Friday, June 16, 2006

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Friday, March 31, 2006

The boys are back in town again

Last night I went to see Thin Lizzy at Hammersmith Apollo. Now I know that some people will say that without Phil Lynott there is no Thin Lizzy, and that is true to an extent, but his songs live on and this was meant to be a celebration of his songs 20 years after his death.

Phil Lynott's death was one of the first things that I remember after realising that I liked that sort of music, mostly in the form of buying Kerrang or Metal Hammer or both, so I never had the chance to see him or his band play live. My first real experience of his music beyond the odd song here or there was when I borrowed a load of LPs from Simon at Ventures. I borrowed Led Zep 2, Thin Lizzy's Shades of a Blue Orphanage and Thunder and Lightning and a few others. Most of it I listened to once and didn't really get, but before you curse my name for my idiocy, this is a good sign. Initially I hated the first thing I heard by Metallica, Slayer and King Diamond to name but three and went on to fall in love with them later. What I did get was an instant and immediate love of Thunder and Lightning. While some call it a weak Lizzy album, I disagree. John Sykes is an amazing guitarist and he has something in common with most of the players I like, Mike Amott, Dave Murray, Gary Holt, though it would be a bit unfair to single him out and not mention Scott Gorham. I have always loved the trademark Thin Lizzy guitar harmonies for their simplicity and beauty and that album was very close to the sound of albums I was already familiar with such as Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet.

Acquisitive beast as I am, I soon made it my business to get to know all of Thin Lizzy's back catalogue and it was this knowledge which made me so keen to buy a ticket as soon as I heard that they were playing again. The gig was in the holidays so I knew I could safely mosey over to London and stay with friends after the gig with no worries about lessons the next day, something which has scuppered any hopes of seeing a few bands I would have liked to see this year. I got to the show in ages of time and wandered about a bit. Hammersmith seems a nice area. I headed to the Apollo and found out that there were no support so I had even more time to kill but less to worry about in getting back to Willesden Green than I thought I might. I really enjoyed the gig, though I found the sound a little disappointing as it did not allow the guitar harmonies to come through as well as say Arch Enemy did in December, but this is only a minor moan. It was great to see John Sykes, Scott Gorham, Marco Mendoza and the brilliant Michael Lee on drums. I was hoping for more than one song from Thunder and Lightning but the gig revolved around the Jailbreak album, but that did not stop the gig being fantastic because I love that one too. What a songwriter Phil Lynott was! I raised a Guinness to his memory afterwards.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha

Last night we went to see Memoirs of a Geisha. I was a little reluctant initially because I wanted to see Walk the Line instead, but it turned out to be another decision which worked out really well in spite of all my plans.

I have been interested in different cultures for a long time, especially the Japanese. When I was a child, my dad was mugged, so he decided to learn Karate, so there was always a bit of counting in Japanese going on in the traditional washing-up discussions we had and a bit of Dad explaining the complicated names of the moves he was learning. Dad was also really into the Shogun books, something which I may now go away and read.

All of this resurfaced in my life in my second year at Edinburgh university, when I did Japanese as an outside subject for a year. I found it hard at first, being a Classical fish in an Oriental pond, but I did really get to grips with it in the end, in spite of losing lots of time because I was directing Aristophanes Lysistrata and then was really ill for a month. Actually being ill helped in some ways because I really had to fight to catch up and that gave me lots of momentum with my learning, perhaps more than if I had just studied evenly all the way through.

So the thing I learned from the film was about the nature and the ideal of beauty. We both felt that Hatsumomo was the most attractive geisha there precisely because she looked dishevelled and not made up. The other geisha each had a beautiful kimono and were heavily made up, which led me to realise that the Japanese ideal of beauty is pale skin because it is unusual. I then thought that the same was probably true of English girls dying their hair red or blond and how this puts the ideal of beauty above the individual. Should it be this way? Perhaps people would find it easier to be comfortable with themselves if these ideals of beauty were not being sold in every advert you see.

I wasn't expecting Memoirs of a Geisha to take me on such a journey. I am glad it did.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Legion are sick

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. I am so pissed off. I organised a Classics day for our prep school to show the kids there the wonders of Classics. There was going to be a presentation on Roman domestic life, involving people being dressed up in roman clothes and make-up. There was going to be a session on the Roman army in which the kids were given orders for drill in Latin and there would have been a demonstration of Roman artillery on the field. I had seen the group do a Classics day in Birkenhead before and knew they were good. We spent ages organising when it would be and who would do what. I even brought the digital camera into school so I could take a load of pictures of it. Then, having not spoken to them for a while, I thought I'd better give them a call. It was hard getting through but it turns out that they all have flu, had got part of the way up the motorway and turned back. When were they going to let me know? I know it's not their fault but I hope we are not going to lose kids for Classics next year because they were all excited about the Classics day and now they will be disappointed. I feel like such a twat.


