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Hey all, sorry I haven?t been around, I?ve been a busy bunny, but I thought I?d come back. And what better topic to start back with than my favourite person, LaWhinger? *Grins evilly*. I?m actually surprised she?s lasted to the second album point. I?m almost prepared to eat my hat in fact, but it?s really cool so I don?t think I?ll bother. After the whole ?Avril is not punk backlash?, she started insisting she had never called herself punk, which is, as we all know, a blatant lie. She has now proved herself to be either A- a massive hypocrite or B- totally under the thumb of her manager. Possibly both. This has made me respect the girl even less, she?s gone back on her word after she realised nobody would ever believe she is actually punk. People can?t understand why I dislike her so much. Perhaps some of the following quotes might clear it up? ?I get all these loser preps coming up and asking for autographs and all this crap, and I really want to tell them, ?my music is not for people like you??. Hmm, what a nice lass. "I'd wear baggy size-32 pants and hoodies. I was a little badass." This one made me spit my Irn Bru all over my monitor. Oh the hilarity. "I created punk for this day and age. Do you see Britney walking around wearing ties and singing punk? Hell no. That's what I do. I'm like a Sid Vicious for a new generation. People look up to me and want to be me. And that's fine, just don't try to copy the sh** I do!" Where do I start? There?s no point in pretending I don?t have a completely biased opinion of the girl. Had she come onto the scene, admitted what she was and released her trite, crappy pop songs I wouldn?t have minded so, but I take great objection to rubbishy artists labelling themselves punk, a la Good Charlotte, Busted, Blink182. Also, I found the fact that she insulted everyone who was more famous than he r ridiculous. I despise Britney as much as I despise Avril, but for Avril to go around and say she could be better than Britney is laughable. For her to say she wished Christina Aguilera was dead and all the rest of it shows a right little madam who needs taken down a peg or two, and its my dearest ambition to backhand her across that pretty little face, sorry to sound harsh. Unfortunately I cant (unless the goddess answers my prayers), so I?ll settle for a scathing and completely biased review. I?m feeling particularly vindictive ever since I hear her cover of ?Knockin? on Heavens Door?, so I?m going to ditch the pretence and deliver as nasty and bitchy a review as I possibly can. Avrils second album is just more of the first?there?s little innovation or expansion here. She cements her wannabe Alanis sound with this. The songs are a tad darker and more mature, but we?re talking about moving from kindergarten writing to primary three writing, the change isn?t much to talk about. Interestingly the Matrix production team took this on, the same production team writing for Avrils arch-nemesis (she wishes), Britney Spears. It?s an interesting and ironic fact. Instead of pinching from nu-metal and nineties punk, this album has been beaten with the eighties stick quite severely. There?s a few real cheese rock riffs on here, as well as some very eighties power ballads. The slower songs on the album tend to be grandly over-produced ballads by numbers, about as interesting as Kraft macaroni cheese. Apart from this the other type of song is the ?Sk8er Boi? wannabe punk you?re used to from the last album, ?He wasn?t? is ?Sk8er Boi 2?. Yawn. Interesting that, despite two very fine songwriters working with her (once again quashing her claims she writes her own stuff), this is pretty mediocre and best, and dire at worst. Avril is a beautiful girl, and she has a spectacular voice, but if you ask me that?s all she has going for her. I?ve seen wet mops with more talent and personality. ?Take me away? - Opens with a melancholic guitar with fluffy poppy synth noises in the background. It descends into a medium paced angry-grrl-been-dumped type song. It has a slightly Evanescence sound to it, it has the eerie minor key sound in the choruses, and Avril singing in a low-pitched voice. Generally its bog-standard angsty teen stuff with a nu-metal edge to it. It?s obvious what this song is trying to do, prove that Avril has grown and her music is now ?dark? and meaningful. It fails abysmally, sounding a little like your baby sister singing along to System of a Down. The guitar playing is clunky, unimaginative heavy riffs, and Avrils voice sounds a bit strange and altered. In fact, her vocals in the choruses are way too high pitched a bit on the irritating side. Avril, irritating? Never. The vocals are typical Avril angsty teen notice that would fit well on an episode of Dawson?s Creek. Particularly telling is the line ?If I show you, I don't think you'd understand, Cause no one understands?. Could she be any more anguished teen? Avril your nearing twenty. Get over it. ?Together? - This song is completely vile. It?s the sort of rubbishy B-side quality track you would find on a Mandy Moore album, with the added edge of Avrils ?alternative voice?, and heavy choruses that don?t fit the ballad pop song verses. It opens with a sickeningly twee piano tune and echoey voices from Larvae. The loud choruses have a ?call and answer? effect. Her voice isn?t on its usual lovely form, its quite irritating and forced, and there sounds like there?s a good deal of effects added to it. This will be one of the song the lyrics will call alternative and deep, but the lyrics are unimaginative to say the least??Something just isn?t right, I can feel it inside at all?, is not only a double negative, it?s a total cliché. The chorus- ?Together, it doesn?t feel right at all, together, together we built a wall, together, holdi n hands we?ll fall, hands we?ll fall? sounds like a rhyming dictionary was used, and a pretty poor one at that. ?Don?t tell me? - The big single from the second album, and nearly as irritating as ?Sk8er Boi?. You may have heard this one. It?s a boring ballad format with the added effect of big chorus. Its one of the ballads-by-number I was talking about. Someone seems to think by adding a heavy electric guitar and lots of noise in the chorus, it will add an individual sound, it just sounds like eighties cheese rock. Based on a strummy acoustic guitar, it sounds like Avril trying to sound like Alanis, just for a change. Avril?s voice in the verses is forced petulant and extremely irritating, while the choruses have her usual riot grrl sound, of course, with added cheese-rock electric guitars for ?effect?. You can hear in this one how Avrils voice has matured a little; to be honest I prefer her vocals on the last album. The lyrics are bog standard Avril, lots of references to her being a woman of virtue, and of course being ?a little badass?. ?Guys are so hard to trust?, in particular, is typical Avril. There?s also quite a hint of bitchiness in there ?Not like that girl the one who, Gives it all away, yeah?, this is the sort of thing that makes me dislike Avril intensely, her anger at not being accepted (you know, as a pxnk rawka) and then bitching about other people. If she does write any of the lyrics I?m willing to bet she wrote that one. I have to say my favourite line in this song is ?I'll have to kick your ass, and make you never forget? its just hilarious. Like that skinny little runt could kick anything?s ass. ?He Wasn?t? - Oh Dear god. Its Britney meets Greenday. This is going to be the anthem of the album I bet, ?Sk8er Boi? two. It has a heavier sound to it, some of the riffs actually sound very Greenday-esque, in fact so much so I think the riff has been pinched from one of their songs, although I cant think which one (used to be a fan but have gone off them a bit!) and Lavril abandons her usual over-the-top she-diva voice for a monotone punk drone. I can just see a legion of twelve year olds in armbands bouncing around their rooms *pukes*. Your talking one-chord wonder here, so I?m guessing this is the one song in which Lavvy plays the guitar. The song, naturally, is a about a boy (or boi as may be more accurate), who isn?t, surprise surprise, good enough for our little pxnk princess. The most intriguing lyric in the song is ?uh huh, hey hey, hey hey hey?. Again, the rest of the lyrics are extremely stupid- ?This is where I start to bite my nails, or clean my room if all else fails, I think its time for me to bail, this point of view is stale?. What was I saying about rhyming dictionaries again? How, um, deep. The rest of it is basically Avril whinging about how this (poor) bloke never made her feel special. So get a rampant rabbit like the rest of us and shut the hell up. ?How does it feel?? - If the song title makes you want to puke, wait til you hear the song. Its true Dawson?s Creek material this. It has that dreamy, acoustic and plodding feel to it. It?s definitely a twelve-year-old ?relationship? angst song. Again, the voice has been toyed with so it sounds like there are TWO Avrils singing at us (RUN FOR YOUR LIVES THEY?RE MULTIPLYING!) Much like every other song on this sodding album. The only way in which its different is it?s a lot more quiet, although the choruses are still verging on the slightly too loud side (although where Avril is concerned, the volume can never be low enough). ?I am small and the world is big? takes the biscuit for the stupidest comment to ever come out of this little woman?s mouth, even more stupid than ?your not the milk and cheerio?s in my spoon? from the first album. Aside from this classic, we have the crackers ?How does it feel? How does it feel? To be different from me? Are we the same?? which doesn?t make sense even to people who speak pig Latin, and of course the wonderfully deep line ?ah, ah, ah, ah?. ?My happy ending? - It takes the tired ?Under my Skin? theme of nu-metal backing with Alanis Morrissette singing over the top, and adds a new twist?oh wait no it doesn?t it?s the same bloody song arranged differently. I?ll give you three guesses what its about?a boi Avril lost. Boobloodyhoo. Another song, which involved Avril getting dumped. That makes a grand total of about a million songs she?s written about being dumped. Either she?s very pissed off at some poor bloke or the girl has been around the block more than the village bicycle (to paraphrase Austin Powers). The backing music is heavy, crunchy electric guitars in the choruses and clunky pianos in the verses. Its unimaginative and to be honest there?s not a lot to comment on, Except some startling effects used on Avril?s voice, causing her to sing stupidly high?I?d pay a million quid to see anyone but Mariah Carey sing that high live, especially a rather mid-alto such as Lavvy pants. Starting out with echoey drumming effects and rapidly descending into teeny-bop dirge with typically overdramatic lyrics ?Its not like we?re dead? (damn it), ?so much for my happy ending? (oh, life?s hard isn?t it honey), and *gasp*, a swear word! Naughty naughty. Bet she got grounded for that. Nobody?s Home -Just had to laugh when I heard this. Finally Avril has written a song about her own, pretty, empty little head. Sorry, had to say it. It?s a country-ish sounding, strummy acoustic track. Avril sounds like she has a head cold in this track. That?s about the most interesting thing I have to say about it. The song is sung entirely on acoustic guitar, which I?m willing to bet Lavvy isn?t singing. Its noticeable, however, that Avril?s voice sounds a lot more immature and weaker on this track, perhaps something to do with the lack of pretentious crunching guitars. Avrils voice isn?t particularly notable in this track, apart from a few nice pitch changes. The lyrics are about a metaphorical girl with problems. Hmm. Wonder who Avril is talking about. ?Her feelings she hides. Her dreams she can't find. She's losing her mind. She's fallen behind. She can't find her place. She's losing her faith. She's fallen from grace. She's all over the place. Yeah, oh? Essentially it?s the same old Avril, except she?s talking about someone else. Wow, how unself-centred. Oh wait, she?s PRETENDING to talk about someone else, whilst really whinging about herself. Now that sounds more like our Avril. Forgotten -Yes you will be in a few years sweetie. The opening reminds me of Evanescence, with eerie piano chords, and Avril?s voice backed by haunting girly singing. Of course, any trace of Evanescence disappears when you hear what the little Weevil is singing. To be fair I think this is my least disliked song on the album, perhaps because it strays a little from the Avril formula of wannabe-nu-metal and overrated girly ballads with a few extras. The song uses strings as a backing, and Avrils voice is low-pitched and growly, and the song changes tempo and tune quite often, which adds interest. It?s a lot heavier than her usual sounding tunes. The whole thing has the ?haunted mansion? feel of Evanescence, which I like just a wee bit. The lyrics aren?t much different from the usual fare; it?s just the music that?s a bit unusual for Bovril. It?s about a boi (sorry, is it getting annoying yet) who Avril has broken up with. Basically she?s calling him a coward. Isn?t THAT unusual for her. ?Have you forgotten everything that I wanted?? screams our self-centred little madam, ?Step up and be strong? wails our ?little badass?. ?I?m giving up on everything, because you messed me up?. Hmmm. Once again we have overdramatic teenage angst working against us. I think, with different lyrics, this could be a fabulous song. The strength of Avrils voice and the composition of the music are pretty special, but its let down by the teenybopper lyrics. If you try and ignore the words, this isn?t a bad song. Who Knows -Oh good God she?s giving out advice. Kill her. Now. It makes a change from her ?I?ve just been dumped? scowl. I was beginning to think she?d have all her twelve-year-old fans self-harming. This is one of those be yourself and life?s not that bad song. Funny after what she?s been telling us for, oh, the last six or seven song. It?s an anthemic girly song that will no doubt will go down well in sleepovers. It starts with a mellow acoustic first verse and then bounces into a slow, but upbeat electric guitar based track. There are some ?cool? echoey drums and vocal effects used towards the end of the song that no doubt will keep the ?preps? that listen to Avrils album (that she so loathes) interested. Its shallow and stale, but at least it makes a change from the rest of the stuff on the album. The lyrics are naïve and again, a bit rhyming dictionary ?I think there?s something more, life?s worth living for?, ?There?s always a brand new day?, I?m gonna live my life like its my last day?, ?Find yourself, cos I can?t find you, be yourself, who are you?? Hmm. How uplifting Avril. Cheers, but I?ll stick to the Dalai Lama for my spiritual advice. A nice change from the rest of the album, but still pretty terrible. Fall to Pieces -The riff has clearly been pinched from an indie song, but I can?t quite place it. Annoying when that happens. It?s a soppy love song this, which makes a bit of a change from an Avril been dumped song, however not that much so because it looked from the lyrics as if she?s just about to be dumped, ?I don?t want to fall to pieces?, ?I just want to cry in front of you, I don?t want to talk about it, cause I?m in love with you? *puke*. A low-key acoustic track, which works itself up into a slightly louder ballad track. An echoing electric guitar works with th e strumming acoustic (and if anyone can work out the tune the echoey guitar is playing please tell me, its driving me nuts). This one does even pretend rock, the backing track is pure pop, this type of backing track wouldn?t be out of place on a Britney album, except it has much less flair than a Britney song I don?t find any of Bovril?s songs particularly charming, but this one is particularly dry, dull and void of any sort of feeling. It doesn?t even annoy me its so boring, which I can?t decide if its a good thing or not. Freak Out -Oh dear. This ditches the embarrassing nu-metal instead it has a riff Justin from the Darkness would be proud of. This song truly has been beaten with the eighties-Bon-Jovi ballad stick. Eep. I am not joking you, minus the vocals; Aerosmith would probably release something like this (albeit in their ?I don?t wanna fall asleep? post eighties phase, but they never we particularly up with the times). Again, Avril?s voice sounds a bit immature on this one, she?s adopting that punk drone again, and it really doesn?t suit her, if you have a voice like that, you should show it off to its full advantage, not pretend to be something you aren?t?of course we all know Lavvy isn?t new to that. This one is one of the I-don?t-care-what-you-say-cos-I?m-a-hard-chick songs that was so popular on the last album, but seems to have been ditched in favour of too many oh-look-I?ve-been-dumped songs on this one. ?Try to tell me what I shouldn't do, you should know by now, I won't listen to you, Walk around with my hands in the air, 'Cause I don't care?. Aren?t you just proud of ickle Avril, taking her little badass steps into the big bad(ass) world? I?m not really too sure what is rebellious about holding your hands in the air, but for someone who wanted to be a policewoman (whilst calling herself punk in the same sentence) I?m not too surprised. Slipped Away -A piano-based I-miss-you song. Yep, Avril?s be en dumped again. Aww. At least this one isn?t cursing his name, its more, ?Hey, I want you back?. Nobody in his or her right mind?ok I?ll shut up. Strings and some computerised effects are used, as well as a strumming acoustic and the piano. The choruses are grandiose and very ballad, with the staggered drumming, the high-pitched singing and wailing strings just scream eighties love song. Yuck. There?s far too much eighties nonsense on this album for my liking. If your going to do eighties you have to do it properly. Not that I can see Avril raiding Pixies riffs or anything, but you get my drift. Another boring track without much character. Most of Avril?s songs seem quite colourful, but this one, like ?Fall to Pieces? doesn?t really seem to have any heart at all in it. The lyrics are, again, alternately clichéd- ?I hope you can hear me, I remember it clearly, The day you slipped away, was the day, I found it won't be the same? and immature ?I miss you, Miss you so bad, I don't forget you, oh it's so sad?. I?m guessing the latter is Avril-penned unless the best two world-class songwriters could come up with is that. The world may be in big trouble if that?s the case. I Always Get What I Want (bonus) -Oh dear. Not Avril proving she is a spoiled brat, as we all know she is, but in fact, slagging off other people who have the cheek to be spoiled brats (because Bovril is the queen spoiled brat and NO-ONE should be peeing on her turf). At least I think she is. It?s hard to tell with her whether she?s being ironic or not. You don?t know whether to laugh with or at her, kinda like the Darkness. Another GreenDay riff is used, and the vocal tempo is very similar. Again, Avril?s stereotypical punk girl vocal is adopted. It?s extremely irritating. Approximately three chords are used, in true Pxnk Rawk style. The lyrics are bordering on ridiculous. From the nonsensical ?If I stomp my feet could that make me, Be the way around it? (now that?s some c razy ass grammar), to the stereotypically arrogant mini-punk, ?So give me what I want, Cause I'm a big shot?, to the purely inane ?If I tell you I can't I'm still going to go, I did it all by myself, I found my way around it? (what a clever girl) and ?It's not too lovely It could start to get ugly, It really bugs me?. Thanks Bovril, but twelve tracks is enough we don?t need a bonus. Once again we have a wonderful effort from Avril. She?s managed to narrow her horizons considerably since the first album. She has apparently hit puberty and 90% of the songs are about boys-usually being dumped by them. This is opposed to the last album, in which about 60% were about boys and the remaining 40% about Avrils other favourite subject, herself. Growing up on the ?mean streets? (of suburban Canada) must be tough on those relationships. Again, the vast majority of the lyrics are shallow and stale, we have heard all before. Yes Avril, we know you don?t take any shit. We know you?re an individual. So stop taking advice from your manager and start acting like yourself, not a clone.
