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Echoes of Flavio's Ghost Dreaming
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Another Christmas comes and goes.. this one was quite good. Again, as in the previous three or four years, spent here in the UK with Venezuelan friends in Kent (in a place where the local MP, I'm told, is called Clark. Clark of Kent?) Everything good, Christmas dinner was, as per V'zlan tradition, on Christmas Eve (there was another on Xmas day!) and it was a cultural blend of hallacas, pan de jamón, turkey, the usual roasted veg (parsnips are, as far as I know, unknown in Vz) and a Vz Christmas cake that tasted a lot like Christmas pudding. Main platter here:



Again this year I didn't drive but the journey there and back was far less eventful -no floods this time.

Boxing Day, as usual, was a non-day and involved just the return train journey and vegging in front of the telly re-watching the rest of Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica while idly mucking about on an iPad.

Today, a couple of lessons and.. nothing more. Will have to have a look and see what may be happening out in the world that I might want to see or attend.

Hope you lot had a lovely Christmas.

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Hm, yes, well... what have I done in the last few days? Mmm... done a few guitar lessons, had an adult pupil do a grade 4 that he thought he was going to fail and instead got a Merit. Attended the bibliogoth meeting last Sunday to discuss China Meiville's 'Embassytown', discussion to which I had less to contribute than I would have thought -had forgotten half the book and had been reading another science-fiction book with a female protagonist which didn't help. Finished reading Amanda Palmer's 'The Art of Asking' (and liked it a lot). Went to the Bleak Christmas at the Roch in Stoke Newington, where I caught up with people (good to see squirmelia and deathboy and thanks again to chris_damage, andyknifton and suicideally for everything), had a Wetherspoon's Christmas dinner like every year (with burnt pigs-on-blankets and cardboard turkey as is traditional there but never mind, that wasn't the point), then on Saturday went to lovelybug and ciphergoth's Christmas Gathering, which was an excellent party and somehow ended up at the Slimelight. Arrived with people from the party but they quickly disappeared, as they were doing their own thing (cough). Had a little dance, caught up with some more people and finally left at 3:30, spending the journey back on the 214 talking to maragotika four thousand miles away on Skype. She couldn't believe how noisy and raucous the night bus was. People out there seem to have kind of the wrong idea about the English.

Today was a whole lot quieter, with a lesson in the morning and a few errands and shopping done, a little reading and a lot of vegetating -staying out late seems to be taking it out of me much more than before...

Also, I've been watching again the mini-series of Battlestar Galactica. It gets better with every re-watching (and so does Mary...:D ...) , even though you don't get the forewarnings or forebodings of what's going to happen that you get in Babylon 5 (mostly because they were making it up along the way). I'll blame scifi_mel for that :)

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Maybe I should start reading the Venezuelan news. A couple of our TV channels stream on the internet but I find more or less unbearable to watch them -the official channel is boring and shouty, the opposition channels are garish, cheap and shouty. The press is a strange thing, again very divided and the reporting on pretty much anything always has two radically different, irreconcilabe versions. However, I do have a lot of family and friends there (alas, none that come here to Livejournal in spite of my efforts of years, or in G+ -they're all on FB...) and I'm a little bit concerned. The current collapse of the prices of oil doesn't just affect Russia, ir certainly doesn't affect the Gulf countries that much, by the looks of it, but it is going to hit Venezuela hard, at a point where the deep division and the continuing crises can make the situation unstable and dangerous.

In the meantime, today I'll be trekking to Crystal Palace to fetch, from the Venezuelan café/deli there, my order of traditional Venezuelan Christmas fare, a few Hallacas and Pan de Jamón... and probably be told in minute detail how it's all going to pot back home.

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Acknowledging receipt of beautiful Christmas card by the very talented Mr jackdiablo, better known these days as PushingNormal

card insideCollapse )

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I doubt many people will notice (except for a couple of family and friends who seem to be worried about the black user picture and send me messages asking me whether I'm ok) but I'm not using Facebook today.


https://plus.google.com/app/basic/events/ce4har11bm54cpldl30m7gt83a8

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Ah, a sunny morning. A sunny winter morning, with slanted sun that doesn't seem to give any heat. Currently, a lovely lesson with a 62 year old lady who only ever played guitar for the first time three months ago or so and is getting on with it fantastically well. Later, I'll be calling at the Kentish Town City Farm, which is the charity that was voted by the audience last week in the concert at kajia's and hand over a cheque for half the proceeds of that recital -not a lot, a bit over a hundred quid but you should have heard the reaction of the member of staff I spoke to when I phoned.

