40% of this album is brilliant and almost all of the rest is pretty good. Here Trent Reznor moved away from the tight aggressiveness of 'The Downward Spiral' and made a moody sprawling epic of an album. It suffers a bit from the first disc being much stronger than the second, but it's worth listening to the entire thing, as Trent's biggest fetish is making a cohesive album where every track fits into the album as a whole.

16: OK Computer - Radiohead

Everyone's heard this one too. It's their most successful album, and for good reason. Every track strikes just the right balance between accessibility and whacked out experimentalism (you know, I hate the term 'experimental', maybe it applies to some out there neo-classical stuff, but making a horrible noise with a guitar is an experiment only in the sense that you're experimenting to see if anyone will like it. In the case of 'OK Computer' the result was a definite yes). I'm still surprised that 'Paranoid Android' was a big hit, considering it's 6 minute running time, erratic structure, guitar freak outs and of course that weird video, but there you go. And of course the record's huge success made the band bitter and disillusioned enough to produce the incredible 'Kid A'.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


I started watching this show in it's first season, and I thought it was pretty good. The first episode I saw had the bad doctor (I can never remember their names) trading his girlfriend to another guy in exchange for a car, and it went on from there with all sorts of crazy shenanigans involving sex, money and psychotic drug dealers.

Unfortunately the second season has been very disappointing. There's been very little violence and a lack of amusingly nihilistic characters (they all seem to have learned their lessons in the first series), and it's just been a whole lot of garden variety Shortland Street style drama. (The girls all seem to love it still, as you'd expect).

So last night I watched about half an episode and then turned it off because I was too bored. And because of the gaggingly obvious metaphors. The good doctor's found out that the bad doctor slept with his wife, so he kicks her out of the house, leaving his kids distraught, and then he quits the practice, telling the employees to choose between which doctor they want to continue working for, at which point one of them remarks that it's 'like he's breaking up a family'. Gag. But before they go their separate ways, the two doctors have to perform one last surgery, separating two siamese twins. Can the twins survive on their own after being separated? At this point I began banging my head on the table, so I turned the TV off.

There's little enough good TV as it is, it's a shame to see a previously good show turn to crap.

Monday, April 04, 2005


By Art Spiegelman

There are three comic series credited with moving the medium out of it's juvenile superhero origins towards more mature genres, all published in the early 80s. The two most popular are Alan Moore's 'Watchmen' and Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns'. These were still superhero books but they both had a very dark tone and political overtones that are not to be found in earlier comics. (Miller's the guy who writes 'Sin City' as well, by the way.) The third series is 'Maus', which won a Pulitzer prize ("like the Oscars for books") and it is most definitely not a superhero book.

'Maus' is the true account of the author's father's experience during the Second World War, as a Jew living under the Nazi occupation. The twist is that Spiegelman has drawn all the characters as animals, the species being dependent on the character's race or nationality. The Jews are mice, the Poles are pigs, the Germans are cats and the Americans are dogs. You might expect such a whimsical conceit to soften the grimness of this nasty holocaust story, but it doesn't.

It's a very personal story, with large sections set in the present as the son attempts to get the whole story from his father, who's a very eccentric, difficult fellow. And there are also scenes later on where the author pontificates about what he's trying to achieve by telling the story.

The story itself is of course unpleasant (as all holocaust stories are), but it's still an engaging read and it's somewhat inspiring to read about the senior Spiegelman's resourcefulness in surviving Auschwitz for almost a year. Of course the real life details make everything a lot less clear and clean cut than most stories. Our protagonist, as we see him in the present day, has a number of significant character flaws, to put it mildly. I was particularly surprised by his racist attitude towards a black guy near the end of the book, as it's not something you'd expect from a holocaust survivor. I guess the half of the story set in the present is more about the author working out his parental issues more than anything to do with history.

The art is a little crammed and busy, with lots of text, but it's still quite nice. I especially liked the looks of the characters, different cats, dogs, mice and pigs are all made to look either sinister or pathetic, while still retaining exactly the same features.

Final verdict: good book. Something to wave in the face of anyone who thinks comic books can't be serious and mature.

Those Wacky referrals

Someone found this post of mine by searching for 'Gangsta Way To Tie Your Shoes'. How ironic. Other highlights from this weeks referral logs include "comshok", "wildebeest at war" and my favorite "women cricketers were cunt guards".

Sunday, April 03, 2005


My current goal for writing this blog is to at least post once a day. However when looking over the last few weeks activity it seems that I am extremely unlikely to post anything during the weekends, and looking over my visitor logs it appears that none of you dicks ever visit during the weekend anyway. So I am hereby changing my goal to posting at least once every weekday.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I'm Back

So I've returned from the depths of Fiordland alive.

The drive down was very nice. I took a bit of a weird route, through the colourful and delightful township of Waimate, but I got to see some big hydro dams on the way, which I rather enjoyed. I guess working for the power company for a summer all those years ago rubbed off on me a bit. Southland and Fiordland are very pretty too. I haven't been down that way for many years...

The day we started on the Kepler track I woke up with a really sore throat, and it got worse as the day went on. Now if it had been a hard tramp I may well have dropped dead on the second day, but fortunately the Kepler is the kind of track that even sixty year olds can manage, but being sick still impacted my enjoyment quite a bit.

The first day was good. It started out cloudy but cleared up later on when we started climbing up into the mountains so we had many nice views of Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. The next day I felt like shit, and the weather seemed to sympathise. It rained all day and it was completely overcast so we missed out on all the best views while we were up in the mountain tops. Even so, there was something to be said for the view of remote fiords glimpsed through the mist. Normally I'd enjoy a good hard slog through the wind and snow anyway, but feeling as ill as I did, it wasn't very pleasant.

It was still kind of funny listening to everyone else on the tramp complaining about how hard it was. The track was like a highway and it doubled back along all the steep slopes to make it easier to go up and down. Compared to some of the places I've been it was like a walk in the park, and I'm not an especially dedicated tramper. On the other hand of course, there was the crazy American dude who had just finished the Dusky track (mud up to your waist), was planning to go on to the Milford the day after he finished the Kepler, and did the whole track in his sandals.

The rest of it was nice. Weather was good, I felt better. The drive home was kind of horrible though. There's nothing like a six hour drive after you've been tramping for four days to fuck you every which way. When I first moved down to Christchurch I observed that all the drivers were really bad and I assumed it was just a South Island thing. After driving around for a few days I've come to the conclusion that it's just a Christchurch thing. All through Fiordland and Southland the other drivers were normal, but as soon as I hit SH1 I was surrounded by people driving like senile grandparents. And of course there were the people who follow you at a slightly slower pace for half an hour, until they reach a passing lane, when they scream past at 140kph and then promptly drop down to a steady 85 for the remainder of the journey (speeding up again at any passing lanes, in case you might try to pass them). Honestly, this sort of stupid shit doesn't happen anywhere else in the country.