Hagrid’s Feeling For Snow…

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We took Hagrid for a walk in the overnight snow which blanketed the UK on Monday morning – he wasn’t that keen, you’ll be surprised to learn.

Sure, he pads about in the curious white carpet which has unceremoniously deposed his normal pavements and parkland, and he has a sniff about, but he’s just not that into it.

Where are the smells?  And why do his paws not have as much traction as normal?  What’s this cold stuff on the end of his nose?  And why is it drastically reducing my daily walks from two to one longish one?  So many canine questions, so very few answers…

Metallic Faith Malarkey

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When I’m not learning how to write my name in Elvish, I’m being utterly perplexed by my fellow citizens.

In data extrapolated from the 2011 UK census results, it would appear that 6,242 of Britons declared  Heavy Metal as their religion (for the record, that’s more respondents than self-identified as a Scientologist, Druid or Shaman).

To which one can only remark “Huh?”

I love a bit of Maiden as much as the next middle-aged, dog-walking vegetarian but can’t quite get behind the notion of aligning my musical genre of choice with organised faith – the goals of one seem quite at odds with the professed beliefs of the other, surely?

Obviously this result should probably be taken in the spirit of the kind of lightly subversive, nose-thumbing surrealism that I suspect it to be (note the high ranking of ‘Jedi Knight‘ as a faith of choice in the UK census, even after the quality of the “Star Wars” prequels should have killed aligning oneself to Uncle George’s franchise outright).

So, if I’m reading all of this correctly, the proper conclusion to draw from this census is that agencies of social control (which we normally oppose with all-consuming fervour) are a very bad idea until they provide you with the opportunity to make a snarky response to a survey.

Swell.

What would you do with £148 million?

It’s not a problem which many of us will ever have to deal with, I grant you, but it’s good to see lottery winners finding creative (if jocular) ways to go large with their new windfall.

If I were a rich man…

This is the dilemma affecting newly-minted millionaires Adrian and Gillian Bayford, who this week claimed a winning EuroMillions lottery jackpot of £148 million, leading music store owner Adrian to joke that he’d like to use some of his cash to persuade the classic Guns ‘N’ Roses line-up to reform.

Putting aside the sad truth that even if you paid him handsomely  to play a private gig for you the odds are that  Axl would still show up two hours late, I got to thinking about what manner of frippery I would spend my hypothetical jackpot on.

“Uncharted” on a multiplex screen? Yes please!

I’d hire out my local multiplex’s bigger screens, hook-up a games console and blast through some action games for an evening of delirious nerdery.   Or, you know, build my own cinema addition to whichever house I bought (which would, of course, be Hagrid-friendly).  Who hasn’t gone to their local cinema and thought – “You know what ‘The Expendables 2’ needs?  To be Uncharted 3 or Dragon’s Dogma instead and have me playing it”

I’ve never been a car guy, so expensive luxury prestige marques are not for me.  What’s the point in buying something that jettisons a metric ton of value once you get the keys and sit behind the wheel for the first time?  Likewise, I don’t aspire to own a helicopter or personal jet – this kind of personal transportation is more my speed….

Should be able to get the shopping in the back of that no problem…

And if money was truly no barrier to creating things that I know would please those I love…

Now to summon the pots of cash necessary to hire Southend Interactive to make my wife a bespoke sequel…

I’d hire the developers of lovely, eccentric and desperately underrated XBox 360 platformer “Ilomilo“, Southend Interactive, to code and create a sequel to their glorious XBLA title.  Because Mrs Rolling Eyeballs would quite like that, don’t you know?

Putin’s New Noise

Pussy Riot – Russian Art Punk Superheroines.

Clearly, I’ve not kept abreast of world news – if I had, the treatment of Russian art-punk collective Pussy Riot by Darth Putin would have moved me to write this post previously.  Your usually scheduled daily helping of power metal, Christopher Nolan worship and complaints about video game storytelling will be along anon.

Anyone reading the Guardian‘s story on the issue – feminist art punk band play impromptu performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ The Saviour and things go south rapidly – with a long enough memory may recall the Riot Grrl movement of the early nineties, where similarly politicised indie kids used all kinds of situationist techniques to underscore their musical rage but didn’t face the prospect of seven years in jail, as far as I recall.

How things change.  Or don’t.

