Tribute

11 04 2016

 

Virgo Bass

I started a Joke

That I could sing folk

When in fact it was more my foe

As I wanted to sing more disco

I’m just the man in the middle

Of a group who mostly played the fiddle

I had dreams of fame

But everyone told me that was just lame

You Win Again

I said, with words like Acid Rain

And so I gave up

To drink the loyal blood cup

On this our wedding day

Your love showed me a way

Your beauty, like sweet-smelling soap

Brought me long forgotten hope

You should be dancing

Where at the floor you were glancing

But you came too in addition

To join me in my ambition

GENEPOOL





Soundtrack Of My Graduation

30 09 2015

Preston Guild Hall Graduation Hat Throwing

Just over a couple of months ago, I graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a 2:1 in Combined Studies (creative Writing and Screenwriting). Now while it was a big moment, graduating from University; the weeks prior and even the day before I was in no way looking forward to it. I was excited to see my friends from my course again, but I wasn’t looking forward to it for several reasons, one of the main ones being I don’t like getting ‘dressed up’. As the day went on though I actually enjoyed the whole thing and felt rather bad for not looking forward to it. Throughout the whole day though, I had a constant soundtrack going through my head. So I thought I would do a post about the soundtrack, why I thought of certain pieces of music and so on. Think of it as sort of one of those Father’s Day CD’s that gets released just before, well…..father’s day.

Preston Guild Hall

1. General Grievous theme – For most of the morning I didn’t have any soundtrack at all. When I got to Preston I had nothing much going through my mind, it wasn’t until I had signed in that I began to get nervous and shake. A little bit later I got my gown, and then tried to get a photo, but time was running out so I just went straight into the Guild Hall. It was at this moment that the feel of what was quite a heavy gown began to grip me. The grand thing of it all, and the theme for General Grievous came through my head. The grand music he has, and the fact he walks like he has a cape and walking stick. It made me feel like that and the music really helped to calm my nerves too.

2. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff theme – As I sat down and began to wonder what was coming and going to happen. A new piece of music came to my head. As I saw the stage I would walk onto, I visioned the grand theme of professional wrestler Paul Orndorff, particularly his theme from the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony in 2005. It was just like Grievous, but I felt the combination of the gown and that music really worked together, but it was more just looking at the steps and stage that I just imagined some kind of music to play when I took to the stage.

3. Monty Python’s Flying Circus theme – As the ceremony ever more neared to starting, an Organ began playing in the background. Most of the music I did not know, but then it started playing the theme music to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was a pretty good piece too.

4. King Kong 1976 Arena Entrance – The organ playing also made me think of something else too. In the 1976 remake of King Kong, when Kong is put on display and enters the arena, this really low, deep, organ piece is played. Its spine tingling, dark and spooky. And just for a laugh I thought it would be a cool piece to play for when the Chancellor came into the hall.

5. Sting In The Tail – It wasn’t really the song that I was thinking of. I think it was when I was sitting down, but my time was coming. And I just kept imagining hearing the announcement of my name and thought of the introduction to The Scorpions at their Get Your Sting & Blackout performance in 2011. I could just hear it in my head the announcement followed by the opening riff to Sting in the Tail being played as I walked on stage. Sadly that didn’t happen. Strangely enough though, at no point during the day did I think of Rock You like a Hurricane or Wind of Change.

6. Happy by Pharrell Williams – Naturally I wouldn’t have thought of this song at any time unless it came up some other way. Basically, as the ceremony began to wrap up, the UCLan Chamber Choir; who have won several awards and appeared on TV, came up on stage and sang a pretty good version of this song. The only time I would probably say I liked the song, because I don’t really.

7. Star Wars Ceremony theme – Let’s get the next 2 over and done with as quickly as possible. As the ceremony began to wrap up, the organist decided to play the end ceremony theme played at the end of Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. I was instantly able to pick up on it. I thought it was a rather embarrassing piece to use.

8. Indiana Jones theme – This was then immediately followed by the theme from the Indiana Jones films. Why couldn’t they have used Jaws or Jurassic Park?