I find reptiles and amphibians absolutely fascinating and beautiful creatures. I do not understand why people can be afraid of them…they are as brightly coloured as birds and just as if not more interesting, and equally beautiful. Most of the accusations levelled at them (usually snakes) are unfounded…less than 3% of the worlds snake population is venomous, and most of the types considered dangerous, such as constrictor like boas and pythons are small to kill humans. It has also been found recently, that over half of what were reported as ‘rattlesnake bites’ actually were, from the descriptions of how the venom affected the person, scorpion stings, yet these fake rattler bites have led to horribly cruel rattlesnake round-ups where snakes are wild caught, left in a corral in the blazing sun and then stoned and squashed to death. If this were puppies you would be appalled. It seems nowadays as many people are fascinated by these creatures as repelled by them. Such exotic creatures as poison arrow frogs and rosy boas are being kept in captivity. It is possible to get hold of, with the correct licences, everything from monkeys and lemurs to anacondas to (this must be the height of stupidity) crocodilians, gharials, alligators and caimans, although, of course, rules on keeping such creatures are dependant on the country in which you live, although I have heard of someone in Glasgow (mate of a mate sort of thing) keeping a boomslang (a beautiful but extremely lethal venomous African snake) illegally. I also know someone with a fantastic collection of scorpions, spiders, exotic beetles and (!) cockroaches (just to gross you out, some of the cockroaches are the length of his hand) and a positively terrifying African giant millipede that is bigger than I care to remember. Health warnings are arising everywhere concerning these unusual ‘pets’. The larger lizards can inflict painful bites, while the bigger snakes do hav e the option of eating you when they get peckish for something other than frozen chicken. Besides these issues and the keeping of poisonous animals, there are also disease risks. Reptiles often carry a form of salmonella. I don’t think it does them much harm, but because of this it’s unwise to have reptiles around the elderly or young kids. Of course, washing your hands after handling them, as you would with raw meat, pretty much nullifies these risks, however, for some reason, reptiles do carry quite a few diseases that can be transmitted to humans and vice versa…and what with the legal and illegal trade in wild species, the risk of bringing in tropical diseases grows quite high. The animal’s welfare Of course, there is something else to consider while learning all of this…the animals. Gone are the days when having a canary was seen as exotic…these days people make pets of everything from quails to monkeys, to skunks and sugar gliders, to the slightly less cuddly centipedes and frogs. In America it has become almost commonplace to hear about nutters in big cities keeping tigers, there is actually a site online where you can buy animals like monkeys and tigers. Not only is this a rather stupid idea for the owner, its unbelievably cruel to an animal who is supposed to roam hundreds of miles a day. The much more common exotic pets- reptiles, don’t fare much better. Pet shops seem to take the attitude that if it aint cute with fur, it aint worth bothering about. Despite the monetary value of some of these creatures, there is a much higher instance of neglect towards cold-blooded creatures than mammals in pet shops. They are often kept in inter-species tanks, which can cause quarrelling, bullying and/or cannibalism, and often their cage size or feeding requirements are not met. In America the situation is much worse, the laws covering treatment of mammals doesn’t extend to non-mammals, and ther e are even cases in the US of reptiles (usually iguanas) being ‘won’ at fairs in the same manner as goldfish! This neatly overlooks the fact that unlike fish, Iguanas can reach six foot long, unlike fish, iguanas are highly specialised and not hardy enough to thrive in less-than-perfect care, and unlike goldfish, iguanas can live to quite a few decades old. Oh, and despite being vegetarian, iguanas can be extremely dangerous and their strong jaws and tail can quite easily break a human arm. I am strongly of the opinion that it is very irresponsible to sell specialised creatures such as these in pet shops…you don’t usually even see them stocking more specialised mammals such as chipmunks or ferrets, yet because reptiles aren’t cute and furry it doesn’t matter whether their highly specific needs are met. It is also insanely negligent to sell the ones that grow particularly large without warning and/or licences…I’ve seen many types of python on sale in pet shops, despite the fact that they grow to sixteen feet long (there are no notices about this on the cages). Its common to change the name of the breed of animal so it seems less threatening…common boa constrictors that grow to 12 foot are renamed red-tail boas. Its usually kids parents who buy these on impulse nagging sprees, and the pet shop employees do nothing to tell the children that ‘Monty’ could grow up to twenty foot long. When the creatures get too big to manage, they are sent to rescue centres, zoos, or dumped. Thousands of reptiles end up like this, in the US its tens of thousands. If we were talking about tens of thousands of puppies there would be uproar, but again, the ‘creepy’ appearance of the poor things makes a difference to ‘animal welfarists’. Besides this, most people don’t have the beginnings of a clue regarding the care of these beautiful exotics in captivity…they are kept i n cages too small or large, or the wrong height, fed the wrong foods, kept in company when they need to be solitary (in this case they often eat or kill each other), at the wrong temperature with the wrong lighting. All of this makes them susceptible to disease, injury and infection as well as misery and painful deaths. As well as the suffering of the reptile involved, other species often suffer for it. The feeding of live bait to reptiles is extremely cruel to both species…the pain on the mouse/rat/chickens side is obvious, but did you also know if your pet isn’t hungry and allows the food item to run around the cage, said food item has been known to attack and harm your pet? Always feed your exotic pets pre (humanely) killed food. Of course, really you will never know whether your food was killed humanely or not…from the looks of the frozen mice and rats you get to feed large snakes, they are simply frozen alive. Reptiles are the only group of animals whose lifespan in captivity is shorter than their wild one. This isn’t often due to deliberate ill treatment, usually its just ignorance. Before you buy Keeping a lizard or similar creature is not an easy task, it should not be seen as a fad or a fashion either. The fashion for snakes seems to have waned a little, it has been taken over by what I predict will become the latest pet craze- sugar gliders (tiny gliding squirrel type things), but it was the poor chameleons who suffered recently thanks to the Budweiser adverts. Just out of interest chameleons are some of the most difficult lizards to keep alive and aren’t recommended for anybody but expert herpetologists. Some lizards can live as long as parrots if cared for correctly…that’s up to forty years, (although most chameleons live approximately six in captivity). Are you willing to care for something for that long, that is if you can provide the correct environment for it to live that long? The pet that seemed cool fifteen years ago could be a burden when you’ve got kids and a job to look after as well, and if its size matches its teenage years in feet you could have a rather large and scaly problem in getting rid of it. You also need to consider such an animal’s suitability as a pet, and this can only be done by looking at the species you want. Reptiles such as geckos (except Tokay geckos, which are vicious little buggers), Uromastyx, dragons, Some skinks (not monkey-tails) and some types of monitor and iguana make fairly gentle pets, as do corn, garter and king snakes. The majority of iguanas on the other hand are surly until tamed (some individuals just never tame) and because of their size can inflict a good deal of pain though not death, (although when tamed they make quite charming pets if you have room for them, and they need a large one to themselves), most Tegus and monitors are impressive but vicious (the exception being rather slow and gentle Nile monitors), and of course most of the larger boas and pythons are capable of killing you, no matter how gentle they seem, they will never become tamed the way a pet dog is. Do you have the necessary fearlessness/idiocy (delete as applicable) to deal with a lethal creature? Don’t think you can train a snake like you train a dog…a reptile is a completely alien creature to you. It cannot be housebroken or trained in any way. It is a wild and potential lethal animal. Also consider, if a reptile is particularly vicious or difficult to care for, then it obviously isn’t happy to live in captivity, and you cannot justify keeping such an animal in misery no matter HOW cool it looks. It’s worth considering that a human home is a completely foreign environment to a snake. Being so recently domesticated they still have all their wild instincts, and they are used to being in a jungle/desert with no humans around. They don’t really know who you are or what the hell you are doing, no matter how friendly they seem. You just look like a very big, and very stupid lunch. Do you have the space to keep such an animal? A gecko tank won’t take up too much room, but a cage designed for an adult boa constrictor will not be found in your average pet shop, and contrary to what you think it is not safe, ethical or practical for either you or the boa to let it roam the house. Many people let these larger reptiles roam their house, but this isn’t really clever. A creature like an iguana could perhaps have a room of its own, but to allow it to roam the entire house you would need to keep a constant hot temperature (unhealthy for you, your family, your wallet and any non-exotic household pets) and iguana-proof the house (they are great at breaking things and harming themselves), and letting a potentially lethal animal like a large boa or python have the run of the house is asking for it…they are not as tameable even as lizards and ALWAYS remain risky no matter how gentle they seem. So you need to design an enclosure for your animal…and if your animal is a thirty foot reticulated python you have a rather large problem. Are you going to have a problem feeding a carnivorous or insectivorous reptile? The vast majority of lizards eat insects, whereas snakes eat mice, rats, and lizards, or if very large, chickens, rabbits and even pigs. Can you deal with the idea of keeping a tank of crickets and a box of mealworms in your house? While ‘complete’ diets for these animals are now available, they aren’t recommended as the sole food. Besides the ‘ick’ factor of feeding insects, some people have a problem feeding snakes cute furry frozen things. Frozen mice, rats and chicks are not a nice sight. They need to be kept frozen (your partner will love this) and warmed to room temperature. Don’t make the mistake of using the microwave unless you want exploded rod ent all over it. Larger snakes, as I’ve mentioned will need chickens and rabbits, and if you are psychotic to take on the biggest of the big- anacondas or reticulated pythons, you will need to feed it things like whole pigs. Or of course just get it over with and offer yourself on a plate. Your beloved ‘pet’ wont know the difference. Finally, what do you know about the animal? Each type of reptile is different and you need to research its needs thoroughly. If the animal you want isn’t readily available captive-bred you may have to resort to a wild-caught specimen, which will probably be diseased anyway, quite apart from the fact you’d be supporting an inexcusably cruel trade. If you cant get your first choice captive bred, PLEASE choose another breed instead of condemning a wild animal to a life of misery. If you don’t fully understand what the animal eats, what size cage it needs, what vitamins it needs, what light and heat it needs etc, then you might as well kill it with your bare hands. If you want to keep herptiles and be a good, responsible owner of them, start with something gentle and small like bearded dragons, leopard geckos or corn or garter snakes. If you want to keep something a little bigger as a first lizard, then blue-tongued skinks make lovely first reptiles if you can get hold of a captive-bred, but I wouldn’t advise anything larger than four foot for a first snake, because they are less docile and tameable than lizards on a whole (and more likely to genuinely mistake your hand for food due to poor eyesight). Ask yourself why you want one. If its because they’re cool or the latest thing, or worse still, to scare people, then I will hunt you down and imprison YOU in a glass tank. The only right reason is that you find them fascinating and beautiful and that you want to give one a good home instead of letting it go to some moron who doesn’t know what they are doing. < br> If you do decide to get a pet reptile, then get one either from a breeder or an animal shelter. Don’t buy from a pet shop it encourages a horrific trade. Dead set? Well, if I haven’t managed to put you off buying a herp yet (salmonella, bites, tail-whippers and constrictors…what a lovely choice of pets), I can at LEAST point you in the right direction, species-wise. Here are some ideal beginners species…in general they are the ones that adapt to captivity better than other, more specialised reptiles. Lizards Leopard geckos- common and cute little pets, these geckos are relatively cheap, quite small and very easy to care for as lizards go. They are also very hardy and thus good for beginners. Their care requirements are basic, they can be kept in a twenty-gallon tank (that’s enough for two of them), and their feeding requirements are easy to meet, they don’t need any lighting, as they are nocturnal. If you would like to see them better, invest in a red or blue bulb, as these lights don’t bother them. Bearded dragons- cute things with smiley mouths and horny skin, beardies are probably the most commonly kept lizards after the leopard gecko. The babies often die due to feeding problems, inadequate calcium or insufficient lighting unfortunately, but if you get a beardie past this stage you’ve got a really good lizard pet, they seem to enjoy being handled and along with a few iguanas, are the most ‘pet-like’ lizards as they become cheeky and friendly and are even known to ‘sulk’ if they don’t get cuddles as often as usual. Unlike leopard geckos which can thrive on little light and less vitamins, you really need to ‘stuff’ beardies, especially babies, with specially made reptile multi-vitamins and calcium and UV light, otherwise their bones literally turn to mush which is very painful for them, and eventually fatal. It’s th e lizard form of osteoporosis (metabolic bone disease). They are quite large at around sixty centimetres and need a good four-foot of tank, as they are quite active. Blue tongued Skinks- a slightly larger choice here, but if you’re after a bit of a bigger lizard then a skink is a good place to start. They are very friendly, and fairly hardy as well. They are harder to find than beardies and geckos however, and are unfortunately often wild caught, so do ensure yours is a captive bred. An ideal bigger starter or maybe second lizard if you have the room for a nice big tank for them. Snakes Corn Snakes- The most commonly kept first snake, corn snakes reach about three and a half to four feet and are ready eaters, a lot of snakes have a problem taking pre-killed mice (you should NEVER feed snakes live mice) but this one is a bit greedy really. Ball pythons- these make ideal first pets SO LONG as they are ready feeders. If you go for a ball python get the seller to feed it while you are there so you can see if it is eating or not. They only grow to five feet at the most so are manageable. King snakes- these are beautiful snakes with gorgeous colouring. Once you get past the first stage of finicky eating king snakes (they prefer eating lizards, snakes and amphibians and need training to take mice) make good first pets. Milk snakes are cousins to the king snake. They are very attractive; most species are red with bands of black and white or yellow. They are very fussy feeders however and it takes a long time to train them to take mice. Garter Snakes- These are small semi aquatic snakes. They aren’t great to handle, so are more likely to bite than ball pythons and corn snakes, so you might need to invest in thick gloves until they are tame, although they always remain jumpy, and are brilliant escape artists, unlike corns and kings, they aren’t really handleable snakes. They sometimes have initial feedin g problems…they really live off lizards and amphibians in the wild, so need to be trained to take fish; they also like a small pool in their tank for swimming. No snakes are really ‘pet-type’ animals for holding, and if you don’t mind that garters are amongst the wildest, then they make easy pets. These species do not make first good pets, and in fact probably shouldn’t be kept in captivity at all Green snakes- small, but very fussy eaters, difficult to keep and always wild caught because they don’t breed in captivity, thus very wild and usually diseased. Wild-born reptiles in captivity often die young from stress. Burmese pythons- Obviously they are not intended for your average pet keeper. In my view you should need a license to obtain one. You would also be insane to want one. They grow to twenty feet in length and could quite happily eat you. You will have to kill rabbits and chickens in order to feed them. People HAVE been killed by these creatures, PLEASE don’t get one. They are not meant to be kept by amateurs. A boy of fourteen was killed and eaten in America by a snake of only eight foot…less than half its potential size. No matter how friendly they seem you can never trust them, and even if they are gentle juveniles they tend to get a bit wilder when they grow up. And a twenty-foot, lethal wild animal with extremely sharp fangs and strong muscles is not something you need roaming your home. Reticulated python- these snakes reach 32 foot and are the longest in the world…longer than the up to 30-foot anaconda (the anaconda is a lot fatter though). There is another op on them in this category, it makes very interesting reading. They can be very lethal, so the same goes for them as for Burmese pythons. Boa constrictors- these grow to twelve foot in length and will happily try and eat you, although they are a bit small for such antics (don’t hold me to this, these snakes often bite off more than they can chew so to speak), but they are still huge animals and need PROPER care and massive enclosures, and they bite readily. Pet shops often dishonestly sell babies as ‘red-tail boas’ to take parents minds away from the fact that these are boa constrictors. Any boa labelled Columbian boa, red-tailed boa, Emperor’s boa, Guyana red-tail, South American Boa or Amazon basin boa is the real deal, a giant man-eating motherf**ker. Other gigantic snakes- goes without saying really, if you want to keep your head attached to your body. Keeping an anaconda or similar is just stupid, although I’m sure you’d need a license for one anyway. Crocodilians- these have become part of the latest craze in America, although over here you need a license to keep them. Crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials are what I’m on about here, and the idea of this being kept by anything less than a zoological expert trained to look after them is complete and utter insanity. Even the smallest ones are extremely wild and vicious. The average size is also about 1.5m so they aren’t something you can readily find a cage for. Unlike snakes they are quite active and need a pool to swim in as well as plenty of dry land. The smallest caimans reach four feet, but they are still highly vicious and not pet animals at all. Green Iguanas- these are beautiful lizards, but they require very special care, can be vicious and grow to six feet. Many do make funny and friendly pets in good hands, but their size, finicky diet and trickiness of taming them means they really need an owner who has dealt with lizards before. If you get a sweet-natured iguana and can provide it with plenty of space, fine, but there is every chance you’ll get a wild beast that will never be properly tamed…and those wild beasts are very strong and can damage you considerably. There are other types of iguana avai lable as pets, which are a little smaller, such as desert iguanas, but they are often wild caught. Green ones also need a room-sized enclosure; you can’t just let them roam your house. Chameleons- yes they are beautiful. Yes they look cool; unfortunately most don’t live past a year because they are so hard to care for. Leave then where they belong, they need very specialist environments and expert care in captivity. Monitors except the Savannah (which is a lot gentler and a good second lizard), and Tegus- large and very aggressive. ‘Nuff said. Gila monsters and Mexican beaded lizards- Beautiful, also the worlds only known venomous lizards. ‘Nuff said. Venomous snakes- ‘Nuff said. Turtles, tortoises and terrapins- in a word, don’t. These are highly specialised animals that need very careful care. Keeping a tortoise in your garden isn’t nice for the tortoise. Their wild populations are in jeopardy, and as they are hard to breed in captivity, are often wild-caught. They don’t make good pets for kids because, even without the special requirements they need, they are actually quite boring all they do is waddle, sleep and eat, cute as they are. Turtles need aquariums, although it’s cruel to keep them in anything less than pond-sized. Final word. All in all, I’d say reptiles shouldn’t be kept as pets at all. Pet shops are often known to tout the Burmese python or Boa constrictors as a suitable first snake, despite the fact that it turns into a gigantic snake. This is not only immoral as it might lead to the death of a human; it’s cruel for the snake to be confined to a little tank. In general all reptiles are wild creatures, and they will never be domesticated like dogs or cats, or even to the degree small animals like hamster tame to, they will simply tolerate being kept. If you can POSSIBLY stop yourself from buying one of these you are p robably a lot more responsible than me…although I don’t keep ones that don’t need someone’s help, I’d rather I had the willpower not to keep them at all. If you really are dying for one, then be responsible…DON’T actually die for it (i.e. avoid anything dangerous), learn about its needs and habits and care for it accordingly, give it as much space as you can, keep it for its ENTIRE life instead of selling it on when you get bored or it gets too big, and don’t keep something that you cannot care for…this not only goes for dangerous sized animals but delicate creatures like monkey-tail skinks and chameleons. The trade in these gorgeous wild creatures is not only killing the poor animals, it is killing the environment, wild populations, and more than a few irresponsible pet owners along the way.
Note- this is my first video game op, so please be gentle! “The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of time” has often been given the prestigious and heady title of “Best video game in the world, ever”. I’d like to second that. This game is so good its been updated for the new GameCube platform…its fairly odd for old games to get this treatment, usually they just get more and more sequels. You can now get hold of Ocarina of Time in a double pack with the fabulous new Zelda game, The Windwaker. Believe me, these games are worth getting a GameCube for, in fact the only reason I own one is because I heard the old Zelda game was being reformatted for GameCube’s cute mini disc system. “The Ocarina of Time” is about a young boy called link, who lives in a forest called Kokiri with the residents of the forest, the eternally childlike Kokiri kids. Link is alone in his village in that he is the only Kokiri child without a guardian fairy. But this is about to change. The great guardian of the forest, the Deku tree has sensed some kind of evil descending on the land. Little Link, who apparently is destined to become a great warrior, has a guardian fairy, Navi, sent to him by the Deku tree. He must then find a sword and shield, defeat the curse that is killing the great Deku tree, a curse placed by Ganondorf, a traitor servant of the king, a man who will eventually become all-powerful and attempt to take over the peaceful world that is Hyrule. This story is told in part to him by the Deku tree and in part to him by the child princess of Hyrule, Zelda. But not if wee Link, Navi and the Sages have anything to do with it! Link must first battle through three dungeons as a child…one inside a great tree, one inside a mountain, and one inside a whale, in order to obtain the three sacred stones of Hyrule and learn the song that opens the door of time to protect Hyrule. But alas, Ganondorf manages to gain access to t he door of time, Zelda is taken away into hiding by her warrior-like nurse, and Link’s spirit is sealed in the Temple of Time for seven years, while he grows old enough to fight the evil forces threatening the idyllic world of Hyrule. Once grown up, Link must again battle through a world of danger in order to save Hyrule, save Zelda and defeat Ganondorf’s evil reign. In order to do this, he must awake the power of the great Sages, so they can add their power to his. Along with their power, Links power and the power of the mystical Master Sword, Link will become the legendary Hero of Time. Basically it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer with pixie ears. You take third person control of Link. Along the many useful weapons you will get will be a sword, boomerang, slingshot and Deku sticks (as a child), a hookshot and bow and arrow as an adult. There are also millions of different items to collect which aid Link along his way. Heart pieces can be found all over Hyrule in secret places, collect four hearts and you will have an entire new life container (in Zelda you don’t have a set amount of life, only a set amount of energy and when you die you will be given the option to save and returned to your last save point), you also get an entire new life container (i.e., one heart) when you defeat a big baddie. Deku sticks can be used to fight (although swords are better and less prone to breakage) and also to light unlit torches…which often opens locked doors or gets you an nice surprise. Deku nuts can be used to stun baddies so you can smack them one, and shields are obviously of great importance. There are three shields in the game…the Deku shield is wooden and the perfect size for little Link, however if it catches fire its ruined, the Hyrule shield which is metal and really too big for little Link to use properly (he just hides underneath it), and the great and powerful mirror shield. There are lots of other nice goodies to help you o n your way…the stone of Agony makes your joy pad vibrate in response to nearby secret, the Lens of Truth can see right through things like treasure chests, and empty bottles come in handy for all sorts of reasons. You can fill them with potion to restore energy or magic points, catch a fairy with them (fairies bring you back to life if you die) or fill them with nutritious Lon Lon milk (one swig restores five hearts, with two servings to a bottle). You can also catch bugs and fish for various reasons. The Ocarina of the title is a legendary musical instrument which you learn different songs to play on...songs to summon Epona the Horse, to change night to day, and to speak to a childhood friend. Zelda is full of hundreds of little mini games. As a child you can join the Happy Mask Shop. Here, you lend a mask and carry it with you until you find someone to buy it. If you sell them all you will get a very special, secret mask, but finding the right people to sell to can be hard. There are shooting galleries and Bombchu bowling alleys (Bombchu's are basically moving bombs) and lots of other fun games little Link can play to earn Rupees (the currency used in Hyrule), heart pieces or great new objects. As an adult, Link must win a game to win Epona the horse, who he can then take to the Horseback Archery range or round a show jumping course, which is fantastic fun! There’s also the fishing pond, which either big or little Link can visit. The owner gives you a rod, and you fish away. If you land a Lunker (a big fish), you’ll win a prize. You need a secret weapon to land the Loach (a gigantic fish that lives in the middle of the pond), and believe me; you can waste hours on this game alone. An ongoing mini game throughout the entire thing is finding Golden Skulltullas. Skulltullas are essentially gross spider things with skull faces on their backs. A family has been placed under a curse and turned into Skulltullas, the only way to free them i s find the Skulltullas in Hyrule, kill them and collect the tokens they leave behind…and as they are a very rich family, freeing them is to your advantage. The plot of the game is a s fantastical as any fairy tale, indeed it reads much like one, handsome pauper-prince saves fairy princess, but in a much cooler fashion. The plot is an involving and gripping part of the game and at points it may seem like your watching a “Never Ending Story” type movie instead of playing a game. Many of the games characters are absolutely vital to succeeding in the game, one example being a young girl who works on a ranch. You must interact with her and her cute foal properly in order to obtain Epona, Link’s horse when they all grow up. If you don’t speak nicely to the ruler of Death Mountain you’re in big trouble, and letting something slip can spoil large parts of the game. This is what makes Zelda so fantastic. An incredibly involved game, you have to do everything perfectly in order to succeed. The mini-games are an intrinsic part of the whole thing; you need many of the secret items to do well. The more time you spend coming every little part of Hyrule, the more addicted you will become, and the better you will do. The graphics don’t betray the games difficulty. Zelda looks like a cute and simple Spyro the Dragon type game. Link himself is a cute little pixie-eared boy with golden hair and a green Robin Hood-like tunic (tights and all). The visual effects are mesmerising and there are hours of real-time 3-D animations, the graphic art is truly intricate. These days, the graphics seem a little dated compared to the positively cartoonish Wind Waker, but at the time they were state of the art and the design is still perfect. The goodies are adorable (check out the rock monster people, the Gorons on Death Mountain, or King Zora’s gorgeous and cheeky daughter); the baddies are bloody terrifying (the Poe ghosts, Ga non in all his evil forms, and Dark Link in particular). The forests are lush and gorgeous, the mountains and deserts are barren and the final castle is truly chilling in all its terror. The soundtrack too is important. There are creepy distant screaming noises in the dungeons, the Kokiri tune is upbeat and light, and there is a track that makes your heart pound and makes you sweat whenever an enemy comes near. The music adds to the engrossing reality of the game. The gameplay starts out very easy but quickly becomes extremely complicated. For someone like me, not an avid video game player, the game is damn well impossible. You wouldn’t think so from the cutesy graphics, but this is one bitch of a game. Monsters get harder and harder to kill, monster ambushes become more and more likely and you can get chucked in jail, electrocuted or simply mangled by the thousands of nasty things in the supposedly peaceful world of Hyrule. Each individual enemy has a knack to killing it, the first two or three baddies are very simple to kill, and at first Zelda seems like a real kids game. But it’s a whole different kettle of fish (where does that expression come from anyway??? Do they boil the fish? Its not very nice) when Link grows up and becomes a green booted warrior! The baddies get harder, the big baddies get impossible and there are creepy things on the ceilings of dungeons that suck you into oblivion. Everything gets incredibly complicated, riding a horse while shooting arrows, keeping your eye on ALL the flaming bats (no really) at once and throwing bombs at giant dinosaurs, it can all get a bit much. When you switch the game off you feel as bruised and exhausted as if you were the own doing the fighting! Nintendo really broke the mould with this game; it is an absolutely all-engrossing game that will have you hooked from the first minute. Zelda is a game that will suck you in and never let you go. Coming from someone who very rarely gets addicted to video games and is not usually taken in by them, Zelda is the most brilliant, weird and fascinating game you will ever come across. After minutes of playing everything become real to you, yo u get so wrapped in the plot you could easily be there. Even after you complete it, five years after it first came out, you’ll always come back to it.
