28.6.05

R.I.P. Piglet

I'm back at work today with a sore head. If you want to see photgraph of the headbanging incident (some people have asked) then click one of the pictures below. That will take you to the Flickr site where you need to click on 'Roostar's Photostream' (top right).

In other news, just a day after reporting the death of the voice of Tigger it my sad duty to report the death of the voice of Piglet. What is going on? Are the people who voiced Pooh, Kanger, Roo, Owl and the rest feeling anxious? I would be.

I shall re-read my copy of The Tao of Pooh tonight as a tribute. No. Maybe not. Bouncing through the house like Tigger didn't do me any favours.

27.6.05

Headbanger

It's been another busy weekend. J and I made an offer on a house we both like and have been getting quietly excited about the prospect of having our own place.

Excited is good. Happy is fine. Or so you would think. Last night I was in the kitchen making tea and felt so full of life that I literally skipped through the hall to ask J if she wanted cake. I've done this before; I'm quite a cheerful person after all. Last night though, I timed my skip wrong and headbutted the door frame.

One moment happily mid-air, the next curled up on the ground in agony. J comes in to see what the fuss is about and mentions blood. Blood? I've hit my head plenty of times without bleeding. I'm a little a little cynical until a quite impressive trickle starts pouring on the carpet. This is new. I know everything will be alright when I make a conscious effort to bleed onto my trousers (easier to clean than the floor).

After much tender care from J (during which I insist she take photographs) we are advised to go to the accident and emergency department of the local hospital. This is fascinating. Great source material for songs or stories. This is also my first unplanned trip to hospital. I soak up the atmosphere but, after an hour, begin to flag.

Much later I get seen by a good humoured doctor who literally glues my wound together and tells me to spend the next 24 hours at home, in company and not to drive.

J brings me home and we talk about the days events. Today I'm checking out the photographs on the Mac and experiencing a constant throbbing that reminds me, sometimes happiness brings pain. Tea anyone?

Richard Whiteley

In the midst of all the madness last night (see my next post) I flicked on the television to see that Richard Whitely had died. If you don't live in the UK you won't know this man. He hosted a game show called Countdown. Anagrams and number puzzles at teatime for over tenty years. A genial and genuine man who told terrible jokes and wore awful ties. He'll be missed.

26.6.05

Paul Winchell - voice of Tigger

R.I.P. Paul Winchell. How many other people have patented a disposable razor, a flameless cigarette lighter, an invisible garter belt and found time to be the voice of Tigger.

Yoga?


Yoga?
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
At the end of the week I discovered the pressure I had been feeling was simply my wife's foot.

22.6.05

Change of view


View
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
We might be buying a house. Which would mean moving from this place that we rent now (obviously). I'm going to miss this view, which is pretty special, even in black and white.

Late light barn


Late light barn
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This was one of the views on our walk the other night. We got to some woodland to get real fresh air on a hot and sticky night.

21.6.05

Existential blogging

Happy Birthday Jean-Paul Satre. He would be 100 years old today had he not faced the ultimate existential crisis in 1980. I read some of his books when I was a teenager and enjoyed the bleak terrains of life he described. Oddly, without knowing what anniversary today would be, I was gripped last night with a desire to read 'The Age of Reason' again. What does this mean? Nothing, of course.

20.6.05

To be and to have

Many years ago the BBC used to show French films late in the evening on Saturday or Sunday nights. I used to watch these almost uniformly good movies and enjoy how different a film could be from what was shown the rest of the week. Last night I stayed up to watch Etre et Avoir, a documentary about a provincial school teacher. It mapped out his final year at the school and the way he, Mr Lopez, dealt with the various challenges the children presented and clearly documented his love of them and his job. The director, Nicolas Philibert, did a wonderful job of presenting events without getting in the way. We get so involved that the moment when Mr Lopez turns to the camera to answer questions almost comes as a shock. The look on his face when he says goodbye to his last class is heartbreaking. It's on DVD people, go and watch.

19.6.05

Elvis


Elvis
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Further to the questions on Elvis's whereabouts I can now reveal that he no longer lives in J's car. This was taken in the heady days when he used to swivel around every time she circled a roundabout.

