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Now this is decent entertainment at it's funiest. I guess it's a grown up cartoon - hence the late evening time (duh!), and as such offers a less frenetic view of things than say the Simpsons or Futurama (my other fave cartoons). Aah, British actors in US cartoons - at last (i think it's a new idea anyway!), with Alan Cumming(s?), at his camp best as the Devil. Bob, our somewhat unwilling hero, is played by the same chap who is the strange loon in 3rd Rock - you know, 'Incoming message from the Big Giant Head!', and finally God is played by oh erm, flippin eck, he's old and a famous actor anyway! Bob - married with two kids and living in Detroit, gets picked by the Devil as the man God must convince to save the world by doing certain redeeming acts (one per episode, see the plot now?!), and after the initial disbelief, sets about seemingly impossible tasks (make everyone happy, Bob!), with bumbling and usually wacky ineptness. The fact that his wife and kids can't see or hear God makes for very comic asides whenever the Maker pops up in his house. The main stumbling block, and indeed the finest parts of the cartoon involve the Devil appearing to throw a spanner in God's plans for the episode, aided by his creeping but equally Machiavellian sidekick, a sort of wretched Imp. (His name also eludes me!) The aims for Bob each episode are the usual subtext of morals - God wants everyone happy, or for a few more people to believe in peace etc, with the Devil doing his part in trying to ruin it. A final twist - also funny, is that God and the Devil (old friends you understand!), often meet up to discuss their progress or to gloat over the other's misfortune. All three together trying to work out the fate of the world is a most chucklesome sight, poor Bob just whines and gets the worst of it.. There it is - a forgetful and erm not too thoughtful op about a great show. I ju
st hope they do a second series. Please - i'll promise to remember the names and do a better op if they do!
Go on, take your pick. You can have one of the above, maybe two, but not all three. Have a think about it. When given the chance, most people offer one of these three criteria as paramount. Be they Business or Leisure travellers, these are important to the paying customer. We should all understand the inherent safety in air travel. After all, Physics demands that a big tube with wings, full of people and fuel needs plenty of back-ups and complicated systems to keep it in the air. Also, airlines would much rather you got to your destination and became a repeat customer. I know the events of last week, indeed events of all previous accidents, deliberate or otherwise are worrying to people, but if you consider the sheer number of flights made, and compare it to the risks of other modes of transport then you can work out that relatively speaking, the plane journey is far safer than the countless trips up the M6 to see Auntie Maud, or trying to cross the road when the school run is in full flow. So we'll forget bargaining for safety. It's as good as it gets. Putting guards on the planes works for El Al, but if it happened on all flights, sooner or later there'd be a shoot out and the results would be the same as if no guard was there - plane goes crash. Comfort - have you seen Business or First thesedays? Cushy!! Flat beds, huge seats, proper individual customer service, food you can name, and nice lounges to avoid the masses in. Still, it's not cheap, and there are few business passengers who don't get the flights through a company account, usually with nice discounts arranged with their chosen airline. We in Economy (coach if you're american!), endure 31" seat pitch (meaning cramped), nosiy families causing havoc, the odd lager lout, busy staff rushed off their feet and little help before or after the flight with bags etc. We should lighten up tho - Airlines don't deliberately d
elay planes,it's nowt to do with them, rather the number of planes at the airport causing congestion. Airlines also don't like you complaining, they do try to help, it's what they make money from after all. I'm fed up of seeing whingeing complaining ignorant passengers mouthing off at customer service staff. If the roles were reversed, wouldn't you try your best to help. After a long flight dealing with rarely satisfied passengers you can forgive cabin crew for being short with you - well i'd get pretty miffed! The problems are caused by the quest for the third - below... Value - well that's getting a cheapish flight at a reasonable time from your airport of choice! Perhaps also getting decent service and a comfy seat as mentioned above... Airline fuel is not cheap. True it's cheaper than LRP!, but when you think that most planes only do a few miles to the gallon, and how far they fly, you'd understand why entire airlines go under when they haven't got a decent hedging policy for fuel (buying fuel at a fixed set of prices to anticipate price changes). All the maintenance staff, the highly trained pilots, renting ground at the airport, buying time on a stand, buying the food, cleaning the planes, etc etc etc. The costs are dizzying. Only budget airlines who choose not to offer plenty of bonuses (food!, and business services) can offer good cheap seats. If people really want the service and comfort of Business class, maybe they should pay for it. Expecting more than what we usually get for a few hundred quid in Economy is presumptuous and ignorant. There are lapses in service, delays etc, but that's life, nothing is perfect. How many of us finish a week of work cursing an event no matter how small that prevented a certain task being completed quite as we wanted it?! Ease up! Try and enjoy your flight. Oh, and if you do fly Business, spare a thought for us at the back!!
