Archive for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Category

>Day 57: Oh sunny day!

11 May, 2009 2 comments

>Today’s soundtrack: The Moody Blues – To Our Children’s Children’s Children

Well what a nice day – sun shining, and warm if a bit breezy. How to spend such a day? Well, I had another meeting with a recruitment consultant – this time in Leeds – so I spent most of the day on the M62 for my sins.

Hopefully worth it though. A sensible time for the meeting meant that I avoided the inevitable early morning logjam on the motorway, which was pretty clear (in my direction) both into and out of Yorkshire. Big jams in the other direction both journeys though – just a lucky day on the roads for me today.

And hopefully the luck will continue onto the job front after today’s meeting. I’ve used this agency before when I’ve been recruiting and they’ve delivered the goods – and the feeling I got coming out of the meeting today was that this particular agency would be a touch more proactive than others. Now it doesn’t matter how proactive they are, if there aren’t any jobs out there – but I did get the impression they would push hard, and in the right direction. We talked around some very specific target firms and companies and, whilst there may not be specific roles to discuss with them, I’m sure they’ll get my name out into the marketplace, to be picked up upon when the roles do start to appear.

So home, doors and windows flung open to get some fresh air in, breadmaker on and off to Middle Earth to slay a few more goblins, in between updating the blog and trawling the job sites. No need to worry about tea tonight – there’s enough pasta bake from yesterday to keep us going tonight. That bolognese is the meal that just keeps giving!

I’m typing away to the sound of the Moodies, a bit of prog from 1969. It all sounds a bit whimsical and twee now, but in the early ’70s the Moodies were up there with all the big ‘album bands’, mixing a bit of (awful 6th-form) poetry with sweeping soundscapes, Mellotron prominent. As with many of their albums (and many other albums at the time), To Our Children’s Children’s Children is a concept album, this concept loosely based around space travel (the 1969 moon landing being a key inspiration, apparently) and, somewhat unsurprisingly, the innocence of children.

No wonder we needed punk to sweep all this nonsense away!

Actually, that’s a bit unfair – buried underneath all the bombast and orchestration there are some decent tunes trying to get out, but overall it is very much ‘of it’s time’ and allowances have to be made.

So here they are in 1970. Very very dodgy haircuts and facial hair. Tie-dyed jeans! And a flute! How un-rock is that! And the audience are sitting cross-legged on the floor!

>Day 50: Star Wars Day

5 May, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Idlewild – Make Another World

Star Wars Day as in “May the fourth….”

Oh please yourself. I’m here all week.

The weather and a general case of Bank Holiday ennui combined to make this yet another lazy, lazy day.

Luckily, it was eMusic day in Waring Towers, so I had some buying to do. For those who don’t know, eMusic is a download subscription service. For the princely sum of £14:99 a month, I get to download 75 individual tracks – works out at 20p per track, as compared to the 79p per track typically charged by iTunes.

So what’s the catch? Well there is none, other than the selection of music on offer, which tends towards the obscure… although there is a huge selection on offer, you won’t find many household names here. What you will find though, are a lot of obscure gems from new, up and coming bands, and some classics in some of the more ‘esoteric’ genres. It’s cheap enough to take a punt on some unknown stuff and it’s never really been a struggle for me to ‘spend’ my credits each month – although others with less eclectic (or less picky) tastes might struggle.

My 75 credits this month went on an Iggy Pop 4-album box set of live material culled from his 1977 tour of Europe, the latest album by Camera Obscura which has been getting very good reviews in the music press recently, the last album by Jeniferever (‘Choose a Bright Morning’), a Swedish band in the Sigur Ros mould, and the new album by The Leisure Society, an American alt-country band that have again been getting very solid reviews in the press. Oh, and two early Elbow b-sides to round out the 75 selections.

So, seven albums and change for fifteen quid. Sounds like a deal to me.

Then spent an hour or two running round Middle Earth slaying goblins and wolves, and bumping into hobbits wanting favours done. As you do. Reminds me of my goblin joke:

Bloke walking through the forest, comes across an ugly little fellow with green skin sat with his back against a tree trunk, bent forward at the waist with his head firmly embedded in his lap, hands behind his head.

“Ere”, says our man. “Are you a goblin?”

“No”, the reply comes. “I’ve just got a headache”.

Eye thangyew.

No favours from Hull City, who managed to achieve something no other team has achieved for some time now – losing at Aston Villa, who leapfrog back above Everton into 5th place. All a bit academic at the top really, but Hull seem determined to relegate themselves despite the best efforts of the other teams at the bottom. While I would dearly love to see Newcastle relegated, I have a horrible feeling that the teams around them are all so bad that they will escape relegation by the skin of their teeth and subject us all to another season of absolute self-delusion. Ah well.

