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Echoes of Flavio's Ghost Dreaming
flavius_m
I Will be playing, like every year, another summer garden guitar recital at the Rustique Café on Thursday, 25 of July. Tickets available from me or at the Rustique Café. I'll be putting up an event for it at some point. Do come along if you can.



Rustique Summer Garden Gutiar Recital 2019 I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

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flavius_m
Hm, this year has been quite... something. I mean, quite apart from the various shitstorms on the larger picture, for me personally. Still barely paying bills, etc and that doesn't seem to be going to get any better this side of October.

I thought I had three gigs to play this summer and now I seem to have only one. Two have been cancelled for different reasons, one of them has left me with some heart-ache. I need to play so I might try and push again the house-concert idea, but these things seem to happen when they happen -somebody sees me play and they like it and ask me whether I would play for their event or something like that- and when I try to push them they just don't happen.

The idea is relatively simple and it has worked (and I've known of people doing this kind of thing very successfully for a long time): sit some twenty people in chairs in somebody's living room, give them a glass of wine and a guitar concert, charge them twenty quid (or something like that) and give half of the proceeds to a local charity. Everybody wins. But I'm so rubbish at selling the idea... could it work where you are?

I will be posting something about this now and again just in case somebody thinks it a good idea and doable where they are. Alas, I am aware that what I do is very much a minority interest and if everybody wants to hear me play the guitar, pretty much nobody wants to pay for it. And I do have to pay my bills with currency, not guitar playing....

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flavius_m
Mmm.. it didn't work. I had withdrawn my guitar lessons advert from the local paper as it was no longer working. I had perhaps one enquiry and 0 lessons arising from that advert in the last three years or so. So I removed the advert. This came back to bite me at tax return time, as it was of course tax deductible and the money I'd given to the paper, which I had forgotten about, now I had to find and give to the taxman. I had a perfect storm of this, a couple of unexpected gigantic bills and a general decrease in the number of pupils both private and in (one of) the schools I teach at -but that's a different strand.

Needing more pupils, I decide that, since almost all new pupils I've had in the last two or three years (including the 'other' school) have come via facebook (friends of friends, etc) maybe the way to go was to advertise on FB. I had tried all sorts of other on-line advertising things without success so this seemed to be the way to go.... alas, it hasn't worked at all. Of course there are many possible causes for this but so far the money I've put in that has not brought a single pupil. I've had a couple of new pupils coming from FB but in all cases, again, friends or friends of friends; a notice on my timeline reminding people that I teach guitar and can take people up and beyond grade 8 has worked. Paid advertising has not. Will have to think hard about this, as there are many variables, including how I word and construct the ad, the target demographic I've chosen, etc that can go wrong. Perplexing, though.

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flavius_m
I never seem to post anymore about my activities on the week-end as I used to do in my Livejournal days (for those reading this on Livejournal, I'm posting to Dreamwidth these days, some get reposted to LJ). The natural progression of getting a bit older and less keen or able to take on all-nighters may be part of it, as is the fact that I always have things to do on a Sunday which means that, wherever I am by 1:00 am on a Saturday night I'm beginning to think I should be trying to catch up on sleep (which, again, seems to get progressively more difficult). I do go to a lot of club nights, birthday parties and the like but I never seem to stay more than two hours, three at the most. Last night was an exception at Mondlicht, a quarterly-what to call it? post-punk? goth? night in the basement of the Albany pub in Gt Portland St. Dancing and catching up with peeps in a settng where dancing is sort of natural and catching up is doable as the sound levels although loud do not make impossible to talk. First time I stay till closing time in quite a while.

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flavius_m
Again the feeling of dread in relation to things happening in Venezuela. Many people there seem to think the gov't is just about to fall -and from here I get the impression that that is very far from happening. And again the feeling that I'm not entirely on either side, although I'm aware that this is a luxury afforded to me by the fact that I am (and have been for so long) so far away. And have been far away for the whole time the situation there was developing.

My sister and her kids went to that demonstration yesterday, which was put down with tear gas and pellets. It could have been worse, the National Guard are a militarised police (like the carabinieri in Italy) and often trigger-happy. My sister got out in time, which was a relief. At age 60 she's not exactly an olympic athlete ready to run rings around the National Guard.

I just hope the whole thing doesn't end in a blood bath... but I cannot see a positive outcome. The division and the hatred run too deep. Hope I'm wrong.

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Easter break but I'm rather very broke. The only upside of that is being able to get up late, practise a lot of guitar and read a lot.

