Personal Musings: What Kind of Love – Part 2 – The Reckoning!

Howdy folks, been a rather long time since I posted anything but I have been pondering – Dangerous I know! – and have decided to post my thoughts and opinions on this… Weirdly I have something already on these lines on here and I even gave it the same title as I was going to call this one ergo this is a Part 2 of What Kind of Love. Pardon the overly dramatic title but it just felt far too much like a Movie title to resist.

So what is in my head that I need to get off my chest? Funny I should mention chest because it is that ol’ beating heart that is the source of my considerations and mental wanderings. It is purely a question of love. I say a question, I feel I already have an answer but for the sake of science I shall go as far as to present both sides of the, for the sake of argument lets call it an, argument.

I feel there are two concepts of love. The all inclusive, all combined form of love where you may feel one part or so of the greater one thing. Then we have the segregated forms of love which is more based on the ‘event’ upon you use the term.

Let me elaborate and look at several examples with both forms. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my LEGO. I love steak. I love my guitars. So lets look at these with the latter concept.

I love my family. I love my friends. I love them all very much. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t love all my family nor all my friends. But I do love many of them, and and extraordinary amount. However, with segregation of forms of love it would mean that I love my family and I love my friends differently. They are a definite full stop between them and not a comma. They are two different entities and thus are within my heart as separate entities in the same way I would catalogue my LEGO (Heads go here, wheels go here, what’s that pesky hat doing in with the sharks?!) and so I would see them as different. Maybe react differently to them both in isolation and when combined. Possibly looking at it from a more personalised approach so that rather than blanket family as one kind of love have different ones depending on the person.

I love my LEGO. I love steak. So we have two things which people may argue aren’t things you can love because they are precisely that. Things. Does this mean you cannot love a thing? What could you quantify as a love-able and non love-able thing? Are all none living things just unloved things? Can something be loved even though it does not feel the warmth of blood beat around its body? Personally, I say yes! “Things” can very much be loved. So again while they can be loved should they be separate like people? I love my LEGO. I am surrounded by it. Just within reach I have the Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Hulkbuster, Ultron, Iron Man, two Jawa’s, R5-D4, a carpenter, Rock Star, Dinohunter, Punk Rocker, Lumberjack, Video Game Guy, Ultimate Spiderman, Carnage, and the LEGO Death Star! That is without the boxes near me, or the shelves dedicated to my collection. Why do I have so much?! Because I love it. It makes me feel happy and joyous and I look after it and care about it in a way that could only be described as love. What about steak? Well, have you ever eaten the stuff?! What else could you describe it as other than love?! I mean, come on!!

I love my guitars. I have kind of already touched on this with part 1 (which was never named as such as it was a one-shot!!) but my guitars are much more than things. My PRS especially. No way can you put that much feeling, emotion, joy and pain into something without you gaining a physical and emotional connection that can only be described as love. So should I love my guitar in a different way to say, my best friends? My family? My girlfriend? (jokes! I don’t have one, but you get the idea!)

Personally. I say no. No I do not love things differently.

I love my family, I love my friends, I love my LEGO, I love steak and I love my guitars. All as one. Everything in my heart is in my heart. Not put into places. Does that make it chaotic? Does this mean that things are more fluid? Yeah, I think it does. If something manages to worm its way into my heart then I love it for whatever it is and with all of me. For me, breaking things into pieces means that they are less than the whole. How can you truly and purely love something, or someone, if you break things down into neat little packages? Now, this is where things might get a little messy so bare with me please. Does that mean I love everything the same way? Well, no. I might love steak but I’d never LOVE steak, if you get my meaning! But it is with the same passion as I love my friends or my guitars and I think that is the most important distinction between loving as a whole and loving as dissociate collectives. I think if you give the same kind of devotion and passion to all things you love then you love as a whole. If you love everything differently then you love separately.

Can both be separate? Can there be two -or possibly even more!- concepts of love? I think that yes, because people are different. People feel things differently and that is okay. Does it make me feel differently if someone loves me the opposite to me? Kind of. If I am giving myself but am not getting that in return it does hurt. And I know I love several people who are exactly like this. I get a different kind of love back. If that could be called love at all (another debate for another day I thing!). So should I stop loving them? Well, no! I love because I have a lot of it to give and I have a lot of tolerance for people and their differences.

Conveniently Gary Moore’s (whose music I love!) I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know has come on my random playlist, and I think it is a good soundtrack to the concept of love. Does it truly matter as long as you love?

… For me, it is the beginning and the end of all things. “Without love we are bird with broken wings” – Morrie Schwartz


30 years of being me!

So… Somehow I managed to make it to 30… It was a little touch and go at times, had some of the best and worst times of my life over the last 10 years. It seems like a scarily short amount of time since turning 20 to turning 30.

