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Carrie Sheahan – What’s to Come

“Why do you want to be feminist?”

It’s a question I’ve been posed time and again since I first began identifying as a feminist back in late 2012. Often times, people add follow ups of, “Don’t you, as a Christian, dislike so many of the things that radical feminism celebrates?” Or, “Why don’t you just want equality?” I used to answer with some sort of rabid, passionate yet ineloquent babble, emotionally certain of why I needed to be a feminist, but incapable of expressing logically and academically

It’s been a few years now, and I have had time to mature and learn to think things through concisely. Part of the reason why I felt it would be good for me to join marblesforajar would be so I could explain — to myself and to those that have questioned my stance on this issue — exactly why it is so important that I loudly proclaim my feminism, both for my own needs and those of others.

Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing a three part series in which I explain why I, and the rest of the world, should embrace feminism, and try to answer the multitudes of questions that have been posed to me about the subject. I will address the three different forms of sexism; internalized, institutionalized, and intrapersonal, and give a brief overview of how these affect all genders. My hope is to educate any readers and help translate my past inane babblings. If you have ever wondered something about feminism or have questions regarding the beliefs, post a comment below! I’ll be happy to answer anything.

I am looking forward to this series, and hopefully correcting any inaccuracies you may have heard. Have a good day, and I’ll see you soon!

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Wandering Falcon – Hands

Autumn falls and winter glistens,

Spring, it calls and summer listens.

Here about we live in wanting,

Scream and shout for gold in fonting.

 

In lands afar there is rain or not,

A door, a bar, a chain forgot.

 

To be without, is yet to lose,

The dream about, we set our views.

 

We would take, yet even more,

For loves sake, that minds abhor.

 

Leave your pity, curb your shame,

Life is gritty, in pride and name.

 

We are one, of dust and blood,

Under sun and over mud.

 

Aid ain’t given, but cut and shared,

By those few driven and those who’ve dared.

 

See we are all people, one word for one measure,

Our world is our steeple and to help is our pleasure.

 I have just spent two weeks in northern Thailand, I suppose that is half a boast as much as it is fact. It wasn’t wholly a holiday either, though I can’t say the motivation of exploring a new land and culture in temperatures far exceeding the freezing murk of England wasn’t central to the experience. I, along with a haphazard group of younger old friends and older new friends, were provided this opportunity by the charity Hands, for whom I wrote the above poem.

I don’t want to bog this piece down to much with a verbal inversion of the ‘what I did on my holidays’ slideshow. Northern Thailand is a truly magnificent place in terms of natural beauty, cultural diversity and general peaceful, welcoming atmosphere. Whatever the political and economic situation of the nation, the warmth and allure of the landscape and people seems deeply ingrained and unswerving. In our short time there we experienced a lifetimes worth of adventure far from our muggy english sensibilities. What I really want to talk about is Hands, the incredible people that form its ranks and some light shaving of the endlessly ambitious and life-changing efforts they achieve.

No land is devoid of troubles, though some would makes the plight of others seem petty beyond measure. Thailand is a rapidly growing economy, but one that is very divided and rife with the well known struggles of such transitions. Corruption and hierarchical division are rife, as is unsavoury exploitation by richer international communities. It is not empty slander that lies behind the proverbial rumours of ‘Thai Brides’ and ‘Happy endings’ to massage parlours. Such things are joked about in the western world, perhaps seen as the pathetic refuges of lonely and desperate men. Forced to travel to the far ends of the earth where the gap in wealth allows them to make up for their incapability to form attraction by other means. Lonely and tragic souls undoubtedly, but when you acknowledge that such people are satiating their own failings at the expense of those less fortunate, the situation can be seen as nothing else but predatory.

‘Human Trafficking’ as the modern terminology seems to be for what once would have just been known as slavery, is a very real and widespread problem throughout the developing world. Wherever there are families whose means fall short of their numbers, or divisions where one group of people are treated as somehow below others exploitation can quickly seep in. In Thailand these injustices fall heavily upon those born of the Northern hill tribes: the Akha, the Lahu and the Shan, those simply born to the losing side of a long history. Or on those who have escaped worse fates in nearby Burma, risking life and limb to leave a country threatening their very existance, only to find themselves without rights or basic respect upon the other side.

These people are not lesser beings, they are not stupid or lazy or any other ignorant depiction humanity uses the world over to support the belittling and division of our own kind. But when you grow up within a society that intrinsically treats you as such. Are taught in schools that do not use your language and have no time or interest in aiding you to catch up. When your family are so poor that even education becomes a luxury the cannot afford to grant you. Then a cycle begins, wherein unbalanced circumstances lead to self-doubt and restrained potentials. Where the poor beget the poor, with no chance to be anything more. It is no wonder that strangers with more means than you could imagine seem like an easy escape, if they are even so graceful as to allow you a choice.