I've been reading Amanda Palmer's 'The Art of Asking', in which the background theme is her having been a street performer -a 'bride' statue, for several years. Having busked in the London Underground in the '80s when it was illegal, etc her stories of being a street performer resonated enormously, as well as her taking apart the layers of insecurities that someone who performs or makes art inevitably has -barring extreme cases of conceitedness, I suppose.

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A good evening at the Greenwich Union with a reduced contingent of the Gothsluts, after a day with only a couple of lessons and not a lot else -a spot of shopping at Sainsbury's, ini relation to which.. it must be Christmas. If I have to hear Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer once more... I'm not sure why I loath that song in particular, I don't mind, on the whole, the NYC 1930's Christmas song thing, it goes with black and white films in which real snow falls heavily outside while enormous xmas trees indoors are covered in baubles and fake snow.

I've said before that I go along with Dawkins' quip about being a 'culturally Christian' atheist. True, I don't believe in any of the bits of biblical legend any more than I believe in Father Christmas (does anybody still call him that, btw?) but I do believe they represent things that are important for us and markers -the mid-winter celebration is much older than Christmas. I grew up in my corner of the north of South America putting up plastic Nativities at Christmas times, as well as Christmas trees that were at first plastic and later came from Canada, putting lights and fake snow on them. Im not sure whether I thought both (pine trees and snow) were typical of the Middle East or whether I thought Bethlehem was somewhere in Northern Europe...

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Lovely (albeit short) time at the Alternative Bring and Buy Sale today -as always. Didn't buy much (sorry xsjdx) but caught up with a lot of peeps, some of whom I seldom see, took a lot of pictures and ... well, then had to run off to drop camera and stuff, pick up laptop and guitar and set out for a couple of away lessons.

The earlier part of the week-end was a mix of mad hectic and backwater waiting for things to happen. The latter only really on Saturday. Before that, the run up to the concert on Thursday, the performance itself and the party after (I think I drank _all_ the wine..) and Friday was a mad run to do everything I had to do, in spite of which I still met pogodragon for a drink and catch up at the Pineapple Pub, went to say happy birthday to a friend at Aces & Eights in Tufnell Park ... and after a short disco nap I got itchy feet and ended up at the Electric Ballroom for a couple of hours of dancing like a loon. No school teaching tomorrow so may try and catch up on sleep...

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Gig at kajia's went very very well. She's the best host! There was wine and pumpkin pie and an appreciate audience and my programme (I'd set myself a rather challenging one with a few substantial and quite difficult pieces) went very reasonably well -I'll decide how reasonably when I see the videos of the performance -every piece had some moment I didn't like, something that didn't come out clear and I had a few slips and memory lapses, but overall, again, quite reasonably. I should have a little gig like that every week.. but I'm so rubbish at selling the 'product'. Still, it is special when it happens and it goes well. There'll be pictures and videos, apparently.

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I have learnt that alohura has been kicked out of Facebook -again because her FB name is not what FB deem to be her birth name- without so much as a warning. In previous cases people have received a warning to change their name to something compliant to the incoherent, inconsistent, self-contradictory rules FB states for names. Now they don't seem to be bothering even with that. I've even learnt of one case in which the name of the person was his legal name after a change by deed of poll years before this. FB would prefer him to have his _previous_, no longer legal, name....

[ Edit ] vexen has created an LJ community in relation to this. At the moment it is just a place-holder but it may come in useful to generate discussion and possible action around this issue. The address is:

http://fb-v-privacy.livejournal.com/profile

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Crikey, I must be getting old. Went out to celebrate a birthday and was here before 10:30. Ok, there were three concomitant factors here: one, I didn't know anyone else at the party other than the birthday girl. Two, I had slept only five hours last night and was beginning to feel the effects of this. Three, I wanted to be back in time that I could practise the programme (without raising the anger of the neighbours) that I'm playing in concert in a week and a half (have I told you about this? would you like to come along? It's very expensive at £20 but a) I'm worth it and b) half goes to a local charity voted by the audience). Still, it feels wrong to be making it back home at 10:30 on a Saturday night. And, worse, it's barely half eleven and I'm ready for the pillow. Good night, folks...

