Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Good to know how SV feels about scientists

Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Knowledge (Kunnskapsdepartmentet) Jens Resvold - from the Socialist Party (SV) - has given the following comment about the possibility of forming separate schools for science and technology: "Egne skoler for realfag og teknologi er litt problematisk. Det kan bli litt nerdeskole over det" ("Separate schools for studies of science and technology could be problematic, as they would be nerd academies.").

Way to go, Jens Resvold - not only do you affix the label "nerd" to people who are interested and demonstrate skills within science and technology while being an employee at the Department of Knowledge, which actually amounts to libel, you also provide more nails in the coffin for any hope Norway might have of clawing it's way to a better school and in turn a true science elite within the natural sciences. At least as long as the hammer and sickle wave from the government flag pole.

How does he think that other countries have developed excellent programmes within PAMS? How would institutions like NASA, MIT, CalTech etc. be if the US government didn't applaud scholastic achievements within science and technology?

Just because Resvold wasn't able to count before he was fifteen and never has read any book that wasn't small and red shouldn't preclude other people from acquiring actual knowledge and utilize it in such a way as to contribute to society.

If there's still anyone out there who earnestly believes that SV is a party which supports science and scholastic achievements, I've got a nice piece of land smack dab in the middle of Paris to sell ya real cheap. The only disadvantage is that it comes with this big hunk of metal erected into some sort of misshapen pyramid, but it's nothing you can't demolish once you've procured said property. It's a real steal, I tells ya.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Symphony Of Construction

We've spent a hefty chunk of our vacation on remodeling various things. Our house is freakin' phenomenal and we love it - we're just tweaking it and personalizing it a bit. Not to mention that our front porch left a li'l something to be desired - frankly it looked like the entrance to a chicken coop. No more though, as we've demolished what was and are building everything up from scratch. We got some help in the planning and early execution stages by my dad - because he rules at stuff like that and neither me nor my wife have that much experience with carpentry - but the vast majority has been done by our very own selves.

It's really fun, actually.

The problem was that the project has been ever-expanding. At first, all we wanted to do was replace the stairs leading to our front porch and camouflage the porch's supporting pillars with some wooden structure. As we tore down the stairs, we found that the supporting framework wasn't very solid-looking, and we decided to replace it with something of more substance. Something meant to last. In the process, we also figured that we might as well replace the floorboards, since they'd obviously seen better days, and they weren't quite up to our new standard.

After we'd built the stairs and replaced the floorboards, which took us quite some time, we started having some doubts about the railing surrounding the front porch. Not so good. So I asked my dad how much work it would be to replace this AND make some matching railing system for our new, solid-as-a-rock stairs. According to him, it wasn't that much work. Good enough for us - we enlisted him as an "active consultant" for the initial stage of the process, and set about expanding the project. It soon became painfully apparent that the railing project was a lot more work than the stairs plus floorboard project. Moreover; it requires way more accuracy and is way less forgiving. At present, we've only got the final decorative boards to cut out, paint and attach before our new Carolina style front porch is a go. Better hurry up before we get some new, bright idea of a "slight" expansion to the structure....

Just like the Pied Piper/Led rats through the street/We dance like marionettes/Swaying to the Symphony of Construction.

I'm sure Dave will forgive me this rewrite of his lyrics. After all, I've spent a considerable amount of time and effort playing live renditions of his music.

Meanwhile, back at the farm...

In Saturday's Dagens Næringsliv, there was a feature dealing with how difficult it is to cajole academics - and especially female academics - to appear in media to debate various and sundry issues in formats like Tabloid, Redaksjon 21 and so on.

No kidding. Personally, I can't fathom why people with actual skills would bother to show up for those types of televised debates, where your answer to a probably very generic question has to be in a bullet point format, and where your adversaries would include politicians who'd spend all their time plugging their party line and how they voted to increase science funding already back in 1665, etc. And for someone within physical and mathematical sciences, it would be even worse than for academics from the social sciences, because your ass would probably only get invited to debate in topics like "Is global warming a result of human activities" or such nonsense. For that particular topic, you'd be arguing with an "expert" dug up by the Progress Party or something, who claims to have evidence of global warming being completely natural and that nothing humanity has ever done has affected the climate. In all likelihood, this "expert" will have a PhD in something completely unrelated to the issue at hand, such as "welding two pieces of metal together" or something like that.

Someone very wise said: "Never argue with a fool or a drunk, because to an observer you'll probably look the same"

Anyway; as a sidebar to this feature, Christian Strand - host for NRK's talk show "Tonight" (I Kveld) - commented that younger women were easier to convince to get on his show than than older generations. As an example he mentioned Martine Aurdal - former Editor of Ny Tid and presently Political Journalist in Dagbladet - as an excellent debater of societal issues.

Excellent compared to whom?

Back in the local elections last year, there was a segment each Friday on Norwegian TV2 - in Tabloid or something - where a panel of experts summarized the main political battles of the week and announced what they meant to be the best politician of the week. This winning politician was never a local one despite this being a local election, but I've mentioned this before, so I'll move on. The aforementioned "expert panel" consisted of three individuals - one of them being Martine Aurdal. The names of the other two alleged experts elude me, I believe Marie Simonsen was one of them, but I could be wrong. Anyhoo; each and every week, Martine Aurdal would list all of the debates and conclude - for example - that the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) got their asses soundly kicked in this or that debate, or vice versa. One thing didn't change however; together with the person I believe was Marie Simonsen, Aurdal was cackling on about how despite all of this, our Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was this week's winner, because he was so handsome and looked so good in this or that outfit. The only other guy who won in their estimation was Jonas Gahr Støre, also because he looked so goshdarned cute. On the topic of the Conservative's leader Erna Solberg, Aurdal kept insisting that she "should've chosen a different outfit" and that her new look didn't become her. With regards to the Progress Party's leader Siv Jensen, whom most other commentators had as a clear winner in at least 50% of her debates with the Prime Minister, Aurdal kept mentioning that she looked so angry and not feminine enough. So much for girl power.

Martine Aurdal is an expert at anything besides selling her resume? Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dragonforce - Heroes Of Our Time

First single from the upcoming album "Ultra Beatdown", to be released August 26th. Pretty damn good - it sounds exactly like most of the songs they've made. At least they're consistent...

