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Echoes of Flavio's Ghost Dreaming
flavius_m
Juggling two books at the moment. One is the book set for the next Bibliogoth meeting, 'Rainbow's End' by Vernor Vinge. For some reason I had to look up the name of the book and of the author, they don't seem to stick in my mind. It's ok. It is a near future semi science-fiction novel with a large world threat, a blurring between reality and virtual space (to call it something), a conspiracy that includes a sarcastic talking virtual bunny -and a 75 year old adolescent. Finding it difficult to warm up to any of the characters, in part perhaps because most of them are rather unpleasant people in small, mean ways. Also, up to the point where I am in the book (about 40%), not a lot has happened.

The other book is 'The Better Angels in Our Nature' by Steven Pinker. His thesis in this book is that, contrary to what we feel after reading the news and examining recent history, this epoch is the least violent time in the history of humankind. It is a very interesting book and I have a lot of time for Pinker but making slow progress as I have it in paper copy (from the library), it's a bit heavy to carry around (most of my reading these days lives in my phone and my iPad as ebooks). I'll probably buy it as an ebook as I am finding it interesting but I carry too much stuff around to add nearly 1 Kg more that I also have to clumsily take out of my bag when in a tube train, instead of taking the phone out and just picking up where I left. I love paper books, but between the practicality of ebooks and my diminishing eye-sight I'm finding, as I'd said, that I do almost all my reading in electronic form.

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flavius_m
Quiet Sunday, after my two lessons including the most challenging one of the week. Dinner was rice and some veggie meatballs that had been languishing in the freezer, in sauce a la flavio (mostly the rest of that passata jar that had been sitting in the fridge for days, on a soffritto of garlic (chopped frozen garlic from Waitrose because I'm so lazy), a bit of onion that happened to be around, whatever dried herbs there were in the kitchen but mostly oregano, a bit of pepper and a few leaves borrowed from Basil the basil plant, who has amazingly survived some four years sitting at my room window. That wasn't his intended fate, as he was just a 99p basil plant from Tesco's -they normally die within a couple of weeks. All this unlikely mix worked.

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flavius_m
A take at home of me playing Manuel M. Ponce's Prelude No 2 in A minor, one of the 24 he wrote for Segovia.

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flavius_m
Getting up at 5:20 am is not getting any easier. At least it is only once a week...

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flavius_m
I've now been discharged from the Royal Free's physiotherapy service. It'd been a few weeks of no pain in the wrist, no major discomfort. Of course, no sooner I was discharged, maybe with the weather change, the wrist started hurting again. I can play but seem to have reverted to some hand positions being painful. May have to go through various bits of advice I had been given by various people on what my options may be for having this looked at and looked into.

Curiously, the whole thing has resulted in loss of playing function in my right hand (the affected wrist is my left's) probably because I had stopped practising for a couple of months -I've been slowly working on recovering control on my ring finger, on tone and velocity in general, which I feel I had lost somewhat. I expect that'll increasingly be the case as years advance, that it will take ever more effort to keep in playing condition and retain my capabilities as a player. I already had observed that I cannot play remotely as fast as I could even ten years ago -but that is to be expected, your physical capabilities as a player peak around the 30 years of age and slowly decline thereafter -although that wasn't quite the case for me as I started so late and at that point was only beginning to get into the swing of things and learn what I was doing.

Thinking of doing a couple of short recitals in January (I don't think I can as yet contemplate a full-on full programme, which would require me to practise four hours a day or so). About 40 min of music, half of the programme being those preludes by Ponce I've been putting videos and sound clips of on Youtube and SoundCloud; not as demanding as Bach's Chaconne, for instance, but beautiful and satisfying to play and listen to.

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flavius_m
Didn't do very much on the Hallowe'en weekend, apart from doing lessons, pottering around the house and practising guitar. Wrist, incredibly, still hurts but at least I can play. Thinking I might do one or two half-recitals in the beginning of the year. Not sure I am up to the amount of practice I would need for a proper concert but I think I can manage a short one.

I did go to Dead and Buried, the Halloween party, this time in the tiny Whisperz Bar in.. wherever that is in North London. Danced, caught up with peeps and took pictures. A good night, all in all.

Keeps happening that I find myself under some sort of minor threat -some enormous bill, most often, a sudden drop of income, a large unexpected expense- and I find myself for a few days or weeks paddling as hard as I can just to stay above the water. Not sure what the solution for this might be, short of letting it all go and go live inn a cave somewhere. This far into this game, it's not the case that I'll suddenly find a way to make a lot more money or anything like that. Putting 'donate' buttons on my guitar page or starting a Patreon page are not going to do much other than becoming another plant pot that needs to be watered and cared for. Next thing will be the tax bill. I haven't been able to save for it, for several reasons, so I'll now have a couple of months of trepidation trying to get that money together. So, if I miss your party or anything like that, you now know why. The new school would have been handy in that respect, as a term's lessons there would have paid my tax bill but, alas, it's been an endless game of tag with them with one new bit of red tape that has to be sorted out and delays my start one more week or two. Patience.