Seeing all the waves of grief and then counter-grief about the destruction of Notre Dame, people asking people to donate to causes that benefit people instead... which is fair enough, there is so much in the world that needs fixing and that needs help. To an extent, though, I feel it is a bit like when people say we shouldn't have space programs or Large Hadron Colliders because there is poverty or hunger. The problem, as I see it, is not that there are space programs etc. It is not an either/or situation. There is value in all those things that merits the investment, and there is need that needs to be met and probably could if all the riches being made in the world weren't tied in next quarter's profits and the greed that is encouraged by the system we live in.

Dentist today. Root canal treatment, just when I cannot afford those things but had to be done. That did mean that today there's been less of all that reading and practising guitar, particularly now that the anaesthesia has worn off...

Need to get a few more private pupils, Instead, I've lost my star pupil who'd just done a fantastic Grade 8 and was preparing an ARSM diploma because the family are having difficulties. Funny roller-coaster times.

Finished reading the latest (maybe the last?) instalment of 'The Expanse' books, 'Tiamat's Wrath'. I loved it. Isn't perfect -there are some points in the book where you almost shout at one character or another "Why are you doing that, that's really stupid" but, overall, it is very very good at its mix of character and politics drama and the awe in the face of titanic forces in the vast canvas of the story.

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flavius_m
I’m reading three books at the moment. Firstly, ‘All Systems Red’ by Martha Wells (I’m blaming Eglé for this :D ) which is the set reading for the next Bibliogoth (yes, it was my nomination, again I blame Eglé for that). It is a lovely book but quite short (and it is my second reading of it), so I’m reading a couple of other things at the same time so that I don’t finish it too early and forget all about it by the time of the Bibliogoth meeting (this has happened before..). So I’m reading something called ‘Starshine’ by G S Jensen. This is a space opera that is almost a compendium of all space sci-fi tropes including alien invasion, galactic porto-empires at war, love interest between enemies, etc. Not enjoying it that much but not bad enough to put it down and forget about it. Also re-reading ‘The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O’ by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland, which combines a ‘Many Worlds’ world, time travel and witchcraft, in the hands of two people that know how to do this sort of thing. Enjoying this one a lot. I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

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flavius_m
Oh, how I hate the changing of the clocks. Have been in this island for over 30 years and still don't get used to it. Neither do my Sunday morning pupils, by the look on their faces when I showed up at the usual time. Wish I could find a different time for that lesson, it kind of ruins my Saturday nights.

Beginning to feel like I want to hide from the news and not watch or read any of it, the whole br*x*t mess, the Trump show and, particularly, the Venezuelan debacle, so much more complex and complicated than the views we get in the media and with such horrific potential.

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flavius_m
A couple of birthdays, many lessons cancelled (need to get more pupils..) a club at which I stayed less than two hours.... and a little walk across Central London with at least a million people. Not sure anything will come out of that but, hey, it had to be done.





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KindredKindred by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book really hit me. I kept trying to reassure myself 'this is made up, it's fiction' but then you think again -things like these happened to real people and in some parts of the world still do. It was probably a lot worse than what we read in the book, having recently learnt that Maryland was supposed to be a more liberal state in relation to slavery.

The characters are believable, they feel real and human in most cases and you care for them and their fate. The time-travel device is by now well worn and I for one am grateful that it's not explained in the book, partly because there is no possible scientific explanation and when sci-fi tries to explain something like this it often gets in a horrible muddle (Star Trek Discovery, I'm looking at you..). It is, at any rate, more history-fiction or sociology-fiction than science fiction and it is a very powerful book that I very much recommend.

This was March's set book for Bibliogoth. We had already read and discussed another book by Octavia Butler in Bibliogoth ('Dawn', the first in the Lilith's Brood series) and I already knew I liked her writing. This very much confirms that.



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Current Music: Bach 'cello suite BWV1011 - Jean-Guihan Queyras

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flavius_m
Flavio (that's me) playing J S Bach's Prelude from the Lute Suite 1006a, during a presentation at the programme 'Nachy Presenta' at the Venezuelan Cultural TV Channel TVN5 in 1985 or so. Interesting that I chose such a difficult way of playing that piece, so many things I would do differently but it still is a record of my playing at the time.



