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  • your favourite songs (or something like it)

    29 Abr 2009, 21:42

    found this on facebook (this stuff seems to be quite popular among my friends on there), thought it'd fit well here.

    you know how it works. so here you go:

    1) First album you bought:
    king diamond's "voodoo" (awesome, and with such a nice booklet and stuff) and the sins of thy beloved's "perpetual desolation".

    2) Last album you bought:
    symphony x' "paradise lost" special edition.

    3) Album that changed your life:
    mm, probably dream theater's "metropolis pt.2".

    4) Favourite coverart:
    symphony x' "paradise lost".

    5) Band with the best name:
    epica -- short, chosen after another band's album, synthetic.. plus it sounds like latin and it means what it means. just so cool **

    6) Song you wish you wrote:
    symphony x' "the odyssey", plus the perfect whole soundtrack and musical (yet to be composed.. of course).

    7) Song that reminds you of your childhood:
    many enya's, "the bonny swans" by loreena mckennitt and some paul simon's.

    8) Song that summarises your teens:
    queen's "under pressure".

    9) Song you'd like to wake up to:
    enya's "may it be".

    10) Best song for a sunset:
    can't think of any right now.

    11) Song to play with friends at the beach:
    uhm, none.

    12) Song you don't want to hear anymore:
    none -- well uh, those that suck.

    13) Song you used to hate but now love:
    mm, i think none.

    14) Song you'd want to be played at your wedding:
    anything that pleases the bride -- yeah sure. lol so.. probably "storybook love" by mark knopfler.

    15) Song you'd want to be played at your burial:
    nightwish' "angels fall first".

    16) Song that perfectly describes a moment in your life:
    redemption's "sapphire".

    17) Song you like in your parents' collection:
    most enya's and loreena mckennitt's.. and that'about it, lol.

    18) Song your parents like in your collection:
    dad: any random stuff i let him hear. so i gave up. too easy.
    mom: probably some nice, relaxing piano tune.

    19) Song you wouldn't know if it weren't for a friend:
    let's put it this way, i owe mauro 80% of what i listen to now.

    20) Song that makes you think of sex:
    pretty much anything with a saxophone (aka sexophone, yeah).

    21) Song that makes you think of solitude:
    black sabbath's "solitude" (predictable, you say?).

    22) Song for when you're angry:
    anything off testament's "first strike still deadly".

    23) Song with the best ending:
    many.

    24) Song with the best beginning:
    symphony x' "domination".

    25) Song that cuts you off from reality:
    riverside's "out of myself".

    26) Saddest song:
    savatage's "all that i bleed".

    27) Worst song you have:
    sth off my bro's collection, no doubt.

    28) Best song off a soundtrack:
    tough one. mm i'd say.. "leave no man behind" (off "black hawk down"), but also "davy jones" (off you all know what).

    29) Best song to listen to on a trip:
    oddly enough, imogean heap's "hide and seek". oh and apocalyptica's "hope".

    30) Song that scares you the most in the dark:
    dream theater's "finally free" (ending).

    31) Song to sing in the shower:
    my own creations. none of which has gone out of the bathroom yet.

    32) Song that pumps you up:
    spock's beard's "surfing down the avalanche".

    33) Song for your town:
    even tougher. i'll have to think about it.

    34) Song with the best lyrics you've ever heard:
    lots of threshold's, some redemption's.

    35) Song to make love:
    i'm trying my best not to think of "zydrate anatomy", but..

    36) Most nostalgic song:
    none yet. alright, maybe some old nightwish stuff (before "once").

    37) Song that was dedicated to you:
    apocalyptica's "faraway" (by the lovely jasmin!).
  • what many (likely) don't see in nightwish

    16 Mar 2009, 22:40

    it can't be denied nightwish have, by the last couple of years, turned into a mainstream, commercial kind of act, in the sense they draw attention first and foremost thanks to anything but their very music proposal.
    no doubt that's the result of the long-dragging on, dreadfully draining circus the whole tarja's departure affair brought about. which alone accounts for half of the quasi-emo drift the band has undergone -- audience-wise.
    let's make the point clear. i'm trying to discriminate between how the band is currently perceived, as opposed to how it used to, and what the band actually IS. and my point is, an abyss cracks open between them.

    tarja's long gone. besides stating the obvious, this remark alone speaks of much of the difference standing between the present-day nightwish and the band they used to be.
    her departure tore the old time fans between anette-haters and anette-tolerants -- if you're thinking i forgot anette-lovers, you're already stepping into the "new fans" territory, which is something else.

    i do not like anette. nothing personal, of course. and she might even be a decent singer (which i'd personally question), but she certainly doesn't fit the genre.

    WHAT genre then? that's pretty much the question. have nightwish turned into a lazy, fans' whining-prone band, just dwelling on what they've achieved in the past? definitely not. they've actually gotten BETTER -- at songwriting and, broadly speaking, at expanding their proposal.

    paradoxically, the "gothic" phase is their past. they've been gaining more and more recognition as a gothic act after tarja left, but they had actually stepped onto a more symphonic, less gothic approach way before she did.
    so what's weird now, is that a big part of their fanbase seem to look at them as a legitimate part of the gothic subculture (or call it what you want) to which they, the fans, belong.
    in a way, they're still gothic. their lyrical themes still are. much of the atmosphere their music creates still hints to gothic imagery. in short, they still draw much inspiration from what one may call the gothic heritage.

    but they have moved on. their music has become much more complex and elaborate than your average gothic act's. since "once" (but the process actually began with "century child", atleast music-wise), the addition of an orchestra broadened the instrumental horizon a great deal (with stunning effects as to the "fullness" of sound and the ability to create an epic atmosphere), so much so that the label "gothic" (if they've ever, strictly speaking, been so) just doesn't suit them anymore.

