Music

Poison by Alice Cooper

My song of the day is Poison, released in September 1989. My word that makes me feel old.

The song was the biggest hit on on Alice Cooper’s 18th studio album Trash. I’m amazed he’d had that many albums, and he must be in his mid twenties by now. Not that he’s recorded anything recently that gets the same amount of airplay as Poison, and his earlier hits ‘School’s out’ and ‘No more, Mr nice guy’. Anyway, back to the brilliant song that is Poison.

The song was written by Desmond Child and John McCurr. John also played guitar on the song, but Desmond Child is really interesting and I could devote a whole category on this blog to him. He is a famus songwriter who specialises in pop rock anthems, and he was absolutely on fire in the late 1980s and early 1990s. ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi – he co-wrote that, ‘How can we be lovers’ by Michael Bolton. Yeah, not as cool but still a massive worldwide hit.

He also wrote ‘Just like Jesse James’ for Cher and loads of songs for Kiss and Aerosmith. anyway, enough about Desmond Child for now, and more about ‘Poison’.

How high did ‘Poison’ rise?

Number seven in the USA singles chart. That’s not bad for a band who hadn’t had any sizeable hits for 15 years. But in the UK, the song rose to number two. What was number one I hear you ask?

Erm, it was this:


“Swing the Mood” by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers.

So what’s the song about?

A dangerous woman?  drugs or even AIDS? Alice Cooper said in a recent interview that this song is about his alcohol and drug addictions. He has a history with addiction, and it seems likely that this was the first album he released after rehab. He probably misses the drugs but knows the damage they do.

Personally I prefer it to be a tortured love song to a dangerous woman, but never mind!

 

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Culture

Tigers

tiger in a forestAs many of you may know, tigers are one of my favourite animals. Tigers are the largest cat, tipping the scales at an astonishing 300kg and reaching over three metres long. The beautifully camouflaged fur makes them stand out in zoos, however they will blend into the background in the shrubs and forests of their homelands.

 

How long to tigers live?

Tigers don’t usually last longer than 20 years, and less in the wild where fights and lack of food can cut the average lifespan in half. Until recently, the oldest tiger in the world was a handsome cat called Flavio, but sadly he passed away in early 2014 aged 26 years. You can read more about himhere.

 

Unlike lions, tigers are usually solitary animals, who like to live and hunt alone. They  need large areas to live in and hunt, but as with all wild animals, mankind is rapidly destroying their habitat, leaving them to either starve, or wander into villages where they are killed.

 

Where do tigers live?

Tigers haven’t always been limited to jungles and inaccessible areas. In the past, thousands of tigers populated Asia, even in countries such as Russia and Turkey. Nowadays, however, tigers have been completely eradicated from many of these places. The only areas where tigers live in any abundance are Asia, however even there are now estimated to be less than 3000 wild tigers remaining in the world.

 

How to save the tigers.

With so few tigers left in the wild, it’s really a race against time to protect them from becoming one of the most tragic extinctions of the 21st century. Many international relief organisations have been set up to save the tiger including Save Tigers Now, by the WWF.

Also, in zoos around the world, research is taking place into tigers and other big cats, to ensure that they live on into the future for other generations to be fascinated and intrigued by these beautiful big cats. In the UK, you can also enjoy ‘feed the big cats’ experience days.

 

Famous tigers through history

Tony the tiger

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Culture

Monster truck information

truck1Everyone loves Monster trucks, especially in the USA. They’re the vehicles styled on pickup trucks, but with the addition of oversized wheels.

They are famous for popular entertainment performances, often at sporting venues such as sports stadia, and are often on the same bill as motocross races and tank driving.

Five facts about monster trucks

  • The most famous truck is Bigfoot, but Grave Digger also has a large following.
  • You can steer a monster truck with its front and rear wheels simultaneously, so it’s cornering is above that of a normal saloon .
  • They’re so dangerous that drivers wear fire suits, with other safety precautions including helmets and safety harnesses to hold the driver in their seat.
  • The force of landing after a large jump is greater than a punch from Mike Tyson
  • There is a monster truck built on the body of a Smart Car.

Monster truck entertainment

Shows involving these vehicles usually culminate in the trucks flattening cars and jumping over ramps. Because the wheels are so large, the trucks have a very high centre of gravity. This means that the trucks can easily drive over obstacles up to two metres high, which makes it a very unusual experience.

Most shows contain races, with two trucks competing against each other, with the slowest being replaced after every race. Later shows involve other stunts such as wheel spinning and donuts, alongside racing.

