Did I play that?

With just over a day left in the month, I have about 99% of my bandwidth left to burn. It would be a shame to let that go to waste. So, welcome to episode one of something that may or may not become a semi-regular feature on this weblog: “Did I play that?”

As you might know, I have recently moved to a new apartment. One of the reasons for that (albeit a minor one) was the lack of space for a record player. I have a decent amount of vinyl — most of it of course Meat Loaf and/or Jim Steinman related — and for the last five, six years, nothing to play it with. Getting a record player was high on my list of priorities.

When I got back from Hungary a few weeks ago, my bosses had a nice surprise for me. As a present for my new home, they gave me a USB turntable. Hooking it up to my amp wasn’t much of a problem, and neither was hooking it up to my computer. Plug the USB-out of the turntable into a USB-in, change some settings, and go. I might just go ahead and upgrade the element, but all in all, it’s a great piece of gear.

Since I last had a record player at my disposal, I’ve acquired quite a lot of new material on vinyl. Some of it was also available on CD, but a significant chunk is only available on LP. So you can imagine that I wanted to explore the latter bit first. One of those items was a fairly unknown Meat Loaf single.

In 1987, Meat Loaf released his first official live album, called Live. From that album, “Bat Out of Hell” was released as a single. Both the 7? and the 12? version of that single contain a rather brutal edit. Those who think that what mr. Loaf did to “I’d Do Anything for Love” on his current tour was sacrilegious, are just going to love this. [single info] [download]

As a bonus, I’ve also included another Dutch cover of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. This one is by Paul de Leeuw and Imca Marina. [details] [download]

First Lines: Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows

So. Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows. How does it end? Let me tell you:

After a quick sweep through the wizarding world and just the slightest bit of luck (who’d imagine a simple spell like “accio Horcruxes” would work?), Harry and his friends gather the last remaining Horcruxes, artifacts created by Dark Magic and containing fragments of the Dark Lord’s soul, rendering him near immortal. Unable to destroy them, Harry and his company hold council with the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix. Even the greatest minds are stumped. Whatever they throw at the vile relics, whatever spell or potion they come up with, nothing is able to even scratch them.

Then, from a portrait, Dumbledore (surely the wisest wizard of his age), speaks:

The Horcruxes cannot be destroyed, Harry, by any craft that anyone here possesses. The Horcruxes were conjured from the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can they be unmade. They must be taken deep into The Deathly Hallows and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence they came. One of you must do this.

A map is summoned, and the Deathly Hallows, a volcanous mountain range in eastern Albania, is located. Not wasting another moment, Harry, Ron and Hermione get the Horcruxes, and *poof*, they apparate at the foot of Mount Doom, deep in the Deadly Hallows. Climbing to the summit, they are so focused on their task, that they don’t notice that the treacherous Snape — appointed by Lord You-Know-Who as guardian of Mount Doom — is following them. Descending into the crater, they cross a small and fragile bridge to a platform in the very heart of the volcano.

Savoring the moment of their triumph over the Dark Lord, the three friends are disarmed by Snape with a simple Expelliarmus-spell. With their wands flying into the fiery pit below, they have no choice but surrender the Horcruxes. What no-one suspected, was that the power of his Dark Master’s soul would react violently to Snape’s treacherous nature. As he looses his wand, a fight ensues, which ends with Snape slipping over a lock of his own greasy hair, which Hermione had unceremoniously yanked from his head after he bit of Ron’s left-ear. Taking the evil relics with him, Snape falls to his (fiery) doom. Disapparating again, the friends return to the Headquarters of the Order, an abandoned shack in an anonymous suburb of London.

From all over England, reports of Dark Magic being lifted come in. Quickly an all-out search for the weakened Dark Lord is organized. Of course, it is Harry who finally finds and corners Lord What’s-His-Face. Weakened beyond hope of resurrection by the destruction of the largest part of his soul, Lord You-Know-Who begs throws his last trick: he transforms to his animal self. But alas! With his powers nearly depleted, Lord Voldemort is unable to transform to his usual lion form, which would have ripped Harry to pieces. No, all the Dark Lord is now able to manage is a cute fluffy little kitten. Adoringly, Harry picks up little Voldy, and walks of towards the sunset…

Book read
JK Rowling — Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows
First line
Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.

As a bonus, I’ve dug up a five year old trailer for the then current Harry Potter movie. Enjoy.

And yes, I know, the book stuff is getting old. I’ll try to be back with the regular programming shortly.

First Lines: Blaze

Richard Bachman died in 1985 of cancer of the pseudonym, shortly after releasing his novel Thinner. In 1995, another book was unearthed, a novel called The Regulators, which had remarkable similarities to Desperation by Stephen King, that was released at the same time.

Now, in 2007, another one of Bachman’s early novels has resurfaced. Blaze tells the story of Clayton Blaisdell, jr. — Blaze to his chums — who kidnaps a baby for ransom. But frankly, that doesn’t matter a bit: what matters is that this might be the best of the bunch. Blaze is a cleary well-developed character, the narrative just flows gently along… none of the other Bachman books have so much going for them. Alas, it looks like the well is dry now. ‘Tis a pity, I say, ’cause I would have loved more of this. Tell sai Bachman I say thankee.

Book read
Richard Bachman — Blaze
First line
George was somewhere in the dark.

First Lines: The Right Hand of God

One of the things this website still misses, besides a decent layout, is an archive section with my old weblog. If there was one, I could have linked to the posts covering the first two parts in Russell Kirkpatrick’s Fire of Heaven trilogy. So here’s the summary: in Across the Face of the World, the first book, some peasants from a faraway part of some vast realm called Faltha find out that their neighbors are planning to invade them, just like they did two thousand years before. They set out to warn the council in the capital, but before they get there, a lot of stuff happens. In part two, In the Earth Abides the Flame, the company find out that council is corrupt, and some of them set out to find some fabled flaming arrow, to unite the land once again and rise against their enemies as one. As you might expect, while doing that, more stuff happened.

In the last book, The Right Hand of God, even more stuff happened. The company raised an army, march out to meet the enemy, they fight, loose, try to be cunning, don’t succeed at that,  are marched back in defeat to the capital by their new evil overlord, and manage to defeat him with some strange divine magic. All’s well that ends well.

In book two, Kirkpatrick introduced a religious subplot that started to annoy me very quick. As you might expect from the title, that subplot got fleshed out in book three. Basically, the main character turned out to be The Prophesied One Who Accepteth His Task Reluctantly. And this lead to behavior that would make any self-respecting  goth jealous. Yes, it was that annoying.

If you’re able to look past the religiousness (that has many similarities to ye-olde-Christianity) of especially the last two books, I’d say that it’s an entertaining read. But it never gets better than average fantasy stuff either.

Russell Kirkpatrick — The Right Hand of God
Two proud men faced each other over a low stone table.

First Lines: Firestarter

As the result of a secret government experiment gone FUBAR, Andy McGee gained some limited psychic powers. When a few years later his daughter Charlie is born, it becomes very clear that she got an even bigger ‘gift’. She is able to start fires. Of course, the same government agency who did the tests, The Shop, becomes very interested in the little girl. A chase and kidnapping follow, which in turn lead to a break out. And a lot of fire. A real freaking lot of fire. Go figure.

Book read
Stephen King — Firestarter
First line
Daddy, I’m tired, the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully. Can’t we stop?