Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ranking the Manowar albums, even though it's 2016 and I'm 30 years old


"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things"
- 1 Corinthians 13:11
"May your sword stay wet, like a young girl in her prime"
- Manowar, 'Hail and Kill'

If it's not an arrogant assertion, I'm fairly sure I hit maturity this year. There weren't any physical signs, like there were for that other substantial transition (I didn't spontaneously sprout any hair this time), but there were more subtle indicators.

Settling down in a physical, literally concrete way rather than merely being anchored by flimsy concepts like "love" and "contracts." Deciding that I might actually be prepared to be 50% responsible for a human life after all (still, give it a couple of years). Looking at a multipack of Fudgee bars in the fridge and having no desire whatsoever to cram that sickly goop into my mouth. Noticing Manowar in my music library and realising I was never, ever in the mood for non-ironically self-aggrandising battle hymns any more.

Manowar are a hilarious band, especially when you read enough interviews to finally realise they're 100% serious about the whole metal warriors shtick and lack the self-awareness to realise that posing in their underwear for a greased-up album photoshoot might not be received as intended. Their terminally cocky anthems and moronic lyrics are fun to play for a laugh, but if you're enough of a classic metal snob to accidentally discover the genuine merits in their early work, and realise you're duty-bound to defend them as classics of the genre, it can get a bit embarrassing.

But I'm done with the lot of them now. These days I don't listen to much of anything with lyrics, cheesy or otherwise, and all that shouting and guitar soloing is much too energetic for an old man of 30. So before I triumphantly delete these album folders to make space for boring symphonies and non-ish ambience, let's give them the Viking funerals they deserve - join me as I blow my speakers to the rousing battle cries of the Metal Kings! (And stream the later stuff on YouTube because I don't have it. I may have shit taste, but I still have some standards).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dream journal: Harsh reality edition



Who needs escapist fantasies when you can conjure imaginative dreamscapes even more depressing than the real world? Not all of these nocturnal sojourns follow that theme, but enough of them bloody do.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Substantialreads: Silent Disco

Time for some non-fiction. But it's not like I was going to read anything useful. Bachelor of Arts here.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Substantialreads: Space Chicks

It's not like I haven't read sci-fi by women before. This isn't an apology or amends, it's just me clutching at a theme for the month that doesn't involve cracking open a dreary tetraology.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Practical and less practical solutions for the Philippines power crisis


Image/joke: Pappy's


It's summertime in the Philippines, when temperatures take a sadistic spike from what you assumed was already summer and the electricity company takes away your fans, air conditioning and refrigerator power when you need them most. As well as energy for all those other appliances and devices you've foolishly allowed to become integral to your professional and personal life, rather than treating as luxuries that can be arbitrarily recalled.

This is already my third straight year of dealing with summer power out(r)ages, and while I'm no less bitter or more understanding about having my rightfully paid-for power taken away for several hours every day at random times for months on end (sort it out, monopoly electricity provider - you have all of our money), I've got better at handling the annual crisis and keeping it from completely destroying my career, comfort and sanity.

And it turns out I was being unfair to the authorities, who have finally taken an active stance towards resolving the crisis now that it's started to affect the country's main international gateway and become a source of embarrassment in front of other nations, rather than something that just ruins the lives of locals. Who gives a shit about the proles?

I just had to share this eye-bulging article from the Philippine Star, which tells you everything you need to know about how this crisis (and crises generally) is being handled. I swear the following excerpts have been copy-pasted verbatim, it's not a satire site, and this was posted a full week after April 1st. You'll naturally want to check the link to confirm its authenticity. Ready? Here goes:

"With the cause of a five-hour blackout still unknown, an official of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 has urged NAIA-3 authorities to consult a feng shui expert or geomancer to take away the “bad luck” that officials blamed for the problems that have hampered operations in the facility."

"The official said that the feng shui expert could identify what could be wrong with the building’s design and even exorcise the terminal of “evil spirits” with rituals to appease these spirits."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The further adventures of self-indulgence: All my British homes



We've finally secured a reasonably good internet connection, so before I'm inevitably thrown back to the dial-up ages I've been making the most of those advanced, high-bandwidth services that you lucky people in the developed world take for granted, like YouTube videos above 144p, non-HTML Gmail and Google Street View, which enables less fortunate people to imagine they're wandering the real streets of wealthier countries in 2009.

I've thought for a while that when I finally make it back to the UK and visit the family, I might also take a tour of my childhood homes and haunts in search of overwhelming primal nostalgia or crushing existential despair about the transience of our brief lives. Any emotion would be fine really.

But since we just built a house, and that rules out travel for this year at least, I settled for a synthetic virtual substitute and spent an hour or so clicking along familiar routes to schools, playgrounds and newsagents where the latest issue of Dinosaurs! magazine with another free bit of glow-in-the-dark Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton isn't waiting for me any more. I didn't feel much of anything.

If you're ever in South Cheshire, Lancaster or Edinburgh and you feel like paying tribute to my life, here's where to light those candles.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Substantialreads: Goth Girls

Three potential terror tales by women, of all creatures! I'm seeing a pattern here. It wasn't intentional, but I can't abandon it now or I'll look pathetic. Hopefully there won't be much in the way of work come December.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Is it worth it?: Rubbish internet in the Philippines



I noticed it's been just over a year since my last comprehensive and reliable analysis of the cost of living in the Philippines that I didn't bother comparing to anywhere else, so here's another aspect of daily life I have almost enough experience with to write about authoritatively: Wi-Fi (or as it's known colloquially around these parts, "f*** off, dino!")




For some background, the Philippines apparently has one of the slowest and most expensive internet offerings in the Asia-Pacific region. That list doesn't include some territories such as Cambodia, Myanmar and East Timor (the other Catholic country in Southeast Asia that the Philippines is always forgetting about), but when you're trying to gain points by scraping those barrels, you know you're in trouble. That's like when they celebrated escaping the bottom 10 list of the most corrupt nations in the whole world. There were probably fiestas.

I make my living online, but that doesn't mean I know much about how it works. Still, travelling all over Asia (the cheap bit anyway) and connecting to Wi-Fi in my hotel rooms or stealthily checking emails several times a day around the corner from various cafes I strategically ate at on consecutive days to accumulate passwords, I am in a position to compare. Philippines internet is rubbish even if you're staying at a tourist-friendly hotel or condominium. When you're actually living among the people, it's a nightmare.

I live a few minutes from the highway in the fourth most populous city in this country. In terms of internet coverage it's the next thing to being in the jungle. I've had more reliable connections on remote islands. Here is my harrowing story of survival.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dream journal: Evil edition



For once, there actually are recurring themes threading through some of these dreams: construction and financial anxiety, since we've been building our house during this period. I'm also borderline evil in a few of them, and the customary lack of entertainment is alive and well.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Best of 2015, in March 2016



I'm not overly concerned with keeping up-to-date with the zeitgeist, which includes writing end-of-year lists around the end of the year in question.

At the end of 2014 I did a round-up of things I'd enjoyed that year that were unfailingly made in other decades, but this time around I've endeavoured to be more current. Apart from writing this in March, obviously. And a couple of entries from the last century. I'm getting better.