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Lovely evening spent with the Mac heads of the old u.c.s.m -that is, uk.comp.sys.mac of the old Usenet. (who include of course quite a few geeks, but also an ex producer of 'Panorama' and a magician, as well as other interesting people) at Merkato, the Ethiopian restaurant on Caledonian Road, like every year since about 2000. This started with the Apple Expo at the Design Centre in Upper Street (which is how we started going to Merkato). It went more or less like this: you would turn up, meet with them lot, look around ('ah, yes, there's computers in here'), maybe have a slightly closer look if there was anything interesting but more normally retreat to the Chinese place near, come back, look again ('ah yes, computers still here') and then head off to Merkato for a lovely and amazingly cheap Ethiopian dinner and getting to know better people you'd only met before in plain text on a computer screen. So eventually we gave up on the Apple Expo (oh, ok, the Apple Expo also died at some point) but we carried on meeting once a year in November, catching up on what everybody did in the meantime, maybe greet a few new faces and, also, lament the parting of some old one, maybe in extremis also discuss something geeky. This year our resident magician put on a show, entertaining not just us but the whole rest of the constituency of the restaurant including the people who run it. His name, by the way, is Martin S Taylor and he's very good, if you happen to need a magician. I nearly missed it this year, I was so tired when I came home that I was dozing off in complete oblivion, but one of them phoned and I ran, picked the car and took myself there pronto...

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This is getting beyond funny (which it never was). Another six friends have disappeared from my Facebook friends' list this morning, their profiles presumably deleted by the 'real name' FB police.

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In Venezuela, my country of origin, they have a saying, something about 'trying to kill mosquitoes using machine-guns'. Facebook seems to be indulging in a similar exercise. Several people in my friends' list who, for valid (and different in each case) reasons) have had to choose to use names which are not their birth names, have found their accounts deleted with apparently little warning and with only a recourse to appeal through a byzantine procedure. Whatever the origin of what is now happening there, be it a lonely loony troll rampage or a sudden re-surge of a misguided 'real names only' policy to 'try and make Facebook safer' or, more cynically, to 'be seen to be doing something about it even if they well know it is an ineffective and counterproductive measure, but their real interests lie with their advertisers, not their users', in any case it is resulting in a lot of grief and inconvenience for people who, again, have valid reasons not to use their 'real' names (in some cases their nicknames are what the only names the world at large knows them by) and astonishment and not a little anger to those of us witnessing this.

Facebook is a very useful tool but it also is dodgy in numerous ways -its privacy policies frankly suck, the very fact that they offer a useful and valuable service for nothing (other than advertising and the fact that we provide them with _a_lot_ of data that can be sold to corporations, and which if misused or mis-sold can be used against us, etc) which, as the old adage goes, means it is we who are the product.

I just hope they see sense -and in the meantime, trying to make waves and the tiny little bit of noise I can make (and, ok, mixing images) so they relent and see the error of their ways on this.

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I just spent, on the way to a visit lesson, a delightful bus journey in a very crowded 214 with a mother with two children, one of whom was sitting next to me but half the time screaming at his mother to give him more smelly greasy chips so he could slobber and dribble over them, threatening to spill them over me, while practically climbing on top of me to yell at his mother some more, demanding some more greasy smelly chips,, while the other kid, a littler one in the pram, was screaming and screaming non-stop. This is recommended for developing patience and strength of character, on neither of which I felt I needed any strengthening whatsoever... I of course didn't say anything. She was clearly harassed by her circumstance, no point adding to that.

I got off the packed bus one stop early. Arrived at my pupil's building, rang the intercom without any answer. After a short while there appears.. the young mother with the pram and the two children on two. She enters the building and glances back at me with extreme suspicion....

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Played at kajia's fabulous Hallowe'en/birthday party last night -fantastic party, btw; there'll be photos. Chose to play three pieces from the Americas, a tango, Venezuelan Preludio Criollo and Californian Andrew York's 'Sunburst'. I had made the slight mistake of over-doing it slightly on the wine and felt I played a little too fast, a little too untidy in places but it seemed to go down very well. I am going to be playing a recital at her house on Thanksgiving, the admission will be £20 of which half (minus expenses, which will be minimal) will go to a local charity nominated on the night. If you might be interested in attending this do please drop me a line here or by email.

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I've been taking a trial month of Netflix and then of Amazon Prime. The choice in Netflix seems to be rather limited but not being tied to a yearly plan but rolling month by month is a little more attractive to me than paying yearly lump sums. We'll see what I decide in the end, if anything. I've been told that there are hacks to gain access to the US Netflix which apparently has much more choice but haven't looked into that yet.

