crueThe 80s became the 90s, and the unstoppable steel battle beast called Motley Crue started going into engine failure. A new style of music was “in”, and it was antithetical to Crue’s. The days of rocking out and living large were over. The days of whining about mom and dad had begun. Then, in 1992, the band lost its singer (Vince says he was fired…the rest of the band says he walked out), and Motley Crue replaced him with an unknown vocalist from Pennsylvania.

John Corabi is one of the saddest chapters of the Crue story (excepting the people who actually died, I guess). He was a square peg in a Vince Neil shaped hole from the beginning. The band held on to the news that Vince had quit for as long as possible (it seems Elektra was advancing them $25 million on this album and they thought the deal would fall through if they announced a lineup change). John entered the band amid an atmosphere of secrecy and psy-ops.

His voice was a grave baritone, totally unlike Vince’s. He didn’t command that aura of rockstar excess that Vince wears like a cloak. His stage presence seemed limited to running around and yelling a lot. In all, he was never “the Motley Crue singer”, the idea is a sick joke. He accomplished little more than filling a space in front of the microphone while Vince was gone. And soon Vince would want that space back.

Motley Crue updated their sound a little here. It’s the usual “hair metal band goes grunge” shift, downtuned guitars, grittier singing, more raw and personal lyrics. That’s not surprising, at the time everyone and their brother was “reinventing” themselves to sound like they came from Seattle. What is surprising is that Crue mostly gets it right, and their 1994 self-titled sounds very good in most respects.

I skip the first two songs. “Power to the Music” is a Rage Against the Machine clone, except where RATM swaggers and stomps, this plods. What a boring song. “Uncle Jack” is the same story, kiddy-fiddling lyrics notwithstanding. The music is so dull it almost almost seems to flop out of your speakers.

By “Hooligan’s Holiday” the band has started to wake up. The song’s not a total classic like “Wild Side” but it sports lot of cool grooves and interesting riffs. “Misunderstood” is the best ballad ever written by this band, with John Corabi putting together some really heartfelt lyrics.

Then there’s a few not so amazing songs, although if you liked the fillers from Dr Feelgood you’ll like “Poison Apples” as it sounds a bit like “SOS” and company. I always go right to “Smoke the Sky” which is heavy enough to rival Pantera and Pro-Pain but has the attitude and catchiness of White Zombie. If the rest of the songs had sounded like “Smoke the Sky” we’d be talking about a legendary metal classic instead of just a good grunge rock album.

Nevermind all the changes and updates, if we’re talking quality then this is Motley Crue doing business as usual: 2-3 songs that sound amazing and then a number of others that do little more than manage to exist. The Crue can’t escape their nature: they’re a band remembered for their big hits rather than their consistent albums. Apples never fall far from the tree. Not even poison ones.

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ferrissPeople tell me that the BMI is useless because it doesn’t account for muscular physiques. But that’s just a limitation. A 10m tape is not broken because it can’t measure 11m. If the BMI can’t properly categorise the body shape of muscular people, then all that means is that its scope of use is limited and we shouldn’t use it on muscular physiques.

The BMI is useful and accurate for a huge percentage of the population. It’s not totally accurate, but that’s because it has to classify a complex and variable system (the human body).

A person called Kate Harding has started something called The BMI Project to show how hilariously off (according to her) the BMI system is. I ask you, does it accomplish its goal? Most of the people pictured do seem to fit their BMI profile.

My ongoing reaction: “that seems right…that seems right…can’t tell because the picture sucks cock…no, that looks wrong…that seems right…”

And how useful are these pictures? An intelligent BMI picture gallery would have all the participants naked, in a relaxed pose, under neutral lighting…you just can’t tell how overweight the people are in most of Kate Harding’s picture. Photos can easily make you look bigger or smaller than you really are, ask any movie star.

Or ask Tim Ferriss, who recently sat on a needle ACTUALISED HIS INNER POTENTIAL AND SO CAN YOU IF YOU BUY HIS BOOK and proved it with careful before and after photography.

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vanishingcorpseNot sure how I ended up with this book, but it’s a detective story that takes the account of Jesus’ death sets it in modern time. Ben Bartholemew is a private eye from Jerusalem who must solve a mystery: the corpse of political agitator Jesus Davidson has disappeared following his execution by the occupying Romans. Rumors persist that Jesus came back to life.

The reason I’ve always remembered it is because it has ridiculous dialogue.

“This job is of the utmost urgency, but it must be handled with the greatest discretion.”
“Oh…sure. Sure. Discretion – that’s my middle name.”

“Your best brandy, and make it a double,” I said as I hoisted myself onto a bar stool.
“This is the real stuff,” said Nick. “Genuine Egyptian. And what’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“It’s not a ghost I’ve seen, Nick, it’s a ghost I’m looking for.”
“Uh? That don’t make no sense.”
“This afternoon, Nick, ol’ buddy, nothing makes any sense.”

I hailed a passing cab and told him to take me to the Fish Gate.
“Hey, buddy,” said the cab driver, “you know why they call it the Fish Gate?”
“Because it stinks.”
“You just drive. I’ll make the jokes.”

Sometimes the author goes on a roll and gives us paragraphs like this:

I sat down. As I did so the man behind my desk flashed a badge at me. I recognised it at once: RIA-The Roman Intelligence Agency. There are some people who say the express “Roman Intelligence” is an oxymoron (look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls). On the other hand, you have to admit that the Romans are an inventive people. Just look at all the things they’ve invented: roads, Fiats, dry cleaning fluid. Mind you, the only reason they invented dry cleaning fluid was because they’d invented spaghetti first, and they had to get the Bolognese off their togas.

You might think this is some kind of crazy irreverent satire. But the book continually attempts scenes of pathos. It seems unsure of what tone to take.

J-dawg himself doesn’t appear in the book, but other Biblical figures do. In his quest to find the body of Jesus, Ben interviews Pontius Pilate, King Herod, Joseph of Arimathea, Marcus Longhinus (“Marcus” is a made-up name, but then, “Longhinus” probably is too…he doesn’t get a name at all in the Bible!) and numerous others. These scenes could have been fascinating. Instead, the author mostly fills them with stupid clowning around. Herod’s personal security detail is called the KBG (King’s Body Guard), with Herod himself being comically sexually ambiguous. Doubting Thomas appears here, with his personality so Flanderised that he just responds with “I doubt it” to everything anyone says, like a broken record.

I really liked how the author handled Barabbas, the thief who was freed instead of Jesus. He is presented as a troubled man who is beginning to realise who Jesus was, and that his rescue from death was the most rigged-scales bargain in history. Barabbas’s scenes are the only emotionally effective parts of the book, islands of pathos in an ocean of stupid jokes, Dick Tracy one-liners, and Biblical Who’s Who.

Nora Lofts’ How Far to Bethlehem is one of the best fiction books about Jesus that I’ve read. This is one of the worst. We all know how the Gospels end, we all know what Ben’s investigation will soon discover, it’s the most famous story in the world. All The Case of the Vanishing Corpse does is muddle around until it arrives at an inevitable conclusion.

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