After a positive op on Midland Mainline, I thought i'd best even it out and slag someone off. Thames Trains gets my vote for most annoying train operator that i've used. It's not that they're totally dire - as I rarely have to make long journeys with the service, there's not much chance of an extra hour or three being added to my journey, unlike some other companies *cough,GNER*, but they always seem to be just not as good as you'd expect. For a start! Most trains are delayed, for a variety of reasons you never get to hear about - the automatic station voice just announces they're really sorry. Seeing as there are multiple and frequent services in both the London and Reading directions throughout the week, it usually means very little, and you will eventually get a train to your destination - it's just annoying that that Express service you're waiting for is so late that you catch an all-stopper and double your journey time! Next - the trains themselves. Rarely cleaned - I know they get very very heavy use at peak times, but i've been on 7am trains and they look awful. I will admit they're nippy - nothing beats watching as you overtake the lumbering 125's which need miles to slow down, and they do have nice wide doorways and bike stands to make it all a bit nicer - but why can't we have the staff to match? They're usually totally silent except when selling tickets on the train, the station staff are rarely helpful and usually attempt to give you the wrong ticket. The routes are good - i'll admit also that they go to a lot of small stations between the larger towns, and offer a wide service - but there are not always enough of these trains. Late at night being stranded in Nowheresville Berkshire is no fun, especially when four or five express trains whizz past. I usually manage to avoid peak travel - the railcard discounts dont always work *it's some
weird random system, at the whim of the ticket office I reckon!*, the prices are very steep - only salvaged by a cost effective Tube ticket in conjunction, and finally the staff are all off duty during peak times. Strange that - standing around having a natter rather than answering questions from busy commuters *where's my train?, does it stop in London?! 'I've heard that twice!*. SO then, erm, in summary - it's not that they're completely awful - just generally substandard. Please can my ticket money be spent wisely please? Oh go, on - i'd appreciate it!
A train operator you can approve of? Where!? Midland Mainline gets my vote so far - and altho there are plenty of metropolitan/regional operators i've yet to use (Merseyrail, C2C etc) - i've used all of the main cross-country (Virgin, GNER etc.)and Southern operators (Connex, WAGN etc). Right then - enough of the twaddle - why are they good? Well - there are a few points in their favour simply for using St Pancras as their London Terminus. It's a beatiful station on the outside, and airy on the inside. I've been through in rush hour - yes it's heaving like everywhere else in London, but outside of that you'd be forgiven for wondering where all the passengers were! MM (saves typing!) use St Pancras exclusively, i think! and run services up the middle of the country through to Leeds and occasionally York. The twice hourly Inter-City trains usually stop at Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield, with the more frequent stopping trains calling at places like Luton, Kettering, Market Harborough, Loughborough, as well as the bigger cities. Ok - so why the fuss? Well it's the Turbostar 170 (i think), that's the attraction for me - very new, plenty of legroom comparable to the old and dated inter-citiy trains, thoughtful wide door spaces for all those commuters and huge disabled friendly toilets, as well as carriages designed for First class passengers and the buffet car (unusual for these Sprinter type trains). I've never been late on a MM service, and even the 7 stop trip to Nottingham only took just over 2hrs - luckily i went off-peak, so the train was very quiet. One gripe - where's my free tea and coffee? Little things tend to make me happy about forking out for a train journey. Clean carriages - even the inter-city's, clear announcements both on train and platform, little coat hooks by the windows above your chair, user-friendly and pleasant St Pancras and Nottingham stations
(i've not stepped off at any others enroute yet!). You get the point. Maybe i'll get a bum service soon, maybe i'll be delayed or a customer service agent will get shirty with anyone except annoying teens being well annoying, but until then it's thumbs up for MM and their great service!