I likes it

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scar Tissue and White Line Fever

These are two "autobiographies" from rather prominent rock stars - Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers (Scar Tissue) and Lemmy of Motörhead (White Line Fever). The quotation marks are there because invariably, there's a name in much smaller font below that of the recognizable name, which in all likelihood belongs to the poor bastard who had to transcribe hours and hours of interviews from tape to text, and probably had to invent some context around some particularly rambling anecdotes as well. That being said, here's my opinion of the books, starting with:

Scar Tissue
Of all the rock star biographies I've read, I must admit that Anthony Kiedis gets my vote for "Most Likely to have been Legitimately Screwed Up by Parents". By about a country mile. Let's start by the fact that his dad was a particularly unsuccessful petty criminal and drug dealer, and his mom was a serial loser with a penchant for hooking up with convicts and marrying them in hopes of reforming the bad boy. Right; 'cause that's ever worked in the history of the universe. There's an interesting series of photos in the book as well, they depict young Anthony smoking his first pot at age 10 or so. The cameraman is his father. Also present is one of his dad's teenage girlfriends, and she's later to take her clothes off for young Anthony to take photographs of. Oh, and Anthony loses his virginity when he "borrows" one of his dad's teenage girlfriends, with his dad's consent as well as the consent from the probably drugged-out bimbo. Swell family.

In a twist which is as unsurprising as it is psych 101 textbook parental issues, young Anthony becomes a drug dealer and - surprise, surprise - addict. This book is as much, if not more, about drugs than about music and Kiedis' career with RHCP. Still, there's enough about the band, the music and the recording process to keep me interested interspersed among the tales of drug abuse and his constantly revolving door of girlfriends, each of which obviously is "the one" before he starts cheating on her. This is the funny part though; it's never his fault. Despite him being faithful to the girlfriend of the month only every second Tuesday of the week, it's always some supposedly innocent explanation to every time his girlfriend shows up at his apartment and finds him buck nekkid in bed with another girl. Tony just has the worst luck, 'cause surely nothing is ever HIS fault. Still; the saving grace of the book is that Mr. Kiedis doesn't take himself too seriously, and for the most part doesn't recall every messed up event through the rose-tinted lenses of hindsight. Also, he comes across as quite reflected and at times bright. This is absolutely one of the better rock star "autobiographies" I've read.

White Line Fever
It took me an extended afternoon to read this book, so it ain't that voluminous. It is kinda' funny, however, as it continues the trend described above of anything wrong that happens being someone else's fault. Lemmy comes across in this book much the same way he does in his interviews - bright, somewhat arrogant but not all there. Maybe the fact that his breakfast used to be cornflakes swimming in bourbon has something to do with that fact. Oh well. If ya like Motörhead and endless tales of record companies screwing the band over (despite said band having obviously signed the same contract for about seven different labels), all the other band members being losers who kept screwing with the band's direction and how all Lemmy wants to do immediately after a concert is get laid, then this is the book for you. As a side note, it's quite sad that a legend of metal like Lemmy, who's been in the business for thirty years or more, still was broke as f*ck after "Ace Of Spades" was released. And also that after they signed on with the US division of Sony in the 90's, Lemmy considered himself fortunate to have "befriended" one of the label secretaries, because otherwise they couldn't have afforded all those translatlantic phone calls to secure gigs etc. This is one of the major metal acts in the world. Quite sad.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Concert review - Somewhere Back In Time Tour

I never would have thought that I'd get the opportunity to see Iron Maiden playing their classic material live in Trondheim, but the opportunity arose nonetheless. Although it must be admitted that this did not properly dawn on me until yesterday morning - the day of the concert. As we drove towards Lerkendal with "Somewhere In Time" blaring from the car stereo, I really started anticipating this event. We came quite early to the venue, seeing as how we'd heard on the radio that 22000 tickets had been sold, and that people were lines up in front of the entrances already the morning of the event. Consequently, we didn't run into too much of a queue holdup on our way in, and we could buy our merch relatively hassle-free.

As a sidebar, it must be admitted that metal concerts draw the weirdest people out of the woodworks interspersed with normal looking people. You've got your basic 80's time warp crowd - typically middle-aged guys who really pride themselves in emulating the wardrobe and hair style of either Axl Rose, Sebastian Bach or Bret Michaels ca. 1989. Then there's the black metal and emo crowd, with their black getups, piercings and anemic shuffling. A heavy metal happening of this magnitude of course means that every roided-out biker within a 300 km radius shows up in a ragged denim or leather vest, carrying invisible suitcases. There were bikers there who at least approaching my size, and I'm thinkin' that if you had a hankering for some decent D-bol, Deca, Equipiose, Winny or Test, Lerkendal would've been your one-stop local mexican pharmacy, at least on July 22nd 2008. And then, there were loads and loads of rednecks, hillbillys and straight-up inbred white trash. I remember my friend Eric used to wax philosophically about the proper nomenclature for plurals of various species back during my tenure at NCSU. There's a flock of seagulls, a pack of wolves, a murder of crows, but what do you call a large gathering of rednecks? According to Eric, the correct nomenclature is a truckload of rednecks. For even large gatherings - a convoy of rednecks. Yesterday, there sure was a convoy of rednecks at Lerkendal. Also, as my wife remarked, in Trondheim there is no age limit on getting totally wasted in public. Guys (or girls) in their 50's appear to have no inhibitions towards getting totally wasted and behaving accordingly in public. You don't see that in Bergen or Oslo. Oh well.

Since we got there relatively early, we got to see all the acts, so here's a complete review:

Lauren Harris
I had absolutely no expectations for this act, which revolves around Iron maiden bass player and general boss Steve Harris' daughter. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure that the billing of Lauren Harris was singularly due to her lineage, and dismissed the act as such. Big mistake on my part - the songs were good, the band rocked (including some behind-the-neck solo work from the guitar player), and Lauren Harris (as well as the guitarist) possessed that elusive rock star quality. Cool act.

Avenged Sevenfold
In short - they sucked. The guitars were out of tune, and the two guitarists were out of sync. Green Day meets Morbid Angel and trips over Limp Bizkit on their way to the men's room. Awful. When you have two guitar players doing the twin guitar Iron Maiden/Thin Lizzy harmonies, it would be of tremendous help if the guitars were tuned and if the guitarists had the technical skills to play the lines in sync. No such luck with A7F, despite the claims of lead guitarist Synyster Gates being a virtuoso and a master of sweep picking. Yeah right - the only competent band member was the drummer. Bunch of emo losers.

