Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Musings Of An Aging Man.

Notice I said aging, as in 'I am getting older', not as in 'I am old'. None of this "Oh Axl, yer not old blah de blah" bull crap.

I recently got 'found' on Facebook by my younger half-brother Ben. I just had a look on his profile and virtually every comment on his wall ends with "Lol". Hey, he's 15 so it's allowed okay? It does however add to the list of things that make me feel criminally old.
It's the induction week for my course at Ruskin this week. Ruskin is a college that specialises in teaching people who haven't been in education for a while. Basically this means that for the last 2 days I have been sitting in rooms full of people who are for the most part older than me. You would think this would make me feel young, right? On the contrary, being in an older environment is making me feel old. I'm not young, nubile & sexy enough to hang out with the young people at other colleges/universities, oh no. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say anything bad about these people. They seem nice enough, and for a learning environment a bunch of mature adults are gonna be a hell of a lot easier to get along with than a load of kids who are just out of school, wet behind the ears, arrogant little wankpots. But it still makes me feel old.
I made the mistake of looking at Bebo earlier too. Somehow Bebo came up in conversation with someone the other day, and I realised I didn't really know what it was. I knew it was a social networking site, but that was it. I went on it just now, and fucking hell. It's like Facebook & MySpace made love, and had a baby, but it was a baby made of vomit. Seriously, looking at a Bebo profile is like looking at every MySpace and Facebook profile you've ever seen all at the same time. It's so cluttered that it hurts yer eyes to look at it. It's the kind of madness that only kids could make head or tail of. Everyone on Bebo seems to be 17, 18 or 19. Everyone's wall or whatever Bebo call walls are covered in smileys and hearts. Everyones photos are the most posed photos you've ever seen in yer life (My favourite of the ones I saw from the 4 profiles I looked at before my eyes started to boil was someone called Craig, or "Mashhead", who found it necessary for his profile photo to be him topless and flexing his muscles.). It has surveys called "Are you straight lez bi or loner?", "What kind of gang member are you?" and "Are you sexy, slutty or ugly?" It has something called "Sofia's Diary" which has the tagline "You think your life sucks? Watch mine...", so I did. Episode 130 to be precise (For someone who seems to hate their life, it seems odd that they have no problem broadcasting 130 episodes of it to the whole world.). What did I see? Sofia, a slightly attractive girl in her late teens mopes around her bedroom for a bit before going to meet her friends, before walking along the South Bank (yes, it's set in London) where she meets a boy she really fancies and goes all snogging on him. Wow. Your life is like soooooo hard. A brief look at Episode 127 reveals to me that she works for a magazine called "Wicked". Go away now Bebo please. Go away, re-brand yerself "ChavSpace" and have done with it.
I can't remember what else makes me feel old now. My memory seems to be getting worse as I get older. Hey, that's another thing that makes me feel old!

Friday, 26 September 2008

End Of An Era.

So, on Monday I am to become a student. I am being inducted into Ruskin adult college on their "Creative Writing & Critical Practice" course. Now I'll obviously have to don some sort of golfing gear, tie myself to a slag and go round pubs SHOUTING REALLY LOUDLY ABOUT HOW I WANT A HALF PINT OF LAGER AND IN 5 MINUTES WE'RE OFF TO THE NEXT PUB, ALRIGHT GUYS?!

This also means that after almost 7 years, I am no longer a full time employee of HMV. Which is fucking awesome. My last full time day was yesterday. I'm still gonna be doing weekends, y'know for the money and that.

What surprises me is how much I'm really not going to miss it at all. Working in a shop for the last 7 years has been like watching the slow deterioration of the human race happen before my very eyes. People actually are getting more stupid and more lazy. And more rude. A HELL of a lot more rude.

Hmmm... this may have to be finished at a later date, as I don't really seem to have a lot to say about the whole thing right now.

In summary then: I only work weekends now and from Monday I will be a student. Go me.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.