Hands as a charity, and an ethos, is dedicated to aiding these people who doubt even their own worth. Centred around the family Summers, some of the most unassumingly dedicated and disarmingly altruistic human beings I have had the pleasure to meet. Originally taking an active role in rescuing girls from the very hands of those who would enslave them, they now build upon the who-knows-how-many lives they have saved by preventing others from ever having to face such. Their work is in theory very simple and in practice nigh impossible. They meet and greet and talk and entertain the communties of Northern Thailand, building bonds and friendships and balances of trust. Thus when a family’s fortunes fall: by fire, flood or famine; when an old lady is too weak and being look after by a lone grandchild; when a lone boy makes it across the border in dire need to medical treatment and legal papers; Hands is there. Running only on what funds they can drum up out of the western world and its wealth gap. They build houses, form hostels, run school buses, teach english, provide work and bring presents. All with the simple aim of balancing the start children in these areas receive. Giving them as equal a chance of success in this world as those born without such struggles already hanging over their heads. It’s not a thankless task, but an endless and unsupported one and one that results in a huge effect on so many lives due only to the efforts of very few.

I do not want to preach to much. Despite all their grace and thanks, the little work me and my friends managed to provide was but a drop in the pond there. Don’t think I associate myself as some sort of martyr to their cause for my two week holiday. I went halfway across the world because I am lucky enough to have been born with the means too. I have not volunteered to live my life in a culture completely alien, working for no salary and facing trials unfathomable, because I don’t have the fortitude to. But Dave, Carol, Mark, Alexa, Rebecca, Siew, Sui, Nom, Mai, Jun, Morchu, Tip, Nong A, Chamnam and all the other incredible members of Hands have done, and continue to do, just that. My only wish is in this small way to bring a little bit more attention to those feats if I can.

To learn more about the work of Hands, and possibly donate, please visit: http://www.handsworld.com/

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Justis Gyori – Music to be Heard: Collection 3

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel

 Kings of Leon – Beautiful War

Genre: American Rock

Coldplay – Talk

Genre: British Rock

Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time

Genre: English Indie Folk

Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows

Genre: American Rock

Chvrches – The Mother We Share

Genre: American Rock


(image credit here)

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Justis Gyori – Music to be Heard: Collection 2

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” -Plato

Sergei Rachmaninov – Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 III. Adagio

Genre: Classical 

Without a doubt, Sergei Rachmaninov is one of the greatest composers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. His piece ‘Adagio’  stands as a hallmark for his work, possessing a certain beauty and elegance that go far beyond my own high expectations. Even now as I attempt to describe the piece, I find myself unable to do so with fear of degrading it. As Victor Hugo had said, “Music express that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” 

 

The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done

Genre: American Rock

The Killers have produced a great number of successful tracks, but ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ has to be one of the most memorable. Brandon Flowers is, as usual, most excellent in both performance and writing. With a nostalgia inducing lyrical track, consistent transformative melody, and a fun style within the video that balances out the darker themes the song represents.

 

Florence and the Machine – No Light, No Light 

Genre: English Indie Rock

Between both song writing and vocal power, Florence Welch has to be one of the greatest emerging artists. ‘No Light, No Light’ serves as a more than proper representation of her vocal abilities as she sings with a fervent passion to lyrics that demonstrate a situation of true grandiose proportions. In combination the track features prominent, song defining drums and a background choir that blends divinely well with her own lovely voice.

 

Milky Chance – Stolen Dancing

Genre: German Pop/Folk/Rock

It is a rare incident when a ‘popular’ song can pack such a rhythmic and lyrical punch. Yet, that is just what Milky Chance seems to have done with their track ‘Stolen Dance’ . The most impactful attribute of this track comes with the acceptance you can have for the emotional turmoil the couple is going through and the wish to follow along with the lyrics’ instructions. Even so, one can admire the blend of genres and combination of reggae and electronic influences. “Dancing on, do the boogie all night long/Stoned in paradise/Shouldn’t talk about it.”

 

Cage the Elephant – Take It or Leave It 

Genre: American Rock

I must admit to you my dear reader, there was a time where I hated Cage the Elephant. Then at some moment of fortunate coincidence I stumbled upon their video for the track ‘Take It or Leave It’. At that moment… I fell in love (at least with that one song). The experience offered is truly unique, set within a 1970’s roller rink, a fun beat, solid lyrics, and emotionally charged delivery that has me singing with them each and every time.

 

As always my dear reader, it has been a pleasure. Until next time!

spirited away.

Wandering Falcon – To be Spirited Away…

 

If I’m now going to regularly embroider the internet with my pretentious opinions and miss-matched factoids in and around Japanese animation and culture I feel I should probably start where such things pierced my own dank little horizons. Luckily even in the murky depths of my memory there is one clear-cut moment from which I ceased to be an unknowing shade and began my journey of magnanimous love for all things anime.