    it may as well be said that the orchestra was actually brought in IN ORDER TO fit the expanding musical needs of composer tuomas holopainen. which is probably closer to the truth.

    as a matter of fact, there's just so much more to them than a mere gothic mannerism. during the years, their music got more and more complex, and better (as in: more "profound", more original, and so on). that came at the expense of their gothic side. or, better said: they could develop into a regular gothic act, one of the uncountable likes of evanscence, after forever, theater of tragedy (whatever name comes to your mind; they're plenty, and that's the point) -- but they have not. they've moved in the other direction. they took on the challenge to work an orchestra into their sound, and the deal is paying the hell off.

    it doesn't even take such a close listen to realise how close "dark passion play" and "once" are in terms of a shift to the same kind of sound. a different, new one. a more symphonic, bombastic one (rings any bells? go read what were tuomas' plans, in his own words, when he started the band).
    the more you listen to those two albums, the more you should get the impression they're almost two parts of the same whole. there are differences, of course. above all, anette in place of tarja. on a side note, it is true "DPP" songs were written to fit anette's singing style, but that alone doesn't make her the best singer possible.

    but back to the point. as far as now, there's no other band that got this close to actually merge metal to a soundtrack-like, orchestral counterpart. it is well-known to many by now how much tuomas has been into the work of hans zimmer for years, and what's best, you can tell from his music. it's not like just a musician paying due to a much celebrated and influential composer; it's actually an artist following someone big's steps, AND creating something new.
    orchestras have played an important side role in the history of rock, so that alone is nothing new. what's new is the genre coming out of this whole experiment: a soundtrack-like (orchestral, "classical" if you prefer) kind of metal which is pretty unprecedented. and neither of the components is taking over the other. that's what keeps it all very balanced, thus so enjoyable.

    the one band getting close to it at the moment is amaseffer. their debut is brilliant, and there's more and maybe even better to come, as "slaves for life" is but the first album of a planned trilogy. so nightwish are atleast one album ahead as of now. there's one thing that really makes them stand out as a band -- what made them emerge from the common ground of gothic they used to share, yet already with their own unique touch, with the co-genred bands. and that's the way they bring the "epic" to life. "epic" as something solemn, majestic, something both delicate and strong, something that can move and excite you at the same time. nightwish have reached a great synthesis of such opposites; literaly a new style, the one making "once" and "DPP" two parts of the same, let's say, concept of music.

    the more complex they become, the more nightwish seem to attract a mainstreamy, easy-to-please kind of audience. nothing against that, of course. it's just weird how they get judged based on that rather than on the music they play.

    this is just one of many possible ways to look at nightwish, the kind of band they are now, the kind of music they play, and so on. my way, that is. possibly shared by others -- but, many? unlikely. to the average listener, they're often just "a cool gothic band" or something of the sorts. maybe "the" gothic band. the clever will rather say "symphonic". point is, they're pretty much more than any of that. it's all a matter of tastes, yet it's undeniable what they're making (ok, whatever that is) is something new and grand. and me, i really like it.
  • The grey kid's path to Evergrey

    8 Dic 2007, 19:09

    Again, a journey back through my tastes in music, this time guest starring: Evergrey.

    The first album I heard was "Recreation Day". I can't exactly remember from which band I had started my usual "find a band similar to..." quest (I guess it was Symphony X, or something alike), but I ran into these Swedish guys, and I was immediately fascinated with their style. The combination of slashing, syncopated riffs and dark, obscure atmosphere they brought along really amazed me. In fact I think you could tag them as "dark progressive metal", or something of the sorts. Point is, they played this melancholic kind of music, but speeding it up, not the doomy way or anything. It sounded both touching and powerful, and that's something that always enthralls me.

    Then came "In Search of Truth". I thought the style was already the same I found on RD, and I loved that. There's a big bunch of songs I love about these couple of albums, and it's hard to pick the best ones - and if I start listing them here, I would most likely leave none out. I've always loved the first four songs off RD though, and though I then sort of "re-discovered" such songs as "Visions" and "Blinded", I'm still particularily fond of those four. As a side note, the first song off "In Search of Truth" to grab my attention was "Dark Waters", and I think I know why. Usually you can hardly tell what makes a song special to you even from the first time you hear it; but sometimes there are some recurring stylistic features that can sort of explain why you like some songs more than others.

    So, a really good thing about RD was the choirs in my opinion, notably on "The Great Deceiver". I found them back on "Dark Waters", and that could be a reason why I liked it too. And that's just a detail, of course. What kept my attention up as I listened, was again the insistent use of syncopated rhythms along with a one of the most fitting ways of mixing keyboards with guitars and rhythmics that I've ever heard.

    So it was nice to find them once again on the "Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy" album. It was something I was not only familiar with by then, but also quite fond of. Two songs off this album, namely "Solitude Within" and "Words Mean Nothing", also included two short Scottish-like melodies, and that was so surprising as good. I must admit I really liked that.

    To me, there are less songs that stand out off SDT and "The Dark Discovery" though. They're very nice albums as well, but it's pretty rare (would "insane" be too much?..) to love ALL of a band's songs to death - I mean, you always retain the right to choose your own favourites, even when (expecially when) you like a band very much. And that's exactly the thing with "Monday Morning Apocalypse". I personally went through three phases while listening to it. At first, I was really disappointed. Both with it, and with them. I read an enthusiastic review on a magazine, by the time the album hit the stores, praising "Til Dagmar" above all - quite a nice song (even touching, provided you know what inspired them in writing it), but not definitely their best ballad so far. The review went on praising their shift to "a heavier sound" (that's actually something they always write when they don't know how to fill a review), so I was made very curious.