9. Killzone 2 opening – As the day began to wrap up, after the meal at the University, I began to like the feel of the gown. It began to make me think like I was some Grand Emperor or Villain. Sort of like Emperor Palpatine. But a much stronger image came out, that in the form of Scolar Visari from the Killzone games. At the beginning of the first 3, Visari; who is the game’s primary antagonist makes great speeches to the people of planet Helghan. His speech from Killzone 2 most of all began to resonate out of my head as I began to feel the gown more, like I could make those speeches. At the end of it all though I was pleased to get it off as it was rather heavy.

10. The Hunger Games ending – As the Graduation Ceremony passed, and as me and my parents got back home, I began to feel rather emotional. I didn’t want University to end. I had been going there for 4 years, and I liked it there. I was happy. But it had to come to an end. The ending theme for the Hunger Games appropriately came on. The one where Katniss and Peeta nearly eat the nightlock berries and their time on the train afterwards. That music just kept going through my head, and for most of that afternoon, I failed trying not to cry.

11. This is our God, The Servant King – I began to get out of the emotional afternoon by playing Rollercoaster Tycoon on my PC. When texting a friend though about what I felt, she suggested doing something that took your mind off things, and even suggested some hymns. The one that came to my head was the chorus for the Graham Kendrick hymn: “From Heaven You Came Helpless Babe.” Why just the chorus? Because I couldn’t remember the verses, plus the organ like feel in the chorus came to my head thanks to the amount of Organ playing I had heard earlier in the day. But altogether it worked; it helped me get out of the emotions I felt all afternoon (it was only very recently that I found out what the hymn was really called).

12. Mike Awesome theme – This one is in here only because I listened to it on my Mam’s kindle in the afternoon. It doesn’t really have much other significance during the day than that, but I thought I would cover all pieces of music.

13. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan theme – As the evening began to draw in, the original plan was for me and my family to go out for a meal to celebrate. While we originally planned on going to a Mexican restaurant in Preston, because I felt it was too soon to go back to Preston due to still feeling rather emotional, I asked if we could just grab a Go Burrito, a burrito place in Lancaster) and eat at home with some nice ice cream to follow. Well, as the evening out with my Mam to pick up the Burrito’s and buy some ice cream panned out; I began to feel like I could have milked receiving my Diploma a little bit more. This is mostly due to seeing a couple of people who did just that. One who took a selfie half way through, and another near the end raising a fist in triumph. Well, that’s where this theme came in (another hall of fame piece). I just imagined walking on stage again, playing this theme, waving a hand, (maybe kissing the air to the audience), but sadly I didn’t think about that earlier. Well, that’s where this theme came in, and I pretty much ended the day on that one.

14. The Raid: Razor’s Out – The thing is, after all that I felt like the list of pieces of music I had compiled didn’t really have a sense of closure to it all. It was left on this uncertain note. I felt like for this list to mean anything it needed that closure. I then remembered something. Earlier this year, for a period of 2, 3 months, I could only think about The Raid. After watching it again and writing one of the best reviews I feel I have written this year, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In May, as my last Academic week with Uni approached, I decided to make the song Razor’s Out by Mike Shinoda and Chino Moreno, played at the end of the film to be my ‘end of University song’. Well, it made sense to use it for this list. It does give closure to the whole day. It’s still an uncertain future, but puts a positive-ish piece, spin on the whole thing. It’s like it’s not ending on a positive, ‘everything is ok note’, but is still saying the future is uncertain, but I am glad of what I have done for the last 4 years and feel like I am ready to move on to the next adventure.

GENEPOOL (Also during the day my brother showed this rather funny Mitchell and Webb Sketch, couldn’t stop laughing afterwards).





Eurovision Reaction 2015

26 05 2015

Mans Zelmerlow ESC 2015

Another year of singing descended on Europe once again as this past weekend saw the annual return of the Eurovision Song Contest. This time it was hosted in Vienna, Austria after they won last year with Conchita Wurst and his song; “Rise Like a Phoenix”. Much like in past years though the winning song wasn’t really played at the beginning of the contest. It was heard briefly, but Conchita did not really sing until before the announcement of voting, but sang two songs, neither of which was last year’s winning song. This isn’t necessarily all that new however. Back in 2005, the 2004 winner; Ruslana from the Ukraine sang at the beginning, but it was not the same song as the one she had Won with, all though it sounded very similar, if maybe a bit slower. I do think thought the contest is losing something if the winning song of the previous year is not celebrated at the beginning, or played at all.

