In which a guy old enough to know better talks about...stuff.
Including, but not necessarily limited to: Wrestling, Metal, Anime, Books, Comics, Cartoons, Stuff that pisses me off, AOR and songs with "Metal" in the title.
One of the other blogs I follow has a piece about rescue shelter dogs and the Bloggers Unite For Dog Rescue Project.
The last dog I had was from a rescue shelter and he gave me a decade of affection and companionship. I like to think that we made each others lives better.
So a worthy cause and the link is here: Bloggers Unite For Dog Rescue
Stop by and say hello.
The Metal Project is an ongoing quest to find every song on Youtube with "Metal" in the title and gather them in one place.
As I've been working my way around the world it's easy to spot that there's one nation I haven't covered yet. The country that invented Heavy Metal, laid down most of the basic rules and produced one important band after another.
The UK is the spiritual home of Metal and it's time to pay tribute.
Now I've already covered the likes of Judas Priest, Saxon and Conquest Of Steel. Even so, I can still put together a worthwhile list of songs. Enjoy.
The Holy Land 1260 AD. When the Mongol armies descend upon Aleppo the beleagured Crusaders of the Holy Land realise that they may have found a valuable ally against the Saracens.
Two men are chosen as envoys. Templar Josseran Sarrazini, a knight hoping to atone for past sins, and William of Augsburg, a fanatical Dominican friar.
But when Josseran and William are brought before the Mongol general he declares that the decision is not his to make and they must be sent down the Silk Road to kneel before the Great Khan at Karakorum.
The two Christians are forced to make a long, dangerous trek beyond the limits of their known world. Along the way they will face scorching deserts and icy mountain pathways with each new day a challenge to everything they thought they knew.
And Josseran will meet a beautiful, fierce Mongol Princess who has dreamt of a stranger with hair of fire.
I picked this one up on a whim and I'm rather glad I did. It's a slow-burner of a book, devoted mostly to the gruelling nature of the journey, the tense, hostile relationship between the open-minded Josseran and the Dominican zealot and the way each reacts to the new and astonishing world they are discovering. There's also the developing bond between the Templar and Khutelun, daughter of a Mongol Khan and very definitely not demure, meek or needing anybody's protection.
Falconer does a pretty good job of painting the world of the Mongol Empire, its peoples and politicking and is equally good at fleshing out William, Josseran and Khutelun, making them interesting but without falling over the cliff into obvious cliche. It probably doesn't come as a surprise that Josseran and Khutelun are people you find yourself rooting for. William... not so much.
Not my usual fare but I was impressed and would be interested in seeing what Colin Falconer's next book has to offer.
By: Sorachi Hideaki Volumes: One Genre: Delinquent Comedy.
This is a tale of two children and what happened when they finally met again.
It begins with a quiet little girl named Iyazo Gorugo reading out an easy about her family. "Father is an assassin, Mother is an assassin, Grandfather is an assassin..."
This goes down about as well as me telling my classmates that I had a pet T-Rex.
Then on the field trip classmate Mondo Fujieda attempts to make friends by offering some candy. Which makes Gorugo ill. Spectacularly ill. "Fetch a mop and bucket and a Hazmat suit" ill.
A humiliated and puke-covered Gorugo vows bloody revenge on Fujieda and then leaves the school forever.
By the way, when she said her family were assassins, she wasn't kidding.
Years later Fujieda has become King of the school delinquents and has put aside his old name in favour of the moniker "Thirteen"
(Why? Nobody knows and he isn't saying.)
However his world is about to get a lot more complicated. Because Iyazo Gorugo has just transferred to his school.
And she still wants to kill him.
I sometimes find that manga can work better when the author only has a limited space to tell his story. Here Sorachi Hideaki has precisely 37 pages to work with and does it rather well.
Once you get past the vomiting and ridiculous violence there is a surprisingly touching tale of two people whose lives were changed by one incident and have been waiting for the punchline ever since. Without giving too much away, this does not go the way you expect.
The artwork is not the prettiest I've ever seen but does fit with the tone of the manga. It reminded me a little of Ryuhei Tamura's work on "Beelzebub" , especially in the way he draws mayhem.
If you fancy a quick fix and want to get to the ending without having to wade through 101 chapters I would definitely recommend taking a look at this one.
The Metal Project - An ongoing quest to track down every single Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.
Today's post is a wee bit different because not only are all the songs from the same country but they are all from the same band
Japanese NWOBHM-obsessed nutters Metalucifer hold the record for fitting the word " Metal" into song titles and have released at least one CD where every single song is "Metal something -or-another. "
While poking about in my "Music" folder I couldn't help noticing that some of the LP covers contained therein were somewhat lacking in execution. Some were tacky, quite a few were obviously done by a mate of the band and all in all, you have to wonder how much damage was done to the band's career.