I'm not surprised by the number of *sometimes* quite vicious anti-monarchist ops on here. Whilst some are constructive, others display the same sort of extreme rhetoric you'd find in the Tabloids - ill-informed, over-emotional and well just plain stupid. I'll try not to be so inflammatory - I like comments as much as the next person, but ruffling feathers is bit far! The Monarchy - been around for ages - although most wooden History rulers *remember those?* listing all the Kings & Queens start at William I , there were plenty of Saxon kings before him. Ethelred the Unready anyone? The last thousand years or so are littered with trouble at the top - incest, murder, sharp changes of political and religious stance, wars, ego-trips, more wars, oh and a Civil War and some Crusades! As the figurehead of the nation, I would estimate that until the demise of Queen Victoria in 1901 *is that right?* Most people saw the Monarch as leader of the country, gloriously leading Britain through history - of course there are always dissenters and the politicians did all the real work! Since then - we've had a couple of World Wars that taught most of us that colonising for greed was slightly less important than working on integration to keep the world harmonious. We then developed Computers, and now I can sit here and talk to anyone anywhere on Earth - providing they're suitably online! - and it makes me feel less and less insular. Being a Brit on my little island doesn't matter as much - we don't need a huge Royal Family at great expense to represent us abroad anymore - we have modern ways like the Internet and highly developed Commerce. We've moved on and the Monarchy haven't - so do we need them? Well - let's look at it. The Monarchy, or rather the Queen is head of state, but then technically she is in Canada and Australia and many other little islands in the oceans too! Some of those subjects want
change - in Australia's case the vote failed because they couldn' agree on an alternative, but other don't - I've been to Canada and they mostly love the Queen and us Brits to bits (but that's to make them feel better than Americans). The Queen rubber stamps all political decisions - she'd be mad not to, and opens various ceremonies and generally goes for all that pomp lark. True - she costs us buckets, as do the other Royals - but think about it this way for a minute - she has no power, if she did object to a law what would happen? Chaos, they'd be out in an instant - and she hardly wants to find another home now does she? The Government - landslide eh? less than 25% of the electorate thought Tony should win - yet his government, and all others before it make decisions about our lives, and we only really get to peacefully object every 4 years. They cost us buckets of cash, yet most Tories are outdated, Labour are cronies, and Lib Dems are so desparate to seem important they can't decide what to do. I'm not against politics per se, but they seem to relish wasting taxpayers money without consulting us too much! The Monarchy cost us a lot of money - I won't deny it, but think of the pluses, the ridiculous amounts of revenue from tourism. How often do you visit London only to get really annoyed by the amount of tourists (usually Americans) who stand gawping at anything remotely Royal? Some of them do try - the cutting of the civil list a few years ago was a good attemot, but didn't go far enough. Some Royals still bludge - and I'll agree with the anti-monarchists here, Prince Phillip shouldn't be allowed to speak in public! - but others do pay their way. Not sure whether the Countess of Wessex Sophie is still allowed her PR job anymore? but Edward has a TV production company, and some of the minor royals work for a living. I'm a fan of Prince Charles - who altho very change resi
stant and a bit outdated, is right on with views on Farming methods to increase sustainability, with modern architecture getting too full of itself etc, and his various business interests generate far more tax revenue than he receives from us. As to how we are perceived as a run-down nation with rubbish public services and a laughable monarchy - i hardly think the £75m a year we spend would make much difference to the NHS or the Tube. I do think they could take more of an approach like the European Royals do - after initial worries, the Norwegian King & Queen and the public have accepted the Prince marrying a single mother with a dodgy past. The Royals should be a bit less conspicuous, get proper jobs in whatever field their interest lie, and attend openings etc. They should be ambassadors of our country, and we should be proud to have such representatives, yet I think too much anti is stirred up by the tabloid trash and the ill-informed opinions of some of their readership. If they were left alone, instead of having everything they do, see or even wear probed and picked at, maybe they wouldn't be so crazy. Besides, isn't divorce, affairs, and public faux pas just part of the course for all us citizens? Isn't that representative enough? In summary - if i can make any sense out of what i've written - the Royals are a good thing, they *should* represent a proud and ambitious nation, and should be something for foreigners to envy or at least visit and fork out tourist dollars for. Change is necessary though - if we pried less and let them attempt to get to grips with modern life without being so damn hypocritical about their lives maybe we could learn to be proud of them.
