Ohrwurm of the week 30/2017

Make Them Suffer – Let Me In

I actually had to look through my post history to check if I haven’t posted this one and was surprised to find, that I haven’t. Make Them Suffer is an Australian Deathcore outfit from Perth. Lot’s of good music coming from down under.

These guys blew me away with the first song I heard from Neverbloom in 2012. Beautiful poetic lyrics meet this wall of sound with sweet keyboard melodies and great moments as well as breakdowns not too different from the French Betraying The Martyrs. They are heavy, they are classically influenced and deep. What’s not to like? There is so much going on in their music that you have to listen to the songs multiple times to appreciate them fully. Their first album is raw, brutal and energetic – frantic really. Their second full length goes into a more melodic direction and above song is probably the best example for that.

Let Me In has this drive and beautiful hook that makes me grin every single time it comes on on shuffle when I am riding the bike and most of the time I repeat the song then until I finish my ride. It’s intense and the melodic part with the keyboarder singing is nothing short of amazing. I find they are a very aesthetically pleasing band with beautiful songs and smart videos.

With their third album they changed and evolved even further, listen to the song Ether and you hear a super modern, polished and progressive sound that leans a bit on Northlane (fellow Australians).

Again not a band that is very accessible on the first listen, but try to develop your understanding of this style of music and you might notice that Mozart would probably listen to this or make similar music!

Your taste will inevitably change, so you might as well embrace the new

Again we are coming to the meaty article of the week. This topic is going to be something, I find to be meaningful and for the lack of a better word deep.

Change. Nothing is as inevitable in life as change. There is also this fear we all have with some of these changes. No one wants or embraces change all the time, especially if you are someone, like me, loves and embraces routines, but changes will happen. We could go to a dark place and talk about changes that no one really wants: a break up, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job and many more, but let’s take something smaller and more fun and go along for a small ride.

This article inspired me to this: ‘The secret of taste: why we like what we like’

The best part to me, is the one about beer and how that might be an ‘acquired taste’, the same can be said about coffee and then it brings the anecdote of legend producer Rick Rubin and how he did not like ‘Pretty Hate Machine‘ by ‘Nine Inch Nails‘ on the first listen.

Beer and good music! Man, what is not to like here. Turns out young Burnilein did not like beer when he first tried it. A shock to the system, your body and mind have to find out what that is, have to evaluate this feeling and the taste and form an opinion. It just made me feel funny the firs few times but it was also bitter and weird. So there was a beer that was closer to root beer than it was to this new taste – black beer. A similar thing happened when I bought my first Slipknot album. Before that I was really into Blind Guardian and Manowar and even though I have heard some Immortal tracks and even In Flames, that wasn’t to my taste – it was too extreme. Too harsh and hard sounding. So having this Slipknot album in hand bought from my weekly allowance (that was more than a week of my allowance and coming home and putting the CD into my Hi-Fi system, I was shocked: I did not like it, I liked one song and only together with the video back in the day that my buddy pointed me to and that I waited a couple of afternoons for to show on Viva (the German MTV equivalent back then). I got sad, that I spend this money on a CD I don’t like. I had to rest a day and was thinking about returning the CD which would have been another trip that would have cost time and money to the next big city. I listened to it again the next day playing Heroes of Might and Magic II. Something happened – there was a another song in there that I noticed and started liking playing the game. Later another one and another one and soon I liked the whole album.

I still do like that album and I liked it way more than on my initial listen. I know like almost all kinds of beers and I do like them way more that with my initial taste. Black beer is just alright.

My taste has changed, but just because I kept trying and put these experiences in different set-ups. Everybody should like beer. Beer is awesome and it is the most fun on beerwalks through cities. Hear me out on the music though. Let’s talk about music and maybe food too, I have always been an adventurous eater and I like all kinds of food, so let me try to advocate for that little change that you could embrace and maybe like some new food or music.

And while it is super hard, I am not going to deny that, to embrace change and get through the loss of a loved one or a break up or the before mentioned dark inevitable changes, these two are easy and fun!