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flavius_m
You get some strange enquiries, when you advertise for music lessons. You get a lot of calls from people who think they can take private music lessons for the price of a coffee. Sometimes it's even of the 'of course, music lessons, wink wink' type, which I find incomprehensible but I suppose it's a big world out there with all sorts of weirdness. More commonly it is scams and spam. Yesterday's one looked ok at first: 'I'm looking for a guitar teacher for my family'. Ok, give me more details... 'Three females (gave me ages between 19 and 24) for a weekly lesson each for 24 weeks'. Ok, that's unusual. Keep going... 'This is a present for them, I would love to meet you but I'm in hospital about to be operated of lung cancer'. Hmmm... something's not quite right here... keep going... 'in your studio, the limo driver will bring them over to you'. Of course he will. Do you also have a few hundred million in a bank account that you need to dispose of?

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flavius_m
Looking at my country of origin from the distance, now that it is on the news all the time for the first time here since forever. It feels a bit like watching a distant galaxy where some cosmic cataclysms are taking place, beyond the horizon of time and space and what can affect you directly or that you can have an influence on -but it's where I grew up, where I still have family and friends on both sides of the divide.

Hoping for the best, there seems to be a very slim chance of a resolution that doesn't involve a blood bath with fifth thousand dead on the streets and a pinochet for the ensuing twenty years. We'll see.

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flavius_m
ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was the set reading for the Feb 2019 Bibliogoth meeting. I enjoyed this book but I could seldom lose myself in its world. I liked the main character -a young woman of Saudi origin but one who grew up in the one city on the Moon- but found many details overdone and slightly irritating at times. I'm sure Weir did his homework in relation to the feasibility of the things that happen in the course of the book but it felt increasingly improbable as it progressed. The other characters felt a bit cardboard-like at times. An excellent science-fiction idea but one with some flaws.



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Redemption's Blade (After the War, #1)Redemption's Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A good romp; enjoyed the adventures of Celestaine and her treading that path between being a hero and being full of doubt -enjoyed it, yes but maybe not enough for me to pursue the series. We'll see. The idea of setting the stage _after_ all the battles have been fought and the main evil character has been killed is a good one and AT mostly carries it off. The characters are not particularly convincing, I found it difficult at times to see them as 'people' rather than devices to push the plot forward. I've read other things by the author which I've found much more compelling reading, although again this was quite a good book.



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RebeccaRebecca by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again....

It's a potboiler, it probably has too much of the teenage flights of fantasy of the young protagonist (I did, after a while, only quickly skim through those), it can be a little ponderous at times, it may be the precursor of a million romantic soap operas. It is also a powerful book. The plot may be unlikely but the characters are 'real'. Of course the dead Rebecca is a very powerful character, the contrast between her and the shy, insecure young second Mrs De Winter and the counterpoint between them drives the book. I see it has been noted that, apart from the second Mrs De Winter being nameless (so much you could make of this), the two main characters are defined by their relationship to a man. Both the way Rebecca is imagined by the young second wife (perfectly beautiful, perfect host, perfect wife) and the way she appears after the final revelations play on what probably still may be male perceptions of what a strong female personality may be like.

There is a hint towards the end of a sort of conflation of the two characters, even though we know the epilogue as it has been set in the beginning of the book and it does not correspond with this. But there is something of this as the young wife matures after the experiences she's had, becomes stronger and learns how to deal with the world.

I had read this book in Spanish translation when I was about 13 years of age. It made an impression on me then but I don't think I could have possibly understood the darker elements of the plot and subtext. I enjoyed this a lot.



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flavius_m
And so that was Christmas. Different this time: my sister travelled from Venezuela where she (still?) lives, to Madrid to be with her son who moved there a few months ago and, as I'd mentioned before, she wanted me to spend Christmas with them. So I went.

I was expecting it to be more difficult than it ended up being in practical terms: five of us (my sister, her son and his girlfriend, her sister, myself) crammed in a 'two-bedroom flat' that was quite a bit smaller than my tiny studio flat in London. As it was, it all went well and we didn't get on each others' toes at all. It was good to spend some time with my sister who, living so far away I very seldom see in person.

There wasn't much touristing: we did go to Museo Del Prado and on Boxing Day we went to Segovia. Nothing much more -but then I went to see my sister and not so much to see the sights.

On NYE I went to a friend's house gathering/drinks, then to Tarantella at the Albany and finally to the Slimelight. Had a very good time at all three, saw some peeps I hadn't seen for a long time, in a couple of cases quite a few years -all was good.

Next week is going to be difficult when I have to start getting up before 6 am instead of 10....

Happy New Year to all of you!