Monday, February 06, 2006


Four jobs that I've had

Classics teacher in Taunton, Bexley and Birkenhead. My job rules! I am so glad I chose Greek in the Third form. Where would I be now without it?

EFL teaching in Bratislava for two years. I loved that place. Would have stayed if I could. Exchange rates and student debts, eh?

Drone in a factory bakery in Trafford Park. Very close to the Theatre of Dreams in distance yet so very far away in reality. 8 hours a day stacking trays of sausage rolls or putting clean trays onto the line. People at school said it was a sausage factory. I felt like I was dying in there. I was so desperate for something to do that I wrote quotes from Greek lyric poetry in the dirt on old trays between production bouts. Grim-ola!

Two weeks' work experience with the guy who built my Mum's extension. I helped him put a new roof on a house in Davyhulme. I still find myself thinking "I built that" as I go past.

Four movies I can watch over and over

Star Wars, any one of the six films, I just don't buy the so-called unbiased media backlash against Lucas.

Lord of The Rings - I never thought I would see a film which did it justice. All hail Peter Jackson!

Peter's Friends. I loved the ambience of post University what happens next-ness and the eighties soundtrack.

Pulp fiction. There's no particular reason why I have chosen this one. I love films. I like to step out of my world and into someone else's.

Four places I have lived

Flixton, Manchester. Half way to Warrington. It worked for me.

Edinburgh. A top city!

Bratislava. It all happened by accident in October of 1996. I didn't know what I was doing. It was great!


Four TV shows I like to watch

My name is Earl - I love the Karma thing.

X-Files - it seems a long time ago. I suppose it is a sign of my genuine love of any kind of mystery, though I did get frustrated when we never got any proper answers.

Twin Peaks - David Lynch is a genius but I hated the ending.


Four foods that I like

Everything, everything, everything and everything, especially all at the same time.

Takeaways, especially fish and chips, chinese, especially with prawns, and curry, especially with lamb or prawns, but not too hot.

Anything Witho cooks but especially Leek and Bacon pasta.

Fry-ups, especially with black pudding!

Smoothies - I am prepared to give any form of fruit, and some things which aren't, a go.

Four websites I visit on a regular basis

Either of my fantasy football teams, Guardian or Telegraph


This one - only from home, though

Football 365 and/or Cricinfo, depending what is on.

Four things I want to do before I die

Go to Old Trafford again.

Go to some nice places.

Get over the fact that our neighbours are evil, selfish, money-grubbing bastards to the point that I can see or hear them without wanting to implode in an mushroom cloud of righteous indignation.

Get another cat and a house which will allow us to have one.

Four places I would rather be right now

On holiday, which I see as a state of mind, rather than necessarily a place.

In the garden

With friends anywhere

On a beach

I am not going to tag people. Do you want to have a go at this?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

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Gorgeous George

Once there was a ginger cat. He was very silly. He used to enjoy snuggling with anyone warm who would sit still long enough. He had odd tastes in food. Chocolate, water from an empty plant pot, nothing was beyond him. He got confused when his evil owners moved house to the house next door. He surprised the people who bought the house where he used to live by climbing in through an open window in the middle of the night. He did not like staying out at night and would often sit outside, crying at night, hoping to be let into somewhere warm. Sometimes he would even climb onto his neighbours' extension and further onto their window sill. He was even known to force his way in through a part-open window by pulling himself up with his paws.

We loved George. We think he died yesterday. We are sad.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pandora's Box

What a discovery! I was told about this site and just had to give it a go. What does it do? You type in a song and/or artist name and the site gives you a load of soundalikes. It costs nothing to register if you don't mind ads and are prepared to fill in a false American zip code eg 90210. I hope I won't be arrested.

After recent mutterings, I am sure you guessed that I decided to choose Arch Enemy's Nemesis as the first song I sought to clone through the medium of Pandora. Best of all it came up with a load of Frankensteins, as well as playing three songs from the Doomsday Machine album. Here are the other ones:
Lowest common denominator - Napalm Death

A visit from dread by Deceased

Death lasts a lifetime by Mental care foundation

Beg for life by Out to win

The god I would be by Sinai beach

United nations by Ektomorf

Parasitic Flesh Resection by Aborted

Sadistic Lullabye by Soilwork

Mummified in Barb wire by Cannibal Corpse

I think I can see a lot of money pouring out of my bank account on this in the very near future....

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