Science-fiction choices seem to be particularly scarce and a little disappointing. On Netflix -little and old. I've watched Iron Sky (finally; a lot of fun), Tron Legacy (but I never saw the original.. and they don't seem to have it either), the two Hobbit movies (ok, that's not SF), a couple of other things. I'm not really interested in sit-coms or rom-coms or Scandinavian detective dramas at this point and that would seem to be the bulk of the choice. Most of what I've done so far in Netflix has been to run nature and space documentaries (but there aren't that many of the latter) while I practise my scales on the guitar. I also watched 'Prometheus' and a couple of other things on Prime, including the first few episodes of 'Vikings' a series about which I knew nothing but quite liked thus far, with some reservations.

Last night, watching 'Event Horizon' on Netflix . Beginning to get confused between this and Prometheus! Those pesky aliens.. coming here to this planet to take our jobs and our movies. And I was kind of expecting the rather younger Morpheus to start offering blue and red pills to his personnel.

I'm still not entirely convinced about either, slightly in favour of Prime currently....

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Excellent week-end, full of interesting and fun things, only slightly marred by a pupil not paying his month on time and thus throwing me back into overdraft territory. The GVWIHP was fun, as was Harps Bazaar at the Boogaloo and sharing that time with ravenstoker and Lusy. A little bit of guitar practice and one hour extra sleep -26 years in this island and the changing of the clocks still confuses me at least a little, every time.

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Just finished reading, maybe for the third time in my life, 'Foundation' by Isaac Asimov. , which is the set reading for the next meeting of bibliogoth How times change (even though admittedly they need to change a lot more). Apart from the rather quaint galaxy the story takes place in, where everything is 'atomic' (but of course he was writing this at the end of the 1940's so nuclear energy was a promise rather than a threat), the first thing that strikes me is the fact that all the characters of any consequence are men and the only woman that has a voice at all in the book, although fierce, is still just somebody's wife and somebody's daughter.

The book is also an hymn to unbridled capitalism, which Asimov clearly believes to be a force for good...well, what we're dealing with in the world, with the consequences of greed on the part of corporations and banks may have put paid to any such beliefs.

Having said all this, though, I enjoyed the book enormously again. It cannot help being a product of its time and has all the corresponding flaws but it's a very good story and a good example of what I feel science-fiction should be, entertaining and thought provoking, a mirror held at us from a distance.

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Tried to install Yosemite on my Mac mini last night. It froze on the progress bar on restart. There ensued three hours of trying to figure out how to get out of that, force restart, try again and finally very slowly finding a way to backpedal into Mavericks. At least I wasn't doing it in my MacBook Air which has all my work in it. That was a bit of a waste of an evening...

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Kings Crioss, 6:45 am. Waves and waves of people. Beautiful women, ugly men (yeah, yeah I know; at least as seen from here), fellow human beings probably full of dreams or, more probably at this time, sleep. Possible competitors for resources, or dogmatic fools or driven fanatics.. Who knows, I'll never know any of them or how close they could be, how akin. They quickly pass, most never to be met in the rest of the life of the universe.

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Well, I reckon then it wasn't my IP barred but a problem at the LJ end as I now can access it ok....

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Woke up to find I cannot gain access to my livejournal pages; I get an 'Access Denied' page. This happens across multiple browsers and two computers but I can get (as I'm doing now) from my phone nad iPad if I switch wi-fi off (as I'm evidently doing now). This would seem to indicate that my IP is banned from the site. Irritating and perplexing, this. Have mailed their web support, will see what happens. Not enormously happy about this.

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If the level of activity in my f-list page in Ello is anything to go by, it's pretty dead already. Shame. It is much busier in my flist page here.

ION, teaching a 16-year-old to play Beatles songs -at his request. Ain't the world a strange place.

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One lesson done, only one more to go today.

Getting some spam from Ticketmasters -apparently Nick Cave is going to be playing at the RAH in May. Mmmm... didn't check how much it costs but might be interested.

Ello is stil there, too, but so far the limited set of features and the slightly baffling (and, I think, buggy) interface hasn't given me much encouragement.

Tonight, no Inferno, no Dead and Buried. Don't really fancy Synth Cult at the Fox. Is there anything else interesting of that sort going on?

Anything else? Not a lot. Got myself a Pebble with some money I had been squirrelling away in a pre-pay card that I keep for the purpose, precisely, of 'ooh, I have a hundred quid in that account, I can buy myself a toy'. Haven't done much with it and may well end up selling it (when the Apple Watch v2 comes out, though) but one thing: it is much lighter than my old watch, doesn't bother me to play the guitar with it on.

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Earlier post by friend in FB reminded me. Yes, Livejournal still is here, still works, not as busy but you don't see the sort of filler (memes and quizzes of the "which superhero/film star/small furry animal are you" kind, etc) and 'inspirational' posts that you used to, as it all has moved to FB. We won't talk about Ello.