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flavius_m
Broken glass goes absolutely everywhere. Came back home two evenings ago to find the oven door's outer glass had shattered. I had used it earlier in the day but it was off, it was cold. Finding that you can find another built-in oven for the same money it costs to buy the replacement glass -how is this even possible? (thinking of printers, etc where that seems to be part of the business model). Also, the replacement glass costs more than my car's windscreen, which is the same sort of glass but bigger and curved. Non capisco. I can't spare the money at this moment anyway, probably not before I make sure I have money for the tax bill in January... in the meantime, after much vacuuming I still find bits of broken glass everywhere. Especially under my foot in the morning when I'm walking around in socks...

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flavius_m
Another one of the short Preludes that Manuel Ponce wrote for Segovia.

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flavius_m
Lull myself to sleep with Ted talks on astrophysics or consciousness, at very low volume so I cannot make out alll they're actually saying (which would otherwise be interesting and therefore not conducive to falling asleep. Float downstream still not quite half asleep, thinking that for all the outer space stories my laptop may be telling, of black hoes circling around each other until they crash, or of the intricately complex workings of the constituent parts of our transient brains, my dreams are most often predictable and rather pedestrian and only those abstract images that form in my mind as I'm falling asleep would seem to evoke anything of what I'm not quite any longer listening to. Will probably wake up a couple of times in the night; at some point I'll sort of half-wake up, turn around, put down the lid of the laptop, check the time. Only one hour and a half's sleep. Four and a half hours before I get up. Is that enough sleep? Of course not. But if you think too much about it you'll get even less sleep.

Dreams seldom stray from a dozen or so themes with variations. They often involve a journey that doesn't go quite as planned, through strange places that I've been to before but have changed and don't quite function as expected. The journey back from those places often takes the rest of the night and several different dreams, in which most often I lose or have lost something important, often my guitar which has been left behind. Other dreams, as I have mentioned before (and put in a blog where I keep account of some of those dreams) involve my old house in West Caracas, crumbling down as it always was, often much worse, with leaks and fallen brickwork and broken toilets but also with new rooms and occupants -and that enormous yellow moon coming out from behind the Avila mountains. I'm often back there to live but not of my own volition; some circumstance has brought me back and I cannot leave. Very often the house has been sold and I'm given a room that I will pay a rent for, a bare room with little of the things central to my life then or now.

How those dreams may come about and what meaning they may have in my mind is perhaps clear enough but... I don't like to analyse them too much. I prefer to see them as vistas into misty, half-unknown worlds inside my head, or perhaps sometimes glimpses of parallel lives that I could have lived but didn't. They're part of my story but I don't like to take them apart -it feels as though they might unravel and disappear, taking with them an important part of that story.

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flavius_m
In an Apple technical forum there is a discussion about the new iPhone's camera and their software implementation of bokeh. About a third of the participants berate the fact that it is a lie, a tiny phone camera lens cannot take in as much light as a proper camera's, you have so much less control, etc. All things that are true, but on the other hand.. tools like that put the possibility of playing with pictures and being creative in the hands of people who wouldn't have considered getting into 'real' photography with an SLR camera and lenses. Also, my phone is not going to replace my camera any time soon but it does give you the opportunity of catching a fleeting moment which you would in all probability have lost while fumbling for a camera and its settings. A bit like music making apps enable people to make music -most of it will be terrible, of course, but some will not. And it is a good thing that people are enabled to do creative things, instead of a few inner circle priests (says, alas, the classical musician who also despairs at people who want to make music not knowing and not wanting to know how it works).

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flavius_m

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flavius_m
Busy week-end ahead -apart from my lessons and various other things I have to do, there's a lot happening:

- Cats, rabbits and drinks at londonjon's
- Dead and Buried in Archway tonight
- Skeletal Family at Elegant Decadence (probably won't make this one)
- sashagoblin's wedding tomorrow! -but I won't be able to make it :(
- The Mission and Death in June are playing in various places in London -but I won't make either of these.
- Invocation! at the Minories in Tower Bridge.
- Slimelight's anniversary.
- Reptile -might have to give this month's Reptile a miss.
- Bibliogoth's October meeting on Sunday, discussing 'The King Must Die' by Mary Renault, her take on the Theseus myth.

My work prospects are improving but I'm still very skint, which is the main reason why I cannot make some (or many) of the events cited above, apart from the small detail that they're all happening at the same time in what seems to be the busiest week-end of the year. I expect I'll see one or two of you who still read this at one or other of them, but have to watch the pennies and -there is something else. I am beginning to feel that I cannot do everything, be everywhere at the same time. My energy levels are no longer what they never were in the first place -but I could ignore. I don't think I can do that anymore.

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flavius_m
Wrist slowly getting better. I think I can risk preparing a concert programme for January or something like that. Where I could play it is another matter. Also, probably a slightly less demanding programme than I have done in the recent past, given the circumstances and the fact that I still don't think I can practise as much as I would feel necessary.

New school has not called yet to confirm when I'm starting. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out. In the meantime, I may have got out of the worst of the post-summer crunch. We'll see whether I can manage to distribute the large bills (car tax, mot and insurance all coming in on the same dates, for instance) in a more sensible manner from next year.

