Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Good Friday Fun Break! – Cutesy Animal Videos
Plus: Flyleaf Makes A Joyful Noise

So what better cutesty animal video to kick off Good Friday with than Christian the Lion! (No, he didn't get the name from eating Christians.) If you don't already know the story of Christian the Lion, well, here's the story of Christian the Lion. Get ready to get weepy. (Though you will have to forgive these guys their hair. It was a very confused time in men's grooming.)

I recently came upon Anna doing this very winning and sort of faux-crying face/voice combo that she sometimes does when she sees something unbearably cute. Looking over her shoulder, I saw she was watching Mr Shuffles the Miracle Baby Elephant, in the Daily Telegraph. Here's Mr Shuffles the Miracle Baby Elephant.

Subsequently, Mr Shuffles had a close call with open water. I love how the keeper and the mother tag-team to pull him to safety.

Here's a dog babysitting a baby chicken. The best bits are toward the end.

I've also searched high and low to bring you the very cutesiest pig video on the entire Interwebs. (It's a competetive field. Here's perhaps the first runner up.) Presenting Kingsford the precocious piglet:

And but so last night I went out to see Flyleaf at the O2 Academy in Islington. I get to one concert every other year, pretty religiously. That seems to be how often there's a band playing that I'm so interested in I can bestir myself to go to Camden Town or Shepherd's Bush or somewhere. (Well, not Camden Town. Nothing will make me go to Camden Town. But you get the idea.) Two years ago was Public Enemy. Four years ago was Bat for Lashes. Or maybe the other way around.

Anyway, I also do the exact same routine every time, which is to buy two tickets months in advance, then figure I'll dig up someone to go with later, then wait to the last minute, then fail to dig anybody up, then go alone. I also show up at around whatever time is printed on the ticket; and then of course the opening act will come on like three hours and forty-five minutes later, so I sit around these seedy clubs, forlorn, drinking crap beer, for hours on end.

But last night was different. Well, not different in getting somebody to go with: all of my on-the-day texts of "It's Texan, Christian, female-fronted hard rock! How could you pass on that?" fell on deaf phones. On the other hand, when I turned up the opening band was not only already on, but almost going off! And the club was cosy and intimate and filled almost completely with, like, 14-22-year-old emo kids who were all very pleasant about letting the solo old guy insinuate himself shamelessly toward the stage, which I proceeded to do after I got a beer.

And this band, Flyleaf, let me tell you, is a strange and lovely little animal. Not only Texan and Christian; but they're fronted by this tiny little petite dusky and vaguely-ethnic looking woman called Lacey, with tattoos appearing from under a sun-dress. Their bassist looks uncannily like a young Rob Zombie. Or, perhaps more aptly, Jesus with eye makeup and tats. (That photo is taken from a video of last night's actual show, which you can watch here, such an amazing age do we live in.) And their lead guitarist, who is called Sameer, looks like nothing so much as a particularly studious computer science grad student. (I'm convinced he's the brains of the outfit, on no stronger evidence than the studious appearance.) They seem like kind of a very American musical success story, if I'm honest.

Speaking of which, Lacey stood up on a riser at one point so we could see her, and she said, "Just because we're up on this stage doesn't mean we're any better than any of you out there. We're just a band from a tiny town in Texas that has had these amazing miracles happen to us." Later, she said, "We love you. God loves you." And she meant it. And we believed it. Man, Christians can just be some of the most completely lovely people, can't they? They can.

And speaking of which, right at the end, she stood up again and said that their new album, Memento Mori, was a story or cycle – and the last song was a challenge to all of us. And I'm pretty sure it was the highlight of the show, not just for me, whose favourite Flyleaf song it is, but for everyone, including the band. (You can play it yourself, if you want, while you read the rest of this: Get the Flash Player to hear this rockn' track.) And so I realised there I was standing there, with my hands up in the air, swaying back and forth, both cheeks wet with tears (yes, Flyleaf songs are so lovely they make me cry with great regularity) and there's this woman up on stage singing things like, "Only surrender will help you now" and telling me God loves me, and I had to wonder: What, actually, was the difference between me, at that moment, and someone being born again at a Christian revival?

Oh – and at the very end, she let us, the people in the audience, sing the last bar for her. And I think we carried it pretty well.

I took a couple of unfathomably bad pictures, and an equally bad video, which I sent to my not-quite-fifteen-year-old sister Emma so she'd think I'm cool. (Almost every one of those emo kids had more computing power in his/her pocket than existed in the world in 1970; plus what would have been the best digital video camera in the world in 1995. But I didn't.) And I'm so uncool I can't even seem to get them off of the damned phone, so instead here's a proper music video for the song "Again" which was another real standout in a real standout evening.

Update! So, yes, not 36 hours afterwards, pretty much the whole concert is now available, via iPhone video, on YouTube. And, actually, this version of "Again" is really very good all around. And it's the exact one I saw.

  culture     humour     interwebs     music     religion     veganism     video  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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