Note- I?ve included information about a certain ?down there? piercing in this op and a bit of slightly graphic information about it, if you think this sort of info will offend or upset you, then don?t read this. Currently I have ten piercings?six in my ears, plus my nose, tongue, navel and somewhere else I?ll leave to the imagination. I love each and every one of them, even the ones that hurt like hell (surprisingly, the tongue and er, other one, weren?t the most painful as you might think, my nose and certain parts of my ear hurt much more). My piercing craze has been a very recent development in my life, I had my first piercing done last summer. I?m considering getting my nipple done but I?m a little put off by the fact that its supposed to hurt like hell and take ages to heal, also I think it looks a little silly when you wear tight tops. The tongue is my latest and probably my favourite, It was actually the first thing I wanted pierced, but the guy at Tribal told me I had a vein lying in the middle and it wasn?t possible, so he pierced my nose instead. However, I managed to get my tongue pierced with no ill effects, other than the usual four days of swollen glands, liquid diet and pain when talking or swallowing. The amount of tuts and disapproving looks I get from grannies on buses is considerable, but to be honest with every dirty look and judgemental stare I get I just love my piercings more and more. And I?m not even one of the visibly pierced ones?you can barely see my tongue stud when I talk unless I want you to (it doesn?t hurt when trying to pull men!) and the nose is a more accepted form of facial piercing, unlike lips, cheeks and eyebrows. People?s prejudices when it comes to piercings kinda piss me off. People still have the image of piercing and tattoo studios as dirty, pest-ridden places run by some huge hairy sweaty guy called Bubba who has spikes and MUM tattoos on every visible part of his body, who smokes while giving tattoos. Proper piercing studios should look and smell more like dentist surgeries than bars, although they may have slightly cooler décor- Urban has some great graffiti type decoration on the walls. Getting septicaemia or an STI from needles just doesn?t happen in proper studios, and if it does, then it?s your own damn fault for going to a dump to get a piercing! There are plenty of approved studios in cities and usually one in large towns. If there?s no-one approved where you are then just take a trip into your nearest city. Another prejudice is that all piercings are dangerous and people who get pierced are masochists. Personally I cant stand pain and getting new piercings always terrifies me because I cry if I get a bloody paper cut (although the hype is usually more than the pain), but the pain of getting the piercing is only a day or two or a week or two, and if you like the look of your piercing then you have that beautiful piece of body art forever. Interestingly, the only piercings I?ve ever had trouble with have been my ear lobes and my navel, both of which are now highly accepted places to pierce, especially the ears. All the unusual places I have like my ear cartilage, tongue and nose, have been more or less trouble free (aside from the initial month or two healing period in which you have to deal with a little pain and blood). Mouth injuries in people with pierced tongues are massively overstated. For the first week or so when you aren?t used to your piercing and your tongue is swollen you will occasionally hit the bar off your teeth, which can hurt. After this period it doesn?t really happen, unless you become one of the rare pierced tongue types who make a habit of tapping their teeth with their piercing. As for speech impediments, these tend to be temporary and last for a month at most, and infection only really happens if you don?t wash your mouth out with mouthwash after everything you eat, drink and smoke until your piercing is healed. The major ity of problems with piercings are a result of lack of aftercare. I didn?t look after my navel piercing right and as a result it took three extra months to heal. The bottom line is, if you don?t like the way piercings look, then don?t have anything pierced. This is your choice and it?s equally MY choice to adorn my body in a way I find beautiful. This doesn?t give you the right to criticise people who do have piercings. You wouldn?t tell someone you don?t like their new haircut so why tell them you think their new body jewellery sucks? Learn to be polite. Very few of us are masochists, its my body and if I get pleasure from decorating it in any way I see fit, you have no right to tell me what?s right and wrong. Keep your disgust to yourself because it just shows your ignorance and makes me prouder of my choices. So you wanna get pierced? The first thing you have to consider is where you want pierced. Ears would be probably your first thought, either lobes or a more exotic piercing such as cartilage or the little piece, which sticks out over the hole in your ear (your tragus). Even if you just want your lobes pierced the best place to go is a proper piercing studio, not a hairdresser or a Claire?s Accessories. Proper studios will use a needle instead of a gun. Needles, though not as quick, are much safer and usually less painful. Apart from the fact that there have been occasions of guns going wrong and seriously injuring people, the force and speed of a gun damages the surrounding tissue and makes the wound a lot harder to heal. Needles don?t damage the surrounding skin in the same way. Believe it or not, particles of blood can also become airborne in microscopic amounts and infect the gun, and hepatitis is very easily spread with equipment like this. Don?t let someone use a gun to pierce your ears and NEVER let them use a gun on any other part of your body like your nose. Noses have a particularly delicate healing process and guns reall y don?t help. Plus if you want a more exotic ear piercing hairdressers and shops are unlikely to do them. What else could you have pierced? The list is endless. Eyebrows, tongues, nose, cheeks, labrets, lips, nipples, navels, genitals plus skin piercing on anywhere you can think of. Some of these have rather serious consequences. Tongues require four or five days off work living off soup, Slimfast, smoothies and baby food and washing out with mouthwash after every meal and every five or so hours, female genital piercings can prevent you walking around without either pain or experiencing orgasm (I kid you not) for a week or two (although, despite the delicate nature of these piercings, female genital piercings only take about two weeks to heal. This is because it isn?t the actually clitoris that is pierced?piercers are reluctant to do this because there?s a 1:100 chance that they pierce a nerve and all feeling is lost. It?s the little flap of skin OVER the clitoris that is usually pierced). For any piercing you have make sure the studio is registered with an approved body, the names of which you can find if you look them up on the net. Feel free to snoop around, reputable places wont mind. The place should be very clean and sterile looking with needles kept in packets, sinks in every room and clean utensils. The staff should be friendly and non-intimidating, and they usually are, although they are often be-dreadlocked and pierced student looking types. Obviously nobody should be smoking and the place should have a dentist surgery smell. The piercer should be happy to answer any questions you have about dangers associated with your piercing, how to look after your new wound and any other questions. My experience of piercing Tongue- This is currently my favourite (probably as its my most recent) I?ve had it for three months now. Tongue piercing is something that makes a lot of people shudder but actually it hardly hurts at all. All you feel is a little pinch; which is surprisingly, especially after the nerves you will no doubt encounter before this piercing. The following 12 hours will be rather uncomfortable, more so than painful. If the piercing really hurts a couple of Nurofen usually do the trick, but the feeling tends to be more unpleasant, you feel as if there is a clamp in your mouth, and the balls on the stud feel massive. The sensation of having something stuck to your tongue like that is unusual and you will want to spit the balls out. Try not to move your tongue too much. The next day your tongue will probably be swollen massively, although mine never had this problem at all. The swelling should last for a week at most, then will start to go down but continue aftercare for six weeks at least. Cost- mine cost £25 with a student discount. Expect to pay at least twenty and probably nearer thirty for this one, the price should come complete with two bars, one for the initial swelling, the other for after the swelling goes down. Questions you should ask beforehand- tongue piercing has a few risks associated with it but they are massively hyped and very few piercings here have much bother if they are cared for properly. If you have questions regarding them make sure you ask. Also, good studios should include two bars in the price of the piercing. The first bar is a lot bigger and you will wear it for two weeks while the swelling goes down. After this you go back to get your second bar, which is smaller and will be put in for you. This is your permanent bar. Make sure you ask about this, one bar wont do the trick- if its too small it will hurt your swollen tongue, if its too big it will be uncomfortable and possibly damage your teeth after the swelling goes down. Before piercing- Eat something a couple of hours before you go for the piercing. The piercing process- You will be asked to gargle with Listerine for a minute or so, then the piercer will dry your tongue and mark it with ink where the piercing will go. You will then be told to lie back. A clamp will be put on your tongue to stop it wiggling (this will be a reflex and you wont be able to help it) and the needle pushed through. The piercing will then be put in and the ball screwed on. You will probably feel little more than a pinch, and by the time you feel that little pinch the needle will be through. After piercing- if you faint from having this pierced it?s your nerves, not the pain of the piercing which is minimal. The piercer will ask you to lie down for this and stay lying for a minute or so after. You should get an aftercare sheet. You will need to eat soft food like soup and baby food for about five days. Slimfast is another option as you don?t have to eat at all but there will be plenty of vitamins and minerals, although you should really try to eat something solid too. You should take a multivitamin and a zinc complex until you can eat normally again and you should wash your mouth out with antibacterial mouthwash after eating or drinking anything other than water. Not smoking for a week is helpful. You will probably feel tired and run down from not eating solids and often your glands swell as your body tries to get rid of the foreign body in your mouth. Taking four or five days off work is probably a good idea. Arnica gel can be used around the piercing to soothe the swelling (the bottom of your tongue in particular will be sore), but if there is blood don?t rub it in right around the piercing. I also discovered that Nurofen more or less stops the swelling getting too painful, both glandular and on the tongue, so taking some a few times a day for the first few days is a good idea. Once the swelling goes make sure the ball is tight so it cant come off while your sleeping, checking before this point will probably hurt a lot. You will probably feel more strange and uncomfortable than in pain. Continue to use mouthwash after food for six weeks until the healing process is complete, you should then continue to use mouthwash twice a day. Oh and no kissing or, er, oral action for six weeks either. The bacteria in other people?s mouths or other bits can cause your damaged skin to get infected. You must keep this one scrupulously clean or you?re in big trouble. A good test that you?re clean enough is the mouth tasting of mouthwash and arnica gel for a full six weeks at ALL times. Don?t touch the piercing while it?s healing if you can help it, and wash your hands before and after if you do. This is important with all piercings but especially the tongue. After the healing process is over, you can put a smaller ball on the underside of the piercing to stop it contacting with the soft bit of the mouth cavity. If you?re worried about your teeth, have acrylic balls instead of metal. Advantages- a facial piercing that isn?t too obvious. Great for grossing people out if that?s your thing, also fantastic for pulling men (and makes certain activities very enjoyable for them). You?ll probably also lose about a stone in weight from the liquid diet! Disadvantages- some people can find this one a bit disgusting. If your employer disapproves you can get a clear ball for work so it isn?t visible, or put a tube through your piercing during work. The initial week after piercing isn?t very comfortable. Risks- a slight risk of damage to the teeth but only usually in the first few weeks with the big stud is used and your tongue is swollen. Do NOT develop the habit of tapping the piercing off your teeth. If a vein lies right in the middle of your tongue it may be nicked. Some places check for this others don?t. I had mine pierced in another studio after one refused to do it because of a vein, and I had no bleeding at all, I assume the piercer spotted the vein and pierced around it. The risk of infection is low if you keep the piercing very clean, although be careful if it bleeds a lot after piercing. Some dentists may refuse to treat you because of the piercing so you may have to travel a little further to the dentist. There is a risk of the piercing coming loose in your sleep and lodging in your throat, you can minimise this by making sure the balls are very tight just before bed. Nose Nose piercing is the more acceptable facial piercing, it is often done for religious reasons and little studs can look very pretty. Unfortunately it hurts like hell. Its easily the most painful one I?ve had done, not least of all because you cant numb the nose as it carries a very slight risk of anaphylactic shock. Unlike the tongue however after the initial piercing the pain goes almost instantly, and all you will feel is a slightly bruised feeling around the area for a few days. There may be a bit of blood and you have to be VERY careful, like the tongue, of keeping this one clean. Questions you should ask beforehand- not too many, just make sure that the piercing is done with a needle not a gun. Cost- mine cost a tenner as it was a trainee piercer, however they usually cost twenty to thirty, depending on the jewellery you choose. Before piercing- Make sure you eat something before you get pierced to minimise your risk of passing out. I hear this isn?t uncommon with noses because it hurts so damn much! The piercing process- your nose will be cleaned inside and out with a sterile wipe, and then marked on the outside where the piercing will go. A metal tube will be inserted into the inside of the nose and a needle pushed through. This needle really, really hurts, and your eyes will water like hell. The stud or ring will then be pushed in and if there?s blood it will be cleaned. After piercing- You should be given an aftercare sheet. You shouldn?t take the stud out for six weeks (as with all piercings) as it increases risk of infection and can result in a painful lump developing on one side of the piercing, the inside of the nose in this case. Its best to get a small stud with a tight twist in it for initial piercing, it will hurt more to get in to your tender new orifice but it will be less likely to fall out (there aren?t usually backs on nose studs because of the risk of inhaling them). Clean the inside and outside of your nose with a cotton bud dipped in either diluted tea tree oil or warm salt water. Warm salt water is especially good for gentle healing, but the tea tree is great for getting rid of the weird smell associated with healing piercings. A little blood will usually crust under the piercing for a few days, then there will be pus oozing out for a while (lovely). It should be clear or white; if it?s bloody or green you should visit your piercer. The inside of the nose will probably be especially bloody for a while though; it might feel like you?ve got a cold. Aside from turning the stud twice a day to stop it sticking, try not to play with the piercing too much and wash your hands before touching it. Risks- Gun piercing can damage the surrounding tissue, and again there is a minute risk of anaphylactic shock, although not freezing the nose reduces this. If the piercer tells you their going to numb your nose tell them not to. Aside from the pain involved this one is pretty risk-free. Navel- Popularised by anorexic pop tarts like Bitchney Spears, the navel is a very attractive place to have a piercing, and all the beautiful bars and rings you can get make this one a fun one to have pierced. However it hurts quite a bit and takes a very long time to heal. Cost- Mine cost £25. The price varied, it was £20 for a ring (I don?t recommend you are initially pierced with a ring however, it takes longer to heal), £25 for a plain bar and £30 for a bar with a coloured stone. The £20-£30 mark is around average in a good studio. Before piercing- as always, make sure you eat something! The piercing process- your bellybutton will be cleaned and marked up for piercing. You will be asked to lie back and then they will numb you r navel. A needle will be pushed through followed by your chosen jewellery. This one hurts quite a lot as only the surface of the skin is numbed; you can feel the needle going right through. Afterwards a dressing will be applied, navels usually bleed a lot after piercing. After piercing- as usual you should get an aftercare sheet. Navels can take ages to heal because of their location, movement and rubbing against your trousers or shirt will irritate it and it will take a while before you can show it off. Getting a bar instead of a ring is a good idea; rings can catch and make the wound take longer still to heal. There will be a good deal of blood and bruising, which may last a good few weeks. Use saline solution on this one, its more gentle than the tea tree solution. Keep cleaning the navel so long as it oozes anything, this can last months. If the wound is still bleeding after a few weeks or oozing black, green or horrible smelling stuff then go back to your piercer. Wiggle the piercing about a few times a day to stop it sticking and to dislodge any gunk, wash your hands before you touch it. Aside from this leave it alone and let it heal. Risks- there is an increased risk of infection with this one, and a risk of catching if you wear a ring, apart from that it?s risk-free. Clitoris hood- If you tell someone about this one, its certainly a conversation starter, however try not to get so drunk that you show it off (and no I haven?t done that?yet). Not as shocking or painful as you might think, especially given that it isn?t the clitoris itself that is pierced. The chance of hitting a nerve is very high and its impossible to ensure the piercer hasn?t done this. If a nerve is hit then you lose all feeling down there for life, so instead the little piece of skin over it is pierced. It?s a very pleasurable piercing to have and solves many of those reaching orgasm during intercourse problems; it also means you orgasm a lot faster (interestingly its poss ible to orgasm without even touching the piercing!) Cost- mine cost £25, I?m not sure the average for this one but the £20-£30 mark is probably about right. Before piercing- firstly, you?d better make sure you?re comfortable showing off this part of your body to a stranger. Piercing- After being asked whether you want a horizontal or vertical piercing, you?ll be asked to remove your bottom half clothing and lie down with your knees apart and feet together. You?ll be cleaned and marked up for piercing; a needle will be inserted followed by your new jewellery. After piercing- you should refrain from sex for at least four days, and make sure and be gentle for the first couple of weeks. If any pain is felt during sex, you should stop immediately, as there is a very slight chance the piercing might tear. It won?t tear out, but it will make infection easier. Wearing cotton underwear?and no thongs or tights, for the three-week healing period will allow the wound to breathe. Have one salt-water bath at least every two days for the healing period (dissolve a tablespoon of sea salt in a glass of hot water and pour it in the bath). Apparently a drop of lavender oil will reduce any pain, but personally I?d dilute it first. Don?t use anything like alcohol, TCP, or even things you can use on other piercings like tea tree oil, as it could result in thrush. The piercing should heal in three weeks and is less susceptible to infection than other places (believe it or not) because of a natural acidity in the area, which makes it hard for bacteria to survive. Advantages- well they?re obvious aren?t they? Given that most men can?t find it with a road map AND broad daylight, shoving a piece of metal through it makes it very hard to miss. Men also tend to like to play with it, so you may get foreplay that lasts a whole five minutes instead of two seconds (sorry guys ;-). It makes achieving orgasm from penetration just as easy as it is for men and they can become much s tronger. It has literally been known to transform sex lives, especially for women with overdeveloped clitoris hoods or a small clitoris. As I?ve mentioned, this is one of the easiest to heal too, and it doesn?t hurt much as such a small area is being pierced. Disadvantages- There isn?t really any, except a slight discomfort or possibly over stimulation when climbing staircases for the first few weeks!!! Risks- none as far as I?m aware of, despite common belief this area is not prone to infection. Ears- a variety of ear piercings can be performed. I have my lobes pierced, also my tragus (the piece of cartilage that sticks out in front of the ear), the anti-tragus (the edge of cartilage directly opposite the tragus), upper conch (which goes straight through the shell of the ear), and the daith (the little ridge of cartilage above the tragus). The ear can take anywhere between six and ten weeks to heal, and can sometimes be troublesome due to irritations by hair, shampoo, hair products etc (especially piercings on the cartilage). Before piercing- Make sure you wont be pierced with a gun, and if your getting a piece of cartilage pierced eat something as they can hurt). Piercing- The usual. The area you want pierced will be cleaned, marked up, numbed, a needle inserted followed by the jewellery. Pain varies considerably. Ear lobe piercing with needles is a lot sharper but less painless. Cartilage hurts quite a lot, and the tragus is murder because it?s so thick and sensitive. After piercing- Your piercing should be cleaned and rotated on a twice to three times daily basis. Don?t use TCP while the wound is healing, use tea-tree oil, warm salt water, hot compresses are also nice on the ears. Granulomas, small lumps that appear around the piercing, are common especially if the stud has been knocked or fallen out and put in again. Hot compresses are ideal for this. Try to avoid overuse of hair products and watch out while washing your hair. Advantages- Uncommon ear piercings are pretty and can be less obvious unusual piercings. When they heal they are usually trouble free and less prone to the flare-ups some other piercings can occasionally have. Disadvantages- a bit boring sometimes, everyone has their ears pierced. Some people have particularly sensitive ears that never take well to being pierced. Having big lobe rings torn out is an occasional problem! Body piercing has long enough been seen as the domain of freaks, but have become a lot more mainstream of late. As long as for have a reputable, sterile place pierce you and you follow the aftercare instructions to the letter, you probably wont have a problem. Some people?s bodies are more likely to naturally reject the piercings?eyebrow piercings might grow out, or your body may refuse to heal. If this is the case, then piercings are a bad idea; otherwise it?s an individual choice. I love my piercings and have had little problems with any of them, with the exception of my bellybutton, which is my own fault for not being more rigorous with cleaning it. And always remember, piercings can always come out if you get bored of them or they cause constant problems. Prejudice against piercing is just the same as prejudices against other things such as people with marginalized viewpoints on big issues such as abortion or animal rights?they result from ignorance. People with this sort of uptight viewpoint need to get a piercing in a private area?that?ll loosen them up.