Iron Maiden
FINALLY it was time for Maiden, and after a brief video collage of the band on Bruce Airlines, Flight 666, the Churchill soundtrack started up, which segued into one of the greatest opening songs of all time - "Aces High". Sadly, "Aces High" was plagued by sound problems, and Bruce Dickinson's voice faded at times, and there was no sound on Adrian Smith's guitar for the majority of his first solo, which kind of bummed me out, but once the sound was more or less where it ought to be, everything just gelled. Iron Maiden sounds like it's one single instrument (as my wife has remarked on several occasions) - everything is in sync and in time. Case in point; during "The Trooper", Adrian Smith and Janick Gers played the same solo simultaneously (Adrian Smith's original solo), and if not for the slightly fatter sound, it wouldn't have been possible to know that there were two guitars playing. VERY impressive. Smith also played his white Charvel, while Gers and Murray played modified Fender strats, in case you were interested. Bruce Dickinson was on fire, and his voice held up really well - impressive considering the complexity of the vocal lines and his age - Steve Harris was running all over the place or aiming his Fender P bass at the audience, and Nicko McBrain was his excellent, metronome self. Plenty of pyro, and I got to hear damn near all of my favorite Maiden songs. They even played "The Clairvoyant" from "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" towards the end. Freakin' awesome! Plenty of pyro and smoke, plus the mandatory visit from two incarnations of Eddie.

The set list and a review from the local rag can be found here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Answers GQ2: The Revenge - Round 8

The end is nigh, and only one combatant is left standing. One shall stand and one shall fall. There can be only one. And the clichés they keepeth on coming, but before the winner is announced, here be the songs from the final round:
  • Song 136: Mötley Crüe - Kickstart My Heart. This song, which clocks in at a healthy 180 bpm, is from Dr. Feelgood, which in my opinion is the only Crüe album worth a damn. This tune is also awesome to play live, because it hauls ass notewise even during the verse.
  • Song 137: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - I Love Rock'n'Roll. Yeah yeah - not exactly the most challenging song to recognize. This tune was one of the first songs we rehearsed for the purposes of gigging, and the descending cadenza in harmonic minor is a taste of the Yngwiefications I used to add to songs so as not to get bored to death from three-chord progressions and blues bends.
  • Song 138: ABBA - Lay All Your Love On Me. This is actually a kick-ass song which flew below my my radar until Tobi Sammett and his Avantasia included it as a cover on their "Lost In Space Pt. 1" EP.
  • Song 139: C&C Music Factory - Everybody Dance Now (Gonna Make You Sweat) Annoying tune, huh? I had to search for quite some time to make my poor Ibanez S produce such a tin can guitar sound.
  • Song 140: Judas Priest - Breaking The Law. I was surprised by the fact that only two of you found this song - it's THE heavy metal anthem after all.
And now for the Round 8 Scores:
  1. Cathy (10 points)
  2. Sondre (8 points)
  3. Anders (6 points)
  4. Pigeon (2 points)
...and without further ado, here's the Total Score:
  1. Cathy (50 points)
  2. Sondre (49 points)
  3. Anders (46 points)
  4. Pigeon (35 points)
Long Live Cathy, Queen of the m-factor Guitarquiz
and the future Recipient of an alcoholic beverage! For the longest time, it looked like Sondre had the sequel in the bag, before Cathy pimpstrolled past the competition. There can be only one!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guitar heroes still very much kickin' it

As a contrast to Anders' post about Johnny Winter, here's Paul Gilbert - formerly of Mr. Big - doing a heavy metal version of "To Be With You":

Musicial heros getting older

Some musicans grown old gracefully and still on top of their musical game, like BB King. Others aren't that lucky. And it's sad to see your musical heros get old and ill, and just aren't even close to manage something to their old

Case in point, Johnny Winter. He's a mean guitar player and a great musician, and his contribution to the blues and rock'n'roll is of historic significane. He did play in Norway a couple of years ago, but I opted not to go see him. I think it would have been too sad, as he's haunted by health issues which has clearly affected his playing. I represent exhibit A, Highway 69 live, the first his the legendary perfromance at Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert in 92 (check the guitarist on the left, G.E. Smith, with a big grin as he looks over to JW and checks out his licks). The second clip is the same song from the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007. I love the man and his music, but this is just sad. Those 15 years have really taken their toll.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

..I repeat my former question:

Why is NTNU indirectly sponsoring Tour De france? The rampant drug use appears to be worse than ever, considering the semi-serious attempts at improving the pharmaceutical situation from last year.

What they need to do is to go Israeli on the clubs - if a TDf rider is caught with EPO or worse, then the entire club is permanently prohibited from participating in TDf. That should provide some financial incentive to level the playing field with respect to doping.

yet another Maiden fan

Metal Nico !!!!!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Answers GQ2: The Revenge - Round 7

This must've been one of them there difficult rounds - at least judging from the percentage of correct answers. Oh well - perhaps upon retroactive inspection, it will be evident that the songs in question were:
  • Song 131: Metallica - Orion. From "Master Of Puppets" and one of the late Cliff Burton's showpieces. Kinda' cool instrumental, but it's obvious that Kirk Hammett quit the guitar lessons he took from Joe Satriani, 'cause there's no way an advanced Satch student would perpetrate such unimaginative, run-of-the-mill pentatonic clichés as what Hammett has the audacity to call a solo here. Why do I care? 'Cause I had the dubious honor of reproducing the solo for many of our gigs, that's why.
  • Song 132: Spin Doctors - Two Princes. I don't get it - I thought I got the guitar tone quite close to the jangly original, and this is a monster 90's hit, but not even the self-professed 90's music guru among you recognized this one. What gives? The upwards of tens of audience members we played this for back in the day sure seemed to recognize it though.
  • Song 133: Quiet Riot - Cum On Feel The Noize. Technically a Slade song, but nobody cared until the late Randy Rhoads' first recording band made this version, which appears immediately after the title track on "Metal Health", one of the best-selling albums of all time. This was one cover song I never minded playing - the solo is such a classic (although I added like fifty notes on the final bars of this version). However, none of y'all mooks managed to find it.
  • Song 134: The Police - Every Breath You Take. But oh yeah; y'all got this song. I also accepted Puff Daddy with "I've Been Missing You" as an answer though, since one cannot tell the difference from my recording. I remember watching as P Diddy performed this song "live" on some MTV show or wherever it was, and got to witness the moment wherein Sean Combs single-handedly debunked the myth of black people having rhythm and being much better dancers than other races. Sorry, but P. Diddy's performance during his "dance solo" made Rick Astley in his "Never Gonna Give You Up" video look like Michael Jackson himself. Oh, and in case you're wondering why my version absolutely sucks, I can only offer the following excuse: I refuse to play in heathen tunings (which is pretty much anything outside of A440 or a half-tone downtuned version of this), which sometimes makes the positions of chords in alternate tunings really hard to reach. Case in point: This tune. Mea culpa.
  • Song 135: Sting - Fields Of Gold. The guitar solo on this song, actually, or acoustic guitar interlude or whatever you wanna call it. One of the few Sting tunes I actually enjoy.
Not much of a spread in this round, as is obvious from the Score for Round 7:
  1. Sondre (5 points)
  2. Anders/Cathy/Pigeon (tied at 4 points)
The Total Score
now stands as:
  1. Sondre (41 points)
  2. Cathy/Anders (tied at 40 points)
  3. ...
  4. Pigeon (33 points)
Congrats to Sondre
for edging slightly ahead of the competition, and good luck with the final round of The m-factor Guitarquiz 2: The Revenge