Beautiful autumn morning today... bit too early when I took that picture, though. Good morning.

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flavius_m
Amazing how much better the world looks when you had _more_ than three and a half hours' sleep, didn't have to get up at 5:20 am and have a relaxed working day ahead of you...

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flavius_m
It's a long lost battle, but whenever I hear somebody described as 'American' I still think to myself 'you mean, citizen of the US, right? Not just from that continent'. Those would be 'American' whilst I would 'only' be 'South-American'. It shouldn't matter, the name only refers to an Italian cartographer and was brought about after Columbus' third voyage when they 'discovered' the mainland which, incidentally, was the Western coast of Venezuela around Lake Maracaibo. There's always seemed to be a little bit of stretchy meaning to the word. We consider ourselves American (as in the continent) and older people, particularly in the south of the continent, would bristle and proclaim 'wait, _we_ are Americans'. There was always the ironic mention of the Monroe doctrine of 'America for the Americans' which we used to read, in our corners of the world, as 'America' meaning the continent and 'Americans' meaning US citizens -not us. Episodes like the Chilean 11 of September (1973) didn't help.

I s'pose somebody could come up with the American (the continent) equivalent of 'Azania', a word that related more to the peoples that inhabited it before the Europeans went in. But it would never catch on and... it wouldn't apply to most of us in any event. Most of us down there are mongrels, the product of the atrocities that the Spanish, in particularly, committed, which resulted in a mix of 'races' (there's another slippery concept) European, indigenous and black. That I think is actually a good thing.

Maybe I should stop replying with things like 'You're American? ah, I'm American too. My part of the continent was America before yours was'. There's no point. It's a long lost battle. It would only antagonise people who often are warm, lovely peeps (at least the ones I know here; we'll leave Trump supporters for another discussion).

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flavius_m
Another suburban train, another school teaching day ahead of me. Not enough sleep, not enough dreams or time for the brain to flush whatever it is it has to clean overnight as we sleep, if it true that , as they say,that is the function of sleep and not that of a communicating vessel between universes, between differently instances of you in unreachable places, if places they are, in contemporary tines far away, if contemporary is a word that can make sense when talking about universes that go along different narrative tracks, along different timelines. Four hours’ sleep. Not enough.

I only had time to have a small peek at another place where I had lived all my life –instead of this newly autumnal London, that small sunny town in Northern Italy where I have never been. Didn’t get to make it to the house I live in, which I share with some other musician whose face or name I cannot recall. I was on my way there, finally, after long murky journeys, when I had to get up and put out the alarm. Yes, 5:20 am again –it must be a Tuesday and it must be a school teaching day in Watford for me. Does it get more difficult each time, each new iteration of the cycle? You bet.

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flavius_m
So, the summer ends but my school term doesn't yet begin and many of my private pupils are, even now, still away. So I'm facing the situation of having something like three thousand pounds expenditure and, until the schools pay me and my remaining pupils are back, only six or seven hundred pounds coming in. So I have a small problem. A temporary one (although you could say it is one that comes with the territory, the inevitable periodic outcome of having chosen this profession and lifestyle). If you hear of anybody that might want guitar lessons, or a school needing a guitar teacher, I would love to hear.

I may be losing one of my schools as there are practically no pupils wanting guitar lessons this school year -I wasn't happy with the way they worked and it was not much of a contribution to my income but still... on knowing I might not be back the parents of one of my pupils there, a bright kid that just now did a Grade 6, contacted me to start private lessons. There are a couple of possibilities of teaching work that I have been contacted about, unlikely (age, etc) but you never know, so we'll give them a try (interview for one this week). So, prospects mid-term are good, if I manage to survive the next month, month and a half. At least there is that.

That is the situation in my small bubble of the world, but also in the world at large there seems to be an expectant pause, waiting to see whether our worst fears are confirmed or whether we get the lesser of the possible evils -thinking of Brexit, Syria, Venezuela my old country, certainly, but also of the US election, on which hangs so much of the fate of the rest of us who don't have a say or a vote in that decision.

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flavius_m
Back from Infest. I don't think I'll be doing any sort of review of it. Just a few snapshots of things.

Halls: might have to revise the idea of staying in halls in the future. Apart from the slight inconvenience of carrying your own bedding (which is ok if you drive but not so if you go by train so I end up sleeping in a sleeping-bag) there was issue with the hot water supply (none in my building and my shower didn't work at all, hot or cold) and, even bigger, with the electronic fob keys. Mine failed just after the man from security had come to check the water situation and left. They had to summon the person in charge of the keys and room allocation, eventually I got a replacement key from her and.. that didn't work either. They assigned me to another room in a different building. At first the key didn't open that room either. This whole thing took most of Saturday afternoon. I can see why electronic keys are appealing to them (we have them in the building where I live here in KT) but I do feel that sometimes hi-tech is not necessarily the best solution.