After sun

According to my weather widget it is 28 degrees (centigrade) outside and raining. Maybe this is a prediction because the view from the window is one of brilliant sunshine. The village is enjoying its annual fare, with stalls and music and a lot of people wandering around wearing no shirts. I have locked myself in the house to get some work done.

Having created a very hard edged, Crimsoneque piece of music last night I'm balancing things out today by playing a little Bach on the bass and then making scones. Cheese scones mind you, none of this namby panby stuff.

Should certain readers be wondering what happened to the two promised songs; they aren't far away.

18.6.05

Sunny Saturday

It's a proper sunny day today. As if summer has finally been allowed in. J and I went to look at a house this morning which is far too small and a bit too expensive, but which we both fell in love with.

My poor old PowerBook is complaining at all the work I've made it do today so that could be a sign to have a break and play some bass for a while.

15.6.05

Virtual Bassist. Oh great.

Well this is all the world needed. As if the bass player/knock knock joke wasn't enough to keep us in our places.

14.6.05

Rose


Rose
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Not sure why I'm blogging this. I just like the idea of a rose and saugsage rolls.

13.6.05

The Big Weekend

Another busy weekend, but certainly one of the best for a long time.

On Friday night J and I went out to dinner with our friends who had just returned from honeymoon. We were joined by Dave, Rich and Emma from Soul Beaver and spent (most of) the night at Browns in Oxford. I've been eating at this place on and off for nearly twenty years and always enjoy the atmosphere. Busy, chaotic and usually with very good food. We passed the ours chatting, joking, eating and drinking.

The last part of the night was spent at the Eagle and Child pub (where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to hang out) for what might have been one drink too many. Overall though, a great night out.

Saturday was something else. I spent most of the day rushing around, making a cake. Despite one false start (insane amounts of baking powder would have resulted in an exploding cake) and my putting icing sugar in the mix instead of caster sugar, it all turned out alright. The event for which I was making the cake was my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

They were celebrating in a quiet way, at home, with just a few guests. J and I arrived with cake, champagne and enough decorations to shame a birthday party. All this was J's idea and, despite not being in their usual style, my folks seemed very pleased with the effect.

The day went very well. My mum and dad's happiness in being together was highlighted by the three guests, all of whom had lost their partners, and by J and I, still less than a year married. I look at my folks with enormous admiration for many reasons, not least the fact that they have created a happy home, maintained a loving (and still romantic) relationship and, of course, produced your truly. Before this gets too gushy I should add that I fully expect J and I to get to our 50th, so long as we can actually live that long (I would be in my 90s!)

If the excitement of Saturday was not enough J and I went out on Sunday to London to see the Pat Metheny Group. For the first time (ever, I think) I was late to a gig. The PMG were playing all of their new album, The Way Up. We witnessed the last half hour, which was a blistering symphony of musicianship and invention. There was a huge roar of approbation and a standing ovation at the end. For an 'encore' they played in various combinations, all with Metheny (still sporting the stripey top and wild hair he has had for ever) at the core. Tune after tune poured form this skillful band. Lyle Mays has to get special mention, as does Antonio Sanchez on drums. I could hear audience members gasping in places at the sheer audacity of the players. Mind you, I could also hear a conversation about binoculars (in many parts) and some general chuntering form the people around me.

With all this good stuff over, J and I wandered through Hammersmith, picking up some food and then driving home for a well earned sleep.

7.6.05

Students

As mentioned before, I have some wonderful students. This week I have been presented with a gift by two of them. It's a book on 'how do do everything' which means I now have no excuses for avoiding anything... ever. Thanks.

The other side of this is that I promised to write a couple of songs, with the titles they suggested, if a certain text appeared in the exam. Stay posted.

6.6.05

Pacman lives!

Just when you thought videogaming was at a dead end, along come these enterprising people (see link in the title) who have brought the Pacman experience alive.

4.6.05

Mum

And for those of you enquiring about my mum, she is now out of hospital and back with dad at home. Dad reports she has already cut her hand on something, so life is back to normal.

Liner Notes and other pleasures

Ask any music fixated person and they will tell you that one of the great pleasures in life that can't be beaten is to read a good set of liner notes.