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flavius_m
Hello.

Still here, even though I haven't posted here much. Life has given me that combination of being hectic and not having much really happening, which is rather frustrating.

Still need to find some half a dozen new private pupils, in case I need to terminate my teaching at a certain place where things seem to go from hectic to chaotic and their solution to this is to be very strict and increase the paperwork, the itemised lists of rules and procedures for the attainment of targets, etc. So, if you hear of somebody who may want guitar lessons in North London please put them my way.

In relation to that, I have stopped the advert that I ran for nearly 18 years at the Camden New Journal, our local paper -it just wasn't working. It seems to be the case that it hardly works for anyone and local paper papers are in terminal decline. I have tried a number of online means of advertising for lessons but none of them have worked (= local neighbours' forums, teachers' directories, etc) and at least one has cost me money without any positive results (= Bark, which was recommended to me by a local piano teacher but so far has only cost me money and spammed me). So I'm rather low in private pupils and depending way too much on those two schools I teach at.

The Br*x*t thing seems to swing between farce and drama and, for me and others in my position, more than ever be the source of much worry and stress and of disappointment with this country I've called home for thirty years. I have done nothing about my status here, waiting for the dust to settle, but I worry over travelling and not being able to come in again, etc so I'll have to go and process a 'leave of residence'. I resent this so much. This queue-jumper here who doesn't even have the decency to earn > £50K after thirty years of trying to give something back resents this situation a lot.

Need to think of a few small local venues where I can present some self-propelled guitar recitals. This means of course trying to get people to actually come and see me play instead of telling me why they couldn't make it this time but please can I inform them when I next play.

And so this is Christmas. And, what have you done...

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Current Music: Your Genius - Desperate Journalist - Grow Up

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flavius_m
A good morning so far. R (the human rights lawyer) had his lesson, then went to the Italian deli for olive oil, then stopped at Bean about Town for coffee and a cuddle with Charlie the Dog, a black labrador, whose owner P. the Brazilian was playing backgammon with L the South African who works at BaT. Mild, 14º so took out the guitar on that grey grey morning and played the suitable sombre Sarabande from Bach’s ‘cello suite No. 5 that Yo Yo Ma was playing last Saturday at the 100th anniversary of the end of the war in Paris (with mention of Trump’s bored dozing face while YYM was playing) while Charlie was looking at me trying to figure out what I was doing with that box and making sounds… a good morning, so far. Now at home waiting for a new pupil to arrive.

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On a Met Line train to Watford at some unconscionable time.

Dreams: they are now beginning to fade, but I was trying to find my way back to my hotel, where I was due to meet my cousin. The problem was, I'd gone out for a walk on my arrival there after leaving my things in my room and promptly got lost, wandered in ever increasing circles around this dilapidated city looking for my way back -and realising I hadn't taken a note of the name of the hotel or its location so it was going to be very difficult to find it in a city I didn't know. Spent what felt like half the night trying to find it, asking people about this hotel with a lobby that looked like this.. nothing firm that could help me find it. Half-waking up, drifting again into sleep to a continuation of pretty much the same dream. Had my phone with me, was going to phone my cousin but the phone was playing up and couldn't find my cousin's number. I was realising I perhaps didn't have it and all our contact had been through internet messaging. But the phone refused to connect to internet. Mercifully woke up at that point, fell asleep again to another dream of frustrating quests -but different ones at least.

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flavius_m
Two interesting, if long (and alarming) articles posted by friends on FB, on the nature of the developments we’re seeing in the world stage:

Umberto Eco makes a list of the common 14 features of fascism:
http://www.openculture.com/2016/11/umberto-eco-makes-a-list-of-the-14-common-features-of-fascism.html

Nihilist Nation: the empty core of Trump’s mystique:
https://newrepublic.com/article/151603/nihilist-nation-empty-core-trump-mystique?fbclid=IwAR1yqpP2aH9pMzkw8UeVa6uZWoPtvElWvBYcn9prkRyqGcBEPFXyWhNH-_c

Original article by Eco:
https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1995/06/22/ur-fascism/

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ProximaProxima by Stephen Baxter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Re-reading this one. Loved the story and the characters but the end was so... disconcerting. Felt like left hanging on with few possibilities ahead.



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flavius_m
Went to Sacrosanct in Reading over the week-end. Wasn't enormously impressed with Reading as a town but the little goth festival was a good gathering with a few good bands and many lovely people. The highlight may have been Kadeadkas, who I had already seen once before. A couple of the bands had their flights cancelled in the wake of the current RyanAir strike and one of them, Dividing Lines, drove sixteen hours in order to play at the fest.