Must admit, I never originally saw the genius of the ‘Clause. I bought their debut “See This Through and Leave” and listened several times, thinking, “Hmm, well that’s pretty good”. It then got whacked in the middle of my CD collection and ignored to for ages, until a now ex-boyfriend started raving about it and I wondered if I was missing something. Turns out I was. The Coopers debut album was a blistering, raw inferno of experimentation, post-teenage hormones and infuriated screaming fits. It took its time to grow on me, but now it’s among my favourite albums, one of my ‘desert island discs’. It’s not easy to listen to, but it is wonderful if you have the patience. I’m now in the process of updating my original op on the first album, which, as well as being crap, doesn’t represent how I feel about it now. The ‘Clause For those of you not familiar with the Cooper Temple Clause, don’t be fooled by the “the” name. This isn’t another one of those copycat bands…they couldn’t be less Strokes/Kills/Thrills if they tried. Spacey and proggy, they just love three-chord repetitive guitar introductions laden with electronic effects and have an love for techno as well as art-punk. As a result, the Cooper Temple Clause is a strange fusion of creative guitar-based music in slightly dancey packaging. But while the definition might be experimental electro-techno-art-punk, the guitars are the heart of it. Not only are they guitars, but they are f**king heavy guitars. Bang! Magazine recently called them “The only heavy rock band you can admit to liking without feeling a slight sense of shame”. Thee Coopers err on the unusual side. They are not a bunch of Converse-wearing pretty boys rehashing music your dad was listening to thirty years ago. While the Converse and being pretty might still be the case, the Coopers are al l about innovation...the result has passing resemblances to many bands (Muse, Sonic Youth, JAMC, Radiohead and recent Primal Scream, Oasis-type vocals, the Rapture etc.”), but in itself is as original as a young band can be these days (god I sound so old). Kick up the Fire and Let the Flames Break Loose The insolent rage so profuse in the first album is definitely more controlled, although not less evident. Ben Gautrey’s vocals still contain the growly sneer he was criticised for, however he has toned down a little…on the first album his vocals sounded like part of an Oasis tribute band. In this album, many would say that the Cooper Temple Clause’s musical balls have dropped and they’ve grown up. In this one nevertheless, the Coopers have grown up a bit and learned to keep some of the rage in, instead of beating the crap out of a guitar for five minutes, they work the anger into slightly more tuneful melodies than the last album, sometimes they ever go as far as a whole melody (shock horror) instead of the fragmented bits of melodies of the first album. Part of me misses songs that sound like STTAL’s “Been Training Dogs”, an explosive four minute rant, but the Coopers are definitely a band who needed to grow. despite being slightly quieter, this is probably even less accessible than their last, as it lacks the hooks of songs like “Lets Kill Music” from the first album. They are never going to be a mainstream band, although loose cannons like Promises may occasionally stealth-bomb the charts. The art in this gorgeous album is the bizarre amalgamation of all its genres, and its no wonder the Coopers sound so schizophrenic at times. “The Same Mistakes” If STTAL’s “Did you miss me?” was a kick-up-the-ass introduction to the first album, then “The Same Mistakes” is thee Coopers grabbing their fans by the shoulders a nd saying “look, we’ve changed a bit”. Indeed, the very first line is “And so it has to change”. Ben’s vocals are rather gorgeous and soaring on this track, he has dropped the Gallagher/Jones snarl, but it detracts nothing from his voice and the quiet desperation which is never missing from his it. Its definitely a ‘change’ song- “But you cant keep making the same mistakes”, “Can’t jump ship just yet, there’s no-one at the wheel, someone has to steer, get a hold of yourself, keep your head, there’s no time to waste, you’ll see it soon enough, but all is not forgotten, and now’s no time for tears”. The song starts with a whisper of strings. These quickly descend into a slippery, metallic synth sound and an eerie drum machine track. A quietly melancholic guitar backs Ben’s charming voice, and the unusually muted desolation of the bass suits the slightly sinister track perfectly, as does the rolling drum machine which gives way to Jon, the actual drummer after typically impressive Cooper-like anticlimax, a solo repeated bass note backed by a high-pitched guitar line with Ben’s sweet voice near-whispering over it. It’s a powerful introduction. instead of using liberal screaming and the abuse of innocent guitars as on the first album, it uses an unexpected grace and maturity to engage the ear. Unexpected if you’ve heard the first album anyway. “Promises, Promises” The track most reminiscent of the first album on “Kick up the Fire…” this one is a motherf**ker of a rock song. It starts with a drum roll that descends into the second coolest guitar riff ever, a cheese rock riff that the Darkness would be proud of. It sounds a little like Metallica dressed up for the new century. Not that Metallica were ever cool, but this song is, and only CTC could take a riff like this and avoid sounding like...well , the Darkness. The guitar riff shows what you can do with a few chords if you play them the right way, and it’s backed by an aggressive, metal drum track from Jon and a powerful, foreboding bassline. However its certainly not a dumbed down form of thee Coopers designed for the Top 40, Bens new voice adds a softened edge, and the lyrics are amusingly bitchy and angry as you’d expect from thee Coops. “Well just go, go back to your bright lights, you’d made promises you couldn’t keep”, “Just keep your mouth shut you got nowhere to go”, “Forget about me and just desecrate everything”. Void of the dance-rock fusion of most of the Coopers stuff, I find it a tad boring in comparison to most of there stuff but its a necessary middle finger to people who say the Cooper Temple Clause don’t realise they are just a trussed (and tressed) up rock band. It’s a clever first single to release from the album too, as despite its heavy overtones its got enough classy hooks to attract your more leftfield pop kid, and convince quite a few doubters along the way. Fantastic to bounce about to. “New Toys” “We came, we played, we drifted away, we came, we played but it got away oh no, What’s happening to us? Well I’ll just shut my eyes til we get back home, Til we touch back down and keep playing dumb, and I’m carving my own little master piece, go ahead cut deep but don’t tell the boys, I tried but now I just cant feel a thing, Just gagged and bound and clipped at the wings oh no, what’s happening to us? Possibly my favourite from the new album, its seven-eighths in mourning for a relationship, an eighth bitchy sarcasm, as was evident in “Did you Miss me?” However, the bitchiness adds the track a brilliant edge, along with its dubby, textured electronic overtones, which stops it sounding like your average turgid and overplayed ̶ 0;ending relationship” song. Again, Ben’s voice lifts this song right up, although it manages to be both rough as gravel and smooth as silk at the appropriate moments. He almost sounds on the verge of tears at some point. The lyrics too are enchanting. I particularly love “We came we played, we drifted away, we came we played, but it got away, oh no, what’s happening to us?” which is sung in the most beautifully plaintive voice from Ben, until the whole song sounds like an ode to a childhood sweetheart dressed up in techno clothing. Also, I believe “I’m carving my own little master piece, go ahead cut deep, but don’t tell the boys” and particularly “Just gagged and bound and clipped at the wings” are some of the finest lyrics on the album. It manages to sound filthy and creepy, but it’s being metaphorical makes Ben’s voice sound all the more innocent, if ever so delicately suggestive. The “gagged and bound” bit is redolent of the first album’s “The Lake” in which Ben expresses a feeling of being trapped, it seems a common feature in Cooper songs while hints at their small town background. The song is backed by a whispering, lullaby-esque electronic melody, which is offset by an extremely cool drum machine line and mournful bass which stops the song sounding too cloying. The scant lyrics are beefed up by repetition, and a few minute long electronic interlude topped by the same lullaby melody until the song fades to a sweet nothing. All in all, this alternately tender and savage work of art qualifies for a favourite Coopers song so far. “Talking to a Brick Wall” I’m not quite how I should be, been finding tricks too hard, I’m thinking something must be broken, Cos it wasn’t like this before, Now everyone is ugly and everyone is stoned, small things about you excite me but then I’d hate to spoil the tone, All my little something just ran out of luck, Secret dates with strangers, dirty words and fighting talk, I’m so scared it’s killed me, time and time again, I cant live with compromise so maybe we could talk as friends? If at first you don’t succeed, try again for me, today is going to be fine, tomorrow will be fine too, I asked for things to better me, even thought they silenced my soul, I can taste it just for a second and then it disappears, the flowers look like glitter but then so do you my dear, its in the way that you look, its in the books that wont read, it comes and goes like a friend, its with me right to the end, its in the memories I’ve lost, its concentrating too much, its breaking down of relations, and it’s the beat of the clock, its not being able to explain, or get your feelings across, its in the pain that wont leave you, its coming straight back for us, its in a new lease of life, and a search that ends well, its in finding that change its being happy again. Opens up with a ‘house of horrors’ anti-melody followed by a beat that sounds like “Teardrop” by Massive Attack and is topped by the creepiest sounding vocals and ‘tune’ I’ve ever heard (with the exception of the MSP’s “Mausoleum” and “Meat is Murder by the Smiths”). Its sung in a slightly off-kilter and droning minor key, backed by peculiar, almost ghostly electronics that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hammer Horror film. The verses are also backed by Tom singing in an extremely eerie, bassy deep voice. It is a weird little song this, but the choruses are more Cooper, loud and singable with backing vocals and a souped-up drum beat. At first listen it sounds bizarre but really it comes across as one of the strongest on the album because of the freaky sound and great lyrics. From my point of view they sound like a mixture of a relationship song, neither positive nor negative, it con tains (as well as the title), “I’m thinking something must be broken, cos it wasn’t like this before”, “I cant live with compromise so maybe we could talk as friends?” and “It’s a breaking down of relations”, but also contains “small things about you excite me” (albeit backed by the delightfully sarky “But then I’d hate to spoil the tone”), “Today is going to be fine, tomorrow will be fine too”, and the lovely “The flowers look like glitter but so do you my dear”, which is either a lovely sentiment, or a wonderfully caustic comment on how fake things are. I’m a big fan of “Secret dates with strangers, dirty words and fighting talk” as well, its just too cool. This is a strange little artsy-fartsy track, its lyrics are fantastic and its one of the albums finest. “Into my arms” I saw the title for this and thought, oh my god tell me the Coopers aren’t doing a love song. I read the lyrics- which include “One night is never enough with you, please come back into my arms, so we can hold and share what we had before, everything is the same only your not around, the silent chill and the smell you made”, and I thought, Oh god it is a love song. I listened to the opening bars of the sultry, near non-existent tune and I thought s**t I’m going to kill them. They’re the Cooper temple clause for god’s sake! They are forbidden to write crappy soppy love songs. And soppy love song it is, or at least the first half. Sorry, but if you’ve ever seen thee Coopers onstage, six of them bouncing around in army shirts in need of a haircut abusing their instruments, doing absurd things with guitars and bass guitars (using violin bows to play them, creating deliberately weird feedback, plenty of flange from Didz and occasionally hitting each other with instruments, microphones or whatever comes to hand), and looking like your mum’s nightmare of your boyfriend, they just aren’t the soppy love song type (despite being very pretty). This starts out like an average love song, although it almost sounds a capella, because of the slight backing, the Coopers went for minimalism for the first time (concerning hair or music) in their lives. There is a quiet, chordy piano tune and a very quiet, wailing guitar that might sound at home in the love song of a boy band. The vocals are sung tenderly by two of the boys. The lyrics are a bit dull for the Coopers. just as I’m despairing at this song being in such a fine album, the track descends into what you expect from Coops, thundering beats topped by scratchy, dubby noises, the noise of someone screaming (at the horror of writing the first bit of the song?), a short agonised squeal of guitar and then thundering tuned percussion laden over the thudding drum track and electronic noises that sound like a car getting started up followed by more electronic noises that sound slightly like agonised chipmunks squealing in an echoing tunnel. Now THERE’S the Coopers I know and love. I’m convinced they did this track to give their fans a heart attack. “Blind Pilots” The major error of judgement on the album. It starts ominously with one of the boys singing the first verse…its not Ben, and whoever it is, it sound suspiciously like an American seventies cheese-rock singer, you know, low and sexy and all that. However, with Bens slightly wispier, more interesting backing, it isn’t too bad, also, Ben sings the choruses, returning to his snarly Gallagher noises, which are welcome by this point. Like “Promises” it’s a rock-based song with little in the way of electronics, the verses are quite smooth and mild, with a bog-standard 4/4 drum rhythm, and a three-chord bass. Halfway through the verses it is joined by a chugging rhythm guitar that for some reason reminds of the beginning of a Jimmy Eat World song. Its a bit of a dodgy one this. Some of the lyrics are cute...essentially it compares life to being like a blind pilot- “The landing lights are on but we’re just outta sight”, “but hang around and I’ll try to land this thing”, the song-saving tongue-in-cheek “someone pass the manual”, “We’re just blind pilots in strange planes, back seat drivers in dead cars”. But then since when were the Coopers about ’cute’ music? That’s what the Strokes are foe. There are a few duff lines in it “I hope you’ll never change, I hope you’ll never go, I hope you’ll always keep our little secret though” (it looks like someone got the rhyming dictionary out for that one. One of the pitfalls of having the drummer write your lyrics), but they are offset by the quirky ones and the sense of humour and the line that as a snotty indie kid I shouldn’t like but really do “I pray to God my soul to keep, cos I could never stand the heat”. Its extremely different to anything Cooper Temple Clause-like you’ll have heard from the first album, almost unrecognisable but then thats probably the point. You have to take this lightheartedly to appreciate it. It might be about love, something that my favourite bands don’t often cover cos its so oversung, but at least it’s from an interesting angle (someone must have been taking psycobilin mushrooms when thinking this one up) and it is in good humour, not taking itself too seriously. “A.I.M”- A much-coveted (FREE!!!) one-track single release only available through the NME the first taster of the new album that fans got. Opens with the coolest guitar-scratchy noises known to mankind, quickly followed by a hip-hoppy drum track, and a girlish vocal from Ben. Backed by the official coolest scratchy noises in the world™. I t snarls and shudders along until the chorus, which disperses with the cool scratchy noises and turns into a rather loud rock song with nice guitar effects and Ben again sounding like a certain Manchurian indie man. Half-way through we hit another Metallica point with a thundering three chord rhythm that really gets the headbangin going, only its backed by spacey signature Cooper noises just so you know who it is! This one on first listen sounds like another (sodding) love song, but actually it’s more about some relationships being like a disease (charming way of putting it, Ben!). Full of clichés like “I need her around”, “Baby’s coming home”, “oh my sweet love”, “baby come on home”, which normally would make me sick, but they are sang with the gorgeous sarcasm I love in Ben’s voice, and also offset by other lyrics like “She’s all I need, she’s wired into me, and don’t you think I know its unhealthy”, “Sooner or later, you heal or you die” “My beautiful disease, the bullet to my knees”. The last two I’m very fond of in particular. “Sooner or later…” suggests our young protagonist knows he’s suffering from a yucky case of the old love-sickness which is merely lust and will fade, or it will drive him mad (it also contains a veiled suggestion that long-term relationships are like dying), and the second is prototypical Coopers- it’s a complete juxtaposition (“My beautiful disease”) and just rolls off the tongue and sounds very cool. Its also typical Coopers by being sweet then sour, the almost cutesy sentiment, which is then kicked firmly in the balls-or shot in the kneecaps. The perfect track to follow up “Blind Pilots”, its vicious and harsh and sounds more like it belongs on STTAL than “Kick up the fire…”. “Music box" This is my music box, and this is my home, come in take a look if you like, just you on your own, but don’t make your mind up, because its not done yet, yeah, this is my music box, in a state of regret, because you drag me down, yeah you drag me down, but I’ve had a plague of late, a niggle of doubt, yeah I’ve had questions of conscience, of what this is about, can anyone hear me these days, did I lose my tongue, did I lose the battle sweet stuff? Before I’d begun, coz I am a private man, or am I a whore? We’ll settle the bill first then, well we’ll settle the score, yeah this is my music box, and this is my home, my pride and my joy, come in take a seat look around, say hi to the boys, yeah this is my music box, and this is my home, yeah this is my sanctuary, now leave me alone, coz you drag me down. Wonderful, certainly my second favourite on the album, after “New Toys”. This one sounds a little more like it would belong on STTAL, except for the fact that it retains something of the new album in it, perhaps in its melody. The song opens with fragments on several weird little synthesiser melodies, a whisper of a beat and a space-ship type sound. It gives way to a beautiful, quiet guitar, which is alternately morose and sweet, and Ben’s voice at its softest and most tender. After the first verse the whispery beat ups itself to a louder drum rhythm and the tune begins to build up much like the many ones you would find on the first album (notably on “Panzer Attack” and “Did you Miss Me”), but then works its way into a quiet nothing again, which in turn gives way to a death-metal like guitar riff (which sounds sort of like Armageddon is approaching) backed with satanic sounding electronic noises, a, thundering and booming bass. This is great, as it shows a slightly new side to the Coopers…they are no strangers to writing angry songs but many would say they often depended solely on the amount of volume they could muster from their amplifiers, in other words, how much they made their fans ears bleed. While they certainly had the great lyrics to back up the inferno of noise, often the inferno of noise was so much that you couldn’t hear the great lyrics. This one starts out quietly, builds up to semi loud, goes quiet again and then the storm breaks, which in turn fades to quiet again. The composition of the entire track is genius. And for once the fine lyrics can mostly be heard. Evidently this one is about ‘making it’ in a band. Inviting your fans into your ‘sanctuary’ which you think is what you want in the first place (“Come in take a look if you like, but don’t make your mind up, coz its not done yet”), but maybe it turns out you didn’t want it quite as much (“in a state of regret”, “you drag me down”, “A niggle of doubt”). It also expresses great self-doubt with “I am a private man, or am I a whore?” Ultimately it decides “Leave me alone coz you drag me down”. Stunning lyrics, and quite disconcerting for a fan to listen to…lets hope they get their aggressions out in songs like this instead letting it hurt them. “In your Prime”- Incidentally also the name of a Strokes song. Less incidentally, sounds nothing like the Strokes. Another slightly creepy sounding minor key start to this one here. This is possibly the oddest track on the album, being only about two minutes long (which is very short for the indulgent Coopers) and played with creepy and unusual (even for the Coopers) electronica in the background, some strings, also played in the minor key, and a primal drum beat from what sounds like bongos. It doesn’t really add much to the album, but it’s a nice, worthwhile little diversion to ponder over, with rather suggestive lyrics- “Like to dream, Cos when I dream, I’m with you, And you let me do things to you, That I would not normally do, You always play and you want me, You never leave my side, You’ll always be in your prime girl, Just how I remember you, Lick my wounds.” “Written Apology”- no need to apologise A wonderful finish to the album, starts off with a sleepy acoustic guitar, a minor key piano tune, and a rather clunky (albeit suitably so) bassline. There’s an extremely quiet and lazy swing beat thing going on with the drums during the first part. The song picks up its pace at the second verse with eerie backing vocals and more clapping noises, plus the addition of a compulsory swooping synth line. The lyrics are obviously a personal ode to someone they know- “We love the way that you move, I know we’ve been gone and we’re never around, but we’re coming home and we’ve missed getting down, you’ll always remain the beautiful boys, so don’t ever change and just go get the girls”, “we gave you excuses we gave you a song”. Eventually the loose and wandering feel of the track reaches a steady pace, which then builds up to a typical Coopers choruses, intricately layered guitars and a thundering bass looming over looping, intertwined electronic noises, and again, a nice touch is added with some violins. The big chorus then fades away to a creepy ‘synth’ bit. The final half of the song, which comes after the lyrics, is another musical diversion from the Coopers, it turns into a thudding techno beat and lots of mechanic noises that are evocative of the first album’s ‘555-4823’. The beats are pretty massive and remind me of SFA's techno moments. All in all, I’d say this is stronger than the Coopers debut. As I’ve mentioned there are no stand out heavy rock tracks which will do well in the charts with the exception of “Promises Promises” which has already been released, and thi s album is more arty and angular than the last one, and perhaps less accessible, even for fans of the Cooper Temple Clause. It is certainly an active listen rather than background music, and the irregularity that is present in many of the songs is going to put fans of such tracks as “Lets Kill Music” off, but the album has more to say, and more important things to say than the last one. No one can listen to this and call the Coopers just a bunch of pretty faces, because it’s very intelligent stuff, less heavy handed and more experimental than the last album, which will disappoint some and delight others. The Coopers have shown a great breadth of influence with this album, and the possibilities for the next one are simply hair-raising*. *That hair-raising bit is a very unfunny in-joke. If you’ve ever seen the Cooper Temple Clause, they have hair that looks like Rod Stewart’s might after sticking his tongue into an electrical device.
Flip is a cool shop on Edinburgh’s South Bridge that has become a Nu-goth hangout. Part second hand clothes shop, part new stuff, and what with Applejack downstairs (A haven for punkers and hippies), it’s a pretty unique place to shop. Few places could boast to catering for both hippies and rockers but this place does successfully if somewhat expensively. Unlike most of the kinds of shop that cater for hippies and punks, Flip is pretty damned enormous. The back part of the store is dedicated to selling second hand gear…it’s a great place to get hold of old Levi’s or cords, as well as sale clothing, while the rest is new stuff, notably extremely baggy jeans and very large leather wrist cuffs. The shop itself Flip is very large and eye-catching. It usually has very eye-catching displays in the window…eye catching if you like wallet chains and t-shirts that say things like “Fuck Fcuk”. Enter through the barriers to see a mosher, goth, hippy, nu-punk and old punk heaven. To the front right are the jewellery, hair dyes, beanies and belts essential to mosherdom, the guys stuff is at the front, the girls further back and the sale and second hand gear right at the back. At first Flip seems haphazard and very disorganised, but after you’ve spent a good few hours browsing (and it demands a few) you will know the system well. Despite the large, airy premises, the racks are very close together and its more or less impossible to move without knocking something…or someone, over. Again, the sale and second hand racks are hazardous as well as haphazard, but its part of the places charm. The section for non sale, new items is fairly well organised if somewhat crammed. When you take one pair of jeans off the rack about five usually come off, grrr, and the racks go up far too high for little people (i.e., hobbitses), like me. The sale section and second hand section, in true sale section style , is an absolute nightmare for people who have low tolerances for clothes shopping. You really feel the need to go through everything in case you find the perfect t-shirt/pair of trousers/Darkness style silver jumpsuit, and this can take hours if not days and you may find yourself kipping under the neat range of Incubus T-shirts. The important stuff…the merchandise Flip does a ridiculously large range of stuff from tie dye t-shirts to the popular-among-yahs Emily Strange range. Reviewing it all would be ridiculous so here’s a general idea of what Flip has to offer… The style- as I have mentioned before, is suitable for kids who like to call themselves (or find themselves labelled), Goths, hippies, punks, skaters and moshers. Flip is licensed to sell band gear and you’ll find hoodies and t-shirts for bands like Incubus, Slipknot and the Deftones if that is your bag (you poor bastard). The range of patches is better still with the usual Incubus, Slipknot and Deftones, but also stuff like Dead Kennedy’s, Black Flag, the Rolling Stones and the Doors, and of course, the ever-present-in-nu-rock-culture Nirvana. As well as this Flip does a neat range in ridiculously baggy jeans with the wallet chains and leather collars and bands to match, beanies of every design imaginable and funky hair colours. The girls stuff is a little less varied with the emphasis being on the cute bleach-blonde mini-mosh chick who wears Emily Strange and Vans trainers and is a skater groupie. Downstairs in Applejack is great for fans of old punk like the Clash, and hippies, but it’s a different shop and thus another review in itself. Although the stuff is mostly nu-rock geared, the discerning non nu-rock kid can wade through the new and old stuff in here and come up with a great, unique wardrobe. Jewellery- not jewellery so much as several million dead pigs. Most of Flips jewellery is leather…studded collars, wrist bands and so on, although they are very helpful if you ask them to try and order an alternative in non-leather (very helpful for veggies like me). The theme of the jewellery is…Avril Lavigne. You get multi-coloured sweat bands, those rubber bracelets we used to call shag bands (never mind), leather collars and wristbands with single, double or even triple rows of studs or even, eek, spikes of ridiculous length. They also do metal jewellery along the lines of dog tags and occasionally do a nice range for body piercing. Other accessories- beanies, belts, patches, buttons and hair dye. The dye is semi-permanent, natural and veggie too. Its not your typical boring blonde and auburn, it comes in a brilliant range of colours from fuchsia to lime to violet. Its fairly easy to use but does dye your bathrooms insane colours which is lots of fun. The range of belts is fantastic. Not only do you have those cool double studded belts (and many other studded in all sorts of colours), you’ve got those little soft webbing belts with the clip buckles in every colour and design imaginable (army, communist stars, rainbows etc) for only three quid each…which is a cunning capitalist marketing ploy as you come out with about ten. The beanies tend to be advertisements for brands like Duffs or for rubbish bands like Shitknot (oops I mean Slipknot). The patches and pins are self-explanatory really, but there is a good range for people who aren’t fans of nu-metal, they do pins and patches for all sorts of old punk, rock, grunge, mod etc…bands. Clothing- Flips clothing comes in a myriad of forms. You’ve got baggy jeans and rock band t-shirts as well as those insanely fluffy coats and boots that make you look like the Cookie monster. Some of it is your run of the mill stuff that wouldn’t look out of place in TopShop what with its new riot grrl Avril type style, you get a lot of gothy stuff, and some fairly unusual bits and bobs. Flip do a v ery cool range of girls t-shirts with all sorts of kick-ass statements of them, from the suggestive “I’m with the band” to the downright stupid “no I’m not married, no I don’t have a boyfriend…”. They also do a range of Emily Strange gear and a very funny top of a baby with a punk hairdo and lots of facial piercing. Unfortunately these tops are on the expensive side of things at around £25-£30 each, although you get them cheap if you hang around for the sale. The new jeans are usually expensive too, rarely less than forty and going up to around a hundred, but they are usually very hard wearing denim that you will be wearing for the next five years before they fall off your back. They also do a good range of coats…from those aforementioned insane fluffy things to posh afghans that make you look and feel like a film star. Second hand gear- Flip does a great range of second hand clothing. There are racks and racks of jeans and cords as well as loads of mad Hawaiian shirts. The great thing about the Hawaiian shirts in particular is they are loads in kids sizes, which is great for girls like me who love Hawaiian shirts but find you can only get them in XXXXL guys sizes which come to our ankles. it’s a great place to search for a Halloween outfit as you find all sorts of weird and wonderful retro gear from forties dresses to powder blue eighties suit jackets. The range of jeans and cords is massive, and if you want a pair of ripped, stained jeans of the sort that rich kids are paying ninety quid for, then this is the place to get a genuine pair. There appears to be absolutely no order in the jeans section it doesn’t even say if the jeans are girls or guys so you literally need to wade through them. The cords are a little better organised with a guys section and a girls section, but this is the charity and second hand shop way, if you want the perfect pair (of jeans that is) you need to be prepared for a long, hard search! The staff- Most of the staff in Flip are very nice and friendly, although if facial piercing and bright hair colours scare you then you might be a tad frightened. There is usually one or two bitchy girls working in there though, and they can be rather snobbish and very caustic, because they think they’re Avril Lavigne no doubt. Prices- prices in Flip vary according to the new stuff-old stuff idea, however it is on the pricey side, you wont get any second hand gear for under a fiver (for the shirts) and the jeans are usually about twelve quid. The new stuff can be quite extortionate, especially the licensed ranges for the bands and Emily strange stuff. The new jeans usually start around forty, maybe thirty for a pair of girls trousers, and the tops usually about twenty to thirty. The sales there are magnificent though, you will often get stuff for less than half its original price. I got hold of a gorgeous floor-length patchwork Hooch afghan cardi for thirty quid which is less than a third of its original price, I also now have some very cool vintage rock Jim Morrison and John Lennon t-shirts for a fiver each. There is virtually always a sale going on in Flip. Flip is a great place and I non-mosher types shouldn’t be put off by the place. it’s a great place to start cultivating a unique look without necessarily having to look like a reject from the auditions for Busted. So don’t be scared by the Slipknot hoodies and body pierced staff, next time your in Edinburgh, pop in and have a look for a slightly more unusual shopping experience. (PS, I apologise for the overuse of labels like mosher in this op but I felt it necessary given the shop I was reviewing).