And I'm still here on livejournal, so I suppose it couldn't all be perfect, but hey :)

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The more I look at Ello the more I wonder. Livejournal can do all that Ello can and a whole lot more. So can Dreamwidth, the LJ clone. So probably can a number of the pretenders to the Facebook Killer crown that have appeared and quietly fallen by the wayside over the years. I hope they do get it right and I would be willing to pay (a small amount) for something that worked ok and had the right policies as well as the right set of features. But my friends and family would have to be in it -and therein may lie the rub.

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Ok, so I'm going for repairing the car. In the longer run my future does seem to be car-less, but again, as Keynes famously said... in the long run we're all dead.

Have finally joined Netflix and although I haven't made up my mind whether I'm keeping it or not, I'm enjoying the free month. Not that many movies; saw 'Ender's Game' which was ok but knowing how awful Orson Card is kind of tints my perception of the book and the movie. The Hobbit movies, which I never got around to watching in the cinema.. Again, ok but, again, as John Lennon said (or not), "I just had to look...having read the book.." but having read the book makes me jump with 'that's not right' and 'it's not like that' every so often -and, of course, how do you make a three full length feature movie series out of a three hundred page children's book if not by a lot of padding. The other thing I've done a lot is watch nature and space documentaries while I practise my scales or do other stuff. And so see the Keynes quote writ very very large -in the very long run, not only are we all dead, but our world and indeed our universe is... oh, ok, so we start the week-end with cheerful thoughts again....

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I would seem to be in Ello (thank you, antid0te!) -maybe because I don't have enough social net sites to keep track of? er, wait... in any case, if you would like to add me, I'm https://ello.co/fflavio over there

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It was kind of none of my business and I didn't have a position about it but I had been watching the process of the Indy referendum in Scotland with interest. It could have had lots of repercussions down here and in Europe at large (the Catalans, the Basque and a number of other nationalities/national groups subsumed into a larger country were watching what was happening in Scotland very intently).

The vote went for 'No' but it does seem to me that the campaign for independence may end up achieving a lot of what it may have set up to do, in that the politicos in Westminster will have to review how they do things in relation to Scotland and, by the way, the English regions. I've seen comments to the tune that a 'Yes' vote would have established a Tory hegemony in the rest of the UK forever. I'm not so sure about that. It could possibly have helped consolidate the pendulum swinging between two almost indistinguishable parties, because 'them lot couldn't possibly be as bad as the ones now in office..'

In any event, what do I know; I'm a blodi forrener and cannot vote in the general elections. OTOH, I can vote in the Venezuelan elections, which fills me with despair, and in the Italian ones, which leaves me completely baffled.

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A slightly quieter week-end this time. On Friday I went to V's birthday drinks at Aces & Eights, stayed only till midnight. On Saturday went to a classical guitar ensemble concert in West London and on the way back I realised I wasn't going to make Reptile, I was too tired. Apart from this, the usual assortment of lessons, errands, a bit of guitar practice.

Wondering whether to get Netflix. Not only whether it is worth the while (it's only a bit over a fiver but see mixed comments on what is available on it) but also, do I really need anything else eating into my time?

Off to school now. May Monday be light on you!

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It was a week-end of quite a few things happening. On Friday I went to both Inferno and Dead & Buried * ; danced a lot at both (almost non-stop at Inferno for perhaps two hours). Also ran into a few peeps there, notably morbidfrog and Nadia (who used to be on LJ and is probably in my list but whose LJ handle I cannot remember). Then I went to Dead and Buried, mainly to say happy birthday to djpsyche (which I probably forgot to do...oops) and stayed there until some time between 2:30 and 3:00. Saturday brought the Hampstead Alternative Picnic * and then a bout of Big Red. People wanted to drag me to Slimelight but I resisted, as I had a couple of lessons early on Sunday (and also I felt I kind of had done my allocation of clubbing for the week-end, all in one go the previous day). Sunday brought those lessons and the Alternative Bring and Buy Sale at the Dome, courtesy of the indefatigable xsjdx. All this was good and there could have been more as they were decamping to Aces and Eights after -but I had to get ready for first day of school today. Yes, at this age. A good week-end, all in all, catching up with some lovely people, a few of which I hardly ever see.

* ) These two links are for 'closed' Facebook groups, meaning you have to request membership in order to see the contents. Sorry about this. As most of you are on FB and some might be interested in these I thought I'd put in the links anyway.

