Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why Women Rule the Earth

Forget Women Empowerment! Women are Actually in Control

It was as I was looking at a pack of ribbed, glow-in-the-dark condoms in the supermarket last week that I discovered why it is that women rule the Earth.

Sure, Barack Obama and his male presidential brethren from around the world think that they run the joint, but they don't really. The condoms told me so. My lubricated friends told this little story which all starts when humans weren't even yet humans, but their distant ancestors were just starting to run on two feet instead of four.

It was around then that human sexual attraction evolved because of the need to keep both mother and father together to take care of human babies which are notoriously the most vulnerable and helpless young in the entire animal kingdom.

Without the protection of the stronger male (let's call him Adam after), the female (let's call her Eve) and offspring were easy pickings for whatever predator happened to be around. So Eve evolved to be sexually appealing the whole year round (instead of coming into heat once a year like other mammals), and Adam hung around her nonetheless. It stayed like this for a long time. Adam was getting a little slap and tickle; Eve was getting protection and baby (Junior) grew up happily. And then repeat from the top because as long as Adam was getting sex, Eve was having more Juniors.

It was the perfect arrangement. Until along came contraception and birth control (aha, my latex buddies come into the picture), together with, and part of, the movement towards women becoming the equals of men in the functioning of society. Which throws the entire thing out of balance because Eve no longer needs Adam to take care of her and having sex no longer produces Juniors.

So what happened was that, because sex was no longer primarily about reproduction, its role in relationships had to change. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that in modern relationships it seems that sexual attraction has become 99.9 percent of the law.

We can say what we like about people's minds and souls and how much we admire the girl next-door's arithmetic, but do we have time to care anymore? A stimulating conversation over a cup of tea and a biscuits in the morning is worthless when contrasted with great sex the night before. It's the way things are these days, because long-term relationships are no longer so important.

Which is exactly why women hold all the power. Because no matter what any man says, what every one of us really wants (even more than becoming a famous Movie star or playing Cricket for India) is a loving someone to hold us tight and take care of us and cook us an egg for breakfast in the morning.

Evolution decreed that every man will grow up knowing that he needs a partner because that's how the species stayed alive. But in the greater scheme of things women no longer need us. Of course they are genetically programmed to know that they should procreate, but for that they only need a little sperm which they can get from one night of passion without needing any commitment.

So Adam is left wondering how he can make it so that Eve will still want him. And there's the thing - it's all up to Eve. Suddenly Adam realises that if he's going to get Eve to like him, he's going to have to do what she says and dress like she wants him to and not burp in polite company. Before, it was the other way around, when men ruled the world and Eve had to do her best to attract Adam.

And that is what I learnt from those ribbed, glow-in-the-dark condoms in the supermarket: if I'm going to find someone to cook me an egg in the morning, I'm going to have to polish my shoes and….

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Attack of the 6 Foot Banana Woman

With the last minute mad rush, Christmas is obviously a bad time for shopping, even groceries. I was at a supermarket yesterday, the hypermarket to be exact, when out of the blue, this 6 foot tall, frizzy-haired Amazon of a woman comes flying past me, trolley very obviously out of control, almost breaking the sound barrier and slicing off my toes in the process.

After ricocheting off the fresh fruit and vegetables section, I tried to get my bearings. The heel had broken off my new Nike sandals, and my basket was now empty and lying upside-down at the other end of the aisle. I watched as a lonely tub of tofu disappeared under the aisle division. The blood rushed to my head.

Grasping the weighing machine for support, I spotted her, submerged to the elbows in purple cauliflowers. She had a baby on her hip which was screaming its head off, its sticky fingers entangled in her over-dyed mop of blond hair.

Now as any self respecting woman knows, there's a bad perm and there's a BAD PERM. This woman definitely sported the latter, with pride. I strode purposely towards her, breathing deeply.

"Excuse me!" I said emphatically. She spun around. The baby promptly dropped its sucker into the mop. She didn't seem to notice.

"Can you not see I'm busy?" she yelled at me, juggling onions at the same time as throwing random bunches of bananas into her trolley.

She barely paused for breath before letting loose a storm of verbal abuse. Shocked, I backed off slightly. She continued to rant, frantically waving an oversized banana in my face. The sucker stick was now barely visible. I hadn't even said anything yet. This woman was clearly not well or I'd just interrupted a breakdown in progress. I backed off some more. The baby started to cry. A crowd was gathering in the aisle.