    Well, I got it, and I didn't like it. At all. Were I kind of a catastrophic person, I would have started worrying about a shift toward something more mainstreamy - rather than something "heavier", yeah. It actually WAS a shift in a direction I don't like at all. But then, after a while, I gave it another chance, and I must admit I didn't regret getting it anymore. I mean, it still sounded quite far from what I really like, but the gap between my tastes and what they had put in that disc didn't feel that unbearable anymore. I still had something with those short, sort of "empty" songs though.

    Then, the third stage. After I got the "A Night to Remember" DVD (absolutely a must-have, and one of the best music things I've ever purchased), and after it kind of dazed me, a reconsideration of MMA became unavoidable. Those on MMA might be quite nice songs, but that's not definitely up to Evergrey's standards -- that's what I though.

    And that's what I still think. I actually didn't like "The Inner Circle" either at first (again, maybe I was just disappointed because a magazine wrote I'd find something like "grand choirs" in it, and it was not quite the case), but now I really love it. Seeing the concert on DVD probably made me change my mind about it. I even think there's sort of a continuum spanning from "In Search Of Truth" to "The Inner Circle" (and you could count also the first two albums in), which was abruptely interrupted with MMA. Good news is (to me atleast), the guys are now up to something which seems to be much closer to their "golden days" than to the latest release. Atleast, that's the impression you get by having a look at their official blog here.

    As long as they keep on playing according to their own trademarks, I'm going to be a big fan of theirs. I even came to like Tom's voice, even though, as he himself stated several times, he's not actually a singer. And when you get this used to a singer's voice, it is hard to get accustomed to another in the same band (and Threshold stand out as a clear, sad proof). Tom's voice just fits. And by the way, he also did a great job on Ayreon's upcoming "01011001".

    I'm pretty curious to see what they've been working on lately... what I heard so far sounds promising, let's just hope it'll be up to my expectations. Atleast I read no bizarre review depicting it just as it is NOT, this time.
  • Chaos... Emotion Tour - Bologna

    26 Oct 2007, 22:16

    Thu 25 Oct – Dream Theater, Symphony X

    It's hard to stay neutral when you've just attended a gig you've enjoyed a damn great deal. It's hard not to point out how good it went, when you think of a word to summarise it all, and nothing else comes to your mind than just "perfect". The show lacked nothing; it brought the audience all it could hope for: power, emotion, and fun.

    Me myself, being the fussy, pedantic critic I am, I'd point out that the mixing was not the BEST possible, with the rhythmics often overpowering the keyboards and vocals, BUT it all sounded so hell good that such details really don't carry any weight.

    What really matters is, it was great. And let me tell you DT fanatics out there, i really wish Symphony X would've played after DT. Because OK, DT of course didn't mistake the tiniest thing, just as anybody would expect; and although their show was amazing too, still it somewhat lacked the energy and, say, heat (and heart), of Symphony X'.

    In fact, it didn't quite seem like Symphony X were a mere supporting act; their setlist was just half an hour shorter than DT's, and the way they brought it on stage was simply superior. The guys might not look like they're the fussiest progsters around, but they were just technically perfect. DT on the other hand, ALSO look like they are. It's not just a detail; for Symphony X were able to bring out both their A-class skills AND the captivating energy of their music; DT as usual just needed the earlier to have almost the whole crowd hailing them.

    And, Symphony X were just way funnier. They brough out some of the jokes their ordinary audience is used to; sir Allen was simply at his best, and that's always a big burst to the whole band - and audience, sure. He sang perfectly, carrying the tune all along and giving both the new and old lyrics the power they deserved. LaBrie wasn't bad either, but you couldn't quite get what he was singing, since he sang quite high and screamy all the time.

    What kind of impressed me, was that whereas DT were greeted almost heroically from the very majority of the audience, sir Allen had to kind of introduce the band, as he said: "... and for those of you who don't know us yet, we're called Symphony X..." - that was quite sad to hear. It felt just as sad as sitting among a very quiet part of the crowd, as I alone was singing along Symphony X -- whereas, of course, many sang along DT all the while.

    That's a bittersweet feeling, so to speak. It feels bad, because you realise the guys aren't getting the attention they really deserve; as they're actually one of the most talented, original, and creative prog metal bands around. But it also feels good, because you sort of feel like part of an elite or something. I mean, I was there, one of a very few X fans... and I was like, hey, they're sort of playing for ME and a few more! -- Definitely worth it!

    One cool thing was, Symphony X played just right the songs I expected, and that was great, as those songs are among my all-time favourites. DT instead, started off from their latter works, to kind of step back to their older albums... so to ME, they put the best out in the beginning, sort of took a little step back in the middle, and had a grand finale, as they played "In the Presence of Enemies" and a great coda medley (mixing up "In the Name of God" and "Octavarium" among others) in the end.

    So, here are the setlists.. or rather, what I can remember about them. I mean, this can't all just be personal, who-else-gives-a-shit opinions, right?

    Symphony X' setlist

    1) Oculus ex Inferni (played on tape, before the band walked in)
    2) Set the World on Fire (the live chorus was just breath-taking)
    3) tiny drum solo... with sir Allen introducing Jason Rullo... followed by a tiny bass solo... introducing...
    4) Domination
    5) The Serpent's Kiss
    6) sir Allen introduces the band, and the new album as well, saying "we're now gonna play the title track", hence...
    7) Paradise Lost
    8) Smoke and Mirrors
    9) Sea of Lies (with an interlude, with sir Allen playing with the crowd... he sure knows how to keep your attention damn up)
    10) Of Sins and Shadows

    As a side, personal, note: as I said, I love all of these songs. Moreover: "Of Sins and Shadows" is kind of my second/third all-time favourite, and it contains my favourite Symphony X' solos (along with those on "The Divine Wings..."). So you can barely imagine how great it was to see my hopes fulfilled, already at the very first chord of the song.

