I've been following the Guardian's chess writer Stephen Moss's column in which he has been working with UK chess supremo Nigel Short to improve his game. After a few one sided games against Short, Moss has recently posted this historic (1858) match between Paul Morphy and an unknown player. If you like chess, follow this through. You should know that Morphy played white and also started the game without his queenside rook. Enjoy.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 7. Qf3+ Ke6 8. Nc3 Nd4 9. Bxd5+ Kd6 10. Qf7 Be6 11. Bxe6 Nxe6 12. Ne4+ Kd5 13. c4+ Kxe4 14. Qxe6 Qd4 15. Qg4+ Kd3, 16. Qe2+ Kc2, 17. d3+ Kxc1 18. 0-0 mate.

Oddly beautiful chess.


Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Why did I do this? I'll tell you. Some time ago I went to an exhibition at Modern Art Oxford where someone had taken pictures of rooms and then cut circular segments and rotated them to create subtle but unnerving effects. My ham-fisted attempt here is purely done in the hope that someone will recognise the style and tell me who the original artist is. Ta.

Bass player

Bass player.JPG
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
This has been an odd week. J and I have not been feeling fully fit and so energy levels have been low. Despite that we have started packing up our possessions for the house move. We haven't done nearly enough considering how soon this is happening, but I can now see (nearly) all my CDs in two (very large) boxes. Packing the books up is going to be harder as I keep accessing them for the day job. Today we went to Cardiff to see sister-in-law, who has kindly given us her old washing machine. We finished our marathon driving session today with a trip to the characterful 'Peppers' in Oxford. I had a vegetarian half pounder burger with horseradish sauce and all the extras. It was fabulous but if I ingest anything more fattening than air it'll all be over.

The other odd thing this week was my saying goodbye to my double bass. It is now the guest of a music workshop where it should get a lot more use. I haven't played it nearly enough (one gig in five years!) and the new Stick Bass has become weapon of choice; at least at home it has. I've a chance to play the Stick in an upcoming gig and that, my friends, will be a nerve wracking night if I don't feel ready.

But despite the sense and necessity of losing the bass I will missing the beauty of its lines and the sound of its... voice. At least I'll always have the funky nut and bolt bass player sculpture.


Return of the Duck Calmer

Here is another exchange between someone who saw my double bass advert and myself.


Me: You didn't make it clear if you wanted the Duck Calmer or the Boofer. Which is it?

Them: i want the Duck Calmer ,please reply with firm price.beneficiary name and adress

Me: Did you know 'duck calmer' is an anagram of yahoo fraud department?

I'm awaiting a response.


Monday night observations

Separated at birth? Seb Roachford and Phil Spector.

And I know I keep saying this but I may have found the most pointless TV show ever. This time it's 'Posh Swap' on Channel 5. Meaningless, painful and embarrassing.

Domestic day

Today J and I got to pick out a sofa, a cooker and a fridge. This was a lot more fun than it might sound. These are the things that will start to process of us turning our (first) house into a home. My mum and dad came along for the ride today and we even managed to sit down for dinner at John Lewis (despite being the busiest time on the first day of half term). Every time I spend a day with my folks I learn something new and feel grateful for having them.

Back home now with a cold that has come complete with an annoying, irritating and wholly grating cough. Nothing sorts coughs out except time. I write and wait.



Saturday night is music night

I've just had one of those surprisingly productive evenings. In a few short hours I've recorded backing parts for a 'fusion' tune I've been promising (myself) to write since the birth of this blog. Also, I've recorded the vocal (a triple haiku, how pretentious is that?) to accompany another new song. In a fit of vigor I remixed the second new song and have dumped it to the iPod for later criticism.

This is proving to be an interesting tune. It has a thick, Stick bass part, voice samples converted by granular synthesis into a wash of noise that sounds just a little bit like the original sample. This itself came from my late uncle's answering machine and the brief lyric (which made me cry when I first wrote it) is also inspired by him. Some chords and a little extra melody are missing, but I hope to sort that out soon.


BBC radio race row

Radio 4 is a fascinating place sometimes. If you've been having a quiet day have a listen to Darcus Howe and Joan Rivers arguing on Midweek. It's a wonderfully raw moment that acts (for me) as an andtedote to the slick, over editted pap we are given to look at on television.



Two or three very busy weeks ahead of me. Today was the day the contracts were exchanged. In less than two weeks we'll have the keys to the new house. Our first house as owners. This is all very exciting.

I'm supposed to be working on paperwork tonight but have got quite hyped up by the news. I'm listening to 'Drugs' by Talking Heads. A magical piece of music which genuienly makes me feely uneasy.

In musical news there are a few more Beaver gigs to look forward to, more writing soon with Richard Guitarist and a chance to play a one off gig with a person from my past. More on this soon.


Dance! Dance? Dance!

I'm recovering from a night out in Birmingham celebrating Alison's birthday. Ali and I have been close friends since we met at university and there isn't much we haven't talked about or worked through in the last decade.

The photographs are of the view from my hotel room and the dessert (an Ipanema Mess) I had at the restaurant. J looked her usual lovely self and, I suspect, would have prefered it if had 'danced' at the eighties disco we went to after the meal. J is a natural dancer. I stand in night clubs drinking and wishing I were elsewhere. Last night though I promised not to make a big grumpy fuss and therefore succeeded in standing like a statue while vast amounts of overzealous cleavage (not from our party) bounced around to pop songs from twenty years ago. Actually the atmosphere was very good and, if I were a clubbing person rather than a raging danceaphobe, I would enjoyed it greatly. As it was the quality of the group made it a good night out.