If you’d have told a 20 year old Darren that he’d be a music teacher, owning many very beautiful guitars and having many wonderful and amazing friends and family in my life, he’d have laughed at you and then probably hidden in a corner to avoid eye contact.

So what’s happened? Well! I have had the honour of performing in several countries around the world, I have a small army of guitars -super high quality guitars, not just cheapies!-, I have build several computers for myself and even more for friends and family, learned to play a few new instruments, sang live (that was a pretty big one for me!), got to see a plethora of amazing bands live -both professional bands, semi-professional and friends bands!- as well as perform live with a few, been engaged, moved out, moved back in, went to University (twice!), met at least one person at each who have become incredibly close and who mean the world to me (which makes one friend from each stage of education!), actually got into some sport, learnt to drive (before middle October this year I had NEVER driven in my life), and I now get to teach kids music as my career!

That’s the quick summary although there is SO much more stuff and a ton more detail I could go into about each part. However, I won’t! The most interesting thing I’ve found over the last 10 years is how much I’ve had to grow as a person. You find out what you’re truly made of through adversity and I feel had more than my fair share over the years! While the person I used to be is long gone I have grown to accept the person that I am and be confident with this. I am nowhere near perfect, and pretty broken but I am a pretty damn good guy to know! I wouldn’t have so many amazing people in my life who actually WANT me in their lives.

Am I where I thought I’d be at 30? No. In fact nowhere near where I hoped to be as I am single, without kids, and only just embarking on my career as a classroom teacher. However, if I would have made different choices I wouldn’t have met most of the people in my life and while I would love to have a family of my own (I would be an AWESOME dad!!) I wouldn’t trade my friends for the world. I am the best I can be because of them!

Ergo this next 10 years. Time to start a family! ONWARDS!!

The Crew – Beta. Review!

So the NDA on The Crew has been lifted. Ergo one can discuss the thoughts that I have through being part of The Crew’s beta.

My immediate thoughts are: It’s good! There is a massive world to drive around. Plenty of things to go and explore and look at. The cars that I’ve driven seem good. Some of the systems feel a little bit weird such as the upgrade path for cars. By completing challenges you can get parts for your car, if you complete challenges to a higher level you get a better part as well as a random bonus to a stat.

This makes the game feel very interesting as a numbers game. The higher the level of your parts the higher the level of your car which in turn makes things easier to complete in the story missions.

The story itself is fairly interesting and they’re at least trying to do SOMETHING rather than the usual crap. Test Drive Unlimited 2’s Story is nothing more than an excuse for races with some really awful characters for AI drivers. In my time with The Crew the characters felt like characters even if some of the links are tenuous at best. It at least tries and it tries with success which I like. Right now some of the discussions are with animated talking heads where as some are just static pictures.

Now the important stuff. The driving. In a game like this the single most important thing so even though there is the a huge map to drive around (there is) where you can drive anywhere, even off the roads (which you can!) if the cars feel crap there’s no point! So, how are they?

They’re alright. Arcady which is as expected and they mostly feel solid. Basically only played with “entry” level cars and an Aston Martin Vantage. They all feel a little floaty and good for drifting but they feel good enough for the context of the game. It doesn’t take away from the enjoyment.

The controls feel really solid. Not only the controller but… Dun Dun Duuuuun!! The keyboard controls are really nice.

Obviously about 12 hours worth of playing a game THIS huge with a Beta version is very different to playing the full game with lots of cars to drive but I am happy enough to pre-order the game and will enjoy it even if I spend most the time just driving around for the joy of driving around. Spent most of my time driving from City to City. From Detroit to New York over the see the Grand Canyon then San Francisco finishing over in Miami. That took about 6 hours but I loved every minute of it.

Looking forward to what happens with the final version of the game. These thoughts and feelings are purely based on the beta version but I am confident from the beta and would recommend the game to people who enjoy have enjoyed the Test Drive games.

TheCrew01 TheCrew02 TheCrew03 TheCrew04

Personal Musings: What Kind of Love.

Hello blog, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again…

That’s enough Simon and Garfunkel I think, on with the waffle! Today is certainly going to be a waffle waffle and general following of a thought process. But Mr. Justice, surely you have not a thought process? You just blurt out whatever words are in your mind!! Well brave reader this is broadly true but sometimes the “big ones” do have a proper thought process and reasoning and this is one of those times.

So what be the catalyst? I have a few close friends and these few friends get both the best and worst of me. They also get the whole “whatever is in ma brains!” the most. So a little more context first, my father has bought himself a PRS S2 Custom 24 in Oh-Gods-It’s-Pretty Red and it’s currently living with my PRS’ so I have my own Custom 24 and my SE Custom 24 7-string all in one place which is… Yummy frankly. I said as much and the response elicited from my friend was:

‘Maybe if you got as excited about women as you do about your guitar you’d have more luck’

And my reply:

‘Maybe if more women were as exciting as my PRS I would’

This was my immediate response, naturally. But ultimately truthful and this got me thinking about why I have such a great love for my beautiful PRS. It’s surely just a plank of wood and metal, right?

