Literature, music and mulled wine - a litany on having your heartstrings pulled
There's two types of things that when they happen, my heart seems to fill up with joy to the point of exploding. One is reading a new book by an author I had never heard of and finding it so good, so amazing I become obsessed and want to read everything by said author. I believe the last time that happened was with Gillian Flynn, about a year or two ago, when I read "Dark Places" and had to go on and buy "Gone Girl" and "Sharp Objects" - though I still haven't managed to get my hands on that one! Before Miss Flynn, I had been experiencing a major drought since the advent of Susannah Clarke and her beyond amazing and fenomenal "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" (You honestly have no idea how I love that book!) followed by the enchanting "The Ladies of Grace Adieu". That was in 2006 and 2007. Such a long time ago... I lived through that period of drought by focusing on my much adored Stephen King, which is always a life saviour in times like these, since the man is so prolific (thank you for being so, Mr. King!), despite the fact that I really craved for the discovery of a new author to love.
The other thing that I love it when it occurs is when I come across a new band that makes my heart flutter. Now this is very very very rare indeed, as I am such a picky person when it comes to music. I kind of like to listen to everything, as background music, though I must draw a line at modern pop and hip hop and r n'b music as I cannot stomach 1D's and Kanyes and Taylors and Gagas and all that jazz. I will never ever be a Belieber, though I will happily listen to mostly any genre. But for a band to capture my imagination, and pull me by the heartstrings, well, that is a rare feat indeed. It begs for a combination of factors that aren't easy to come across, as I am quite ecletic when it comes to music. In my teen years Iron Maiden and Spandau Ballet had me by the heartstrings. Warlock, Helloween, when I was about fifteen, sixteen. Bauhaus and The Clash when I was seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. Alice in Chains in my grunge days - and I still have my heart beating fast at the sound of their music.
And Faith No More. I was nineteen and drooling over their music, begging friends who were going abroad on vacation to bring me their albums which I couldn't find in Portugal. I had Mike Patton up on my bedroom wall along with James Dean (let's leave that one for another day.) and I listened to them constantly, along with other things. I had never been as obsessed about a band as I was about FNM. I saw them live everytime they came to Portugal. Mike once waved at me, but that's a story for another day, because I nearly fainted. I was and am to this day a huge FNM fan. Know entire albums by heart. Thought they would never ever be dethroned, and though I loved listening to other bands and other types of music, they were the ones I always went back to, and which I listened to more regularly. Even in the midst of all the Metal bands I still listened to, as I entered my twenty first year and came across Doom Metal (for those who know me and this type of music, it would seem as we're a match made in heaven, but alas, it was not to be so.).
I confess I do have a soft spot for Doom in the form of portuguese band Desire, though I started my listening of said genre with My Dying Bride. And even though this is a melancholy, depressive, over romanticized type of music - especially when it comes to the lyrics - and I am such a melancholy and over romantic person, I would assume my heart would be captured by one of these bands. Alas it was not so, it was Cradle of Filth that had me by the balls (if I had them) and they soon became my obsession. I have most of their discography, and Supreme Vampiric Evil is still a landmark musically speaking, in my eyes. It also awakaned in me the fascination for those guitars, played in such aparent discordance, and those gutural screaming male voices that were some times cut by melodic powerful female solos (Sarah Jezebel Diva was divine indeed!). From CoF on, I have always searched in musi cwhat their first albums have given - the orchestral ambiance, the voices, the guitars, the synths and the thematics. Back Metal entered me with a vengeance, I might say. As I moved on to bands like Burzum, Old Man's Child or Mayhem, I found that the sound they played was quite relaxing for me, putting me in a trancelike state that calmed me, that revived me.
So amidst all the music I heard from then on, mostly Metal, yes, and with a huge penchance for Viking Metal, due to a project by the name of Storm, that despite being formed by two Black Metal performers focused mostly on Norwegian traditional songs and legends and its paganism, I kept on trying to come across another band that would have me going mad like CoF did. It was a long long time until I happened upon Summoning who quickly became my go to band of all times. Their mix of classic Black Metal voices with their orchestral back music, the guitar solos and mostly their obsession with Tolkien and "Lord of the Rings" (all their albums are about LOTR!!) made them into the one band I could listen to for hours on end, sending me on a rampage of getting my hands on all their works. But with that came along a phenomenon where I would listen to other bands, other albums, other music and my heart would not skip a beat, I would not feel elated, tears of joy would not spring into my eyes as it happened when I listend to Summoning.
So that other thing I love for it to happen is coming across an unkown band (Metal, preferably) and listening to one of their albums and suddenly feel that clang in my chest, that heaving of my breast, that joy that rushes through all my veins and leaves me feeling a surge of happiness that is hard to describe. I have been "lucky" enough to have come across two such bands in this last year, and have had my heart's content as I listen to their work non stop while I try to do some work myself. Just the other day, as I was listening to one of these bands - Caladan Brood - I realized that the feeling of the blood coursing hard through my veins and making me feel warm inside was very similar to the feeling I get when I have a mug of mulled wine! And immediately I craved some mulled wine, but seeing that the weather had still been way too warm, I couldn't be bothered with it. See, mulled wine is particularly good when it's bitter cold outside and you have spent hours working in front of your laptop and your hands and feet are frozen and you need a glow of warmth inside the mouth of your stomach.
This week the weather has been perfect for mulled wine. The days are sunny and bright, but the temps are quite low, and there's a bitter wind outside pulling on your clothes and getting into the nooks and crannies, leaving you chilled to the bone and in need of a pick me up. Nothing like this recipe, if you're feeling as cold as I am!
- two and a half cups of red wine
- two clementines, cut into quarters
- eight cloves
- two star anise
- a scatter of dried rose petals
- two cinnamon sticks
- two teaspoons honey
- lemon peel