Apart from that, it was an excellent week-end. Missed a lot of the bands on Saturday and a couple on Sunday but some of what I saw was excellent. Two bands that I didn't pay much attention to the first time round, with different reactions: I really loved Pop Will Eat Itself. I was reminded that I didn't care much for Atari Teenage Riot the first time round -well, from the sample I saw, I still don't. 3Teeth was an excellent headliner. And there was That German Band. The whole naked-on-stage thing struck me as a gimmick at first, but the whole act was very well put together, the music was good if a little bit commercial-sounding... I'm told (by a female friend who is a long standing fan of theirs) the whole substrate of the thing is that they simply hate men. I'm also told that their main constituency is 50 year old men, at which I replied at first 'that cannot .... wait, yes, I can see that'. There is an audience for that.

This time I didn't go to any after-parties and simply went to my room when the venue closed at 3 am -praying that the key fob would work and open my room. Social thing was fantastic with friends old and new and much, much laughter and mirth. Coming back to the real world wasn't that easy.

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flavius_m
So much stuff in this tiny flat. I decide to have a rather late spring-clean, but it doesn't go well. Do I need so many books that I'll probably never read again? What a question, of course I do. Ok, how about all that sheet music (Are you kidding? Are you talking about throwing it away? Really?). Maybe all those clothes that I'll never wear again. These trousers with the eyelets and lace-up on the sides, which I last wore in 2003 at the latest. In quite good nick still (didn't wear them much) but I'll never fit into those trousers again in my life unless I become very ill. Do I throw them away? (you can't do that; as you said, they're in good nick). Will charity shops take them? (er, black jeans with lace-up eyelets on the sides? in 2016?)

And so it goes. A drawer full of power adapters, surely these can go (but they work, don't they? one day you might need them). Ok, maybe _some_ of those power adapters will go. How about that tea service that the neighbour gave me when she moved out....?

And so we leave flavio, scratching his chin while staring at stuff that he'll end up putting away where it'd been for the last six years, till he gets another fit of reclaiming-what-little-space-there-is-in-this-flat....

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flavius_m
Another sunny afternoon. Could get used to this. Actually, just as I begin to get used to it comes September every year, with lots of running around and, little by little, in waves, more and more cloudy, drizzly London days. But for now, for now...

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flavius_m
It would seem that Tsû, that other would-be Facebook killer, has bitten the dust. It is a pity, as it would be healthy if FB had at least some competition. At present only G+ has some sort of momentum but not remotely in any way that could replace or substitute for Facebook. 'Ello' is still there -but only just about. Everybody rushed to join when it came out but it quickly went very quiet. Is Diaspora still around?

There are many angles to this, but it boils down to one thing: your mum isn't on it, your cousin in Santiago or in Hong Kong isn't on it, your friends' party isn't on it and they all are on FB. This makes it very difficult to get an alternative going. It would be healthy if there was one, but it looks quite, quite difficult.

Yes, Livejournal is here and, if you're reading this, it means you are here and, probably some of your friends -but not all, certainly not your mum in Santiago or your cousin in Hong Kong -and that friends' party is not here either. It is not ever going to be a Facebook killer, although I do believe it has a role to play -but a different one.

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flavius_m
In between bits of teaching a French guy to play that Floyd ditty from 'Dark Side of the Moon'. Isn't it perhaps a bit odd, that connection between people from different generations and five thousand miles in between with music which was, to begin with, foreign to them and so distant?

I do have to say I didn't care that much for Pink Floyd, particularly in the beginning and even things like 'Dark Side' I only started to like retrospectively; I only paid attention to them from 'Wish you were here' and most of all 'The Wall', that story of alienation and politics and .. well, alienation.

Makes me think of me jamming with friends -certainly not to Pink Floyd, I didn't care for them then; rather to Hendrix, to Neil Young, to English bands time may have forgotten- on the steep steps in my barrio in Caracas. Another life, far away in time and distance, before I really found the guitar, in a way, when I knew nothing and all the roads seemed to be open.

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flavius_m
SuperextragrandeSuperextragrande by Yoss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I read this book in the original Spanish language edition. I really wanted to like this book. A short science-fiction novel by a Cuban author -a novel perspective on the genre, at least for me. I didn't dislike it but I often found my suspension of disbelief ... suspended. I didn't quite get the author's sense of humour -but that's me, so YMMV. The basic premise is a sort of galactic vet who specialises in gigantic creatures of the cosmos, and his various adventures involving them -and the females of several pan-human species -the former, an excellent idea. The former rather bored me and made ,e think of 1950's pulp sci-fi comics. Worth a read, although it didn't quite do it for me. Again, YMMV and the author and book have received quite a few awards.



View all my reviews

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flavius_m
Labour does seem to have a death wish, don't they.

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flavius_m
Another day, another train. On my way to Watford, this time to fix redd_foxx's laptop.

We're at that tipping point of the summer when we realise how silly it is to complain about the heat when there's only a few weeks left of this before we go back to the normal grey and gloom of London. I do intend to make the most of it and have a good moan about how hot it is while I can! :)

Week-end: party blah blah, Tanze Makabre on Friday, Watford Blake's reunion on Saturday, Beata's birthday drinks later on Saturday, picnic in Ally Pally on Sunday -there are pictures of most of these in the usual channels (that'd be my FB).