Most people who know me know I am a deeply personal fellow who -if you are unfortunate enough to! – end up being close to me will become incredibly important to me and as such will be cared about very much. There is very little I wouldn’t do for these few people, I would –and have- bleed for them if it meant they can be happy. I have suffered greatly at some of their hands and I am not going to pretend that I have not made some of them suffer. Neither parties (I hope!) were going for being malicious but if you let someone in you risk hurting them and risk yourself being hurt. However, unless loyalty or –lets sound sappy here!- love is in question things can and will be repaired and the friendship will remain as strong, usually somewhat stronger, as before.

But what’s this got to do with my PRS? Well, because I have such a strong emotional and personal connection to the people that matter this response equates to the most important things in my life. And as any musician will know an instrument can transcend the thing and become more than this.

When I first played my love she just suited me. It felt special, she was beautiful and sounded beautiful and just sat in my arms perfectly. I played another PRS, same guitar but in black and someone looked at what would become mine. I immediately stopped playing the black one, which was good but didn’t have that spark, and picked up my PRS again. I was not going to let someone else play her. I would not have been able to walk away with her if it wasn’t for my ex and fast forward a very happy (if very poor!) year of PRS ownership and my lady breaking off our engagement and then my little sister passing away I was in a world of absolute pain and sadness. I had many, many dark thoughts during this time. I got very close to destruction and I felt entirely alone because I needed to be strong for my family, they needed me and so I was strong. However with losing the two people who meant the most to me in the world I felt alone.

But she was waiting for me, patiently for be what I needed. I sat with my PRS and just played. Letting me take the pain and emotion and channelling it through my fingers into music. For every painful note I played she shared in this and she cried with me. She was strong and unfaltering when I needed her and I worked through as much as I could.

I like to think I have bought out the best in her over the years. We’ve shared a hell of a lot of good and bad times. While I have asked a lot of her she asks a lot of me. In order for her to be at her best I need to be at my best. A proper relationship should surpass the limits of what both are capable of and become a single entity far beyond what should be capable. This is what happens with my PRS, I don’t think anyone who has seen me play a live show can deny that we bring out the best in each other and transcend a guitar and its player.

Now I bring this kind of thing to any relationship (be it intimate or friendship!) because I firmly believe in people and especially those I believe in and care for. Most abuse or misuse or throw this away. They’ll accept my side but give little back and so I have become a much more guarded and less freely giving with my trust. Even this still bites me sometimes but ultimately I have my PRS who doesn’t want me to be anything other than me. She’ll accept me at my happiest or saddest, my best or worst and if I am at my worst she gives me her best to aspire to and because of this I give my best because that is what she deserves. I am fortunate that my PRS is not the alone with this, I have been lucky enough to have at least one human who is the same.

Does this answer the question I bought here? Well, kinda! I love my closest friends and my PRS and I still have a lot of love to give!

I’d wrap this up nicely and have a proper conclusion but frankly I’m off to play my PRS! Safe travels, friends!

(Below is a picture of the two of us, with our heads blurred to protect anonymity)


Personal Musings: (Writing on) The Page

So a weird thing happened to me… With my new laptop being all new it needed to be filled with Stuff. Most of my installers for programs I keep on my external hard-drive as there is nothing worse than needing a program and not having internet access! So while transferring the essentials I notice this interesting looking folder called “Darren’s Recordings”… Did I make that? I think to myself before the rational part of my brain booted me to the face saying Of Course You Did! It’s On Your Drive And It’s Your Name, Fool!!

The rational part of my brain was not wrong. Almost every recording I made between 2001 and 2009 are there. Unfortunately a lot of it is… Frankly crap. A lot of me just messing around. There’s the occasional hint of a song in there but not much. However for every 10 songs there’s actually one really good song. And for every 5 good songs there is one outstanding. Considering my long hair, beard and generally angry demeanour people are usually surprised by the pieces of music I write for myself. When I write something for the band it’s always Teh Metalz \../ but when I write for my own enjoyment they’re usually semi-acoustic numbers. Of course my lead tone is usually my standard Head tone which is all of the distortion!

My best I feel is a piece called (Writing on) The Page. This is a massively personal piece that was written October 2009, 2 years after my little sister had passed away. I was starting to deal with it by this stage but I was still… Well. Not good so I turned to what I could do which was healthy to get some of the emotion out. Thus I wrote this song and -for the first time- had my voice on there. Five tracks of my voice actually. Five different things I needed to say. I managed to find the original files so I know what each of the five things say but I shall be keeping these to myself as they are very personal!

