Marines, we are leaving!

Okay, I give up. With the best intentions I am utterly failing to keep this thing up to date. I need a push to remind me and the daily grind just doesn’t provide it. Unless I regain my mojo this personal blog is shutting up shop. It may return, who knows? For now a leave of absence is required. Adieu.

However, there will still be writing – this is merely the wrong location. My rate of book consumption has rocketed again since acquiring a Kobo 18 months ago. In this neck of the woods there are precious few with whom to share my latest finds. Those who understand don’t give a damn for my tastes and those who give a damn don’t understand. Detailed synopses are beyond my current Mandarin skills. Hence a new blog where I will spew out my thoughts on all things literary. Please direct your attention to The Taichung Bookworm.

By the way, the new blog was inspired by my old friend Sya who invited me to review books for her rather wonderful Mountains Of Instead blog. I’ll be continuing to post there on a regular basis as long as she’ll have me. My blog is merely a means to increase my output. Hope you find something at both place to tickle your tastebuds.

For now, consider The Life And Times on hiatus.

Books, forts and help for a friend

Wow, it’s dusty in here. Been a while – again. Anyway I have returned on a mission, well at least to help a friend with a mission. For some time now I have been writing the odd book review for my friend’s blog back in Scotland. It’s called Mountains Of Instead and is predominantly concerned with Young Adult fiction, although my reviews are mostly far from that mould.

Anyway, Splendibird, as she’s calling herself these days, is pursuing a rather tasty sideline as Mira Ink‘s in-house blogger and as such has been tasked with reaching as many potential readers as possible. Now this is hardly Boing-Boing. I look around and see many a tumbleweed but nary a single comment. However I will do what I can and at least give her debut vlogging attempt a shout-out. It has books! A fort of books! So please go have a look and spend some time on her blog as well – you may well find some choice Christmas gifts for the bibliophile in your life…

Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 13 – Werewolves!

Sorry, didn’t post a thing for the past fortnight due to entirely foreseen circumstances, viz. being in Thailand to learn how to scuba dive. Yes, it was amazing. No, I didn’t see any sharks. Yes, I miss it already and want to go back.

Anyhoo, the big day is almost upon us so back to the music. Today is an omnibus edition to make up for lost time so to help grease the wheels I decided on a theme – lycanthropy. Why? Because fuck vampires, that’s why.

First up is the hideously underrated TV On The Radio with Wolf Like Me, a tune first brought to my attention by my personal musical hero  Mr Greg Dulli incorporating it into one of his tunes during a Twilight Singers tour. It instantly turned me on to the band with its sexual play on werewolf imagery. Best line? “When the moon is round and full, gonna teach you tricks that’ll blow your mongrel mind.”

This next one is included purely out of my love for the film An American Werewolf In London. That it happens to be an immensely enjoyable tune is a bonus. I know next to nothing about Warren Zevon but stumbled across this number, Werewolves Of London, a few years back. Must investigate further.

And for the finale to a shapeshifter extravaganza, it really could be none other. This clip has it all – werewolves, sexy nuns, primal rock ‘n’ roll and the most gloriously eccentric and insane frontman on the planet. Sit back and enjoy the wonder of She Said, brought to you by the sublime Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Good night, should be back tomorrow to conclude the shenanigans.


Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 12 – 1-800 Suicide

As of tomorrow at 3am I’ll be departing for Thailand for 10 days of diving and debauchery with my bro and some amigos. Maybe I’ll keep this up while away. maybe not. So here’s what may be the last installment for a while.

The album 6 Feet Deep by Gravediggaz was probably the first hip-hop album that ever really hooked me. Perhaps seeing them at the Reading Festival helped, the only rap band on a 3-day line-up of grunge and rock. More likely it was the lyrics though, none of the empty guns ‘n’ ganstas bollocks which turns me away from much of the rest of the genre. No, Gravediggaz dropped rhymes about death and what lies beyond, about serial skillers, spirits and suicides.

Which brings us to the track in question. 1-800 Suicide was always the Gravediggaz song for me, an entreaty to whiners and spoilt rich kids everywhere to just end it all. The meat of the lyrics comes from the ‘Diggaz suggestions on potential methods – from driving your car on LSD to hanging yourself with barbed wire. It’s not all about the lyrics though, the hypnotic bass line and smooth guitar hook give it an even more gleefully sinister air.

