My thoughts on the Chinese New Year

It’s the time of year when China has reached the start of the New Year. It does sound strange, but the times are so different in each country; for instance, when I went to Australia at the age of 12, the country was nine hours ahead of England and it was our summer vacation, despite it being winter in Aussie. There was also a humorous reference in that Thunderbirds episode (Lord Parker’s ‘Oliday) where Scott, Virgil and Brains are returning home from a rescue mission that occurred in Italy and they contact Jeff, stating; “we’ll be home for breakfast” and Jeff’s like “breakfast? It’s 2am” and they point out that they got the times in the different locations mixed up. And who can possibly forget that Simpsons one (Bart Vs Australia) where they arrive in Aussie and Homer asks Lisa what time it is there. Because of the different times in each country, they don’t all commence with the same season, which explains why China celebrates their New Year later in January.
And speaking of the Chinese New Year, here’s where
I first heard about it. I was eight and at elementary school when our teacher told us all about the tradition. She also read a story about the origin of the celebration. The story began where 12 animals; a dog, dragon, hare, horse, monkey, ox, pig, ram, rat, rooster, snake and tiger, were squabbling over which one was the best animal and which one would win some prize for best animal or something. So in an attempt to cease them from bickering, a Chinese emperor arranged for a swimming race across the river. Whoever won got the prize. The animals agreed and the race commenced. During the race, the ox was in the lead and the rat was struggling to swim. So it cheated and climbed on the ox’s back, thus taking the lead. The rat won the race and got the prize and these are the rest of the finishing positions starting with the 2nd place; ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Since the story, each year has represented an animal. If a year was the year of the rat, the next one would be the year of the ox, then the tiger and so on. After the year of the pig, it goes back to the start. I was born in 1990, which was the year of the horse. I didn’t know that until I was eight. I was pretty disappointed when I found that out. I’ve got nothing against horses whatsoever or any other animal, except wasps (I have a history). But at the time, I was more into the more vicious animals. I had hoped to be born in the year of the dragon or tiger or the rat as it won the race. But then, one can’t choose when to be born. It all depends when your mother’s pregnant. Being born in the year of the horse doesn’t seem bad though. Personally it makes me feel stronger, considering you can ride on it and take power over people not riding on horses. Maybe it’s the medieval movies I watched in my life.
Last year, 2016(!), was the year of the monkey, which means that 2017 is the year of the rooster.
Happy Chinese New Year everybody!

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Top 11 Album Tracks by David Bowie

David Bowie could’ve been 70 today. This is why I’ve decided to put together my personal top 11 list of his album tracks. Last year, I wrote my personal top 11 list of his singles, so for a change, these are his album tracks; I’m excluding his singles and including his songs that were featured on his studio albums and never got released as singles. Of course, in a few days time will be the 1st anniversary of when I woke up to the most traumatic news of my life, need I say.

So here’s my Top 11 Album Tracks by David Bowie. Why top 11? Because I’m going one step beyond.

 

Number 11;…

  • Girl Loves Me

Album: Blackstar (2016)

Taken from Blackstar, David’s final album, Girl Loves Me is one of only two tracks from the album never to be released as singles (the other being Dollar Days), unless they intend to have it released in the future. This one has a slightly different rhythm to most of David’s previous material. It contains some swearing; repeated uses of the f word – I ain’t saying it’s unusual for him to swear (he did say the f word once on We Are The Dead and one of his songs with Tin Machine), but then this is probably the most times it’s mentioned in a song. It also includes reference to A Clockwork Orange and 1984, again what’s new? But actually, what’s different about the song is the thumping bass rhythm and that it’s believed that David was inspired by a couple of young American rappers, one of them being Future.

 

Number 10;…

  • Scream Like A Baby

Album: Scary Monsters & Super Creeps (1980)

Scream Like A Baby tells the story of a guy named Sam who’s imprisoned in a futuristic political jail. The song is noted for its ultra-modern new wave/synth pop sounds and David was truly getting updated with the modern world of music!

 

Number 9;…

  • All The Madmen

Album: The Man Who Sold The World (1970)

All The Madmen is partially based on David’s half-brother, Terry, who had schizophrenia and later committed suicide in 1985. The tune starts off folky and then turns to a bit of heavy metal, as soon as Mick Ronson comes in!