This year’s presentation of the contest was terrific. The theme of “Building Bridges” was possibly a little over used, however for the most part it was used quite well. The presenting team of an all-female trio, plus Conchita, worked alright, I did however think that one of the trio had more time than the other two, and out of those two, one had more speaking parts than the other. It was a great improvement over the near jokers who hosted the event last year, but still had some chinks, and also some awkward moments of talking and speaking which were just un-needed. The presentation over last year though was a massive improvement. As for just the show (not mentioning the songs yet), last year was a bit disappointing. The set and other bits and bobs were pretty good, but the presentation left something of a sour note on the whole event, lowering my expectations a bit for this year. When the event started this year though, it reminded me of the kind of spectacle that Eurovision can produce if done to a good enough standard. The opening, was amazing; a nice combination of singing and pieces of music and video. The set pieces before each song, showing an Austrian Activity were really enjoyable (even if the accompanying song wasn’t so much). I did not get to see much of the big interval act, as I went downstairs to get some cake, but from what I saw, it looked pretty impressive. As for the voting, the ‘building bridges’ moniker was used quite nicely in a short animation before each country appeared to reveal their votes. The arena and set were brilliant, and provided plenty of features which were used to great effect. For next year, the caption should be: “Building Better Phone Lines”, especially after 3 countries suffered connection issues when announcing votes.

ESC 2015 Logo

This year’s selection of songs was a nice variety. I was a bit disappointed that the Finnish entry did not get through to the final, as I saw it a few weeks ago and thought it was pretty good. The UK selection for this year I genuinely thought was much better than most years. Its style and presentation looked like a piece of music from what I thought was 1930’s America, but could not help think that it sounded similar to a dance I once saw in Strictly Come Dancing during the 2013 competition. This year of course there was a lot of attention on a country that is not even in Europe (even though there are more regular countries that aren’t either); Australia. Australia’s song was quite nice and I did briefly wonder about voting for it. I think though that having 27 acts overall was possibly a bit too much and I felt like I was flagging a bit as the last few acts came.

There was a lot of interesting acts this year. Belgium produced this weird thing that was well choreographed, but not exactly up beat. Azerbaijan brought back Elnur Hüseynov who entered back in 2008. Other countries of note included Serbia, Greece (with something that looked like a combination of Norway’s entry in 2013, and their own entry back in 2006) and Russia. For me though, it was between two acts. Israel and Georgia. Israel’s entry I thought was very boy band like (a bit like Spain’s entry in 2007), and a bit silly; however it was also very enjoyable. The only other song that I thought I liked more possible was Georgia’s entry which was very different, more like Gothic Rock. I quite liked it, even if the costume was very outlandish, making me think of Julianne Moore’s character in Seventh Son, and that wizard character in Warcraft 3.

When it came to choosing for which one though, I chose Israel, but accidently voted for both of them. What happened is that when I voted for Israel, I typed in two extra numbers that weren’t needed, so I voted for Georgia, I tried again to vote for Israel, but did it again. I then voted again successfully for Israel. I decided though not to vote for them again two more times in hope of correcting it.

As voting came, it was a surprise as it was quite a close vote between 3 countries, Italy, Sweden and Russia. It was a close race with Russia winning for a while until Sweden grabbed the top spot and held it. Several other countries did quite well though, including Latvia, Belgium, and even Australia finishing in 5th place, well enough I think to suggest a possible return for them. The UK suffered a bit only achieving 5 points, but did considerably better than France (4 points) and both Germany and host country Austria who both received no points. The big winner for the evening though was of course Sweden finishing on 365 points (just 22 points away from Norway’s record victory in 2009) with the song Heroes sung by Måns Zelmerlöw. The song I thought was actually pretty good and the dance and animations were quite fun and a good song to finish the night on. Sweden’s victory in 2015 makes them the second country, after Denmark to win twice since 2000, but also, with 6 wins to date, Sweden is no the second most successful country in the contest history, just 2 more wins and it takes the top spot from Ireland. Altogether it has been a terrific year for the contest, and a great way to celebrate its 60th Year.