Music – climb out of that pop music or top 100 cave and start to see the real world outside of the cave. You are missing out. I can listen to all kinds of music (but reggae, that makes me aggressive, but that is only because I have slept 3 days next to a tequila truck on a festival that was blasting it and it’s not entirely true, as I like Matisyahu for instance and possibly other bands/artists from that genre too). Pick a genre today and find one song in that genre you like, that you maybe get to love.

Food – go and have something new and incorporate it again and again. I come from a not so well off part of Germany and while I have never experienced hunger, but I know how it feels to ne be able to get some stuff that you would really like to try. My dad was always cool with having spaghetti with cheese and ketchup 7 days a week, but I liked it sometimes with Maggi sauce and cheese instead or other food altogether. I got into Jackie Chan movies at that time and saw food that I really wanted to try, it was strange, looked different and exotic to me. 20 years later I am in China and have tried these foods ad learned to love some and being okay of liking most. I cook hummus (my version of it) and I am not even sure my dad knows what that is. Go out and try something new, the worst that could happen is that it shocks you a bit and you might dislike it even, but it might be your next best thing or similar to beer or coffee or it might be just like my first listen to that Slipknot album and you learn to like it.

Any way I look at it, you will broaden your horizon, you might learn something new and it is the easiest change to embrace that I can think of right now. Do it and maybe you will learn to like every Ohrwurm I put out so far and will put out in the future. Everybody wins! And if you haven’t yet, read the article because that one is great to.

Grow, burn, embrace the change and the new!

Ohrwurm of the week 29/2017

Low – Especially Me

LOW is a indie rock band hailing from Minnesota, some call them a Mormon band – 2 members are practicing mormons. They are currently touring with the fantastic Mono, that I love to listen to on long flights. They have a great range of music that is somehow soothing and slightly unsettling at the same time and I love the post rock influence they have going on. Other Low songs give me a bit of a less disturbing Portishead vibe, which will forever have place in my heart with this album.

I am not going to pretend that I knew this band for a long time – I certainly did not. The above song is featured as the closing song (season 05 episode 08) of my favourite guilty pleasure and binge watch show: Orange Is The New Black, which according to Screenrant is a weaker season, which I disagree with and this is the song that made me look the band up right away, that doesn’t happen much since House M.D. ended with basically every second song featured becoming a favourite of mine. I really miss that show and the choice of music. Not a lot of shows pick the songs so fitting and so touching, most of the time it was the music that let my tears flow. However the debated opening song of OITNB can go away, I can only not skip it for the first episode of each season.

Have fun enjoying a song where the untrained ear can understand all the lyrics on the first listen. Bonus song for an insanely good live performance and for never getting old after many, many years:

 

Recipes and Punk Cooking

With 6 years in China and more specifically Shanghai food plays a big role. I came here weighing around 75 to 78kg and currently am at 88 to 90kg with a bit more muscle but also a bit of a belly.

For the first 3 years I was basically not working out at all (apart from beerwalks if you would count them, they are a physical activity but certainly do not promote weight-loss in any way but certainly counteract the calories you would get from just sitting in a bar and getting hammered). I was also not cooking at all, unless you count boiling water for instant noodles (keep in mind I was studying in 2009/10 and therefore was on a very tight budget) or boiling frozen pre-made wonton. The first 1 to 3 years led to a net weight gain of around 10kg. Not good!

Back in China in 2011 and at around 82 kilos I had a better starting point with having worked out again, doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu twice a week and biking long distances every weekend. I was however still not cooking at all for another 2 to 3 years. Then I started to work in sales again and with no training or physical activity apart from biking to and from work the weight bounced back to a shocking 93 kg.

