…my world.

Most of my “original fiction” tells stories of a very specific culture, non-human but humanoid, as seen over a thousand+ year course of history. Genre-wise, it’s hard fantasy meets soft SF, for lack of a better definition. Style-wise, I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to fully write in a truly “commercial”, palatable, relatable voice without hating myself.

The existence of someone like J M McDermott sort of gives me hope, and yet. That dude’s a native speaker, at least.

Surely Joseph Conrad wasn’t, but I’m not sure I’m _that_ good.

Either way, since I decided that illustrating my “original” stuff would limit the reader way too much, I’ll be posting bits and pieces from now on.

This is a vignette written almost five years ago.

Encounter

They came from the northeast, like they always do. Tall, on horseback, an entourage of what looked like females, but you can never be sure with the Ingäriisse. On most occasions, they gallop past, whipping dust from under the horses’ braided, chained, swinging tails.

This time, they stopped.

Stopped just before entering the village lot, three dismounted, the rest silently watching, wary gloved hands patting the horses’ filigree-wire adorned manes.

‘We’ve come for the child,’ was all that was said.

The tallest one was speaking: voice of a nearing storm; sea-green eyes and skin like polished stone under the first rays of dawn; feathers of hair around pointed ears, against shoulders, tousled, pinned up – anthracite, ruby, platinum, and anthracite again; leather and deerskin, tooled, pierced, laced over and over; silver and steel – niello, jutting, hugging, hanging, wrapping, overlaying in chainmesh and maille; and they all are the tallest one, thrice and again, painted birds, veiling smiles in earnest, look away, look away…

They’re being led to the child. A newborn, a scorn of our prayers. Sea-green eyes and sunset cheeks, but what’s that if not what we asked for…

Yet the ears are pointed, and the flowers on the window-ledge bow to the child at night, and the mother does not want to see the curse that befell her anymore.

And the smiles burst out, and the child is cradled in the arms of the tallest one, and no words are spoken.

When the dust settles down again, the silence makes way.

They harvested the fruit they’d planted.

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“age-appropriate”?

I’m not buying into the popular adage that goes along the lines of “exposing a kid to –something– depicted in media will hurt their psychological development”.

Why?

Well, simple: I’m not the world’s most psychologically stable person, and yet I sort of grew up fine.

Even though my classmates smuggled porn mags and extremely explicit punk rock to school way before we were of age (and I checked all that stuff out and giggled at it).

Even though my classmates smoked and drank way before we were of age (and I didn’t, and giggled at them).

Even though in our Russian lit classes, every May, since we were ten, we’d had to read and analyse WWII fiction chock full of very graphic written depictions of actual Nazi violence (and I felt sickened, but had to write the essays because good marks looked nice next to my name).

Even though I’ve been playing FPS, RTS and CRPG since I was around 13, with all the then-8-bit blood and gore you could only imagine.

It’s all fine.

It won’t hurt. It’s all very innocent. And in the case of games, therapeutic even.

It’s damn easy to blame someone’s mental disorder on the media they consume. It’s the Judas Priest 1990 case all over again. I know firsthand that whether you want to kill yourself or not comes from other sources, not media. Ah heck, there’s a song about just that.

// disregard that album cover, plz; it’s not their worst, but it really… doesn’t fit, period //

Let’s be frank: we – most of us – have short memories. We forget what we were like. Or maybe some remember too well and they’re ashamed. And they want to pretend their children are different. Pure. Whatever. And they should be protected.

yeah right

Dudes and dudettes, you’d better learn to be open and honest with your kids. Don’t shrug off any “difficult” or “inappropriate” questions they may have. Yes it will make _you_ vulnerable. But it will make you better people. And your kids will thank you.

I have a feeling…

…that some of my online pals don’t understand why I find psychological violence way more dangerous than physical violence.

Because a mindfuck is totally invisible, folks. It’s so damn easy to get away with it. Yes you can get away with physical abuse, but it takes way more effort (or a “supportive” society – which, again, is a result of someone’s fucking with the minds of those people).

Came across this article today…

And it’s just one of many.

I’ve been in psychologically abusive “relationships” myself – thankfully not to the point of cohabitation, but it’s still no fun.

I’ve seen this happen to close friends.

And I’ve witnessed an emotionally abusive family member forever. Like, why do I hate my grandmother? Because she ruined my mother’s life. If you’re lucky to have lived in more or less normal families… then great, you won’t recognise the “trophy child” thing, or anything here.

Narcissists are everywhere. Unless you decide to be explicitly vigilant, you won’t even notice them and their tricks. You hear? I fell to them, too, this ever-perceptive me. At least twice.

And exposing them for what they are… it’s tough.

Tell you what, though. Being physically violent – or at least threatening – has helped me countless times when dealing with all sorts of psychologically abusive scum. No it won’t fix them in the long run. But even a temporary relief may help. I wasn’t always doing it for my own sake, either, y’know.

And don’t forget the magic slap when someone slips into uncontrollable hysterical sobbing, too.