CD: Little Feat - Join The Band

Just bought the latest release of one of my favourite bands, Little Feat. Little Feat used to be fronted by Lowell George, singer, song-writer and slide guitarist extraordinaire. Lowell passed away in the 70's, but Little Feat seems still able to come out with good records. Maybe because the Feats are a collection of great musicians with a diverse taste in music.

Anyway, this is a special recording. The Feat's has invited guest musicians to "join the band" and re-record some of their greatest hits. How bad can that be, considering the back catalogue of this band? Well, I would love to say that it's all great, but it isn't. Right of the bat, there are two bad signals just reading through the cover: 1. The choice of artists and 2. the song selection. The artists on this album vary a lot in quality: Sonny Landreth, the slide wizard, is a great and obvious choice. Jimmy Buffett (the American equivalent of Ole Ivars) is not.

And the song selection, yes, many of their old classics are there, but with the body of work Little Feat has, why on earth do they include covers like This Land is Your Land, See You Later Alligator and The Weight? Not that that's bad songs, but they have no connection to Little Feat or that guest artists. And there are so many original Feat songs that are missing from the CD that could have been recorded rather then some overplayed covers. Where are Apolitical Blues, Roll Um Easy, Two Trains, Cold, Cold, Cold, Feats Don't Fail Me Now and Easy To Slip? The list goes on and on.

The Feat's has rerecorded the classics with "a new take". But unfortunately, in almost every case "new take" means slowing down the tune. Which is a good way of doing a different version of a song, but it starts getting a bit predictable after a while. And not every song gets better just buy slowing it down.

This starts to look like a really bad review, but the CD is not that bad. Most of the songs are OK-ish, but Dave Matthews and Sonny Landreth do Fat Man In The Bathtub justice, and Lowell George's daughter Inara, does a really great, low-key version of Trouble, which is the only song that eclipses or surpasses the original.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Movies...a bunch of them

Movies we have seen lately:

Mutiny On The Bounty (1962)
Really cool, old-school flick starring a young Marlon Brando. The movie is a must if you're into maritime adventure type sagas, and features some really good acting, both from Brando and also from Trevor Howard, who does an excellent portrayal of Captain Bligh. You can really tell that this movie is way old-school by the fact that it features an over-the top classical score and intermission music. Check this one out if you haven't seen it - not quite Casablanca or Gone With The Wind, but it's up there.

Maniac Cop (1988)
Bruce Campbell has one of the leading roles in this classic thriller/horror/action/whatever movie. I'm a big fan of this series and the Friday the 13th saga - awesome stuff. The plot in Maniac Cop is pretty straightforward - in New York, someone in a cop uniform starts killing people, which causes mass hysteria once suspicions of a serial killer cop is announced to the public. And of course; the killer is a cop, but not the one they suspected. At the very least this movie falls very much in the category "what you see is what you get". There's a cop, and he's a maniac. In other words, the movie is quite unlike some other movies, which for example promises hordes of primates in the title, but only features Bruce Willis in some futuristic get-up. Maniac Cop is where it's at if ya like 80's horror movies.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Matt Damon in an excellent crime/drama/thriller. For whatever reason, we never watched this when it first came out, despite it getting rave reviews and mucho press. I'm really growing to like Matt Damon the actor, as he totally brings the goods, despite having starred in Stuck On You. We totally enjoyed this movie and it's awesome late 50's scenery and jazz. Recommended.

Sleepers (1996)
Another 90's movie I totally missed. Or avoided. The latter is a definite possibility due to Brad Pitt having a significant role in this movie. However, my misgivings turned out to be without merit - it was an excellent flick. A small group of Hells Kitchen, Bronx, NY boys get shipped off to a detention center after a prank has more grievous consequences than anticipated. In this detention center, they are introduced to the guards, who turn out to have an unhealthy interest in young boys. Kevin Bacon is ultracreepy as the top guard on the totem pole. After the boys get released from detention, they take up different career paths - including hitmen and public prosecutor - but their past comes rushing back when two of the crew run into and kill the head guard in a pub many years later. Lots of good performances in this all-star project, featuring among others Robert DeNiro, Brad Pitt and Dustin Hoffman.

Phenomenon (1996)
Travolta movie from the era when he was still red-hot following his triumphant return to major productions and a reputable Hollywood name. We didn't quite know what to expect when we started watching this movie, other than the information that Travolta's character experiences something unusual, and following this event, his IQ skyrockets, and he even develops telekinetic abilities. I figured that any movie in which a high IQ is portrayed as having a superpower has got to be cool in my book. Still; we didn't expect that it would go from entertaining to ultrasad about half-way in. Totally did not see that one coming. Really liked it though, and it's got Forest Whitaker and Robert Duval in major roles, which is always a plus. Not gonna watch it again for a while, though.

Last Action Hero (1993)
Having just watched the ultradowner movie which is Phenomenon, we needed to watch something mindless with lots of action and stuff that blows up. Last Action Hero fits that category perfectly. I don't really understand why this Arnold flick tanked so massively at the box offices; it does not follow a formula whic deviates that much from his other movies. He's big, he kicks ass, dude wields some powerful guns and drives some souped-up cars, has some cool catchphrases and the plot is unrealistic. Oh well - I'm a big fan of Arnold's movies, and this one even features Angry Again by Dave himself on the soundtrack. What's not to like?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Joined the Dark Side I have

When we were in Bergen, a friend of ours tuned us on to the fact that it's possible to purchase a transmitter, hook it up to your iPod and then tune your car radio to the transmitter, hence being able to use your iPod to play music in your car.

It may very well be that I was the last person on the planet to find this out, but I still thought it was mighty awesome, as we always lug around 50 or so CD's when we go on a long road trip. In one of those smaller folders, but still - it takes up a lot of room. This looked like a great alternative.

