Saturday, 26 February 2011

Iron Maiden!

Even though I've listened to a bunch of Iron Maiden, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I went to see them live.

I was excited to have the chance as I'd only just started listening to them when they came out for their last tour and thought I might have missed out on ever seeing them live.
So when they put tickets on sale for this tour I jumped right on it.

I'd never really watched any footage or any video clips of any of their performances and I was figuring that maybe they would be winding it back a little bit as they've been knocking around for decades, throwing in a little less of the old stage acrobatics in favour of a bit more stationary posing and concentrating on their instruments.

Not. A. Bit. Of. It.

Bruce Dickinson jumps around that stage like a monkey who has managed to chug a couple of triple espressos and has then found some pills in a long-haul trucker's glove compartment.

Janick Gers was practically doing the splits up against speaker stacks, his long thin legs clad in tight jeans and topped off with an almost Skwisgaar Skwigelf-esque belt.

What you could see of Nicko McBrain was going completely mental behind the drum kit.

Dave Murray was doing this cute smile and nod as he bobbed around playing that wouldn't have looked out of place during a folk song.

Adrian Smith and Steve Harris were charging about like mad men, grinning the whole time.

One of the things I liked the best was the sheer range of people there.
The classic black shirted metal fans, people in bright colours, people in summer dresses, people in their work gear.
And the ages! There was at least two families I saw that had turned up with three generations of Maiden fans - the grandparents in their late 60s/early 70s, parents in their 30s and kids about 10 years old.
I saw one dad with his son on his shoulders in the mosh pit and the kid was going off tap :-D

Unfortunately for me I'd had a cold for a couple of days before the concert and just as my friend and I were driving into the city to go to the concert, I completely lost my voice.

I lost my voice!

Here I am at an Iron Maiden concert unable to sing along or roar with the crowd or respond in any way to Bruce Dickinson's cheeky banter!

It was so frustrating!

But even without my voice it was a fantastic night.
Surrounded by other people singing along and grinning and doing all the gestures during Two Minutes to Midnight, I felt right at home.

And if they come back I'm going again because my theory with tours is that every one might be the last one and if you like the band you do NOT want to miss out!

P.S. As we were driving to the arena we went right past Janick Gers taking a pre-concert walk and we yelled G'day to him and he waved and my mate almost lost his mind :-D

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Cooking With Ricochet: How To Make Lazy Chicken And Vegetable Pasta Bake

Serves about 4 depending on how ravenous your guests are.

1 can of condensed chicken and corn soup
500 g of penne
1/2 a barbecued chicken
1 zucchini
1 carrot
1 1/2 cups of grated tasty cheese

  1. Decide you can't be bothered cooking, opt to have toast for dinner.
  2. Remember your parents are coming over, give up and pull out a lazy recipe instead.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200 °C*.
  4. Put the 500 g of dried penne on to cook for about 10 minutes in a pot of boiling water, with a bit of salt. Probably too much. Damn. Drain it and put it aside.
  5. Grate the zucchini and the carrot, congratulating yourself for not grating your fingers off whilst your parents sit on your couch and flick channels on your TV.
  6. Shred the barbecued chicken, carefully not eating any of it before you put it in the bowl.
  7. Mix the soup, zucchini, carrot, shredded chicken and penne together and pour them into a baking dish. Accidentally drip a bit on the cat who then runs away and hides under the bed and refuses to come out so you can clean him off. Give up as the other cat runs in and starts enthusiastically cleaning soup and chicken off the first cat for you.
  8. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the pasta and bung it into the oven for about 20 minutes.
  9. Put on your oven mitts, pull out the baking dish.
  10. Decide the pasta bake may be cooked but will be more delicious if you grill the cheese a bit.
  11. Take off your oven mitts to turn the grill on.
  12. Blithely pick up the baking dish, turn around to put it under the grill.
  13. Something's burning.
  15. Manage somehow to dump the piping hot straight-out-of-the-oven baking dish onto the cooking range instead of the floor.
  16. Ask your Mum to put the baking dish under the grill whilst you hold your fingertips under cold running water, reminding her first of the importance of oven mitts.
  17. Serve up the deliciously golden brown cheesy, chicken and vegetable pasta bake with some salad.
  18. Keep swapping hands between eating duties and a cold pack during the meal.
  19. Two days later notice that you miraculously don't have any lasting damage, blisters or any indication apart from a callous on one fingertip that you almost burned your stupid fingerprints off.
  20. Cancel planned crime spree.

*That's about 390 °F

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Filling The Void

When I turned six years old my parents gave me a clock radio for my birthday.

Some kids might have thought that a cruddy gift but I was thrilled!

Now the monsters under my bed wouldn't dare come out because they'd think the radio was somebody else talking, somebody else with me.