The spark that begat this great passion of mine came when I was 14, on the precarious cusp of early teenage-hood and living in small town English suburbia with my mother and younger brother. This being the days of dial-up internet and 5 channel television we would once a week give up on all pretences of culture and home-cooked nourishment and crawl into town  in search of already cooked food and rentable entertainment. On one grey autumn day… or maybe grey spring day… this is the trouble with foggy memory in a mostly muggy climate… our vaguely democratic model of choice swung my way towards a funny little DVD with all manner of strange creatures adorning its front. This innocuous little children’s fantasy turned out to be Spirited Away, then the latest masterpiece to come from the legendary Studio Ghibli and the man who is understated by the comparison: The Walt Disney of Japan, Hayao Miyazaki.

With this and some hideously greasy Chinese takeout in tow we scuttled home to plop the thing into our still miraculously hi-tech Argos DVD player and try to sink far enough into the sofa as to not be able to hear the rain any more. Only today this was not necessary, for here was a movie whose title did not simply describe what was to happen to its protagonist, but also what it does to its audience. Even I, with all the narrow pride I hold in my descriptive vocabulary, cannot truly put into words what I felt when I was first engulfed in that fantasy world so very far from my own cultural background. I wasn’t raised to waste food and I LOVE Chinese takeout… but my noodles went cold. I’m not exactly emotionally exempt, but it certainly takes a lot to make me cry… I felt tears on my cheeks. Not from melancholy or character shared peril or even from happiness, I’m pretty sure my eyes were simply watering due to the level of pure, unadulterated beauty they were absorbing. I was very rarely a particularly truant school-boy, generally my mind wasn’t in the same place as my body anyway so it simply caused less bother to be where people expected me. I took the next day off school though, I just to watch that film again. Before it evaporated back to the realm from whence it came. Before it turned out never to have existed at all beyond a waking dream. Before Blockbuster started throwing late fees around.

Spirited Away is a tale of growing up, of having your small childish world with all its comforting little certainties shatter, only to find that there’s a whole lot more beyond. This is presumably a universal concept, I would even go so far so say that if it’s not, it should be, as such defining hurdles of change are required for a person to reinvent and adapt themselves as they progress through life. This theme introduced within the film as we meet the main character, Chihiro, childishly railing against her parents for moving house, away from everything and everyone she knows. It is from this instantly connectable and ‘real’ situation of the helplessness and fear of youth that the movie expands into its fantasy version of the same. This is where Mr Miyazaki’s true genius as a writer of fantasy lies: the true strength of fiction is not where it divides from reality but where it reflects such. As I will surely repeat in talking of his other works, the divide between the bizarreness or cultural distance of his worlds and our, or my, western viewpoint is swept away by the incredible base humanity he draws from his characters. Every character met within this tale feels alive and inspired by their own mysterious but tangible reasons and motives. This only further imbeds our shared perspective of Chihiro, our lost little girl, by reinstating what it truly is to be a child, to be within a world but not a direct part of it. The people and background of her situation may have changed but initially Chihiro’s position within it remains the same as any child of her age among strangers, she does as she’s told by those who are older and tries to avoid notice or confrontation. However as the reality of what she is now expected of, and the responsibility that is laid before her in relation to her parents settles in, she truly comes to light as a progressing character, clambering up to stand on her own two feet. By the end of the tale our leading lady is hardly recognisable in spirit. But this change is not sudden and unexplained, we have been with her every step of the way and the feeling of growth and achievement almost seeps through the screen. In watching Chihiro grow, you feel almost to have matured yourself.

I could probably wax poetical on the growing theme within this animation for a great deal longer, but I feel enough has been said. Perhaps it is the linkage between said theme and where I was in life first watching it that ties it so close, but there are other thoughts I wish to express.

For a start looking at the tale within the realm of popular fantasy it is obviously not alone as a story of a young girl entering a mythical world, it would be insulting to you readers to need name the myriad of similar tales. However in recent years there seems to me to have been a shift within fantastical fiction in what is of course what lies at its very heart: Magic. With the rise in science, communication and shared knowledge there can be heard echoed calls that true mystery is leaving the world. That we now know so much that the joy of not knowing is being lost. While I disagree entirely with both the statement and ethos behind it, I must say I do see trends in modern fiction wherein too much focus is directed toward explanation of the mechanics of impossible things. Of course the difficulty with writing within universes where the constraints differ from our reality has always been where to stop. If anything is possible where lies the contention required for a plot? But I have never seen the solution as being to try and explain everything to the reader in infinitesimal detail. The very point of magic has always seemed to me to work beyond the constraints of the physical world, not simply move the bar. The magic within Spirited Away is that of the fairy tales of old, or at least those of old Japan. Characters wield powers beyond our knowledge on their own whim and with our focus upon a fundamentally mundane protagonist such things are simply accepted for what they are, mysterious and beyond our reach. As I said before this aids in permeating the feeling of being a child among giants, but it is not oppressive. The spirits within the story are simply other than human, they are of another world and that world operates in connection with but also independent of the human world. When Chihiro crosses the river she is simply off the map in terms of possibility, in the area quite definitely marked ‘here be dragons’.