Having amazingly vivid dreams and forgetting them as soon as I wake up, trying in vain to hold on to the slipping strands of those vanishing worlds as they go and I reach out to check the time and decide whether it's time to get up or whether it's just my bladder early morning call (these things happen more often as you get older...)

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flavius_m
Summery summary so far:

It's been hot in the last few days. Feels hotter than back 'home' in Vz, even if the thermometers and the Met Office tell me otherwise. Except two days ago, when the house central heating thingy was telling me it was 34º indoors in the daytime and 29º at midnight. Inside the flat. Not particularly enamoured of that, much as I know I'll dream of it in February.

Went to tanzmacabre last night. It was a bit too hot to dance at first until somebody remembered to switch the dance floor air-con on. A very good night even though I still don't like Canal 125. Lots of fun dancing in silly ways with friends, with Gertrude Stein (no, not that one) fencing with Anne with some flower branches.

Today: lessons cancelled so a bit skint (again). A reunion of the regulars of the old dodgy pub in Watford in a different dodgy pub in Watford. Then, drinks for Beata (didn't she use to have a LJ?) in a pub in Hampstead. That's it.

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flavius_m
I have practically stopped listening to BBC Radio 4, apart from a few snippets of programs on science and that sort of thing. First I stopped listening to the Today programme as I just couldn't get on with the style of the interviewers and, often, their obvious biases in relation to issues or people. Then I got bored of most of the comedy quiz shows. Then finally I gave up on the Friday Comedy after just turning on.... Deadringers, I think it was, and the first thing that comes up is a tirade against Jeremy Corbyn, the details of which I have forgotten but which struck me as stupid and baseless at the time. There are many things you could criticise him for, in all probability -he's a politician, not a saint and I do fear that there may be a sort of Obama effect in that, after he is seen as incapable of doing wrong and capable of moving mountains and walking on water, the reality of a politician in office with the rather limited power and constraining circumstances would lead to disappointment and anger amongst his followers. But that's a digression. BBC Radio 4, yes. Apart from the Archers, which I could never stand (but I'm glad it's there, weirdly) I used to listen to a lot of their output; it struck me as intelligent as well as entertaining and informative radio... the things the BBC is supposed to stand for. Not so sure any more.

I still prefer to pay my licence fee rather than have a Murdoch establish a monopoly on what and how information is delivered, but do wonder. The BBC seems to quake in their boots when the government (not just this one, also the previous) barks; when the gov't tells them to jump their reply seems to just be 'how high', perhaps afraid that they will imminently be taken out and eliminated.

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flavius_m
Looking at a post by NASA on G+ noting the anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11....

... for a second I forgot the first rule of the internet and my eyes strayed onto the last comment visible. A woman was saying she would like to know why everything she does is transmitted on TV or is reflected on Earth as if her head was a satellite....

Yep. Never read the comments.

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flavius_m
Sitting at a Costa Coffee in Cricklewood, amidst rows of empty boarded up shops, making time on my way to a lesson -boy doing a Grade 5 later today.

Birthday celebration: I'd said on FB this year I'd only do a gathering for pizza, beer and music at Aces & Eights, near where I live, hitching a ride on this event. This went very well apart from the pub showing the foot-ball at the end. Doesn't everybody watch the footie, doesn't everybody love it? Well, not everybody, I don't. It was a good evening, though,m a good gathering that ended in four of us in another pub exchanging stories. I may have drunk rather more than I usually do. A very good evening.

Saturday was the Alternative Picnic in Hampstead Heath. It was good... there'll be pictures...

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flavius_m
Prelude No 9 in E major, by the Mexican composer Manuel M Ponce (1882-1942), part of his 24 Preludes (each on a different one of the 24 keys, a little like Bach’s ‘Well Tempered Clavier’), which he wrote for Andrés Segovia.

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flavius_m
As seen in Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova)'s FB page -and, well, I had one of those days today, when I had to give all my money to the mechanic and still owe him some:

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flavius_m
One thing I still miss on FB is the ability on Livejournal to post a different user pic for each post. Worse, if I repost an LJ entry to FB it loses that user pic. Oh well. I kind of still prefer LJ, even though FB is sort of more useful these days.


BTW, in case you just landed here:

You could also check out my Soundcloud pages -I have two, one with some little examples of my classical guitar playing, like this Prelude by Ponce. Nobody ever follows internet links unless they are Dailymash ones, but there you go. You could have a listen. I also have another SoundCloud page there with more electronic/experimental/electric guitar doodling. Do go have a look.

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flavius_m
Today I've found out just now that I can get ready, showered, caffeinated and out of the flat in twenty minutes. I hope I don't have to do that again in a long, long time. Couldn't sleep last night and, maybe as a consequence, slept through several alarms this morning. Hope I don't have to do that again for at least a long, long time.

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flavius_m
Ah, an excellent week-end. Dead & Buried on Friday was just what I needed, much dancing and catching up with friends. It was also the first time I left the house without wearing the splint on my wrist, which must be a good sign (except it has been hurting in the background almost all the time for a few days now).