Took the car (and some friends) but had booked a hotel at the wrong end of town and found myself walking miles and miles on both days. The little festival was lovely but if I go back next year (and I do intend to) Im most certainly not talking the car and will be doing more homework before booking hotels, etc.

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flavius_m
Mille Regretz, by (or attributed to) Josquin de Prez (c.1450-1521),
Ruth Dingle (voice)
Flavio Matani (guitar)
live at the KTCF on 21-06-18

The guitar accompaniment is the vihuela version by Luys de Narváez (1538)


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flavius_m
I haven't got a lot of faith in petitions in general or in particular in ones that are asking these politicians trapped in a web of their own making to backtrack in a way that most likely seems impossible and undesirable to them, but nonetheless, one has to try:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/223729

"Rescind Art.50 if Vote Leave has broken Electoral Laws regarding 2016 referendum"



Article 50.1 of the Lisbon Treaty sets out that a member can leave by " Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements."

Also, Article 10.3 of the Lisbon Treaty, "Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen."


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flavius_m
NP: 'Gaeta's Lament - Bear McCreary - Battlestar Galactica
NR: 'Caliban's War' - The Expanse bk 2 - James A Corey

The main takeaway from this book seems to be 'fear the wrath of the little old lady'. Liking Avasarala even more in the book than the series.

I’m not really here-I hate gyms. Instead, I’m hurtling down towards a moon of Jupiter on a stolen Martian frigate. Escapism, moi? 😀

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flavius_m


I'll be playing a concert at the garden of the Rustique Café on Thursday 26 July. Do come along if you can. Details on the Facebook event here.

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flavius_m
It's been a bit more quiet of late, less hectic. I have finished for the school year at one of my schools, at the other one I still have a week to go but no music lessons this week so I can sleep till 10!

Finished reading 'Northanger Abbey' by Jane Austen, we discussed it yesterday at the Bibliogoth meeting. I ended up liking it a lot more than I anticipated when I started. Now I'm immersed in the world of The Expanse, both watching Series 3 and reading the books, currently half way through the second,'Caliban's War'. Liking Avasarala even more in the book. 

Also this last week-end was the British Summertime Festival in Hyde Park. I'd bought tickets for Roger Waters on Friday and missed out on The Cure for Saturday. This may have been a good thing: I enjoyed Waters' concert enormously (not least by his fierce lampooning of  D Trump, variously depicted in the visuals as a pig, a screaming child and a number of other things, having in the visuals a selection of quotes of his, some self-contradictory, all offensive to minorities and decent people) but I wouldn't have survived two days of six or seven hours in the open with 34º heat and no cover or shelter and fifty thousand or so people around me. I don't think I'll want to do that sort of thing again. Young Flavio would have been disconcerted, at least, that I had no particular interest in watching Eric Clapton play on Sunday.

Playing another little local concert at one of my usual venues on Thursday the 26th so this week will be spent, hopefully, practising the programme I will be playing...
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The book for next month's Bibliogoth is Jane Austin's 'Northanger Castle'. It starts ok although rather slowly, was taking me a while to get into its world. But then ... I finished watching S2 of 'The Expanse' and bought the first of the books in the series, 'The Leviathan Wakes' and got sucked into that world again. I'm afraid I won't have much to say about the Jane Austin book in time for the Bibliogoth meeting..! although I will finish it ok, things were only beginning to happen at the point I left it to dive into the rabbit hole of The Expanse.

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A bit puzzled that with some people I follow both here and in Dreamwidth, I can see their friends-locked entries here but not in DW. I may well miss and not see those posts as I hardly ever use LJ and my posts here are cross-posts from DW. Not sure what the point could be in giving me access here but not on DW, although it can get a bit confusing with the fact that it is a two-step process over there.

Tried out Vero and didn't like it. Then I saw reports about it and liked it even less. Tried Mastodon and.. nothing happening there, seemingly nobody I know is using it. And it is rather quiet here these days.

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flavius_m
This month's book for @bibliogoth is 'News from Nowhere' by William Morris.

I should have liked it. Instead, I'm finding it tedious, preachy and twee and will probably never finish... sorry about that, those of you who do like it.