15th September 2008. Mr Axl & Lady 'Caela have decided to go to the cinema, but they can't decide what to see. Nothing at the Odeon really takes their fancy right at this moment in time. Lady 'Caela checks what's on at the Phoenix.

LC: "Do you fancy seeing 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas'?
MA: "What's that?"
LC: "It's a film about the Holocaust."
MA: Slightly dubious as he's not really sure he's in the mood for that. "Hmmm.... dunno."

They look at the Odeon board. The only thing Mr Axl wants to see is 'Man On Wire', but Lady 'Caela isn't in the mood for a documentary. Everything else they could see now kind of looks a bit lame.

LC: Deciding to try her luck. "What film magazine do you most trust?"
MA: "Empire. Why?"
LC: "We'll see what they give it."
MA: "Okay." Thinks to himself that if it's anything lower than 4 stars, we're in for a tricky few minutes.

Lady 'Caela looks up the review on her phone internet. There on the screen comes up the Empire header. Below it, 'The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas' has been awarded 4 stars.

MA: "Alright then, let's go."

I've always been a bit of a sucker for Empire. I don't know what it is, but they just seem to be really good. There is no music mag that is as good as Empire is a film mag. Not by a long shot. Which is a real fucking shame.

The last time I can remember seeing a film that I knew virtually nothing about beforehand (not counting random films on tele) was The Matrix. All I knew about that was that Keanu Reeves was in it, and there was fighting. All I knew about this was that it's about the holocaust.

I found out the next day that it's an adaptation of a children's book, which makes sense as it's basically a child's view of a part of the Second World War. Which has a double effect of a) adding an innocent naivety & humour to things, and b) heightening all emotional responses. When something is felt, you feel it that much more. This would be such an easy thing to overdo, but the film is extremely good at simply presenting itself, not trying to make you think one thing or another, and just letting you go along with the events and feelings of the film, leaving you to have a perfectly natural emotional response to what you are seeing. Nothing is forced out of you. Nazi's are not presented as pantomime villains, they are presented as real people, which makes their moments of 'evil' all the more effective.

The basic plot of the film is that a Nazi officer is promoted to oversee a Concentration Camp. His family moves out of Berlin for him to be closer to his work. While out playing, the officer's son finds the Camp which he has seen from his bedroom window. There on the other side of the border fence is another boy. The two become friends. The film centres around not only the two's friendship, but also the effect on the family of the move and the changes in their lives that come from his new job.

This film is incredibly moving. The contrast between how the situation is seen by the children and what we the audience already know in retrospect really affects how you feel towards this film. It's something that I'm sure the film-makers know and have done deliberately, but I'm not sure how. Like I said earlier, they never try to drill anything into you, you just feel what you feel naturally.

I'm not sure if I've made this clear or not, but I think this is a really good film. If it weren't for a certain 'Dark Knight' this would almost certainly be my film of the year so far. I urge you all to go and see it. Make sure you take some tissues tho.

If I were to do a 'Fudge' style rating, it would get 4.5 fudge sundaes out of 5

Monday, 22 September 2008

If You Only Ever Ate Soup...

...would you always have diarrhoea?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Winkstock '08

