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Book Review

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Book Review: How to Help your Child become a Prodigy

by Lang Reid

With such a ‘come in’ title, how could any parent pass this up? This is the latest offering from local publishers IQ Inc (ISBN 974-8845-97-4) and is one of the books in their ‘Prodigy Programme’. The promise inside, and repeated on the back cover, is “Parents conversant with the many dietary, environmental, physiological and psychological components that can help expand and inspire intellect during the early years when so much is possible, can potentially increase their children’s growth by an exponential degree.” It also promises that it’s never too late because “you can boost IQ at any age.”

Rather than just read this book from the point of view of a literary reviewer, as the subject matter is very medical, I passed it on to our medical writer, Dr. Iain Corness. Here are his words.

“The book does have a challenging title, and I must admit I was interested to see just how the promise would be fulfilled. From the outset, I should also point out that I am a conventionally trained western doctor, and all my experience is in that sphere.

“I was immediately very pleased with the first few chapters, where the author(s) used the conventional yardsticks to express IQ, and the fact that they stressed the difference between ‘intelligence’ and ‘education’. This was done with enough of the scientific basis, but kept completely readable.

“The anatomy of the brain and the dominance of the left or right hemisphere is also well described, though I can imagine a few of the women’s libbers getting annoyed at the (cerebral) anatomical differences between the sexes being described, and ascribed to history!

“I was impressed with the depth of research in each chapter, with references, and the pr้cis with ‘tips’ at the end. The book manages to take parental ‘wisdom’ and give it a scientific basis.

“I also enjoyed the ‘Kid and Dad’ sections, where two of the authors related their thoughts on various parts of their growing up together, from their individual points of view.

“My only reservation lay in the osteopathy section, this being a field outside my ken, and I felt in some ways running contra to the section on the advantages of ‘natural’ birth. However, I feel that conscientious parents can make up their own minds, when presented with the facts.

“The book also does not leave those parents whose child is just ‘average’ as if the child is then of no importance. It shows any parent how to raise their children in the best possible way, and by doing so, maximize their children’s chances of a successful and happy life, something I do agree with.

“Finally, they should have found a better photograph of Einstein. He should have shot his hair stylist!” (Dr. Iain.)

As I wrote in the beginning, how could any parent pass this up? It seems that the advice gets the medical nod of approval, and the advice can be easily followed. Perhaps your offspring will become talented enough to keep you in the manner to which you would like to become accustomed! Good luck!

Mott's CD Reviews: Steve Vai - Fire Garden

Ripped apart by
Mott the Dog
Endorsed by Ella Crew

1 Star *

After an apprenticeship as stunt guitarist for Frank Zappa, followed by terms with David Lee Roth’s solo band and Whitesnake, four critically very well received, but commercially unviable solo albums followed. (Just because you can get your guitar to sound like a trumpet, may be quite amusing in concert, but on record who cares? You may just as well be listening to a trumpet.)

Steve also made a stunning acting debut as the devil’s guitarist in the movie ‘Crossroads’, where Steve hams it up hilariously in the final guitar showdown between good and evil. Worth the price of admission on its own.

At this point Steve decided to do another solo album, but this time with his hard rock tastes to the fore. The album ‘Fire Garden’ was released in 1996, and is split into two phases stretching out over seventy-four minutes. The first phase is mainly instrumental, but for the first time on record, the second phase features vocals from Steve Vai.

Opening the first phase is ‘There’s A Fire In The House’. It starts out with the sound of a nuclear bomb detonating and is followed by wailing sirens and howling wolves. This is topped off with some phantom of the opera style keyboards. As the music reaches fever pitch, it’s not till one minute fourteen seconds that Steve Vai picks up his guitar and tears into the melee, slamming down riffs and peeling off licks in the style of a Rock ‘n’ Roll guitar slinger; a mini five minute guitar blitzkrieg with all the guitar pyrotechnics you could possibly desire. One of the best openings to an album ever.

Unfortunately from this moment onwards it all goes distinctly pear shaped. The remaining instrumentals are all very mundane with only ‘Blowfish’ showing sparks of real inspiration, and although the doff of the hat to Steve Vai’s love of Thailand is nice on ‘Bangkok’, it’s not exactly breaking new musical ground, while the title track would cure insomnia. Sure there are some stirring guitar solos, but it all becomes a bit ‘when you’ve heard one guitar solo, you’ve heard ‘em all’.

In phase two things go from bad to worse. It consists of a collection of seven songs (clocking in at forty-eight seconds, ‘Deepness’ can’t be counted as a song) of the most boring ‘Plod-Rock’. Steve Vai is just not good at writing - verse, chorus, verse, chorus - rock songs.

The second half of the album is not a musical adventure, more a musical listening endurance. As for the guitarist’s singing, well let’s just say that his singing is as bad as his guitar playing is good. The vocal sound bites that join each song are excruciatingly annoying.

Without doubt Steve Vai is one of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll guitarist, which became specially apparent during his spectacular appearances on the 2001 and 2003 G3 albums and DVD’s, where he teamed up with Joe Satriani on both tours, and Eric Johnson on the first, and Yngwie Malsteem on the second.

On stage Steve Vai is nothing short of brilliant. However, whenever he goes into the studio for solo work (except the opening track), it all seems to fall apart. There is no one else to blame but the man himself seeing that Steve Vai writes all the songs and plays all the instruments himself. Not to mention the singing again. Nice album cover though, shame about the music.

Steve Vai - Everything


Phase One
There’s A Fire In The House
The Crying Machine
Dyin’ Day
The Mysterious Murder Of Christian Tiera’s Lover
Hand On heart
Fire Garden Suite
Little Alligator
All About Eve
Aching Hunger
Damn You
When I Was A Little Boy
Warm Regards

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