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flavius_m
General elections in Venezuela today. Really dodgy ones, where the authoritarian streak of the current lot in office begins to approach a real dictatorship (although polls give Maduro 37% against 32 of his main rival but this may not reflect in vote and the main opposition are calling for abstention). Maduro blames the US and big corporations for the current crisis -and it is not entirely untrue but it is only a minor contributing factor where the main one is the incompetence, corruption and hubris of this lot who call themselves 'socialist' and perhaps believe to an extent that what they're doing but the results have gone from bad to catastrophic, which I don't put down to their being socialist but to their being incompetent, corrupt and arrogant. Most people I know that are able to leave the country have done so or are in the process of doing it.

Maduro will win and in a way it may be a legitimate win (the poorest people are still somewhat better off than they were historically, even as the rest of the population is in desperate crisis) but a disaster for my original country nonetheless. A situation that seems to hit bottom all the time and yet it gets ever worse when you think it wouldn't be possible.

The whole thing just breaks my heart.

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flavius_m
Ah, a sunny morning at last. Funny how my mood changes up or down with the weather. In the beginning when I first came to the UK I used to laugh at the 10 min long (as I saw them) weather forecasts on TV. Coming from a part on the north of South America on the Caribbean (but away from Hurricane Alley) our weather forecasts told you it was going to be sunny or it was going to rain... and that was pretty much it.

Here the weather is more variable and there is a winter (although my friends from Russia or Canada might dispute this), with long periods of short days with grey skies and not seeing the sun for weeks on end. This affects me far more than the cold. After our little mini-summer of a week or two ago, yesterday's 4 º C, battleship grey skies and ice-cold rain seemed to make a difficult teaching day so much worse. Today just looking out the window made me feel much better about the day to come.

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flavius_m
Our nearest star is manifesting itself today. Liking it so far, although any warmer than this I will find unpleasant.

Some of my plans for today have gone to pot. A couple of lessons later, then Tufguitar at the Rustique café (the monthly meeting of some of my guitar pupils to play together). That's it, I think. Too hot to go to the gym, too hot (as for now; I'd quickly get used to it if it lasts) to take a guitar and practise in the park.

Doing a little local recital (at the Kentish Town City Farm) on the 21st of June. No other gigs planned. Need to find a few more little local venues where I can do that sort of thing, a local guitar concert that is not too big but where I can play a decent programme.

Ooh, it's sunny and warm. Liking it. So far.

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flavius_m
The flu, or whatever it was, lasted only four days. Or rather, the shaking, fever and constant coughing plus extreme tiredness did. I'm still coughing and I'm still tired all the time, two weeks on. Not looking forward to the beginning of term next week.

Things that've happened in these two weeks: the short answer is 'not a lot'. I did go to Oxford to meet a friend there last Saturday, tramped around town, ate street food at a street market (there was a Venezuelan food stand but I only realised after we'd ordered at some other place so missed on that but did make contact with them). Went to the Ashmolean Museum and went upstairs and downstairs many many times to have a close look at pretty much every single exhibit... I'm making it sound bad and it wasn't, it was a lovely day but I was still in the aftermath of that flu (or whatever it was) and it drained me completely.

Having finished the book for this month's Bibliogoth ('Wanderers' by Meg Howrey, which I enjoyed but didn't take me as much as I anticipated it would) and in spite of having another three books on the go, I decided to re-read 'Anathem' by Neal Stephenson. And straight away I found myself submerged in that world and its people. I'm in a tiny minority on that one (check the scathing Amazon reviews) but I love that book and it is perhaps the one that has made the biggest impression of the books I've read for a long long time.

Not much energy for proper guitar practice so I've been reading some music that I'd played many years ago and some new music (if you can call 'new' something written in 1588 or thereabouts).

On the whole, then, flavioworld is quiet this week and it is good that it is so, I need to gather and recover my energy for the many things awaiting ahead. The world outside sounds more and more alarming by the minute, one almost feels the screaming, swivel-eyed hordes with torches ramming the gates of the castle. But the world was always like that, perhaps and we just didn't know. Of course you didn't have a megalomanic narcissistic fascist at the helm of the most powerful nation on earth and the country I've lived in for the last 30 years wasn't questioning my right to be here before. And my original country wasn't yet being ravaged by a combination of astronomical incompetence, all encompassing corruption and a blinkered view of the world that admits no mistakes and no wrong on the part of the people leading it.