I’ve always had conflicting feelings about pet reptiles. The animal activist in me tells me it is a horrific business…pet shops selling specialised creatures to twelve year old kids who often are clueless as how to care for the poor little buggers. Then of course, there’s always the chance that Iggy the Iguana might not have come from a nice captive bred home but may have been wild caught…with all the horror that entails (It is often the case that reptiles, amphibians and birds with captive bred documents are in fact wild creatures with fake documents. The wild animal trade is too detailed to go into here, but it involves poisoning, sedating and terrorising animals, killing mothers so the babies can be taken, them cramming the little creatures five to a box about the same length as their bodies. For every one wild-caught animal on sale in a pet store, five have died in transit and the remaining one will often die of disease and trauma anyway). Fortunately, leopard geckos, which are the number one choice for a starter herp (a herp is not an STI by the way, it’s a blanket term for reptiles and amphibians kept as a hobby), are so easy to breed in captivity that you can pretty much guarantee that your gecko is captive bred, and as a result will become much tamer than other lizards. The other half thinks reptiles and amphibians are extremely beautiful and interesting animals to keep. I’ve managed to wriggle around this dilemma by only every buying lizards from rescue centres…this way, I’m not contributing to the international trade in endangered wild species, but I’m still getting hold of an animal I love. A few notes on the general keeping of reptiles-gecko and non-gecko Lizards are not like dogs, cats or mice. No matter how big their terrarium, how good your heat and lighting set-up, you cannot give a reptile the environment it would have had in the wild. It will not learn to love you. It will at worst tolerate you and at best enjoy being handled, but it will never be a ‘pet’ animal. The best place for a reptile is running around in the wild, not trapped in a cage. So if you really want a reptile, be it an iguana or a gecko or a pit viper, firstly, AVOID your local pet shop, or any pet shop for that matter. You will never know for certain if the animal is captive bred, and pet shops usually have no clue about how to care for such exotic creatures. Often they put two or more different kinds of herp in the same cage…they might get on ok, they might fight or they might eat each other. I have seen one Cuban milksnake attempting to eat another one in a pet shop cage. You could buy from a reputable dealer, but as is my advice with all animals, fuzzy and non, first check out your animal shelter. Hundreds of lizards are given away all the time because their owners are now bored, or cant care for them, or because Iggy has now reached six foot and is eating a mountain of cabbage a day. Phone around your local shelters to see if you can adopt a lizard, if not, check out ad papers for baby geckos on sale. Please do not buy them from a pet shop. Which leads me on nicely to the next point…reptiles are not things, they are animals. They make look less cute than dogs, but they should not be treated with any less respect. The laws in many American states concerning mammal welfare often don’t stretch to reptiles, which mean they are open to massive abuse and neglect. Please have some consideration for them…they feel pain and fear just like your dog and they deserve respect and the best treatment they can get. Do not buy them as a ‘fad’ pet. The latest trend seems to be the chameleon, aided by the Budweiser adverts that used to be on TV. The problem is, chameleons are among the most notoriously finicky and difficult reptiles to care for, and completely unsuitable for the virgin r eptile owner. Do not assume they can all be treated the same way. Some are vegetarian; some eat insects, some mice. They need different temperatures and light sources from each other, and some have to be kept alone, others prefer lizard mates. Read up on your chosen species until you know everything you need to know. Right, rant over, ethics aside, here’s my experience of keeping leopard geckos and how to look after them… Choosing a gecko The usual rules of animal buying apply here. The cage with the animals for sale should be clean, of a good size and well kept and it goes without saying there should be no dead animals in the cage. The skin of the lizard should be clean, clear, free of spots, abscesses and bites, and should not be excessively wrinkled (this suggests starvation). Make sure the belly is, in particular, free of burns. There should be no evidence of dried waste around the backside of the lizard either…this is very important as it suggests parasites. Of course all limbs, toes and tails should be intact with no nicks or cuts. Check there are no hard knots in the legs, this suggests either calcium deficiency or broken bones. No hip or backbones should be visible, tails should be thick. The eyes, nose and mouth should be clear and clean. If you can convince the gecko to open its mouth, it should be pink, not greyish pink or pale, and there should be no white, yellow or green patches. If the reptile doesn’t resist when you move its limbs, it is very sick indeed. If there are any black, brown or orangish moving dots on the gecko it has mites. Housing My rule of thumb is the bigger then better when keeping anything in a cage, and never choose a tank smaller than 20 gallons for a single gecko. 25-30 is suitable for a pair. Glass tanks are better than plastic in my opinion, because they don’t scratch so easily, hold the temperature easier and just look better. You can pick up an old aqu arium in a car boot sale…it doesn’t matter if there is a leak in the tank because you aint keeping fish! You can also get special tanks for herps Tanks in themselves generally aren’t too expensive anyway, it’s the lighting and heating that tends to be the bigger problem when it comes to geckos. Make sure the tank has a tight fitting lid. While leopard geckos don’t have the special toe-pads that most geckos have, which means they can cling to everything, including glass, they are still quite little Houdini’s, so a snug lid is essential. Substrate In other words, the floor covering of the cage. First of all, you are probably best to stay away from sawdust and wood shavings, as geckos commonly swallow them, and this can be fatal. A mixture of sand and heavy peat is another choice, and this looks attractive, although again, there is a smaller but still possible chance of the gecko accidentally swallowing it. Many keepers use plain paper or newspaper, some use carpet…which I don’t recommend as it is difficult to clean. Another choice, strange as it may sound, would be Astroturf. I housed mine in sand without too many problems however. Cage fittings You may make the setup of the cage as elaborate as you like. Real or fake soft woods add an attractive ‘natural’ edge to the cage…however you will need to soak any woods taken from outdoors because of the possibility of bugs in them. Real or fake plants and rocks can also be used, but the geckos will climb and try to dismantle them so make sure they are sturdy, also make sure all wood and greens in the cage are made from non-poisonous plants…geckos are carnivores but you can never be too safe. Water should be provided in a shallow, but heavy, dish, and must be changed daily, and the dish scrubbed with animal-safe disinfectants. Geckos are really drip-feeders, that is, they often lap water from leaves in the wild, so they might enjoy the odd misting of the cage with a plant-mister. Very important is one or more ‘basking spots’ for the lizards to soak up heat on…these should be placed near the heater and there should be enough so that the lizards aren’t competing for space. Feeding Here comes the icky bit. When I first decided I would like a reptile, I asked the nice lady at the animal shelter if I could have a vegetarian one as I didn’t fancy feeding it day-old chicks and baby mice. Much to my dismay I learned the vegetarian lizards were usually the big ones…such as the green iguana who clocks in at six feet. Leopard geckos, being fairly small, do not eat rats or mice, although the larger ones will accept pinkies (day-old mice). You can get these poor creatures frozen from your larger pet shop. You need to thaw them before you feed them to the geckos, but to be honest with leopard geckos it isn’t really necessary. Now for more ick…they eat insects. The two most common reptile food insects are mealworms and crickets, both of which are available from pet stores. You can buy them, as they are needed, which is what I did with mine, or get some and breed them. This is a much cheaper course of action, but depends on you being able to stomach having a tank-full of creepy crawlies in your home…and also bear in mind the consequences if there should be an insect escape. A word about mealworms. These are often touted as the perfect food for lizards, but in reality you are better with crickets…mealworms have an extremely tough outer skin (which I think is known as chitin), which is indigestible and stays in the lizards gut. Living off these will kill a gecko; so as a rule don’t feed them too often. Geckos will also accept king mealworms (a better choice as they have less chitin), wax-worms and even earthworms, plus any creepies you might find roaming your house…flies, spide rs, moths and the like. All food should be dusted with a special vitamin supplement you can buy from pet shops, and must be placed live the gecko’s cage or he won’t eat them. Baby geckos should be fed daily, as they get larger, they might prefer to be fed less often, or they may still want daily feeding. As a rule, feed four live food items per gecko per day. Light and heat Geckos are nocturnal so do not need any form of UV lighting in their cage, in fact it will probably distress them. However an incandescent can actually be used to heat the tank as well, if it is kept in a reflector, it should also be well out of the geckos reach so they cant get burnt. Geckos require a temperature of around 85 degrees F. placing the heat source to one side of the cage is a good idea as a heat gradient will occur and allow the geckos to cool down a little by going to the other end of the cage. Aside from bulb heating, you can get special heat mats, which go underneath the substrate. There should be a few inches of substrate between these and the geckos, and it is often hard to regulate the heat with these because of the awkward position. Also, the mats don’t provide a gradient so light heating is probably best. You can also get special ‘hot rocks’, which do pretty much what they say on the tin, but by all means steer clear of these because they often overheat and burn the lizard. Also, lizards have different ways of sensing temperature, and they relate to the top side of the body, the one that would be in contact with the sun, so as they have none of these ‘receptors’ on the lower body, they can literally fry themselves on these rocks without even noticing. All in all, bulb heating is probably the best way to go. Invest in a thermometer, which can be stuck to the cage to make sure the temperature is suitable. Handling As I’ve said, geckos don’t bite unless provoked (and I mean SEVERELY prov oked, they’re the chilled stoners of the reptiles world) so you wont need gloves to handle them. Chances are, if you’ve followed my advice and gone to a breeder and not a pet shop, your gecko will be tame already. When you first get them, allow them a few days to get used to your hands in and out of the cage, and then pick it up around the middle. It is bound to scamper about at first, but with regular handling it will enjoy being held. Notes of caution though…leave its tail WELL alone and never grab on to it. Leopard geckos are capable of dropping their tails. It will grow a new one but it wont be as nice as the first. Signs or sickness As I’ve said, geckos are remarkably hardy, but if they should become shaky or sluggish you have a problem. When reptiles get sick they tend to become stationary, although the problem might be temperature related, so try upping the heat a degree. If this doesn’t work, find a vet who specialises in herps and make it snappy. The pros of keeping geckos- If you are intent on keeping a lizard, a gecko is the best bet because- It is very hardy and can withstand things that other lizards couldn’t…but nonetheless it should have the best care you can give it. They are cheap and readily available. They are so easy to breed that no one really bothers catching wild ones so you don’t need to worry whether or not your gecko is wild caught. Being the most common pet lizard, your average vet will probably know enough about them to help if something goes wrong. They have become virtually tame, or as tame as such a creature could be. They very seldom bite and don’t mind human handling. Of course, being non-venomous and small, they are fairly harmless…do remember however, that lizards often carry salmonella, so wash you hands before and after handling it. They also, unlike most animals carry a lot of dis eases that humans CAN contract. Take your new pet to a specialist vet to see that it is in good health. They really are very cute as far as cold-blooded things go. The cons of keeping geckos Having to keep crickets and mealworms in the house isn’t fun…your mum/dad/spouse/flatmate probably will not be impressed You’re still keeping what is essentially a wild creature. You can recreate its natural habitat as much as you are able, but it will never be the same. Buying them from a pet-shop encourages a multi-million pound trade in which live creatures are treated as inanimate objects. In conclusion… To be honest they are quite lovely little things. They may not learn to love you but they will learn to like you (even if its just because you’re the cricket-dispensing-machine) and get along fine with you. I’m still in mixed feelings about the trade in animals, which in general aren’t suitable as pets, but geckos seem to be the ones that do quite well in captivity. If your planning on buying something slightly scalier and scarier than a kitten, I’d go for a gecko, you wont find a better starter lizard anywhere.
My apologies on this, this is really more about current chart music than the charts themselves. It might well be the wrong place to put it but I didn’t want to put it in the music in general bit (as I'm working on another op on that) and Dooyoo wouldn’t add a pop category. I watched CD:UK last week, because my favourite band, the Cooper Temple Clause, played their new single “Promises, Promises” on it. Straight after Gareth Gates, who has started growing his hair so it looks ‘indie’, and according to his music company, is going for a new ‘edgier’ sound (of course, this is to fit with the wave of faked guitar rock outfits like Avril, he cant be left behind can he?). They cut the ‘Clause new single short, because, OF COURSE, it couldn’t be longer than the ultimately ‘more important’ Gareth Gates. Although I do love being one of about three people I know who really love the ‘Clause, it sickens me that the flaccid and vacuous chart music of a pretty-boy who looks like a chipmunk on coke should take precedence over something as important as the ‘Clause. Sure, the ‘Clause might be ‘sharing’ a scene full of bands who are trying to emulate either old blues or seventies garage and punk, but they are something different. Something new, something fresh, fusing guitar rock with techno, art-punk with indie, electronica with hard rock. They might not be an easy listen but they are ultimately more satisfying and soul-enriching that that vapid shit (excuse my language) that that stupid little media puppet Gareth could EVER come out with. Its nice to be part of a movement that is a little different, a movement that at least acknowledges the past even if it relies too heavily upon it. Listening to an argument between two musical snob indie boys about which is the best Dylan album can get irritating, but it is ultimately better than listening to insip id rubbish, the singers of which probably couldn’t even name five Dylan songs. I hate to be all ‘indie’ about it, but the chart music and mainstream pop scene really infuriates me. In the past music was about being YOUNG. It was about the Beatles taking acid and insulting the queen much to the annoyance of their fans parents, and coming out with better albums because of it. It was about Jim Morrison doing what they all knew would happen and dying young. It was about punk, kids who hated the government and hated their school and thought their parents misguided, and about Morrissey singing beautiful, articulate songs about his views on paedophilia, whether hitting your child was ok and meat being murder. It was Kurt Cobain throwing himself and his instruments around the stage in anger, and the insubordination of the acid house generation defying the police and having a get-together in a field to dance, take drugs and have sex. To be fair a lot of that music wasn't too charty at all, the most explicit punk got banned from the charts, and many of the Beatles fans turned on them during the later albums, but the charts still reflected the mood of the times...The Beatles were among the first to create a wave of LSD-soaked music, and the slightly more 'acceptable' punk bands did wriggle into the charts, and of course a whole load of acid house and britpop stormed the charts in the nineties...this was a good thing in some ways, although it did give rise to Menswear! Today’s chart music is not young; it has become like everything else in mainstream society…a means for the old, boring, pseudo-democratic government to control us. Young wannabe’s are chosen by industry moguls, who then order the wannabe to diet and bleach their head, say all the right things and steer clear of drugs and alcohol and set a ‘good’ example. They are then given a bunch of characterless and bland songs, which did n’t come from their heart (because they probably don’t have one) to market on unsuspecting youth in order to keep them in control. And because the increasingly brainless youth are so well-trained, said bland rubbish rockets right up the charts. Britney releases one catchy song that makes it to the top, probably more because of the school uniform than anything else, and spends the next few years riding a wave of fame she neither needs nor deserves...until she starts crashing and burning and people start saying they always preferred Christina anyway. Remember the outcry when Britney was caught smoking, because she was ‘setting a bad example’? I’m surprised Marlboro didn’t give her a contract for that one, to market it on unsuspecting youth, along with the Skechers and McDonalds (right, because I’m sure that semi-anorexic bint eats burgers) she tried to entrance her zombified fans into buying. So there you have it, the charts, the mainstream pop culture. It sickens me to the core. Boring bands (if you can call them that) make boring kids, kids who all want to wear DKNY and bleach their hair to look like Britney or Westlife, instead of learn or say or do something interesting. Old men making music that they think youngsters want…and interestingly a lot of these ‘musicians’ are barely eighteen years old, in the S Club Juniors case, some of them barely fourteen. I read a book called “Branded” recently and one of the S club junior’s girls was quoted as describing herself “girly and flirty, a bit of a shopaholic”. When I was her age I was having play fights with the boys and listening to my dads David Bowie records. Why don’t we blame the media for the increasing cases of child pornography and paedophilia? Clearly some of these industry blokes are obsessed with young girls and barely pubescent boys given the amount of them inflicted upon us. The media is obsessed with youth and then they blame people who are undoubtedly very wrong, but take it the wrong way. Even ‘alternative’ culture has been controlled. In the early nineties, very cool bands like Nirvana or Pixies escaped the net and made cool, loud and subversive music, but the industry has clicked on to that and has a series of bands for ‘arty’ or ‘alternative’ kids. These bands, which started out with the unmanufactured (but still pretty rubbish), likes of Greenday and Blink182, have morphed into increasingly manufactured forms, from Sum41 through Good Charlotte until we have bands like Busted and so-called sk8er rawk chick riot grrls such as Avril Lavigne who cannot skate, cannot rock and don’t even know what a riot is. The media has cleverly made it acceptable to like these bands too, thus creating animosity between ‘townies’ and ‘moshers’ or as we call them in Edinburgh, ‘schemies’ and ‘sweaties’, and keeping these young, intelligent but ultimately under control minds off what is important…being an individual. And of course, now these 'sk8er punk' bands are riding high in the charts too. Even more popularised forms of the ‘alternative’ chick are the likes of P!nk. Although I must say the most laughable one is the recent incarnation of Christina Aguilera. She has all of a sudden gone all pro-feminism stuff, what with her last song denouncing the fact that if a guy sleeps with a girl ‘he da man’ (so eloquently put Christina) and if a girl does it she’s a whore. Stating this fact does not make Christina pro-feminism, she’s simply pissed off that the media are trashing her for being too racy. That girl does nothing for feminism. Using your body to sell records IS being a whore, she’s simply pandering to a new FHM generation who don’t give a damn what she has to say so long as her ass is nice. I do believe w omen have the right to do what they want but I think showing off your (totally perfect) body in the likes of Maxim is the least feminist thing you can do in today’s society. If someone with a ‘normal’ body such as Kelly Osbourne did it, that might be a different matter, of course FHM wouldn’t be interested. But the bottom line remains that Christina has to keep up with the new generation of fake riot grrls in order to sell her records. So I like my bands a little different. I went through a passing flirtation with nu-punk myself, in the form of Greenday (I’m proud to say they were the only one I liked), then one with the Strokes, now I’ve moved on to something I can get my teeth into. My fave ‘old’ bands and artists are the Rolling Stones (when they were important, not now), the Doors, Dylan, The Clash, the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, Black Flag, Sonic Youth and Pixies. My fave ‘new’ bands are Idlewild, the Cooper Temple Clause, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Super Furry Animals, and McLusky (a fantastic new band who sound like Pixies) among others. The bands I like all have important things to say, unfortunately they will never be able to say it to a large amount of people, these are not; with the possible exception of the odd Idlewild and Super Furry Animals song, bands that are going to storm the charts. Part of me would be jealous that so many people were getting in on the act, but if I heard one 12 year old say how much s/he loved the new Super Furry album I would be in raptures. The Cooper Temple Clause has wonderful lyrics and a schizophrenic love of music that results in them being, like my favourite movie “Donnie Darko”, completely uncategorisable…at best its space-prog-techno-indie-art-punk. Idlewild on the other hand are taking a new gentle approach, but it is still beautiful and fantastic, and I’m delighted to see them broaching the ma instream a little. Perhaps when a pop fan bought the single “American English” s/he didn’t think to hard about that beautiful and true line which damns the mainstream pop industry- “Sing a song about myself, keep singing a song about myself, not some invisible world. Sing a song about myself, keep singing a song about myself, not some invisible woman”, but maybe for every fifty pop buyers of that single, one pop buyer did think about it and that’s enough for me. Its just sad that Idlewild are one of the few good bands in the charts, and also sad that fans of their new toned down sound will never love to learn about the anarchic noise machine that Idlewild used to be. Equally, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have a new political air about them, their new album is called “Take them on, on your own” and includes some great tracks. As for the Super Furry Animals, forever on the fringes of the pop world, “Phantom Power” is for sure one of their greatest releases, a pop (if slightly alterna-pop) album that deserves to be number one a million times more than Christina Aguilera’s album. It’s the sad truth that all of these wonderful bands, while they may score the odd top twenty single, will probably never reach a place of high enough power where they can use that power to influence young people. This is what makes today’s music scene different, its not that the wonderful music isn’t there, it’s just that it isn’t getting heard loud enough, often enough or by enough people. The charts is being controlled by a bunch of stodgy boring people. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a bunch of stodgy anti-drugs, anti-booze, anti-youthful sex, and anti-fun gits dictating what I listen to. I don’t want to listen to what Bill Hicks once delightfully dubbed “ball-less, soul-less, spiritless suckers of Satan’s cock”. Like him, I want some passion. I want my bands dirty and hungover reading poetry, listening to old punk music and fusing it with new ideas, coming up with something new and interesting and throwing themselves around the stage with the kind of passion George Bush couldn’t muster if the UK asked him to blow up the entire world. I want dirt, sweat, blood and tears, not some dull pretty boy crooning at me from a stage and swinging his barely pubescent crotch in my direction. Regardless of your thoughts on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, premarital sex, surely you have to admit that music was better when it was wild young things making it, not pretty, vapid, stupid things. Its time for a shake-up of the music industry and the way the charts are operated, but unfortunately until the music climate changes it will never happened and bands like the beautiful Cooper Temple Clause won't be heard as clearly as they should. Back then there was soul, r’n’b, rock ‘n’ roll, punk, new wave, blues, metal, Britpop and acid house, a good deal of is diffusing into the charts. The charts were once at least half-full of good, quality music. Now we’ve got Gareth Gates (no wait, his RECORD COMPANY), telling us he’s got a new, ‘edgier’ sound. Someone pass the rotten tomatoes.
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that will blow your head off. A movie that you come out of feeling very different than when you went in, a movie that changes your perception. Donnie Darko is such a movie. As well as all of the above, it has the added effect of you leaving the cinema wondering if you’ve just had a bad trip. Its bizarre, its subversive and its brilliant. Its Hughes meets Lynch; it pays homage to everything from Watership Down to Alice in Wonderland to Jacobs Ladder. If you ask me, easily the best movie to come out of last year, beating the crap out of the competition. It will bend and twist your mind, unsettle you, scare you, make you laugh and cry and bamboozle you until all you can say when you switch off the DVD is…WHAT THE F**K??????? Donnie Darko hits with the force of your average SCUD. If you thought Lynch was a headf**k, wait until you meet Richard Kelly and his antihero Donnie…and the star of the show, a six foot evil bunny rabbit named Frank. So what’s it all about? Your educated guess is as good as mine. Donnie Darko has numerous plots winding and weaving around each other, creating so complicated a tapestry that, even after you’ve watched it for the thirtieth time, you STILL notice something new. The Donnie in question is a young, beautiful and brilliant boy living in an average American suburb in the late eighties. Donnie is intelligent, wise and sharp. He also happens to be a schizophrenic who is seeing a psychologist because of his tendency to burn down abandoned buildings and make imaginary friends. Donnie resents the dulling of his senses by his medication, and soon he makes a new friend…Frank. Is Frank real or imaginary? Your guess is as good as mine. What I do know is he’s a man dressed in a creepy six-foot skeletal bunny rabbit suit. OK, it sounds funny, the words ‘creepy’ and ‘bunny rabbit suit’ don’ ;t go together but wait til you meet Frank. Frank kindly informs Donnie that the world is going to end in twenty-eight days. Naturally, this troubles our already troubled young hero. As well as this, Donnie has other things to worry about. His cute new girlfriend Gretchen seems as f**ked up and smart as he is, his tight-ass gym teacher Miss Farmer really has it in for him, and his two best mates are about as smart as Junior Bush. Donnie becomes obsessed with the idea of portals and time travel, and thanks to the mysterious figure known as “Grandma Death” he disappears right down the rabbit hole in true Alice fashion, as his dreams and visions becomes deeper and darker and compel him to do things that make his non-fantasy life hell. Combine the traumas of growing up with the troubled soul of a tortured artist or poet and you begin to get an insight into Donnie’s bizarre, twisted life. The plot is so very intricate thats its pretty hard to describe what this movie is all about. One person's view of the storyline will be different from another. At best its about love, life, death, puberty, suburban life, the eighties, madness and sanity, school bullies, paedophiles, family life, first love and visions. And thats just for starters! So what’s it like? One of the most intricate and intense films I’ve ever seen, including by my favourite director David Lynch, its like watching an insight to the human psyche. Kelly’s wonderful imagination is vivid in this, which is his debut. It is as personal to every person who sees it as Donnie’s visions are to himself. You will hold your own views and ideas to what it is all about when you watch it, and they may be tremendously different to your friend’s views of what happens. This, in my view, is how the best movies are made. We can all watch a no-brainer action movie or rom coms and come away feeling nothing, forgetting the movie withi n days or even hours, but this will stay with you, haunt you and tease you until you make up your mind about it. You can’t watch it once; you have to watch it over and over. The cast are superb in this movie. Donnie is played by young, mad-faced, blue-eyed cutie Jake Gyllenhaal (Jill-en-hall), who also played Holden, Jennifer Anistons young beau in “The Good Girl”. His exceptional talent shines through and he deserves all the awards and praise in the world for this part. He plays Donnie with the alternate tenderness and brutality needed for the part, his confused, hormone-ridden teenage emotions flawlessly amalgamating with his brilliant brain until he can no longer tell what is true and his life becomes one big bad, non-chemical stimulated acid trip. His wonderfully expressive face, which conveys ‘mad’ expressions so well, is a true delight to watch. He interacts with the people in his life, the mundane, boring people who don’t understand him and alienate him, and the ‘guardians’ sent down to light his way to his final conclusion, the wise and the all knowing, mysterious figures who point to his fate. He really is, despite being a little-known name, the absolute gem in this movie, he completely obliterates the big names attached to this movie. His back-up cast are strong too. His real-life sister Maggie plays his screen sister Elizabeth, the smart-ass older sister applying to Harvard. Drew Barrymore is excellent is the cool young English teacher who is hated by most of the staff because she chooses to teach ‘controversial’ works by Graham Greene. Noah Wyle (E.R) is also sensitively played as Drew’s boyfriend and Donnie’s science teacher who aids him in his quest for knowledge concerning time travel. Patrick Swayze is hilarious as the self-help guru with a dark secret, and there isn’t one flaw among the extensive cast. Donnie’s family is perhaps the mos t realistic on-screen relationship I have ever seen. Despite Donnie’s dominance in the movie, each character is developed to a degree that you feel you know them intimately. Even though Donnie’s parents and sisters are not huge parts in the movie, you can sense Rose Darko’s (Donnie’s mum) inner conflict concerning her troubled son, whether she should let him life his life of freedom, or whether she should stuff him full of drugs until he becomes just another zombie in their boring middle-class suburban neighbourhood. You understand Donnie’s dads quiet pride in his son for not subscribing to the mundane, and perhaps his wish that he had more of Donnie in him. The real mastery of the cast is the interaction, it is unbelievable. Each characters little idiosyncrasies make them seem more real and three-dimensional than the characters I seen in the rest of last years movies combined. You really have to see it to believe it, little family traditions, uncomfortable pauses, tension, love and insecurities are brought out with the required gentle-but-firm handling that makes them seem so true to life, so that this family could be living next door to you, this could be your school, you could be living in this boring late eighties ‘burb. The themes in this movie are as numerous as its minutes. It takes in the subjects of life, death, love, adolescence and family life. Again, it’s hard to review themes because this movie will be very personal to you if you watch it, but for me one of the main themes is madness. What is it? To me part of what this movie is saying, is it madness to run around and act like a kid, to do the things you want to do, to say the things you want to say and to feel the full splendour of life in its glory, its pain and its happiness? Is it madness to see things that aren’t real? Or is it madness to allow yourself to be oppressed and crushed during your school years and throughout your life so that you become another product of what we call ‘democracy’. Is it madness to see things, or to have your imagination crushed completely so you cant possibly imagine living a better life than this? It’s your choice to either live your life or to allow your country and your government to live it for you, and that’s what this movie says to me. Regardless of where its plot leads, like Donnie I think I’d much rather be ostracized during my school years (as I very much was) than to end up working nine-to-five in some boring office and wondering where my youth went. Obviously this is something I feel powerfully about, and if you watch it, you will find something you find important to you, pick up on it and identify with it, and your idea will probably be vastly different to mine.. The themes are endless in this little masterpiece. DD tips its hat to many plays, books and movies. Its full of little industry in-jokes and intricacies. It acknowledges everything from E.T to “The Last Temptation of Christ” and every little joke is delivered sharply and in a blink-and-you-miss-it manner. The idyllic suburban set with its dark secret brings to mind the fantastic “American Beauty”. Of course, this being the eighties, the soundtrack is brilliant. It opens with the gorgeous “The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen, and from that moment on you can feel how potent this movie is going to be just from its music. Music plays an important part, from its brilliant placement of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division to its creepy theme tunes and the gorgeous ending track “Mad World” which will have you in buckets of tears. “Donnie Darko” defies categorisation, just like its gorgeous little hero. It defiantly stands alone in its own genre. Its horror, its romance, its comedy, its thriller, its drama, its art-house movie. Its dark and violent and Gothic, yet its uplifting and full or spirit and life. You will laugh, cry and gasp. You will empathise with every person in the unique cast, and worship the director when you leave the movie. It will shake your beliefs to the core. I think it takes the biscuit as the most powerful movie I’ve seen since my previous favourite, “Blue Velvet”. Go and watch it and then do something that would make Frank proud (although I suggest you stay away from matches and lighter fuel).
