Monday, 26 November 2007


I spent a considerable portion of last week chained to a computer, slaving over an assignment that I had stupidly left until the last minute. Part of the problem was that the brief was, well, brief (“Err, like, design a hand drill, or something…”); and so it seemed at first like there wouldn’t be too much work involved. The main problem was that I wasted far too much of my time playing with toy soldiers and going to gigs.

We went to see Jesu and Mono at The Cooler on Monday. There was a support act too, but I didn’t catch the name – probably for the best, as I don’t really have anything nice to say about it. It was just one guy with a guitar, drum machine, and about a million billion effect pedals. He was fairly unremarkable looking – like one of the squares with normal hair cuts in a styling gel commercial – and at first the gradual build of layers of weird guitar noise he created were quite interesting. But then, about seven minutes into his set, he decided to start screaming into the mic. It sounded a bit like foxes fighting. You could see people in the crowd looking around with bewildered expressions on their faces, wondering if anyone else was hearing the same thing as them. We all were, but fortunately it didn’t last too much longer; he buggered off and was soon replaced by the mighty Jesu.

Jesu are quite difficult to define as a band. Their sound is unquestionably heavy, a huge downtuned dense wash of effect-laden guitar backed up by an unrelenting, almost mechanical rhythm section; but unlike the hate-filled bile of frontman JK Broadrick’s previous band Godflesh, there is an underlying feeling of hope and optimism to the music that should seem out of place, but doesn’t. Even the grinding trudge of “Friends Are Evil” ends with an uplifting twinkle.

Mono are a band that I knew of, but I had never heard anything by them before this night. I had an idea of what to expect – they’re one of those chin-strokingly good instrumental post-rock bands, so all of their songs will be eight minutes long and follow a quiet-loud-quiet-very loud format. Just for the record, I thought that Mono were excellent. However, they did play for just a tiny bit too long; after an hour of delicately/violently strumming our brains out, their two guitarists spent a full ten minutes wrestling feedback from their instruments whilst the tiny girl playing bass stood motionless in front of her amp, Blair Witch-like, and the drummer slumped over his kit like he’d lost consciousness. It seemed like the logical place to finish the set… but no, they went on to play for another half hour after that.

I awoke the next morning with my ears still ringing; and for the next three days slaved away tirelessly (mostly) to get my pesky assignment done. Pretty much as soon as it was finished and handed in, I whizzed of to Surrey to see my parents. Friday was my mum’s 56th birthday; she wasn’t particularly bothered about becoming a year older, as she’d spent the whole of the previous year thinking she was 56 anyway (this kind of confusion seems to run in the family). We all met up with my sister in London, where we went to see the big crack in the floor of the Tate Modern, and a quite fascinating Terracotta Army exhibition at the British Museum. There was also some Chinese food and Cuban cocktails involved… it was a good day.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Witness the pinkness

I popped down to the pub early last week to check out our new digs. Although there’s only one small bathroom for the four of us to share, the rest of the flat is pretty darn huge, and we should have no problems squeezing all of our crap into it (even Sam, who seems to have a fondness for hording old newspapers and magazines). The only fly in the ointment is the fact that I was the last person to get my arse down there, and so have been lumbered with the fourth and final bedroom. The one which, for some reason, no-one else wanted…

I may well be investing in some big tins of paint over the next month.

Meanwhile, I spent this weekend up in Nottingham playing in heat 3 of the Warhammer Grand Tournament. A full recount of the six games I played would not be entirely unlike Arnold J. Rimmer talking about his greatest ever Risk victories; so suffice to say that I won my first and last games, but lost everything in between – including one very tedious game of what we geeks like to refer to as “Dicehammer” (the kind of game where your opponent does nothing but roll dice until all your stuff is dead). So I only managed to finish in 102nd place, a considerable way off of the top 40 position required to qualify for the finals.

However, the tournament rules this year state that the six players nominated for the Best Army award will also qualify for the finals, regardless of where they finish overall; and not only was I nominated, I won the Best Army award outright. Hurrah! Now I get to go back for the finals in February and lose even more games…

Unfortunately, I let a little too much school work stack up while I was spending all my days off painting dragons, and I now have only two and a half days in which to complete pretty much an entire assignment for my design module, plus all the usual bits of maths, stress analysis and so on. And I still need to apply for a few more industrial placements, move house, buy Christmas presents, paint that evil pink room…

Monday, 12 November 2007

It’s my shitty blog, I’ll post whenever I damn well feel like it

What’s the best cure for a smashed-up knee? Why, a powerful metal gig of course! I skipped out of my last class early on Tuesday to jet off to Cardiff with Terry and The Boy. Destination: Clwb Ifor Bach (not a typo; stupid Welsh language…). Band: The mighty Will Haven. But before they took to the stage, there were support acts to contend with…

First up was Shaped By Fate, who had some good song titles (“The Count of Monte Fisto”), but bad everything else. It was like they’d read the How To Be Totally Metalcore handbook, but chosen to ignore the bits about intricate riffs, melodic vocal parts and technical drum fills. Which leaves nothing but beatdowns. Beatdown after beatdown after beatdown… every one of their songs was the same seven beatdowns in a different order. And just when it seemed like they were getting to the end of a song… hell no, a poorly executed timing change followed by more beatdowns. They smoked cock. Then played more beatdowns.