The flip side of this shiny coin? It involved the use of an iPod, which is the same technology as in a Mac and thus the demon seed of Steve Jobs and his Apple losers. Not a big fan of Mac - I think it is akin to a pc with training wheels, specially designed for people who cannot grasp technology which exceeds single-button complexity.

When we came back and I was raving about this newfangled possibility, the one and only Pigeon informed me that this transmitter technology was available for pretty much any type of mp3 player. Moreover, it was old news. He even looked a good model up on the ol' interweb for me. Thanks for that, by the way - much obliged!

Still; we figured that we would need a new mp3 player with bigger capacity, so that we could load just about every CD we own onto this bad boi and be rollin' large and in charge. Again, Pigeon was very helpful in suggesting a brand, Archos, which supposedly kicked all kinds of ass and kept taking them names. So; we checked stuff out in various stores, and found that Archos could by far deliver the largest capacity of the non-Apple portables. However, an Apple iPod Classic 160 Gb costs ~2750 NOK. An Archos with 30 Gb capacity costs 2000 NOK. An Archos with 80 Gb capacity costs 3800 NOK.

You see where I'm goin' with this? Sure; I don't really like Apple, but you'd have to even worse at math than your average Mac user to choose the Archos when faced with this simple cost analysis. I never would have thought that iPods were comparatively cheap, but there you go.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Answers GQ2: The Revenge - Round 6

The plot definitely thickens, and it's no longer obvious who's gonna win this thing. Anyway; the songs were:
  • Song 126: Eric Clapton - Tears In Heaven. As you may or may not have figured out, I'm not exactly Clapton's biggest fan. Partly because I have found that I'm capable of playing his sons - like this one - even when so drunk that I'm having a hard time sitting in a chair, as I found out back in B-town. Anyway; y'all nailed this one.
  • Song 127: Guns'N Roses - November Rain. Pretty much just playing the solo from memory there, but it's so known that this one take was all that was needed. All of y'all found it. Man; I used to be really sick and tired of playing this solo.
  • Song 128: Black Sabbath - Iron Man. Or; Iron Man plus, I should say. This main riff is so slow, I couldn't help but unleash some descending harmonic minor up in heah'.
  • Song 129: Santana - Black Magic Woman. Only Anders found this song - I'm impressed. Of course I would have also accepted Fleetwood Mac, but this is meant to be closer to Santana's version. This song was actually the second song my old band ever learned and rehearsed - immediately after being able to do a passable "Hair Of The Dog" by Nazareth, I think. Or maybe it was "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"? Oh well.
  • Song 130: Iron Maiden - Afraid To Shoot Strangers. By far my favorite song from the "Fear Of The Dark" album, and a song we managed to pull off pretty convncingly live, actually.
With that all out of the way, here's the Score for Round 8:
  1. Anders/Cathy/Pigeon (tied at 8 points)
  2. ...
  3. ...
  4. Sondre (6 points)
The Total Score
now looks like this:
  1. Anders/Cathy/Sondre (tied at 36 points)
  2. ...
  3. ...
  4. Pigeon (29 points)
Congrats to the winners
and good luck with round 7! The victory is pretty much up for grabs here with only two more rounds to go.

NTNU sponsors Tour De france?

For the life of me I can't figure out why the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) would want to sponsor Tour De france. This is actually the first time I've seen a Norwegian institution of higher learning sponsor a sporting event, but then again I don't catch much in the way of sports, so that could be my mistake. But why in the blue hell would NTNU sponsor Tour De france? First of all, couldn't NTNU find some sport which wasn't QUITE that drug-ridden? I mean; last year they were seriously talking about shutting down TDf and ending the entire thing because they had so many doping scandals they had a hard time finding a scrawny bicycle rider without a syringe sticking out of his butt. Sponsoring this is an image a university is happy with? Couldn't they find a sport with less drug use, like bodybuilding, shot put or ice hockey? Or find a Chinese women's swim team to sponsor? Unless the medical faculty at NTNU is looking at this sponsor deal as keeping close tabs on their research subjects, that is.

The other thing is that I can't see the upside for NTNU. None of the Norwegian universities have premium financial situations at the moment, so what was the underlying thought process for sponsoring these walking pharmacies? Surely they can't be naive enough to think that this will boost recruitment? That this will be a good way to scoop the most talented students? Because the correlation between strong athleticism and scholastic achievements is typically not positive. Bjørn Dæhlie may be the best cross country skier in the history, but it's also quite obvious that Dæhlie ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. Not sure about the correlation between avid sports fans and IQ or scholastic potential either. Somehow I can't imagine the following conversation to ever take place:
  • Dude; so - have you like made up your mind with respect to what university you're gonna be goin' to, man?
  • Brah; I'm SO on the fence, dude. It's like; I just got my admission letters to the entire Ivy League, MIT is howlin' at my door, ditto Stanford and Duke. Oxford and Cambridge were basically beggin' me to join up, and I've got Max Planck on their knees. I just don't know which school to pick there, broham. This kinda' bums me out.
  • Duuude...that's like so many choices, broski. But peep this in; I was like just checkin' out the Tour on television - you know; checkin' out their wheels to compare with the ride I'm gonna get for my next race, and I totally spied in that NTNU is sponsoring the Tour, dude. How kewl is that.
  • Brah; so NTNU is sponsoring the Tour, huh? Awright; that must mean it's a much better school than Harvard and Yale combined. Let's take our 4.0 GPA's and 170+ IQ's and skidaddle over there, right budday?
  • Duuuude; I'm SO there. Education rocks, man. Now let's go crush some beer cans on our foreheads, inject some deca and rub our groins against our mountain bikes for a couple of hours.
  • Brah; Right on.

Old news but still

On his last press conference before he took his vacation, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg spent some time whining about the lack of enthusiasm the voters have shown for the present government. Specifically, he said "The expectations put on the government far exceeds what was promised in the Soria Moria declaration. We are not compared to an alternative government, which would be the opposition, but to something close to perfection."

Is that so? Because as far as I understand it, the reason the government has taken a dive in the polls is the fact that the voters have taken the time to compare the government's performance to exactly what was promised. For example, they promised explicitly that every child should have the possibility to be enrolled in kindergarten by the end of 2007. Kristin Halvorsen even took it upon herself during the pre-election campaigning to state several times on several occasions and in several media that if the red-green coalition would be elected, she would make a personal guarantee for this promise to be fulfilled. Should for some unforseeable reason the government not make good on this, specific promise, she would leave politics altogether immediately following this improbable failure.

Well; they crapped out, and she's still here. When confronted with her now broken promise, she basically said "Yeah right; as if."