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10 books that have stayed with me:
For once, an internet meme that I can go along with. The ten books:


1- Anathem - Neal Stephenson

2- Nineteen Eighty-Four - G Orwell

3- Lord of the Rings - J R R Tolkien

4- Historias de Cronopios y Famas - Julio Cortázar

5- Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov (the whole Robot series, really)

6- The Master and Margarita - M Bulgakov

7- Se il Sole Muore - Oriana Fallaci

8- ‘Eva Luna’ - Isabel Allende

9- ‘Sinuhe the Egyptian’ - Mika Waltari

10- ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ - John Steinbeck


These are not necessarily the best works for each author or even the ones I like the best of their production (I much prefer the Silmarillion to LoTR, but the latter had a bigger impact when I first read it and a lasting one). ‘Rayuela’ is a much more substantial and important work by Cortázar than ‘Cronopios’ but again the latter touched me in a way that the former didn’t. ‘Eva Luna’ is a very recent read for me but it resonated a lot, it being the product of Allende’s 10 year sojourn in my country and home town. Asimov… the Robot series and the ‘Foundation’ series are all linked and, to my mind, are one extensive work but you have to point out one book so it’ll be this one. This list would probably be different if I did it next week, or the week after… as I probably would think of a few different books. ‘Anathem’, ‘Margarita’ and ‘Cronopios’ would still be there, though.

I'm not going to nominate anybody, I dread being 'nominated' for anything so I won't do that to anyone :D

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Must be the swan song of summer in this building, summer always punctuated by burglar alarms going off in the night. There goes one off again, probably for the rest of the night. At least I don't have to get up early and have plenty to read. Ah, and ear-plugs.

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Enjoying these last few days of summer holiday (if not, alas, of summer, although there should be a few nice days left, shouldn't there) before I have to get back to the grind. Getting up at 9 is so much more in tune with my inner rhythm, say, than getting up at 6 or, on Tuesdays as from next week, 5:20 am (probably; I haven't received my timetables for that school yet so I don't know yet).

Currently studying my old teacher Jack Duarte's 'English Suite' -oddly maybe the only one of his major works I never studied with him. Also looking again at Benjamin Britten's 'Nocturnal' Op 70 (extremely intricate and difficult but the work, in truth, that made me want to study guitar), now that I have been doing 'Come Again', the song by John Dowland it is based on, together with Verity. I feel I want to play those two extremely British works next year, let's see whether I can find myself a venue or two to play them.

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As I'm writing this, I'm finishing my morning espresso (only one these days) and making an arepa for breakfast, here back in the flavhaus. Infest was very good although these days I don't go to any of the after-parties. Shame that Project Pitchfork had had to cancel due to illness (really? a month and a half before the event, sounds a little like "sorry, we'll not be able to make it because we are going to be ill...") so VNV Nation substituted for them. That wasn't a bad thing; Ronan is a master of whipping up the crowd and managing it. One of the rare occasions in which I at some point stop being detached from it all looking from outside and find myself carried along, put your hands in the air, etc. I enjoyed Juno Reactor's set enormously, too; It was a kind of discovery in that although I even have a couple of tracks of theirs here I'd never really paid attention to them. The big revelation for me, though, was Legend, the Icelandic band. Or Leg-End as inevitably people were calling them. Talking to the front man later was very good too, find that somebody whose music you like is a really nice guy.

There were a few more musical discoveries and a few new people, caught up with a few good people I seldom seldom see, managed not to lock myself out of my room (that was, actually, a distinct possibility) and made it back to the train station in good time yesterday morning. All in all, a very good time at Infest. My right ear still is blocked, mind. I also haven't managed to get rid of the glitter. I suspect that stuff, once it falls on you, follows you to death.

Today, a couple of lessons (literally) and nothing more. Guitar practice and reading -currently, The Apocalypse Codex, one of Charlie Stross's funny geek sysadmin- demonological take-the-mickey-out-of-Lovecraft novels; before that, while on the train, 'Space', an enormous Stephen Baxter science-fiction book with a breath-taking perspective, extremely gloomy but interesting outlook about life in the galaxy at large and the Fermi paradox.. and cookie-cutter characters.

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Well this last week-end I didn't go to the alt-alt at the Slimelight in the end, didn't go to see the Damned, didn't go to LonCon, which looks like something I would like to go to at some point. Instead, lessons, guitar and other flavio world stuff. On Friday I did go to see Heel at the Dubllin Castle. On Sunday I went, together with two of my pupils and my boss at one of my schools, to the West Dean Classical Guitar festival/summer course's Open Day. The full event is way too expensive for me at around a thousand pounds (mind, it is a week long, residential with pretty much everything included, but still) but the Open Day was still very interesting, with various lectures, master classes and recitals and guitar makers showing their wares. Spent a good while playing on a couple of guitars by an English maker, one of which I liked a lot, although I'm not about to spend three thousand pounds on a guitar -mind, it was pretty much as good as my Guo so it would be worth it.

