April 2003 Archives

Metal mag/review site Brave Words has just posted one of the best opeth interviews yet, the interviewer really caught Mikael on an introspective and honest day.

The cutting honesty of comments like:

We've set our minds on doing all this touring and press and just kind of become whores of metal

an approach which barely makes ends meet for the band as a whole:

For me, I spent several years in poverty with no money or anything. But now since we're the fucking cream of the crop or whatever, we get some money and since I'm the only songwriter in the band, I get all the publishing money. But as for the Peter and the Martin's, they have more problems than I do. Their only income is only if the album recoups. But if they don't get any royalties, their only income is touring and merch fees. It's kind of hard if you are just a musician in the band and not a writer. And I've agreed to split my publishing and give 50 percent of the funds or whatever, something that will keep us and the other guys going. So I'm going to watch their backs as much as I can.

A few weeks back, I

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A few weeks back, I talked about my over supply of Chokos (or as they are referred to in America: Chayote)

It seemed obvious to me that there could be some good hearty stews that utilised this humble vegetable. A comfort food type of meal for a cold winters night.

Some research dug up a lovely vegan recipe that fits the bill, although when cooked authentically it's definitely one for extreme chilli fans.

Title: Carribean Red Bean Stew


  • 1 400g can Red Kidney Beans
  • 4 sm carrots; diced
  • 2 md choko squash; diced
  • 1 md sweet potato; diced
  • 1 400ml can light coconut milk
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 4 shallots; thinly sliced
  • 2 tb finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1/4 sm scotch bonnet or habanero chilli; minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste


  • Combine Kidney Beans, carrots, choko, sweet potato and coconut milk. Add enough water to cover the vegetables.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add shallots, thyme, garlic, chilli and salt. Simmer, uncovered, until mixture thickens slightly, about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with brown rice.

Credit: Vegetarian Times Magazine, February 1999, page 68

On broadband or why I'm

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On broadband or why I'm taking a break from the always on internet.

This will not be a rant; too many people have thrown their opinions into this issue over the past 12 months. I'll try and stick to the facts.

Facts are; Optus' current cable internet plans are:
  1. Focused on short term profits
  2. Not concerned with customer loyalty or satisfaction
  3. Anti-competitive
  4. A clear message to lechers: look elsewhere for your bandwidth.

Personally; my bundled Optus contract ran out a few days ago. I'd assumed that this would mean an immediate switch to the current plans with limitations as described above. However the switch does not actually occur until the end of the calendar month. In an attempt to get the most out of the service prior to the switch: I temporarily turned into a leech downloader and in one day managed to jump from usage of about 1-2Gb to usage approaching 20Gb. This mistimed; last ditch bandwidth crunch got me temporarily suspended and means I ended up not getting the last two weeks of a realistic plan.

Once my contract expired I was always planning to switch to DSL. It is only in the DSL world where one can get plans that support a realistic monthly download limit that doesn't ruin your surfing experience by requiring you to adopt a dieting mentality to your online lifestyle

Being suspended early has pushed forward the DSL research. The results of this research have not been that positive.

There are a lot of hidden costs in DSL. For example; DSL can only be offered over a Telstra owned copper pair. For me to obtain this I would have to pay $59 activation and then be stuck with a $25/month phone line rental. This is in addition to the initial DSL Costs ($150 activation fee for DSL, $200 for DSL Modem, $30 for some DSL splitters) and of course an ongoing fee of $80/month for a plan that offers download limits similar to that which I experienced on the old Optus Cable plan.

DSL is also slower than Cable, especially at the entry level prices (<$90/month). Over the long term, some of the initial costs start to flatten out to the point where you start averaging $100/month for unlimited 256k DSL (inclusive of line rental). Personally I am looking at a < 1 yr time frame, so would not get these benefits. Also, with the way the Telco industry is going, I'm unsure if some of these DSL providers will still be around in a year.

After weighing this all up and the fact I am eligible for staff discounts with Optus; I am thinking my best choice is to return to Optus Cable with my tail between my legs. At least for the interim; however the recent experiences have not left me a happy consumer. Competition is clearly not working in the Oz Telco industry.

Over the past few days, I've seen Opeth perform in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Yes that is excessive/obsessive, but it was also fun.

It's been a long time since I've dived into one of my interests to this level. It was interesting to be back within a subculture community for a long weekend.

On top of this, I got to catch up with some good friends who live in more remote parts of Oz. It was great to see Bron, Andy, Red, Billy, Adrielle & Tim; some of whom I've not laid eyes on in 3 years.

Opeth is a metal band from Sweden; Personally I discovered them in December 1996 when their second album: Morningrise appeared on the listening post of the CD store Utopia. The CD cover had a sticker which contained the bold statement "66 minutes of the best metal you will ever hear". If you ask my opinion, this bold claim rings true.