Cossacks - the new RTS game, is basically AOE with a few differences, mainly the later (17-18th Century) timescale and the hugely increased unit numbers - each game can support 8000 units! However - there are a few problems - as well as more bugs than are sensible in a game. I've been to a chat forum for the game, and a lot of experienced online RTS gamers have found many ways to cheat the system and win easily. My bones with it lie in it's confusion - Firstly the Box, the manual and the load up instructions all suggest different minimum settings for a computer in terms of Processor Speed and Ram etc. Next - why are historical battles only to be found in multiplayer mode? how fair is that - many articles featured the designers bleating on about how single players would be able to do historical battles and would have unrivalled tweaking on random maps. Well - they were right, it's unrivalled in that it's worse than any other RTS i've played. Unlimited random maps? rubbish - there's about 30 - one for each landscape type on each land formation. You also can;t change the colour of your army - small point i know, but still.... The manual! - what's with tiny tech trees at the back, with the nations laid out in English alphabetical order but spelt in French! Why aren;t the tech trees available on the game screen like AOE2? So enough bitching - is it any good apart from that? Well yes - the fabulously expensive upgrades towards the end certainly take their time to gte - and units of infantry in multiples of 36 (regiment size) certainly bring enemies down sharpish. Artillery is very powerful when upgraded, and the naval battles are definitely better than any other RTS game. In summary - i can't wait for the expansion which has allegedly taken on a lot of feedback from testers and initial player groups and will iron out many of the errors and tighten things up -as well as add more mission
s, nations etc to play. IMHO - wait til the expansion is out, then try and get it in a gold pack (im sure they'll do one - with the original and expansion together in) It'll be worth it!
Terrorism has and will always exist. Think about it - for as long as countries have existed as separate nations, one has always attempted to expand it's territory at the expense of another, leaving embittered people wishing for the reverse. The european powers did this endlessly in the golden years of expansion, colonising and forcing other civilisations to wear the yoke of empire. Most of these so affected do so unwillingly but quietly, well aware that they have nothing to gain from fighting back, after all they've just outfought and outgunned by a superior nation. A few, however, always see it as cause for action. They become hero's, martyrs even if necessary to attempt to reclaim their liberty. Some terrorism is done for this reason - Northern Ireland a classic example where the Nationalist terrorists wish to rejoin the province to Eire by force, and the Unionist terrorists want to wipe them out. It's madness and innocents always get in the way, but there it is. Other reasons include railing against government. Tim McVeigh and the Oklahoma bombing are a good example of this - he did it to make his point about the government letting him and others like him down. The anti-government people strongly believe that the powers that be want to take their guns away and conform them into rightless people. Some of them take up arms against it - and as before, they always will, because government is not willing to concede to them at the expense of the lawfulness of society. Yet others resort to terrorism over issues such as animal welfare, trade organisations and such like. This sort of advanced is again very worrying and on the increase, another response to their unhappiness with the way society is advancing. I guess what i'm driving at is that in all it's forms Terrorism has a valid raison d'etre - which doesn't make it right in today's society, attempting to create a peaceful and harmoni
ous world for us all. We do need to find a way to prevent this, in the form of negotiation and talking in the case of problems like Northern Ireland, and perhaps some more thought before we embark on certain types of testing and political organisation. As for anti-government - well i'm not sure some loons can ever be satisfied, we just have to be vigilant. In summary - whilst i accept the reasons for terrorism, it is not justified. Violence is not the answer - we really need to sort this out before it gets worse. Just look at the Israelis and Palestinians - they're slaughtering each other in the name of religion, and the talking keeps breaking down - but it must carry on, there has to be a way out.
I was a bit shocked when i saw this topic open up, mainly because the thought had never crossed my mind to write about it! I really must think of some other controversial topics to get listed. So i've read the other opinions, and had a think, so here goes the thoughts from my small part of the gene pool. Mr Darwin sailed off in the Beagle and charted all these wondrous goings on - all types of creatures and what they did, and thought about how they'd adapted to whatever it is they were doing. What makes his work so amazing is that he was the first to look at this area of science in such depth. He was prepared to challenge the held views of the church, just as explorers like Magellan railed against the 'Flatworlders'. After more than a Century, and much study into this with increasingly sophisticated methods we can fairly conclusively back him up. I do agree that to say we evolved from apes is a misconception - it's too simplistic. It's just as simplistic to point out, and more worrying for some people, that we share a significant part of our DNA (i think 14%) with the banana, and over 25% with the rabbit. Now, that's scary (if someone wants to get the correct amounts and challenge me, please do!). We evolved very slowly from the first protozoa that existed before earth was even a big bowl of water with one huge continent (Pangeae) floating in it. We are still evolving. There, i said it. It's impossible to see it in any significant way, but we are - just look at the news. Recently (in comparison with the Earth's age), we humans have learnt how to fly, drive, create energy on a nuclear scale, and erm on a less impressive scale some of us have adapted the ability to speak foreign languages. What some people think of as just society's advancement is in fact evolution. Sure we've done the main things - walking, speaking, the wheel, fire etc, but learning how to adapt to earth's en