13th September saw Port Mahon & The Cellar hosting this year's Winkstock. I can't actually remember if I went to last years. I think I was going to, but missed it. Anyway, this year I went, albeit missing the first 4 acts.
The first band I saw were the superbly titles You're Smiling But We'll All Turn Into Demons, who sound exactly like The Heads. I love The Heads, and ...Demons are a band who do this sound really well too. "This sound" being scuzzy sounding garage psychedelia with a nod to the late 60's and early 70's space rock jams. It would be better if they hadn't broken their bass drum halfway thru their set, which is a shame because although they're still really good, it always sounds like there's a layer missing from then on.
Chops are next, and the headliners of the Port Mahon leg of Winkstock '08. Chops consist of 2 guy's who go a bit mental on synths, vocals, a guitar, a saxophone and strange boxes, backed by a ridiculously talented drummer. You get the impression that the drummer is the glue who holds these guys together, and that if he weren't there, the other 2 would just devolve into a primal mess of pure sound, trying to outdo each other in a noise fight for the position of alpha male and possession of the most attractive female in the vicinity. As it is, this is a joyously structured mess. I'm just not sure how much of the headache it was worth.
On to The Cellar then for the second leg. First up, Elapse-O. I hadn't seen Elaspe-O for a while and was really looking forward to this. Shame they were so shit. YEAH RIGHT! They were fuckin' awesome! The last 2 songs of their set especially were amazing. If these guys don't get singed up to an indie in the next year then there is something seriously wrong. Come on, there's no point pretending anymore that people don't listen to this stuff. A niche market noise music may be, but that still means there's a market for it, and Elapse-O are probably one of the most exciting and original UK acts in this crazy old sub-genre.
Next up, Gentle Friendly, a keyboard & drums duo. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't like them. The whole thing just left me a bit cold and "whatever". And I can't shake the feeling that the drummer seems a lot better than he actually is because he's playing at about 400 beats per minute. The guy who plays bagpipes on Cornmarket Street in Oxford plays really quickly to try and cover up the fact that he's actually not very good and mistakes are less noticeable when they're at breakneck speed. It's probably unfair to level this accusation at the drummer from Gentle Friendly, because I couldn't actually hear any mistakes or slips being made, but then I did stop actively listening after the first couple of songs and went to join 'Caela and some mates off in an alcove for a chat and just let GF become background noise. I've focused on the drummer, because I can't really remember the keyboard player. I'm pretty sure his keyboard was white, and although I wasn't impressed with the sound that was coming from it, I couldn't actually tell you anything about that sound.
And so onto headliners Manatees. Manatees amps were stacked up to the ceiling. Manatees play slow, sludgy, loud metal in the vein of Isis. Manatees are really good. REALLY good. The pace never really picks up, so you get lulled into this hypnotic state, hanging on every decibel of the methodical chugging of atmospheric low-end intensity. These are no doom imitators we're dealing with, these guys have clearly meticulously studied doom, and worked out their place in it. Hence, they sound like Isis, but in no way sound like they're ripping off Isis. Or anyone else.

Why do I always seem to have more things to say about what I don't like than what I do?

Monday, 15 September 2008

2nd September 2008: Faust + Shit & Shine at Cargo

Or: The gig where I was about a foot away from being scalped by a chainsaw.

I hadn't been to Cargo in Shoreditch before. After being given directions by a guy in a pub, I managed to make it there for Shit & Shine, but was told I might not get in. Their drummers had to set up on the floor of the venue and so they were only at half capacity for Shit & Shine's performance. This made my heart sink. I was there literally 5 minutes before they were due on, having run to the venue for fear of missing them. Now I was being told that I may not get in. I stormed my way towards the venue room practically barging my way through people in the vain hope I would make it in due to the fact that although the woman at the desk said "May not", her face did that tilting to one side with a slight squint of the eyes that means "Probably won't" in these situations. I got to the security guards and was pretty much expecting to be turned away, but I'd forgotten that ever so sweet golden rule. Put a bar between the front door and the live room and most people will go to get a drink before going into the live room itself. I got in with plenty of space, and breathed a sigh of relief.

See, I saw Shit & Shine at Audioscope at the Zodiac last year, and it was virtually the greatest single thing I have ever experienced in my whole life. So if I had missed them here, I would've probably cried.

