Pole Axed

Rarely has the gulf in belief between the US and Europe been more clearly illustrated than by the recent, utterly inane, pseudo-controversy about a wax model of former US president George W. Bush‘s head appearing on a pole in an episode of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones.

TL;DR version for the Redditors?  Politicians are human, inherently untrustworthy and deserve scorn.  Move on with your lives.

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Putting aside the obvious fact that nobody would be any the wiser about this inconsequential, throwaway gag had the DVD commentary for season one’s box set not pointed it out, the resultant furore suggests quite worryingly that many Americans believe that their politicians (and, particularly, their presidents) are somehow utterly beyond reproach and deserving of a level of life-long respect which borders on blind idolatry and child-like worship.

Check out this take on the issue by Craig Eaton, Chairman of the Brooklyn Republican Party in noted UK tabloid beloved of nitwits, the Daily Mail – ‘I think that it’s despicable. As a country, Democrats, Republicans, we have to have respect for the office and the individuals. Once we lose that respect, the United States looks weak.’

Yes, an entirely reasonable sense of proportion there.  It’s not as if the American president, senators, congressmen and the like are elected officials who work for constituencies – i.e., the general public.  They are, of course, veritable Titans who walk amongst us and we should all be wearing knee pads on the off-chance that we might need to abruptly genuflect in their presence.

Give any politician an inch and they’ll never stop the ensuing power grab until their avarice and arrogance trips them up or very human hubris results in death on a massive scale.  Politicians, I feel strongly, should live daily in the mortal and justified fear that their electorate will yank them from office and replace them equally swiftly with somebody hopefully competent and not quite as self-serving – they are rarely, if ever, people who deserve anything more than suspicion and contempt.

And Mr Eaton, by the way, I’m pretty sure that Bush’s tenure as president did more to hurt his image and the world’s image of America than a blink-and-you miss it shot of a mannequin in profile head ever will.

In Europe, I like to think that we treat politicians with just the right amount of withering mistrust and quiet disdain – experience has taught us that such individuals are rarely public servants in the truest sense of the phrase and have the moral and ethical core of a sneak thief – that any American citizen goes to their grave believing that politicians are any better than the rest of us is a sign that the biggest con job of all time has been well and truly perpetrated on a sleeping electorate.

Besides, this B.S. non-controversy has clearly only been stirred up by the kind of vocal, cynical, right-of-centre bullies on the blogosphere and in American talk radio who get to place issues of no-importance in the public consciousness and then scream like spoilt children until they get what they want – witness HBO’s deplorably cowardly and censorial decision to remove the shot from future broadcasts of the season one “A Game of Thrones” finale and DVD releases.

So, broadly fascistic rewriting/erasing of something which barely matters to appease lardy, Red State cry babies on the basis that they might cancel their HBO subscription or not buy future season DVD sets.  Great. That’s progress for you.

I also love the false equivalence being thrown around by some of these Conservative blow hards on the issue – would we be as slow to offensive were the head being used Barack Obama?  Any politician is fair game for this kind of treatment – and the “Game of Thrones” shot wasn’t even intended as satire, if you believe the DVD commentary.  I dread to think what many Americans would make of the lack of esteem we Europeans hold our politicians in.  If they ever saw an episode of “Spitting Image” or “Have I Got News For You?” your average Mid-Western Republican would implode in red-cheeked, puffed-out outrage before prompt self-immolation on the spot.

So, not entirely a bad idea, then.

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Deftones’ Chi Cheng – an update

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Of course, the world isn’t always a happy place and it seems that Deftones bassist Chi Cheng’s health travails continue with this latest update from the great man’s mum on the One Love For Chi site.

I’m sure you’ll join me in sending good vibes and best wishes to Chi and his family – it’s a long and uncertain road for him, but we can but hope that one day soon I’ll be writing more positive news about his road to recovery…

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The Simple Things Make You Happy…

Hi folks – normal blog service is now resumed.

It’s a long story involving curtailed holidays, pets and places we won’t be staying in again until Heck freezes over.  Ask me again at some point and I’ll give you the real skinny – it’s probably best to give that particular story some much-needed room to breathe.

No sooner had I arrived back from a nice break in a place that the Internet has yet to arrive than I discovered that Swedish Power Metal loons, Sabaton…

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Plus Swiss Pagan/Folk Metal Ragers, Eluveitie 

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…are playing at Sheffield’s Corporation club on the 11th of November this year.  It’s become quite difficult to type as my fingers are forming involuntary horns.

What with Firewind/Leaves’ Eyes, Nightwish, Epica and now Sabaton/Eluveitie on my gig list for the Autumn, it’s getting difficult to see how my gig-going could get any better for the rest of the year.

Anybody want to persuade Within Temptation and Diabulus In Musica that they really need to tour the UK this year?