    Dream Theater's setlist

    1) Constant Motion
    2) The Dark Eternal Night
    3) Panic Attack
    4) Endless Sacrifice
    5) Misunderstood
    6) Home
    7) something off "Falling Into Infinity" or maybe "Awake", I didn't recognise it
    8) Take the Time (the crowd went expecially crazy for it)
    9) In the Presence of Enemies pt. 2
    10) Medley

    Personal, annoying side note again: they were all very good... most of them are among my own favourites too... it's just a pity the best ones in my opinion came first. But, that's something I can live with.

    To kind of summarise it all: hell great show. I don't think I will miss ex-Threshold's Mac that much now... Symphony X just amazingly reminded me why I immediately fell in love with their music when I first heard them. And some loves last forever.
  • In Constant Motion

    9 May 2007, 12:47

    For those of you who care (and I just hope we're talking about MANY here) -- Dream Theater's "Constant Motion", that the band brought out as a free promo track (which you can find at http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/dreamtheater/) is plain awesome. And surprisingly very close to what I actually expected and wished them to bring us with their new album. It's still only a sort of preview of what the whole album will be, but it's a good way to kind of get started with it, getting ready to finally listen to it all. Which I really can't wait to do.

    Of course I don't know yet whether "Constant Motion" represents what the rest of the album will feature; or if it's just, so to speak, one of the eight different "episodes" within the album's "story". What I do know though, is that this one song rocks as hell and brings us again the old, same Dream Theater at their best. What I mean by "old" and "same" actually is: the sound of the song doesn't get very far from that of the latest two albums. Which, in my humble opinion, is good.

    I often hear and read lots of DT fans complaining about the shift they made to their sound, starting with "Train of Thought". Some set the turning point somewhere back in time -- point is, Dream Theater did change something. They actually changed a lot. Their sound slowly became harder, heavier, more filled with overwhelming rhythmics than in the past, and also LaBrie's singing underwent some sort of shift towards a darker and rougher style in the meanwhile. Everybody knows what I'm talking about. What I'd like to point out here is, I do like this all. I really appreciate the way they've got closer to a purer metal sound, filling their songs with thrashy-flavoured heavy references. And I love the way they merge their unquestionably beautiful solos onto such powerful, strong rhythmics. So in the end, I'm to be counted among those who did like the way they evolved, from a neo prog rock act, to something heavier and more "metal" -- thus really giving birth to what nowadays is referred to as "prog metal".

    They're bringing it on; they're keeping it up. That's what "Constant Motion" shows off. That's why that single song (given the rest will stay on track or, moreover, even brings it to further heights... we're still talking about the second-last longest song of the album after all), that is why that single song already stands out as a good reason to seriously think about purchasing "Systematic Chaos" special edition. I have no doubt it'll turn out to be a wise, worthy choice. After listening to just one song? Well, I am definitely not the one who likes placing risky bets. I'm sure the whole "Systematic Chaos" will be about what "Constant Motion" is. So let's just count the days. It's just a matter of time now, before enjoying what is probably going to be another great 2007 release.

    So if any of you shares the same opinion as me, about DT's "shift" toward their new sound and all, all I can tell you is: first, go check "Constant Motion" out. Then, well -- I don't think I need to add a thing.

    Enjoy the Chaos!
  • Comeback (at) home

    18 Mar 2007, 0:09

    First home game. I can't wait to write it: we won! And are now on a double positive streak. Nothing so terrific, nor frigthening for our upcoming opponents. But if we keep playing this way, handling the game's flow, and chilling our nerves before they wear us out, no team in the championship can be an issue for us.

    It's all about keeping everyone's head in the game, and we did it. That's why we won. That's why we managed to overcome the deficit we gained in the first half, first tying the game and eventually winning it. As one of our veterans pointed out in the lockroom after the game, we started playing like it was a road game. All of the guys, expecially the starting five, were very nervous. It was our first home game, so that's quite normal. And in passing, our crowd has been great. They all supported us from the beginning to the end. Expecially The Howl's "groupies", a bunch of teenagers who cheered at every very point The Howl managed to score. They were standing at one side of the terraces, yelping and chirping like a swarm of little birds. They should be called "The Howl's Nest", or something.

    The game ended 71-63. But it was a long way before both of the teams could kind of catch fire. We were all so nervous (and so were our opponents) that we made a very few field goals in the first quarter, which ended only 13-11 for our opponents. Also the second quarter was just a free-throw shootout, as none of the team was able to score from the field. Defences weren't that strong. Everyone was just too nervous, bad spaced on the offensive side, and the ball wasn't being shared enough.

    Coach handled the substitutions in a very wise way, in my opinion. He started with the strongest five guys and let them play almost all of the first quarter. Then he let in some backup guards, then our backup forwards and center, so that nobody had to spend too much time and energy on the floor. As he himself stated during the halftime break, he was making the substitutions according to how nervous a player on the floor was getting, to keep our minds fresh, as well as our bodies.

    We went to the locker room still down by five points. Coach wasn't really upset, though during the whole game he obviously kept cheering on and encouraging the guys. He just told us to take it easy and start playing without being afraid of making mistakes, and so on. Rebounding the ball, pushing it fast in transition and taking easy shots. That's all our gameplan was about. We only had to keep ourselves focused. And we did.

    A couple of my teammates were kind of pessimistic about the game. They were like "We ain't gonna win this one, those guys are too strong" (which wasn't true at all). So I told them we could make it -- and I really believed we could. I tried to kind of comfort them. I don't think it helped at all, but at the end of the game I could tell them "See? I was right!", which is always satisfying by itself.

    We came back on the floor with the right attitude. We didn't hurry shots, we started playing better and tighter on defence, and all became easier. Then also my moment came. We couldn't tie the game up and were still stuck down by five when I first got onto the floor.