This was a medley by Shit & Shine standards. They're known for pretty much just playing one riff over and over with minimal variation (and a scarcely used bridge/change), over a similarly relentless and repetitive drumloop seemingly played by as many drummers as each venue will physically allow (they recently played a gig in Dresden with 20!!) way beyond the point where it should've become boring, instead managing to form some kind of utterly mesmerising mantra that you NEVER want to end. This time though, they played about 3 riffs! They started out with a quick garage-rock style riff that made me wonder how they would create the same effect with, but excited to see how they would play this out. Masters of their craft they clearly are though coz after about 10 minutes when this riff started to show signs that it may have run it's course, it descended into feedback and the drums slowed down to that familiar Shit & Shine pulse, and then IN came the next riff, and I almost had an orgasm. For about 15-20 minutes this new riff throbbed and pulsated along in the typical S&S way, utterly engrossing and hypnotic it was too. Then, well not so much a riff maybe, as an extended outro winding things down to the unfortunate fact of a conclusion. It was never going to be as good as the first time, but it was still better than pretty much anything else in existence. Shit & Shine are the greatest live band ever.

Which immediately put Faust at a disadvantage. Seriously, I don't care who you are, there is no following that. But Faust had a go. I was excited about seeing Faust, don't get me wrong, I've wanted to see this legendary Krautrock band for years, but following Shit & Shine just isn't possible. ESPECIALLY, when yer opening gambit is an overlong combination of limp psychedelic soundscaping and piss-poor beatnik poetry. This would've probably been incredible if you were on acid 40 years ago, but sober and in the 21st century this is godawful. One man beating shells together while a woman goes on about how "10 months from now I'm still lying here" while the rest of the band plod out a lifeless jam in the background. Fuck, this was looking to be the biggest letdown since seeing Shack at Brookes in 2000. Luckily this seemed to be a false start, as Faust went on to provide an excellent set afterwards. They treated us to an oldie, followed by an improvisation that was infinitely superior to the opener, and included the drummer taking an angle grinder to some sheet metal. This was the first Faust trick to come out of the bag. Then they treated us to a new song, which was pleasingly very good. After this their set comprised of the old, the new, and the improv. At one point two of them started arguing on stage during a song, and it took a while for me to work out that this was part of their act. Unfortunately, writing this nearly 2 weeks after the gig itself, a lot of it has blurred and the things that stand out the most are the last 2 songs of the set (before the encore). The penultimate song was when I realised just how good but dangerous my position in the crowd. With 2 drummers pounding out a repetitive beat, the woman came out into the crowd to do a very bad painting of a face, while - I think it was - Jean-Herve Peron came out to raid a collection that was suddenly at the stage left side of the room. Peron pulled out - I think it was - a drill and started trying to kill a metal bin with it. Then out came a chainsaw. He turned it on, revved it up, and started swinging it around with a bit too much reckless abandon, coming about a foot close to scalping those of us closest to him at this point. This industrial show went on for a bit, ending with Peron carving the words "A NOSE" into a canvas, then getting up on stage to recite a poem about a friend of his who had "Such a grand nose!".
The final song was a rendition of probably their best song, "Krautrock", which was so good it caused at least half the audience to collectively orgasm. This was the Faust cum-shot. This is exactly what we had all been waiting for. That driving bassline, those motorik drums, it starting up again when it seemed like they were going to finish it, the addition of an improvising sax player, pure sex in German music form. The only criticism of it was that they should've done a Shit & Shine and kept if going for about 3 times the length, coz you just did not want this to end. But end it did, and the crowd went apeshit. You really couldn't have asked for too much more from them. The crowd however wanted an encore. They did come out for one, but I didn't stay for it for three reasons:
1) After "Krautrock", I personally didn't need anymore and thought that (first song and a dodgy part of another improvisation that centred around tearing paper aside) they had delivered a near-perfectly complete set that didn't really need any more.
2) I had a return train ticket back to Oxford and was worried that I would miss the last train. As it was I ran at least two-thirds of the on-foot parts of the journey back to Paddington and made my train with 1 minute to spare.
3) They had pulled out every classic trick in the Faust book. I was a little worried they might go one further and pull out the lesser known London Garage '98 trick and tear gas the crowd.

This is the best gig I have been to this year so far. Faust were mostly awesome. No-one beats Shit & Shine tho. Incredible. Best live band ever. I cannot stress that enough.

I think that's it for now.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Apple Unveils 'Thinnest iPod Yet'.