Oh my god. I am just this very moment home from the Super Furry Animals gig for T on the Fringe (part of Edinburgh festival which showcases a bunch of great bands) and that’s all I have to say (that and the rest of this million word opinion). Oh my god. I am absolutely stinking of beer, my hair is full of sweat, water, and, bizarrely, what smells like whiskey and I seem to have gone temporarily deaf. Usually it’s either straight to the pub or straight to bed (depending on amount of energy drinks consumed and how bad I smell), but I’m buzzing after this one and just have to write this while its still fresh in my mind. Please forgive me for not reviewing the support band, as I didn’t see them. Oops. Sure they were very good. Also, I apologise for the bit when this turns into a political rant. The venue, the Queens hall, would not be my choice for a Furries gig. While they probably don’t have enough fan power to sell out Edinburgh Corn Exchange, the atmosphere in the delicately lit Queens hall is just a little too posh for hundreds of sweaty Furries fans. There are too many seats and not enough space to jump. Also they charge £4.15 for a vodka and red bull. Grrrr. Why don’t I just drink pints like normal gig goers do? After a freak spotting of Bob ex-Idlewild, chatting up several nice indie blokes (and getting a phone number woo), I’m beginning to get a little impatient, patience never being my strong point. But then one of the Furries strong points is knowing just how long to keep the audience waiting before they strike. Which they eventually do, with the beautiful new track “Slow Life”, which starts out with wonderful techno-ey beats that has the entire crowd shaking their asses about like it’s a rave instead of a gig. It turns into a lovely, warm sounding guitar track that sounds rather easy-going on CD, but makes a fantastic live prospect, with the added aplomb of Rhys’s wolf-howling. Howling would be the correct word, as barely-understandable (due to both that lilting Welsh accent and the fact that he’s probably stoned) Gruf announces the next song…(in response to a rather obvious shout from the crowd) “Yes. We are the Super Furry Animals. This is a song about a dog”, and they launch into bounce-along newbie “Golden Retriever”, which is a funky, bass heavy and utterly danceable song that has the entire crowd on its feet. Its delightfully fun and the lyrics are typically Super Furry- “STOP! Said the puppy, when I met him at the zebra cross. You need protection from every direction, but she’ll get you anyhow, She’s a Go-o-olden retriever…”. You have to wonder how much dope these boys smoke. The boys are on fine form tonight, despite looking as wasted as usual. Lead guitarist Huw Bunford is on particularly good form, swaggering/swaying around with his electric swinging dangerously near other band member’s heads. The atmosphere is as electric as it usually is at a Furries gigs- because the fans aren’t just regular fans; they tend to be rather rabid and devoted, knowing every word to every obscure and random single, B-side and album back-burner. Behind the boys is a big screen playing the usual things it plays at Furries gigs…tonnes of optical illusions and grainy, pop-art images of Gruf singing, plus during “Golden Retriever”, it, strangely enough, shows a cartoon retriever bouncing along. The sound is well set-up too, with tortured howls and guitar feedback sound waves bouncing off the walls and straight into your eardrums, making you experience the delightful temporary tinnitis I’m dealing with now. Of course tonight is to promote the newbie album, “Phantom Power” so we get “Hello Sunshine”, “Liberty Belle”, “Golden Retriever”, “B leed Forever” and “Out of Control”. “Hello Sunshine” is gorgeously executed; it’s a dreamy, warm sounding track that all the indie kids know the words to already. So of course, we all know to shout out “I am a minger, you’re a minger too, so come on minger, I want to ming with you”, which is possibly the second best shout-out Furries lyric ever (After “you know they don’t give a f**k”). The really stand out track from the “Phantom Power” album, tonight, for me anyway, is “Out of Control”. This is a political bitch-fest about, well take a guess from the lyrics- “Ninja Jihad, suck my oil, feel my vineyard” “I am scum, you are scum”. A very pointed song about some idiots carelessness about other peoples lives, it seems to be held in great reverence tonight, the crowd seem happy to go along with an anti-establishment theme. More about that later. The only thing I would have liked to hear which I didn’t was “Venus and Serena” but hey, nothings perfect! As usual “Rings Around the World” is another favourite tonight, a typical gig fave, glossy and cute and a little lite for the Furries but goes down a treat tonight for everyone involved, including the Furries themselves, who announce the track by saying to another rather obvious statement from the crowd “yes, we are STILL the Super Furry Animals”, and play it flawlessly. It’s never been my fave, but again, it makes such a great live track that it’s impossible not to start shouting “RING RING, RING RING, Rings around the world”. “Receptacle for the Respectable” starts out as a easy-going, medium paced guitar track that builds up to a exhilarating climax which gives way to a foreboding guitar track and a snarling, effects laden voice which the kids bounce and snarl along to quite happily. Ag ain, it goes down a treat for the sweaty kids up front. Also from the “RATW” album is “Run Christian Run” accompanied by very apt flames on the screen, and the sugary pop track “Juxtaposed with U” which pretty much all Furries fans acknowledge as cack. Except when its live of course, because when you put a bunch of sweaty, hormonal 19-25 (ish) year olds in a room, give them a band and a lax house policy on restricted substances, lyrics like “You gotta tolerate, all those people that ya hate, I’m not in love with you but I wont hold that against you, juxtaposed, juxtaposed, just suppose I’m juxtaposed with you….” Are enough to bring a sense of sixties hippy peace and love to the building. Before you know it your hugging your neighbour (who just happens to be a cute indie boy) and crooning the lyrics at each other. We also get a short interlude with the yetis (yes you read that line right). If you aren’t acquainted with the craziness of the Super Furry Animals, they have people dress up as yetis and come onstage and play the instruments, especially the drums and the bongos. Everyone loves the yetis, they make us laugh like nothing else, and there’s always some stoned kid who is a virgin to Furries gigs and is looking at the yetis and then looking at everyone else, as if to say “Is it just me who sees that?” no mate, it isn’t, and the yetis as usual bang out a bossy, funky and extremely dancey track which everyone loves. It’s my dream to be a yeti. A bass-playing yeti. There’s also a man in an inflatable space suit onstage at one point. All this is true, I did not take anything illegal. Fanbloodytastic. From “Guerilla” we have “Do or Die” and the lovely summery calypso track “Northern Lites” which goes down well today, no doubt because of the scorching weather we had earlier. Sadly there are few 8220;Fuzzy Logic” tracks tonight, which is a shame seeing as its one of my favourite Furries albums. I particularly would have liked to hear “Hometown Unicorn”. Still, never mind, the final track before the encore is worth it. If you’ve heard one Furries track, it might well be this one. It starts as its always does, with a quote from the late, great Bill Hicks, which states that all governments are liars. Its typical Bill Hicks, with screaming political fury condensed into comedy. And as soon as I hear it, I know what it means. Up on the screen flashes pictures of George Bush and Tony Blair, to thunderous boos from the entire audience. I literally seen one guy spitting at the images, they evoked such disgust from everyone in the room, and gets us all on our political high horses for “Man Don’t give a F**k” and its absolutely amazing. Fast, incendiary and with a heavy enough bassline to have the entire floor of Furries fans jumping up and down in exact unison and screaming the following… Spent some times in stormy weather under clouds of my dilemma now there’s nothing much to do except for sitting in front of televisions staring back at me I'm just waiting for the microwaves to wash me into the sea You know they don't give a f**k about anybody else (repeated approximately 19’381 times) Out of focus ideology keep the masses from majority experts blame my (stupid)? Plan Left to bleed while vultures glide You know they don’t give a f**k about anybody else (repeat approximately 29’112 times) The main part of the song is the “They don’t give a f**k bit”, its repeated over and over and over and drilling it into the skull of every establishment-hating kid in the building, while accompanied by pictures of dictators, interspersed with Bush and Blair. Oh yeah. We hate them. And we LOVE Furries for so elo quently *cough* pointing it out for us. You can feel the fans joy mixed with an intense hatred of a people on the screen, the knowledge that for many Bush seems no better than a dictator, and the bile rises for the fact that there’s little we can do about it. The Furries leave the stage after “Man don’t give a f**k” leaving the crowd both exhilarated at seeing such a bloody good band and damn pissed off at the w**kers on the screen. The upshot of all this ranting on my part is that they are an extremely clever band. They know their demographic well and know exactly how to get a strong, almost idol-worship reaction by showing them something they can hate and then giving them a song they can yell along to. The song provokes a split-personality reaction from everyone. After this we have a ten-minute blast of what is pretty much techno music, and we all love it and get down to the music big style. Much as I am an indie kid, I do love the odd dance track, and this is how I like it, mean, dirty, interesting and totally irresistible. Just as our patience is getting low, they bring on the yetis, which finish us off with a reprisal of “Man don’t give a fuck”. Then its all over and its back to the posh reality of the Queens hall and the fact that we all smell like we’ve haven’t washed in weeks. They were brilliant. They are pretty much veterans now, they’ve been around a good while, and for all people say they haven’t been good since “Guerilla” I think they’ve been proved wrong tonight. The tracks from “Phantom Power” are very, very strong, better than the previous album, and it looks like a real return to form for them. They look fit and fat and happy, and as a result they know just how to make their fans tick. No wait, they know just how to make their fans go off like a bomb. The playing is flawless and perfect, the climaxes are drawn out just the right amount of time, instrumentally they certainly know what their doing but they also have an innate ability to interact with the audience and give them exactly what they want. You usually see some reserved people at gigs who want to jump along but are a bit scared to, here there’s none of that. All around smiles and laughs and happy shouts. Even my mate, the most serious political punk fan, couldn’t help getting excited tonight. I haven’t been to a gig this good in a long time. And yes, that includes the Cooper Temple Clause. There’s nothing quite like a gig of a band you know and love well for a sense of community. Long after the last strains of “Man don’t…” there are complete strangers grabbing each other and shouting the lyrics out, along with more than one cry of “Bush is an arse”. Yep, it seems we are all in one mind. We are all Super Furry Animals fans, and now we’re all going home to celebrate the Super Furry Animals, Howard Marks, and most especially, some dead comedian called Bill Hicks. DOWN WITH BUSH! PS- I do apologise if I’ve offended any supporters of Bush or Blair, but I’m think I just channelled the spirit of Bill Hicks and I can’t help it. Also, I have no idea whether this opinion is any good or not; I just battered it out in a state of excitement. My apologies if it makes no sense. Its funny what a few yeti outfits and an inflatable space man can do to you.
Oh, to have the old days back. The 1990’s when cool people knew who the Pixies were, Nirvana fans were not eleven years old and the Manic Street Preachers actually meant something. For those of you who know the Manics as the bland, dull, self-celebratory, This-portakabin-is-reserved-for-the-Manic-Street-Preachers (long story) indie schmindie twattishness they are today, there is another story. The Manics used to be cross-dressing, out-spoken communists with a penchant for glam rock and lyrics that tore at your soul. The source of all this madness, I truly believe, was Richey James. Now presumed dead, I feel Richey was the catalyst for the great days of the Manics. Fantastic guitar player he may not have been, fake, perhaps he was (although I’ll argue that one), but capable of writing beautifully ugly, extraordinary lyrics he was, and a poetic rock star? Oh definitely. From its arrogant title to its vicious lyrics, THB screams absolute power and hatred of the Establishment and the Norm. Kids these days (lol, I’m 19 by the way) think going against the Norm is listening to Avril Lavigne and Blink 182, wearing skinny ties and eyeliner and being completely apathetic. I believe every fan of such dull rubbish, as Korn and Limp Bizkit should be forced to listen to the Holy Bible so they can see what REAL anti-establishment freaks are like. The Holy Bible reveals the filthiest happenings in society, and screams from its place of exempt purity. This is Richeys last album (although he penned the next one before he left), those that said Richey was a wannabe would be hard pressed to say that he wasn’t genuine from listening to this album. The entire album is filled with a sense of impending doom and hatred of everything. It does not make easy listening at all, it’s definitely not a background record and to listen to it is often to change your perception of its issues totally. It takes in subjects like the holoca ust, anorexia, prostitution, murder and suicide and therefore it’s not really a party album unless all of your mates are manic-depressive. Its an album which will make you reach inside, an album that loathes hypocrisy from its very being, an album made for your darkest moments when you want to revel in how much you hate the world. The lyrics are a non-stop barrage of anti-everything rant, which exposes the frauds of society. “Yes”- Typically of the Manics, harsh lyrics are hidden in fairly gothic and heavy music, James Dean Brad field showing off his beautiful, plaintive voice that betrays the songs dark lyrics. “For sale? Dumb c**ts same dumb questions, virgin? Listen, all virgins are liars honey and I don’t know what I’m scared of or even what I enjoy”, “Puking, shaking, sinking I still stand for old ladies, cant shout, cant scream, hurt myself to get the pain out”, “These sunless afternoons I cant find myself”. This is James Dean Bradfields voice being used to voice the pain of Richey. Articulate and bold, it’s easy enough to hear the lyrics without listening to them, because the lyrical content, with its long words and unpaused rants, is difficult to fit to music. As is often said, it is a song about prostitution- “In these plagued streets of pity you can buy anything, for $200 anyone can conceive a God on video”, but carries a sense of personal hatred not mentioned so often which isn’t really aimed at society but at self. It’s a bit of a freaks anthem that wears its badge of pain proudly, much like the “4 real” scratched into Richey’s arm. “Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart” - quite a statement there, and one that Bush supporters would do good to listen to. As you might expect from a title like this, it’s a complete anti Americanisation rant and one of my favourites, so I thought I 39;d post the lyrics for you to peruse- Images of perfection, suntan and napalm · Grenada - Haiti - Poland - Nicaragua · who shall we choose for our morality · I'm thinking right now of Hollywood tragedy · big Mac smack: phoenix r: please smile y'all · Cuba, Mexico can't cauterise our discipline · your idols speak so much of the abyss · yet your morals only run as deep as the surface · cool - groovy - morning - fine · Tipper Gore was a friend of mine · I love a free country · the stars and stripes and an apple for mommy · conservatives say there ain't no black in the union jack · democrat say there ain't enough white in the stars and stripes · Compton - Harlem - a pimp f**ked a priest · the white man has just found a new moral saviour · vital stats - how white was there skin · unimportant - just another inner-city drive-by thing · morning - fine - serve your first coffee of the day · real privilege, it will take your problems all away · number one - the best - no excuse from me · I am here to serve the moral majority · cool - groovy - morning - fine · Tipper Gore was a friend of mine · I love a free country · the stars and stripes and an apple for mommy · Zapruder the first to masturbate · the world's first taste of crucified grace · and we say there's not enough black in the union jack · and we say there's too much white in the stars and stripes · f**k the Brady Bill · f**k the Brady Bill · if God made man they say · Sam Colt made him equal. The little boys are taking on the giants, pointing fingers at everything, mercilessly mocking the zombies in Western culture, behaving in such a shocking manner that you cant help but take notice. A ferocious and sinister guitar rhythm gives way to a scream-along chorus with plaintive backing vocals. Bradfields voice is again impressive here, given the difficult nature of the lyrics, they don’t really fit in with the churning, changeable backing music. The song is in credibly impressive in the shambolic way it’s tied together. I absolutely adore the contemptuous line “I love a free country, The Stars and Stripes and an apple for mommy” line which is spat forth with enviable disgust and fury by Bradfield, and is accurate in its description of certain parts of US culture (note, I’m not attacking US culture, I’m reviewing an album, however it must be said I agree that some Americans are like this). The cluttered nature of the song again points to troubles within the head of its author. If I had to pick one song to sum up everything I love about the Manics (the REAL Manics, not the corporate ass-kissing zombies they are nowadays), and indeed, everything that the Manics, or at least, was/were, then this might well be it. It may not be one of the favourites, but the title, lyrics and guitars sum up everything Manicy. “Of Walking Abortion”- Life is dead weights, pendulum died · pure or lost, spectator or crucified · recognised truth acedia's blackest hole · junkies winos whores the nation's moral suicide · loser - liar - fake - phoney · no-one cares, everyone is guilty · f**ked up - dunno why - you poor little boy · we are all of walking abortion · shalom shalom we all love our children · we are all of walking abortion · shalom shalom there are no horizons · Mussolini hangs from a butcher's hook · Hitler reprised in the worm of your soul · Horthy's corpse screened to a million · Tiso revised, the horror of a bullfight · fragments of uniforms, open black ruins · a moral conscience - you've no wounds to show · so wash your car in your 'X' baseball shoes · we all of walking abortion · shalom shalom we all love our children · we are all of walking abortion · shalom shalom there are no horizons · little people in little houses · like maggots small blind and worthless · the massacred innocent blood stains us all · who's res ponsible - you f**king are · who's responsible - you f**king are · who's responsible - you f**king are · who's responsible - you f**king are · who's responsible If I didn’t pick Whiteamerica to represent the Manics I might pick this. Again, vicious and hatefully mocking the ‘moral majority’, throwing around names like Mussolini, pointing the finger of blame, as is rather evident by one of my favourite Manics lines ever (the Who’s responsible bit at the end which adorned many of my T-shirts when I was a midget Richey fan…oh wait I still am). This song is wrapped in a more vicious musical arrangement than the previous ones. Scratchy guitars and a dismal and doom-laden bassline, with Bradfields voice soaring in an accusatory manner over the top. The music has a very apt machine-like feel to it, also well-placed sound effects add to the mechanic backing of the song. But there’s nothing mechanic in the lyrics or the way the song is delivered, it is delivered with snarling, vicious abandon. The work-up to the Who’s Responsible bit at the end is very catching, from “Like maggots…” to the Who’s responsible bit which really has a knack of staying in your mind and making you think. Which is of course what they wanted at the time. Now they just want their own Portakabin at festivals. Richey must be spitting mad (or maybe turning in his grave). “She is Suffering”- One of the most doom-laden is this one, wrapped in a soft vocal tone and a distorted, chugging accompaniment from Nicky, Richey and Sean. A little like a fragile, minimalist version of Radiohead’s Creep meets a very tortured “I’ll be watching you” by the Police (now there’s a mind boggler) A hopeless diatribe aimed at the be auty industry and beauty in general, once again not a laugh riot and quite difficult to listen to. The line “Lovers wrapped inside each others lies” is particularly af fecting for obvious reasons, and clearly came from someone who felt quite alone. The entire song is wrapped in an empathic, hopeless, lonely feeling of suffering and pain masterfully hidden in the soft coating of the vocals. Some of the more ingenious lines from this song include “Beauty she is scarred into a mans soul, a flower attracting lust, vice and sin, a vine that can strangle life from a tree”, “Beauty she poisons unfaithful all, stifled her touch is leprous and pale”, “Nature’s lukewarm pleasure”. A song that makes a rightful mockery of the nineties (and indeed today’s) ”Hello!” culture. “Archives of pain”- an apt choice to show the effect of life, death, society and pretty much everything on this band. It’s a chunky piece of referential, semi-industrial rock, and a glorious detestation of hyped serial killers and political figures. Manics at this point, seemed entirely too sensitive to the suffering of the entire world, an attitude which it is impossible to live with, especially in the public eye, and the whole thing culminated in the departure of Richey. Despite the boys radical views, their disgust at the most hated members of society makes it the most right-wing Manics song (“Sterilise rapists, all I preach is extinction”, it is also clearly pro capital punishment), as such it will be hard for anyone who does hold socialist or left wing ideas to swallow, and it is an odd statement from a band like the Manics, but it does ask the simple question- why are these people glamourised? The dark bass guitar roars ominously under the chugging rhythm of the lead guitar, and again Bradfield’s dangerously soft voice delivers brutal atrocities (“Do not be ashamed to slaughter , the centre of humanity is cruelty”, “You will be buried in the same box as a killer”, “a drained white body hanging from the gallows is more righteous th an Hindleys croche t lectures”), that speak real, harsh truth. This is typical of the early Manics in that they stand on their moral high ground and shout abuse and throw things at the people below. “Revol”- the music in itself would be a fine portion of loud festival rock, the difference of course being the lyrical genius that is Richey James, and this is probably one of the strongest lyrical tracks they ever came out with, it name drops numerous political leaders, often Soviets- Lenin, Stalin, Gorbachev and Chamberlain among them, hidden in Banshee’s style guitar sound. It is an aggressive, impulsive and fast-paced track that sees Bradfield again magically slotting far too many words into far too small a space. The chorus simply screams “REVOL” over and over, and listening to this one and closing your eyes you can easily be transported back to the nineties to a Manics gig, with eyelinered girls (and boys) running around in fairy wings, and worshipping the four skinny creatures screaming socialist revolution from a stage. It is outrageously singable, yet unlike most singable songs that get stuck in your head it is a song damn worth singing about that lets you get up on your moral soapbox just like the Manics. A song about lovers and leaders (Lover-Revol). “4st 7lb”- Not often hailed as anyone’s favourite, but an extremely affecting song. It is the bleak memoir of an anorexic girl (although Richey apparently also struggled with this at some point, so its fair to say the voice it partly his self-loathing, it also contains some references to himself) and contains extremely hypnotic lyrics, with James playing the part of the girl. Bitter and self-mocking, its harsh content includes “So gorgeous sunk to six stone ”, “I want to walk in the snow and not spoil its purity” (again, that’s a favourite Manic lyric of mine), “Lift up my skirt my sex is gone, nak ed and lovely and 5st 2, may I bud and never flower”, “I can change my cocoon shedding”, “Choice is skeletal in everybody’s life”. It is perhaps one of the most upsetting songs on the album. The guitars are gothy, again having a machine-like and eerie quality to them. It is beautiful and wonderful, yet chilling and vile, it evokes incredible mixed feelings and will leave your brain exhausted and confused. One of the harder listens on the album. The ending lyrics are particularly distressing “I choose my choice, I starve to frenzy, hunger soon passes and sickness soon tires, legs bend, stockinged, I am