Saturday: I couldn't attend the March for Europe -I never can go to those things, Saturdays are busy times for a self employed music teacher.. So, instead, I did my lessons and went to Seph's birthday party which was a blast. Came back in a taxi (ouch) at 4:00 am. Again there was a wheel of fortune with rather interesting penalties and I got away very lightly, just having to give a drink to Jennie. The other possibilities included giving somebody 100 lashes, something called 'motorboating' which I will most definitely not explain here, lap-dance for somebody else, kiss another guy in the mouth, &cc. Sunday was a bit quieter. Bibliogoth got cancelled as pretty much nobody was able to attend. Can't see a meeting taking place in August, but we'll see. The book for this month was 'Vermillion Sands' by J G Ballard, which I liked even though the stories, I felt, weren't particularly strong and the characterisation was almost non-existent, but it was a lovely world to visit.

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flavius_m
This island feels much smaller now. In various senses. It feels meaner, less generous, more selfish and vindictive. At least in London we may be spared the worst of the xenophobic -no, wait, already a friend was told to go back to 'wherever she came from'. She's not even European. Those of us that are a little darker, have a funny accent, look different may not feel safe.

I also feel a bit.. disappointed, shall we say, by not being able to take part in a vote that was going to decide the rest of my life -and that of many others, even after nearly 30 years here. Maybe 'disappointed' is too mild a word. I feel like I've been put in my place as a second class citizen and I'm only good for paying taxes and be a good sheep. This is not a good feeling.

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flavius_m
This is not a good day. The forces of darkness are taking back control. Farage is happy. Trump is happy. Putin is probably mad with joy. The French National Front are asking for a 'Frexit'. The pound is taking a battering and many companies in certain sectors will be looking to move to Paris or Frankfurt. Come November we could have a demagogue like Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

I've been here nearly 30 years. At this point in life it would be extremely difficult to uproot myself and go somewhere else and here is my life, my friends; I love how this island functions, at least most of the time. But the future is looking very uncertain indeed at the moment and I may need to consider what options I have. It is likely that the worst predictions regarding Brexit won't come to pass but it won't be good, nonetheless. Winter is coming.

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flavius_m
The gig by Fields of Nephilim last night at The Forum was excellent. They still are of course a sort of gothic Pink Floyd but I'm ok with that, I like that sort of thing. Intriguing that the venue wasn't remotely full -not empty, by any means, but not filled up to capacity. As has been the case with so many of those things, given my personal history, I was only dimly aware of them at the time, back there then, and didn't really followed their stuff until much later; only belatedly have I been catching up with what they've done.

After the gig, outside the venue, there was the assortment of friends, including some that were going to be going back in for the private party with the band. And the crazy lady* trying to persuade my friend to get her in so she could hand this flyer on some Jehova's Witness related website to FoN's front man. 'Rescue me' my friend whispered in my ear but there was no escape from all that intensity other than they going in and me disappearing pronto and hoping crazy lady doesn't realise I live right there across from the venue. Apart from that slightly uncomfortable episode, a very good evening of music and friends.

* Yes, I know that's not a word I should be using. She probably needs help, she probably isn't getting it. But this is a very difficult person to be around of, makes me (and not just me) spike up in anxiety and stress.

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flavius_m
Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Had just belatedly watched the TV series -which parts company with the book pretty soon, although the general outline of the story is similar. I do have to say that, at least at first, the series resolves some issues slightly better than the book -but soon becomes a parade of sci-fi, horror and mystery tropes, from Battlestar Galactica to the Matrix. The book does hint at that ('wow, this is like being in that movie, 'The Mist'') but is a different thing entirely. In a way it _is_ kind of a retelling of The Mist, a community that becomes isolated and simmers in their own juices of weakness, desire for power or a reassuring authority to lead them through the crisis. Weirdly, I found Big Jim more convincing in the movie -the character in the book is irredeemably, relentlessly loathsome without any complexity or saving graces. The book is not perfect, at times it does stretch your suspension of disbelief and, as I mentioned, some characters are drawn in rather thick black and white strokes and the basic premise of the existence of Dome is one such moment in which you think 'nah, you've gone too far', but it is a very good read nonetheless. I enjoyed it.



View all my reviews

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flavius_m
One little thing I don't quite understand about Facebook: every now and then I see posts by friends in which they make a big stand about some issue (and very often one that I'll agree with, but then that's the social media echo chamber at work, isn't it) -something that seems to be addressed to the whole world, calling for action or denouncing something. Only thing, it's a restricted post that only their friends can see...

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flavius_m
Three months on, I still have to wear that splint.

A week ago I was getting ready to leave the house on Friday night, was thinking that perhaps I didn't really need to still be wearing that thing, my hand hadn't been hurting for a couple of days. Then, pulling my boots up I get a stab of pain -like the first day after the bike incident.

At least I can play guitar now, although there are many things that I still cannot do or that make my hand hurt.

No summer concerts this year, I think. Shame. Will see whether I can prepare a programme to play in September/October.

Was looking forward to working with a singer that wanted to do stuff together but she seems to have lost interest. Shame, as she has a lovely voice and good ideas.