Further treats were in store though when J and I returned to the hotel room. Our telly could pick up Spanish programmes, including one which appeared to be like the X Factor without desperate people who cry all the time but with talent. Hugely enjoyable.

Yesterday's entry was titled by a misquote from Kermit the Frog by the way.


Third rate blog? Surely this is a second rate blog.

For those of us who loved The Muppet Show there was some sad news in the death of Jerry Juhl. He was the main writer who was responsible for so many terrible jokes and genuienly funny lines. I have to thank my dad for passing this news on to me, and I should also thank him for the top quality proofreading, without which this blog would be a lot less accurat.

Links and new kit

I've had a quick tinker with the links. House Gymnastics has gone and been replaced by 'Cooking for Engineers.' I'm not an engineers (although one of my best friends is) but I like the approach... and I want to be a better cook.

Apple's new iPod and iMac are out. Could these pieces of kit be any cooler? I'm still using my (now quite old) iPod every day, and my battered Powerbook has been a constant companion and favourite tool for many years now. Still, one day I will have to get a new one, and then I can play Chessmaster 9000 with all the features.


More Sales Excitement

A new potential customer for the duck calmer.

Me: I have a 3/4 sized double bass for sale.


Me: It is no longer for sale. Would you be interested in a Duck Calmer?

Them: can i see the photo,i will want it


Further adventures of the Duck Calmer

Here is the 'Duck Calmer' picture, which I sent a few hours ago to its prospective buyer... for £800 (because, as I said, it wasn't an antique). The buyer is offering a cheque for £1,000. He expects me to send the excess back to him. I'm posting this because it is a form of fraud and yahoo, despite promises to the contrary, are doing nothing about it. This is what he said:

"Thanks for your swift response, Further to the above, the check will get to you in the order of £1000, so once fund clear, you deduct your money and send the balance to my shipper for quick of the pick up Perharps, fund must be clear before collection, so endeavour to get back to me if it suites you with your details with which the check will be issue to effect payment."


What next?

Chess and the perfect day

I only had to work in college for the morning so I've been around the house for a few hours. Today, in this part of the world, it is a beautiful day. All the visual benefits of autumn but with the blue sky and slight breeze of a perfect summer's day. Just walking to the post office raised my spirits.

I'm posting a book I found while clearing up. This was a gift from my uncle John, and it was this book that started my interest in chess. Sadly, I have hardly improved since I first was given the book, nearly thirty years ago. Oddly though, I did find a scrap of paper inside it with the university timetable for my great friend, Alison. Odd because today is her thirtiest birthday. Happy birthday Ali!

Slaughters, Wolds and piglets.

Goat 1.JPG
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
We celebrated J's birthday yesterday witha treasure hunt in the morning then a trip to a rare breeds trust. This was her alternative to going to London (not a practical idea at the moment). The rare breeds place was a delight. We walked around the place, feeding little green pellets of (I hope) goodness to the sheep, goats and pigs. The day was further enlivened by the 'escape' of four pigletts who came running at great speed towards us, before turning on a dime and heading back to their mum.

We (J and I, not the piglets) played 'spot the jazz tune' in a cafe in Stow on the Wold, then we had a walk around the wonderfully named Lower Slaughter. A great day out.


Duck Calmers

Over the past few months I have been receiving emails from people in reply to an advert for my double bass. Only two of these have been genuine. The rest have been attempts to defraud me by offering a cheque for more than the value of the bass. I am supposed to send back the excess, which, I guess, is supposed to tempt me with the chance of some extra money for nothing.

I was getting fed up with this until I decided to fight back. Rather than reply with essays on the short term value of defrauding others, I had some fun. I have been responding with questions about why they want the bass, what they might do with it (many of them seem to have no idea what a double bass is) and whether they would like to buy something else from me instead. I have been offering Boofers and Duck Calmers. I have no idea what these are but, strangely, Duck Calmers seem very popular. I have just had an offer of $1,200 for one.

The problem is, the defrauders now want photographs. I'm tempted to send pictures of something that 'could' be a Duck Calmer and see what happens. Does anyone have any ideas what image might pass for such an imaginary fowl tool?

More on this as it happens.


Coming soon

... news soon of email fraud and the Duck Calmer. This is something you can all take part in.


Post gig post

I am just recovering from yesterday's long distance gig. It was a 175 mile drive from house to venue, although I did get to share the car with Colin, who is an excellent traveling companion. We pulled in typically early and underwent the standard 'sitting around period' familiar to many musicians.

For this gig we had not time to soundcheck so when the time came we went from sitting around to playing very quickly. A mixed set, mostly played to a very high standard. I fumbled in a few places (started one song a perfect fifth too high on the bass and, most awful of all, totally forgot the riff to another song). I felt like an idiot, especially when one song had to be abandoned because of my failing memory (this is a song we have played many times and that I had practiced the night before). But as I was quietly beating myself up I made the decision that the best reaction was to accept my lack of perfection, practice more and concentrate on the positives. There were a lot of positives. A great audience all night, and some truly funky dancing. A nice venue too. One member of staff won the officious git award by blustering in to tell us to turn the music off after we had already done so. She looked upset that she had nothing to complain about.

The drive home involved a few wrong turns as well, but Colin kindly supplied me with coffee for the last few miles and I crawled into bed just before four.