The anatomy of a monster truck

The trucks can reach up to 140kph, with roaring engines pushing the heavy wheels. This power enables the trucks to jump up to 40 metres, after a long run up. The body of the truck is usually solid plastic, to keep the weight down and the strength up, and they rarely have doors, as this would add to the weight. This means you’ll have to climb into the cabin through the window – a bit scary if you are already 2 metres off the ground. You don’t need a special licence to drive a monster truck, but they are rarely road legal.

You may also be surprised to hear that the steering wheel is in the middle of the cabin, to give the driver better all round vision. The first ever truck was Bigfoot. Back in 1981, Truck-a-Rama promoter Bob George had the idea of driving a promotional truck with hude wheels, over some old bangers, He coined the term ‘monster truck’ and a new adrenaline sport was born.

Safety

Much the same as speedboats, these trucks come complete with a kill switch, which can turn off the engine if the driver falls from the vehicle or loses control. As we’ve said above, the drivers are also fastened tightly into the seat, and equipped with a fire retardant suit, to protect them in the event of a crash and subsequent fire.

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Music

Experience a recording studio

Why a recording studio, when you’ve got voice recording on an iphone?

Every day, there are some wonderful recordings created on mobile phones, digital recording devices iPods and the like. Go back 10 or 20 years and the humble tape player. Just press play and record at the same time to save your singing voice to tape.

We’ve come a long way from there, and yesterday’s professional equipment is now available as a free app to download onto your iphone. But as well as the barriers to entry falling away, the professional quality recording equipment is also racing ahead.

Some things will never change.

You need perfect acoustics, perfect microphones and a perfect recording. There’s no room for background fuzz, and there’s no excuse for singing into a tinny box that picks up sound like a baked bean can..

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Food and drink

Harry Potter Chocolate frog reviews

I love chocolate almost as much as Yorkshire puddings, sushi and cake, and I love Harry Potter too. So what better way to celebrate than with a Harry Potter chocolate frog? In the UK we’ve got two choices –

Small chocolate frogs from Jelly Belly
Large Chocolate frogs direct from Warner Brother’s studio tour
This review takes in both chocolates.

Small frogs from Jelly Belly – 3 stars
frog2

These bad boys come in at around £3, and they’re really small, but they’re also freely available in the UK. I got mine from Candyhero, but you’ll be able to find them in most city centre sweet shops nowadays. The frogs taste fine but not delicious – a very milky chocolate, similar to USA chocolate. There are two problems with these chocolate frogs – firstly, they bear no relation to the candy in the Harry Potter films.

OK, so they’re chocolate frogs, and you get a small card within the wrapper, but they’re clearly trading on the name without making Secondly, they’re too small. at 15 grammes, there simply isn’t enough to warrant paying £3. They’d be fine for a stocking filler if you’ve got a bit of cash spare, but for a hungry lad like me, they’re gone in 2 mouthfuls. I’d sooner have a packet of Maltesers or a Mars bar, and save £2.

Big frogs direct from Warner Bros – 5 stars
frog

These chocolate frogs are a different thing altogether. Only available in person from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios, Florida, or the Studio tour near London, these frogs are a work of art. They’re made to look exactly like the chocolate frogs in the Harry Potter films, and they’re a solid lump of milk chocolate.

Each frog is accompanied by a lenticular card of one of the founders of the four houses. These couldn’t look more like the products Harry and Ron bought from Honeydukes, unless the chocolate frog actually came to life. The chocolate is milk chocolate but not quite as sickly as the Jelly Belly frog.

I’m quite sure that they use a different recipe for the UK and USA frogs, and the UK ones are made by a chocolate factory in London. Surprisingly, the chocolate is solid – in my experience in the UK, especially when making chocolate, all too often, you’ll get hollow chocolate. No one wants hollow chocolate unless there’s something extra special inside, and this doesn’t disappoint because there’s more chocolate.

The solid chocolate means this is quite a chunk, and more than enough to eat in one sitting. personally, I ate the head and half the body, before leaving the frog in the fridge to finish off later. Availability If you’re lucky enough to live close to the Harry Potter studio tour in London you can pick these up for £8 from the shop, but the the producers of this chocolate clearly know the benefit of scarcity – the only place you can buy these online in the UK is Ebay. At the time of writing, you can buy them on Ebay from £15, and even at this price, I’d say they were worth it, especially as a gift for a real Potter fanatic.

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