Have you seen this? Apple have made an iPod that's about as thin as 3 communion wafers on top of each other and the world is supposed to collectively jizz itself empty with excitement. I don't wanna harp on like some old bastard, but Jesus when did everything have to become as small as possible?! All micro this and lite that, yes, now a product is only truly marketable if it's easy to lose. It's as if all the companies got together to decide that the only way they can get us all to buy all their essential products - coz fucking God knows we need them all, don't we? - is to make them as small as possible so we won't have any problem storing them all. I personally can't wait for the day that Apple come up with "Disposable iTunes". Yes folks, it's the latest of my million pound ideas. "Disposable iTunes" is basically a cross between iTunes and Wrigleys Extra Thin Ice strips. Basically, you buy a song that prints out as an edible minty strip. You place the strip on yr tongue and as it dissolves in yr mouth the song plays. In your head. Inaudible to the rest of the world, you just hear it playing in yr own head. When the song finishes, that's it. And you have fresh breath.
Come on, that's a fucking awesome idea. Can't find or don't have a song when yer out and about on yr iPod? Just go to a "Disposable iTunes" vendor and for about 20p you can get that song on a cool minty strip just like that. People fucking pay a quid to hear a song on a jukebox in a pub, there is no way they wouldn't pay a fifth of that to hear a song that gives them fresh breath. AND you wouldn't have to put up with some twat singing along badly and getting the words wrong.
And don't even TRY and use the argument that people wouldn't buy them coz they'd get too into the song and look like twats coz no-one could hear what they were hearing. That has never stopped people using hands-free on their mobiles.
"Disposable iTunes". Come on, it's a much better idea than yet another smaller iPod. What's the betting the 5th generation Nano will be 2D? Ridiculous, pointless, and it won't do shit all for yr breath.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Axl's Adventures In The Mediterranean: Part 7

Wed 20th: Sea Day #3.

On our way back to Barcelona everyone had one last chance to go into coma mode and lie in the sun. My day consisted mainly of eating food, playing scrabble, packing my stuff, and writing more notes for these blogs in the open air by the pool while a terrible semi-live calypso band were playing. Oh, and I saw another turtle, which Micaela saw and therefore had to believe me about seeing the first one. On this holiday I rediscovered a love of reading and a love of wearing shorts, although the latter of those died a couple of days after I got back to the UK.
I thought on this day just how much I didn't want to come home. This was the best holiday ever and I had no great desire to have it end. Although it would be nice to see the news. And listen to some music, god it had been about 2 weeks without listening to music (I'm not counting having to hear the awful trash that they piped through in certain areas of the ship. I mean actually choosing to listen to something you want to hear). The only news I knew was that Isaac Hayes had died (which prompted an earlier brief post), the president of Pakistan had resigned, and lots of stuff about the Olympics (Including the fact that Usain Bolt had broken Michael Johnson's 200m world record, which quite frankly I couldn't believe. I remember watching MJ's record on tv years ago and thinking it was pretty much the most amazing thing ever. Hey, I was 15.).

Thur 21st: Going home.

No time for a Barcelona reprise. Straight to the airport and then back to merry old England. What a day to see some news too. Boy, I could've handled one more day, or even a few more hours to see that story! That story being the fact that the previous day there was a plane crash in Spain that killed 150 people. That sure helped my fear of flying. I nearly had a panic attack when we had a rough landing at Heathrow, but managed with a tactic of extreme squeezing of armrests to avoid that embarrassment.

And that was it. Holiday over. There's plenty I've forgotten to mention, stuff to do with being on the ship mostly, but I think you've probably all had enough of reading about this cruise by now. Back to business next blog.

Just in case i didn't say it enough, this was the best fucking holiday EVER!!

Axl's Adventures The Mediterranean: Part 6

Tue 19th: Carthage & A Random Tunisian Village.