Further to this refreshing disconnection from unnecessary explanation fictional tropes is the question of character morality within the film. There is no great struggle between monochromatic ideals of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ here. These are spirits doing what spirits do, our viewpoint and protagonist is not a chosen, destined hero, just a lost little girl. Sure the witch Yubaba acts in ways that are cruel and self-centred, but there is no impression that she is in some way inherently evil. She simply has her own agenda, to which Chihiro is an obstacle. At times you almost feel sympathetic towards her as her hair falls out of place in distress. In fact all the possible considerations for villain characters are not simply clear cut enemies, nor is simple conflict ever shown to solve a contention within the plot. I don’t want to enter into dangerous debating territory here but since the great religiously inspired fantasies of Tolkien and Lewis, and of course countless others before them. A black and white view of morality has been a staple part of a lot of western fiction. While Japanese culture has also absorbed some of this, films such as Spirited Away draw a lot more heavily from the traditional Shinto religious ideals of the country. The gods and spirits of Shinto beliefs are not considered so much good or evil in relation to humanity but simply embodiments of aspects of the natural world to be shown respect.

So there you have it, a rather unkempt splatter of my thoughts concerning Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, my gateway taste into the world of anime. I really cannot engrave enough my belief that everyone should watch this marvellous piece of cinema. I feel since this has been my starting point it would be remiss of me to not make mention of some of the other magnificent works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli so will perhaps work through a few more of them over the coming weeks perhaps in a less personally opining light.

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Hunter Nash – The Age of Entitlement (An Obituary)

 

The atrocities committed by USCSB shooter Eliot Rodger - atrocities which include numerous whiny video rants and a vomit inducing 137 page manifest0 -  brilliantly illuminate and may, hopefully, put an end to one of our culture’s most pernicious problems.  We live in an age of entitlement.

This statement should come as a surprise to no one.

All around us folks feel they are owed everything from birth control to a ‘living wage'; from ‘respect for my opinion’ to, as Rodger incessantly whined about in his rants, affection and ‘accolades’ (his word). Pervading these demands is the notion that merely because they live and breathe they’re exempt from earning what they wish for or need.

Perhaps, in the sheer vomit inducing audacity and clarity that are the Rodger tapes (and manifesto), folks will be better able to draw philosophical parallels on day to day life. Perhaps more will come to recognize entitlement based demands for what they are, whenever or wherever they hear them.

The notion that one ‘is owed’ for merely being alive is nothing but a demand for the unearned. The granting of such demands under force of law is nothing but theft, regardless of one’s intentions. As controversial philosopher Ayn Rand noted:  “Do not ever say that the desire to ‘do good’ by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.”

Please don’t remind that demanding government largesse differs from demanding affection – or that those who support entitlements don’t usually go out and commit mass murder. The sense of entitlement is precisely the same, the difference in its effect is merely one of degree.

Is one’s life and effort less precious than that of the folks in Santa Barbra simply because it is taken one $15.00/month supply of birth control pills at a time?

Perhaps soon the entitlement age – this idea that one must be granted something for nothing – will soon meet its end. Perhaps with that end will come the end of the other side of that pernicious entitlement coin – the blame game.

Throughout his videos and manifesto Rodger explicitly blamed others – everyone he could think of – for his less than noteworthy social status. It was everyone’s fault but his that he’d no girlfriend. It was the fault of all these terrible ‘others’ that he’d garnered so little attention – that he’d none of the ‘accolades’ he just knew he was entitled to.

What Rodger and folks like him (absent, hopefully, the multiple killings) fail to understand is that most individuals earn their wealth, their socially attractive qualities, the respect of others, and all manner of values. They earn these through their decisions, their behavior, and through their character. They do not achieve value by nature of the mere fact of being alive. No one does.

A mass murderer and a doctor who cures cancer are not of equal value. God help us if we ever reach the day when they are seen as such.

One is owed friends or respect (let alone a living) if and only if one has done things to earn them.

Meanwhile, all this recent talk about ‘income inequality‘ (the current buzzwords for the entitlement crowd) has gotten me thinking. Everyone seems to wish to attack the 1% ers. Few seem to understand just how much actual power they themselves have. That power remains, even if we somehow lose our current system.

At the risk of being called a cultist, I’ll remind folks that despite complaints about the 1% status of many of Ayn Rand’s heroes, the main hero of Atlas Shrugged was a regular guy with no distinct lineage and with no actual wealth.

John Galt’s very presence and his stature in her novel should put to lie the notion that Rand was some ‘wealth worshiping’ neo conservative or crony capitalist. The existence of John Galt should put to lie the bullshit notion that Rand was all about ‘screw the little guy’.