The fact is; the Soria Moria declaration was quite the lofty affair, and they were probably bound to crap out. Let's face it; they have done jack within the areas of education (of which I do not consider kindergarten to be a part) and the health section, for example. And this is what irks me; they don't have the right to complain when they fail to reach their own, self-imposed goals. The prime minister was basically saying that "Well; I'm sure the opposition wouldn't be able to live up to their promises either."

And yet they wonder and worry about the low opinion the voting public has of politicians. But maybe the circumstances have been unfavorable? Let's go down a short list of possibilities which can account for the government's inability to live up to expectations:
  • The national economy: Nope - the national economy is pretty much at an all-time high and has been for quite some time. Totally not an excuse.
  • Extent of the election promises made by the red-green coalition: Self-imposed, and the promises were actually scaled down in the transition from election promises to the Soria Moria declaration. Not an excuse.
  • Timeline for completion of self-imposed objectives: Also set by the red-green coalition - totally not an excuse.
  • Proposals keep getting shot down by the opposition: Nope - they're in the majority, meaning opposition input hasn't been the issue it would've been for a minority ruling body. Not an excuse.
Basically they've screwed up, but instead of doing the honorable thing, which would have been to give a mea culpa, stating that while they have not lived up to their full potential, they will strive to improve and regain voter confidence, they - embodied by the Prime Minister - blame their own failures on the voters.

And perhaps worst of all; when the biggest party in the red-green coalition, Labour (Arbeiderpartiet), didn't get favorable polls from independent pollsters, they made their own poll, which - surprise, surprise - ended up being more favorable.

Straight out of the "Li'l Third World Banana Republic Dictator Playbook".

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

GQ2: The Revenge - Round 8

...The final shall stand and one shall fall...

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Sunday 072008. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Monday 072108.

Song number 136:

Song number 137:

Song number 138:

Song number 139:

Song number 140:

Brutal self-ownage

Lene Alexandra, who is known for a) showing her tits in magazines, b) showing her tits in "music" videos and c) singing about her tits and then shaking them in her own "music" video, recently removed the plastic from her breasts, and went from a size E to a B. 600 grams of plastic in each breast, which you math buffs out there know amounts to 1.2 kilos of fake boobs. This "glamour model", who has Pamela Anderson as a role model according to VG, wanted to remove the rubber tits for "health and image reasons", and she now wants to become a spokesperson for young girls, preaching on how it's a bad idea to get cosmetic surgery. Said the bimbo whose entire career is built up around her tits. She now wants to be taken more seriously as an artist and as a person.

Cue her international manager, who was shocked to find that she had removed her artificial mammaries, and now wants to cancel the international release of her "music". His comment: "Why change a winning team" speaks volumes of how much respect he has for Lene Alexandra the artist, singer and person. But surely Christer Falck, the guy who "discovered" her and helped her mold her "career" is gonna stand up for her? Even here on this blog, someone claiming to have inside knowledge was all up in my grill defending Falck as a stand-up guy who carers for music and the performers on his label. Well; Falck states it was a very bad move on her part, and even offers a (in his mind) clever comparison: "It's like if the world's best soccer player Torres would amputate both his legs from his knees and down before the European Championsip finals."

Maybe the anonymous person commenting on something I wrote a ways back was right after all - a statement like this can only come from a caring person with a burning passion for the music he puts out and the artists on his label - he obviously holds them in the highest regard as human beings as well as in their professional capacity.

Heart-warming. Oh well; I'm sure Lene Alexandra has invested the financial gain of her 15 minutes worth of fame wisely....

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull



So, I went to see new Indy flick last weekend. Of course I had to, since it does have some nostalgic value as I have seen the three first ones.

They really had the mood of a Indiana Jones movie from the first second. Indy alone against a bunch of bad guys, with a couple of friendly helpers. The bad guys this time were the Russians, which would have been a really old cliche, but since this movie is at the begining of the cold war, it's appropriate. And the lost myth this time is the infamous El Dorado. Works OK, but I do feel that the movie has a bit of the "sequel-disease": Everything has to be bigger, faster and with more humor. Actually, all these years I was hoping for a Indiana Jones avdenture to Atlantis. That would have been cool.

Anyway, the flick is an OK watch. Harrison Ford is doing one of his signature characters, and instant of trying to make Ford younger, they've made Indy older. The danger is of course that we have an old geezer with a whip running around in the jungle, but it works. Indy still has it. Storyline could have been better and some of the side kicks isn't as good as the previous movies, but all in all, the movie doesn't bring shame on the Indy saga.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good news/Bad news duality

Sometimes you have the distinct feeling that when some cool opportunity comes along in your professional life, there's a catch of at least equal magnitude. Recently, I was headhunted by a prestigious British university to fill a faculty position at a newly established institution of higher learning. The start-up packages were great, buildings and labs were brand new, and the salary they offered at this new university was - well - significantly higher than what I have now. Several other faculty members at my department were also contacted. The catch: This newly started university was in Saudi-freakin'-Arabia, and the London university in question had been commisioned with finding suitable candidates. Apart from this tiny detail, everything about the offer was both legit and good. Pretty big for a detail, though.

Yesterday, I got an invitation letter to join the Editorial Board of a scientific journal within my field. That's really cool for someone as fresh off the boat in the academic world as I am. So what was the catch this time? It is an open access journal, which for someone just starting up in academia means that it amounts to about as much on my CV as a photo of me in a do-rag and a sleeveless, white tux Hulk Hogan style. Not that such photos exist.

Actually; considering that being a member of the editorial board of a journal with no impact factor entails quite a lot of work without any upside, I think those photos might do my career more good than said offer.

Avenged Sevenfold...and then some

Dammit! There are two opening acts before Maiden go on at Lerkendal on the 22nd of July - there's Lauren Harris - Steve Harris' daughter - and there's Avenged Sevenfold, a much-hyped band often touted as being composed of virtuoso musicians. I massively disagree. I present the People's Evidence Item 1; an instructional video on how Synyster Gates - the supposed shredder of A7F - does his sweep-picking licks. That's his own freakin' sweep-picking licks:

He couldn't do the licks even close to clean and properly under the best of circumstances, and those are some pretty damn basic things to master if you're gonna call yourself a shredder. Amateur hour at best. As luck would have it, this substandard playing is at least matched by the rest of A7F, both with respect to musical abilities and songwriting.

Holy packaged rebellion, Batman

GQ2: The Revenge - Round 7

...entering the penultimate round now, and the contestants are searching for a second (or third) wind...

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Wednesday 071608. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Thursday 071708.