"Security, please report to Aisle Three" came blaring out over the loudspeaker. I looked up. Aisle Two flashed menacingly above my head. Banana woman was getting closer.

I started to panic and began my retreat. I backed into the Bakery section in my haste to get away. She was still coming. I heard the crowd murmur. I couldn't move. My fingers closed around a packet of doughnuts. I was just about to hurl it at her when the baby threw up. She was momentarily distracted.

Taking the gap in a desperate "you can still save yourself" attempt, I heard a smash emanating from behind the tins of baked beans. Turning, I caught a quick glimpse of a very blonde head, before it vanished amongst the display. Oh God, not another one. "Mummy!" yelled the blond head as it catapulted into the trolley. The onlookers scattered. Mummy was frantically trying to wipe the vomit off her bright red Levis T-shirt when security rocked up.

Trying to look inconspicuous, which wasn't easy with a shoe in one hand and a packet of jammy doughnuts in the other, I negotiated my escape. I smiled sweetly at the security guard, shrugged my shoulders and made "she's gone nuts" gestures with my hand as I passed.

Turning briefly I saw the banana woman sitting in a crumpled heap on the floor, holding a packet of frozen peas to her head, a concerned store manager patting her shoulder.

Isn't it amazing how a harmless act of grocery shopping can suddenly turn into a bizarre health hazard? Why does this happen, and what have we been reduced to as a race?

Mall rage definitely exists. It’s a fact. It manifests in many shapes and forms, and has different causes and effects for everyone. Today’s lifestyle commands a much faster pace than 20 years ago. From dual-income families to singletons living the high-flying career life, most of us teeter dangerously on the edge from too many multivitamins and artificially high levels of gym-induced serotonin.

In this “must try harder” society, harassed executives and junior yuppies will inevitably hit the aisles after work, or during their lunch hour. Well, mid day shopping is purely an exercise in frustration. From screaming around your office, running to and from engagements and meeting deadlines, it is virtually impossible to downshift to the pace required to follow a slow-moving family up an escalator, or bored housewives having a gossip session right in the entrance to the supermarket. So we’re in a bad mood before we even begin.

Saturday mornings or any day in the first week of the month, especially after payday, should be avoided at all costs. The parking is impossible, hoards of over-excited kids on sugar highs race around annoying the general public, while disillusioned mothers try unsuccessfully to control them. And what’s with those tiny trolleys for kids anyway?

Ditto with sale areas, and festival bargains. Fighting for the last “sale” under the harsh glare of the fluorescent lighting is enough to turn any normally sane person into a raving lunatic. Everyone knows fluorescent lighting increases stress levels, as does depleting stocks, narrow over-crowded aisles and ‘elevator’ music from the 1980s. Is that supposed to soothe us? So, karmically-speaking, we’re a real mess.

Then there are the queues. Why is it that after standing for 20 shoe-tapping minutes the person in front of you hauls out their credit card to pay for two trolley loads of groceries? Of course it doesn’t work.

Now the check-out assistants are check-out assistants for a reason, and they can’t possibly know why the credit card isn’t working. So we have to call visa or mastercard to get clearance (if its amex, its even worse). The clearance finally comes through after ten mind-numbing minutes, by which time you’ve polished off a tube of Rollo and half the queue has moved to aisle three.

Only the die-hards are left, waiting out the storm. And it’s still not that simple. Now the store manager – who happens to be on a smoke break – has to be called to provide authorization for this recently cleared, over-extended credit card. He finally strolls up to the till, and authorizes. Thank God.

By this stage, the collective beeping of 45 check-out machines has sent your mind into overdrive, and your blood sugar has leapt from dangerously low (pre-Mentos) to uncontrollably high (post Mentos) and unless you get out of this bloody shop in under five minutes you’re going to have to be institutionalized for life.

So, we ask ourselves, what is the solution? Kid-free time slots would be a good first option. These coinciding with prime shopping time for those of us with jobs and no free time.

Clear the aisles and let the efficient, the organized, the working people have free reign!

Make sure you have a list. You know what you want. You go in, you get it and you leave. This minimizes the "vacant-shopper" syndrome and reduces chaos.