John Galt was the little guy. Yet the myth persists.

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand gave the guy who ‘stopped the motor of the world’ no wealthy parents and no ‘friends in high {read: political} places’.

In Galt, Rand made the point that in a free society (even one in collapse) origins had no bearing on one’s future. She wanted to make the point that ‘the little guy’ can and will do big things.

John Galt was an anonymous day laborer, for crying out loud.

What Galt had that few around him had (besides his intelligence and creative drive) was an ability to see beyond the curtain. Galt pierced the veil of the culture’s Big Lie.

Today, many, many folks recognize that the truth is not being told to them. They nonetheless continue to point fingers in all the wrong places.

“The rich’ did it”, ”’capitalism’ did it”, ‘”government’ did it”, ‘”white people’ did it” “‘my boss’ did it”, “‘the poor’ did it”, “‘my parents’ did it”, “‘society’ did it”. On and on the blame goes. What some folks don’t wish to recognize is that we as individuals gave up much of our power long ago when we decided that others know best.

Heroes such as Ayn Rand created, however, understood otherwise. They stood their ground – often alone – and won. Did society collapse? Absolutely.

Heroes like John Galt – day laborer, inventor, revolutionary – didn’t care. He welcomed the collapse he knew was imminent. Galt knew that when the Big Lie could no longer be defended – and when no one could be further harmed by it – he would live to see the light of a new day.

It’s a shame more folks do not have that same innate pride and sense of self-worth.  Instead we’ve a myriad of petty Eliot Roger wannabes. Some, like Roger, demand the unearned in spirit. They demand that their fact less ‘opinions’ be granted equal moral merit as the truth. Others seek to be seen as ‘worthy’ and ‘good’ for merely being alive. Still others, seek the unearned as well, in a far more pernicious material form. They insist that their wealthier neighbor (or their competitor) ‘stole’ what would, in a fair world, rightly be theirs.

All these folks differ from killer Eliot Roger only in that they allow the government and its acolytes to carry the guns for them.

The death of the Age of Entitlement, however, is coming. How the age will end is anyone’s guess. It may come in a full collapse, as in an Ayn Rand or George Orwell novel, or perhaps it will come in a new Renaissance.  Either way, the end of Entitlement is coming.

Eliot Roger is one of its last, whiny gasps for breath.  May the YouTube Channel of Eliot Roger be the Entitlement Age’s obituary.

 

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Justis Gyori – Music to be Heard: Collection 1

 

 It can be argued that new (great) music is far better than chocolate. Well, maybe not ‘far’ better, but it can most certainly get up there on the list. Either way, in light of this comparison I have compiled a list of 5 songs (with videos) for your own musical education and personal enjoyment.

 

Arctic Monkeys – Arabella

Genre: English Indie-Rock

‘Arabella’ is without a doubt the most stylish song on the Arctic Monkeys new album ‘AM’. The track showcases front man Alex Turner’s talent at not only sound but also lyrics, “A helter-skelter around her little finger and I ride it endlessly” being a proper demonstration of his brilliance at song writing. The video, directed by Jake Nava does surprisingly well at providing a classy but raunchy visual take on the song that is just as fun to watch as it is to listen to.

 

Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit – The Water

Genre: English Folk-Rock

Out of all the music selected for this post I had the most difficult time choosing from the many great songs sung by Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit. So hard in fact, I chose simply based on the fact that I was pouring water into my kettle for evening tea at the time of writing this article. ’The Water’ is simple, beautiful and strangely powerful packed with great vocals and gorgeous lyrics, “The water can’t drown me, I am done with my dying” being my most favorite line of all. In the video Johnny Flynn sings alongside Marcus Mumford and his sister Lillie Flynn, creating a performance that is nothing short of remarkable.

 

M83 – Wait

Genre: French Electronic

‘Wait’ by M83 is a brilliant demonstration, nay, a pinnacle for what music should be. Original, vibrant, and entirely atmospheric… ‘Wait’ remains on the top of my list of great music. The aesthetic is characterized with minimal lyrics and a ‘spacey’ instrumental sound which compliments the groups chosen name (M83 in reference to the galaxy). The official video is a surreal adventure of sorts following a few different children in either a distant future or alternate reality.

 

The National – Runaway

Genre: American Indie-Rock

I’ll go braving everything/With you swallowing the shine of the sun/I’ll go braving everything/Through the shine of the sun/But I won’t be no runaway/‘Cause I won’t run…” If you want melancholy sounds mixed with beautiful and meaningful lyrics… The National is a great place to start. The track ‘Runaway’ on the album ‘High Violet’ is simply enchanting, infused with the confidence from Matt Beringer’s baritone voice and the apparent difficulty that bleeds from the lyrics. I chose the video to demonstrate just how naturally talented this group is, even during a live performance.