Let me show you what I'm talking about.
Kidd Gloves - Feel The Fire (USA 1987)
(Now this wouldn't be so bad if the artist actually knew how to draw noses)
Black Angels - Hellmachine (Switzerland 1981)
(Note that the motorbike is the best-drawn part of this mess)
Hawk - S/T (USA 1985)
(Words fail me. Is it a man? Is it a woman? What the hell is it supposed to be?)
Conquest Of Steel - S/T (UK 2004)
(I've seen these guys and they are awesome live. Their album covers do them no favours)
Predator - Easy Prey (USA 1986)
(Put together quite well. Just very, very tacky)
Rock Bergade-The Attack Is On (USA 1983)
(This one actually makes my eyes hurt!)
Preyer-Terminator (UK 1986)
(The monster lets it down, sadly)
I have some more that I'll post at a later date. Incidentally, just because I think the LP cover is crap that should not reflect in any way on the band's music. Most of these bands aren't bad and certainly deserved better.
For one brief moment Kensaku Onodera is on top of the world. The 15 year old streetfighter has just won a karate tournament and fame and fortune seem to beckoning. Plus there's a definite possibility of his girlfriend sleeping with him.
Then it all goes horribly wrong. Tripping over his gi causes our hero to collide violently with the ring girl's boobs. Seconds later her foot collides violently with his face and Kensaku wakes up to find himself a laughing stock.
Things don't get any better the next day. Not only is he dumped by his enraged girlfriend but his new homeroom teacher looks awfully familiar...
The Metal Project: An ongoing quest to find every Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.
Originally I was going to try and cover the entire Pacific in one post. Which was a bit silly.
Given that Malaysia and Indonesia are Muslim nations with the authorities less than tolerant towards long-haired youths in black t-shirts, their metal scenes seem to be quite vibrant.
Here's a brief selection of songs. Enjoy.
Antacid - Metal Assault Devastation (Malaysia 2005)
When I was a kid one of my favourite cartoons was "The New Adventures Of Flash Gordon" and there were a number of reasons for that.
1. Considering the budget and time period it was surprisingly well put-together. Certainly a hell of a lot better animated than the Hanna-Barbera stuff I was used to, anyway. (Although even at the age of 10 I couldn't help noticing that certain shots kept getting reused. Filmation were infamous for this apparently )
2. I'd grown up watching repeats of the old Flash Gordon serials on a Saturday morning and here was more of the same. In colour!
3. Unusually for the period, Flash Gordon had an ongoing plot arc which saw Flash and Dale acquiring new allies before the final showdown with Ming.
4. Then of course there was something no other cartoon of the time had.
Princes Aura. Red of hair, scant of clothing, heavily armed and rides a frigging Terror Bird. Cool.
I was a massive fan of Aura pretty much from her first appearance in the opening credits(although I can remember my Mum raising a quizzical eyebrow) and truth be told, Ming's warrior-princess of a daughter was a lot more fun than the bland Dale Arden.
You can probably guess how the story ends. Aura spent most of the first series pursuing Flash and co. before switching over to the good guys and hooking up with tree-dwelling slaphead Prince Barin.
Meanwhile a young Big D was left with a lifelong fascination with female characters who have red hair, a limited wardrobe and a tendency to settle issues with a swung broadsword.
Proof that Jessica Rabbit did not invent cartoon characters getting seductive.
"Season 2 will feature a cute dragon sidekick? That's this cartoon screwed then."
Here's the intro if you're interested.
And here's the full-length version that came out a few years later.
By my reckoning that's 599 songs I've done so far so the next post is definitely going to be a bit of a milestone. Hope you liked some or all of the stuff I posted today. Credit, as always to the original posters and to the bands themselves. See ya next time.
The Metal Project. An ongoing quest to track down every single Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.
Thanks to being busy with work and suchlike it's been a while since I did one of these. Oops.
Today's collection is devoted to bands from Argentina and it's quite a mixed bag. Hope you find something to like.
Once upon a time there was a young princess with lips red as a rose, hair black as a crows wing and skin white as snow. Then one day a wicked witch charmed her way into her fathers life and his bed and then stabbed him with a frigging great knife.
The kingdom fell and the young princess was locked away in a a tower while the evil queen worked out what to do with her. At long last she decided that the best way to solve her ongoing political problem, and, incidentally, gain eternal youth, was to eat Snow White's heart.
The news that the young princess had just escaped and was last seen heading into the Dark Forest made the evil witch very unhappy so she shanghaied a drunk and ordered him to bring back the girl while promising all sorts of things she was obviously never going to deliver.
Luckily for our heroine, he turned out to be not quite the dick he appeared to be and agreed to help. Even better, some dwarven bandits decided that they wanted to be on Team Snow White as well.