Twiggy, and I don’t mind the horror that surrounds me. Self worth scatters, self esteems a bore, I long since moved to a higher plateau. This discipline’s so rare to please applaud. Just look at the fat scum who pamper me so. Yeah 4st 7, an epilogue of youth, such beautiful dignity in self-abuse, I’ve finally come to understand life, through staring blankly at my navel”. “Mausoleum”- A particularly dark moment for our absent friend. This is aimed at Holocaust (in particular the gas chamber), and it contains some extremely harsh and bleak imagery. The criticism of “Mausoleum” which says Richey is talking about something, which happened long before his birth is irrelevant given his beautiful and disturbing visions of the subject, his humanitarian heart and his righteous disgust at such treatment of people. A good example of Richey as more of the poetic type rather than his usual anti-state diatribe by using figures of speech and imagery to convey a dark part of human history- “wherever you go I will be carcass, whatever you see will be rotting flesh, humanity recovered glittering etiquette and safe and warm but life is silent, for the victims who have no speech, in their shapeless, guilty remorse, obliterates your meaning”, “no birds, no birds, the s ky is swollen black, holy mass of dead insect, but they can pretend, life eternal scorched grass and trees, for your love nature has haemorrhaged”. Again it displays him as a delicate soul who cannot stand suffering, instead of the alcoholic, ambiguous and egotistical rock star as is often made out. Another industrial sounding track with portentous guitars and an eerie repetitive vocal tone. An indescribable moment of despair. “Faster”- Absolutely wonderful. Starts with the ear-pricking lines “I am an architect, they call me a butcher, I am a pioneer, they call me primitive, I am purity, they call me perverted”. It sample the film of Orwells “1984” to great effect, it’s a live favourite and shows the band making a great song out of disjointed poetry. It is wonderful in its own egotistical manner, which sees Richey putting himself up there with geniuses. However, Richey’s ego may well be deserved from the beauty of some of the lines in this- “I am idiot drug hive, the virgin, the tattered and the torn, life is for the cold made warm and they are just lizards, self-disgust is self-obsession honey and I do as I please, a morality only obedient the cleansed repented”, “I am all the things you regret, A truth that washes that learnt how to spell”, “He loves me truly this mute solitude I’m draining, I know I believe in nothing but its my nothing”. A stocky bit of militant punk with the added benefit of a songwriter who could be a famous poet. The guitars are alternately pounding and squealing, the drumming mechanic and thunderous, the impressive bass in particular takes a bit of a front seat, and the chorus sounds wonderful, but its really the lyrics that give this song is spe cial place in the hearts of Manics fans. “This is yesterday”- The music is as remarkable as they lyrics in t his it is tender and the guitars are stroked rather tha n strangled, the drumming is mild and cymbal-based, and an amplified bass and breathy vocals lend an almost sexy feel to the song. A stand out song on the album, it prophesises what is to come for the Manics, yet steers clear of the bland boring indie scmuck that they developed into later on. Bradfield uses this opportunity to show off his impressive guitar skills. As well as the lovely accompaniment we have somewhat milder lyrics than the rest of the album, but the song is a well-placed easy listen (but still gets you thinking) alone on the album. Some of the finest lyrics are “Do not listen to a word I say, just listen to what I can keep silent, the only way to gain approval is by exploiting the very thing that cheapens me”. Gorgeous. “Die in the Summertime”- A tapestry of presentiment lends a feeling of closeted despair to this track. The guitars are dark, driving, alternately ferocious and gloomy and the drumming has a hasty feel to it. Another slightly industrial, gothy feeling track. Perhaps a statement of Richey’s impending death or disappearance, this is often a source of contention among fans- was he announcing his intention to die, pretending to announce it so he could live in peace, or simply writing another dark track to complement a dark album? “Scratch my leg on a rusty nail, sadly it heals, colour my hair but the dye grows out, I cant seem to stay a fixed ideal” suggests great confusion and a sense of self-hatred. He also expresses a wish to stay young “Childhood pictures redeem, clean and so serene, see myself without ruining lines”. The lyrics grow even darker through the song (“The hole in my life even stains the soil, my heart shrinks to barely a pulse, a tiny animal curled into a quarter circle, if you really care wash the feet of a beggar”), and depict feelings of incredible emptiness, and hatred of the hypocrisy of the human race. Not a favourite of mine, but indeed a very darkly brooding, lyrically solid and personal moment from Richey. “The intense humming of evil”- It will send shivers down your spine. To conjure up a completely different band for a moment, the grinding, mechanic effects used in the track (machine noises which run underneath the music of the whole track) remind me of those used in “Meat is Murder”, and as that is a song that converted many to vegetarianism, this is a song to fill you with terror, disgust and absolute loathing of the Holocaust. It is quite simply the most terrifying and disturbing song I have ever heard, and the feel of it never fades no matter how much you listen. It will chill you to the bone. It is clearly dedicated to the holocaust from the entire content, but notably “welcome, welcome, soldier smiling, funeral march for agony’s last edge, 6 million screaming souls”, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (a quote from Hitler which expressed his ideology that working brought spiritual freedom). It is disjointed lyrically and contains broken incomplete phrases such as “Churchill no different” which convey a sense of mixed tearfulness and speechless anger. Those who argue Richey has no knowledge of the subject are again proved wrong, this song is so terrifying it almost seems filled with ghosts from the war. P.C.P- a short and spiky blast of punk pop that brings an articulate feel to the genre in the manner of Clash. The words seemed extremely crammed in, what with the breakneck pace of the song. It does show discrepancies between the writers of the music (JDB and Sean Moore) and the writers of the lyrics (Nicky Wire and Richey James) however, James manages to fit it all in quite well, and has a extraordinary mosh-along chorus “PCP, a P C police victory, PCP, a PC pyrrhic victory, when I was young PC meant police constable, nowadays I cant seem to tell the difference”. It’s basically an upbeat politicall y minded musical riot. It uses the PC pun to mean both Police constable and political correct, Plaid Cymru and the Portuguese Communist Party. Quite a mouthful! Again, there are tonnes of superb lyrics in here- “Teacher starve your child, PC approved, as long as the right words are used”, “she speaks impotent, sterile, naïve, blind, atheist, sadist, stiff upper lip”, and the lovely “words discoloured, bow to the bland, heal yourself with sinners salt, doctors arrested for euthanasia, kill smokers through blind vanity”. There are a few literary references in there too “PC caresses bigots and big brother, read Leviticus, learnt censorship, pro-life equals anti-choice”, and it finishes with the ingenious “pass the Prozac designer amnesiac”. Just listening to this album actively is likely to exhaust you completely. There is probably far too much crammed on to one album here, too many songs, too many ideas, too many names and authors, but the whole shambolic piece of self and complete hatred is not only a musical masterpiece, but a literary one too. It was the album for the freak teenagers of the nineties; nowadays they have bland manufactured teeny metal bands to turn to. I’d love to live to the time when alternative culture was actually alternative and had more important things to talk about than Sk8er Bois. This album is the amazing personal confession of a tortured star, and it’s a shockingly ignored album, and quite possibly one of the angriest ever written. The darkest moment in the dark life of a dark dark man, it is truly stunning, terrifying, chilling and breathtaking.
Ah the White Stripes, what darlings they are. Ugly-beautiful, far too white and far too Dylan obsessed. They seem like true weirdoes in a world of people who fit in. Maybe that’s why I like them; they’re a bit odd, like me. Or it could be their spanking poppy blues tunes. I fell in love (first bad pun of op alert) with the White Stripes when my friend gave me a copy of album no 2, De Stijl, on import, and every song from Hello Operator to Your Pretty Good Looking (for a girl) stuck right in the old noggin and wouldn’t budge. Glasgow Barrowlands, on the 10th of April 2003, was the third time I’d been fortunate enough to witness the spectacle of Jack ‘n’ Meg in the flesh, with the first being the Autumn of 2001 (when they were still waiting to ride the crest of their first wave of media hype), the second Gig on the Green 2002. After two fairly weak support bands (sorry, support bands always get the short end of the stick, but they were pretty bad), and a multitude of old Felix the Cat cartoons (all gigs should have between-act entertainment, and has anyone noticed how much of a stoner programme Felix the Cat is?) The White Stripes bound onstage to thunderous cheering and more than one yell of “get yer tits out Meg”, and without niceties, bound straight into “Little Room”. As usual, they draw out the beginning by starting with Meg’s heartbeat-like drumming, and making sure the audience are clapping along. After half of “Little Room” they switch smartly to “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”. The kids are on form tonight, although Jack’s girlish tones sometimes sound a little strained. The atmosphere is absolutely electric, and again, as with the Strokes, most of the audience wouldn’t care if the gig were terrible, they’d still leave raving about it. But it sure isn’t. Jack White is a real showman. Although n ot necessarily a beautiful man, he has such magnetic charisma onstage that it’s impossible not to be drawn to him, with his far-too-tight trousers, waxed hair and big sparkly eyes. He knows just how to draw out his songs until his audience are near breaking point, as on “Screwdriver”, where he draws out the signature guitar riff for so long that the audience is in total meltdown! The gig is typical White Stripes stuff, with the only surprises being the absence of “Fell in Love With a Girl” and “Hello, Operator”, two of the Stripes most well known songs. The audience know the new stuff as well as the old, and “Black Math” off the new “Elephant” album is in particular, incendiary and explosive, and this is coming from someone who was hearing it for the first time (this was before I bought the new album). Despite being low on surprises, the White Stripes gig is certainly the best I’ve been to this year (OK, so its only April, but I’ve been to about ten so far this year). Again, Jack’s interaction with the audience is key, he says little, and what he does say you can hardly hear, but it’s the songs that are important and that’s what he does best. The chunky, trademark pop-rock-country-blues-garage that the White Stripes play sound best in a live forum, the infectious guitar riffs are enough to send you through the roof, while Meg’s primal drumming sounds like the soundtrack to a Shamans ecstatic dance (and believe me, there’s enough peace herbs in this place to send you to heaven, if you get the drift). Meg, as usual, keeps her pretty self fairly quiet, and only sings one song, the sexy New-York-bar-blues track “In the Cold Cold Night”, which will no doubt send several pubescent indie boys into orbit. It’s a shame she doesn’t sing more than one tune, as she does have a lovely voice, and I would have liked to he ar “Rated X”, a b-side that often gets played live, just to show off Jack and Megs explosive chemistry. As usual, the two skinny Detroit kids fill the stage right up. They don’t need no bassist, backing guitarist or any of it, the two of them are enough for the rabid crowd, and so they should be. A two-person line-up could be a disaster for any other bands, but with the White Stripes it’s the thing that makes them a little different, and of course there’s the whole siblings/lovers debate, which continues to rage as Meg still insists that Jack is her baby brother (as she says on “Elephant”s last track, “its true that we love one another”). This is the beauty of the White Stripes. While they will never have the potential to play to massive crowds, the two of them in a medium-size venue will be enough. Maybe this will be there downfall, as they may not be able to play big venues without adding other people, and that would destroy the magic. Stand out tracks tonight are “I Want to Be the Boy Who Warms Your Mothers Heart” in which Jacks’ singing is angelic, sweet and sincere, and the light instrumental backing compliments the gorgeous track perfectly. Only the hardcores know the lyrics to this, and I certainly don’t, but it still remains one of the night’s greatest tracks. “I think I smell a rat” is another fave, here Jacks metamorphoses into a spitting, snarling, vicious creature, complimented by savage guitar licks, and heavy use of snare and crash cymbal from Meg. Most of the track sees Jack alternately whispering, and screaming out the lines “Walkin’ down the street, carryin’ a baseball bat, ooooh, I think I smell a rat”. The perfect alternation of quiet and savage to keep the audience (about an estimated 20% of which are stoned) on their little Converse-clad indie toes. “Jolene”, as always is a fav ourite, just for the comedy of Jack White singing “I’m begging of you please don’t take my man”. The entire audience knows and loves this song well. Its an absolute delight to hear live, Jack has the perfect high-pitched yet scratchy voice to pull it off, and also he is just feminine enough to pull it off. Perhaps a bit of a comedy one, but he sings it with plenty of passion, so you could well believe it well. “In the Cold, Cold Night” simply for the novelty of seeing the gorgeous Meg sing. The crowd goes so mad as she leaves her drum stool that I think the roof might well cave in. She does it so well that I wonder why she doesn’t take centre stage more often. She is just as magnetic as little Jack, and obviously much prettier. This one is such a classic that I thought it was a cover the first time I heard it, and she holds the audience just as spellbound as Jack does, only there are more cries of “marry me” and “nice knockers” with Meg on the mic. “Seven Nation Army” has also become an instant gig fave, and its signature guitar riff draws plenty of screaming from the overexcited and now very sweaty audience. It works to an explosive climax, and is a lot faster than the recorded version for extra oomph. Its another perfect gig fave, with quiet verses and deafening choruses. Just the way songs should be, bloody good on record but twenty times better live. “Your Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)”, OK, I had to put this in because its one of my fave White Stripes songs ever (partly because a guy once sung it to me during a local band night…bless). The entire audience loves this one just as much as me, if the quality of bouncing around and raucous Glaswegian singing is anything to go by (sounds kinda like a much more melodic football match), again it’s a lot faster than the one the album, and all the better for it, it has that heart-p ounding feel. Recorded, its cute, funny and gutsy, live its one of those songs that makes you smile and laugh and want to dance. “Screwdriver” again, this is one of my faves, purely for its piledriving, incredibly powerful guitar riff that lodges itself inside your brain- the perfect live track to show of Jack’s considerable guitar skills. Live, it is explosive, and suitable as one of the final tracks of the night, as it would stick in anyone’s brain. As the final chorus of the song comes to, Jack draws out three booming notes on his guitar, accompanied by three short thundering drum beats, for about a minute, by the end of which the audience are in raptures. The powerful gig finishes with a short encore of, well, “Boll Weevil”! And then the White Stripes leave the enraptured audience feeling sweaty, but in no way confused as to what just happened. The chemistry of the White Stripes is clearly enough to suffuse and entire building, yet there is no macho posturing, no (overt) sexual innuendos, just bloody good music played on a plastic guitar by a man who definitely knows how to use his fingers, and also knows how good music should be played- LOUD! Yep, definitely my gig of the year- until I go to see the Cooper Temple Clause that is!
Sorry, if your sick of ass-kissing reviews of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you better turn away now! Fact- Karen O beats the snot out of all these fake, so-called “rock chicks” (the likes of Pink, Avril and Kelly). If you read NME or Face, or similar butt-kissing publications out there, your bound to have come across a ten-page special about Yeah Yeah Yeahs, that is, Karen O, and, um, two other blokes who no-one can remember the name of (Oh yeah, its Nick Zinner the cute, funky, indie-meets-punk guitarist and Brian Chase the geeky-cool drummer). Even the fairly individual magazine “Careless Talk Costs Lives” done an ass-kissing special. Believe the hype. This isn’t the Strokes, some decent-but-nothing-special marketed band with some catchy tunes, cute faces and rich daddies, which resulted in them being named saviours of rock ‘n’ roll. Yeahs are something different. Yes, they do have the garagey punky sound of the “the” bands (though there’s no “the” in YYY’s name), but they are something different, something a little unique, albeit something which brings a little more confusion and weirdness into my already weird and confused life. Its partly Karen O, the nutter of a front woman who squeals like a pig, purrs like a kitten, and dresses like Britney’s worst nightmare- bumble bee boots and tutus are prominent in her wardrobe. The lads all love her, not because she’s necessarily gorgeous in an obvious way, but because she oozes sex appeal from every manic pore, something which the girls respect her for (along with her wacky dress sense). You won’t catch her prancing around in pleather chaps, but you will catch her swilling beer and doing what she does with real, totally honest passion. But mostly, its the important part, er, oh yeah, the songs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs eponymous first EP is five songs long, none of which have been put on their debu t album, “Fever to Tell”. They are all fabulous and highly unpredictable. They ooze sweaty, sexy cool from every beat (probably because they’re mostly about, well, sex) and have more stoppy-starty bits than a barrelful of Pixies CDs. They have the dirty sound of the nu-garage craze, but they are also heavier, yet they still carry a tremendous sense of fun about them. The songs, and the band, don’t take themselves quite so seriously as some of the other “the” bands running around. The entire thing amounts to a staggeringly energetic and powerful debut. Yeah’s mix up Blondie and the insanity of Iggy and come out with something unique and crazy. If you are a bit of a nutter, you are bound to love this mad, five-song ode to sex. I’m sure nymphomaniacs will like it too. Bang- Bang is the opener, and qualifies for my favourite Yeahs song, out of all of the, um, eight, Yeahs songs I’ve heard. It starts with a sudden, rough and stilted guitar rhythm, a clunky, jerky drum line and Karen whispering “The bigger the better over it”. Surprise surprise its all about sex. Its bumpy and awkward sounding (as sex can sometimes be LOL), but somehow it comes together absolutely beautifully, probably due to Karen O screaming delightfully sweet lyrics over the top (“as a f**k son, you suck” and “take a swallow as I spit, baby” are two of my particular faves). The drumming is a consistent series of rolls, and the whole effect is raw, due to the production and the fact that there is only one guitar, and no bass. This may also account for the odd feel of the song. Whatever it is, it sounds terribly rough but bloody fantastic, it might make your ears bleed but you’ll love it anyway. Its one song you have to hear, but will probably not ever be able to describe it accurately-you just have to hear it. Note, if you like your songs squeaky clean with lots of Pro-Tools and n ice smooth vocals, you are going to hate this with a fiery passion. Mystery Girl- Another cracking track, about a Mystery Girl, funnily enough. It starts with a very cool sounding, tom-based lengthened drum rhythm and then descends into a doom-laden, minimalist guitar track. The guitar has a real retro feel to it, it’s just a few chords, and is pretty much rhythm guitar all the way through. The entire backing music is pretty quiet, including during the chorus, but it serves to make it more noticeable and unique. Again, Karen O sings and squeals in a jealous, slightly mocking manner over the top, about this sexy girl. It’s a real funky song to dance to, should you ever visit somewhere like the Barfly in Glasgow, which is unlikely. Contains some incredibly cool lines (“They found her under the seat, she said she came from cell block three”, “Not a day goes by I wanna disappear, into her eyes, mother of pearl”, “The girl who had tamed the tigers, yeah yeah”). It’s definitely among the coolest sounding songs in my extensive collection. Art Star- a schizophrenic screaming fest, to put it gently. When it starts off the music sounds sane enough, with a reduced cymbal-based drum rhythm, and a nice deep, clean guitar line. This is Karen O taking the total piss out of a snobbish art world, however, and the first spoken lyrics cut right to the point- “I’ve been working on a piece that speaks of sex and desperation, about screwing on the tracks, of abandoned train stations”- her criticisms certainly don’t beat around the bush. Then comes the shock. After Nick counting us in with a quiet “1,2,3,4” and a brief moment of complete quiet, the entire track descends into chaos. The snare drum thundering, Nick batters a scary and urgent tune out of the guitar, and Karen screams “ART STAR!!!!!!” at the top of her considerable voice. The track then returns to its form er status, albeit a tad louder and funkier, with a bunch of playful “doo, doo, doos” sung over the top. The track continues in this fashion, with screaming fits interspersed with this mocking song. Again, contains some great lines “S**t, I got a gallery in New York”, and “It’s a madhouse, this modern life, it’s a madhouse, my feckless pride”. Weird, twisted and bloody amazing. Miles Away- An ominous guitar line introduces Karen’s purring voice, “as the stars go by, under the sun, like an enemy, you wander, you wander, you wander”, followed by some suspiciously orgasmic breathing. It’s a real odd, punky feeling song that would leave the faux Sum-41 punkers quaking in their odd-coloured Converse. Edgy, eerie and a bit on the weird side, it feels like a giant melting pot that keeps rebuilding itself and then breaking down again. The drums are chaotic, disordered, almost anarchic, heavy with the crash-cymbals and snare, and following no set pattern, mirroring the rest of the song. The guitar riff is really the incredibly strong driving force of the song, its low, droning and chugging, and lends a sense of dominant urgency in the song, which builds up to several screaming choruses, and then breaks down on itself to a whispered “Miles, miles away”, which dims to nothing, as it disappears into the far distance. Our Time- A fairly weird, chugging type song with spacey, stoned “seize the day” lyrics (someone’s being tucking in to her coke and champagne). This one is different from the others, a slow burning, powerful song that sticks in your mind and speaks to you in many different ways. It sounds like a bit of a love song, with Karen’s usual rabid roar toned down to a kittenish whispering vocal. Its also one of those big-eyed, awed-at-the-world songs, which preaches individuality and the need to seize the day. OK, granted its not an original message , but its done in such a trademark Yeah’s fashion that it sounds like it’s the first song of its sort you’ve ever heard, spiced up with some slightly odd lyrics (“it’s the year to be hated”, “I may be dead honey, but I was left with my eyes”). I guess the bottom line is that it’s a song that you can read your own meaning into, which is personally my favourite kind of song, the ones that make you think. All in all, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, from the strength of this recording, are definitely a niche band. Unlike the Strokes, the Coral, and the White Stripes, their tracks are probably too punky and weird to stumble their way into the top twenty, as the other three have, although in today’s musical climate, where the White Stripes trounce Robbie Williams on the US billboard chart, who knows. Its definitely love it or shove it music with an extra twist- you will either develop a Yeah’s obsession and start dressing like Karen O in ripped fishnets and vintage threads (this is more disturbing if your male), jonesing after one of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s handmade shoulder bags and a vinyl copy of “Machine”, or you will not understand why in the HELL anyone could possibly listen to this and ENJOY IT! I’m glad I fall into the first camp. I’m off to rip some fishnets now. Disclaimer- I am in no way affiliated with the NME. Thank the Goddess.