Know your supermarket. You can weave expertly through the aisles, not having to double back because you’ve forgotten the tofu in aisle two.

And the golden rule: never shop when you’re hungry! Hyperglycemia is a very common, often misunderstood condition. Low blood sugar contributes to mood swings, bursts of outrage, dizziness and in extreme conditions can induce coma. When coupled with a chaotic environment and hoards of people, the inevitable outcome is “mall rage”.

Finally, if you know you’re a victim, you have a short temper, or you’re just a bad shopper, then get with the 21st century and shop online!

What more could you want? As a friend of mine once said, “Oh, I don’t shop, darling. I have PEOPLE to do that for me…” With wishes for a happy and peaceful shopping!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wisdom Sanctums for Lazy Bookworms and Others..

Finding Inspiration at your Local Library
A count of the books I had read for 2009 revealed a disappointing eighteen. A few minutes spent thinking about this and I had convinced myself bitterly that yes, only the privileged few can regularly afford the prices charged by hip and trendy bookstores-cum-coffee shops, with their shelves crammed with volumes of hard- and softbacks wrapped in funky designer covers flaunting the (sometimes-xeroxed) mugs of writers; the aroma of cappuccino hanging heavy overhead.

So, while not on my list of New Year’s resolutions, I made a concerted effort to pay my favorite local library, the British Council Library, a visit at the soonest opportunity in the new year. The proverbial door to a whole new world has subsequently been opened.

Also prompting my visit was my search for Marianna, the lead character in a good old novel I had read when I was a teenager, shrouded in a dark veil of teen angst and with a strong sense of anachronism that gave me a perpetual look of being lost.

Marianna was a girl going through the motions in the Sixties, who found herself overwhelmed by the camaraderie among the young and stoned at Woodstock, who became the inevitable university-dropout hippie who opted to travel through Europe and India instead, who did yoga and who never looked clean to her parents (no matter how often she showered). I had read the book non-stop in a few days during one of my winter school holiday breaks.

It didn’t help that I had met Marianna at a very impressionable stage of my life. Her experiences intensified my sense of anachronism; she fuelled my search for any remnants, even sneak peeks at the Wonder Years (remember Kevin’s sister, played by Olivia D’Abo, was a hippie), of that age.

My need to reconnect with Marianna was sparked by my own kind of 90’s Woodstockish Grunge experience (on a much smaller scale of course) over New Year – on a farm far away from the city with hundreds of other revellers, dancing barefoot in the rain in the mud for three days…

So it was in search of this Evan Hunter novel titled “Love, Dad” (after the way Marianna’s father ended correspondence to her) that I entered the British Council Library on a recent sweltering summer’s day. This library is a gem in the near morass of urban decay. Mosaic floors, colorful panelling along the walls, high ceilings with ornate cornices, slick computers, sunlight streaming in through sash windows, wooden-floored staircases, a pervasive atmosphere of old and wise, of being in the midst of a higher order… a sanctum of unexpressed exhilaration for knowledge.

I found Marianna easily in the maze of bookshelves zigzagging through the large fiction section. I zoomed in on the hardcover section and found “Love, Dad” sitting snugly between several other Evan Hunter novels. A quick scan of the rest of the shelf, something caught my eye… Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World”. There was a time when that book was on my "To read" list. I didn’t have such a list anymore, I realised. Now’s a good time to start again I thought to myself, getting all the more excited at the prospect of finding treasure upon treasure of books that I’ve been intending to read, but didn’t.

But these observations lost their haloed glow when the librarian informed me that I had to pay $200 worth of unpaid fines that had accumulated. I had to go back the next day. I discovered my card had also expired since my last visit over two years ago. This was effortlessly fixed. The experience left me warm. Libraries have only benefits to offer.

To summarise, I’d say:
  • You can save money by not having to pay for books (unless you’re a lazy bum and don’t return them on time). Latest releases can also be obtained.
  • By borrowing books you don’t clog up your own already-dense collection any more only to sell them to a second-hand bookshop a few years down the line.
  • It’s a peaceful and relaxing place to escape to for an hour or two given the spacious reading rooms. And the Art and Music section can be a sanctuary especially on a crazy Saturday morning.
  • It’s a great way to meet new people.
  • The British Council Library (and others) has an Internet facility and a Small Business corner for the business orientated.
  • Libraries usually have a community-based information database offering details on recreational clubs, support groups, book clubs etc.
  • Most Libraries facilitate literacy classes by offering reading space and books for new and early learners.
  • Libraries take special care to cultivate a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for children. It’s the ideal way to introduce children to books and encourage a love for reading.
  • It gives you a place to start to complete your "To read" list.

