Thursday, January 27, 2005

I Am Not A Writer

I am not a writer. Some of my friends are writers. You know who you are. I think I do not have the patience to be a writer. Loyal readers will recall my desire to write an alternate history story or timeline based upon the Reagan assassination attempt in 1981. That could have been interesting, but would have required reading and research far above the amount of time that I had. Also, I am not a writer.

I have another idea for a story. Again, it would probably require research and further reading, but alas, I do not have the time. Besides, I am not a writer.

The idea is based upon my recent interest in the stars in our local stellar neighborhood (within 10 parsecs or so). One of these stars is Delta Pavonis. Delta Pavonis is very similar to our own sun in terms of size, mass, luminosity, etc. Also, it is reasonably close (about 20ly or a bit more than 6 parsecs). The main difference is that it seems clear to scientist that Delta Pavonis is a dieing star. This also means it is substantially older than our sun, and if it has intelligent life, chances are it is more advanced than our own society.

So, the premise is that the inhabitants of this Delta Pavonis system are aware of their dieing sun and set out to new systems in hope of finding an uninhabited world in which to live.

I would use the premise that they built a large craft that could travel about 30 percent of the speed of light, and left their star 60 years ago and are arriving today.

I think this could be a realistic and interesting story, but like I said….

I am not a writer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Star Power

I have been reading a bit about nearby stars lately. I am not referring to Joe Pesci or Bruce Springsteen, but 40 Eridani A and Tau Ceti. I am not sure why this fascinates me. These stars and any matter surrounding them are clearly too far to visit. I firmly believe in the theory that travel even close to the speed of light is impossible, so interstellar travel for humans is not an option.

In any case, the existence of these places fascinates me. A few years ago I read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. While some of the science in the book is probably out dated now, it is still a fascinating read, and recommended to anyone with half a brain and an interest in the origins and destiny of the universe.

OK – so what is the point? I really can’t say. I know that I love knowledge. I want to know as much stuff as I can (kind of like Travolta in that movie Phenomenon). So, the cosmos fascinates me, because there is so much to know. I think this fascination plays into the “Star Trek” TV show. I am curious as to whether or not the writers have considered where certain places are in the galaxy, other than Vulcan.

So – what’s the point? I still can’t say. One additional observation is that it sucks that the night sky is invisible to us in the NY metro area. It would be nice to look at the sky and tell my kids the names and locations of the stars, but since the starts are invisible to us, that is impossible.

Finally, I wish to add that I really do not know what I plan to do with this knowledge of the stars in our galactic neighborhood. It is funny that with the exception of Sirius, the close stars are all relatively small and hard to find, whilst the easy stars to find (i.e. Betelgeuse, Rigel and the other stars in Orion are quite distant. Another interesting point is that it seems many of the G-class stars (those similar to the Sun) are only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. Weird.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Top 124

I have decided to rank the Iron Maiden songs in order of worst to best. The list is below:

