This is basically to convince you all that I’m not just a book-worm shut-in (all of the time) and point you in the direction of some really good stuff and brilliant people. Disclaimer: The content will change continuously, so keep checking back here as I add more stuff! (Also, apologies in advance if I get anything wrong).
Blog for a Journalism student at Winchester. Alex Delaney is genuinely talented at writing informative and entertaining articles, so watch this space – he’s going to be going places soon! (No, this has nothing to do with the fact that we were in the same A level Philosophy class – he just happens to be very good at what he does and believe me, he doesn’t need my help).
Webcomics to make you giggle and click “share” on Facebook. Again, as well as being funny, it teaches me things, (there seems to be a theme emerging here…) Check out the comics on the Mantis Shrimp and Nikola Tesla and prepare to have your mind blown.
A.K.A. Home of the Nostalgia Critic and friends. Again, fun and informative. I really like Nostalgia Chick too and the rest of Team NChick, she’s more than just the Smurfette to the Critic’s Papa Smurf – she’s got her own style, man! There are also loads of other great reviewers on the site which you can discover like Linkara for all things comic-book related and Maven of the Eventide for Vampire reviews, (I really like her, partially because she coined the phrase “Dracu-Judas”).
For anyone who doesn’t know, I am a manga-addict. This is where I get my fix; it’s a very usable and well-designed site and the scanlation teams that contribute do sterling work. PLUG: Did I mention that I have a manga review site? It’s http://mangaaddictsanonymous.wordpress.com/ 😛
Music (Just a Selection, Or the List Would Never End)
Maxïmo Park (http://maximopark.com/) a.k.a. one of my favourite bands of all time. If you are unlucky enough never to have come across this Tyneside group, let me tell you that they are a magnificent and multi-faceted bunch specialising in heartfelt, eloquent lyrics combined with catchy, breathtaking tunes. They initially came to prominence at about the same time as the Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand as a post-Punk Indie (ish) band and unlike them have survived and evolved, subtly shifting styles throughout years – but still retaining that indefinable “Maxïmo” sound, along with a loyal (and growing) global fanbase.
Not one of my favourite videos, but it’s a song epic on the James Bond scale and it tells a story – what more could you ask for? From their latest album The National Health. (Note the lack of phony American accent, huzzah!)
Pyotr Tchaikovsky (no website, funny that…) Russian composer 1840-1893. As well as writing the musical awesomeness known as the 1812 Overture (V for Vendetta fans take note) which requires real cannons, he also wrote Eugene Onegin a beautiful and sometimes achingly bittersweet opera based on the Pushkin poem of the same name. (Technically the title ought to be Yevgeny Onegin – but hey, who am I to argue with the official anglicization?) He’s also oddly soothing to have on in the background… Oh and there’s a small matter of the many iconic ballets he penned.
All you need to know for this aria from Eugene Onegin, is that the the woman who Prince Gremin is singing about is his wife Tatiana – the woman rejected by the man he’s singing to (Onegin) years previously. She however, bloomed spectacularly in the meantime, and Onegin has suddenly changed his mind about her. Wikipedia the plot for more detail.
The Beatles. Do I really need to explain this? They’re The Beatles FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I know it’s fashionable for hipster-tweens these days to turn around and say that they think The Beatles are overrated, but nine times out of ten they actually haven’t actually listened properly to any of their material – and the other one is labouring under the delusion that they’re being edgy and alternative. Like Maxïmo Park, the lads from Liverpool evolved over time to give us everything from infectious poppy joy, to bittersweet melancholy to just plain “wha-?!”
This song was specially produced for The Yellow Submarine, (but apparently mysteriously omitted from the US cut) and is 50 shades of surreal(ish) rocking awesome. I’m a sucker for piano in a rock song and the opening bars send shivers down my spine. Headphones highly recommended.
Wolfagang Amadeus Mozart. Genius. Genius. GENIUS. Because he is such a major part of the Classical music cannon, people do tend to take his work for granted without really listening to it (a bit like with The Beatles). As a composer he really does know how to appeal to both the intellectual and “elevated” side of a person that Classical music is generally solely associated with ( wrongly, I feel) as well as the visceral, more emotional sides of our psyches that rock and pop generally attempt to appeal to. (NB: For the record, I think Maxïmo Park do the” appeal to both sides” thing really well too). The guy was one of the most technically-accomplished composers ever, as well as having a profound understanding of the human capacity to feel. All this and he died when he was 35. Respect where its due, that’s impressive.
This is taken from the opera Don Giovanni, his take on the Don Juan trope. All you need to know for this is at the beginning of the opera the womaniser and general rake Don Giovanni killed the Commedatore in a duel and in a later scene somewhat flippantly invited the statue on his memorial to come and dine with him, (trust me, it makes sense in context). In this particular scene, the animated statue/ghost takes him up on that invitation and tells Don Giovanni to repent his wicked ways – last chance. When he refuses the Commendatore drags him down to hell. This recording was made specially for the soundtrack of the Milos Forman film Amadeus. I actually was born to this soundtrack, in fact at the very ominous yet badass place when the Commendatore bursts in and sings: “Don Giovan-ni!” What that says about me is up for analysis.