 

Arcade Fire – Sprawl II

Genre: Canadian Indie-Rock

The ‘Sprawl II’  is possibly one of the greatest songs that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. It is fun, nostalgic, and important. Plus, just to note (in case it has not been noted before) Régine Chassagne is the coolest. I am honestly without words on what else to say other than that you need to hit play, turn up the speakers, and start dancing in a really *really* weird way.

 

And so ends the first collection, I hope you have enjoyed my personal selection. Please feel free to share with me any of your favorites down in the comment section below.

Until the next time we meet my dear reader, I bid you farewell.

(Photo credit here)

TODAYTheFamine

Titan – 10 Albums to Get You Into Extreme Metal

Hello friends! I am here writing today to talk about my second of many passions – Heavy Metal. You see, I listen to Extreme Metal. For those who don’t know what “Extreme Metal” is, look to the way it is defined over at Wikipedia. “Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound nearly always associated with genres like thrash metalblack metaldeath metal, and doom metal.” After its golden age around the mid 80’s, heavy metal went farther into obscurity in more than just the limelight. Genre’s like Black Metal and Death Metal became big elements in the underground scene. Since then, a loyal and massive fan-base has arisen, of which I am one. Now, many of my peers would wish that I not write this. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the company of other metalheads, but sometimes the elitism can get quite annoying. Needless to say, indoctrinating the masses is not exactly something my contemporaries would approve of. It’s silly, I know. But when the majority of people deride and mock you for your music tastes, it is slightly more understandable. You see, Extreme Metal (for the most part), often grabs the loners and the outsiders. People, like me, listen to progressively heavier music until they reach some form of Extreme Metal. My own journey included artists from Eminem to the Beatles. For those of you reading this who listen to Extreme Metal, I can almost guarantee that you can look back (as I can) and see the natural progression that led you to this music. But I can also say with equal certainty that you will agree that this music is absolutely not for everyone. So why then am I writing this? Well, firstly because The Professor asked me to, and who can deny her wishes? She is Empress of the Universe. But secondly, I write this in the off chance that someone will take it seriously enough to give the music a chance, and maybe (just maybe) actually enjoy it. It’s a rather slim chance. But I like taking chances. So here are 10 albums to get you into Extreme Metal.

TODAYnightfall1. Nightfall by Candlemass (Doom Metal, Released 1987)
I am starting with this album for several reasons. The first being that it is one of the most lauded albums to come from the Doom Metal scene, but also because Doom Metal is not nearly as harsh as some other forms of Extreme Metal. Most people will agree that Black Sabbath introduced the world to the genre we now call Doom Metal, but it was Candlemass that refined the flavor, and really brought it to its full fruition. They created grand orchestral landscapes that echo through the listeners ears. Messiah Marcolin’s vocals are haunting, yet beautiful. All around, this album is a ten out of ten in my book.
If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Mourning Beloveth
  • Electric Wizard
  • Dark Castle

 

  1. TODAYherewaitsthydoom2. Here Waits Thy Doom by 3 Inches of Blood (Thrash Metal, Released 2009)

Now, a lot of early thrash metal was not considered Extreme Metal. It was only until bands like Slayer became popular that a more aggressive form of Thrash Metal came about. This album in particular is a good example of that form of Thrash. 3 Inches of Blood have many albums, but I picked this one because it is the most commercial. They employ high-pitched falsetto vocals as well as false chord screams. The song “Battles and Brotherhood” is my go to “get pumped” song. No, it really is. I’m singing it under my breath right now.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Havok
  • Warbringer
  • Kreator
  • Municipal Waste

TODAYtwilightofthethundergod3. Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth (Melodic Death Metal, Released 2008).

Oddly enough, the title track on this album was what got me into Extreme Metal. One of my friends was on Skype with me and told me to listen to this song because it would “make me what to pillage some villages.” Well, it did. But don’t worry! There aren’t any villages where I live…anymore.
Seriously though, check out this album. This band is easily one of the most popular Extreme Metal band, and for good reason!!

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Insomnium
  • Be’lakor
  • Children of Bodom
  • In Mourning

 

TODAYKoloss by Meshuggah4. Koloss by Meshuggah (Progressive/Experimental Metal, Released 2012)

Meshuggah is easily one of the most respected, and most influential, bands in the Extreme Metal scene. They are known for their creative songwriting capabilities, as well as technical expertise (often utilizing polyrhythmic song structures), and are often named as the originators of the “Djent Metal” movement. I personally own this album as well as the album entitled “ObZen.” I listen to both on a regular basis and only stop from the headache brought upon by the raw brutality. \m/

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Periphery
  • TesseracT
  • Returning We Hear The Larks

 

TODAYAbigailWilliams5. In The Shadow Of A Thousand Sons by Abigail Williams (Symphonic Black Metal, Released 2008)