GENEPOOL





Pokémon and Dire Straits: A Brilliant Combination

22 10 2014

Pokemon

For nearly two years now I have been playing Pokémon on Thursday nights at Juicafe in Lancaster. I used to collect and play Pokémon when it first came out in the UK in about 2000, but without much of somewhere to actually play it; I ended up just playing it mostly with family and some friends. Eventually, while I still wanted to continue it, my interest waned. Then in 2013, Juicafe started a Pokémon Trading Card Game League and so at long last I was able to play again, and this time with other enthusiasts.

Juicafe

Playing Pokémon again was brilliant, and I enjoy it so much more than when I first started and is a definite improvement and better option to playing Magic: The Gathering competitively, for which I have now retired from. In the past year though, I began to notice people naming their decks, something I didn’t quite understand. From what I was able to gather, It was more for the experimentation of deck building to see how a certain deck works out. Being somewhat of a standard player, I did not consider naming my decks at all (I still prefer to play the cards with no sleeves as it feels more authentic despite the card scuffing, as well as the fact that I do actually have sleeves for them).

Pangoro Boxes

Well eventually I did decide to name my deck, but me being me, I decided to name my deck which was made up of Grass and Psychic Pokémon as Strong Arm Of The Law. I chose that name for one very good reason, it’s a song by British Heavy Metal Legends; SAXON. Strong Arm Of The Law is a very good song with a cool intro and riff, and a pretty good chorus section that is also kind of catchy. So pretty much there and then I decided to name my decks after Saxon songs. I planned to call a possible Fairy/Steel deck Princess Of The Night, while if I was to make a mainly Grass deck, that would be called And The Bands Played On. A Flying deck would receive the name 747 (Strangers in the Night) and a Fire deck (with possibly some Grass) would be Unleash The Beast. So I had it all planned out really.

That was until very recently. I decided that come the new season in September/October time I would start the construction of a new deck. I had been using Strong Arm Of The Law since about March/April 2013 and so in order for me to try something new plus some possible variety, I decided it would be best to get a new deck going. Strong Arm Of The Law was originally built by a friend at Pokémon by combining two Intro/Theme Decks, so I bought two decks at a brilliant Board Game shop in Horsham (BattleQuest Games). While I did do my research into Intro Decks and there were some with more powerful Pokémon, I went for a Dark and Fighting intro pack with a Panda like Pokémon on the front card called Pangoro. While I still need to build the deck, (I have yet to open the boxes) I have already chosen a name for my new Deck, and being a fan of Saxon, and deciding to name my future decks after Saxon Songs, my new deck’s name is,The Sultans of Swing, which many people know is the name of a song by Dire Straits.

Mark Knopfler

So why did I choose that? Well, during the summer, mostly thanks to listening to Money for Nothing about this time of year last year, as well as constant exposure to Romeo and Juliet on my Writing Adaptations module at University, I became a fan of Dire Straits. So pretty much the only music I have really listened to for the last 2/3 months is music by Dire Straits. One song in particular; The Sultans of Swing, I have listened to more than others. When I first heard it I wasn’t too impressed, I thought the song was a bit plain, but then when you listen to a live recording version and give it some time, it becomes one of their best songs. The lyrics the tune, everything. I once listened to it about 20 times in one week, I like it that much. So why did I decide to choose Sultans of Swing as the name of my new deck? Well, because:

  • A) I think it works, and…..
  • B) because I couldn’t think of anything else.

But the name does work, because in essence, I am calling the Pokémon in the deck, The Sultans of Swing. It is more of a personal name for them and gives the Pokémon cards both Character and Personality, and on top of that it brings two awesome things together into one brilliant combination; an Awesome Card Game and an Awesome Rock Band. Pokémon and Dire Straits is quite literally a Brilliant Combination (unless the deck turns out to be rubbish, in which case it may be the last time I use a Dire Straits song as the name for a Pokémon deck).

