Dooooooooooooooom (or what is this that Stands before meeeee?)

The sound of thunder and rain.  

A church bell tolls mournfully and the first note is struck: dirge like.

Another tone, an octave higher timed with the next peel of the bell.

The third note is the clincher though: a half tone lower than a perfect fifth.

The Devil’s note.

There’s something creepy and unsettling about the relationship between this note and all the others in the scale. It’s exactly half way between the tonic and the octave in the western scale.

In blues music it’s used as a passing note. A place to pass through on the way to other places. As such it gives the blues scale an easy legato, a smooth or sly grace. But no one dwells on it.

In 1970, however everything changed. Guitarist Tony Iommi altered the landscape forever. 

By ending a phrase with the flattened fifth, Iommi created a tension, an unsettling yearning for resolution that never comes. The song is Black Sabbath by the group of the same name. Iommi and co had set out to create music which summoned up the sort of feelings which bring to mind horror films. Indeed even the band’s name comes from an old Boris Karloff flick.

The music was heavy. Loud distorted guitar,  driving bass, thundering drums, and the iconic vocals of Ozzy Osborne took in themes of despair, drugs, war and the supernatural. 

Heavy metal had been born. 


Grendel as Grinch

A Dr. Seussian side to a lengthy tale, Of a man named Beowulf in a hall of ale.

The Heretic's Mirror

Every Scylding in Heorot liked mead a lot,
But Grendel the beast, roaring outside did not.

Grendel hated Scyldings, the whole Danish clan.
Can I say why? I don’t think I can.

He spied on the Scyldings, he fumed and he wailed.
He watched as in Heorot they drank mead and drank ale.

“How can I hurt them, the king and his thanes?”
Alone in his barrow, it drove him insane.

Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
Grendel got a horrible, awful idea!

That fiendish old monster was up to no good.
He decided to kill them and gorge on their blood.

Outside the mead-hall, Cain-spawn raged and he roared,
And with his great strength he broke down the door.

The Scyldings lined up, their swords in a row.
“You warriors,” cried Grendel, “are the first ones to go.”

He slaughtered the Danes, ripped many apart.
He crunched…

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It’s Summertime, and the living is Greasy…

Ahh, the post-Christmas, post-Boxing Day malaise is setting in, dear readers
Those of you in the depths of winter may well be jealous. The temperatures have soared in the last two days from a bearable 19 degrees on Christmas day to the mid 20s, with a cloying humidity that saps our energy and upsets our sleeping patterns.

I know it’s nowhere as hot as it gets in India, Australia, California, or Florida – but one must imagine two of the palest, pastiest and heat-stroke prone folk on this Earth to understand our plight.

To awake in a home with no air conditioning and precious little insulation running a fever, dehydrated and staring a migraine in the face almost every day of the summer months is truly awful.

It takes a large toll on the nerves too, what with the low quality sleep, and constant exhaustion.

There’s a reason the murder rate goes up during a heatwave.

What to do then?

Well, we have an electric fan in the lounge so powerful that if we switch it to the highest setting, it immediately picks up the cat, and pins her halfway up the back wall.

We’ve taken to keeping a supply of Popsicles (lemonade flavour) in the freezer, along with a face cloth to cool the skin at the same timeas the ice block cools within.

We think about watching movies like Fargo, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, or Frozen, if only to trick our brains into thinking we’re colder than we are.

We read with envy the weather in places like the Yukon or Siberia , and imagine a Canadian Christmas, where if you run out of room in the freezer, you can always store the turkey and ham on the front porch.

Happy Holidays everyone!

We interrupt this Shaggy Dog Story…

…To bring you some news.

The last few months have been stressful.

The months before those were downright terrifying.

Further back, more of the same.

Rinse and repeat.

So, it is with great gladness that I can finally tell you my dear readers something good and positive.

In a little over a week, I start a new job at the Ministry of Social Development. I will be joining a team tasked with developing metrics for assessing the effectiveness of outcomes for people, against social policy initiatives by the government.

It is centered around the policies that affect the nation’s most vulnerable people.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something to help people like my family, and those in poverty, or abusive situations get more effective help in their lives.

I’m also happy to report that this represents a significant rise in salary, to a point where we won’t be hovering above the poverty line ourselves.

It’ll be hard work, as I’ll be responsible for wrangling the data into meaningful information to report on policy outcomes, and boy is that daunting! But someone on Twitter recently stated you don’t get success without passion.

This is something for which I have plenty of passion.

So I shall bid farewell to National Accounting frameworks and producing macro-economic statistics, and become more of a pure data person. But nonetheless, one with a conscience.

So, good people for now, that is all.

And we return to your regular programming……. WOOF! Woof! wooooooooooof!


I wanna be your Dawg – Pt 3

Creative Dog trotted through the freshly cut grass noting its strong scent on the air. Besides the grass, he detected buttercups and dandelions, with a decent mix of clover and daisy.

A light breeze gently ruffled his fur, and carried on it the smell of running water. The musical notes of twittering birds filled Creative Dog’s ears, their keen and piercing notes reaching into the ultrasonic extents of his hearing.

But there was nothing more fanciful for Creative Dog than watching the sky with its fluffy white clouds (that sometimes looked like rabbits) and deeply blue spaces between. Sometimes he could pick out violet and purple when the Sun was low in the sky. A sunset eventually would fade to a dull yellow, and Creative Dog couldn’t but help thinking he was missing something. It was like those super fast machines the humans would ride in – the fastest ones were always that same dull yellow colour*.

Creative Dog continued on towards the babbling brook whose water his keen olfactory sense had discerned.
The far bank rose up some distance away, and too steeply to clamber up having paddled across. But that was alright to Creative Dog. He hadn’t come to this place to swim or simply to cross a steam. The reason Creative Dog was here at all was because of that bank on the other side.
The air quieted down as the breeze dropped a little and Creative Dog steadied himself, drew breath deeply and barked sharply.

A split second later a clear but reverberant bark came back across from the far bank. It was so much like his own bark (and as every dog knows, every bark is different ), yet it sounded distant and diffused, almost as though there was a twin Creative Dog on the far bank.
Of course in earlier days, he’d searched for the other dog, but to no avail. Creative Dog had never met another dog like him, every other dog was just like that boorish and unimaginative Practical Dog he lived with. Still, he liked to come here alone with his thoughts and have conversations with the “barking bank” as he liked to call it. It was so nice to have just one dog who never derided or disagreed with him.

*Canines are dichromats, they have two discrete colour receptors amongst the cone cells in their retinas. Effectively in human terms dogs have red-green colour blindness and can only perceive orange and red as a dull yellow.

I Wanna be your Dawg….. pt 2

On the opposite side of the lounge was Practical Dog chewing noisily on a fresh bone, having already bolted down an enormous steak. He growled softly to himself as be crunched clean through the bone.

With a brief rattling of teeth on bone punctuated by a sharp snap!

The staccato of breaking bone wrenched Creative Dog out of his deep slumber. His ears twitched at the sound, and he opened his eyes and darted a guarded look across at Practical Dog.
“Him again ” sighed Creative Dog to himself. Mister Practical over on the other side of the room only bones because he was hungry. He chewed sticks because they honed his teeth.
Nothing, but nothing had aesthetic value for Practical Dog.

He was also the top dog. His bark was law.
Sometimes This meant a fine work of doggy-scrimshaw could be wrested at a moment’s notice from the artist and destroyed like any other bone.