Because of Heavy Metals inclination towards technicality, it is no surprise that the niche genre of “Symphonic Black Metal” has actually become a popular iteration of the original frosty sounds that came from Norway. This album is this bands sophomore album, and is the last in this Black Metal style. The only problem I have with this album (that was thankfully rectified in the bands next release) is that it does nothing to advance the genre. It is easily the most stagnant of the genre, but it serves its purpose well here.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Carach Angren (My all time favorite band)
  • Dimmu Borgir
  • Anorexia Nervosa

 

TODAYWolvesintheThroneRoom6. Diadem of 12 Stars by Wolves in the Throne Room (“Atmospheric” Black Metal, Released 2006)

This is another band that is incredibly influential. They are, among other bands, responsible for a new wave of “Cascadian Black Metal” arising from the Cascadian bioregion. It is a step away from the angry frost sounds of Norwegian Black Metal and instead approaches the genre with an emotion akin to reverence. When I first heard this band I was literally floored. Black Metal has ever been a genre that takes inspiration from nature, but this band takes it to an entirely new level. TEN OUT OF TEN!

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Abigail Williams (“Becoming” is the album that follows the “atmospheric” vein.)
  • Amiensus
  • Alda

 

TODAYStench7. Stench by Nekrogoblikon (“Goblin” Metal, Released 2011)

This band mixes the perfect amount of songwriting prowess, technicality, and humor to create a completely unique heavy metal genre. Their lyrical content resides entirely within goblin fantasy, and their shows include their very own goblin mascot. More importantly, however, this band came very close to commercial success with their incredibly hilarious music video for “No One Survives.”

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • A Band of Orcs
  • Fintroll

 

 

TODAYWintersun8. Time I by Wintersun (Folk Metal, Released 2012)

I have always been a fan of Wintersun, but this album is the magnum opus. Everything about this album is everything that is right with folk metal. There are many things that a wide range of tastes can enjoy. From the frosty guitar licks of Black Metal, to Death Metal chugging, and even some Japanese inspired elements. I highly advise that you listen to this album.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Ensiferum
  • Eluveitie
  • Equilibrium

 

TODAYTheFamine9. Architects of Guilt by The Famine (Death Metal, Released 2011)

I was introduced to this band by one of my closest friends. It is straight up, in your face, Death Metal. But the thing that marks this band out from the Death Metal scene is the fact that the bassist is CLEARLY a Grindcore bassist. He is not playing Death Metal bass. He is playing Grindcore bass. This fact alone is what marks this album as a fantastic one as opposed to a mediocre one. I personally own this album, and listen to it whenever I can.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • The Black Dahlia Murder

 

 

TODAYImmolation10. Majesty and Decay by Immolation (Death Metal, Released 2010)

Don’t get me wrong, I love this album. But it is weird. Most Death Metal bands have a fast chugging sound in the mix. Immolation, on the other hand, actually picks the chords note by note. They look at technicality the same way a Jazz guitarist does. They look for chords. They create ambience, and experience. They aren’t necessarily the best musicians, or the best lyricists, and their singer really is mediocre. But for some reason that have the ability to create these songs that are aggressive without playing nearly as aggressively as, say, Cannibal Corpse.

If you like this Band, Album, or Genre, be sure to check out the following bands.

  • Blood Red Throne
  • Cryptopsy
  • Death

Well, that’s it folks. I hope that you look through the albums I have prepared for you. I really hope at least some of you enjoy this music, as it will mean I have converted a few more to the world of Heavy Metal. In closing, here is a quote from Sam Dunn (who created a masterpiece documentary on Heavy Metal entitled Metal: A Headbangers Journey):

Ever since I was 12 years old I had to defend my love for heavy metal against those who say it’s a less valid form of music. My answer now is that you either feel it or you don’t. If metal doesn’t give that overwhelming surge of power that makes the hair stand up at the back of your neck, you might never get it, and you know what? That’s okay, because judging by the 40,000 metalheads around me we’re doing just fine without you.”

 

Regards,

Titan

 

melville

Justis Gyori – Quote of the Week: Herman Melville

“Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries–stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”

50shades

Caroline Sheahan – (TRIGGER WARNING) 50 Shades of Grey: You Give Love an Abusive Name

It was in 2013 that I first saw a quote from 50 Shades of Grey. It was a sentence where the main character (Anastasia Steele) is describing the leer her infamous lover (Christian Grey) was casting at her. “[…] like a mother hamster about to eat her three legged young.” Naturally, I laughed. Hard. To this day, it ranks as one of the worst descriptive sentences I have ever heard, whether in published works or in stories told by six year olds. Curiosity piqued as to how such a badly written book had become a bestseller so quickly, I did a brief google search. I remember being appalled by what I found, and hoped it would die down quickly.