Obviously not happy with that I started to bike a lot more and signed up for MMA training twice a week. Good times! Fat got replaced by muscle and the weight went down to the current 88 to 90 kg. After a bicycle injury 18 months ago and trying to go back to MMA that was not really happening anymore without completely changing my game – so I had to put that on hold. I am recovered now, hopefully fully but still a bit scared that the pain comes back giving leg locks and heel hooks and general knee strain I believe I have to put that behind.

NOW to the cooking and eating habits. Student times eating out for the most part student cantina, cheap street food, instant noodles and wonton/dumplings and beers, beers are always there to this day.

After settling back in in 2011 and working 7 days a week it was more hole-in-the wall restaurants, street food and cheap food in ‘western’ restaurants. Then later given that I had no kitchen, still no cooking unless you count the smoothies I made in the mornings and here we go with the recipe number one:

The Weird Green Power Smoothie

Ingredients: 1 apple, 1 banana, a handful of spinach (any leafy green will do, it”s only funny with a spicy one I got one day), peanut butter (big spoon), chocolate protein powder (1 scoop)

Have a go at it: Put it in the blender and fill it up with water. Blend and drink. It’s fast and should be consumed right away, as a bit later it turns brownish and smells a bit earthy if that turns you off.

So yeah, for the longest time this was the first ‘cooking’ I did. Fast forward to the time when I weight the most and decided to train MMA and bike more, incidentally also roughly the time I met my girlfriend. We moved in together and even it was a relatively small flat too, it came with a ‘kitchen’ – meaning a kitchen counter with a washing machine where an oven would be and one electrical cooking stove. Enter cooking time!

The thing with my ‘cooking’ is that I don’t believe in recipes, so baking is definitely something that is not for me with being precise and all. I was trying to find this comic I saw years back, by a foreign artist here in China. So when I first came here there was this horrible, horrible, not so great ‘restaurant’ (they are not here anymore) this review goes very light on them, they were like a bastardised version of Saizeriya – which is fine dining in comparison (and I love their absolute honest price model) – it’s exactly worth that.

So this comic had, what most have been Babela’s, kitchen staff that looked at a picture of pizza to copy that. They asked questions like: What is the yellowish white stuff on top? and then someone said ‘Sweet Mayo!’ this was then scribbled down. At Babela’s the pizza tasted exactly like that – abominations of the product they might have seen and set out to copy.

I take a similar approach with my cooking. I eat a lot of stuff, if not everything and by trial and error (and I eat the errors too) I find a way to bastardise a dish or create on from scratch that suits my needs. A favourite of my girlfriend is my attempt at Laksa.

Bastardised Laksa

Ingredients: 3 small chilli peppers, 3 garlic cloves, the same amount of fresh ginger, a splash of Thai fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, a can of coconut milk (unsweetened of course), water, curry (either a paste or tons of powder) maybe 3 spoons, salt, your oil of choice, Sriracha. pepper, 1-2 paprikas, 1 small chinese cabbage, cheap and boneless fish like cod (frozen) and glass noodles

Have a go at it: Chop the chilli peppers, garlic and ginger in small pieces. Heat up the wok and splash some oil in it – go wild – fat is good for you and throw these three spices in. Smell it! Then quickly cut up the frozen fish in cubes (maybe the size of a dice), then on the pile sprinkle lemon juice and Sriracha and let that sit until the wok smells deliciously spicy and not burned, add some soy sauce and throw in the fish. Watch and stir a bit. Then wants the frozen fish is a cooked fish add some curry powder or paste and chug the can of coconut milk in. Pour a glass of water in the empty can and swish it a bit so you get all the milky goodness out and make everything swim until the wok is 70% full. Turn the heat down and let it cook while in the meantime you chop the paprika(s) and chinese cabbage in pieces of a size you like. Taste it and add pepper, salt, more lemon or lime juice, Sriracha and/o fish sauce to your taste then chug in the chopped up veggies. Let it cook! Then when all this cooks throw in the glass noodles and let them simmer until soft. Serve in bowls.

I don’t like washing up much and to use a ton of utensils to cook and if I can optimise a dish to just choose one wok, pan or pot then I will do just that.