    What surprised me the most, was that Coach faced the game right the way I expected him to do, including what he asked me to do. We already have two good pointmen on the team, so I don't need to carry the ball and set up the plays anymore. They're both stronger than me, and they're very good at finishing plays by themselves, making penetrations and scoring while fouled, which I'm not good at. I'm just a good passer. So I thought Coach would have let me play as a shooting guard, allowing me to move up and down the offensive side to get open, receive the ball and then just shoot. I have to admit I'm not a good shooter at all, but I'm still better than many of my teammates.

    I also knew Coach would have let me into the game later on, not at its first stages. I'm proving to be a nice backup, and I have to say I like that role. But while I played as a backup point guard in our first game (our veteran starting point guard hadn't joined us yet back then), this time Coach was cooking something different for me. And it kind of tasted good.

    So, he told me to play up right on defence (where I seldom play, cause I feel more comfortable up left) and sprint up whenever we caught a rebound, to make it to the other side before the defence could reach it. So I actually played as a small forward on the right wing, which might seem strange, since I'm too short to play as a forward. But it was a wise choice, as it helped me spacing well on the court. And besides, corners are my favourite spot to shoot from.

    I gave the guys a little shock. I helped change the momentum of the game. And this makes it a nice game out of mine. I just did all I like to do, helping the guys getting the game back into our hands. That's a big reason why I play; that's when even a short, thin baller with a weak scoring ability can come of use. I was allowed to do right what I can do, that's why it turned out to be helpful.

    Lately I seem to have made it to the status of the teams' best perimetral defender. I still make too many fouls, and that may depend on that this is my first season on a true team, and I still have to get used to what the refs whistle and what they don't. Today I made three fouls, which were quite much for the time I was in. The last one was useful though, and I made it on purpose, to keep an opponent to score in transition. But I also did a handful of smart things on defence, like helping my teammates steal the ball, causing the opponents to lose it, making them hurry many passes, and so forth. That's how we put on a positive break, tying the game up and then outscoring our opponents during the third quarter. I played kind of the last seven minutes or so of the third quarter, which we closed up by ten. On the offensive side, I made one out of three shot attempts (I shot one of the missed ones from beyond the arc), and quite in a funny way. They passed me the ball right under the basket, where I moved to pick a rebound, and I shot a hook, which is kind of the farthest kind of shot from my usual six-meters jumpshot. It looked so strange, that when I went to the bench for the quarter break, Yao told me I shot it just like my brother would have done (and I'll just mention that he plays at center). The Baron was meaner, as he told me: "Wow nice, three fouls in a couple of minutes, just like Bargnani" -- but he was joking. They were all happy with my contribution on the floor, and so was I. Then for the record, I also made a steal and an assist. As a side note, taking just a few easy shots is really helping my shooting percentage staying high.

    Winning is cool. But what makes it really worth a try is, hustling and playing hard to accomplish it. Easy wins are stupid. They are useless, for they may make you think that you can win even without hustling. There is no wronger lesson. Winning after struggling, and really wishing for it, that makes it worth it. We won and we learned a lesson today. Which is, the harder you play, the more satisfying the win is. Winning after making your own contribution, kind of leaving your own little mark on the game, that feels even better.

    My brother came to watch the game and I think he enjoyed it, all in all. He didn't like the slow-paced play at the beginning, but he enjoyed our comeback -- after the game, The Baron also told him he brought us luck, and he should come along with us in our road trips. I'd like him to also bring some girls other than just luck -- not that we don't need a little luck anyway. He also told me quite a nice thing after the game. He said: "You played kinda like Lindsey Hunter", and that does a wonderful compliment, for he's actually one of my favourite players.

    I'm even thinking about playing with Hunter's number now. I still must wear Zogo's jersey. He's one of my mates, but he didn't do the check up (which he needs in order to play) yet, so he lent me his jersey because we're quite short on jerseys at the moment. But Coach said the new ones are almost ready -- I don't have any idea where they bought them, all I know is that they're going to be white on one side, and black on the other. Which will make us look like the 90s Bulls or Magic. Which again, wouldn't be that bad. Not to mention, black might scare our opponents. What if we also come up with some scary war dance just the like of the All Blacks'.

    Back to the number thing, I think I'll pick the 11, if it's still untaken. Hunter's other numbers are 1 and 10, but Shaq (our Shaq) and The Baron already wear them, and since I'm a rookie (even though older than them), it'd be unfair not to let them play with them. But also the 26 would be cool. It'd sum Steve Nash' and Mark "Action" Jackson's numbers. Resulting in Kyle Korver's. Which would fit my current position. I doubt I'll be able to wear my brother's number (I don't think there is going to be any new "43" jersey), even though that would be cool too.

    Enough with this all. I wrote too much again. Even more than the first time, I guess. Winning might have made me too euphoric... but winning by ten, after losing your first game by 36, would make anyone feel good I think. So, stay tuned for the next game's log... I don't know yet when it'll be out, because the home game we had to play next Wednesday has been postponed to hell knows when. So I have some time to enjoy this win now. And get ready for the next game, of course.
  • Notes of a music night (like many others)

    25 Feb 2007, 23:08

    A dear friend of mine just gave me a couple of songs out of Within Temptation's upcoming "The Heart of Everything". I'm listening to "What Have You Done" and "Our Solemn Hour", and I have to admit I am feeling quite disappointed.

    I liked WT's "Mother Earth" very much, and was very glad of the brave attempt they made with "The Silent Force", to kind of move their sound into a more symphonic direction.

    According to what I'm listening to right now, they seem to have just shifted away from the path they entered in with "The Silent Force". Coming back to the orchestral patterns we heard there, is the good part. Bad news is, it all sounds way more pop-pish. "The Silent Force" was already quite filled with kind of insisting chorus-ed refrains, but now that seems to have become just too intrusive.