Having revisited Marianna in her ageless Sixties time capsule, I concluded that the read wasn’t as intense second-time around, though I understood why it had left the imprint on my soul when I had read it.

And even though I’m spreading the gospel of getting up and getting in touch with your local library, I know, there are just some books you have to have in your own collection, sitting on your own shelf. No doubt I’ll aim to double last year’s amount, hopefully at no extra cost.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Date Shopping @ Supermarkets!

Being single in winter is not at all the same as being a swinging solo player in the anything-is-possible summer months, when each lazy day at the beach or balmy evening hopping from cocktail bar to nightclub presents a myriad opportunities for flirting, dating and having a damned fine time.

No, winter, being generally cold and wet, tends to put a dampener on the more sociable habits of the human animal. Suddenly everyone is part of a couple. And suddenly, being available is no longer so terribly attractive. In fact, your once fellow lone rangers, now that they too have found winter snuggle mates, seem to have forgotten your existence, bar the occasional SMS inviting you over for supper ("there's too much food for just the two of us, anyway!").

Though it gets a bit infuriating being a tag-along, there's also little that's worse than pacing around your damp, quiet apartment (when you talk to yourself it echoes) late on a chilly Saturday afternoon - knowing that your coupled friends are out there playing, drinking beer and (you're certain about this one) getting a kick out of being so very, very cosy. Smug bastards!

While the virtues of being single are many, it really can be a little sad when you're the only one among your group of friends who seems to have no-one (except for your dog/cat/teddy/blankie) with whom to cuddle up against the hostile elements.

That classic axiom that goes "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is all good and well when your pals and their new honies have a good supply of single men or women, depending on what the case may be, up their sleeves ("join us for drinks - there's someone we're dying for you to meet!").

But, unfortunately, it doesn't always work this way. The single girl or guy simply has to rely on being resourceful rather than waiting for introductions from over-eager friends - after all, what do they really know about your taste in men/women, other than what they think will be good for you!

There's nothing quite like a winter squeeze to get a person through all those bleak, potentially lonely months ahead. (If long-term is not quite your thing right now, then the same can be said for serial flirtation.) It's just a matter of finding that squeeze, that delicious single bloke or bloke-ette, amid the happy hordes of hand-holding couples.

At this time of the year, when the cocktail bars and nightclubs are all but empty, windswept reminders of wilder days, these locations should be shelved in favour of other, lesser known pick-up spots, such as the sports club (lots of hot, sweaty bodies), the cookery class (all those steaming pots and pans) and - yes - the supermarket.

Casually eyeing out the contents of a person's trolley or shopping basket can reveal vast amounts not only about their economic status or whether they're a vegan with a peculiar weakness for iced zoo biscuits, but also if they'll be eating alone this evening. It's very easy to divine if a dinner for two is on the cards - count the bottles of wine, for starters. And keep an eye open for any sign of dessert, like strawberries and cream or a generous tub of chocolate mousse (solo diners tend to opt for the dinkier tubs).

And if a shopper buys things like toothpaste and soap in bulk, or has one of those family packs of toilet rolls (or - an obvious one - disposable nappies!) swinging from his/her trolley, chances are there is a family lurking back home.

Being a trolley voyeur is also a good way to discern whether you and this potential pick-up share similar penchants in food, especially since a significant part of winter coupling involves getting cosy in the kitchen. Does he/she choose real butter over margarine? Is that olive oil extra virgin or a cheaper, generic version? Aaah, there go all the makings of a Thai green curry in that cute girl's/boy's basket!

Sometimes establishing whether the subject is attached or not entails trailing them (nonchalantly, of course) up and down the aisles of the supermarket. Sadly, doing so can easily result in disappointment, since there might be a girlfriend or boyfriend lurking in the cheese section where the lovebirds had planned to reunite.