Yes I can hurt people physically when needed. Yes I will often fantasise about as much as brutally murdering some of them. Does _this_ make me a monster?

Well, nope. Because I won’t act on that unless I have a real good reason to.

What _does_ make me a monster is that I am this little manipulative bitch. I do try to keep this side of me in check. Actively. But the truth remains: I don’t get off on abusing people, physically or emotionally, but I do get off on controlling their minds. Even if it’s as innocent as getting people to laugh.

saw it coming *shrugs*

Dianne quits Xandria.

About time, I say. Herr M.Heubaum rotates his minions only a bit slower than DAZ3D puts out a new base figure line.

This even prompted Lisa Middelhauve to remember she still has a well-followed fb page. Damn, any update from Lisa is good, even if its just a tell-it-like-it-is. Great reading. She’s a character.

…I grew up on Deep Purple and related bands. All those Rainbows, Whitesnakes and the like. And then there were other British bands, the “art/prog” ones: Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Asia, jne jne. You don’t need a degree in music history to know that lineup changes are the norm in that scene, and drama abounds.

So I’m more surprised when any given band remains a cohesive unit for any considerable period since they enter the spotlight. Three singers in 30+ years? Spooky stable!! As you can see, some go through as many in only ten!

check out this channel

This is not a paid post, okay? Yeah that was a disclaimer, just in case.

This is one awesome vid out of many. Even if you aren’t really a health nut or anything, go and browse the titles or something. Who knows, what if you find a damn useful strategy for countering annoying back pain, for instance.

See, you may have read here (or not, I don’t remember if I ever wrote about it) that according to “traditional” doctors I was to grow up disabled unless I wore some sort of back braces 24/7 and basically stayed in bed as much as possible. Well I didn’t, quite the contrary – no disability, cuz activity. The only real problem I have now in that regard is that yes my back starts to hurt after as much as sitting on a “bad” chair ( = promoting an unhealthy posture) for as much as a few minutes, or if I put on clothing that restricts motion in some way, or do other unphysiologically stupid things.

So I’m always on the lookout for fitness-related stuff that makes sense. And believe me, even though I’m not a health professional, I know when it does, since I had to dig a bit deeper into all that just in order to, well, function.

Moreover, this stuff that makes sense, it has to be presented in a way that doesn’t bore you out of your mind. Like there’s that Russian TV channel called “Doctor” (I think), and there’s a dude who has a show on there, who’s also an expert in this field, and he says basically the same things that Jeff does, but. Just HOW he says those things should be punishable by law because it makes staying fit and healthy sound like the least interesting pursuit in the world. No passion; nothing.

Not the case here =)

the past, present and future of music reviews

One of the websites that I hit way more often than mental health professionals would recommend is Encyclopaedia Metallum aka Metal Archives. I find it to be better organised than something like Discogs, although, of course, it only covers metal. But since metal has been this wildly diverse umbrella term for decades… you get the drift.

Metal-archives for me are more than just the best site to do fact-checking and the like, though.

I do read their reviews.

Well of course, way too much stuff I listen to has not warranted a single review (yet? what about albums released ten+ years ago?). But the fact remains: reading those reviews is a bit of a hobby. And I will read other reviews I come across on the web.

However, unlike the print media reviews I poured over in the 20th century, I’m rarely reading online reviews for the sake of figuring out whether I would enjoy the music or not – remember, youtube is a thing!

A lot of the time I read reviews of albums I know by heart.

The question is: why then?

To be honest, I have no sane answer. It makes no sense. It’s just… interesting. I will argue with some in my mind, and I will violently nod to some.

Why are those reviews up there at all now that it’s 2017, youtube and all?

Case by case… Metal-Archives are old enough for their review section to be something of a leftover from the days of yore, when checking new music out was a very involved process, so people would rely on reviews. Webzine-type websites are obviously patterned after printed media, and so reviewing albums is something of a convention, even if a link to an official stream is included. But personal blogs?..

Easy. There, reviews are conversation strikers.

I believe that in this status, reviews are here to stay, even when the media mutates completely. This is their future. And the more reasonable portion of the present.

Doesn’t matter I will do traditional album reviews, though. Unless someone decides to pay me for it, of course. It’s just not the format I think in, anymore.

Continue reading “the past, present and future of music reviews”

for a semblance of meaningful existence

Listen up, my dear kids and (ir)responsible adults.

You (actual living creatures reading my stuff, not the stolen-photo repost machines that seem to plague my “follower list”) may have noticed I don’t post as much as I used to.

The thing is: I don’t write blogposts for the sake of seeing My Amazing Words ™ in a nice font. Nope. I do a lot of writing for my day job. I see my words in print often enough. It’s nothing special.

I write blogposts to interact with people.

This is what I crave.