Take that you nebulous bastards! No more suffocating under the doona for me!

I'm not sure if that's where my preference for having some kind of background noise came from or whether it was just something I picked up along the way.

I do know that whenever things get too much I like to have sound around me, something I can ignore if I feel like it or listen to if I want to.

Especially when there's something that won't stop bouncing around in my head, something that I'm fretting about or waiting for or desperately but unsuccessfully trying not to think about.

And it's useful in those times, it gives me a bit of breathing room, stops me from going into a spiral of 'ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh'.

But when last week I cracked the shits because you can't listen to your mp3 player when doing laps in the pool, I figured I'd let it get away from me.

What was once a coping mechanism had become the norm.

So as a little experiment* I've been turning everything off in the evenings for the last few days.

No TV unless I was specifically watching a show, no surfing or leaving the TV on shows in a 'this will do' daze, nothing left burbling away on the laptop, no radio, no CDs.

And so far I haven't gone wall-climbingly, effigy-buildingly, backwards-writing-on-the-walls-so-the-words-reflect-the-right-way-around-in-the-mirror-when-the-lightning-flashes-ly insane.

Time seems to go a bit slower, I guess because there's less occupying your senses and you can concentrate on whatever you're doing.

I read more in shorter periods of time, household tasks generally don't take as long and unless somebody/something makes creepy or unexplained noises outside my window I get to sleep quite easily and probably sleep more deeply.

I'm unlikely to keep up this regime of quiet time as a permanent arrangement but it's nice to know that it's doable.

That I hadn't slowly wrangled myself into some sort of audio-dependency that I would have to spend months or years weaning myself off.

It's reassuring to know that despite my overactive imagination I haven't somehow brought the monsters of childhood with me in another form.

That I can empty my mind every now and then, even though it doesn't stay empty for long.

That I still make good company for myself when left alone in the quiet.

*On myself. Like a mad scientist.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

An Insupportable Hypothesis

I really don't think you've thought this whole thing through, Rihanna.

The logistics and the realities of the situation.

Sure, it might sound nice as a throw away phrase but do you know what would have had to have happened for you to actually be the only girl in the world?

Have you thought about what would probably happen afterward?

We'll have to assume some sort of global plague as in the excellent comic book series Y: The Last Man because a world-wide gender-based massacre seems very unlikely and would have to itself be caused by some sort of transmittable psychosis (probably lab-engineered).

So there's been a plague, women and girl-children lying dead in the street, bereft men wailing and screaming as the more opportunistic take to looting and trying to establish power-based mini-societies in the aftermath of this civilisation-shaking development.

And you're the only girl in the world.

This can't end well for you, Rihanna.

At its most essential, there are only two outcomes: exile or death.

If your beloved manages to whisk you out of the major metropolitan areas and into hiding or even keep you hidden within a major city your situation will be tenuous at best.

What if there is a riot? Or a war? Or food runs out? Or your building catches on fire? What if there's an epidemic? A pandemic? What if your beloved goes out for food/water/information/to work and never comes back? What if he comes back but is followed by a mugger or a particularly cluey intelligence operative? What if you're seen? What if you start to doubt him? To think that it couldn't possibly be all the women? What if you go out to find out for yourself?

If you are captured for any reason you'll either end up in a laboratory with scientists frantically harvesting your eggs, artificially (or not so artificially) inseminating you and studying you to see why you haven't died yet; or, well, quite frankly you'll probably end up passed from man to man or the exclusive possession of the local powerhouse/warlord who is unlikely to be a gentle and considerate lover.

I know, Rihanna, you might think I'm being unfair to men saying that. I'm not saying that in the absence of a female population all men would resort immediately and with relish to rape but those who rise to power in uncertain and destabilised societies are usually determined and ruthless and probably not well stocked with empathy.
Even if they're intelligent enough to realise you're the only girl in the world they'd also know that you're no Eve, there's no way that in your life time you'd be able to replenish the world's depleted supply of women, so they might as well enjoy you whilst you're here.

So how in our current pre-lady-apocalypse society is the object of your affections supposed to make you feel like you're the only girl in the world?

Lock you in a windowless room and come back daily, whispering shaky, unconvincing reassurances and bringing dented canned goods and meat whose provenance you probably don't want to ask about?

Strapping you to a cold metal gurney under a bright light and talking about you but not to you?

Relentless physical abuse?

At the very best by saying you want to be made to feel like you're the only girl in the world you're suggesting that your lover may only be with you because the only other options are masturbation or reluctant homosexuality, not because you are an appealing and engaging individual in your own right.

It's you, loneliness or wang, Rihanna.

Doesn't sound so romantic now, does it?

Oh sure, I'm probably over-thinking this, reductio ad absurdum and all that.

I'm just saying, maybe you should spend a little more time on your lyrics.