We finally finished off the second series of Dexter as well, all the loose ends being neatly tied up and leaving us waiting for the release of Season Three, which I think is currently being aired in the US. No spoilers, suffice it to say that our serial killer hero is free to carry on committing mass murder with impunity as someone else takes the blame for his misdemeanours to date. All good stuff, but leaves a DVD-sized gap to be filled by the ongoing CSI marathon, and by The Corner, a sort of prequel to The Wire that Son No 1 bought me for my birthday.

Soundtrack today comes from Idlewild and their 2007 album, ‘Make Another World’. Idlewild are a Scottish indie band, singing from the same page as bands like Interpol and Editors – a kind of Joy Divisionesque gloomy post-punk with lots of minor chords, but with a lightness of touch and an ear for melody that sets them apart from a lot of other landfill indie bands. Definitely worth a listen if you like that sort of thing!

Here’s ‘A Ghost in the Arcade’ from 2007 for your delectation…

>Day 32: Straight Outta Frodsham

17 April, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton

Last day with the boys today, so making the most of having them around. The day started with just Son No 1 and myself in da house, so we busied ourselves playing the adventure game we bought the day before in Manchester – ‘The Longest Journey’, a prequel to a game called ‘Dreamfall‘. The two games came packaged together, and although I missed them when they came out, they appear to have won shedloads of awards from the computer gaming fraternity at the time.

So for a happy few hours, I adopted the persona of ‘April Ryan’, an 18 year old art student from the 23rd Century, as she swapped between a fantasy dreamworld and the reality of student life. Back in the day, there used to be loads of adventure games of this type – the real ‘hardcore’ games being text-only – now they are a very small niche indeed, so it was good to find a couple of games still available. They must have cost a bomb to produce, and I suspect sold relatively few copies – so they are probably amongst the last of a dying breed. Great fun though, if you’ve got the time and the patience to play them.

Son No 2 arrived back from Preston around half eleven, and the boys headed off back down South after I’d filled them up with sausage and bacon sandwiches using the last of the bread. Great to spend some time with the boys over the last couple of days, and especially nice to see them both at the same time, something that happens very rarely now they are both grown up and living their own lives at opposite ends of the country.

Once they’d gone the house felt very empty indeed – so to take my mind off the emptiness, I loaded up the second of the two games we’d bought yesterday – this being the online version of the Lord of the Rings. This time I adopted the persona of a (male) elf from Rivendell, battling goblins alongside dwarfs somewhere in Middle Earth.

I am nothing if not versatile.

No fancy cooking today (apart from a very tasty French ‘Rustic’ loaf, involving three (count ’em!) different types of flour) – Mrs W and I dined on Steak Pie and Chips and Gravy (yummy!) tonight, whilst watching an episode of Dexter…yes, another programme involving serial killers, but one in which the twist is that the serial killer is actually our hero! Very good indeed.

Today’s blog title obviously comes from the name of the album playing in the background as I type. It should be a Half Man Half Biscuit album title really…assuming it isn’t already!

So what’s a nice, professional, white middle-class boy like you doing listening to hard core rap, you might be asking? Well, it’s pretty good, is why. I’m not a great fan of rap or hip-hop, but there are elements of the genre that I really like. Early Sugarhill (Rapper’s Delight, Grandmaster Flash, Funky Four + One), Public Enemy and NWA just about covers it, although there is some Jay-Z, Kanye and even some Eminem lurking on iTunes somewhere. I never really got into the Tupac/Notorious B.I.G. stuff though.

NWA come, as you might expect, from Compton, California. The original group included Ice Cube, Dr Dre and Eazy-E, who all went on to further success rapping, acting and producing – but this, their first album, really established a new genre – Gangsta Rap – that hadn’t existed previously. Hard-hitting, openly violent and misogynous in equal measure, it out-punked punk in its anti-establishment stance, and was seen as genuinely subversive at a time when inner-city rioting and racial tension was endemic in parts of America.

Watching that reminded me of the greatest series to appear on television in recent years, ‘The Wire’. Filmed by HBO in Baltimore, over five series it covers a range of topics relating to life in that city, initially focusing upon the drug wars between the police and rival gangs of dealers, but later covering schooling, politics, labour disputes in the docks and the role of the media in reporting what is happening in the city. There are no ‘heroes’ in this drama – nor any overt judgments – and you get to see what’s happening from all sides, enabling you to relate as easily to the drug barons as to the law and the politicians.

The Wire creeps up on you slowly – there are no easy resolutions, no ‘cases solved’ at the end of each episode, and events in series one may have no real impact until later series. Major characters are not guaranteed to survive, and the good guys don’t always win. The street language can be impenetrable at times.

But over time you attune yourself to the language. You identify with characters on both sides of the moral divide. And suddenly you need your fix. You may not make it past the first two episodes – but if you do, it will have you all the way to the end.

From Series one, here’s D’Angelo teaching Wallace and Bodie about chess, in language they can relate to. Some of this language is NSFW, so be warned.