Tonight I indulged in the notes to the ProjecKts box set, in particular those of ProjecKt 4 (the band with Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn, Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin). Wonderful music and pleasantly involved liner notes, They were written by the guy who ran the merchandise table for that tour. Closer reading suggested he was more than a 'merch guy' as he was part of the Guitar Craft school and a veteran of King Crimson tours. Also, he was a fine writer.

I have since discovered he (Sid Smith) is the chap who wrote the excellent book on Crimson.

And, as I suggested, this is the pleasure of liner notes. You never know where they might lead. I'm now off to re-read the Crimson book.

Listening pleasure tonight is from the Pat Metheny Group. As well as just enjoying the music I'm doing some homework for the gig next weekend. My goodness but can Lyle Mayes play.

3.6.05

78 RPM

I just spotted this on BoingBoing. It makes a change from chart music.

2.6.05

New Toys

I had a chance to visit the Apple Store in Regent's Street today. A fabulous place which I hope to visit again when I have the money to buy a fast, modern machine. Not that I'm complaining. My PowerBook may be looking rather battered and may be running slowly compared to the newer models, but it's still the finest computer I've ever had and certainly the most pleasant to use. If I'm not practising the bass I'm on the Mac.

Last night I got to go to the pub with some students from my English classes. It was odd to have them all there in one place but it was rewarding too. Oddly we packed up and left around the time the usual Wednesday night lesson would end. Habit, I suppose.

1.6.05

Bridge Street/Wedding gig


Bridge Street/Wedding gig
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Best man, groom and Mr Ben Sherman playing a few songs over the weekend.

The last few days

There seems to be a time limit with blogging. If you don't get your thoughts down quickly they begin to fade or lose relevance. So this is going to be a much truncated version of the weekend's events.

On Friday we drove to Hampshire and joined the run-through for my friend's wedding. When it passed without any major hitches we had an evening meal at the bride's mum's house, meeting more members of the family.

On Saturday there was a lot of ferrying of people and things around. Buttonholes, make-up person, the groom, us. BY the afternoon everything was in place and I was standing at my friend's side, waiting for the bride to arrive. That she did, right on time. She was bubbling with happiness. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone looking so happy - I was even beginning to wonder if she might faint, but luckily she held onto consciousness through the whole ceremony.

The evening brought my second challenge(the first being to not lose the ring). I had to deliver a best man's speech. I'm used to talking in public. I do it almost every day, I appear with my bands regularly. You wouldn't think it would be a problem. However, much as I wouldn't want to teach a class if I didn't think I was doing a good job, I didn't want to do this if I was going to bore the pants off everyone. Typically, I assumed everything would be fine until the day before. Luckily, I had written a good outline for the speech and was in a confident mood.

First the man taking the part of the bride's late father spoke. He was a colonel and spoke eloquently about her. Secondly, my friend giving his groom's speech. Funny, touching and without a wasted phrase. Damn, I thought, this is going to be hard to follow. Somehow I got through it (despite the groom's avoidance of any embarrassing incidents I could use, or my willingness to make something up). I got to the end, the cake was cut with the family's sword (they go back a long way) and we got into party mode.

One further twist awaited me though as two musical friends (including Soul Beaver's drummer) had asked the band if we could borrow their instruments. I was shocked. We would never let anyone use our equipment and I wasn't sure I wanted to step on the toes of the local band. The groom was adamant that we shouldn't perform as well so I felt we wouldn't go on. Except... deep down in most musicians there is an itch that an empty stage creates. The only way to scratch it is, as you can imagine, to get up and play. Eventually, after some questioning on the local band to be absolutely sure they didn't mind, we got up as a three piece (Bridge Street essentially) and played just two songs. It felt great, but it was also good to let the others take over.

Many hours later the bride and groom departed and we made our way back to the hotel.

The next morning, rather than come straight home, we stopped at Winchester, had a look at the cathedral, climbed a tower and walked the town. In the evening I tried calling home but got no response. Concerned, but aware I couldn't do anything I got some sleep. The next morning I found my mum had been admitted to hospital. She's stable now but, having written all this it's time to see how she is doing again.