ergy needs by creating nuclear power was a huge step forward. I won't go into the ramifications of pollution caused by all this energy, because we've obviously still to evolve enough to eradicate that!. We've adapted to the need to create huge strong bridges to join islands, and to put big tubes with wings in the air to carry us around by developing advanced metallurgical skills - we've even learnt sarcasm and irony to make us less boring and serious. (I can't recall the last cave painting showing a deer slipping on a banana skin!). Humans are evolving slowly but surely, it's predicted that in many thousands of years we will have become completely hairless, finally shedding the visible link to the simian, and we will have smaller jaws due to higher consumption of processed food versus raw food not requiring as strong tearing muscles in the mouth. My view is that we are constantly evolving, and until we destroy the earth through our folly - or it just gives up of it's own accord - we will still be evolving, attempting to become more efficient, more perfect. It's why we exist - to keep producing more humans to evolve further and reproduce, the driving force that started the primordial ooze on it's long journey to manhood if you will. As to the argument put forth by the Creationists - well i respect their views, but have had one argument too many with people trying to get me to repent of my heinous views on pain of eternal damnation to give in so easily anymore. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary, and whilst there are plenty of things that still baffle me - the idea of nothingness before the universe started, and the generally held belief that New Labour were sent to make the country better being just two - i am firmly in the Science camp. I hope i've managed to be controversial enough for some good comments without causing offence - if i have, then it proves i've ev
olved from my less tactful opinions!
How many of you have been driving along, and watched cars in the oncoming lane racing past you, and seen the Speed Camera happily flashing away? It's a common occurence - I'm not sure that most people notice, and even regular drivers who know where most cameras are usually have somewhere better to be. As an occasional driver (don't own a car, but have to hire one infrequently), and having been a passenger with many friends of mine driving, I can't give the perspective of a regular driver, like a sales rep for instance, but I do know a few things, and have done a bit of thinking about this. The linked argument that Speed Cameras fail to enforce the speed limits, and that speed limits should be raised, seems a bit shortsighted to me. I've heard plenty of people tell me that speed limits are too low, especially on the Motorway, and that Speed Cameras don't work, all they do is bottleneck drivers into short braking and then bursts of speed. I agree that the sudden slowing and speeding up of drivers as they approach a speed trap is very dangerous, and something needs to be altered to arrest this situation, but speed limits too low? Please. The concensus from drivers seems to be that motorways in Europe have much higher limits and they have no real problems. That's a fairly innacurate belief. It's true that most European nations have faster limits, but only in certain controlled stretches. The fact that they all use Km instead of Mph tends to round up limits when we look at them. For instance a limit of 120Kph is 74.6mph. The main reason that many European motorways or euroroutes have stretches of higher limits, is because years of study has shown this to be safe in these controlled areas. France, Germany and Italy, the main places where higher speeds are allowed, are far less densely populated than the UK, with far more space on average between towns, more miles of motorway, and a belief built up over ma
ny years, that the privilege of being allowed to go much faster in areas is not to be abused. There are tradeoffs - In Sweden and I Believe a few other European countries, the speed limit in urban areas is 30Kph , thats not even 19mph. How many British drivers would be able to cope with that? We as a nation, have become, impatient and ignorant of other drivers and pedestrians on the whole. Of course everyone will claim they're good drivers and there are a few idiots, which is mostly true. However - most accidents, which occur mostly in built-up areas are due to a usually competent driver, missing a speed limit sign, or being distracted for just one split second by something, or even talking on their mobile phone - hands free or not, most drivers tend to look around the care aimlessly because their concentration is drawn away from driving - and bang - someone gets hit. Speed cameras make lots of money - true, and some are in stupid places, true too. More research i think from the government is needed, on how to avoid causing accidents in speed camera zones where people try to second-guess them. The most frustrating thing however is the general outcry that they don't work and that they're an unfair tax. Whether they act to raise revenue or to reduce speeding seems irrelevant. If you didn't speed you wouldn't get caught, and you would have no fines to pay. You might not like the rules, but I can think of better ways to protest than to flout them. A final point i've just thought of. The argument that cameras on motorways are useless because most accidents occur in towns. Most is the operative word. Whilst accidents occur on motorways, there should be cameras in place to monitor where speeding occurs and with what frequency. I know that comparatively, motorway driving seems safe, you just stay in a lane (until you get impatient with a lorry) and drive fairly straight. The point about the lorry , so many people slag the
m off for being rubbish drivers. They spend their lives dragging heavy loads, conscious of the fact that they take much longer to brake than cars do, that a truck jackknifing will do far more carnage than you can imagine, and that there is most likely a car or two sitting in their blind spot behind the truck. Most drivers are ignorant of braking distances, tailgating is ridiculously prevalent, even on the few occasions when i've been onto a motorway in a friends car, and there is no end of people overtaking into a car or truck's braking distance, forcing them all to slow down again. Has anyone actually been in or seen a motorway smash? I haven't and I hope you haven't either - but footage alone proves that one tiny mistake at such speeds is far more catastrophic than in a built-up area. Ok - my rant is over. I agree that speed cameras need some reworking to make them work in a fairer manner, but speed limits do not need to be raised, and the less wingeing in favour of more sensible driving we all do, the better. BTW - one comment i've picked up on about insufficient signage - if in doubt about the speed limit - usually moving into or out of town on A roads - I believe the highway code recommends you follow traffic or drive at 30, whichever is more sensible!
