50 Heavy Metal Band Names

This entry was meant to start with a humorous comment on how Eskimos have over fifty words for snow. However, upon doing a quick fact check, it turns out that this idea is slightly controversial. Some people say it’s a hoax. Others claim that some dialects have several hundred words. In any case, the term ‘Eskimo’ is considered derogatory, so whether the perception is true or not, it is offensive.

Which is a shame as it made a useful introduction for how I’ve been trying to find 53 alternative words for ‘snow’, 43 different terms for ‘slope’, 40 various ways to say ‘beast’, and the most difficult of all, 42 unique modes of writing the word ‘door’ (as well for 4 dissimilar ways to repeat the same problem in one sentence).

This issue had arisen from a slightly lazy approach to writing, and assuming that I’ll be able to come up with a better noun during the editing process. When writing a story, instead of trying to think up lots of imaginative words for, let’s say ‘snow’. It’s much easier not to get bogged down in creativity and repetition, and just write ‘snow’. Then at some point down the line I’ll revise it to something more interesting. Which is fine, until you realise that there aren’t that many different ways to write the word ‘door’. Especially when it turns out it has been used 6 times in a paragraph.

On the other hand, ‘Beast’ is a great one, as you can go with monster, mastodon, behemoth, predator, creature, animal, bloody thirsty killer, monster again, beast a few times more, or any other heavy metal band name… like Cancer Bats. As you may have guessed, I’ve just finished writing a romantic comedy set in the Cotswolds, that features a large house.

Profit and Awesomeness

‘How do you propose to settle the account?’

There was a long pause. We all stared back in silence, feeling slightly awkward. The pause continued.

‘See how effective that is?’ Stephen, our enthusiastic business workshop presenter explained, thankfully breaking the tension.

We were covering debt collection, an aspect of business that no one enjoys, whether you’re collecting, or coughing up. ‘They can tell you all the excuses in the world. But that simple statement, followed by a pause while you patiently wait for them to come with an answer, is incredibly effective.’ We all scribbled away in our note pads. I double underlined ‘patiently’.

The helpful people at ANZ bank had arranged a number of free workshops for small business owners, covering everything items such as; cash flow, internet marketing, hiring and firing, and franchises. I have been dabbling in the world of self-employment for a few months now, and felt it was probably about time I started to take things a bit more seriously. Especially as my savings are starting to dry up a bit, and the workshops were free. I imagine the two factors are somehow interconnected.

We sat, several plucky business owners to a circular table, while our presenter delved into the always exciting subjects of profit margins, profit projections, profit / loss tables etc. Topics that instantly get people’s attention at the mention of ‘Profit’. Suddenly they’re sat upright in their chair, ears pricking up, and the glassy veneer over their eyes is washed away. Oh yeah, what’s this then. Here we go, they optimistically think to themselves. To then be instantly knocked back down with a following, less appealing noun, that just sounds like a lot of hard work. One guy even called out angrily, ‘Ah come on!’ and slammed his pen down on the table, when his elation wall pulled unfairly from underneath him when ‘Profit, after Tax’ was mentioned.

During the internet marketing workshop, we covered Blogs, which made me feel that I may not be wasting all of my time writing these things… just some of it. And the power of Google Analytics, the closest you’ll ever get to being an NSA agent, while you spy on the habits and demographic of your internet traffic. So be warned, I’ll know if you have read this – a threat which does seem a little empty seeing as you would have had to have read this far to get to the threat about not reading it. Which neatly brings us to another reason why I needed to attend some of these workshops.

Grow Your Own Kahunas

‘OK, I’ll go ask.’ I left Kat browsing the scarfs, and I went to speak to the shop manager. I returned less than a minute later. ‘I bottled it, let’s go’.

This was becoming a bit of a routine. For some reason, when approaching suitable shops to stock some Bitchin Beer Treats, I had a habit of either finding excuses not to speak to the manager, or ducking out of it at the last minute. Worst case, I would walk towards them smiling, but at the last second as they looked up, I was quickly turn and suddenly take an interest in a collection of classic bookmarks, greetings cards, or some other tatt that I didn’t need.

Not entirely sure why. Maybe it was a lack of marketing known how. Or Confidence in myself. Or fear of rejection. Maybe it was the same reason why I preferred Tinder over actually approaching girls in a bar.

Whatever it was, this marketing tactic wasn’t doing me any favours in the sales department, and once again I left a store with the same amount of biscuits that I had entered with.

Over a coffee, Kat and I discussed sales strategies, which essentially amounted to me growing a pair.

During this motivational this pep talk, we noticed that the café we were in was dog friendly, and would the perfect place to exercise this newly acquired ‘go get ’em tiger’ attitude. I turned and saw that there wasn’t a queue at the counter, and the manager was free. Perfect time to approach, once I’d just finished my coffee. I sat, taking short sips from the hot coffee, as I allowed it to cool to a more palatable temperature. The counter was still free. ‘Ooh, still a bit hot’ I said, taking another sip and placing the tepid coffee back down. I looked over at Kat, who just silently stared back unimpressed.