Next up my current favourite:

Fake Spinach Soup

Ingredients: Butter or ghee, 1 head of broccoli, 3 spoons of mayo/creme fresh/miracle whip, 3 spoons of yellow mustard, water, salt, pepper, chicken soup powder/MSG/vegetable broth powder

Have a go at it: Put a pot on the stove and butter or ghee in and heat it up. While this heats up, put the broccoli head (washed of course) in a blender (with everything but unsightly/inedible parts) and blend with water until it is a bright green mush. Then pour this in the pot and lower the heat. Add the mayo/creme fresh/miracle whip and yellow mustard and seasons with salt, pepper and enhancer of choice. Let it cook and serve in a deep dish.

Breakfast during winter time is the following:

Oats with Power

Ingredients: Oats or any sort of non-sweet muesli (no raisins! raisins go home!), chocolate protein powder, a bit of honey, cinnamon, turmeric, a spoon full of coconut oil, water

Have a go at it: Take a big cup/mug and pour two (protein powder) scoops of oats in the mug, then add coconut oil and fill with water until 75% full – put that in the microwave and nuke it for 2 minutes, then add the spice, optional honey and cinnamon and turmeric, stir and dig in.

Something for dinner if you are just in the mood for some meat and you got some lying around:

Bonus Meat

Ingredients: Meat (good pieces of pork or chicken breast, cheap beef – no bones!), balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and a hot sauce of your choice, salt and pepper

Have a go at it: Put butter or ghee in a pan and heat that up. Cut up your meat into cubes and separate fat parts and lean parts (if applicable). Chug the meat in the pan, fat parts first and let them sizzle until they become crispy, bleed most of the fat out or become more palatable (think pork rind parts here) and then the rest of the meat. Let it brown a little then pour some balsamic vinegar on it and soy sauce and push it around the pan, also some hot sauce for a kick. When almost ready (you will know) sprinkle some good salt and pepper onto it and add to whatever you eat or indulge in your meat cubes just by themselves.

With the heat and trying to stay up for gaming a bit longer I found salad is an optimal energy spender for dinner where I can eat until full. Here is the current variation that gets a lot of love:

Ugly Crunchy Salad

Ingredients: White radish (maybe one third), 1 cucumber, 1 or 2 paprika, chinese cabbage, olive oil, 1-2 spoons yellow mustard, 1-2 spoons pesto, balsamic vinegar, some dashes of hot sauce, soy sauce, something acidic (I am going for this vinegar mix or any kind of funky vinegar will do)

Have a go at it: Chop everything into cubes, smallish pieces and when you are lucky like me you have this pot with a lid in the rice cooker that is a perfect salad shaker, then put all the stuff in there, add the sauces, pesto and mustard, maybe add some other spices that you feel like (I do pepper and cumin at the moment) and then put the lid on and shake until everything has a bit of sauce on it and around it. Then eat out of that bowl/pot!

As you can tell I don’t spend too much time or utensils while ‘cooking’ and like it easy and fast. Almost everything can be substituted for something that has the same consistency or the idea could apply too to. So have a go and become a rebel cook. Have I mentioned that all these recipes are insanely packed with nutrients and cheap?

Let’s end this with a little bit of a rundown of what I eat at the moment, apart from the mornings and nights. Shockingly when I was working in sales I have spend A LOT of money at lunch, being in the trendy area of Shanghai, hole in the wall restaurants were no options. So the cheapest lunch sets did set me back around 60 RMB. This was most of the time western food, like burgers, pizza, curries, sandwiches with soup and similar stuff.

Now having the office in a less developed and for my taste cooler area, I have Mala Tang maybe 2 or 3 times a week for around 25 RMB and Wontons in the summer I like them dry with the vinegar-peanut-soy-sauce on top (like in the third  picture of this blog post, but think more street and no garnish and no spicy sauce) in the winter in soup and on Friday’s I pig out on McDonalds or Burger King.

That’s it for my Punk Cooking!