You probably know by now that it didn’t. On February 13th, 2015, a movie adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey, starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, is set to be released, and discussions of the graphic nature of the story, as well as the abusive nature of the main relationship have exploded on the online and media world. Some laud the story and coming film as a feminist dream; a story about a young woman who explores her sexual desires through BDSM, and encourages readers to follow suit. Others point to the violent nature of the book, and the way that the story distorts the rules of BDSM relationships, thus dragging the two main characters down into the depths of an abusive relationship. Which side is right? Is a woman who discovers her sexuality through being a submissive empowering? Is there a relationship to be found in the ignored safe words and perpetual exhibitions of possessive behavior?

Originally published as fanfiction for the popular series Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey chronicles the story of Anastasia (Ana) Steele, a shy college student who suffers from low self-esteem, as she becomes acquainted with Christian Grey, a handsome and wealthy entrepreneur. After meeting three times — first to interview him for her school newspaper, then when he randomly happened across the hardware store she works at (it is later disclosed that he deliberately tracked her down), and again at a photo session to coincide with her article on him, Christian asks Ana out for coffee. After plying her with expensive gifts, suddenly warning her to stay away from him, then ignoring his own warning and coming to collect her from a party where she had become drunk, Christian informs Ana of his wish to have sex with her. After one more date, Christian gives Ana a non-disclosure agreement that says she will not discuss anything they do together, a contract that she signs, and Christian introduces her to the Red Room, where he keeps a collection of BD/SM toys and gear.

BD/SM is a form of erotic role-play, wherein the participants play various roles, typically those of submissive and dominant. Various instruments are used to inflict stress and pain on the players, finding pleasure in an unequal power balance. BD/SM sessions require participants to obey certain rules to respect the boundaries of the other persons, the most prominent of these rules being the need to respect safe words. Safe words are used to let the submissive communicate to the dominant their needs, for example, saying “red” to mean “Stop”, or “yellow” to mean “Slow down”. These keep the participants safe, and ensure that the games do not cross a line that the submissives cannot take. BD/SM must be consensual, and safe words must be obeyed. Anything else is abuse and sexual assault, plain and simple.

Ana agrees to become Christian’s submissive, and though the story was already in muddy waters because of Christian’s stalking tendencies and threatening words (after he collected her when she was drunk at her party, he told her, “If you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday,”) it descends into a swampy mire from there.

A woman in a relationship should explore her sexuality, whether through actions or mere speculation, depending on what her values suggest. But Anastasia Steele does not explore her sexuality. She is a virgin when she enters the relationship, and Christian seems to be annoyed by this, acting as though this is an obstacle in their relationship, and saying that taking her virginity will be “a means to an end”. Later, as their games of bondage, blind folding, and occasional spanking become more painful, and Christian becomes more possessive, no explicit safe words are discussed. Ana is left with only the option of “no”, and “stop”, both of which she uses. Christian subsequently ignores her, and later appears angry that she used her safe words. Instead of staying in the safe bounds that BD/SM provides, Christian ventures outside, ignores Ana saying “No”, and thus sexually assaults her.

BD/SM is not abuse. There are many outlets for sexual enjoyment that include pain or dominance, and though BD/SM may be the most extreme of these, it is not abusive. 50 Shades of Grey, however, distorts the true nature of BD/SM, ignoring safe words, making stalking seem caring, and glorifying the possessive behavior of Christian. Through it all, Ana’s low self-esteem makes her vulnerable to Christian’s words and advances. She is amazed to find that a rich and powerful man like Christian Grey would be interested in her, and spends the entirety of the book attempting to please him. Her only motivation to do anything appears to be if he will approve, if he will like it, if he will be angry.

Ana being worried about Christian being angry is a common theme. He continuously threatens her with violence outside of the designated Red Room. At one time Ana has to plead (the exact word used is “plead”) with Christian not to hit her. Once, while she is visiting her mother in Georgia, he sends her a text threatening to gag and bind her in a crate. This makes her uncomfortable, and she replies telling him so. He then follows her to the other side of the country, where, upon meeting him, Ana’s first thought is that she must have angered him. Ana is literally so afraid of Christian that the thought of him traveling hundreds of miles to punish her seems to be entirely in the realm of possibility.

This is not BD/SM. This is not empowerment. This is not the sexual liberation of a woman. This is abuse; mental, physical, and emotional. This is rape. 50 Shades of Grey is supposed to be about venturing into the grey areas of life, the places between black and white, but there is no grey between sex and rape. There is no grey between abuse and not abuse. There are no blurred lines. There is only one or the other. Ignoring safe words, stalking, threatening, and terrifying a partner is not romance. It is not love. It is not BD/SM. Call it what it is; Abuse and rape. This is the opposite of empowerment, and to see it upheld as a paragon of feminism and sexual liberation is horrifying. 50 Shades of Grey is not a romance novel. It is a series of atrocities romanticized in truly appalling prose, and is not worthy of the world’s time, as a book or as a film.