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flavius_m
Finally getting some guitar lesson enquiries. My little homebrew theory about people deciding to take up these things when the weather changes in May may have something to it -the weather didn't really change that much for much of May, only did just now.

I need more money coming in. If you hear of somebody wanting guitar lessons (or needing guitar playing for their wedding ceremony or something like that) please put them my way....

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flavius_m
Finally took off-line the Icy Box four disk external USB box I had been using for the last couple of years to keep a bunch of external disks as, well, ABOD. A 4TB red WD disk was so totally corrupted this morning that no utility could see even the partition map. The same thing had happened a few months ago and then I'd bought the red (supposedly 'nas, always on' drive) WD. So now I'm not sure I have recent backups of a lot of the stuff in that drive. Boo.

Given that I cannot spend money on that sort of thing at the moment, I'll be stuck without that external storage. Keep the drive in case I can rescue it at a later date but prospects are not good.

Other annoying (not tragic or disastrous but annoying nonetheless) things have happened today.

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flavius_m
Ah, the long week-end came and went; it brought two picnics, a friend’s gig at the Fiddler’s Elbow and … not a lot more. I’ve mostly been tired all the time, doing little bits of practice on the guitar, trying not to overdo it or take it to the point where the wrist really hurts. But hurt it has –I reckon I must have done something while asleep a couple of nights ago (pushing the hand against furniture or sleeping on it, perhaps) and it has been swollen again and hurting. This never seems to end..

Saturday –it was londonjon’s first Hampstead Alternative Picnic at Kenwood House this year for the tenth year in a row. Weather was fantastic and there were a lot of folk in attendance, including no less than Jesus himself. A lot of fun, the only downside of which was that as it gets dark so late this time of year I never realised it’d become too late to go see the Creeping Terrors’ gig at the Slimelight.. There are pictures –I took rather too many pictures ….

There was another goth picnic on the Bank Holiday Monday, this one on Primrose Hill and a much smaller (intimate?) affair. There will be pictures of this one as well.

No schools this week which should mean a little more time to think about how to advertise for guitar lessons; I don’t have enough work at the moment and it is getting to the point where it is becoming worrying. This time of year I should be busy and fielding lots of enquiries, neither of which has happened. Other concerns out there, too, some of which I may elaborate on in another entry.

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flavius_m
Again on a train slowly crawling its way out of London... only 25 miles to Watford where I'll have a very short teaching day, after four hours' sleep. It's going to be a long day... but going to bed late to wake up at 5:00 am was worth it at least. I hadn't ever seen Gertrud Stein (no, not _that_ Gertrude Stein) perform live and I was pretty much bowled over. I only really knew her as a friend of aka_toothbrush and had some idea that she was a musician and a performing artist. Hers was a very good show, deceptively simple with very good use of a few visual resources. And that tiny Casio keyboard, I'm pretty sure I had one of those once upon the time -but I didn't give it such full use (with two fingers... those tiny keys are not for the ten-fingered keyboardist..)

The week-end brought several good events. Friday night was A New Dusk at what is almost my local pub, Aces & Eights (insofar as a rock pub can be my local, I'm becoming increasingly impatient with any pub where I have to shout to make myself heard and where I have to strain to hear what is being said to me -this is not getting better as I get older and my hearing gets more.. difficult..). It was a very good night with good music and people. The only thing was perhaps that it was too popular: it was packed in that tiny basement and the air-con was not coping. It was _really_ hot in there. How did it happen that I found myself discussing early medieval polyphony outside a night-club at some hour in the middle of the night?

Saturday was boxcat's 40th birthday -it was a blast, with open bar (dread to think what the bill may have been for that) and a storming set by the mempunks. There'll be pictures of this at some point.

Sunday... apart from my nightmare morning lesson, it brought silkyraven's birthday drinks at The Bell in Walthamstow. I liked the pub and the gathering but was feeling perhaps a tiny little bit outside. It seemed to me that the birthday girl was happy, though, which was the main thing. Happy Birthday, Raven!

On coming home Sunday night I practised a bit of guitar and played Bach's Chaconnne through. I can do it but clearly it is too early yet -my hand and wrist have been hurting since.

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flavius_m
Again on a train slowly crawling its way out of London... only 25 miles to Watford where I'll have a very short teaching day, after four hours' sleep. It's going to be a long day... but going to bed late to wake up at 5:00 am was worth it at least. I hadn't ever seen Gertrud Stein (no, not _that_ Gertrude Stein) perform live and I was pretty much bowled over. I only really knew her as a friend of aka_toothbrush and had some idea that she was a musician and a performing artist. Hers was a very good show, deceptively simple with very good use of a few visual resources. And that tiny Casio keyboard, I'm pretty sure I had one of those once upon the time -but I didn't give it such full use (with two fingers... those tiny keys are not for the ten-fingered keyboardist..)

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flavius_m
The world keeps getting bigger and we keep getting smaller in it. This happens in our lives, perhaps a reflection of what has happened in history, in the same way that our early physical development may resemble the evolution of those things that came before us and engendered us -and whose traits to some extent we carry in ourselves.