Ohrwurm of the week 28/2017

Oceans Ate Alaska – Escapist

This week we are going a tad softer than last week. Polyrhythms and blast-beats do make a return but we have something fresh sprinkled in and some clean singing. Oceans Ate Alaska are a metal core outfit from Birmingham in the UK. Lots of fresh and awesome hard music coming from the UK these days.

For some reason these guys remind me of Arsonists Get All The Girls mixed with Born Of Osiris during The New Reign and the similarities will be most obvious if you listen to Abstract Art.

So I can’t say too much about this band as I haven|t heard a lot of songs nor a full album yet, but if this song is any indication of their talent and style then I can tell you that I am going to eat that up like Nachos with Cheese Dip and I love that, as it is my favourite junk food.

Again this is way more palatable than last weeks Deathcore, so even with sensitive ears give this one a shot and enjoy one of the best outros of a song I have heard in a while. The video is interesting and artistic enough too.

 

A lifehack and how gaming influences (my) life

The internet giant Tencent in China just recently started to restrict gaming for people under 18 for their flagship game and possibly the biggest mobile sensation ever. Sounds crazy – might actually help a bit.

Semi related, I came across this super interesting article. This piece of writing touches a lot subjects: basic income, unemployment, the technogolical revolution whose advantages make  ‘work’ for some people possibly (or very likely) obsolete, as well as the fact that video games increase happiness. Yes!

And while I do not game to have a sense of purpose or ‘to work’, this struck a bit of a chord, even though for me it is more escapism and relaxation. Personally I never, not even once regret playing.

Before we jump into more of this almost philosophical matter – here is a practical tip, and I will circle back to why I give this tip later on.

I have the same 24 hours that everyone else on earth has in their day. Every now and then someone is amazed by the amount of gaming/work/writing/reading/things I do during my day. And while I can’t say it would work for everyone, it certainly seems to do the trick for me. I am a fan of routines and most importantly I always try to optimize the flow of information that comes at me and rigorously minimize whatever doesn’t interest me, doesn’t affect me or most importantly doesn’t make me happy.

Obviously there are things on a daily basis that are not super enjoyable or have to be done, so do them and do them to the best of your ability, these things are going to save you some time and brain- or willpower (which apparantly is limited).

So I don’t watch TV for example – it’s a waste of time. If you put me in front of a working TV however and I have time I will watch stuff possibly until the end of time. I watch TV shows I enjoy and movies however and pick music videos I like. I also have no interest whatsoever in Football (of the Soccer variety) in watching/following/playing it (and for a lot of other sports too, unless it is a friend playing and needs me cheering or to be there). So I just blend that out – completely. When someone talks about that, I do let them talk and declutter my head. I don’t go to clubs – it’s not for me, I don’t need to pretend to have fun there, I can just not go.

Now for the helpful tip. As I am also not consuming or reading any ‘news’ (honestly, the real ‘important’ stuff someone will tell me eventually and I do watch some satirical news though: John Oliver and for the German speakers a shout out to Extra 3 and Quer) I decluttered where I am getting stuff to read that interests me to a great degree and here is how:

Mainly this stupidly nifty program/app/genius called Pocket. On the back of this program ideas for blog posts develope and I do a lot of learning, entertainment and research with this. Pocket works on pretty much every device and in pretty much every browser. I read something I like – boom! saved to Pocket. I get a idea from an article – boom! saved to Pocket. I want to reference something later or read an article again? – boom! Saved to Pocket. I need something funny, interesting to read on the porcelain throne? – boom! Open Pocket! It’s clean, it saves me time and willpower is almost always available and almost anywhere. I can’t imagine the internet without it. The cherry on top is, that there is exclusively stuff that I am interested in, because I pick that.

Something similar I do employ for books with BookBub (I read on the Kindle mainly) coupled with goodreads, Amazon and friend’s recommendations.

Pick and choose and drop the rest. Get it out of your head. Declutter and say goodbye once you are done but enjoy the moment and keep track and improve. Anyway, you probably get what I mean.