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flavius_m
FWIW as I don't know absolutely anybody in there -and it is one more in a long list of things that want to send me notifications, that you have to keep an eye on just in case, etc. Nonetheless, I seem to be in Mastodon:

https://mastodon.social/@fflavio

One of these days one of those things might catch on and slowly replace Twitter or FB. Not holding my breath, mind -how many of those have there been, already?

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flavius_m
The Sudden Appearance of HopeThe Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was the set book for Bibliogoth a couple of months ago. It took me some effort to get past the first chapter or so (maybe because I was expecting a sci-fi story which this definitely is not) but eventually got into the world of the story and ended up liking it quite a bit. I finished it some time (and quite a few books) ago so my memory of it is fading somewhat, can't remember that much about the main character.. oh, wait. The premise of the book is interesting, the woman who people quickly forget -out of sight, out of memory- and the inevitable lifestyle choices this brings. I liked it although many of the characters were rather cardboard plot devices and some of the plot itself stretched my suspension of disbelief rather thin. I enjoyed reading it, nonetheless.



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flavius_m
Once upon the time in Venezuela...
(playing for Venezuelan TV at some point in the '80s..)


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flavius_m
.. the snow, that is. That was a somewhat expensive week for a self-employed music teacher, with lots of lessons cancelled -but at least I managed to do my three days of teaching in schools without major mishap -or at least without any caused by the weather.

Apart from that, not a lot to report. Went to see a friend's band at the Black Heart of Camden -perhaps appropriately, a black metal band. Have to report confirming once again that, although they were quite good and proficient, black metal isn't quite my thing. That was almost my only outing of the week. Tripped on the ice and slush a few times; at least I didn't break anything -can't afford the eight weeks in a cast! And almost at the end of the cold snap I found about those snow walking over-shoe things (amazon link here ). They're ridiculous but they seem to work,

Lastly, have yet another snow photo, of my little corner of Kentish Town at sunrise:




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flavius_m
A lot of my FB friends seem to be 'moving' to Vero, the social media app, so I joined it yesterday. First impressions? I hate it. Like Whatsapp, it is tied to your phone, you cannot even use it on a tablet, def. not on a computer. This already is a no-no for me. Instagram and WA are also tied to your phone (which I hate, did I mention?) but at least there are work-arounds so you can use them on other devices and your computer. It is supposed to be ad-free and prioritising privacy -we'll see about that, the first thing it asks you to do is to allow it to load your contacts onto its servers. No, no, sorry no. I know what the rationale for this is but still won't do that. Also when you go to update it gives you the options of putting a picture, reviewing a book or a movie and put an internet link. They seem to be taking after Instagram with this, but again this limited range of options does not appeal to me that much. We'll see how it goes but so far I'm not that impressed. And the paths of the internet are littered with the corpses of FB and twitter killers, like App.net, Ello and Diaspora (which seemed like quite good a proposition but didn't get anywhere much), we'll see how this one fares. I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

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flavius_m
Ah, one little thing that I wouldn't post on Facebook as I would get the Apple haters on my case straight away and I can't be bothered with that... (and please don't tell me how much better off I'd be with a Samsung Gear or, come to that, a grandfather clock. I don't care).

My trusty (?) Apple Watch is currently held with sticky tape. It works ok (and the screen responds to touch even through the sticky tape) but the screen just fell off. Went to the local computer place and they said it would be too complicated and expensive to fix it so they don't. iFixit sell the adhesive for $14 and give you instructions on how to reattach the screen. In the meantime, it is held with sello-tape. Wonders of modern technology.

Do I need a smart-watch? Hm, no, probably not. Do I use mine, is it worth fixing? Oh hell, yes. I use it all the time for all sorts of things. Of course I could do all of them with my phone but it is much more convenient to use the watch, even to pay for things, monitor my sleep and most of all the kitchen timer which is very useful for me in the schools as well as in the kitchen. Would I miss it if I'd never bought it? Hm, no, I don't think so. I will not be rushing to buy a replacement (mine is the original one, three years old now) but if it works with sticky tape and can get fixed at a non-exorbitant, non Apple-store fee, I will be doing that.

This is probably the most trivial and pointless DW/LJ update you've seen this week... :D

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flavius_m
Children of TimeChildren of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this book a lot. The last survivors of humankind, away in the stars fighting for their survival and their possible last home with sentient spiders who are pretty much the creation of that humankind in long decline that has had to abandon Earth. The characters are on the whole (with a couple of notable exceptions, for me, including Guyen and Dr Avrana Kern, who are clearly plot devices rather than people) more believable than is often the case in SF -including some of the spiders. The story is gripping ... but I did find the ending was stretching my suspension of disbelief rather thin, to breaking limits. Still, a very good read.



