Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 and a half stars actually. C’mon Goodreads, give us the ability to vote half-stars.
Anyhow, I liked everything about this book save how long it was. I felt it could’ve been tightened a bit by about 60-70 pages. So yes, it did drag a little, especially some of the sections where Kovacs and Ortega are alone. But apart from that, everything else contained within this book was A+. It’s uncommonly complex, labyrinthinely plotted, well characterised and it’s briskly paced (apart from what I said above). I’m impressed, so off to the sequel I go.
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Oh boy, didn’t I cop it from my friends when I first bought this way back in 1984. It didn’t really fit in with the Springsteens, the Hooters and the other MOR 80s stuff they were so fond of. No, this was funeral music. Miserable, sodden rubbish.
I almost fell for their talk too. Then I gave It’ll End In Tears repeated listens. Then the merits of this record opened up and I’ve enjoyed its dying fall ever since.
This Mortal Coil aren’t a band in any logical sense. They were a “label house act” to give it a name, comprised of various signed members of the English record label 4AD, including Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Modern English and so on, with various songs being played by different members from these acts. There’s no cohesion here in that regard.
While calling it funeral music is a glib insult, a lot of it is funereal. Note the difference. It’s a cross between gothic music and dream pop, very airy, very arty, very atmospheric. Definitely not for everyone and it quite possibly is an acquired taste. Correction: it is without dispute an acquired taste. It was for me, despite some initial appeal. On this record, we have covers of artists as diverse as Tim Buckley and Alex Chilton (from Big Star) with Song to the Siren and Kangaroo respectively.
English folk singer Roy Harper gets one of his covered in Another Day (record highlight) and this rendition happens to be one of the most gorgeous things ever recorded, even if Liz Fraser goes murky and chews up the vocals here and there. Other highlights include the epic-sounding Dreams Made Flesh, the bleak wonder of Fond Affection (sung by Gordon Sharp who really does sound like a woman) and the lovely album closer A Single Wish also sung by Sharp.
This Mortal Coil made a few more records but none of which capture the splendid last days of the world vibe this one does. It’ll End In Tears is a gloriously “away with it” work and I strongly recommend it.
This is album number two and no, it’s not as good as Business as Usual. Of course not, it couldn’t be. But on its own merits, it’s quite a good record.
It’s more of the same – the overall sound hasn’t changed much since the first record, the same grooves, the same rhythms etc. So why isn’t it as good? For starters, the songs are definitely more downbeat. More morose, more political…now that’s not so bad, but the songs themselves aren’t as catchy or as hook-laden. There’s simply nothing on this record as attention grabbing as I Can See It In Your Eyes or Be Good Johnny. The downbeat songs on Business as Usual, like the aforementioned I Can See, are bursting at the seams with sing-along hooks and beats. Not so on Cargo. It’s far more of an acquired listen.
It starts off brightly enough with the pseudo-jokey Dr Heckyll and Mr Jive and you’re reassured that you’re back on familiar ground, then we get the morose Overkill, which was the record’s big hit. Things after that waver between serene and bleak, interspersed with some throwaway dross like I Like To and Settle Down by Boy, the first of which is quite frankly an embarrassing song.
There are some gems though – High Wire masks its political overtones with frenetic energy and the album closer, No Restrictions, is probably the record highlight. There are a couple of B-sides they released (Shintaro and When the Money Runs Out) which, in my opinion, should’ve replaced a couple of songs on this album – it would’ve improved things overall.
Cargo doesn’t hold a candle to the first record, but as I said, standing on its own pluses, it’s by no means a dud, but it’s the last decent thing they did. After this, Men At Work disintegrated (losing their drummer and bassist) and they put out the over-produced and synth-drowned Two Hearts, which really is an awful record. Logically, the band died a natural death not long after.
Just a quick update. Looks like News Corp have strangely captioned the reporting of actor JJ Murphy’s death. The picture speaks for itself, though in case you didn’t know, the portrayed actor is Peter Dinklage.
As I write this, I am exactly 16 months away from my 47th birthday. That’s 68 weeks. I just weighed myself, and I’m 135 kg. Take away the clothes I had on, and the fact that I’ve eaten/drank and that’s more realistically about 133 Kg. All right, but let’s use 135 kg as a baseline, as it makes the maths a tad cleaner. I’d like to be 100 kg minimum by Dec 7, 2015.
35 ÷ 68 = 0.515.
So, that’s a weight loss of about 500 grams a week. That’s a touch over one pound to you folks who lean that way. That’s readily achievable, even without doing drastic things.
OK, this is me right now. Scary stuff. Not just to look at either – it’s scary for health reasons too. I’m shaving years off my life by carrying weight like this.
I’m still planning on what to do in regards to exercise, but with food, I’m already eating less, and eating more sensibly. I’ve eliminated processed stuff from my diet and am trying very hard to make my own snacks and so on. So, in a future update, I’ll post here precisely what I’ve been doing with food and activity.
I’ll leave this video here. This guy was 47 at the time he made this. If I could do some of these exercise routines right now, I’d be happy. It truly is inspiring stuff. Something to work towards.
He’s disabled embedding, so click to watch.