The scenery at West Dean is beautiful (the sunset colours on the drive back made me wish I'd not been driving, I could have taken hundreds of beautiful photographs) but the college itself is a little bit too posh, too grand. I still prefer my teacher Jack Duarte's idea of hiring an agricultural college in the middle of nowhere, with a cheap-cheap student bar (he regarded this as very important for the social cohesion of the course), rather than a posh place full of incredibly expensive works of art, antiques, etc. Still, it was a lovely occasion and I believe my pupils (and my boss, a lapsed, recovering guitarist) benefited from it.

Next week, for something completely different, Infest!

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A little acoustic doodle with steel-string acoustic guitars. No prizes for guessing what inspired it.

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On Thursday I was going to go to the Beer Festival, when... a Venezuelan friend who lives here asked me to join him and cousins of his that were visiting London, playing a concert that evening. So I did; we went to the Brazilian place in Inverness St and had a very good feijoada, walked around the markets in Camden Town and eventually went to the Chilean Embassy where (see whether you can keep up, this gets confusing) my friend's cousin's partner, who is a singer-songwriter, was due to play. In the end I decided to forego the GBBF for the time and go to the recital. Apart from the fact that it was an intimate event, around fifty people but that was the capacity of the hall so it was at the same time packed and intimate, there were lots of wine and canapés and our friend, Juanito Ayala, turned out to be an extraordinarily good performer (and apparently quite well known in Chile -I wouldn't have known this). After the evening we all went for dinner at Bill's in Covent Garden and I left with the artist and his partner on the 24 bus towards West Kentish Town where their hotel was. An unexpectedly excellent evening.

Might still go to the Beer Fest later today, mind...

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Bits I don't like so much about the summer:

- the heat. Yes, it is absurd, I grew up and lived half my life in a place that is probably hotter than here. All the same, I find it difficult to function when it's hot, I get slow and lethargic.

- the much reduced income. This has, surprisingly, not been so bad this year; almost enough of my pupils have stuck around having lessons through this time for me to pay my bills. Almost enough.

Bits I do like:

- being able to get up at 9:00 am. I'm not a morning person.

- being able to spend a lot of time reading and mucking about with guitars. Have a few books on the go at the moment, mainly 'Rivers of London' by Ben Aaranovitch (set reading for the next bibliogoth meeting), which is not the deepest book I've read, say, but is a lot of fun, thus far. Also slowly making my way through Melwyn Bragg;s The Adventure of English (a history of the English language) and the Apocalypse Codex by Charlie Stross.

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This is from memory so probably not verbatim..

- BBC reporter: ‘Would you say it is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ there is a problem with Ebola in this country?

- Researcher: ‘No, I wouldn’t. Through all the previous surges of Ebola there hasn’t been one confirmed case in this country.'

- BBC reporter: ‘There you are, of course you can never say never….’

Thus twisting around what the guy who (presumably) did know what he was talking about had just said...

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Last week-end brought Dead and Buried on Friday (danced a fair, it was a very good night bit but felt somewhat outside of it), a very strange Reptile on Saturday (due to the venue shenanigans it took place at the New Intrepid Fox proper and it was too hot and packed in there, spent almost the whole time catching up with people outside and talking guitar geekery with Chris he of Lahannya and NFD -this was great fun, actually) and dinner with goth friends at Pappagone on Sunday, but it is possible that the highlight of it for me was simply a walk on Sunday, at times under the rain, down the South Bank from Waterloo all the way to the Tower of London with a friend who is about to leave the country and probably won't see for a few years. Made me feel again that I love London, place full of histories and stories that it is.

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It's 2003 again. At least on Facebook, where everybody keeps posting those things (they're not quizzes, no, neither they are memes; what are they...), like 'Which Superhero are you'? or 'Which Hollywood sex symbol are you?'. Which we all saw on our timelines on LJ twelve years ago. I couldn't see the point of that sort of thing then, I cannot now. Still, whatever floats your boat.

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Well, that came off much better than I anticipated. Particularly attendance-wise. I ran into a friend who had attended last year and when I said, 'you didn't come' she replied 'you can't expect me to attend every time'. Well, no. It's perhaps too often, once a year and that. I do realise that what I do is not in most of my friends' list of favourite things...