Dido went to Tunisia and fell in love with a hill apparently. She branded the place where the hill was "Carthage", and claimed it as her own. What a weirdo.
Today's Carthage is a museum town of Roman ruins. Baths, Amphitheatre, the whole bit. Carthage is still an attractive place, Dido was right, but my memory of it would be much better if we hadn't had to stop at a village I can't remember the name of on the way back to the ship.
See, this was one of the 2 times we went on an organised tour (the other being at Herculaneum), and this included a scheduled hour plus stop in this village.We were told that this was the best place to shop in Tunisia. If that's actually true, I never want to go shopping anywhere in Tunisia ever again. Basically the main street consisted of an uphill outdoor market, and the stereotypes of market traders in this part of the world are all true. They are pushy, unpleasant and reluctant to give you any breathing space. I very quickly learned that if you look at anything for longer than about 2 seconds, it is assumed that you want to buy it and negotiations begin. In about 5 different languages, just to make sure they've got yours. If you're not looking at anything, they will bark things at you like "HALF PRICE IF YOU ARE ENGLISH TODAY!!" (Dammit, I was English yesterday! Why oh why did today have to be Belorussian day?!)
We didn't actually have it that bad. A couple of women were literally being chased down the street by a guy trying to sell them a bracelet.
Virtually all of them sell nothing but total crap too, it's such an off puttingly obvious tourist trap. It's a shame coz once you finally negotiate yer way out the other end, it's a really nice pretty place. beautiful views and architecture, shame that in order to get back to the coach we had to run the gauntlet again.
The fact that we were in this place for over an hour when we were taken thru the places of actual interest in Carthage (especially the Roman bath ruins which were simply stunning, although a little scary as they were right next to a Tunisian army camp and soldiers were walking around with huge guns. I had to stop myself taking a couple of photos for fear I may have been shot. Apparently the army folk don't take too kindly to being photographed round here.) relatively quickly was pretty frustrating and very annoying.
That night we tried our hands at Black Jack again and were far less pleased, losing our money almost instantly. Not so fun. At least last time we'd had a decent go at it. Ah, but that's gambling I suppose. Oh, and the underage kid with his fake ID was back too. We saw him later on getting refused entry into one of the bars which was pretty funny, but I can't seem to properly explain why at the moment.

Monday, 8 September 2008


Question. Are Unicorns called Unicorns because they have a unique horn?

Axl's Adventures In The Mediterranean: Part 5

Monday 18th: Sea Day #2.

Sea days are a curious thing on a cruise ship. With no place to go, people seem unable to decide how to spend their time. Most seem to try to solve this by sunbathing. I've never been one for sunbathing. Some people are using their sunbathing time to read a book - this I can understand. What I can't relate to is people who just lie there, cooking themselves. All that wasted time! You know these are the same people who complain about never having enough time in the day to do things. Why then when they get the time do they waste it doing the most inactive thing in the world?! If they spent this time at home, lying on their beds they would be called lazy & unimaginative. Is the pursuit of bronzed skin really so righteous that these peoples inactivity is a good thing? I'm probably being too harsh. I've never understood the draw of beaches after all. Until this year, I was very much of the Bill Hicks "What's so great about the beach? It's where dirt meets water!" opinion. Even as a kid, beaches were alright, but no big deal. This year I've enjoyed being on beaches twice. At ATP, and in Cannes. So I'm coming around to beaches. If yer actually doing something though. I will never understand sunbathers.
The book reading ones I get tho. I spent some of this sea day outside reading while the ship sailed thru the open sea. It was nice. Real nice. Good book, nice setting, those guys have the right idea.
I saw a huge turtle in the sea today. Micaela didn't believe me because all cruise long she's been playing a game where every now and then she'll break off mid sentence to cry out "Whale!", "Shark!", "Mermaid!" etc etc. I definitely saw it tho.
I watched some people playing volleyball up on deck 12. I was amazed how this one guy was taking it a bit too seriously, until I realised the entire opposing team were taking it FAR too seriously. I privately revelled in watching them get beaten. The teams seemed to be split up into USA Vs Rest Of The World. USA lost. A lot of Americans (especially males) seem to take sport so seriously that they can't even seem to handle guessing a coin toss wrong, and attempt to turn any conversation into either an argument they refuse to back down from, or a display of chest-beating one-upmanship. American men taking a friendly contest way too seriously and getting beaten was a pretty sweet thing to see, especially coz the ROW team had 2 women in aswell. If there's one thing that American males too into sport REALLY hate, it's being beaten by women.
In the early evening, there was a mist on the horizon that made a far away boat look like a pirate ship, which was cool but also pretty spooky. Also a bit of a let down when you could see about half an hour later that it wasn't.
After dinner that night, I spent my first money in a casino. Had a little fun losing money on the Roulette table and at Black Jack. And seeing the underage Spanish kid somehow being allowed to gamble with a really bad fake ID. The fact he wanted to change up $200 into playing chips probably helped.