The world is, at first, our parents and house and the people in that environment. The world outside is largely a mystery, full of surprises and perhaps terrors. Then little by little we discover the world and walk in it and learn that that big bad world out there, full of beauty and horror is but a speck in the grander order of things -and getting smaller the more we know about how it all works. To contemplate the scale of those things, even in the measure that we can take in those scales, is vertigo inducing. At the same time it is amazing that, given how puny and small we are in the grander order of things, humans have learnt so much about the world without. At the same time you wonder what more there is, there can be that could be simply outside the limits of what we can comprehend. For most of us, even what we do 'know' is incomprehensible. We take on faith that relativity and quantum mechanics exist and are real because we can see they work -otherwise many things (like GPS and almost all electronics) would not be possible. But for most of us science is a black box -and, perhaps dangerously, can become a religion as well, which is inexplicable except for the fact that both seek to explain the world and make it make sense. We can see that vaccines work and are necessary but many people seem to think they're some sort of manifestation of evil. There are, always, the easy explanations that put us back at the centre of the universe and make it revolve around us; many people will stick to those explanations because of lack of information or perhaps more so because they are reassuring, they seem to give your life a purpose and a meaning. The world may be too big and scary otherwise...

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flavius_m
Funny this should look like the 'quiet' week-end to come that I'd been hoping for for a few weeks in which my week-ends had been so full of things, when over half the people I know are in Leipzig for the WGT living it large. Tonight, a brief birthday meet for a friend at the new incarnation of CCK in Warren Street, tomorrow another brief birthday drinks for another friend. Will probably not do anything more than that this week-end.

Wrist slowly getting better, but still find that playing can be awkward and at times painful, in surprising ways -not necessarily playing difficult things but just finding myself putting my hand in a position it doesn't like. It does seem to finally be getting on its way to getting better, which is at least something.

Have not practised those Thomas Campion songs that I should be preparing for R.D. for a couple of days -she wasn't able to meet this week as she was unwell; I clearly need the pressure in order to work. The version I have has the original English tablature (letter for frets instead of numbers, 'a' is practically identical to 'd', etc) which I find difficult to read -my eyesight is not getting better. The version on two clefs would be quite a job (double transposition, etc, the very reading on two clefs on a guitar, etc) so I've transcribed a few of the songs to modern tab and may write them in music, guitar style (assuming open guitar tuning rather than real pitch, to facilitate the reading) so I can quickly read and play it.

So, an unusual Friday, a QNI, with Attenborough speaking softly from the telly in the distant background while I do other stuff...

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flavius_m
A take of Bach's Chaconne at home sometime before the accident. A few bloopers in the performance remain, but I hope not too bad.

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flavius_m
Ah, didn't post about the long May Day (that sounds to me a little less boring than 'bank holiday') week-end. There was quite a bit happening and also quite a lot that I missed -you cannot be everywhere at once. On Friday I went to the Negative Creep, this time at Nambucca in Holloway. Got there in time to see Nemhain's set.. took pictures, rather many pictures.

On Saturday I went to Jennie and Aya's birthday party. This was a blast and, again, there are pictures. I think I got away lightly with the roulette game.

Sunday brought about the garden party at Karen Georgina's and Lee-Anne's in West London. That garden is so very beautiful. There were lots of lovely people and also a very cute snake (did I just write that? yes, she was a very cute snake). In the evening I went to the Garage for the Voltaire/Memepunks/Joe Black/Black Volition gig -which was very good, a lot of fun. Yep, lots more pictures taken. Found myself there with squirmelia again as well as sashagoblin, _pyromancer_, Jennie and Dan and a lot of other lovely people.

Monday: went with augeas, kekhmet, squirmelia, alexmc and a couple more folk to the Other Worlds exhibition at the NHM. Of course you will have seen many of the pictures before, they being photos taken by the Cassini and New Horizon probes, the Mars rovers, etc -but presented in an interesting and informative way, accompanied with music by Brian Eno, which I was looking forward to but this (the music) was far less interesting than I anticipated and, perhaps not a lot better than my own electronic ambient doodles that you can find in one of my SoundCloud pages (that no-one ever visits, neither have you so you haven't heard them). Took pictures but none of the exhibition itself. After that we went to Tombo's, Japanese restaurant there in South Ken, and had matcha lattes and Sundaes and lovely Japanese food.

After the very busy previous weekend I was thinking I would have a much quieter one on the bank holiday/May Day one. Wasn't going to happen but it was all good, including for me what may have been some closure for a long-standing painful issue. Not the wrist/elbow, that is an ongoing story but it does seem to be getting better now.

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flavius_m
Eventful week-and-a-half. Had doctor's appointment last Wednesday, the results of the MRI scan were back. It turns out that part of the problem was that, unbeknownst to me and without symptoms thus far, I turned out to have an incipient arthritis in my wrist. If I understood correctly, the two things (arthritis lurking in the background and the trauma and damage resulting from the accident) made each other worse.

It does look like I'll have to be doing those physiotherapy exercises for quite a while. I'm beginning to be able to play, at least, but now and again my hand falls in a position it doesn't like and gives me a severe shooting pain warning..

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