My favourite Rush album - although many others tie for second! From the brilliant opener 'Bastille Day', often used to open Live sets, the album stamps it's authority all over music. The track has the screechiest vocals this side of 1975, but also the best riffs. The next track illustrates the Rush humour - a bit odd. 'I Think I'm Going Bald' is really thoughtful in it's own way, and also very bluesy in it's riffing. The next track 'Lakeside Park' written about a summer festival place in their home town of Toronto, is about as close to a ballad as Rush usually get - very sparkly guitar chords at the end of this one. The next track is possibly my fav Rush track. 'The Necromancer'. Set in a Tolikienesque world, 3 travellers from Willowdale (Bass and guitar players grew up here!), struggle in the realm of a Necromancer until his defeat at the hands of a dashing hero. Awesome riffs, and brilliant counterpoints of gentle and aggressive tones to highlight the struggle. The last track, and at 20 mins, half the album completeles what is still an underrated album in terms of Rush album sales. 'The Fountain of Lamneth' is a full blown six part epic. It charts a young man as he journeys to find the fountain, and with it a meaning to life. The journey and the discovery that life itself is the meaning plays out in distinct sections, as in the previous track contained within strong counterpointed melodies and harmonic sections. Overall the album is just classic - awesome riffs, great vocals, fab guitar and bass sounds and THE coolest drumming you're likely to hear.
Ok - done the artists, now for the albums. Not all of my top ten artists are represented, and not all of these albums are by my top ten artists - so there! Some artists produced loads of ace albums, whilst other good artists didnt have one that stood out, but plenty of good albums nonetheless. Again, in descending order. 1.Geddy Lee - my Favorite Headache (2000). The Bass player, Keyboardist and Vocalist of my fav band Rush, this recent release has jumped right to the top of my list. The awesome qualities of his voice and playing has always fascinated me - most poeople think he screeches like a girl! This collection of rock and ballady tunes weave their way through his psyche (and his co-writers!), from the powerful title track opener, through soulful songs such as 'Slipping' to general insanity 'Home on The Strange'. An awesome album, buy it now! 2.Rush - Caress Of Steel (1975). Brilliant - from the opener 'Bastille Day', to the complete lunacy of 'The Necromancer' and the 6 part genius of 'The Fountain of Lamneth', this is THE Seminal prog work in my opinion, opening us up to the wacky world of epic songs a la YES and produced in a rock format, with plenty of odd time, lots of screeching!, and excellent riffs. 3. Dream Theater - Images and Words (1992). This album launched the band into the stratosphere, and they've not looked back. A timeless work - Metropolis pt 1 is possibly the best song they will ever do - instrumentally and vocally it's peerless. Other classics include the crowd's favourite 'Pull Me Under' and the thoughtful 'Learning To Live'. 4. Aerosmith - Draw The Line (1977). Stomp! Good old Rawk with plenty of attitude. I love the grindy play til you drop attitude - songs like 'Critical Mass' and the excellent 'Bright Light Fright' (sung by guitarist Joe Perry), are standouts on this all round performer of an album. 5. Ye
s - Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973). Possibly the weirdest album ever - this 4 song, double disc classic is all about erm well: gods, finding peace, erm nature, and lots of weird things you'd need to be in to deep topics to grasp...i dont! Brilliant vocals, even better riffs and solos - great fun to listen to. 6. Dream Theater - Falling into Infinity (1997). Often slated for being too radio friendly in a prog world, this is a really good labum if you listen to it enough. From heartfelt songs such as 'Take Away My Pain' and 'Anna Lee' , to good old instrumental laden tunes like 'Trial of Tears' and 'Lines In The Sand' - this album grows on me every time i hear it. 7. Pink Floyd - The Division Bell (1994). A departure from the early eerie lyrics of Roger Waters - here Dave Gilmour belts out a diverse mix of songs, from classic blues-rock (What Do You Want From Me?), to the plaintive (Wearing The inside Out), to cool guitar masterpieces (Marooned). Great uplifting album, despite the depressing tone (it's written about the rift between Gilmour and Waters). 8.Rush - Counterparts (1993). 20 Years after Caress of Steel and a dozen albums later, still as fresh as ever. This album delivers rocking tunes of a more radio-friendly variety (only 5 mins or so each!). The best track is probably the very serious 'Nobody's Hero', but the rather odd tracks in typical Rush style (Double Agent and Between Sun & Moon) are also highly worth sticking on repeat. 9. King Crimson - Discipline (1981). Anyone who plays the Chapman Stick (I wish I had one!) will quote this as a great influence. From the opening of 'Elephant Talk', to the polyrythmic feast of the title track, this album is Crimson at it's best - challenging, cerebral and utterly odd. 10. Metallica - Metallica (1991). What can I say, utterly awesome. Classic metal - and still on the USA billboard 100 of top albums sel