    The chorus in "What Have You Done" almost sounds ridiculous. If the next tracks I'm going to get are to be alike these ones, I think I'll have every right to feel very disappointed by WT, as a fond fan of their previous works. I expected this new album to bring them even further than they got previously, but it seems to be doing that in a bad way. Not that the songs themselves are bad; they are catchy and the orchestral background, hardened by a compact guitar sound, makes them bearable. Yet the shift towards a more mainstream sound (echoing Evanescence and the more rocky works of Lacuna Coil) is there. Of course you can't expect them to always bring out a masterpiece, when they already did it once. Yet whenever a band does something that good, your expectations towards it kind of rise up, and everytime they are about to release a new album, you just wait them to do very good again.

    Apparently, WT have thus chosen to bend their new orchestral attitude to those sounding like mainstream aims. Some might be pleased by it. Not certainly those who loved the profound power "The Silent Force" was capable to unleash. It seems just like WT just took a step backwards. But of course, you can't trust your very first impression. That is why I'm giving them a chance. Once I have a listen to all of the new tracks, I'll be able to come up to a more accurate opinion (because of course, it's just about opinions here). I'm just hoping they will make me change my mind about it.

    Side note: listening to those two tracks over and over again makes your ears quite used to that kind of sound. That's right why I pointed it as "catchy". That scores a point for WT all in all.
  • No Star Shone

    17 Feb 2007, 1:03

    Ok, here I am home, sooner than I thought, back from our first championship’s game. The comeback seemed quite faster than the outward journey, maybe cause we spent most of the time in the car chatting about the NBA season and the upcoming All Star Game, or maybe cause Coach drove faster, caught by some unexpected longing for home. Anyway our first road game is over, we lost it by 34 points yet we’re still quite self-confident and not that disappointed. The game has been the first in a 7-long streak, since our schedule set all of our road games before the home ones – and please don’t ask me why.

    105-71, here’s the final score. The 34-points gap does have an explanation, actually more than one, and most of them can be summoned under the tag of “our own fault”. But I’ll come back to this later.

    To begin with, what about the first surprise. All we guys on the team knew about the game, was the time which it was set at, and the destination of course. Once the bus was fully loaded, and two teammates of mine and I got on Coach’s car, there came the surprise. The trip would have lasted something more than an hour, so we just started talking, to kill the time of course. And soon the conversation came to the game itself. So Coach put on one of his most natural faces, and suddenly told us we were about to play on an outside court. We of course didn’t expect this, so we were quite astonished. Even more unexpected, when we arrived to the place the game was set in, we found out in even bigger astonishment the court was actually a little cement stretch, much shorter than a regular court has to be, just in front of a cemetery. Yes, you got it right: a cemetery. Not definitely the happiest place to play a night basketball game.

    The outward journey was cool all in all. I listened to same pre-game music, and let one of my teammates also have a listen to it. He forgot to charge his i-Pod, so I lent him an earphone of mine and let him enjoy the great music I brought along in my cheap (yet working... and fully charged) mp3 player. Funny thing is, he’s actually a big fan of underground hip-hop, while my tastes are (and I warned him about it) kind of the most different kind of music from what he usually listens to. So he actually knew what I was about to let him hear, and he was ok with that. It was quite a big surprise, and also sort of an achievement for me as a music-spreader, to find out he now likes Moonsorrow and Therion! Yet he seemed not to really appreciate the most complex stuff, like Threshold and Spock’s Beard. But hey, I still got plenty of road games to teach him something about The Music.

    But funniest thing of the outward journey was, Coach was about to forget to go pick up the only guy on the team who doesn’t live in my same town (which is where we train and play our home games). He took a shortest way, then his mobile rang and when he answered, one of the guys on the bus behind told him what (or should I say, who) he was leaving alone in the cold. So he immediately turned back and went to pick the lonely guy. When he got onto the car, I asked him: - How long have you been waiting there? Forty, fifty minutes or something? – And he was like: - Yeah, kind of -. Poor little power forward.

    I won’t spend many a word here mentioning that the ankle band I put on before we left was kind of killing my foot, so I had to put it off while we still were in the car. Then Yao (the guy Coach was about to forget picking up) saw it and asked me: - Don’t you need that? Would you lend me it so that I can put it on? My right foot’s hurting -. I did it. After the game, he told me he wouldn’t have even been able to play without it, cause the pain was even worse than he thought. So I thought like: hey, we lost the game, but I saved a life today. His feet’s one, of course.

    Around 9 pm we finally arrived. The tiny cement grey court was standing there, under a cold night with no stars in sight, in its full ridiculous glory, just in front of the cemetery, surrounded by a few groups of whores who seemed to have begun working earlier than usual. I will omit all of the guys’ comment about this part. But I want to spend a few words about the fact I still have no uniform. That’s how things work when your team has a strong and trustworthy organization behind. By the way, I borrowed a pair of shorts by one of my teammates and a wonderful number double zero jersey by another. It could have gone worse anyway, since a guy on the team wears number 69. And funny thing is, he seems not to be bothered by its obvious meaning.

    When we first saw our opponents warming up, we were all about to laugh our heads off. A bunch of over 50-years-old guys with embarrassing hair and weight problems. Yes, they were right the same ones who then buried us under a damn load of points. But we couldn’t know. Some would say we had underestimated them, but that wouldn’t be very correct. We knew they once were pro players or something, we knew they were experienced and physically strong enough to take us over. But we didn’t know they would have fooled us around such in an embarassing way.

    They were the fastest; they were the most accurate at shooting and running their offensive sets; they had the strongest discipline on defense and the best overall control on the game’s flow. Coach picked up five out of us nine and threw them on the starting five; then he turned all of us over so that everyone could play for the same time. This had a positive effect on saving our stamina. If we had been able to start the last quarter down ten or something, that would have come to our advantage. Unluckily the first quarter finished 31-15, we then had a good second quarter, but during the third period they put on their show again, so we started the last one without any hope to win it left. And they won.