But there are also those fortunate moments when trollies collide around corners, the perfect excuse to smile, apologise and establish that all important first contact. Hopefully it won't take too long to determine whether a particular person is available or not. If he or she is single, chances are you and your trailing have already been noticed, too - attached people make a point of making NO EYE CONTACT with anyone around them for fear of encountering potential supermarket flirts (like you).

The trick now is to ensure that you're standing in the same (long) check-out queue, where there'll be plenty of time and opportunities to exchange furtive glances or perhaps even start a conversation. If you're stuck on what to say - and depending on what he/she has in their basket - you can try something like: "My, but those are really enormous apples you have there!" or "Nice bit of sausage, that!" or "Oh, isn't smoked salmon just the sexiest food around!"

If your idle banter is well received by said individual, and if you're a brave sort, you might consider scribbling your phone number on the back of a till slip and secretly popping it into one of his/her shopping bags. And if you find your tin of hot chocolate and packet of cookies being sized up, invite him/her over to your place for a cuppa.

But whether the sparks continue to fly post-shopping or the excitement ends the minute you've loaded your groceries into the car and are headed home, there's still something to be said for the joys of supermarket flirtations.

The same can be said for any kind of flirting that happens in the safety of well-lit public spaces. Like the exchanging of meaningful stares while working up a sweat on the super circuit, or sharing notes at night classes at the Alliance Francaise, pottery course or gourmet cooking demonstration.

It's fun and it can also be quite funny - if the two of you hit it off, you'll be entertaining people with your tales of trolley trailing and squabbles over that last packet of fresh basil for years to come.

In the meantime, being a single shopper will never be the same again! Happy Shopping! Tags:
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Monday, December 21, 2009

What I Saw Last Night - Wag The Dog (1997)

Barry Levinson's Oscar nominated 'Wag The Dog' is a hilarious political comedy of reality, justice and special effects! Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman star as the spin doctor and the film producer. When 'Wag The Dog' was released in the US it coincided with the latest Clinton political scandal. When the conflict in the gulf region looked like a distraction to the president's image problems, life seemed to be mirroring art. For in the film we find that a political scandal is about to erupt - less than 2 weeks before Election Day!

Less than two weeks before Election Day, a scandal erupts that threatens to cripple the President's bid for a second term. But before the incident can cause irreparable damage, a mysterious fixer is called to the White House. The ultimate spin doctor, Conrad Brean (Robert DeNiro) has the uncanny ability to manipulate politics, the press and most importantly, the American people.

Anticipating the reaction of a frenzied press corps, Brean deftly deflects attention from the President by creating a bigger and better story a war. With the help of Stanley Motss (the t" is silent), a famed Hollywood producer and his irreverent entourage, Brean assembles an unlikely crisis team who orchestrate a global conflict unlike any ever seen on CNN. The eccentric Motss is played by Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman.

Wickedly fictional with historical overtones truer than many care to admit, 'Wag The Dog' examines the blurred lines between politics, the media and show business. A good watch it is.

Direct download Dvdrip Link -

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Special - Sade's Lovers Rock

If Sade was a World leader, then we would probably spend our time living in a golden age where only love and goodness would be the order of the day. But she isn't, and the closest we’ll ever get to that state of nirvana would be to listen to her humble offerings like this favorite of mine. 

This album “Lovers Rock” is simply Sade being Sade. This Nigerian born, British-bred soultress, Helen Folasade Adu, only creates music when she has something to say, and she rarely does interviews for the same reason. On her fifth album, three musicians once again joined Sade along with songwriting partners she took with her when she left the Latin funk band Pride in the early 80s.

Sade does stray away from the sounds "Lovers Rock", which has helped her sell over 40 million albums but manages to incorporate an element of freshness that aligns her with the current electronic music revolution.

The album's opening track “By Your Side” has a sweet acoustic sound and the lyrics are nothing short of pure, displaying the tensile strength of love. This is Sade at her best oozing with that morose and moody voice which we love.

"Lovers Rock" is heavily influenced by her previous albums “Diamond Life” and “Love Deluxe” but still remains fresh. This smooth operator knows exactly what she is doing on this album, which is nothing short of amazing - the groove is light, the voice is chilly, and the songs are as real as they come.