Or perhaps not often enough. I always feel that I get a programme right at about the third time I play it. These days, for all the reasons I won't get into here, I don't play very often at all. Playing-wise, it did come out better than I would have anticipated -or bits of it did, particularly in the second part. The Bach suite came, on the whole, quite well, in that the Prelude and the Gigue are quite difficult and I took them at a good pace although there were bits that I feel I could have done better. Was intrigued by a comment by a lady in the interval, that it sounded 'Spanish'. It was Bach, with lots of Baroque counterpoint and I'm not Spanish and owe very little of my musical formation to the Spanish influence (that's 'influence', not 'influenza'). Maybe it was just the fact of playing that music on a nylon-string classical guitar.

The Brouwer piece, 'Cuban Landscape with Bells', is a curious thing, a piece written in a very contemporary musical language but one which is entirely descriptive -I, for one, can hear the landscapes in it. Love that piece and hope I did it justice.

Will try to sort out a few more public performances of that programme in the autumn... pity I'm so hopelessly bad at selling the product. One little thing: I'm again very grateful to augeas for recording the performance, as he did the previous ones. We'll see whether any of that is fit to show the world (in terms of my performance) but in any case I will learn a lot from it, as has already happened -many thanks again.

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In case anybody might be interested in coming to this:

recital flyer rustique 14 2

Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/514305498670373

details and programme:
http://flavio.org.uk

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Yesterday I took my guitar to the Heath and had done a good hour, perhaps hour and a half's practice when this guy stopped by and asked whether he could listen and asked a few things about my guitar. A guitar teacher. The long and the short of this is that he might start taking lessons with me. All is not bad -or, in any case, a much needed boost for my at times rather small self-esteem.

Last night went for pizza across the road at Delicious with a friend... and it was very good. We shared some affettato first and then a pizza and it all was lovely. There's some interesting eating places around here, although some (like Pizza East) are a little bit over-hyped. In any case, a lovely evening catching up with friend.

Today, busy with lessons and not enough time to do proper guitar practice, which is not so good given that I'm playing in six days, but hey, I'll manage.

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This is not a review, in that I'm only half way through the book. Just a note to say I'm enjoying it rather a lot more than the previous bibliogoth book (yes, the 'young adult' vampire novel). It is essentially the story of a woman's life -no, lives. Many lives. This one gets a bit long and, half way through it already feels like I've read three or four books and in a way I have. Spoiler: Not sure whether the author is playing with the Many Worlds theory but she does play with the possibility of alternative lives. I am finding interesting how she creates connections between the different possible lives. One thing that I've run into at least once, though, is the being put through a heart wrenching situation that tumbles down to an end and then you got thrown back to another version of that world, with different developments where that situation that had been wringing your heart doesn't exist and some of the main characters are just background figures.

I'm just waiting to see how the author ties in the development of the story so far with the rather cinematic opening. As I said, thus far enjoying it.

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Now, that was a lovely evening, first with my pupils playing together at the Rustique Café (with me providing repertoire and doing a little bit of conducting) and after that Jillian's (does she have a livejournal?) work do near the Angel, with a free bar and free food and where I did quite a bit (for a school night) of (hopefully not dad-) dancing to music I'd never danced to before in my life and still wouldn't go out of my way to dance or listen to, but at the time it was a lot of fun. Now for an early start tomorrow, so a good night to all....

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A little music doodle I'd made mostly on iPad some time ago, recording voice, electric and bass guitars directly in:

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This was a displacement activity. Had to read, for the next bibliogoth meet-up, 'The Coldest Girl in Coldtown', by Holly Black. I kept finding something else to do or read instead; this is rather rare as I'm a compulsive reader -it is very unusual that I don't finish a book, but I don't think I'll finish this one.

I was, then, reading 'The Long Earth' to avoid reading 'Coldtown'. And quite a bit of a difference. The characters aren't entirely believable and the two main ones are rather difficult to like, both being astonishingly self-absorbed and conceited, but the world depicted becomes very believable very soon (although a lot of the stuff is never fully explained -but then so also happens in the real world..) and, alas, being easily entertained, I enjoyed all the references to classic science fiction that I seemed to run into all the time, in this book where there is no space travel and the most advanced gadget (not counting AI) is an airship. Even Solaris seems to get an oblique reference. Now I'm beginning the second book in the series and, although as often happens in sequels, the plot feels a little less tight it still is enjoyable and some of the characters are actually better fleshed out. Then I remember I have to read that other book for Bibliogoth and I do try and persevere with it but I find it so tedious...

Then today I saw the news about Pratchett cancelling engagements because of his advancing Alzheimer's.. :(

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Flavio Matani
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