I don’t suppose I should feel any surprise that Vladimir Putin‘s zero tolerance response to criticism of his dictatorship presidency is to round-up the geeky art students responsible and sling them in the clink, but the brazenness of his actions is sufficient to raise an eyebrow in the West, where our freedom to yell slogans and strum two chords is mostly protected and unlikely to get us into any serious trouble with the law.

Seriously? A trial with a potential jail sentence of seven years for playing a few songs in a church?  It’s fair to say that those of us who have reasonable freedom of speech, assembly and dissent in our countries don’t realise just how fortunate we are when we see people protesting on TV and being arrested (or worse) as a matter of course.

I’m going to try to follow this case for future reference – now that the celebrated Twitter Trial in the UK has been sensibly settled in favour of the daft bugger whose off-the-cuff tweet mobilised South Yorkshire police and the head of the DPP against him, it behoves us all to keep an eye on those in power who would seek to use the full weight of the law against any and all criticism of their decisions.

Never trust a politician, kids.

Alas, Poor Poddy

Poddy – you served me well…

If you’ve ever owned an iPod whose internal hard drive began to make the dreaded clicking chime of doom, you’ll know just how I feel right now – yep, my beloved 80gb MP3 player has gone to the great gadget graveyard in the sky.

Getting over the undeniable fact that this is a first world problem, and that there’s a lot of people dealing with a lot more on a daily basis than merely the end of a beloved leisure product, I don’t feel embarrassed to confess that I felt absolutely sick as Poddy gasped and clicked his last.  Anybody who has had this kind of device fail befall them will no doubt attest that the feeling is rather akin to that clearly evident on the face of Wile E. Coyote in the RoadRunner cartoons, as he looked directly into the camera seconds before plunging towards the canyon floor.

Did I back up my music?  Is it all there? What about the podcasts?  A range of questions begin to present themselves, not the least of which is   “Do I want to keep going down the Apple route or should I cut my losses and get a cheaper MP3 player and manage my music the old-school way?”  Because, friends, an 80gb iPod Classic isn’t a cheap thing to buy – and the less said about the hilarious price of a 64gb iPod Touch the better (oh Apple tax, will you ever stop providing me with entertainment?).

Not that moving past Apple is easy, once you take format quirks and the fact that the iPod is now synonymous with MP3 player for many retailers and users – the various flavours of iPod are the only game in town…

 

 

Festival or flood plane?

Ruh-oh – things don’t look that peachy for attendees of this weekend’s Isle of Wight rock festival.

The Isle of Wight rock festival – not pictured, torrential rain, tornado conditions and other staples of the UK summer rock festival circuit…

And that story, in a nutty shell of truthyness, illustrates why I don’t do festivals (I might one day make an exception for the mighty Bloodstock) – our old and prediction-phobic friend, the UK climate.

If it’s not raining, then it’s blazingly sunny and so hot that it threatens to drop me like it was fourth-year Religious Education class.

There is no point in trying to predict what kind of garb will suit the day ahead – as your best-considered fashion plans will be stymied by a rogue weather front which suddenly sneaks up behind you in the street, taps a shoulder merrily and promptly dumps some vertical freezing water all over your new Fat Face zip-up top and jeans.

Tis a crap state of affairs and no mistake.  If you’re going to Isle of Wight this weekend, do keep safe and try not to fall asleep during Tom Petty.  Despite the compelling temptation to feign your death, obviously…

Related articles:

This Week In Pint-Sized, Rockstar Follies…

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Oh, Axl, must we go down this road again?

The maxim would have it that time heals all wounds but clearly that slice of home-spun wisdom hasn’t reached the lead singer of what currently passes for Guns N Roses, as this week Axl Rose Forced Fans To Remove Slash T-Shirts at their London 02 Arena show.

Not content with starting gigs several hours late, writing his former band mates out of history in lengthy online screeds, storming off stage regularly and generally behaving like the kind of caricature that you could chuckle at if his behaviour wasn’t so pitiable, he’s now telling fans what they can wear when they’ve spent £56.25 to see his current backing band plow dutifully through the back catalogue and the absurdly overblown sonic mulch which was Chinese Democracy“.

Being as charitable and equitable as Rose now seems unable to be, one might argue that the act of wearing a Slash shirt to a gig where the former G’N’R guitarist is now persona-non-grata could be construed as an act of minor, passive aggressive trolling.  But the point would be somewhat hard to sustain – Slash is, whether Axl chooses to acknowledge it not, an integral part of the Guns story and has carried himself with far more dignity than the defacto protector of the G’N’R legacy cares to.