A few songs that really stand out are tracks eight and three, respectively “Every Word” and “King of Sorrow”. The rest are pretty damn good as well. Sade sounds like she had a cosmic orgasm twenty years ago and was recovering, catching her breathe over the grooves when she made the album. So, all that is left for you do with this album is to dim the lights and let Sade be Sade.

Sade - Lovers Rock - 2000 Release - 320 Kbps

Track Listing
By Your Side
King of Sorrow
Somebody Already Broke My Heart
All About Our Love
Slave Song
The Sweetest Gift
Every Word
Lover's Rock
It's Only Love That Gets You Through

Full Album Free MP3 Download Link -

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I Saw Last Night - Quills (2000)

Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet's Provocative Masterpiece

The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) has the dubious honour of giving his name to the act of gaining pleasure from inflicting pain on others: sadism. His writing depicts cruel behaviour, including vigorous portrayals of necrophilia, pedophilia and recreational disembowelments.

Adapted by Doug Wright from his Obie-winning play, “Quills” is a fictional account of the marquis’ final years, when he was imprisoned at the Charenton insane asylum for publishing his obscene novels. An immoral aristocrat and spoiled genius, De Sade (Geoffrey Rush) is allowed to stock his well-appointed cell with sexually explicit art, a four-poster bed, wine, books, a desk and plenty of ink and quill pens. His high life results from the tolerance of a kindly young priest, Abbé Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), determined to give the marquis free rein to indulge his talents as a creator of perverse stories. De Sade does just that, penning his twisted novels and sneaking them out to be published via a young laundress (Kate Winslet) who is infatuated with his fiction.

When De Sade’s novel Justine appears in Paris, it creates a social shockwave that ripples all the way up to Napoleon, and the emperor dispatches Dr Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to take control of the asylum and silence the troublesome writer. Royer-Collard is the worst thing in the world: a sadist disguised as a moralist whom circumstance has endowed with some measure of power. Where the Abbé reaches out to his patients with understanding and humility, Royer-Collard simply tortures them until they relinquish their insane behaviour.

Thus begins a monumental battle of wills, a race to zero, as De Sade meets the doctor’s increasingly sordid violence with a determination to let no amount of deprivation or abuse still his voice. Geoffrey Rush’s larger-than-life performance of De Sade gains our sympathy even as we are revolted by his extreme and often perverse actions. Rush doesn’t overdo the character’s decadence or flamboyance, since he reveals small, subtle moments of genuine feeling (such as the moment his precious quills are confiscated).

Kate Winslet is impressive as the Marquis’ loyal supporter, and she and Rush attack their scenes with playful relish together. There's also fine support from Joaquin Phoenix as the humanitarian priest whose noble principles are rocked by the decadent charms of the Marquis. Michael Caine takes what could have been a predictable arch-fiend and turns him into a complex, firm presence - a steady rock who makes for quite a match against Geoffrey Rush's Marquis, though they share very few scenes.

With “Quills”, director Philip Kaufman has made the Marquis de Sade a poster-child for the freedom of expression. But the movie is far more complex than a simple liberal tract supporting free expression. “Quills” envisions the artist's imagination as an unstoppable force, one that cannot be controlled by traditional forms of punishment (when De Sade's pens and ink are taken away, he uses chicken bones and wine to write; later, he uses his own blood). “Quills” blurs the lines between art and being, and treats the act of creation as a compulsive part of existence, as involuntary as breathing.

The movie also suggests that real art - one unfettered by matters of taste or propriety - can be as dangerous as it is inspiring. In the wrong hands, it can be as combustible as a match to gasoline, and the movie plays out that possibility to a breathtakingly dark conclusion. “Quills” is a brilliant, adult movie. Highly recommended.

Blast From the Past - Madonna's Music

Whether you like her or not, there is no denying Madonna's staying power and her imaginative capacity to continuously reinvent herself. With her 2000 album titled "Music", she once again demonstrated the constantly changing dynamic of both her music and her image. This was Madonna's 14th album and its title track, "Music", her 10th number one single in the UK, making Madonna the first female artist to achieve this landmark.

The most prominent difference between "Music" and Madonna's previous albums was that she had written all but one of the 11 tracks herself. Recorded over an eight-month period, the album was a result of experimentation between Madonna and the French songwriter, producer and remixer - Mirwais Ahmandzai. Ahmandzai's task was to experiment with Madonna's voice, reinventing it with electronic effects and contrasting these new sounds with Madonna's natural, pure voice.