124. Wasting Love
123. Dream Of Mirrors
122. Lightning Strikes Twice
121. The Fugitive
120. Mother Russia
119. Childhood's End
118. Remember Tomorrow
117. The Apparition
116. The Angel and the Gambler
115. Quest For Fire
114. The Prophecy
113. No Prayer For The Dying
112. Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger
111. Sun And Steel
110. When Two Worlds Collide
109. Weekend Warrior
108. Bring Your Daughter .... To The Slaughter
107. From Here To Eternity
106. The Aftermath
105. Flash Of The Blade
104. The Assassin
103. Twilight Zone
102. 2 A.M.
101. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
100. Fortunes Of War
99. The Unbeliever
98. The Mercenary
97. Public Enema Number One
96. Iron Maiden
95. Be Quick Or Be Dead
94. Look For The Truth
93. Hooks In You
92. Judgement Of Heaven
91. Running Free
90. Fates Warning
89. Blood Brothers
88. Afraid To Shoot Strangers
87. Man On The Edge
86. Tailgunner
85. Lord Of The Flies
84. Blood On The World's Hands
83. The Fallen Angel
82. Only The Good Die Young
81. Gates Of Tomorrow
80. Out Of The Silent Planet
79. The Edge Of Darkness
78. Fear Is The Key
77. Ghost Of The Navigator
76. The Nomad
75. 2 Minutes To Midnight
74. Run Silent Run Deep
73. Losfer Words
72. Deja Vu
71. Gangland
70. Futureal
69. Age Of Innocence
68. Flight of Icarus
67. Sea Of Madness
66. Alexander The Great
65. Can I Play With Madness
64. Brave New World
63. Como Estais Amigos
62. The Ides Of March
61. Revelations
60. The Trooper
59. Innocent Exile
58. Holy Smoke
57. Another Life
56. Transylvania
55. The Duellists
54. Moonchild
53. Wrathchild
52. Charlotte The Harlot
51. Ghengis Khan
50. Sign Of The Cross
49. Montesgur
48. Children Of The Damned
47. Prodigal Son
46. Wildest Dreams
45. Run To The Hills
44. Heaven Can Wait
43. The Clairvoyant
42. Strange World
41. New Frontier
40. Invaders
39. No More Lies
38. To Tame A Land
37. Purgatory
36. Caught Somewhere In Time
35. Chains of Misery
34. Back In The Village
33. The Educated Fool
32. In finite Dreams
31. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
30. Dance Of Death
29. The Evil That Men Do
28. Where Eagles Dare
27. Total Eclipse
26. Die With Your Boots On
25. Aces High
24. Wasted Years
23. Prowler
22. The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
21. The Wicker Man
20. Still Life
19. The Clansman
18. The Thin Line Between Love & Hate
17. Rainmaker
16. Sanctuary
15. Stranger In A Strange Land
14. Killers
13. Judas Be My Guide
12. Murders In The Rue Morgue
11. Hallowed Be Thy Name
10. 22 Acacia Avenue
9. Phantom Of The Opera
8. Face In The Sand
7. Powerslave
6. Fear Of The Dark
5. Journeyman
4. Drifter
3. The Number Of The Beast
2. Paschendale
1. The Prisoner

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Top 10 Albums of the Year - 2002

As I stated in an earlier blog, it is impossible to properly review a CD after one listen or two. Good music takes a while to appreciate and understand. It is impossible to tell after only a short time. Sure you can tell if it is garbage or not, but true greatness takes a while to recognize. With that, and with it being a new year, and with CRAIG’s last blog about 1970 movies, I thought it would be appropriate to give my top 10 albums of the year.

For 2002.

10. DoomSword – Resound the Horn. These Italian kings of Viking Metal are so cool. I mean when you think of Italian metal, you think of wussy Power Metal like Rhapsody. These guys are all about Vikings and epic battles and stuff like that. Their music is usually slow paced, but heavy, and never dull. With a lead singer like Deathmaster, you can’t go wrong.

9. Running Wild – The Brotherhood. We go from Vikings to Pirates. Running Wild has carved out a niche as the only band to write about all things Pirate. While Running Wild has better albums than this, it is good enough to crack the top ten in a relatively weak year. Also, it marks and improvement for the band since their last album Victory; which was somewhat weak.

8. Hammerfall – Crimson Thunder. Another album from Hammerfall in the same vein as the first three. A little more grown up and raw with more power than Renegade. While I am not crazy about the two cover songs, as a whole they work with the rest of the album. I certainly wouldn’t call this a classic, but Hammerfall is not about classics, they are about good Power Metal and they do it relatively well.

7. Eidolon – Coma Nation. From the metal hot bed of Canada comes Eidolon. This is an interesting band. Not Thrash because they are too melodic, not Power Metal either, but I don’t need no stinkin’ genre to describe them, they rock!! The album is very heavy, very intense, and very enjoyable to listen to. The last track (Within the Gates) is probably the best epic song of the year.

6. Rush – Vapor Trails. Speaking of Canada…Rush returns in 2002 with Vapor Trails. Certainly not their best work, but there are enough bright spots here (Earthshine, Peaceable Kingdom, etc.) to put this album up with the year’s best.