ling each week i think. Eternal metal anthems such as 'Enter Sandman' and 'Of Wolf and Man' will ensure this album never stops selling. I hope you enjoyed my picks! If you didn't well thats ok, it's what makes music interesting!
Top ten? ooh! fun - erm right, let's think. After a loooong look through my CD collection i've come up with what i believe to be my final list - in descending order. I will warn readers that my choices are mostly Progressive or Rock - and not suitable for the timid ears of those who like Dance and Pop! 1. Rush - 16 Studio, 5 Live and 2 Solo albums, and the second highest number of Platinum Discs ever (behind Kiss), make this a popular choice, though probably not with Brits, due to lack of touring over here in the 90's. They've been going since the start of the 70's - beginning with Zep-like rock, moving through wild Progressive Sci-Fi, through 80's keyboard stuff and more recently, to reassuringly rock-like tones. Awesome talents of the 3 members on Bass & Keys & Vocals, Drums and Guitars, with endless odd-time passages, wild song formats and thought-provoking lyrics have kept me hooked ever since i picked my first album years ago. 2. Dream Theater - Far heavier than Rush, consisting mainly of Berklee trained musicians who are absolute masters of their instruments - instrumentals with 7 string guitar, 6 string bass, keyboards and drums playing ridiculously fast and complex passages are a musicians joy. The songs are never ordinary, rather they are challenging and majestic in their progressiveness. I've seen them live twice and consider the gigs two of my best nights on earth ever! 3. Aerosmith - The antics of these 5 have kept us entertained for 30 years now, and i hope they never retire. I respect the way they've come back after the years of drugs and booze (wow, excess!), and still craft brilliant rock. The music has stayed largely unchanged, adding only what's contemporary (a bit of pop, excellent videos and some keyboards) - yet staying true to the roots of good old rock. Never tire of listening to these guys. 4. King Crimson - hard to quantify this lot, as there have been
so many personnel changes. It makes Crimson about the music rather than the band, except for the founder and main man Robert Fripp. Always progressive, often barking mad, and fiendishly complex - Crimson offers some cerebral listening to those who are daring enough to do so. 5. Pink Floyd - another progressive lot, Dave Gilmour is a legendary player, his screaming guitar cutting through the music like a laser. From seminal works like Dark Side to lesser known ones such as Ummahumma - the band (member changes aside) have consistently produced top notch music. 6.U2 - ok, so Pop was a bit of an odd album, but they are a steady player in the music stakes, with regular albums for 20 years now. The early angry albums have given way to more soulful, or sometimes plain odd tracks, but the simple concept of 4 guys belting out sold tunes has always stuck. 7.Yes - another giant of Prog-rock, also with numerous member changes and a dodgy 80's period. The lyrics are often, well a bit airy-fairy, but the music is brilliant, dazzling instrumental sections, endless songs, good rocking tunes mixed with barking 20 minute epics have kept this band on my playlist all the time! 8. Gene - a recent addition to my CD's, this band have nonetheless grown on ame - with their plaintive, yet upbeat songs. The basic pop/rock format has been taken to a new level by this band, adding yet not overpowering with altered song structures and well just good music! 9. Led Zeppelin - grandaddies of rock, classic influences on many bands, their songs are as unforgettable as well, unforgettable songs. Good old four to the floor rock, a few epic songs, lots of screechy vocals and groovy geetar solos have enshrined this band in our hearts forever! 10. Iron Maiden - Most people are averse to songs about death - but hey, we Maiden fnas know good music when we hear it. Brilliant band, just in your face, with galloping Bass, harmonic guitar lines, awes
ome vocals and other topics too (a bit of poetry mayhap, and fantasy). There we go, that completes my ten - a different mix i'd imagine to the more popular choices of the yoof today! Others that came close to inclusion were: Rolling Stones, Guns'n'Roses and REM.
