Wednesday, 22 June 2011

anvil: the true story of anvil

It would be very easy to compare Anvil with Spinal Tap.

Indeed, I think in the way it's been put together and with the events it portrays there's more than a small nod to Spinal Tap. A lot of bands claim to have been the inspiration for that film, but the reality was it was likely a combination of stories put together to form a band that represented them all. I'm not sure if Anvil was one of those bands, though they'd be in the right time period - part of what's called NWOBHM.

NWOBHM stands for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and encompassed bands like Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Saxon. I was too young for NWOBHM when it happened, but the American scene it went on to inspire - Trash/Speed metal - that featured bands such as Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer probably represents the high-water mark of my interest in music.

Anyway, the point about the Anvil film is that they were a Canadian band that were actually part of that NWOBHM thing but that never really seemed to break into the big time. The documentary opens with some interviews with big musical stars - Lars Ulrich, Lemmy, Slash, etc - who all site them as a great, talented band that they couldn't understand why they'd never really hit it big.

The band themselves are shown working dead-end jobs, still chasing success some 30 years after forming. The film follows them on what can only really be described as a disastrous European tour, through the making of a new album with a classic break-up and reform for the band, rejection of the album by major labels, and a degree of success in Japan.

As I say, it's all very Spinal Tapish. And it's pretty entertaining.

However, what I would have been more interested in would have been more of the background and more of the history. How come they never managed to break through? What actually happened? No clear reasons emerge.

I've no real clue as to why they never got that initial break, but I get the feeling it's clear why after reaching a plateau and declining they've never really gotten back up there. Basically, musically, they seemed very good - you could imagine what I heard of most of their songs working if they were put out by plenty of bands. And they were extremely tight and clearly very talented musicians.

Lyrically things were a bit lacking, though. Where the lyrics of the songs they played from on the first few albums fitted in with the times (you can clearly hear the same sort of stuff on early Metallica and Megadeth albums), they don't ever appear to have really progressed from that. The lyrics for the new songs we heard seemed very cheesy and, to be frank, didn't scan well.

Also, the singer, Lips's voice seemed to have seen better days. Or at least, where the high pitch yelling vocal style is something he was capable of doing in his youth, now that he's a fifty year old man it just sounds cracked and broken.

In other words, there seemed to be a lack of any real progression in what they were doing. So, with that having failed to hit the first time, it kept on missing as they stayed in the same place. One of the A&R men even said it - things have moved on a lot.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

i hate this time of year

Today, Tuesday the 21st of June, is the summer solstice.

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year (well, it's 24 hours long, just like every other day - I mean it has the most daylight) and it therefore marks one of my worst days of the year. Well, in terms of sleep, that is.

I believe it also marks the point when summer starts to get properly hot - the period when I'm traditionally the least comfortable, though this year I obviously weigh about a fifth less than I have done in previous years, so hopefully it will be a bit more bearable Certainly I've found spring to be quite chilly, but I also think it has generally been quite cool compared to seasonal averages.

But the point is that with it being the longest day, that means the sun doesn't set until very late at night. And of course, because it doesn't get instantly dark when the sun sets, it's still quite light until getting on for midnight. This lateness of setting is also further exaggerated by us being on British Summer Time.

Now I appreciate that this has many advantages and certainly, as an early riser, it's nice to get up and it be light to a degree, though to be frank, how early it becomes light is also a problem, because my body seems to react to the light by waking me up. So it becomes an attack from both ends - when I go to bed it's still light out and it gets light at about 4, so I sometimes wake up.

I mean surely it can't be right that I go to bed at 10 and when I switch my bedside lamp off, sufficient light streams in around the curtain edges to make it feel like I've gone to bed in the middle of the afternoon? That's got to be wrong.

Still, at least from here on the nights start getting longer.

Tomorrow I'll be posting up my usual DVD rental review, but after that I'm actually off on holiday for a couple of days. My landlord is on holiday and I'm going to use the opportunity to do some shed sorting out stuff.

Hopefully I'll then be able to get a load of stuff on e-bay - the pile in the shed seems to have grown again and I could do with generate some cash. Well, really I need to actually do something about the cash I've got locked up n unwatched DVDs and unplayed games, but then that's a continuing issue - the shed is the priority for the weekend.

Well, I say all that. I'm prewriting this and the weather forecast isn't great and my landlord traditionally doesn't have much tolerance for poor weather, so he may already have come back by the time I'm posting this!

Monday, 20 June 2011

a weighty issue

I did my very best to stick to the diet last week.

Well, I mean I tried really hard. I failed, but I really did try.

Walking wise, both Sunday afternoon and Thursday were foiled by the weather. Who knew we were going to end up getting our April showers in June? Especially with April having been so dry and having that warm spell. I seem to recall this has happened for the last few years as well. Perhaps it's the first big signs of global warming?

This last weekend I did quite well. Saturday was a scheduled flat cleaning day and I've been trying to do the cleaning in a way that race's the old heart rate. I mean, I wouldn't say I rush it, but I try to do it in a continuous burst of activity and keep moving.

Also I did all my normal walking, despite the weather constantly threatening to rain on me. I did catch a few spots on both my long walks, but it didn't actually rain on me. This was quite fortunate as it did piss it down a couple of times at the weekend.

I guess it must be getting in some practice for Wimbledon, which starts next week, I believe.

Diet wise I ended up with a double whammy. On Wednesday's excursion to Sainsbury's were I tell myself I will absolutely only buy some strawberries and some rolls for lunch on Thursday and Friday I ended up buying some calorie heavy treats. However, I wasn't too disappointed by this as I managed to avoid my previous trip of buying way too much fruit (they have lots of special offers on strawbs and raspberries) and hence I didn't overeat and get gut ache again.

Also, the treats I bought were a box of those small cornflakes and chocolate things, which were ideal for spreading out across multiple days. So I had a handful on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, which I don't think is too bad. I mean, obviously it's not ideal, but it's much better than I've been doing over previous weeks.

The second whammy was that it turned out to be someone at work's birthday, so we went down the pub for Friday lunch. This took me somewhat by surprise and obviously meant I consumed a lot of calories on Friday, though I did try to compensate for this at the weekend a bit.

Anyway, the net result was I lost 1 pound. I was more pleased with this than I was last week for some reason, despite it being the same amount. I think it might be because I'm now really close to going below 19 stone. This will be quite some achievement as I think it will mean I'll be lighter than I have been in the last 15 years.

My dream target was to reach 18 and a half stone by the British Grand Prix, as that would have meant I'd lost 6 stone, which would mean I'd be about half way there. Now that its' closer and with my recent 1 pound a week thing, I'm pretty much going for 19 stone instead.

Over the next couple of week I'm going to see if I can't go back to eating what I did before Christmas when I was loosing lots of weight. I think this restoration of the old diet combined with the increased exercise I do nowadays might mean I'll achieve the 19 stone by then, which would be really pleasing.