Madonna has always been at the forefront of change, courageously delivering something pioneering to her fans - despite the risk of losing those who liked what she delivered before. Those who thrive on this quality will not be disappointed. This album is different. It is an eclectic mix of what seems to be an honest expression by Madonna herself. The album contains fun dance mixes contrasted with slower, more introspective ballads. The dance tracks are extremely catchy and like so many of Madonna's hits they stay in your head - making sure you're still singing them long after the music has stopped.

The CD's title track "Music" starts and sets the dance mood immediately. All of the faster tracks like "Amazing" and "Runaway Lover" are also dance tracks characterized by upbeat tempos, instrumental mixes and electronic effects on Madonna's voice. The slower tracks like "What It Feels Like For a Girl" and "Nobody's Perfect" reflect a softer, more feminine Madonna and both lyrics and music discuss Madonna's thoughts and feelings - almost a subtle observation of the world around her. In fact, this seems to be an apt description of the album as a whole. It is subtle and interesting, and coming from a woman who is arguably the biggest and strongest force in her field, this subtlety reflects a softness and melancholy in Madonna's creative spirit.

This album will certainly appeal to fans who thrive on her ability to surprise. For those who are not necessarily fans of Madonna's past experiments - take a listen - the album may reflect a side of her that appeals to you.

Now is your chance to relive the past using the following FREE MP3 link to the full album -

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blast from the Past - Creed's Human Clay

Last night, I was digging my old collection of rock CDs and I ended up listening to Creed’s Human Clay. Creed was a popular band in the late 1990s and early 2000s with three multi-platinum albums, grossing over 26 million records in the United States alone and an estimated 35 million records across the world. In spite of their massive success, they disbanded in 2004 but in early 2009, they regrouped and have released a new album ’Full Circle’ that I am yet to hear.

Anyway, the term "overnight success" is an overused cliché, but in the case of Creed, that classification is spot on. "Human Clay", the band's second offering, catapulted them to even greater heights, sending their sales to over 13-million units and Highs at the American Music awards.

Their powerful live performances and ability to produce finger-on-the-pulse music created a loyal and growing following for this Florida-based foursome. In 1995, the original four musicians Scott Stapp, Mark Tremonti, Brain Marshall & Scott Phillips honed their skills by playing cover songs (a favourite was Radiohead’s "Creep"). In 1996, the band members used all their savings to put together enough songs for their debut album "My Own Prison" which was released in April 1997. They became the first band in history to have four number one rock/radio singles from a debut album. The album sold over five million albums.

The first single from their already 9x Platinum album "Human Clay", "Higher", track number eight, broke the Active and Mainstream Rock airplay records for the most consecutive weeks at number one, holding the spot for eighteen weeks.

Creed can best be described as a Metallica-meets-Counting-Crows outfit with a hint of Nirvana. The lyrics to "Higher" and practically every song on the album are awe-inspiring. "When dreaming, I’m guided through another world/ Time and time again/ At sunrise I fight to stay asleep/ Cause I don’t want to leave the comfort of this place/ Cause there’s a hunger, a longing to escape." The band's intensity comes through in songs like "Higher" with Stapp providing the lyrics and the band providing the complementing sound.

The band's sixth number one hit came in the form of the very impressive down-toned "With Arms Wide Open" track number eight which stands out from the rest of the songs on this album. Its lyrics tell of a father welcoming his newborn son into the world and how scared he is of the task that lies ahead. "Well I don’t know if I’m ready/ To be the man I have to be/ I’ll take a breath, take her by my side/ We stand in awe, we’ve created life."

Not enough fuss can be made about the lyrics of the songs that are written by Stapp and Tremonti. They have a unique ability to bring across everyday struggles and messages in a highly intense and soul-grabbing way. "Wash Away Those Tears", track number 10, is a lush ballad displaying the band's eagerness to explore different sonic territories.

This album is a definite winner. Not only for the impressive guitar playing but also for the lyrics which tackle the rigours of the outside world. It’s not often that a band comes together with the ability to produce first-rate writing as well as supreme sounds. It came as no surprise to me when they were nominated for two Grammys: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group and Songwriter's Award for "With Arms Wide Open".

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