Brilliant i thought - a sequel series, another 5 books! If you read the first op about the Belgardiad series then you'll understand. If not! then : this is the second series based on a world filled with rich history and rivalry, of sorcery and war-torn continents. The writing in the second series is more developed than the first, seeming to grow in depth and more complex twists, as if drawing on the very fabric of the first series. In it - the hero of the first series discovers that the prophecy he fulfilled lives on in his son, who is kidnapped by dark forces not wishing the second prophecy to be played out to the side of good. The chase is on, and we follow the main players of the first series across the largely good continent - and into new territory - Mallorea, home to warring despots and warped beings. Further twists and betrayals appear, and finally the prophecy is played out in the most dramatic of fashions. For me, little points such as the naming of all the main (good and evil) characters in the prophecy adds to the drama of it all, the maps on the start of each chapter detailing the country travelled through makes the world so rich, so real. The second series is definetely less storytelling and saga than the first, but more pronounced in it's detail and overall darker. It's as if the first series is a youth and the second a grown up. Sorry to be so deep - but it's the only way i could think to explain! The stories within will always stay with me, in fact i reread them every year or so, just to check i still remember it right!
I first picked up Pawn of Prophecy in a library when i was about 14. I thirsted for good fantasy at the time, anything to divert my mind from the humdrum of school! I didn't actually realise until the final page of the book that it was but the first in a 5 part series - Ace i thought!, and immediately rushed to the library to get the others. Within a week i'd read the lot (i had a lot of spare time!)and was hooked. The storyline was brilliant: take an orphan brought up by his Aunt and Grandfather who later turn out to be Sorcerors, and meet all his freinds and new acquaintances who become inextricably linked with the plot. As you progress through the series, the book guides you round every country in the world, meeting all sorts of people, from dishonest merchants to feisty royal princesses. All along, the young boy becomes a target for devious forces wishing to alter his destiny. At the end when his destiny is revealed and he slays one of the gods who'd gone bad, the whole story fits. It could be argued that the writing is simplistic and aimed at people in their youth as i was - there's nothing wrong with that, and anyway, the world he conjures up - the charachters histories, the sorcery used, the mixture of races and nations (drawn from many cultures such as Viking, Medieval, Roman) lends such depth to the saga, that i'm sure every reader could immerse themselves fully in the story. Eddings is an excellent storyteller, as his later series (the Malloreon) and other series based on different worlds has since proved.
I don't know what's happened - maybe teenagers never cared, but nowadays, the 'yoof kultcha' seems obsessed with wearing the right tracksuit or buying the correctly sized gold shell earrings, and don;t seem to give a damn about reading or learning anything of use. I am forever listening to loud abusive kids on buses, who can hardly string a sentence together, and seem to speak in a manner that would indicate they'd find reading The Sun newspaper a challenge. Even the kids from the local Grammer schools which are supposed to provide a better standard for them seem to be inane fashion junkies. Are they any different from teenagers of yore? The fashions and topics change, but they always seem to have the same rebellious streak - and would never read a book unless forced to. I admit that when i was a teenager at school, the thought of Shakespeare would make me cringe, but i do profess to enjoying reading at least one novel a week. Any decent book in a library (even science-fiction!) is well written and contains plenty of grammar and long sentences containing lots of big words (bad sentence there!) that will hopefully imprint on your mind and improve your English. With the advent of the Net and Computer games in ever more dizzying varieties, kids have less reason to read thesedays, and parents seem to care less - maybe they've now discovered it's easiest to blame poor school standards, or maybe they care less about reading now. The average intelligibility of a citizen is decreasing - more and more people are losing accents and speaking 'estuary english', we are becoming homogenised into lazy, noisy, mobile phone toting people. Maybe that's just what the tabloids say?!, or is it the tabloids fault for being written so poorly? Oh, no I've started a new argument now...