    We didn’t play a good defense, especially during the first ten minutes, when we tried to run a zone D. Our right side always ended up being left uncovered. Our opponents took advantage of it and continued to push the ball from there right into the middle of the paint, where they could easlily score. They out-rebounded us on our defensive side as well, so it wasn’t any hard for them to score also lots of second and third chance points.

    Our defensive mistakes also caused the offensive ones. We’re sort of a fast team, we deeply rely on transitions to let our offense work, so finding ourselves stuck in that 15-meters-or-so long court wasn’t of any help. We simply could not run a single fastbreak, and our offense broke down. 71 points are even too many when you don’t score any of them after a turnover. Even Howl (I have obviously no clue where his nickname comes from), our first offensive option and of course fastest guy in transition, complained about the court’s shortness and wasn’t able to put on his personal scoring show. Now we’re just looking forward to host those guys on our homecourt, which is as large as a basketball court is supposed to be, and there we’ll finally be able to play the way we’re good at. Thus avenging this rather humiliating loss.

    My personal scoreboard (which I had to keep in mind by myself, cause here only team scores are noted) says 2 points (on a single attempt from the field in the first quarter), no treys out of just one (airball) attempt, no fouls and no free throws, plus a couple of steals and two assists. One was an easy pass on the left and the other a behind the back two-on-two transition pass, which kind of shines as the best thing I’ve done throughout the match.

    Coach didn’t get angry or something, he just told us we still have to work a lot on our defense and try to find more options on offense, cause we actually seem to hurry passes and conclusions, which of course kills our shooting percentage. We’ll talk about game plans, defensive strategies and all on our next training. Our next game is set in more than two weeks or so, so we should have all the time we need to fix anything that didn’t work. Hoping the next game will take place in a real basketball court, of course.

    Cement has proven again to be the worst thing to play on. The Baron fell down while trying to stop a penetration or something and two little stones slipped into his hand’s skin. He had to play the final minutes with his hand bleeding and hurting, and still he was able to score some points.

    The game was funny all in all. Some of the guys complained about the fact our opponents seemed to try and take advantage of being over 500 kg each, pushing and punching us here and there like nine little rags. But no one got hurt and there was just a single freaky episode. One of those grannies complained after a foul one of us made, telling him: - See boy, you can’t do this! - ... like we hadn’t fouled him on purpose.

    This 34-points lesson will teach us something. As far, we had fun, played quite an awful basketball with some sparks of good here and there, and came back happy. That’s what it’s all about. Wins? They will soon come. Only thing we have to do in order to achieve them is... winning, after all. Doesn’t it sound very easy? And by the way yeah, I caught a cold. Standing there out in the cold in my shorts and sweater must’ve not been a good idea but hey, I couldn’t do anything else. And it was worth it, after all.

    Stay tuned for the next tales from the silliest championship in the world. Deep in-game coverage, stunning stories about our wonderful wacky basketball, some trash gossip and backstage with the stars that never shine. Cause once again no star shone, but we had fun. Which is enough to just keep it up.
  • Prayers for non-believers

    3 Ene 2007, 14:56

    Now that's how a prayer should sound like.

    I guess touching even such an out-and-out atheist as me, means it's worth a reading to say the least.

    It comes without saying I strongly recommend you all to check the song out.

    I may add, the album which it comes from (Savatage's "Streets") is one of the greatest heavy metal operas even written, definitely one everyone should sooner or later listen to. So go check it out if you don't know it yet. And if you do, just go and listen to it again.

    "St. Patrick's"

    Hey there Lord it's me
    I wondered if you're free
    Or not asleep
    This just won't keep
    It seems I just don't see

    Why all the things we asked
    Or prayed would come to pass
    Have gone unheard
    Like silent words
    That slip into the past

    Cause Lord they're not schemes
    Can't you tell dreams
    Why
    Do you
    Let them slip by
    Never even tried

    It isn't you don't hear
    There's far too many tears
    Or can't you feel
    Are we unreal
    To one who knows no peers

    You say we must pay dues
    But still I am confused
    I need to walk
    And with you talk
    Instead of to statues

    Cause Lord they're not schemes
    Can't you tell dreams
    Why
    Do you
    Let them slip by
    Never even tried

    Cause you take all the fame
    But who'll accept the blame
    For all the hurts
    Down here on earth
    Unnecessary pain

    For surely you must care
    Or are you only air
    Built in our minds
    When we're in binds
    And never really there

    And can we be tired of you
    Is that something that we're allowed to do
    For even the blind change their view
    And it's time to try something new

    And so I pled my case
    I'll now pull my escape
    Didn't mean to doubt
    What it's all about
    Seems I forgot my place

    But if you find the time
    Please change the story line
    Or give a call
    Explain it all
    I'll even leave the dime


    Not to mention "Heal My Soul". Same band, same album, same wonderful ability to touch the listener deeply. No matter either you are a believer or not, it will just catch you.

    "Heal My Soul"

    I've been waiting
    Long forgotten
    Shipwrecked on a
    Distant shore

    Am I drifting
    No more wanted
    Floating outward
    Evermore

    All the dreams
    That I have harbored
    In the labyrinths
    Of my soul

    Gone forever
    Not discarded
    Only sleeping
    Till they're whole

    In the graveyard
    Of my heart now
    Sleep the years
    That I've long sold

    For their markers
    Is there nothing
    Only ghost
    I can not hold

    Father hear me
    I am tired
    Shall I waken
    In thy home

    Hold me closer
    I am trying
    Sweet Lord Jesus
    Heal my soul
  • Songs of Innocence

    30 Dic 2006, 19:56

    What does being “innocent” actually mean? I just spoke about that with a friend of mine, and found myself quite unable to express my idea about it. Not that the concept is not clear to me – I just felt like I had to stop and kind of put my thoughts about it in order. Music can actually be a very important part of this issue in my opinion, so maybe the topic won’t look too much out of place here.