GENEPOOL (I could call a future deck Telegraph Road, but the deck would need to be so evenly mixed enough for the full 14 minutes of the song to take effect).





Eurovision Reaction 2014

12 05 2014

Conchita Wurst

Another year of Eurovision happened this past weekend, this time hosted in Copenhagen by last year’s winning country, Denmark. This year, they went against the norm by showing the previous year‘s winning song, not at the beginning, but halfway through, and that’s not all, they only really showed 30 seconds to a minute’s worth of what was both a catch and fabulous song and instead show a whole new song which apparently had everyone from the final singing to it. I didn’t see that bit though as I went to the toilet.

The presentation of last years winning song had also changed from a sort of cultural, possibly French army look, to something more tribal. While Ukraine did something similar in 2005 when they hosted it, at least the song was in the same style.

 

As for the contest as a whole, The presentation was a bit varied. It started off quite well, the built stage was amazingly done and the water around the stage was a nice feature too, the idea of putting the green room in the foreground was a nice touch which made the thing look like a Velodrome, and the little bits here and there such as the odd touch of comedy, particularly in the Eurovision Museum sketch which included a brief appearance from both Johnny Logan and Lordi. But as the event went on, it got a bit overdone with its selection of fun facts and how the presenters could hardly stay in one place throughout the show, and while they tried to lighten up the show by bringing in little gifts for the countries including the UK as well as a booth appearance for Graham Norton, the people involved seemed to be so confused, that they looked like they had absolutely no idea as to what was going on or what the presenters were talking about, and while they did try to come back with added fireworks, it was pretty much too late to save the presentation of the contest. Not even the song about the number 12 helped. All this from the only country to win the contest twice since 2000, which means they should know how to put on a show. At least we’ll have a reason to think twice before voting for Denmark in future contest for the near future. The flag postcard feature was quite nice though, they deserve credit for devising that.

As for the songs, it mostly a year for ballads, which was quite annoying for the most part as there was hardly any diversity at all. While countries like Finland, Ukraine, Iceland, SwitzerlandSpain and even the UK managed to do something different, there wasn’t much from the ballad department to look out for. Ok, Sweden‘s was well sung and I wouldn’t have minded if it had won it, but I didn’t vote for it, Slovenia‘s was also quite interesting. Iceland’s had a catchy theme, but the presentation was sort of annoying, the colours, the formal Teletubbies dress code and the singer who kept making me think of Kenneth Branagh, but given the ballad fest, I wouldn’t have minded so much if it had won, even though it’s sort of surprising that it wasn’t a hot country in the voting. It was nice to see San Marino in the final for the first time, even if the song was performed in front of a giant clam shell. For me though, there was only two choices for my vote, Spain’s which was quite well presented and catchy, and Ukraine’s Hamster Wheel Song. I voted for Ukraine, but it was close between those two as to which to choose.

The voting was a hot contest throughout with the fight for the top spot going on into the second half. even with about 10 countries left, it was still between 10 2 countries, Austria and Netherlands, with the Netherlands having one of their best years in the contest for a long time. But with about 3 countries left to go, Austria had already won it marking their second victory in the contest after close to 50 years since their last win. The UK did quite well reaching 17th place beating Azerbaijan who for the previous five years had always reached the top 5, this time coming in 22nd place. As for Ukraine and Spain, Ukraine came 6th, and Spain 10th, while Finland, a country with limited success since their debut, but not so much in recent years did quite well this year coming 11th overall. But it really was Austria’s year this time round with the song Rise Like A Phoenix sung by Drag Persona Conchita Wurst, which I thought wasn’t all that good as I thought it sounded a lot more like a Bond Theme with annotations from The World Is Not Enough, especially as moments in the song almost went into “The World Is Not Enough”. To be honest though, most of those points were probably awarded due to the presentation of the singer, much like Finland’s victory in 2006. Overall a sort of over average contest at best which was quite disappointing and was definitely not the best contest over the last 10 years, but did survive to some respect to remain enjoyable at best.

GENEPOOL








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