It’s interesting hearing things that are so old. I can still remember writing the majority of the pieces, the feelings and emotions that went into them. I am super proud of (Writing on) The Page but listening to it causes a knot in my stomach, I remember sitting there with my guitar playing this piece and crying. Every take is a single shot, every mistake is left in and there is only a basic mix. No EQ or effects added. It is probably the most raw track I have ever created but also probably the most perfect. I think it captures my emotion of the time perfectly and you can -I think at least- feel the tears. I write music as an emotional response and I really think I nailed it.

This track as well as several more recent tracks are on my Soundcloud over at I’d welcome any comments or thoughts or even shares 😉


That’s the emotional response done so here’s a quick thing I wanted to add onto the end about the technical side of the song. I am so proud of how it came out and it’s the track that made me realise that doing things properly and taking the time to record things properly straight out of the game makes for a much more beautiful song overall. I still have a bad habit of using too many effects but I am a phaser/chorus/reverb lover! The distorted guitar sounds I am especially impressed with. My Digitech GSP1101 has Lexicon reverbs built in and I used that with volume swells and my amp distortion to create that beautiful violining tone that is kind of mystical and almost has a pad-sound tone to it. I could not have made this song without my PRS. To me all the sounds are Very Mike Oldfield, which works especially accurately as I play a Custom 24 in Orange like Mike for the Tubular Bells 2 debut!

Anyway, I wish I could replicate all of these tones again but everything just came together and worked perfectly for this one song. I would say that it is my ‘masterpiece’ for my young self. Now-a-days I create things that are more orchestral but I think this was kind of the start of that because it really has a dynamic and texture that until this point I’d never created…

A Trio of Reviews!

Took longer than planned but here’s a trio of reviews. Starting with Delain:

I am a rather large Delain fan. Seen ’em four times now and they’ve been good or great everytime. Last week was no exception. While I am not a big fan of their last two albums they are still excellent live. The later songs still sound really good live and between Charlotte (vocals) and Otto (bass) they always put on a great performance. A really varied set with something off every album and Charlotte especially was on fire! Very strange seeing them in a supporting set role rather than headliners!

Within Temptation was the second time seeing them but the first time actually getting to SEE them! Last time we were stuck far away from the stage and because of how the Academy in Brum works could barely see anything the whole night. This time (went seated!) got to see the whole show. Bloody hell they are good! Really impressive set and really cool how they worked the duet songs into the set. And We Run is absolutely brilliant!It shouldn’t work but DAMN it’s great! Both bands put on a brilliant set and I am hoping to see both bands again as soon as possible.

Now to bring some geek on! My new laptop is an Asus X552C and frankly it is impressive. A Core i5 backed up by 6gb of memory with an nVidia GeForce 710M to finish off the specs. Doesn’t sound amazing but the whole lot work together really well with Windows 8… Now, bare with me here… When I started I had the bog standard Windows 8. I hated it, it was terrible and useless as I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. All in all I felt I’d made a mistake going for W8… I then decided I had nothing to lose going for W8.1… This was a nightmare as in order to get 8.1 I had to fully update 8 which refused to update! Cue lots of swearing! When it finally updated and installed 8.1 -which took 4 hours!!- I could actually find things… Not only that just I could set things up how I like them! While there are some things I still don’t like -I really miss having the old style Start menu- I am much happier as I can actually use the laptop now and not swear at it. Oh, also the sound is Amazing!!

It’s A Landmark!! Coming of Age!

Yay! Party ‘n stuff! My blog is 21… By that I mean has 21 posts! Thus this will be a more upbeat waffle rather than my usual waffley waffle. Pretty surprised managed to keep this semi-going as far as I have. I get sidetracked or bogged down by other stuff, however, this has been really nice to just write. I don’t get to anymore. Used to write absolutely loads, hell I did NaNoWriMo for 5 years which was hella fun. I miss getting to full on write. Closest I’ve got is when I am writing for a game of which I have a few in the pipeline, both story driven and emergent storytelling which I’ve really enjoyed creating but they take a lot of time and I seriously lack in that right now!

Anyway, glad to have you folks around who have been reading, it’s nice to have a few peeps reading along. It’s nice to see what other blog-land people are up to as well, it’s nice to see the world from a little further than my own little bubble. Especially being an ITT, seem to spend my whole life working as I don’t even get to see the news anymore!

All in all heres to many more blog posts. Expect one on Thursday from my shiney new (Windows 8…) Laptop! There will be a review of both the lappy and of Within Temptation/Delain whom will be seeing tomorrow evening. METAAAAL \../

Keep it Awesome people!