    As William Blake pointed out, innocence is a child thing. Not in a bad way at all of course. Children aren’t as aware of the world surrounding them as adults are, and that’s what makes them innocent. If I had to try and explain what the word itself means (which is not my intent here), I’d start with its etymology. Some of you may know it comes from the latin word “in-” (alike the English “un-“ as a negation when you put it in front of a word) plus the verb “nocere”, meaning “to harm”. So the right meaning for “innocent” could be something like “one who is incapable of, or does not want to, harm (anyone)”.

    Everyone would take the first thing for good - so the word fits perfectly to children. It comes without saying that they are not able to hurt nor damage anyone. What about the latter part then? Wanting to do something (as well as not wanting to) requires you to be aware of what you are doing. You must be able to know right from wrong and good from bad, in order to make a choice. So, among the infinite things you can choose from, you are also free to choose either to harm someone or not. Obviously there are so many ways to do that – physically, morally, and so on.

    When you grow up and leave your childhood behind, you are in fact almost constantly given the choice either to harm people or not. Of course there are lots of ways you can harm someone without being aware of it. But there are also lots of ways to do it consciously. And that’s a basic difference between an innocent person and one who is not. You know you could harm someone, you know you can hurt his/her feelings, you know you can be bitchy towards him/her, and sometimes you also seem to have some good reason to, yet you do not.

    That’s where innocence comes to surface. Altough the whole world may look evil to you, altough you are often forced to think the only way to fight your way through it is being evil as well, altough you know lots of people are evil by their own choice, being aware that what they do is wrong – nevertheless you don’t wanna give up and resign your innocence. You may find yourself thinking it cannot be the whole rest of the world’s fault, after all. If everyone else is evil and you are not, who is wrong then? Millions of people else, or you? Statistical probabilities have an answer to that.

    When you are being harmed, you usually have two choices. You may harm the one who did you wrong back, or you may decide not to pay him/her back in his/her own coin. So innocence may seem the rightest path to follow.

    Problems come out, when you realise always being innocent is not really paying you off. They are being evil; you chose not to do the same with them. Well, things will soon turn harder to you. Just under your eyes, people who are not afraid not be innocent at all, are constantly getting past you. No matter where within your life. School, work, friends, love, family: the same rules appear to be equally applied everywhere, and they can be summoned all up in only one sentence – only the strong survive. If you put the word “scrupleless”, as opposed to “innocent”, instead of “strong”, you may get the point.

    The problem is even worse. Not only you chose not to ever harm anyone (or you found yourself incapable to); they even make you think you are wrong. They will tell you that you are not strong enough, they will call you weak, some may point out you are over-sensitive, and you may also be regarded as stupid. Problem is, you know you are not doing anything wrong, you cannot persuade yourself to make a change about your behaviour, because you know you would only make it worse – and still you know you will not get anywhere if you keep that up. So you start wondering why you are not able to be just like the others are, and you start feeling guilty. You ask yourself: why am I doing this, why should not I try and be just like the others are? and so on. Either you find yourself unable to change, or you do not want to – and the questions still lie unanswered.

    Then you begin hating yourself. You are unlike the others, you feel like you have to change in order to obtain their approval, but you do not want to, because you are still feeling like you have done nothing wrong. Being innocent is not being weak. Weak people who find themselves quite in that situation just do what they are asked to. That is, they finally make some changes to themselves and become a part of the world that just beat them. Being weak means surrending when you are under pressure, after all. I think being innocent means something different. It is sort of a paradox someway. People are treating you badly; you know that’s the only way for you to get what you want; yet you do not want to turn yourself into someone like them, and you feel guilty and sort of powerless because you neither can change the world nor want it to change you.

    You are beaten. You lose. Which does not mean you are a loser or something. Being a loser actually means there is no way you can ever win. Being innocent instead, also implies still hoping that things may turn around someday. It is not about fatalism here. You are not SURE they will; you just hope they will. Are you doing anything to let them get better? Of course you are - you are holding on your innocence. How could things get any better if all of those who are supposed to be more kind, quiet, sensitive, friendly and caring than the average people, end up resigning themselves? Innocence is sort of a way of life I’d say. It’s about saving your pureness of mind even when you are asked to do otherwise.

    When you are at school, you see the most bootlicking people get past you, even if they may be dumber than you. When you are at work, you see the most ambitious and go-getting people stepping over you, even if they may be less productive than you. You see the most cheating and false people fooling each other around while they still call themselves “friends”. Girls usually like bad guys because they look cool, and then they find out it’s not that cool being treated like a bitch or something; and guys do not really care about a girl’s feelings or needs, as long as they push it over. Wives and husbands are cheating on each other and do not even mind that, by doing so, they are hurting their children as well.

    If you are damn astonished by such things, and cannot figure out how can we live in such a senselessly bad world without feeling the need to make some changes; and if you prefer hanging on to your world view rather than becoming a part of its evil, well you are what I’d call an “innocent”.

    Innocence is looking at the world, realising how mad it is, then staring back at yourself and finding out how different you are from it; then feeling guilty for not being able (or not really wanting) to change yourself, and still hanging to it. Of course this hurts. Quite much, dare I say. Innocence is about being hurt anyway. Every innocent knows that, and is not scared by it at all. Being incapable of hurting someone else does not mean you can’t bear suffering or being harmed. Innocence also makes you quite strong somehow. That’s why the innocent usually do not give up.

    Now those of you who bore getting this far may tell me which songs you think may fit such a long rambling definition of “innocence”. I could point some out, but this would make most of last.fm’s work at building my charts up kind of useless. Needless to say, most of the songs I listen to, have something innocent within, in my opinion. Be it either the lyrics or the music itself, or both of them. So tell me if you know some song which may sound “innocent” the way I tried to explain here. Any contribution is welcome.