Well I did my op on Avril, and now I’m following it up with one about rats. When you think about it, what’s the difference (sorry, didn’t mean to insult the rats!)? Rats have often been seen as a bit of a scourge of society, and despite their popularity these days as pets, they are still seen as dirty, smelling, disease-carrying vermin. Pet rats, are, in contrast, highly intelligent, sensitive and friendly animals. They are extremely tame and gentle, they make wonderful pets, and the prejudice against them is as silly and unfounded as a fear of spiders (yeah, OK, you can get poisonous spiders, but that’s no reason to be scared of common house spiders is it-and this is coming from an arachnophobic). Rats rock, they are one of the best small pets you can keep. A bit of history Fancy rats are descendants of the wild brown rat (Rattus norwegicus). Brown rats originate from Asia and arrived in Europe by stowing themselves away on ships. They were first recognised over here in 1728, prior to that there were no known brown rats. They preferred damp environments, and quickly pushed aside the native rat, the black rat (Rattus rattus). In fact, pet rats are directly derived from laboratory rats used in research. This is an advantage because docility is inbred to the pet rat (isn’t it funny how some animals stay gentle when we subject them to the most hideous torture in the name of research), but a disadvantage because pet rats, who have a maximum lifespan of five to six years, often die aged around two of the cancer that is also inherited from their lab past. Um…why would you want a rat? Well, contrary to popular belief, rats are not dirty, smelly and disease ridden. In fact they are very clean, gentle and intelligent creatures. They have no odour more than the usual odour of small animals, a mixture of fur and sawdust, so long as you clean the cage at least once a week, dependant on size and n umber of animals. They make ideal pets for children, because they are more tolerant and less likely to bite than hamsters, easier to train and handle than gerbils and mice, not so scared of humans as guinea pigs, and they cant kick like rabbits. They are harder to lose should they get loose in the house than smaller animals. They can be tamed properly, unlike many other types of small animal, such as hamsters, which merely tolerate being handled, whereas rats love being handled. Unlike most small pets, they love cuddles and handling once they are properly tamed. Rats rarely bite, due to their long history of being tamed for lab purposes. They are a lot more docile than other small animals, this docility makes them easy to handle, and they will sit in your hands happily without try to escape or bite. You can keep two rats together, whether male or female, without a problem so long as they are introduced as youngsters, or very carefully as adults. In fact, rats are happier in groups, and while a group of adult males may run into a couple of problems, you can happily keep as many females in one cage as you have room for. They are very cute. You can teach them simple tricks. They come in a large variety of coat colours and types, and are in fact pretty animals. Any reasons why you wouldn’t choose a rat? Not really, unless someone in your household has a real fear or hatred of them. Visitors might also be put off a little by the thought of a rat. Also, it is only fair to keep them in very large cages, the size designed for animals like ferrets and chinchilla’s, keeping a rat in a little aquarium is very cruel, and doesn’t satisfy their love of climbing. If you don’t have room for this size of cage, then don’t bother, get a smaller animal, like a hamster or mouse. And think carefully if you have a cat, or a terrier or hound typ e dog, although, my rats live quite happily side-by-side (not literally), with my cocker spaniel, my cat and my ferrets (although of course I had the sense not to let them too near each other, and my cocker spaniel is afraid of everything including his shadow). Choosing a rat My usual advice of steering clear of pet shops when you buy animals stands true here. Rats, as with other small animals, are simply wilder when they come from places like this due to lack of handling, and of course you never know where the rat came from (for example, it may have genetic problems or something along those lines). Because rats aren’t popular pets, they will often sit in pet shop cages for months before being bought, and have you seen the size of pet shop cages? However, finding a rat breeder can be a difficult matter, and you may well end up getting a pet shop rat due to lack of choice, but if you can get a breeder, go for that option as the rat will already be half tame and the breeder can give you tips on its care. You can decide whether you want a lively rat or a docile one, but it should have bright, clear eyes, a clean nose, feet and tail area, and no toes missing, its fur should be clean and soft, and it should take some interest in being handled. The colour and type you choose is up to you, but remember some of the more rare types (such as dumbo rats, which have huge ears, or hairless rats-which are pretty creepy looking) need special care. One rat or more? It’s really cruel to keep a rat on its own unless you can provide it with plenty of time and handling. Rats are really social animals and need mates around. Keeping two or more males together, so long as they are introduced as babies, should present no major problem, and you can keep as many females together as you like. If you keep a rat on its own, you need to give it a lot of handling. By a lot, I mean at least an hour every day. On balance, its probably fairer on the rat and easier on you to keep at least two. Always remember never keep the opposite sexes together, because two rats can produce hundreds within a year. Caging ratty As I have mentioned before, my personal opinion is that a fish tank is not a suitable environment for a rat. The reason for this being A- rats like to climb and jump around, and B rats can grow very large, larger than you think, and so nothing but the biggest possible fish tank (possibly the kind designated for marine fish) is big enough, and these are more expensive than they are worth, as the rat still wont be able to climb. I also think the types of cage designed for house rabbits and guinea pigs are far too small, especially since they are usually too small even for rabbits and guinea pigs. Again, this doesn’t allow much scope for the rat to climb. In my opinion, the best type of cage for an animal like this is the type designed for ferrets, squirrels (i.e., chipmunks), and chinchillas. The drawback of these cages is that they are very, very expensive, usually upward of sixty quid, although they will probably do you for three or four rats at least. You could equally make your own cage. My own rat cage is homemade, the backs, sides and floors are made of hardwood (anything else will get chewed out of), and the insides are pieces of colourful acrylic. This is ideal, because unvarnished wood will inevitably get stinky and soft with urine, and there are few animal safe varnishes about, also it reduces the chance of the rat gnawing its way out, because there are no grooves or lumpy bits to get hold of to start the escape process. The front of the cage is covered by wire, and the whole thing has four floors, allowing plenty of room to run around. If you are a budding DIY type, or have one in the house, this will be a fun project, but remember to make sure there is no possible escape, do not use chicken wire because it tears easily and can cause injuries or let the rat out, and its also a good idea to seal off the corner with shaped bits of wood or plastic because this is where all the germs breed. Whatever kind of cage you go for, I wouldn’t choose one less than 80cm by 50cm by 50cm. Multi level cages are good because they allow more space. Cage fittings The first thing you will need will be a food and water dish. For food dishes, the best kinds to go for are heavy earthenware or pottery bowls. Rats can chew these or drag them about, anything else, such as plastic, will get chewed to pieces. As always, its best to put water in a vertical water bottle with ball dropper, because it stops the water getting soiled, and most rats can figure out how to use these own their own. Get a fairly large one to keep the rats happy. Also make sure the rat has at least two nest boxes to choose from, bear in mind when you get more than one that each rat will need a place to sleep, and you could get one big one, because rats will usually sleep happy tangled up in a big heap, but its best to provide two in case two rats don’t get on very well. Nest boxes can be made of wood, but again sturdy plastic is a good idea, as it wont get smelly so easily. Toys When it comes to toys, use you imagination! There should always be something to gnaw on, unless you want to hear the infuriating noise of rats gnawing metal bars. Blocks of wood can be provided for this purpose, or better still, a piece of natural tree branch, or you can get something from the pet shop. Make sure the tree is not poisonous to rats (fruit tree branches are good, and steer clear of yew). You can also put in empty glass jars, kitchen roll holders, plastic tubes of the kind made for ferrets, ferret hammocks, perhaps an exercise wheel of suitable size (make sure it is solid, and not made of metal rungs, otherwise the rat could break a leg or damage its tail), and tying a few thick solid r opes or pieces of branch around is good for the rats to climb about. Mostly, if you keep two or more rats, they will keep themselves amused, but do provide them with some diversions from cage life. Placing new objects in the cage now and again will keep them very happy. Food Rats eat anything (and I mean anything), and this is not necessarily a good thing. The best base of a rats diet is of course the pet food you can buy in stores. If you want to take the more natural route, you can mix your own using oats and seeds, but you’ll need to make sure and take all the rats dietary needs into account, and it can be more trouble than its worth. Rats need the occasional animal protein supplement; this can be given in the form of dry dog and cat food, or tinned food or cooked chicken and beef. Be careful with the latter, as they go off quickly and smell bad in the cage. Once a week is more than enough for their protein needs. Also, provide the rat with the occasional vegetable treat- like apples, pears, bananas and lettuce. Rats are also fond of bread and yoghurt, and perhaps slices of hard-boiled egg, but of course steer clear of very salty or sugary food. You could also provide them with a little milk, but it’s a good idea to do this outside the cage, as it will make the cage stink if it gets into the bedding- if the rat is very tame it might lick it off your finger. Taming rats Pet rats usually come into your home tamer than most small animals, this shouldn’t be too difficult. First allow the rat to get used to your hand in the cage, rearranging things, putting in new food etc. If the rat sniffs your hand, don’t jerk it away; it won’t bite you, it’s just having a look. Rub your hands in some clean sawdust to get rid of the human smell, which small creatures are conditioned to be wary of. To pick the rat up, don’t chase it around the cage with your hand. Wait til i t’s sitting quietly, take a firm but gentle hold of the root of its tail, and pick up with the other hand, just behind the shoulders. Do not pick up by the tail as you can with mice, because rats are too heavy. When it’s sitting on your hand, keep a hold of the root of its tail for the first few weeks or until its tame. You have to do little else, except maybe offer a bit of food by hand as a bribe, it will tame quickly if you are gentle with it. When it’s tame, a rat will need to be handled every day for at least ten minutes. If you keep a rat on its own, it will need to be handled for at least an hour every day. Caring for rats- Rats don’t really need a lot of grooming. If you are gentle they may enjoy grooming with a very soft brush, and if the coat becomes a little dishevelled, letting them burrow in a box of hay will sort this out. If your rat happens to need a bath, then use a neutral pH shampoo and make sure they are thoroughly dry before putting them back in the cage. You may need to clip the rats claws occasionally, but its best to get a vet to do this, otherwise, just take the sharp tip off so your sure not to cut the rats quick. Clean the cage out thoroughly every week, although the time may be adjusted according to the number of rats and the size of the cage. If the rats choose a toilet area then clean this out every few days, and once a month strip the cage, disinfect it, and replace any overly dirty toys that cant be cleaned properly. Types and colours Rats come in a wide variety of colours. The most common pet is probably the white rat, which may have either black or pink eyes. They are usually very pretty because breeders can afford to take notice of features and body shape because the colour is pretty much always perfect. Agouti, that is, wild coloured rats are fairly common, you can get black, brown, blue, lilac, amber, chocolate, champagne (pinkish) and cream rats. There are several types of colour marked rats. Siamese rats are, as you might expect, coloured like Siamese cats, with cream bodies and coloured paws, noses, ears and tails, and always with pink eyes. Himalayans are the same, only with white bodies. Irish rats are coloured with white triangles on their chests, and white feet. Berkshire rats have white bellies, and Japanese rats (probably the most popular marked rats) have coloured hoods over their head and shoulders and a coloured stripe, which stretches to the tail, blacks, and creams are the most common colours. There are some less common, newer types of rats. Capped rats are like Japanese ones, only they have the coloured hood but no stripe. Masked rats simply have a small coloured patch on the face around the eyes; the rest of the body is white. You can also get husky rats, which have white bellies and a little white on the sides, and a white blaze on the face, like husky dogs. Spotted and patched rats are common pets, show animals are meant to be evenly marked, but it doesn’t matter in pets. You can also get different types of rat. They are all the same genus, but have variations- you can get satin rats, which have shiny and silky coats, rex- coated rats (that is, curly haired), Manx and bobtail rats (which, like the cats, have either no tail or tiny tails, however this type may be deformed in legs and back), hairless rats which look, in my opinion, freaky, and dumbo rats, which are gorgeous, and are the same as normal rats, only with big cute ears. Well, I guess that’s everything there is to know about pet rats. If your looking for a nice pet for a child, you could do no better than a rat, they are inquisitive, intelligent, gentle and friendly creatures, once you get past their rather unsavoury reputation. If you’re looking for a nice small pet, you can do no better.
Avril is just a Britney for the would-be alternative masses. Today, being a regular Britney is not cool. The market has changed. Sum41 and Blink are now “cool”. I could see this coming; I knew it was only a matter of time before the rock Britneys took over. Before someone had the evil idea of launching a bunch of fake “rock chicks” at us. And was I right? Yup. Now we have “Riot grrls” Kelly Osbourne, and god forbid, Avril Lavigne. They’re here to take over the world. I’ll take Saddam Hussein any day. Avril, the latest media marketing toy, wears baggy jeans onstage, and totes a guitar she can’t play. Her favourite chord is “G”. As in Girl. I rest my case. She bears a startling resemblance to a half-bred raccoon (it’s the eyeliner). Lets face it, raccoons are cute. But they’re cute vermin. Just like Avril. I went and downloaded Avrils album (like I was going to give her a record sale) with one mission, add at least one voice of dissent to all the rave reviews on Dooyoo. Even if it were marketed as a pop album (which its not), Avril’s album lacks anything interesting. Most of the music is fairly mellow pop, and don’t expect an albumful of tracks like Sk8er Boi. And for the last time, it is not punk, not even by Sum41’s standards. You can pretty much divide this into three types of track- love songs (“Things I’ll Never Say”), f**k you songs (“Complicated”), and faux-rock (“Losing Grip”). I see it as a pretty dismal failure on all counts. The love songs are mostly fillers that would sound fine on a teen queen album, After a few listens they all blend into one another, so you think you’ve listened to a song called “Things I’ll Never Say When I’m Naked With You”. The f**k you songs are mostly Avril trying to stress what a loner and indiv idual she is, on the account that she wears skinny ties and calls herself punk. They probably make up the bulk of the album. Snooooooooooooooore. The faker songs are just embarrassing. I find nu-metal bad enough, and the fact that anyone would want to emulate it is more bamboozling than a ten-hour David Lynch movie marathon. Avril stretches and skews her voice in the hope of sounding metally, and instead ends up closer to the awful likes of Staind. Losing Grip- This sounds like Britney Spears meets SOAD. The verses are soft and sugary, indicating pop, and big guitar licks and vocal accents on the chorus’s give it that wannabe-nu-metal feel- its clearly just pop tarted up as rock. The lyrics are angst and f**k you “You weren’t there when I was scared”. It sounds forced mature, but its childish lyrics don’t really back it up, like little Avril is trying to be something she’s not. Big change there then, eh? She has strong vocals, but not naturally strong, just show-offy strong. Complicated- Ah. I remember the days before Complicated, before anyone had heard of Larvae Latrine. Hell Avril, why’d ya have to go n make things so complicated? Its not as abysmally cringe-worthy as Sk8er Boi, at best is a dull pop song filled with all the usual rubbish about being yourself- which I think is ironic when young girls are starving themselves so they can look like Avril. The album version is pretty cheesy, full of twirly guitar licks and crappy backing vocals. However, it is well put-together. It screams top ten, its irritatingly catchy and the lyrics are what some teenyboppers would call rock (“Take off all ya preppy clothes”, “You look like a fool to me” “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?”). It’s a bit of teenage pseudo-rebellion; I reckon that’s why it’s done so well. However there isn’t anything rebellious about it. It says w hat a million other pop songs have already done. This is her at her most arrogant and hypocritical. Sk8r Boi- This song gets zero marks for the title alone. Check my account page for a better version! Sk8r Boi is a sickly pop affair, hidden behind a guitar and heavy drumming, so she can be called punk. It’s basically a ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner thumb biting in song mode, about how a ballet dancer turns down a boy who becomes a superstar, and naturally, Avril’s boyfriend. The lyrics are trite, pathetic, and blatantly aimed at the kiddie-pop market. “He was a skater boy, she said see you later (l8er??) Boy,” “He was a boy, she was a girl, can I make it any more obvious, he was a punk, she did ballet, what more can I say”, and so on. There is no depth or originality. The one thing I will say is she has a fantastic voice, but as this song demonstrates, she’s a big a fake as Britney. This song is not anywhere near rock. Worse, it’s horribly catchy. Its more contagious than chickenpox and more irritating. I’m with you- Whiny teenage melancholic angst, violins and acoustic guitars and all. “I’m standing on the bridge, I’m waiting in the dark, I thought that you’d be here by now”. Wow, how, like, punk. This is true angsty-Alanis action this. This is a true come-rescue-me song (“isn’t anyone trying to find me, wont someone come take me home, It’s a damn cold night”, “wont someone take me by the hand”); it clashes badly with the likes of Complicated. Again she shows a strong voice, although she has a somewhat Aguilera-esque habit of over singing. It’s a searching song clearly, but there is nothing special about it. If it were rock, it would have flopped well before now, but because its pop and marketed up the wazoo, Avril is bigger than ever. Yes Avril, you ARE out of your mind, as you wonder on this track. Mobile- quite a fu nky tune based around an acoustic guitar (which Avril surely isn’t playing). Could be described as a bit of a puberty song “Everything’s changing” “Outta my control”. I think its actually charting a rise to fame. Which hopefully will stop pretty damned soon. I reckon this is the most Alanis-y effort on the album. It bears a lot of vocal similarities to it, alternately soaring and low pitched, with that sound that seems to be familiar to Canadian female singers (I think I’ll call it NOST- National Over Singing Twatdom), which I can’t quite place. It takes the typical quiet verse, anthemy chorus approach. A Dawson’s Creek type song. The whole thing is a reasonable attempt at a pop song, although dismal if Avril is going for punk. Unwanted- masquerading as nu-metal, once again, with the same kind of weird Celtic vocals. But it falls short of the mark, and it’s a soft angry-grrrl type song. It has a dirty guitar riff, but the rest of the song, the vocals, the drumming and the general production, is so tight, clean and Pro-Tooled, that the guitar just sounds ridiculous. The drum track is the kind of grandiose affair you get with the likes of cheesy, terminally uncool power divas like Celine Dion, you know, the heavy snare and the grand climaxes. It has the typical quiet verse, screaming chorus of quite a few nu-metal tracks. Its just Avril nicking from the worst. Another girl-angst song that recently dumped thirteen year olds will be screaming at their walls for the next couple of months until the next trendy young “artist” wanders along. Tomorrow- Yet another gloomy acoustic pop affair, another track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a pop diva album, or a girl-group album for that matter, someone along the lines of what All Saints were- pretending to be a little bit different. It’s an end-of-the-night school disco song, nothing new, or different, a wave-your-lighter know all the lyrics type of thing, with, once again, very little in the way of innovation. Avril’s voice isn’t sounding too spectacular here; it’s not all that great at the lower end of its spectrum, though she does throw in a few soary-voiced bits, which are just overly frilly and frankly quite pathetic. Anything But Ordinary- this is ostentatious rubbish. Once again, it’s Avril trying to be an individual. Its unbelievable how Avril can pull off songs that wouldn’t be out of place on one of the other blonde teen queens albums, and yet people still call her a rebel. For a “rebel” song, the backing music is remarkably its yet another opportunity for Avril to show off her voice. It’s a fairly dreamy track, with corny backing vocals, and pop-lite drumming. It’s the textbook perfect example to show Avril as a poseur. Again, the lyrics are childish and mediocre, and fake. Someone should tell this girl that driving fast doesn’t make you a rebel- being your own person does. “Sometimes I get so weird, I even freak myself out”- welcome to the world Avril. Show me someone who says they haven’t freaked themselves out and thought they were crazy, and I’ll show you a brazen liar. Funny how she does nothing controversial yet still gets called a rebel. Things I’ll Never Say- This is by far the worst thing on this album. A terrible sugared pop song. It’s badly disguised as rock, by the addition of a sickly, clean acoustic guitar riff. It’s exactly the kind of thing you can imagine Britney coming out with. There’s nothing remotely out of the ordinary about this. The lyrics, as usual, suck, especially for someone described as a distinguished writer -“I’m trying to keep my cool, I know it shows, I’m staring at my feet, my cheeks are turning red, I’m searching for the words inside my head, I’m feelin’ nervous, tryin to be so p erfect, cos I know your worth it, your worth it”. A love song, simple as, and it sees kewl sk8er chick going all smushy. Whatever happened to being yourself and your take-em-or-leave-em attitude towards, er, bois? Stick with the attitude Avril; at least you’ve got the scowl to go with it. Also, can someone please clear up that chorus line for me, PLEASE tell me Avril ISN’T singing “I wanna see you go down on me”. My World- This is Avril trying to set herself apart from everyone else, AGAIN, in the same way Pink does. Its her “Don’t Let Me Get Me”. Ironic, isn’t her manager LA Reid? (As in “LA told me, you’ll be a pop star”). Only it has none of the balls of Pink. I’m beginning to see a distinction in this album- songs written mainly by Avril (“Sk8er Boi”, “My World”) and those written by someone else, such as “Mobile”. The latter contains the half-serious but not clever lyrics”. Whereas “My World” contains the classic s**t lines “Never wore a cover-up, always beat the boys up”, “In this head my thoughts are deep, sometimes I cant even speak”, and the cracker “I never spend less than an hour, washin’ my hair in the shower, it always takes five hours to make it straight, so I’ll braid it in a zillion braids so it may take all friggin’ day”. Oh my god. WHERE did you get that rhyming dictionary??? And while we’re on the subject is that what the critics are calling “deep” these days? Basically its Avril’s boring story of living in a boring small town. And its crap. Nobody’s Fool- God this is getting repetitive. You’ll see from the title it’s more of the same, Avril calling herself a rebel. The backing music is lacklustre, and while designed to showcase a beautiful voice, it doesn’t really do it much credit at all. This see s Avril attempting to rap and sounding like a total moron (wait, did I say sounding like?). This one is a little more upbeat (“If you wanna bring me down, go ahead and try”), but contains the idiotic lyric “I’m not the milk and Cheerios in your spoon”- um, what the HELL is that supposed to mean? At least when Thom Yorke confuses people with his lyrics he sounds smart, she just sounds like a total imbecile. Its one of those girly pop anthems, you know the, “I will be who I am ones” like “Unpretty” or “Beautiful”, but they are unquestionably sung by someone incredibly gorgeous with a perfect figure. Which is another thing that really bugs me. This one sets her apart as a pop artist, its daft rapping and shallow singalong lyrics means it cant really be mistaken for anything else, so WHY ARE PEOPLE STILL CALLING HER PUNK? Too Much To Ask- Wait, is that actually a skewed guitar riff I hear- oh wait, its descending into more relationship bull. This is, about Av’s boy choosing weed over her. With these tunes, I’m not surprised. A slow-paced track that is simply another opportunity for Avril to prove she’s an angsty teen who happens to have a beautiful voice and a pretty face. Unfortunately for her, it’s a pretty poor effort. It sounds exactly like “Losing Grip”, and is another Alanisy type song. You know the kind of thing, I’m a tough girl I don’t need you anyway. Completely unremarkable. Naked- the opening sounds just like that of Losing Grip. The opening lyric is “I wake up in the morning, put on my face, the one that’s gonna get me, through another day” and if you ask me it sums Avril up perfectly- IE, she’s an incredibly bold little fake and is more or less admitting it here. Oh, and what a deep lyric. Not. Yet more moody teen angst, which is parading as a “dark song”, or at least the ominous backing w ould suggest. But once you get to the sappy chorus, things change rather rapidly, “I’ve never felt like this before, I’m naked, around you, does it show? You see right through me and I can’t hide, I’m naked, around you, and it feels so right”. Again, the backing music is fairly uninspiring, the guitar licks are fairly dull, not imaginative at all, and don’t really suit Avrils lyrics at all. All together, the album is poor, jaded-teen stuff. It brings to shame real rock chicks like Shirley Manson and Karen O. Even Gwen ‘sell-out’ Stefani is more rock chick than this. Come to think of it, Britney is more rock chick than this. Avril seems to think that putting on a wifebeater vest and adding a few acoustic guitars to a track makes it punky. This is the dismal result of people who place fashion over content. On the merits of this poor excuse for an album, I can’t really see why everyone is bigging up Avril. I think, goddess forbid she should last, will probably mature into a very uncool power diva, in the mean time I need to put up with her being terminally cool. The next Sk8er Gurl I see is getting her twelve-year-old ass kicked.