As a kid playing games on a console on the PC happened pretty late. Maybe from age 12 onwards or so. After getting a SNES for Christmas (and boy, oh boy does the SNES Classic tempt me and it also comes in the clearly superior European design, but it’s not necessary as I do have a raspberry pi) my dad would always try to get me out of the house after like 1 to 2 hours of playtime. So I tried to optimize my time in front of the screen with getting up early, making breakfast fo the parental generation and turning the coffee machine on, to wrap myself in a blanket after getting dressed and play until they wake up and after breakfast (and after I cleaned the breakfast table) until lunch to then head out to play in the woods or meet up with friends for activities like playing hide and seek, building forts in the woods, Magic the Gathering or playing with He-Man or Smurf figurines (this depended on the male to female ratio).

So early on, I got imprinted that video games are a reward and that I need to get shit done. This stuck with me to this day and will hopefully stay this way. I do all my shit (cleaning, eating, cooking, sort through emails/communication and blogging you name it) then sit down and with my mind at ease to enjoy the gaming time to the fullest extent. TV shows or podcasts depending on their importance/requirements of attention can be used as background or side activity while getting shit done.

I love my Xbox One S! I am amazed by the graphics, the huge catalog of games available and the ease of use and even enjoy multiplayer/online games now. It’s something I have never experienced before, apart from LAN-parties featuring Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. It’s amazing and a fairly cheap hobby, taken the enjoynment and time spent with the system into account.

Maybe it is the music, that I gave a bit more space in my life and more of a blast on the bicycle or maybe other factors too, but playing games pretty intensively again – has changed me. For the better. I am more creative, I relax better, I dream better and there is always something to look forward to or a world to immerse myself in, if the day was rough. For that reason I shun ‘realistic’ shooters set in World War One or Two. I like some twist or double-jump on the real world.

With that being said, I will never be a hardcore gamer nor am I aspiring to be one. I don’t care if I don’t finish a game 100% or with all achievements – it’s not work. Nor would I try to compete properly in Titanfall 2 or Destiny (I started to play this weekend and it is the right time for me, the game is cheaper, fully balanced with add-ons and I can just have fun without pressure).

During the time I had no console here in Shanghai, I sometimes played with a friend on his cracked Xbox 360 to finish all sorts of co-op games, then my girlfriend’s brother gave us his Playstation 3 for a couple of weeks I just bashed through games for the story and to finish them and see what I might have missed.

Getting the Xbox One S I was so amazed and wanted to take everything in and slowly and I didn’t progress in a lot of games at first. I wanted to experience all the little corners and secrets in games and just everything and it was overwhelming. Now I am more used to everything and not that overwhelmed anymore and gaming is super natural again. It’s a fantastic hobby.

Now after typing this out, after work, after having bought groceries, made a salad and eating it while listening to H3H3 and a cat documentary I am off to pet the cat and game a little. I love being productive 😉

Ohrwurm of the week 27/2017

Thy Art Is Murder – They Will Know Another

So here we go with something heavy. This is what I would call the Extreme Metal Version of We Are The World. Hear me out on this. To me this spreads a similar message. We gotta do something together and stop this and while certainly all these stars back in 1985 including Bruce Springsteen (with my favourite part in the song) pleasure your ears with a message of peace, some people could need the state of the world screamed at them paired with not so easy digestible pictures to move a bit.

The band I discovered in 2012 with their masterpiece ‘Hate‘ that the Australian’s threw out into the world and gave Deathcore a fresh heaviness and more Deathmetal while not forgetting the message Hardcore bands used to carry for the most part. That goes more for the albums and the EP this song is from and that followed ‘Hate’.

See if you like it, it is certainly extreme in every way possible, but it is also a beautiful song with great technicality and musicianship and again a message worth lending an ear to. Maybe it will blast a way through said ears and open your eyes a bit more to the horrors of the world. Sometimes there is need for that.