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A Nightwish to remember…

Gloomy, oh-so-serious masters (and mistress) of neo-gothic grimness, Nightwish, here pictured on their annual ‘Happy Super Metal Fun Day’. Possibly.

After some internet ninja action worthy of note, Mrs Rolling Eyeballs successfully scored Nightwish tickets for us today, which means that we’re going to see them in action in Manchester, at the O2 Apollo on Sunday November 4th.

Permit me to now do the Snoopy Dance around the living room at the very prospect of seeing one of my favourite bands live for the first time.

Happily, we’re in the seated section, which means that I can be authentically curmudgeonly in the company of my fellow old rockers rather than mixing it up down the front with people who still have their own teeth and no back pain to speak of.   I look forward to boring you all with more observations and nerding out over Nightwish nearer to the time (by which point, Mrs Rolling Eyeballs will hopefully be familiar with the songs and able to sing along with Anette Olzon – knowing my wife’s lovely voice, she might even have a shot at some of the Tarja era stuff, too…)

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New Tarja live record in August – no octave left behind

Whatever, mate, you’re the one with the sword. Quit looking at me!

Erstwhile former Nightwish vocalist and actual, proper diva Tarja Turunen has announced a new live record for release in August – Blabbermouth has more.

She also promises a new solo record next year – following the recent Harus album of traditional Finnish odds and sods – which will delight fans who love to hear her classically trained voice laying waste to the idea that rock bands don’t require technically proficient vocalists.

Are we now past the whole ‘Anette/Tarja’ debate, Nightwish fans, or is that still a thing?  Can’t we have both and enjoy them equally?

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Meet Robocop’s new Big Bad…

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If we must have remakes of every 1980s film possible – and this is a belief which Hollywood execs cling to as though it were a life jacket in the midst of a shipping disaster – I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have such retreads at least possessed of half-decent casts.

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To which end, the creatively bankrupt souls proposing to lay siege to the glorious, bullet-riddled corpse of Paul Verhoeven‘s peerless “Robocop” appear to be seeking the services of Hugh Laurie as their villain.  Pretty inspired casting, if truth be told, as I’m sure that Laurie could bring more than enough low-key, well-spoken menace to the equivalent role that Ronny Cox played in the original, 1987 flick.

If Laurie signs on, he’ll join Gary Oldman, Samuel L Jackson, the in-negotiations Abbie Cornish and Joel Kinnaman as the titular ironsides law man.

The director is Jose Padilha, who previously brought you bleak-as-heck Brazilian cop flick “Elite Squad”, which at least indicates that the producers haven’t sought out a director who’ll toe the line and turn in a PG-13 bowdlerised version of the story.

Would it be too much to hope for that wiser heads on the production team enlist the great Kurtwood Smith for a cameo?

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Sonic Syndicate – Roger and out?

Regular perusal of my Last.FM profile pages will reveal to the curious that I am quite fond of Anglo-Swedish Melodic Death Metal outfit Sonic Syndicate.

The gruff and shouty sound of Falkenberg, Sweden – Sonic Syndicate (circa 2004)

Yep, they’re noisy.  Picture, if you will, an invigorating line of absurd, ‘Would Sir like a throat lozenge, perhaps?’ harsh vocals, guitar riffs so speedy that they’re a shoe-in to represent Sweden at this year’s London Olympics, married to unexpected choruses so catchy that they’ve clearly escaped from the likes of A Day To Remember and should be taken home again, forthwith, before they’re missed.

The reason for this post?  Leading guitar light and founding member Roger Sjunneson has confirmed that he’s left the band and is now devoting all of his attention to Swedish Melo-Death maniacs, The Unguided, whom he formed with his vocalist brother Roger in 2010 as a Sonic side-project.

Careful with that fringe, former Sonic Syndicate Axe merchant Richard Sjunneson – you’ll have somebody’s eye out…

Musical differences seem to be the reason for this split – Richard and Roger appear to have felt that the melodic part of their sound was taking over at the behest of their former record company, with distracting poppier material rearing its ugly head on Sonic Syndicate’s 2010 release, “We Rule The Night”, to the extent that a casual listener might mistake the likes of “My Own Life” for a Chad Kroeger solo record.

I know, right?  Scary.

There’s melodic metal and then there’s “Wow, I sure do like that new Saturdays single – it’s feisty!”.  Never the twain, and all that..

The upshot of this is that Sonic Syndicate are still going – and playing their only show of the year by headlining a festival in Hungary on the 22nd of June – and The Unguided are still there if you want stuff that sounds as confused and exhilarating as the best of Sonic Syndicate’s material used to sound.

Everybody wins, right?  Especially bassist Karin Axelsson, who will eventually be teaching her wee tyke how to downtune Mama’s bass

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