Actual honest uninhibited communication is something that is sorely missing from my offline existence – where I have to be all the way careful and considerate so as not to mess up important relationships by hinting at my unconventional religious and political stance. Where I have to stay silent so as not to hurt my elderly relatives by, again, my “outrageous” beliefs. Where I have a single flesh-and-blood friend I could fully trust, but who does not share 125% of my interests either and cannot be there for me whenever I may want to talk, simply because it’s physically impossible.

I am freaking lonely.

// insult to injury: I work with people on a daily basis; I live in a megalopolis; you want “alone in the crowd”, now that’s a textbook case if I ever were one! //

And the way I function is very simple: if I shout out from a rooftop and no-one so much as raises their head to shrug at a screaming idiot and shuffle on, I basically sober up and climb down to disappear into the crowd.

So when certain people here had to focus on their offline existences and stopped posting their stuff and commenting on mine, I kinda lost the incentive to write much, unless it’s some sort of imaginary obligation.

I wonder if there is anyone still here who would be curious to hear more rooftop sermons.

Not necessarily religious or political, y’know. It’s just that these two aspects are always there, permeating each and every step of mine. I don’t want to apologise for that. It’s just a fact.

Does anyone need me? My random rants on 3D nonsense? My random music embeds? Other things I think about but never share for fear they’re beyond boring?

If yes, I would much appreciate it if you commented when I post something you find worth commenting on.

I am open up for any sensible interaction. I am fine with being challenged and disagreed with, as long as it’s expressed in a respectful manner. Hell, I may well end up converted to your case if your arguments are good enough, for all I know.

PS For random music embeds, clicking the little star – the local wp “like” – if you enjoyed the song would be enough. But if you listened and didn’t understand why the hell I would ever play this – or why I said something unfavourable about the song in the body of my post, while you enjoyed that aspect – it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Because I will explain. No judging, just sharing. Simple as that.

all right; here we go! (c)

Yes there are times when I’m lost for words. Today’s Mike Howe’s birthday, and while not an anniversary, it’s probably the best date to finally write this down.

Metal Church is the church of love.

There, I said it.

They’re awesome. Artistic integrity? Check. Dedication? Check. And that unique way of making everyone welcome? Check.

It’s fairly amazing how a band that writes serious, scary and sarcastic songs manages to turn their live shows into a veritable celebration.

Check out a report full of impossibly glamorous photos taken on July 2nd in the Volta club here in Moscow.

This is the spirit.

The truth is – you can’t see in those photos just how much perseverance there is behind that show.

The Volta club, well, it was my first time there. It’s a tiny cozy place, laid out just about perfect. But one thing is sorely missing.

Air conditioning that actually works.

See, when you enter a club and you feel it’s already fairly stuffy, even though there’s not that many people in there, no moshing, no whatever – it does make you worry.

Old Tochka used to feel rather problematic right away as well, but during a show they made sure to crank their AC up to the max at certain intervals. You could feel the cold wave hitting you with quite some force.

Not the case here.

A lack of oxygen and too much heat obviously takes a toll on everyone. It’s worst for drummers and singers, those who use their whole system to perform. Add in some extra stress for a singer who is actually a dynamic frontperson.

And yet, they delivered. And Mike dialled down his antics only slightly. No shortcuts regarding actual vocals at all. I swear the dude is physically non-human.

When a singer is well over six feet and approaches two hundred pounds, you sort of expect them to conquer everything. Like, rib cage size and all. Naive, yup, but those huge guys do not surprise you when they never run out of breath. Especially if they stand fairly still.

When the singer is built like a DnD elf (or a particularly compact witcher) and yet holds an aggressive note for several bars without visible effort, now that’s when you really start questioning yourself. Because it’s just surreal.

Well, it is very much real; it’s plain proper technique. Which is all in all rare outside the classical world. Yes, one of the reasons Metal Church converted me so fast and so efficiently =)

Somehow Russians didn’t post that many videos on youtube, so here’s a relatively “tame” rendition of the pre-Howe classic Start the Fire:

Yes, that was rather tame. As compared to other songs on the set, like the newer Killing Your Time. Or another pre-Howe classic Watch the Children Pray.

Here’s a page where you can find a very nice bootleg of the full show.

What the video shows well is how small the stage (and the whole club) actually is.

I only hope the band gets bigger. They deserve it. After all these years.

You have no idea how much they mean to me now.

yes we can go back to breathing now

I kept all the possible fingers crossed for this, and then some. Not just because Stet has been one of my alltime favourite drummers since forever. But because he’s really the best drummer for Metal Church today.

Jeff Plate is a good drummer, but rather… straightforward. At least, with the Church. You could probably think of him as following the style Dave Holland mostly kept to while with Judas effing Priest. Economical, to the point, you know the drill.

Stet is Stet is Stet. His playing is… lush. Yeah, this is the best word I can find. He is different enough from Kirk Arrington, the original drummer, but they share the same intensity and freedom. They create a foundation that breathes. Which is the perfect complement to those little rhythmic shifts and accents you find in Mike’s melodic phrasing.

Celebrate.

PS I still owe y’all that concert review! I remember!