Now all they had to do was get Snow White to her uncle's fortress and then the good guys can ride forth and inflict some righteous violence.
As you can tell just from the movie poster this film has no singing whatsoever.
Now if I remember the original story, Snow White gets rescued a lot and that's mainly it. The huntsman spares her life, the dwarves save her from dying of exposure and the Prince saves her from the spell and then punishes the evil queen. She's a lot more proactive in this version, as befits the 21st century. Alright, so she's maybe not the badass you'd expect from the trailer but still manages to push events rather than being carried along by them and the final showdown is all her.
There's also an attempt at giving Queen Ravenna some motivation for her actions - she's been hurt in the past and has been getting her own back ever since - although any flashes of sympathy I might have felt evaporated moments later. Maybe it's just me but I get the definite impression Ravenna is a spoilt, spiteful womanchild and not actually that bright.
The Huntsman, by the way, starts off as a drunken mess and you can actually see him rediscover his self-respect as the film goes by.
The most impressive part of the film is the visuals - Ravenna's Glass monsters and the weird and wonderful creatures of the Dark Forest especially. I do take issue with the direction of the fight scenes though. Once again they are filmed so it's hard to keep track of exactly what's going on and that's a real disappointment given that the film is bookended by largescale battles. They are impressive but I'd have been more impressed if the camerawork wasn't making me dizzy.
As to acting honours, Ian McShane pops up as a dwarf chieftain and just owns every scene he's in. And considering that Kristen Stewart has become an internet meme for wooden acting, she's pretty decent here. Admittedly she spends a lot of the film with the same slightly-worried expression but when she has to carry a scene Ms. Stewart gets the job done and does it well.
I have mixed feelings about Charlize Theron's take on the Evil Queen though. Most of the time it's calm, collected and malignant but then she'll start raving and, as I've already mentioned, it tends to come across like a spoilt teenager throwing a tantrum.
I have a very simple definition of a good cinema experience. I want to come out thinking "Wow"
"Snow White and The Huntsman" didn't quite manage to make that happen but I did walk out into the rain thinking "Yes. I enjoyed that."
If you're going to have a seven minute song there had better be something interesting going on in those last three minutes - have the guitarists duel with each other, suddenly change gear and crank up the volume, let the keyboard player have a solo, anything but repeat the chorus again and again and again and again...
Example: Anything off Judas Priest's Jugulator album. No kidding. There is not a single song on that album that couldn't lose a minute and a half and be all the better for it.
2. Mariah Carey Syndrome
And this seems to be exclusive to female singers. specifically female singers who have a good range and want everybody to know it. Every single word is stretched out, bounced around the scale and occasionally turned into something only dogs can hear. Why? It serves no useful purpose and gets on my tits something fierce.
3. Sudden outbreaks of rapping.
I'm not a massive fan of rap but I can appreciate the odd song here and there. What I do fail to understand is the ongoing tendency to shoehorn rap segments into songs that are otherwise mainstream.
Fun fact. There has never yet been a pop song that has been improved by having Snoop Dogg pop up in the middle.
Even Rush did this on the Roll The Bones album. Oh dear.
(No, it wasn't Snoop Dogg. That would have been too weird for words.)
4. Miserable women with pianos.
I'm not a big fan of singer-songwriters. I prefer my music amplified and upbeat so having somebody wander onstage clutching an acoustic guitar will usually send me off to the bar.
But there's one subspecies that causes me actual pain plus a fervent desire to stick a pencil in somebody's eye and that would be Miserable Women With Pianos. Adele, for instance.
Fans would probably describe their product as "Personal", "Intimate" and "Emotional" whereas I'd describe it as "Boring", "Shite" and "Why am I listening to somebody whining about how much their life sucks?"
5. The Musical Makeover
There's nothing wrong with tweaking your sound to keep current. Rush, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Yes and Pink Floyd (among others) have all taken a look at the musical climate around them,thought "We can do that" and adapted to fit. Usually there's a clear progression from album to album where you can track this happening.
Then there's the bands that suddenly switch sounds completely. Let me give you an example.
Ultravox made their name as a synthpop outfit, albeit one with grandiose leanings and a surprisingly useful guitarist.
But then they went from this:
Note the new clothes, brass section, backing singers and
blatant ditching of all the elements I'd liked them for.
If you want more examples, pick a Hair Metal band from the early 90s. An awful lot of them tried to jump on the Grunge bandwagon and got run over. Or any fading star that suddenly discovers dance music. (Looking at you, Cher. And you Wishbone Ash.)
It gets particularly annoying when said artist announces that they are now making the sort of music they wanted to make all along.
It's always nice when somebody basically let's all their fans know that he thinks they are mugs. Cheers.