‘…………………………………………….fine,’ I stood up and with a box of biscuits under my arm, approached the counter. Kat watched from the safety of the table as I awkwardly stumbled my way through my sales pitch. I returned several minutes later with a grin on my face.

‘They bought a box’.

As I finished my coffee, we watched as the café manager instantly went out with a pack of biscuits in her hand, and sold it to a couple who were sitting out front with their dog. Obviously someone has a bigger pair of sales kahunas than yours truly.

Ten minutes after we left the café I got a phone call. It was the manager of the café asking if I had any more biscuits I could drop by. She had already sold two packets and thought she could sell a load more.

I’ll leave it to you guys to work out what the morale of the story is.

Dream Catcher

I sat staring at the large, faux mink blanket that hung on the wall in front of me, waiting for a response.


I rolled my eyes and asked the question again, this time out loud and slightly more impatiently, ‘Is it better to stay in one genre, or genre hop?’

Several seconds passed. Still no response

I looked around the gallery at the other participants, all feverishly scribbling in their note books, evidently having selected a less reclusive piece of art work. I returned back to the carpet, then sighed and found a chair to sit on to wait out the remaining 18 minutes of the 20 minute exercise.

I was attending a creative writing workshop at a local art gallery, and was starting to think that it may not have been the most productive way to spend an afternoon. The clues were everywhere; the slant towards poetry which I don’t have much of an interest in, another participant in dark glasses playing a lute when I arrived, and the deep, emotional, quite personal feedback people were providing on our first exercise; 10 minutes of free writing to a person who isn’t judgemental. It appeared the entire group experienced some level of self-discovery and insight, apart from me, who just wrote down stuff I already knew. Maybe I just missed the point.

We then had to go into the art gallery, find a suitable art work, ask it a question that we would normally ask an expert in our chosen writing field, and then wait for an answer. Now, as much as this might be an easy target to take the piss out of, it should be noted that I think I was the only person who didn’t get anything out of this. It seemed everyone else got some kind of deep rooted, emotionally rich, life affirming answer, and were grateful for the opportunity to ask it. If that’s your thing, then good for you. However, what I got was a large blue blanket staring stubbornly back at me. I was starting to feel quite out of my depth.

The nail in the coffin was when we discussed dreams being a source of inspiration for creativity. Anyone who knows me will be aware of my feelings towards dreams and how much I hate it when people tell me about their fantastical, wondrous experience that occurred just two nights ago, which didn’t happen, and I can’t relate to in any way possible.

‘… and my History teacher, Mr. Harris, was there holding a bouquet of flowers, and we sort of floated, but not really, through this door that wasn’t a door, but more like a motorway…’

For reference, the art work was Te Whare Pora, in the Mata Aho Collective. Let me know if you get anything more useful from it.


Double Bunk Hut – Hakatere Conservation Park

Sat on the sofa, Ian continued to stare at his phone that was resting on the coffee table. He looked over at me, currently stretched out by the fire, and we locked eyes. His gaze then returned to the lifeless phone in front of him. This series of uninteresting exchanges continued for the best part of the morning, until he eventually reached out, picked up the phone and tapped the screen a couple of times. Holding the phone to his ear, a few moments passed:

‘Hello. This is the owner of the blue Nissan Nivara… yeah; I think I owe you an apology…’

Several days earlier, we were leaving an incredibly wet Christchurch, heading back to our stomping ground of Hakatere. In the front of the truck were Ian and Kat, who stared out at water violently bouncing off the windscreen. Every few seconds a wiper thing would scrape across the glass, momentarily clearing the view, before it quickly descended back into obscurity. Even for someone of little understanding of the world in my two years of existence, the wiping did seem a little futile.

As usual, Rusty and I were in the back. Rusty was curled into a ball, his tail wagging occasionally. I vacantly stared out of the drenched window, wondering why exactly we had decided to leave the comfort of the house. Occasionally Ian and Kat would have the same discussion, which normally ended with Ian saying ‘Well we’re out now’, and then going back to trying to work out exactly where on the tarmac the white road markings were. Things started to improve the closer we got to Hakatere, and soon grey clouds were replaced with white clouds, which were replaced with… fewer white clouds… and some blue sky.

Today we would be exploring a hut called Double Bunk. Located at the foot of Mt. Taylor, Ian apparently had grand plans of attempting the mountain, but wanted to see if it was possible to drive to the hut. Which again, I’ve only been around two years, but driving to a hut didn’t particularly seem to be in the spirit of things, but what do I know.

That, my friends, is what canine happiness looks like

Heading down the gravel road towards Lake Heron, we abruptly came to a stop. Ian looked at the map, then at an open gate on the right hand side, and then back at the map. He went to say something, but instead put the truck in gear, turned off the road and drove through the gate. The frequency of stopping, map checking and discussion between Ian and Kat increased the further we drove, and after negotiating a few fields, we arrived upon a new gravel road. The mood of the humans seemed to perk up at this point, and we followed the road for several kilometres, before we came to a stop and were released.