Song number 131:

Song number 132:

Song number 133:

Song number 134:

Song number 135:

Monday, July 7, 2008

Crap piece on bodybuilding in Dagbladet

Found a piece on what used to be the Mecca of bodybuilding - Gold's Gym Venice - in Magasinet. The piece was titled "Pump Fiction". Journalist - and I'm using the word in it's broadest context - Espen A. Eik has been to Gold's Venice and interviewed some people there. In the role of "professional bodybuilder", Eik dug up Jerome Ferguson, who - surprise surprise - compares himself to Arnold, because he "has the same car as Arnold, has an apartment on Venice Beach, and has plenty of modelling jobs." Other interviewees include former pro Danny Hester, a douchebag who calls himself Maxxwell Carlisle (yes; double x in the name) and Jan Riggs, who is 62 years old but doesn't look a day older than 61.

In a story about bodybuilding, in the mecca of bodybuilding, these are the interview subjects this "journalist" came up with. Sure; one might argue that the new Mecca is now Milos Sarcev's Koloseum Gym in Fullerton, Ca, but there are still plenty big names working out in Venice. What was the argument leading to this choice? Overexposure of pros like Dennis Wolf, Jay Cutler, Chris Cormier and Bob Chicherillo in Norwegian mainstream media? Didn't think so. What's worse, most of the piece is a blurb about Pumping Iron - the semi-documentary about the 1975 Mr. Olympia starring among others Arnold Schwarzenegger. Way to use the material handy at the location for the piece there, Eik.

Still, the funniest thing in the piece - I refuse to call it an article - comes from adding the moniker "Professional Bodybuilder" to "Hollywood" Jerome Ferguson, as he likes to call himself. Dude's not a professional anything, be it in the IFBB or any other organization. Jerome Ferguson is a scrub who's trying to qualify for a pro card through the NPC, and has washed out of the Nationals many times now. Way to check your facts there, Mr. Eik - if I applied the same research to what I do professionally, I sure hope someone would notice and fire my incompetent ass.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Answers GQ2: The Revenge - Round 5

None of y'all managed to get'em all this round either. Specifically, the songs you were somewhat successful in recognizing were:
  • Song 121: KISS - Crazy, Crazy Nights. I'm not even remotely close to being a fan of KISS, but this tune is kinda' kewl. Plus, I've logged some time playing this live, so I'm liking it just fine.
  • Song 122: Gary Moore - Empty Rooms. Alas, none of y'all found this song, which is one of Gary Moore's biggest hits, and a perennial favorite on power ballad compilations. Buy some Gary Moore CD's now folks, starting with Wild Frontier.
  • Song 123: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication. Ya know; I actually thought this would be a quite difficult one to figure out, since there are approximately five billion songs out there with that chord progression and in that tempo, but for whatever reason every single one of y'all found this song. Color me impressed.
  • Song 124: Talk Talk/No Doubt - It's My Life. Another song that y'all found, and despite No Doubt having had a monster hit with a cover of this song, I believe every single one of you included Talk Talk. Most impressive.
  • Song 125: Poison - I Won't Forget You. Pigeon; you actually answered Poison on this one, for which you deserve mucho props. You were the only one who got even close on this song though, which is a typical hair metal power ballad we used to include in almost every set we played. Yes; I think Poison is a cool band, and I'm not afraid to admit it.
This means that the Score after Round 5 stands as follows:
  1. Anders/Sondre (tied at 6 points)
  2. ...
  3. Pigeon (5 points)
  4. Cathy (4 points)
The Total Score
consequently stands as:
  1. Sondre (30 points)
  2. Cathy/Anders (tied at 28 points)
  3. ...
  4. Pigeon (21 points)
Congrats to Anders and Sondre
and good luck with Round 6!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cool yet disappointing

Like I mentioned last month, our gym recently rolled out a "No freakin' tank tops or singlets, ya epic invisible suitcase carrying guido/airhead bimbette", for which we are totally appreciative. However; while the male population of card-carrying members of the skinny-guido-in-wifebeater club promptly knew what time it was and grudgingly donned t-shirts, albeit way too tight, they complied. The female population however, has continued unabated with their insistence upon wearing tank tops and singlets, and to my great surprise, the PTs (that's Personal Trainer for y'all not caught up in the business card-bolstering game of inventing kewl-sounding acronyms for what's essentially a job belonging to the paper-hat caste on the corporate totem pole) have walked by these scantily clad illiterate airheads without batting as much as an eyelash - volume boosted by L'Oreal products no doubt. Did this new policy only apply to the male gymgoers?

That sneaking suspicion of a double standard between genders triggered something in me, and as today the vast majority of female gymgoers was dressed in tank tops whilst being totally ignored by the residing PT, I was dead set on confronting the skinny, scarecrow-looking runt who has the audacity to presume any knowledge about weight training despite having all the lean muscle mass of a seven year old girl, and demanding an explanation for this blatant sexism. After finishing the workout.

This, by the way, is coming from a guy who has picketed against Chippendales back in the 90's.

After finishing my workout and getting off the treadmill, the epic 57-kilo clothes hanger masquerading as a PT was nowhere to be seen. Which meant I had to take it up with the girl at the front desk. I started out by complimenting them on their new policy, and then wondering why it only applied to guys. This elicited a surprised reaction, as the new policy most certainly applied to both men and women. Oh yeah - I asked - then how come there is not a single tank-top wearing dude in the gym, but most of the women in there are wearing singlets? Then she got surprised again, and assured me that she was going to take care of it - she was not in the weight room much, but it was very important that nobody were treated differently with regards to this policy, as that just wouldn't be right.

Basically my point exactly, which was way cool, and props to her (assuming something is done about it, of course).

However, in my original plan, I was hoping to confront the douchebag PT who was in charge that day, and maybe even getting a knee-jerk defensive reaction statement from him, which would have led to him either having the choice between admitting to blatant sexism, admitting to sucking at his job or alluding to the population of female gymgoers at this gym being illiterate or mentally retarded within the space of less than three arguments.

DVD review: ZZ Top Live from Texas

So, the moment a large fraction of the people here at blog has been wainting for, is finally here: ZZ Top has finally released a live dvd! Recorded on their home turf in Dalls, this DVD covers nearly 40 years of hits and rock classics.