 

Number 8;…

  • Queen Bitch

Album: Hunky Dory (1971)

It was a difficult choice between this one and Oh You Pretty Things, but Queen Bitch is so upbeat and gives its actual nod to glam-rock, demonstrating that Hunky Dory truly entered David into the era. This one, apparently influenced by Lou Reed and his then-band The Velvet Underground. Without David, Lou probably would’ve never been noticed. Lou would later cover this one, presumably his thanks to David. This one always makes me happy.

 

Number 7;…

  • Battle For Britain (The Letter)

Album: Earthling (1997)

How’s about a bit of industrial rock and drum & bass, Prodigy-style. What I got out of Battle For Britain was an anti-war message, hence why it’s also called The Letter, presumably a letter to stop a war from coming. Mind you, you’d probably remember the battle of Britain which took place in World War 2. Hell, there was also a film about it. Plus the instruments do sound as aggressive as The Prodigy.

 

Number 6;…

  • I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft

Album: Heathen (2002)

Back when the UK charts was so-so; dominated by the likes of Gareth Gates and Britney Spears and Blue and Robbie Williams and Atomic Kitten, you know the rest. David was one of the highlights with his album, Heathen, which included this lovely song, I Took A Trip On The Gemini Spacecraft, which I’m quite surprised was never released on its own. Yes, it’s a cover of a song by a guy named Norman Odam. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to listen to the original. For this one though, still nicely done.

 

Number 5;…

  • ’87 & Cry

Album: Never Let Me Down (1987)

I know, it’s from a rather unpopular album, yet as I described Never Let Me Down in one of my previous posts as a truly underrated one. I really think ’87 & Cry deserves some slack. It contains such a magical sound throughout and an aggressive political message; based on Thatcher’s harsh treaty to the dogs, as opposed to the citizens. While David’s resting in heaven, Maggie’s burning in hell!

 

Number 4;…

  • Nite Flights

Album: Black Tie White Noise (1993)

And here’s a cover of a song by Scott Walker. David did some pretty impressive covers back in his day; Dancing In The Street, Alabama Song, Sorrow, Nite Flights is no exception. This version contains heavy electronic sounds; one of the tunes I would put on to help me relax from stressful days.

 

Number 3;…

  • Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?)

Album: Aladdin Sane (1973)

No I ain’t referring to the Disney version of Aladdin. Actually, I’m talking about an endless, almost piano-dominated piano jazz-ish song, which refers to a guy who’s insane. Get it, A Lad In Sane? I’m quite surprised that Aladdin Sane (1913–1938–197?) was never released as a single, despite appearing on David’s ChangesTwoBowie album. Aladdin Sane is an apparent prediction that World War 3 may occur, hence the years in parentheses referring to the pre-dates of both World Wars. This would be the beginning of David’s interest in taking on experimental music. And was Mike Garson’s piano riff improvised?

 

Number 2;…

  • Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (reprise)

Album: Diamond Dogs (1974)

Diamond Dogs began with Future Legends, which introduced the album and went straight to the title track. Then along came the Sweet Thing suite. Okay, it’s three tracks, but if you put them together, you get one masterpiece. What can I say about this epic prog rock yarn; one of them songs where David reaches the lowest note as possible. Of course, his voice was beginning to lower as he aged. His voice is so in a similar boat to my voice! It also demonstrates his multi-instrument playing skills (guitar, saxophone, synthesizers). Any more to say on this one? I love the guitar riff near the start and it sure is a spooky one!

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some honourable mentions;

 

And the number 1 album track by David Bowie is…

  • Hang On To Yourself

Album: The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (1972)

And Thunderbirds are go! What can I say about this one? This one always puts a smile to my face. I love the chord sequence and the high tempo. It’s a fantastic rock & roll and glam rock yarn. Only two minutes and just over a half, what more could you expect from Hang On To Yourself?

Special mention goes to Ziggy Stardust, which is from the same album. But I was a bit unsure whether it would count as an album track, considering the live version was released later on. Yet again, who knows?

 

So that’s my Top 11 list. I’m sorry I only provided limited information. I had limited time to write it. But by all means, check out the songs.

In a bit.