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The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of ScienceThe Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There are two big mountains in front of Caracas, on the mountain chain that separates it from the Caribbean sea. The tallest one is Pico Humboldt, the slightly shorter one is Pico Bonpland: Humboldt’s shadow looms large in South America. His travels and writings are still read and quoted and may have helped set in motion conservationist movements, the beginning of the ecology movement and perhaps progressive political thought. This book is a good reflection of all this, taking us through Humboldt’s life and his impact in an entertaining way -even if it meanders a bit with long detours into the lives of Bolívar, Jefferson and other contemporaries and followers. Recommended. [this was the set reading at Bibliogoth in December 2017).



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flavius_m
Wake up in the night and see through the curtains this big round yellow moon beaming from above. Magical! * . Pity it was 4:15 am and I had to get up at 5:20 am so no chance of going back to sleep. Here's to a new year with better sleep patterns.. :D



* (E&OE) ;)

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flavius_m
Merry Christmas, all!

Currently with fellow Venezuelan friends of many years, having done Christmas dinner late on the eve as is our custom. I expect we'll have a second Christmas dinner at lunch-time today....part of our traditional Xmas dinner includes Hallaca (pictured), ensalada de gallina (or, in modern times, veggie equivalent), pan de jamón, various kinds of sweets and cakes and, often, quite a bit of alcohol....

!Hallacas
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flavius_m
Teaching a young French pupil to play guitar arrangements of 'Away in a Manger' and 'Hark, the Herald Angels' wasn't a complete success. He had never heard either of these. Curious thing as, at least 'Manger' is something I'd always heard even though I grew up in another culture with different Christmas music. I don't think I'd heard 'Hark' before setting foot in these islands.

Christmas is a peculiar affair for me. I don't have family here and it was always a family affair. For a number of years I opted for visiting my Italian family which was always lovely (but always came back with four kilos more to me...) but as their circumstances changed it wasn't possible to do that anymore. These days I say with Venezuelan friends in Kent, near Tunbridge Wells -so I do get the family xmas but not with my family. That's not necessarily a bad thing, although the opening of the presents around the tree does make me feel like I'm gatecrashing.

Peculiar thing, also that I'm not a believer but I still feel the need to 'do' things like Christmas. I suppose that's what Dawkins was calling (referring to himself) as being 'culturally Christian'.

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flavius_m
Pisador's 'Pavana muy llana', 'very easy Pavane' https://youtu.be/hcn9gwNVnJ4 via @YouTube -I may play this at this event on the 30th: https://www.facebook.com/events/1341626609281999/ come along if you can #guitar #classicalguitar #kentishtown #northlondon #camden #kentishtowncityfarm



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The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.1)The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this book a lot. A different take on several science fiction standard themes -altered or augmented humans, totalitarianism and technology, etc, from the point of view of a genetically modified (if that's the correct term to use -in some ways it reminded me of PKD's androids or replicants in Electric Sheep/Blade Runner) woman of African origin. This is a prequel of an earlier book, 'Who Fears Death', which I look forward to reading.



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flavius_m
I do get big bouts of Impostor Syndrome. I'm never quite sure I know what I'm doing well enough and am painfully aware of where I fall short.

Until, that is, the moment inevitable when someone contacts me wanting me to play for them for free ('you'll get lots of exposure', they say; 'you can die of exposure', says I) or, as just happened, somebody from a tutors' agency (must be, by their wording) sends me a message with offer of teaching work with lots of conditions and paying me half what I normally charge. Go find somebody else -there' s plenty of those, alas.

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flavius_m
I'm not a morning person. At this point, 6:30 am, have been up for an hour and a quarter and awake for over two. Will have slept four hours, have a long teaching day ahead of me.

Week end was good. On Saturday it was [profile] kajia's (link will prob. not work, it's an LJ account) Hallowe'en/birthday party. I played a short guitar recital -a few short pieces by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, about a third of Bach's Chaconne up to the first cadence before the major section and, perhaps a little more appropriate for the time of year, Nikita Koshkin's 'Usher Waltz', after the horror story by Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Fall of the House of Usher' (link to me playing a small excerpt of it , here</lj>).

Will be playing at the Kentish Town City Farm on the 30th of November.... still haven't finished deciding on the programme -will certainly play the Koshkin.

Right, now to go out and face that long day. Good morning!

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