How about that new Slash record, by the way?  Really looking forward to what Slash, Myles and the boys have cooked up this time…

 

Une image d’une porte

Via Reddit user Pajamazombie

See, Brussels is interesting.

I’m always fond of a spot of Art Nouveau.  When Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I were holidaying in Paris nearly ten years ago, the Musee D’Orsay had an exhibit devoted to the style and it was one of those genuinely unexpected treats which you sometimes find yourself blundering into: the museum has free admission on the first Sunday of the month, unbeknownst to us, so we got to enjoy a glorious location, in arguably the world’s most beautiful city, with inspiring art and design thrown in almost as an afterthought.

I’d love to talk more, but I’m off to gaze admiringly at Alphonse Mucha images for a few minutes…

 

 

 

Back from the Boneyard

Cryptic title, huh?

It might help if I were to tell you that it refers to a song by a British hard rock band, Little Angels, who were active from the mid-1980’s to the mid-1990’s.

No (visible) tattoos? No piercings? What kind of clean-cut lunacy is this?

And why am I mentioning a song that you’ve never heard, by a band that you don’t know, on this of all days?

Well, Little Angels have reformed and will be one of the bands playing the Download festival in the UK this summer, which is all very nice but hardly earth shattering news.  Once-dormant Nineties rock band re-ups for a festival appearance – it’s the kind of thing which happens every year (see also Ugly Kid Joe, who are playing Download 2012, too).

Where this all comes together for me is that Little Angels are inextricably linked with my love of music, with my formative years and with the place where I spent much of my life growing up.

I was born in Scarborough, which is a small seaside town in North Yorkshire, in the north of England.  It’s the kind of place which buzzes in the summer months and slams abruptly to a halt once September rolls around.  Living there in the 1980’s was a chastening experience.  It was too far away from the major cities in Yorkshire – Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford – to really enjoy anything like a music scene, and so going to see a band live was a matter of seeing a local group and hoping that the cold weather and lack of anything much to do in the town had encouraged them to stay indoors, practice and be worth seeing.

Behold - 1980's rock hairstyles. Look upon this, BMTH fans, and weep at your good fortune...

Little Angels – or Mr Thrud, as they were once named – were one of those small local bands who went on to amount to something in the wider world.

Led by corkscrew-curled screaming hellion Toby Jepson – a singer whose command of the RAWK! scream was undoubted – and comprising brothers Bruce and Jimmy Dickinson (lead guitar and keyboards respectively), bassist Mark Plunkett and drummer Mark Richardson, the Little Angels were arguably responsible for getting me into music in a big way. So, blame them when I post some story about a terrible Euro-Metal band – it’s sort of their fault.

I guess it’s always the way – a local band, even if they’re playing the crappiest dive club, can seem like stadium-bestriding rock stars merely by the act of getting up on stage and having a go.  When you live in a place where the default pursuit on a weekend evening is to get obliterated on cheap beer and get in fights, seeing a great band like Little Angels going on to release records, tour internationally and not settle for a mundane existence.

They never became anything more than a momentarily successful British rock band – similar in popularity to You Me At Six or Bullet For My Valentine – but I loved them and I’m really glad to see them back.  Hopefully this reunion will lead to more shows and recording – you can bet that I’m getting tickets if they ever show up in my neck of the woods.

Why not indulge me by taking a look at the tune which gives this post its title – “Boneyard”?   Did this really come out in 1991?  That’s like a whole Wolfgang Van Halen ago…

 

Geeky New Year’s Greetings

Knock-Knock. Penny? Knock-Knock. Penny? Knock-Knock. Penny?

Believe me, that’s one of the best ‘Geeky New Year’ images that I could find via Google’s Image Search which wasn’t in some way peturbing.

In a development which was in no way unexpected, Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and yours truly elected not to see in the new year and took to our slumbers with indecent haste after sating Mrs RE’s geek side by watching an episode of “Poirot” – she’s a big Agatha Christie fan and got to combine her fan favourites yesterday by watching the Tenth Doctor episode with Christie as a protagonist yesterday.

A famous, fictional Belgian, yesterday.

Hopefully, your new year’s festivities went well and brought with them enjoyment and the odd moment for contemplation. I’ll take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a happy, prosperous and healthy 2012 which is devoid of Roland Emmerich-like mayhem.

If you’re keen to stop by once in a while, I’m keen to keep blathering on about nothing in particular.