Axl's Adventures In The Mediterranean: Part 4

Friday 15th: Venice.

Venice is without doubt the most beautiful place I have ever been to. It's like crawling into a beautiful painting and walking around in it. I wanted to photograph almost everything I saw (apart from all the clothes shops). When it was hot & sunny, Venice was beautifullyy picturesque and a breathtaking sight. Then came a torrential downpour - some of the hadest rainfall I've ever seen - and Venice was still just as beautiful. In fact, it cleared San Marco square, so you could actually see it properly. When you'ld managed to negotiate yer way thru the other tourists who had crammed themselves into any available sheltered area. Some were stupid enough to go into the San Marco cafes and get a 16 or 17 euro ice cream. (About an hour later, we had an ice cream a few streets away for just 1 euro, and it was possibly the best ice cream I've ever had. Tiramissu flavour. Yum.) That's just for a regular sized ice cream too by the way. I don't care how much it rains, that's just fucking stupid. Then the rain stopped and rainsoaked Venice looked just as incredible as dry Venice or being-rained-on Venice. The rain even kinda made some of the backstreet areas look even nicer. I'm not really saying anything about Venice am I. I dunno, it's difficult to write about a place I was just so in awe of. I just can't really put it across in words. I'll stop gushing about Venice now.

Saturday 16th: Murano.

(The only morning where we didn't wake up in a different place.)

We decided to go to Murano. I'm not sure if Murano is a part of Venice or a different place in the same area, but it is just as beautiful. Just with less tourists, and a bit more rustic. Glass is Murano's thing. Just about every shop in Murano sells glass products, from the practical to the decorative. The things they can do with glass are pretty incredible. Murano itself is like a village version of Venice, so there's not really anything I can say without repeating myself. It's just an incredibly attractive place. And it has a restaurant where I had one of the best meals ever. Giant plate of parma ham and melon to start, big old bowl of homemade carbonara for main. Axl's belly was the happiest ever.

Sunday 17th: Split.

Split is a port town in Croatia. Split looks pretty much just as you would expect a cityin a former Yugoslav state to look. The old town looks quaintly worn and beautiful in the sun, a maze of backstreets and alleyways. The newer parts, a shadow of Western European cities. Again, being a Sundayin Europe, there's not a great deal to do other than eat and look at pretty things, but I guess that's mostly what we've been doing anyway, just with more distracting open things.
Split has possibly the best church we've seen so far. It's doors, 2 huge wooden slabs with several carvings depicting stories of Christ on each, were worth going for alone. I'm not a Christian, but there is something amazing about European churches. Stunning architecture and an extreme attention to detail, I almost view them as works of art rather than places of worship. It always amazes me how much time and devotion has been put into them. Lots of gaudy gold things too. Can't be a big European church without the approved amount of tackiness, right?
Not much else to say about Split. It's not that it was any less nice than most other places, it's just that when yer in another beautiful European city with great architecture and gorgeous views, to describe it sounds like yer describing most any other place. It's hard to get across the details. The feel of a place, the subtle differences that make everywhere different and just as wonderful to be in. Just coz you run out of new things to say, doesn't make it any less good.