2017 begins

Happy new year everybody! Once again, the start of a new year begins. Hopefully 2017 should be a massive improvement compared to 2016. As usual, I shall be exploring what was good and what was bad about 2016 and wondering what we’ll get in 2017.

Firstly, let’s look at the good stuff about 2016… yeah I know, but there have been at least a few. Firstly, I give it credit for Van Morrison’s knighthood, which I think is a well deserved recognition for he’s one of my personal favourite musicians. Cliff Richard’s been cleared of sex-abuse charges and I sure hope the so-called victims, who were probably secretly smirking about it, are going to apologise to him some day, because I just know Cliff is as innocent as hell and would never do such a thing. There are two sides of the argument. I mean you just don’t know if the victims are telling the truth or just seeking attention. Also, certain birthdays deserve some credit and I recently heard that the war in Syria is to be ceased. Hopefully that will definitely happen.

As for me, I didn’t experience a lot of great things, apart from working on about four film projects, plus two show videos and speaking of theatre, finding work with a theatre-based company near Loughborough in Leicester. Also, my brother and I saw Chas & Dave at the 02 Academy in Leicester. To see a really famous music act is always a lot of fun and Chas & Dave are awesome examples! Another highlight being outings with the Labour Party and seeing a mate of mine in a fantastic theatre show in Loughborough (short plays originally performed for the Grand Guiniol).

But unfortunately, I can’t pretend that 2016 was a good year, because aside from those events, it wasn’t. And the following videos state a really good point about it. The first from a totally ace guy named Adam. Warning, it contains very strong language.

And here’s another honest one from Watchmojo.com;

Moving right? Well, I of course sympathise with them. Britain has left the EU and I voted to remain as you can see in one of my previous posts (In EU!). I shan’t go on too much about it, but the fact that we left has left a wider space to discriminate and I just know the economy’s about to get worse. I even made a YouTube video expressing my disgust with the final result; again I apologise for the swearing on that one. David Cameron, who is a member of the Conservative party, which I of course don’t support, resigned as prime minister, because he wanted to remain (I give him credit for that) and felt that he couldn’t get the country out of the mess. What a wuss! Now that Teresa May’s in charge, we hoped she’d sort things out, but she hasn’t made enough of an effort. Then there’s Donald Trump’s election as president of the USA. If I was American, I would’ve voted for Hillary Clinton, because she’s way better than Trump and all I could do was pray that she would win. But no, it had to be a right-wing nut-job who’s religion-phobic and made offensive jokes about sexual abuse and plans to waste taxpayer’s money on a futile boarder around the country insisting that Mexico help out and I don’t think Mexico are dumb enough to fall for it. Also we had a terror attack in Belgium and a deliberate lorry crash in Germany, plus what I’ve just heard, a gunman killing some innocent people in Turkey, during a New Year’s ceremony.

I didn’t have the greatest year of my life myself. I lost a job – made redundant, nothing personal, which means I need to find full-time job soon. Even gym-membership has risen too much in money. Again, I’ll need a job quick or I may have to sacrifice the membership.

Just as things couldn’t get any worse, I had woken up to so many celebrity deaths.

Sylvia Anderson, Harper Lee, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Victoria Wood, Chyna, Zza Zza Gabor, Jo Cox (again referring to my anger with Brexit), Bryan Bedford, John Glen (the astronaut), Robert Vaughn, Ronnie Corbert, Richard Adams, Andrew Sachs, Greg Lake, Frank Kelly, Pete Burns, Rick Parfitt, Paul Daniels, Terry Wogan, Glenn Frey, Henry Heimlich, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Gene Wilder, Muhammed Ali, Alan Rickman,…

But the celebrity death that upset me the most and still upsets me; David Bowie. He was my favourite musician and I never got to meet him. That was a particularly bad start to the year as well, along with Alan Rickman and Bryan Bedford (who had the same illness), and I’ll never forgive 2016 for claiming his life. In fact, I shall never forgive 2016 for all those other horrible events. And especially, my middle finger goes to Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage for trying to influence millions of people through their arrogance.

This is why I pray to god that 2017 be a better year; claim less people’s lives, hatred and prejudice to be cut down on and to ensure the futile war stays ceased.

Please be a good one 2017. Goodbye and good riddance 2016!