The disc starts of with Under Pressure, a great show starter. The Eliminator album is represented with nearly all the MTV classic video hits, Gimme All Your Loving, Sharp Dressed Man and Legs, with fury guitars and all. And it's a fine mix of old and new material, including my all-time favorite encore: Tube Snake Boogie, La Grange and Tush! Yeah, they even threw in Sloppy Drunk Blues and Bar-b-q in the La Grange medley! For most of the show, Billy plays a custom white, pin-striped Gretch Jupiter Thunderbird, a gutiar he designed together with Bo Diddley. But I have to admit, that guitar doesn't have the greatest tone of all the guitars in mr. Gibbons arsenal. It got much better when he pulled out a custom shop goldtop Les Paul for the slide fused Just Got Paid and the Bolin, reversed neck Esquire type guitar for the three encore numbers. Talk about tone!

The sound is great, the picture crystal clear, but I think it changes camera angles a bit too often. Would loved to see longer segments by one camera, although this is no biggie.

Bonus material:
The band discussing their history and remembering some moments from their 40 year long carrer, a sermon by rev. Billy G (intro to Cheap Sunglasses), video tape from one of their photo shots and a cover of Hendrix's Foxy Lady, which for some reason wasn't included on the main soundtrack. The Hendrix cover is OK, it's a pretty straight cover without too much added. Hendrix had more suitable vocals then Billy G on this one, though. The rest is intersting for fans, but pretty pointless for the regular audience.

What else?
With the track record ZZ Top has, there's always some great songs left out. For me, I would have loved some of their blues covers, like Stop Breaking Down Blues (though, Sloppy Drunk Blues is even better), their greatest blues tune, A Fool For Your Stockings (Blues Jeans Blues is not a bad replacement) a couple of the old hits like Funky Kings and Nasty Dogs and Just Got Back from Baby's. From the 80's triple hit album, I would have loved to see My Head's In Mississippi, and maybe skip the Rough Boy tune (yeah, I know, it's one of their absolutly greatest hits, but I don't care much for it). Good thing that they included Pincusion from the post-80's periode, but I would also have loved to see She's Just Killing Me there as well. And, the best show opner by ZZ Top ever, is I Thank You, with the Deguello instrumental on track. But all in all, a really great selection of songs in my opinion.

So, two thumbs up, hoping that it's less then 40 years to the next live release.

Track list:
Got Me Under Pressure
Waitin’ For The Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
Pin Cushion
Cheap Sunglasses
Pearl Necklace
Heard It On The X
Just Got Paid
Rough Boy
Blue Jean Blues
Gimmie All Your Lovin’
Sharp Dressed Man
Tube Snake Boogie
La Grange

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

No More Mr. Nice Guy

I just realized this mornin' that I've been thoroughly owned by a weasel of a grad student from another group. Approximately two weeks ago, this grad student came to me with a technical question regarding how to improve certain properties of the materials he was working with. This is not unusual at all, and I spent a little time discussing things with him and making some suggestions for how to make the necessary adjustments. Weaselboi said thanks and was on his way.

Yesterday morning, I noticed that a small congregation was headed into one of the meeting/seminar rooms. Among them were the grad student bastard, his advisor and two prominent people from a hyooge company. I didn't think much about it, as it's quite common for research groups at this department to have close ties to industry.

You're probably way ahead of me here, right?

Yesterday's meeting went on for quite some time, and as I walked into the meeting room this morning, I noticed some schematics on the blackboard. Specifically, I noticed something familiar - an almost exact replica of the modifications I'd been discussing with him. yet somehow, I don't think my name was thrown around alot in the discussions with the industry bigwigs.

In short, I got played like a 25 cent harmonica at a folk music festival. I was absolutely Steve Jobs to the weasel grad student's Bill Gates. I was totally a nonpaid industrial consultant in this situation.

If that skinny runt shows up with more questions, my suggestions are probably gonna involve some anatomic impossibilities. No more Mr. Nice Guy. I'll be sippin' that Haterade from now on.

GQ2: The Revenge - Round 6

...I think this round is gonna be easier than round 5...

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Friday 071108. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Saturday 071208.

Song number 126:

Song number 127:

Song number 128:

Song number 129:

Song number 130:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Notes on German Volume Training (GVT)

For more than six months now, I've been trying out the German Volume Training system in order to give my body a break from the straight sets and pyramiding which have constituted the mainstay of my workouts. Originally, I just wanted to try it out for like six weeks after coming off the Milos Sarcev high-intensity schedule, but I liked GVT so much that I've stayed with it.

In the very likely event that you don't have any idea what GVT is, here are the basics (consult the link for more info): GVT is also referred to as the 10x10 system, wherein you pick one main exercise for each bodypart (bodypart splits can be kept up as for a straight set program), and perform ten sets of ten reps with the same weight/resistance. The idea is that you're supposed to reach positive failure on the tenth rep of the last set, and that you're keeping the rest periods between sets short (no more than 90 seconds in an ideal world). As a general guideline, Charles Poliquin recommends starting out with 60% of your one-rep max, which for me turned out to be complete and utter fiction. 40% of my 1RM was closer to what I could get away with for 10x10, but I guess that's gonna vary quite a lot between individuals, due to differences in type I/type II muscle fibers, and blah blah blah. Whatever. As always, the principle of progressive resistance is utilized, so that the weight is increased gradually. This is mixed up with some 8x8 and even 6x6 days for variety. Each bodypart session is rounded off with two or three sets of a complementary exercise.

The knock on GVT is traditionally that you're working with relatively light weights, which apparently is a huge blow to the egos of many gymgoers. Luckily, I don't really care how much I lift as long as I'm lifting progressively heavier weight, so that has not been a problem for me. Moreover, despite the first few sets being easy to complete, the last two or three sets really need some digging down, as you're pushing your endurance. Try 10x10 barbell squats with a minimal rest period for yourself if you think this sounds wussy. A pleasant side-effect of GVT is that I've had little or no injuries since I started with this system. Straight sets were much more taxing on tendons and ligaments in my case.

This is all good and well, but seeing as how money talks and bullshit walks, I wanted to find out if my 1RM had increased much for bench press today. As I worked my way up a triplet, double and single pyramid to get to my new expected 1RM, it became quite obvious that in terms of max poundage, my strength has not increased much from these months of GVT. However, following a failed attempt at a new 1RM personal record, I was able to rep out with 15 reps of a much higher weight than I've been able to get before - even as a first working set. So; to quote the great Benny Urquidez, "the way you train is the way you react", and in my case, that has translated into improved muscular endurance and a shifted type I/type II fiber ratio. Together with some added mass, I'm sure.

Which means that I'm at a crossroad now - either I've got to work to improve my absolute strength, or keep the reps in the medium range in the search for more mass. Decisions, decisions.

Henry Rollins

...does his "Spoken Word" thing, first on dating:

...then on rave and modern rock: