Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I'm in Britain already

Waiting for my flight at Departure Gate 4 of Hong Kong Airport and some blonde woman in the line already has a copy of The Sun. Never mind how, or where, or why ... I can already taste Britain.

No Never artwork - fish & minotaurs ahoy

Okay okay, the book is not technically finished yet, but seriously - I'm in Hong Kong airport for the next 60mins with nothing to do, and then I get on a plane for 12hrs where each seat has a plug socket. It will get done.

Here's the cover art you've all been waiting for. It's taken a little longer to do than the others, largely because trying to draw a minotaur with tessellating fish is trickier than it sounds. Or exactly as tricky as it sounds. I bet even Neil Buchanan would've had trouble. Still, it's pretty cool to have not just one but two mystical creatures on the cover :)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Bye Wellington

Just got on the plane to Auckland, off on my voyage back to Englandshire. See you soon!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

10 years playing and 15 years writing

2009 marks my 10th anniversary of playing music and my 15th anniversary of writing books.

I started writing books at the end of Year 5 in mid 1994, age 10, when a short story turned into a full length novel of 60,000 words. (It was about bugs forming an army and going on the rampage against humans, very cutting edge I know.)

I started playing classical guitar in junior school but gave up at age 14 because it was boring and I wasn't very good. However, late 1999 (age 16) was when I first started writing songs and playing electric guitar in a band with my friends.

There's not really much more I wanted to add. They're both a bit vague to do something to celebrate. I might get something together for when I hit 15 or 20 years.

P.S. Holy shit, imagine 20 years of anything. That's ages!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Going "home"

Well, my original 11 months in New Zealand are nearly up - seems to have gone past in a blur, much quicker than when I went travelling in 2003 for 6 months. Maybe it's because I'm older. I'm going "home" for 4 weeks to see friends and family before getting on a plane with a one-way ticket to Wellington.

I say "home" because the word has several different meanings. Technically I moved out when I came to NZ, so in the main sense it's no longer my home (neither Britain nor my parents' house in Essex). Then again, "home" sometimes means where you grew up, or where you associate with, and while I don't associate with Essex much it's definitely the biggest chunk of my past and upbringing. I guess "home" can sometimes refer to a place in time rather than the world.

THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
There are a few things such as kitchen roll, sliding doors, insulation (sorry NZ, thumbs down for all of these) and other minor comforts which will be nice. I'm also looking forward to a nice long bath simply because our flat doesn't have one. However, mainly I'm looking forward to seeing my family - which now appears to include an 11-year-old child and an Ethiopian man, but those are separate stories entirely - and friends, including Captain Chronic, Sebastien Gebali, The Badger Boy, Le Pomme Vert, The Raven (Prince of Weston), TAFKAT (Taking My Chamber), Starman16 and many more besides.

I'm going to miss lots of things from NZ, especially the wonderful Kiwi Girlf, but luckily I'm coming back :)

Friday, 4 September 2009

Songs to be played at my funeral #1: "Night Vision" - Hell Is For Heroes

When I die, I won't be around any more, so I really don't give a shit what happens at my funeral. Then again, we're all vain human beings, and we all like to take a personal interest in a future that really won't matter to us. As a taste of my vanity, here's a song I certainly wouldn't mind played at my funeral - Night Vision by British "post-hardcore" band (yeah whatever, pretentious bloody sub-genres) Hell Is For Heroes.

It's a literally awesome track, with a great tune and very clear lyrics that are simple but powerful. It's got buckets of purpose and energy - every time I hear that drumroll my heart rate doubles. And it's actually got quite a cool video too.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5LiAvIRvd0

Under a blanket of fear
Down a bottomless pit
I've been waiting for this night to open my eyes

Wide awake i see in the dark
See the fences breaking apart
Get together with my old friends
Once again we breathe in the air
Escape to somewhere far from nowhere
Where the sky's been tainted red
Where the sky's been tainted

Up on a bank by a stream
Trading memories for dreams
Fading echoes and pictures
We burn at the seams

And now our wings are painted gold
They'll make idols of us yet
Empty promises they sold
Reach their best before dates soon

I can see it all
I can see it all
I can see it all
I can see it all

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Part #2: Politics of Hate and Conservation of Cultures

The second and concluding part of my essay/blog/article, part 1 can be found here.

Here's another view - a video I saw recently was the highly intriguing, if slighly controversial, TED talk by Stewart Brand on "Environmental Heresies". I'll embed it here because it is very interesting:


http://www.ted.com/talks/stewart_brand_proclaims_4_environmental_heresies.html


Early on he makes the comment: "I used to have a very romantic idea of villages, because I never lived in one". His point that people are headed from the subsistence-based, family-based, traditional villages to the freedom of the cities is a reflection on the above discussion about preserving cultures and ethnicities.

You can be as romantic and idealistic about traditional "values" and "ways of life" as you want, preserving them artificially on a grand scale is like using a rock to dam the Amazon River. Put another way, it's easy to have a misty, nostalgic view about traditional farming life before mechanisation and combine harvesters - but not enough people want to cut crops by hand to make it a sensible reality.

The BNP are an evil, hateful, ignorant, wrong party. But it's important to know where they are evil and hateful, and where they are they ignorant and wrong.

Claims that Britain and other European countries will become Islamic states aren't just based on fear, they are shockingly incorrect - many Muslims wouldn't want to live in an Islamic state just as we wouldn't want a puritan Christian state; more to the point, there are immigrants of all colours and religions coming into Britain, not just Muslims, all of them embracing the British idea. China has a huge population, whose massive growth is due to rise if/when the unpopular 1-child policy is dropped (as seen in Shanghai recently); Chinese immigrants to Britain and their children would be just as concerned about living in an Islamic state as the white people in Barking, Romford, Bradford and Leeds. Finally, as immigration increases from all parts of the globe, the secular and multi-cultural fundamentals of British society will become even more important for all these different cultures, ethnicities and religions to live side by side.

Where the BNP are simply wrong is the misguided notion that everyone will become the same "coffee-coloured race", just as so many different languages and cultures tribes have died out. At one end, to turn around to the indigenous tribes of Brazil, Africa, India and Thailand and say "you can't have the internet" just because we have a rose-tinted notion about preserving cultures is absurd, bordering on fascist. One day satellite internet will become affordable and pardon my French but f**k me they will order their 12-month broadband subscriptions in their droves. At the other end, assuming that humanity will water down into the same race if globalisation and immigration are left unchecked is as farcical as saying everyone in the same city will listen to the same kind of music, or wear the same clothes, or speak the same language.

Yes, on a long enough timeline the racial variety of the human race will decrease. This has happened for many thousands of years, from homo sapiens out-succeeding other human species (e.g. neanderthals) to the Toba catastrophe that wiped out most of the human population and, therefore, the potential human gene pool. However, even at this stage, we are thousands of years away from the human race looking uniform, and there are countless possible ethnic mixtures and combinations to go through first. And that's if everyone was forced to get sexy with people of other races - I can imagine, even hundreds of years from now, some spotty-faced descendant of Nick Griffin sulkily delcaring "well I'M not marrying a darky".

Races become minorities slowly, and slip into isolated corners slower still, and eventually disappear even slower still. Yes it'll happen, but we'll be genetically engineering our children to have green skin and blue hair long before that.

6 months (and a bit)

Yo

This blog's not really intended for personal stuff (not sure if the whole "my first rave" thing counts...), but me and Kiwi Girlfriend hit 6 months the other week. It's been pretty damn awesome and still is, so just wanted to say. :)

My first rave

Recently I went with some friends to a genuine warehouse rave in the outskirts of Wellington city. It was rather awesome.

Half the fun - getting ready. We had five of us at our flat for pre-rave drinking, make-up artistry and general pratting around. I didn't really know what to do for an "outfit" - ended up with someone else's self-made t-shirt ($8 NZ) with pink feather glued to the shoulders + a trail of blue fairy lights over the chest. Hells yeah.

Rave itself was great fun - getting there wasn't easy, but that's the point! - a real warehouse/construction site with big speaker stacks, UV light and green laser light thingy. I'm not a fan of drum'n'bass or techno or electro - I barely know the difference between them all - but the music at first was varied and tuneful which was great for dancing. Took some bad photos, until the fire poi crew turned up, which made some awesome photos. Eventually the cold got to us and the tunes turned bad and we went home about 1:30ish (rather early for an old-fashioned rave...)

For $10, pretty damn good and a fun night out. There were some safety issues - e.g. a guy climbing up to the roof, drugs or not, what a twat. The next day we had black stuff in our noses, hell knows what we were breathing. And I don't think I'd want to attend an real overground club or event doing the same kind of music - the music definitely wasn't something I could take seriously and half the fun was mucking around and having a laugh. But it was definitely a kick-arse night of fun times :)

P.S. Sent some feedback to the organiser(s), who replied back comprehensively and politely. Clearly very very cool people.

P.P.S. Apparently the warehouse rave thing never happened back in the 80s, so it was the first ever one in Wellington :D

P.P.P.S. The "crystal ball" move didn't catch on and I was left doing it alone, which is strictly forbidden. Disappointed, Wellington! It will be coming soon!

Spring?

Apparently it's Spring in New Zealand. The first day is officially 1st September.

And I would cautiously ... agree.

There was some lovely weather about a week ago - blue skies, sun and the highest temperatures since last summer. Now it's gotten cooler, a little wet and VERY WINDY. I'm reminded of when I first hit NZ in October, and yes I recognise the wind and rain.

It's hardly optimal - in my head, it's still winter if I still get 5 minutes of glacial meltwater from the hot tap before anything warm, or if I still need a canary in a cage to test the temperature of the bedsheets before getting in.

But Wellington is it's own kettle of fish - apparently the daffodils are already out in force further up the North Island, and I must admit the general weather is worlds away from the horrors of March in the Northern Hemisphere.

Still a long wait for summer though...