All of which simply conspired to make The Mirimar Disaster’s set even more splendid. They pretty much just plugged in and started playing; and after an entire song’s worth of tectonic riffing, it was clear that the absence of vocals (they parted ways with their singer-guy just before the start of the tour) was not going to hinder them in the slightest. It seems quite likely that they won’t bother trying find a replacement vocalist, and will simply carry on as an instrumental band… I’m inclined to think that they would do well to have some vocal parts, but to use them more sparingly, in the same sort of way as Taint or Keelhaul. Not that anyone’s going to care what I think; they’re all going to be far more interested in The Boy’s opinions, methinks. Check out her blog to find out why, if you can be bothered to try and find it…

And then it was time for Will Haven to lay waste to all before them. Despite the fact that they are touring to promote their new album, the Sacto behemoths played a set that spanned the whole of their ten year existence; much to the fist-flailing joy of the modestly sized, yet rambunctious, Welsh crowd. Thanks to the healing power of Will Haven’s immense downtuned-nu-post-rock-metal stylings, every other bit of me now hurts as much as my knee did; so in relative terms, it’s all better.

The week should have been even more gig-tastic; on Friday, we should have been going to The Bristol Carling Academy for the most amazing techy-mathcore-metal-wankery co-headliner gig ever; Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Unfortunately, the gig was cancelled when Meshuggah pulled out due to delays in the recording of their new record. Fortunately, the gig was un-cancelled when The Dillinger Escape Plan decided that they would just bring a bunch of other bands over with them instead. Unfortunately, the gig was re-cancelled just two weeks ago when, in a catastrophic guitar-toss-gone-wrong video shoot, their guitar player broke his foot.

So no more gigs for us… for at least a week, anyway.

In other news, I was visited this weekend by my old old old friend Dave. I’ve known him since we were littl’uns… technically my dad met him first, when he caught him running away from home on his tricycle. Dave was never going to get far, since he wasn’t allowed to cross the road; but my dad took him back down the road to his house anyway, where Dave got a damn good hiding from his father. My dad (who happens to share the same birthday as Dave) has felt slightly guilty ever since… Anyway, Dave had a bit of holiday booked, and so chose to spend a couple of days in sunny Bristol getting very, very drunk with the rest of us (hence the lack of a new post yesterday). It was good to see him again; we don’t talk often on account of the fact that he lives 100 miles away, and although it is theoretically possible to call him on the phone, that phone call will almost always devolve into at least an hour of him telling me about all the arguments that he won in the last month, interspersed with the occasional Family Guy quote. But despite all that, he is one of the very, very few people in my life that isn’t completely transient; and all in all, I think I’m pretty lucky to have such an unconditional friend.

In other other news, I shall be moving house soon. In fact we all will be. In an entirely improbable turn of events, Dozer (the hard-drinkin’, hard-fightin’, bike-ridin’, people-stabbin’ Mr Plough) has become manager of The Pub, where he has been doorman for a year and barman for a couple of months. And so he is now the undisputed lord and master of the entire pub, plus the four-bedroom flat above; in which we shall all be living more-or-less rent free.

Sounds too good to be true? Yeah, I reckon so too; but at least we get to move away from Horfield; where it has been bonfire night for two weeks, and the line between trick-or-treating and mugging is blurred at best.

And finally… I know you’ve been dying to see it, so here it is; my shiny Chaos Dragon o’ Doom.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

My life in (rubbish) pictures

And my elbow still really hurts too.

Monday, 5 November 2007


I seem to currently be experiencing a considerable amount of pain in both my left knee and right elbow. This has much to do with my drunken (and, as it happens, entirely abortive) attempt to kick a small stone that lay on the path between my local pub and my house. The stone remained quite stationary while I performed the most acrobatic of pratfalls about it; and then lay there smugly as I hobbled off into the fog, taking big gulps of air and trying hard not to black out.

Not my proudest moment.

Still, it seems a fitting end to a week in which I have mostly been feeling pretty shitty anyway. It turns out that I’m just as mortal as all the other fuckers, and have been going through the various stages of the common cold. Monday was the worst: I sniffled and sneezed my way through a day at school; then came home and attempted to do some of the problems set as part of the Stress Analysis module. I stared at the Big Fun Book Of Materials Mechanics for a while, then fell asleep for half an hour; when I woke up, I stared at it some more, accidentally poked myself in the eye with my pen, and finally decided to give up and go to bed. I then had a restless night where all my dreams took the form of complicated algebra, and I had to complete sets of simultaneous equations in my head before I was able to sleep.

I didn’t get much sleep.

And so the rest of the week has pretty much drifted by in a sleepy, snotty, uneventful haze. I was regrettably still well enough to go into work on Friday and Saturday, and so found myself working in the childrenswear department for ten hours yesterday. This mostly consisted of me singing “I hate, Childrenswear” to myself like a mantra, interspersed with me telling customers that their spawn should be sent to work in tin mines until they’re old enough to buy me a beer. It all went down rather well, actually…

I was also asked by a co-worker if I would be going to any bonfire night parties. I explained to her that since I lived in Horfield, I only had to look out of my living room window to see stuff (sheds, fences, stolen scooters) on fire, and if I wanted to see fireworks I had only to wander up and down my road for ten minutes and some grubby youth in a hoody and baseball cap was bound to throw a lit rocket of some sort at me.

In more positive news, I think that I may have finally finished that bane-of-my-life Chaos Dragon. If you’re really lucky, there’ll be photos of it next week…