Enjoy. And feel free to try this at home.

Oh, and Daz is back in on the act in his own inimitable psychobilly  fashion. Here’s Batmobile with Zombie Riot, accompanied by some righteous snark about an overly religious idiot back in the UK.

Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 11 – Dead & Breakfast

Okay, I’m getting lazy now. Fuck it, I’m sick and I have a ton of packing to do before a trip to Thailand commencing in around 30 hours. Which will of course probably disrupt proceedings.

Anyway, back to the movie theme. Dead And Breakfast is by far the best redneck zombie musical I have ever seen. Hands down, no contest. This particular snippet of mayhem features the zombie horde all hopped up on moonshine (I presume) and recreating the Thriller video, line dancing style. I kid you not. Enjoy watching, I’m off to dig this treasure out for a rewatch. “We’re comin’ to kill ya, comin’ to kill ya…”

Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 10 – Silver Shamrock!

This one is just plain evil, sorry. Everyone remembers John Carpenter’s Hallowe’en, the film which kickstarted the stalk ‘n’ slash genre, gave birth to such legends as Jason and Freddy and still scares the living shit of people on an annual basis at horrorthons around the world. We still have a place in our hearts for Michael Meyers, the Shatner-masked, soulless killing machine relentlessly hounding his prey. Yet precious few remember (or allow themselves to remember) when the series too a bizarre turn in the third installment.

Hallowe’en 3: Season Of The Witch, starring John Carpenter favourite Tom Atkins, dropped all reference to Meyers and his universe. Instead we’re dropped into a bizarre conspiracy to harness the powers of Stonehenge in such a fashion as to curse electronic masks sold to children on Hallowe’en and thus take over the world by turning their faces into writhing masses of bugs and snakes after watching an advert containing subliminal cues. Confused? Yeah, so were the scriptwriters it seems.

Despite being a train wreck of a movie the advert’s jingle is insanely hummable. I thought I’d implant it in you just to ruin the run-up to Hallowe’en. Hehe. Evil me.


Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 9 – The Creature With The Atom Brain

The title says it all really. I linked to Roky Erickson last Hallowe’en and had to go back to the same album, The Evil One (Plus One). Brain-addled hallucinogenic nightmares from start to finish, accompanied by a psychedelic surfcore soundtrack. Gotta love Roky and his broken noggin.

Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 8 – Chew

Mmm, this takes me back. During my formative years I had two chief loves (aside from alcohol and hallucinogens) – punk rock and horror stories. Around this time I was heavily into James Herbert, particularly his Rats trilogy. Something about the horrors of the dark suddenly swarming above ground and devouring us all (especially in Domain’s post-apocalyptic setting) triggered a sweet spot in my brain and kept me hungry for more.

Imagine my delight when I found out that not only had Jello Biafra, irascible frontman for Dead Kennedys, teamed up with jazz-punk legends No Means No for an album, they had also penned a song on this very subject. The album, The Sky Is Falling And I Want My Mommy, is worth buying on its own merits but the sinister atmospherics, slinky bassline and abrasive guitars on this track are the icing on the cake. Jello’s terrified whine tops everything off for a punk-horror masterpiece.

To my London and NYC amigos – enjoy your next subway ride…


Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 7 – Drac’s Back

Who could resist posting a song by The Bollock Brothers? Especially when it contains the chorus “I wanna suck your *whoooo!*”. Ostensibly a punk act, The Bollocks created this is slice of new-wave/disco cheese for their ‘Horror Movies’ single. It’s nonsense, I admit it. Sheer bollocks. Still fun though, I’m not ashamed to post it.


Hallowe’en Hullabaloo Pt. 6 – T’ain’t No Sin


Okay, so this isn’t strictly speaking a Hallowe’en song. T’ain’t No Sin has a long and illustrious recorded history, mostly focusing on the song’s commandment to cast off your clothes and shake your booty down to the ground. Perhaps a little unconventional and unseemly back in the day but certainly nothing sinister. Not till Tom Waits got his hands on it anyway…

For his opera ‘The Black Rider’, Waits recruited the help of none other than William Burroughs to record their own version of the tune. Burroughs’ scratch spoken delivery and Waits’ disharmonic backing render the original tune unrecognisable. In the process the refrain “T’ain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones” becomes altogether more ghastly and unnerving.  Well done boys. Well done indeed.