Being a huge fan, and this their first tour of Oz, it seemed natural to see them more than once on their tour.

Their performances were technically perfect, with the subtle nuances of Opeth's music re-worked well for a live performance. The primary changes were: clean electric guitar replaced acoustic passages to avoid the need to swap guitars and the occasional growled vocal had to be cut short. All the signature stylistic elements were spot on. Every time the music jumped from blisteringly heavy riffing to a mellow clean/acoustic interlude, the switch was flawless. Mikael's clean vocals lacked some of the depth he achieves on record but his growled death vocals were unnervingly perfect; proving how far ahead of any other extreme vocalist he really is. The rhythm section was very tight, with Martin's bass showing more jazz leanings than demonstrated on any album since he joined. Peter's guitar lines were beautiful, in particular his soaring one note rhythm/harmonic lines came across extremely well live on the Blackwater Park songs.

Mix wise, no show was perfect, with Sydney by far the worst and Adelaide just edging out Melbourne for best mix. In Melbourne, the bass was too quiet; in Sydney it was too loud and Mikael's lead guitar pitifully weak. It's frustrating to see a performer putting heart and soul into a passage yet be unable to hear it! This was a constant problem with the Sydney mix, the only time Mike's guitar was audible was when the rest of the band wasn't playing.

Crowd wise, it was amazing to observe such variation in the overall vibe at each gig. Yes the majority of each crowd were big fans of Opeth, however the interesting thing was how the crowd reacted internally. Sydney for example, exhibited an insular elitist attitude with an extremely fragmented crowd that kept to small (average 5-7) social groups. Contrast this with Adelaide where the social groups were a lot more dynamic and as a whole larger; there were approx 500 at the Adelaide show and a good proportion of that crowd knew each other if only by face. For a sub culture stereotyped as aggressive, the vibe was relaxed and friendly.

Melbourne; which had a crowd closer to 1000, had less of the small scene ? everybody knows each other aspect but was still very friendly. Within minutes of walking into the gig, a stranger was asking my advice on which band t-shirt to buy for her boyfriend for example.

To judge the performance as a whole against not just metal bands but the wider scene, I would easily put Opeth up in the top 5-10 live acts I have seen. It's only a few acts such as The Tea Party who can top Opeth live, and only because they manage to get the crowd on side and interacting with the performance substantially more. Mike as Opeth's front man, needs to loosen up, crack some more jokes, not get so pissed by requests for songs that aren't on the set list and work on his outward appearance.

It's surprising that after being dedicated enough to see the band live three nights in a row, I didn't bother hanging around after the gig to try and meet Opeth in person. Friends who did say they are truly lovely genuine people who lack any form of pretension or artifice.

From a drought perspective, we should lobby Opeth to become Oz residents; in every city they played it rained during the show or immediately afterwards!

Whilst in Melbourne I chanced upon an unusual gate, being of an insect I have somewhat of an obsession with; the Butterfly so of course I popped out my digi cam and snapped a few photos. It was bucketing down that day so the pics are a bit washed out, however house as a whole is quite lovely and has an unusual design.

Hey it was fun to be a tourist for all of 30 secs.

Butterfly Gate

Gate and House

Mirroring my recent thoughts, this article talks about what is possibly my favourite single issue of Sandman. The last story of what is normally referred to as the Distant Mirrors arc. A series of one shots that usually focused much less on the main characters of the Dreaming and was published as the graphic novel "Fables and Reflections".

Sydney at least appears to have broken the back of the drought for now. The last month we achieved just above average rainfall. The rain has had a significant effect on my garden. Over the summer, I'd deliberately scaled back my garden knowing water was scarce. Aside from my herbs/spices the only veges I grew were some Dutch Cream potatoes, a single Black Russian Tomato and Habanero Chilli.

With my vegetarian diet, the large quantity of vege scraps always go straight into my compost heap. Which has produced a lot of mulch that helps keep my water usage down.

Once the rain started over the past two months, I was surprised to see some vines self seeding from a pile of compost that had covered my potatoes.

The vines turned out to be a choko, pumpkin and rockmelon. It's really too late for rockmelon and pumpkin so I only got a solitary cantaloupe and the dampness has prevented proper fertilisation of the pumpkins. I am trying hand pollination but it's probably going to be too cold/wet for the vine.

On the other hand, the choko is going crazy. Spurred on by the rapidly shortening days, it's overtaken one fence, constantly threatening to invade the neighbours yard. Finally it discovered the clothesline and it's using that to short cut across to the other side of the yard.

--Image no longer available--

Today I decided to tackle the vines and get them in control, was very rewarding but also amazing how convoluted the growth of both vines has been. Now I need some recipes for Chokos. They are lovely raw when not fully mature but everyone I talk to about chokos have memories of over boiled tasteless crap. There must be a good thick and hearty stew where the chokos soak up the flavours.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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