5. Halford – Crucible. The hot leather dude himself returns with his second solo album. Not quite as good as his first, but more consistent. Maybe not as traditional or “Priestish” as Resurrection, but still a real solid effort for the self proclaimed Metal God.

At this point, I would like to pause. The reason is this; the six albums above are all very good. However, none I would consider outstanding or classic. The next four are clearly a step above. So much so, that they really belong on another list. So, I will pause.

Pause complete.

4. Sentenced – The Cold White Light. This is the album Metallica should have made after Load. I must admit, Sentenced comes dangerously close to sounding too much like Metallica on this record. However, the songs, production, and general vibe of this album are so great, that I can overlook a little lack of originality in some aspects of the songs. Sentenced writes depressing lyrics and themes in the most upbeat and catchy songs I have ever heard. The album is schizophrenic, but it really is great.

3. Agalloch – The Mantle. Agalloch is tough to describe. I have heard them described as avant-garde progressive folk death metal. Well, I don’t know if that is right, but I do know this album is a really enjoyable listen. Very dark and atmospheric, and perfect for a long car ride in the rain. A truly unique and excellent band.

2. Iron Savior – Condition Red. In my review for Hammerfall, I said that they do Power Metal relatively well. These guys do it better, if not best. This is the first Iron Savior album without Kai Hansen, and unbelievably, they don’t miss him. This is the best Iron Savior album to date, and the other three are really good, too, but this one is at the next level. I love the opening, no sappy intros here, just bang!

1. Opeth – Deliverance. That’s right Opeth. Call me a fanboi if you want to, but this album is brilliant. Yeah, it’s not quite as good as Blackwater Park, but it is close. Their use of fast and slow tempos, death growls and clean vocals, and other contrasts are well done. Some of the criticism of Opeth is that the songs are drawn out, and I can see that to a limited extent, really I find no useless filler here. Maybe a bit of self-indulgence, but these guys have earned it.

So that’s it. Stay tuned for my 2003 list, coming in early 2006!!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

La Fanciulla di Ferro

Goodfight caro

Sono genitore di due giovani ragazzi. Mio più vecchio figlio ha mostrato un interesse in una banda di roccia ha chiamato la Fanciulla di Ferro. Mentre pretende che sono immensamente popolari (e così la corrente principale), sono poco conosciuto con loro. Ho fatto una ricerca superficiale sull'Internet e ho trovato molte informazioni (sopra i luoghi di 2,000,000) ed alcune immagini orrende (alcuni è apparso essere il demonic). Comunque, nella lettura alcuna del loro lirico da una registrazione recente, non ho trovato niente terribilmente offensivo (ha paragonato all'altra musica popolare oggi).

Comunque, ho deciso di fare un piccolo più ricerca sulla musica demonically ispirata, e quando ho ricercato l'Internet per “la musica demonically ispirata” ho trovato il suo luogo. Mentre conoscere bene molti degli artisti sul suo luogo, e non è d'accordo con tutte le conclusioni, il suo estratto di “Uccide Sua Figlia” dalla Fanciulla di Ferro disturbava. Disturbare abbastanza per me scriverla. Lei ha fatto ovviamente i suoi compiti, dunque speravo per alcuno consiglio.

Primo di tutto il, ha per quanto tempo la Fanciulla di Ferro è stata intorno (questi individui guardano bello vecchio di essere nel rock and roll)? Sono pericolosi? Che dovrei dire mio figlio?
Non voglio reagire in modo esagerato perché sono sicuro ci sono delle cose peggiori per i miei bambini di essere coinvolte in, ma indosso realmente’t come ciò che ho visto sul suo luogo. Ci sono molti riferimenti di Fanciulla di Ferro sulla tela, ma ci è cosí molte informazioni (e le mis-informazioni) fuori da lí, che indosso’t sa ciò che fare o che credere.

Qualunque informazioni o qualunque maglia di tela utile lei potrebbe fornire farebbe utile.