Ian and Kat unloaded the velocipedes (yes, if you have been keeping up with these articles you’ll notice that I actually know what they are called now. It’s amazing what you can find on Yahoo Search. On a similar subject, what the hell is Google?) and we set off along the Swinn River Track, marked by orange topped waratahs. With Lake Heron and Sugar Loaf Mountain behind us, we followed the brown trail as it gradually climbed through low lying shrub. Rusty and I scouted ahead, with Ian and Kat eventually bringing up the rear, proving that two legs and two wheels is no substitute for four legs.

It can be awfully bland out here at times

Arriving at a trail crossroad, we turned right, following the signs for Double Bunk. Shortly after embarking on this new bearing, we came across a small stream. Once again I am amazed at the lengths humans will go to not to get their feet wet. As Rusty and I walked back and forth across the stream, demonstrating that having wet feet really isn’t the end of the world, the humans attempted to build a crossing using various stones that lay around the river’s edge. Much rock carrying, rolling and throwing later, the humans were no closer to building a bridge, but were closer to having wet feet. Eventually giving up, they carried their bikes through, thus ensuring that a large proportion of the day would be spent listening to them bitch about how wet their feet were. The irony is not lost on the fact that we had twice as many wet feet, yet bitched about it half as much.

Spot the Flying Rock

After another gradual climb through tan coloured tussock, with tan coloured mountains surrounding us, and regularly losing Rusty due to his tan colouring, it did occur to me that this place can be a little drab at times. Granted, there was the blue of the sky, or the white of the snow topped mountains occasionally peeking through the clouds, but I couldn’t help feel that the place could do with a bit of colour. Explaining this to Rusty on the way home, he pointed out that as us canines are colour blind anyway, what did it matter, which I felt was missing the point a bit. Sometimes I despair with that boy.

Anyway, after a short ride, we arrived at the hut, which unsurprisingly, was an uninteresting shade of light grey. The small wood lined hut sat within two spurs of Mt. Taylor, which crept down from the mountain like tentacles. Inside the hut there were six human sized bunks, a fire place and table, but no dog beds! Disheartened, I then noticed what I could only assume to be a kennel, adjacent to the hut. Typical.

We sat outside in the intermittent sunlight and had lunch. Some awesome Bitchin Beer Treats for us canines, and some green, salad stuff or something for the humans. It was soon time to return back via the 4×4 track that would complete the day’s loop. All of the subtle ascending we had done getting to the hut paid off on the way back, as we cruised down the wide, grassy track towards the truck. Mt. Sugarloaf sat directly ahead of us, like the little volcano that could, with the shadows of late afternoon spreading across the mountains ahead of us.

Squelching feet and a lack of vibrant colour aside, it had been a good trip, I thought to myself, as we galloped back to the truck. We’d found a new place to explore, the weather had been kind, and Ian had another opportunity to shamelessly promote his Bitchin Beer Treats.

That was until we got back to the truck, and Ian found a note under his car windscreen.

Approximate Track Stats

Distance: 8km

Height Gain: 142m

Time: 1.5hrs (velocipeding)


Turns out we made a bit of a mistake getting to the start of the track, and drove through private property. Although the loop is in conservation land, and getting there is possible by public roads, check before you go. You don’t want to be making retrospective, apologetic phone calls to private land owners, like Ian had to.

This link is a good place to start: https://www.wams.org.nz/wams_desktop/index.html

Map courtesy of www.topomap.co.nz

Grammar Based Foundations

Grammar. It’s a pain in the ass. Under normal circumstances I would have just left it at that, but I feel a certain obligation to pad out the topic and bump up the word count somewhat. It’s not something that comes particularly naturally to me. I assume we were taught it at school, but I have no memory of it, which is a shame as I remember countless hours of Welsh lessons which is of no use to me unless a situation arises where I need to count from one to ten in a language other than English.

I imagine someone who has a better grasp of grammar, and generally more intelligent, would be able to craft a clever post highlighting the ways in which grammar and punctuation can imply various meanings. However I am neither of those people, so instead I’ll just resort to plagiarism and bitching.

As would be expected, grammar has a tendency to crop up quite a lot in writing, especially when you’re not very good at it. In an attempt to address this issue, I’ve invested in a few books and rely heavily on Google to help clear the waters. This can present its own problems though, as it just serves to highlight how little you know about a language you’ve spent the best part of thirty years unknowingly butchering.

Take the book ‘My Grammar and I (or should that be “me”?)’, an incredibly useful reference book, written with a very down to earth view of the complications of English grammar. An example of this is its opening quote: ‘[It is] impossible at the present juncture to teach English grammar in schools for the simple reason that no one knows exactly what it is’ Government Report, 1921.

It makes for a terrible evening read when you’re trying to negotiate sentences such as: ‘A participle is a non-finite form of a verb used with an auxiliary verb to form some compound tenses. It can also be used in noun, adjectival and adverbial phrases.’ Having read this several times I am still no clearer to understanding what exactly it means.

So as much as I try to learn and apply the grammar rules to negotiate this minefield, it’s not helped by the fact that I’m also terrible at spelling. The word ‘grammar’ is used nine times in this post, and I have attempted to spelt it with an ‘er’ for every one of those times. Nothing like building a house on faulty foundations for a long, sustainable future.