Despite my best efforts, I always have to:

- Say or think 'Never Eat Shredded Wheat' whenever people say 'such and such is to the east of here' or if they give directions involving compass directions.

- Say, think, or write, 'SOHCAHTOA' when doing trigonometry.

- When writing or typing the word 'beautiful' I have to think 'Beee-eee-ay-yootiful' because saying that is how I learned to arrange the vowels in the word in school. I also have to think 'canoe egg' when spelling 'manoeuvre' for that same reason.

I am immensely happy today.

I think this is down to A LOT of things, including bright, pale, shockingly cold weather, Krissa, a night of drawing, productive workdays, Krissa, free bagels, De-Phazz's 'The Mambo Craze', Krissa, getting over another cold, soup, Stereolab, talking about steam-exploding baby carrots with Shiv, Radio 4 podcasts, coffee, Krissa, Simon Winchester's 'Outposts' and 'The Map That Changed The World', discovering Vanadium Flow Batteries, and the fact that it's Friday.

After my 'Engine Room' post I haven't managed to play with music very much yet, but I've spent a bit of time with pen and paper, and as proof, here's a little doodle I did the other day. Click on it for some of the other proto-stuff on flickr. I don't have a scanner, so I took photos of the sketches. That felt odd.

So I used to draw a lot when I was about 11, and checked out all sorts of exciting books from the library that rarely ever found their way back - books with titles like 'How to Draw', 'How to Draw Aeroplanes', 'Learn To Draw', 'Learn to Draw Cartoons' 'Draw SPACECRAFT!' and things like that. Lazy and yet arrogant little squirt that I was I usually ignored all of the advice inside on how to draw by starting with component shapes and construction lines and just tried to copy the finished article, which never quite came out right.
In defence of my logic of the time, if you're going to draw something just right by trying to get the component shapes just right before building things up over the top, you're increasing the amount of stuff you have to get just right and you might as well have a crack at doing the whole thing in one go.
I mean, I could tell if I was drawing a 747 (to pick an example at random) wrong, because it either looked like a 747 or it didn't. I couldn't tell if I had drawn a collection of seemingly random, slightly irregular ellipses wrong until I tried to turn it into a 747, at which point I would have to try the ellipses again.

This is the sort of thing I need to overcome, coming back to all this at the grand old age of 27.

So look upon these doodlettes as evidence of a start in good faith, and let me know what you think! If you draw yourself, feedback and pointers towards literature or online guides would be very much appreciated, ta.

Have a great weekend!

Call It Before The Chorus

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...and you're a better man than me, gunga din.
Whatever the fuck that means.

Here's a Stickam player with my face on:

Express Yourself LIVE

Sorry about my face.

Anyway. Click on the button with the musical note on, and then hit 'play'.

When the song starts, try and guess what it's a cover of.
If you call it before the song title is sung at about 1:08 ... well.
I admire you.
Bloody brilliant cover, that.

Highlights worth sticking the whole thing out for include:

-The rap section (!)
-The verse section that actually sounds like the original, none of which is in English
-The 90s-style acid jazz choral backing vocal interspersed with Roxette-esque guitar and Tetris-style 'HEY! HEY!' towards the end
-Wondering what 'Bokha Bokha Na' means

This track comes to you courtesy of all sorts of illegal activity, I'm sure, but mostly because I heard it in a Himalayan-run Bodega in Brooklyn last night and Krissa and I were so taken with it we asked the guy behind the counter if we could see the CD case.

Just in case you want to sniff out a copy for yourself, the track is performed by Shankar Mahadevan and Ravi Rags Khote, on the soundtrack to the film 'Kal Ho Naa Ho', which is set in New York. One of the other tracks is a very corny bit of 90s-house-cum-banghra called 'It Is The Time To Disco' so you might not want to worry too much about getting the whole album.

After A Fashion

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I just saw someone with a Norman style haircut.

That took a bloody long time to come around again.

iTunes Shuffle Quiz

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...because I'm a big fan of trying to interpret meaningless things.

The next time you stand up in front of a group of people, you'll say:
Song: Shark Attack Theme
Artist: Sven Libaek
Comment: I can see it now - my pitch for redecorating the office.

Your favorite thing to say when drunk is:
Song: Bastard
Artist: Ben Folds
Comment: Actually it's 'D'you know something?'

Your message to the world:
Song: The Continuing Story
Artist: The Beatles
Comment: I think that translates as 'Nothing to see here...move along.'

Your deepest secret:
Song: Never There
Artist: Cake
Comment: No comment!

Your innermost desire:
Song: A Day In The Sun
Artist: So Fine (from Cafe del Mar Vol. 9, if you're interested)
Comment: Not quite, but close is as good as a hit in this game.

Somewhere in your wedding vows, you'll include:
Song: Pressed In A Book
Artist: The Shins
Comment: Do-able.

On your deathbed, you'll whisper:
Song: Just Like A Woman
Artist: Bob Dylan
Comment: HAHAHAHA on my deathbed I'll whisper just like a woman.

Your friends say behind your back:
Song: The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine
Artist: Spoon
Comment: At last, back in the realms of NO SENSE AT ALL. Although I suppose there might be sense in me having two sides, what with my back turned and all.

You say behind your friends' back:
Song: Year Of The Rat
Artist: Badly Drawn Boy
Comment: No, I don't, everyone. Everyone? I don't.

When you wake up in the morning, you mutter:
Song: My Girl
Artist: Madness
Comment: Actually it's more like 'Ugh, oh.'

If you found yourself lost on a desert island, you'd yell:
Song: Symphony No.9 (Scherzo)
Artist: Beethoven (as performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra)
Comment: That would be a very unusual thing to yell. Funny though.

Right now, your feelings are:
Song: Monkey Wrench
Artist: Foo Fighters
Comment: Yep. Spot on. I feel like a monkey wrench.

What's your excuse for reposting this:
Song: I Might Be Wrong
Artist: Radiohead
Comment: This is true.

Your life's soundtrack:
Song: Getting Closer
Artist: Billy Joel
Comment: Ahahahahaha.


The day you fall in love will be the day that:
Song: Brothers and Sisters
Artist: Blur
Comment: Um...what? This event occurs in the past. Anyway.

You scream during sex:
Song: Tangled Up In Blue
Artist: Bob Dylan
Comment: HAHAHAHAHHAHA. Quite.

What do people assume when they first look at you?
Track: La Nina De Puerta Oscura
Artist: Paco de Lucia
Comment: That means the girl of the shady door or something? Babelfish is down. Maybe people are linguistically confused when they first see me.

What will be a big challenge in life for you?
Track: Come Back Brighter
Artist: Reef
Comment: See above re: mornings

Are you a good boyfriend/girlfriend husband?
Song: Mad Flava
Artist: Fatboy Slim
Comment: Word.

Do you have a secret admirer?
Song: Dizzy Miss Lizzie
Artist: The Beatles
Comment: Finally! Some accuracy. I don't know a Lizzie. Must make note. Possible stalker.

Will you ever become manically depressed in your life?
Song: Orgullecida
Artist: Buena Vista Social Club
Comment: What IS IT with stuff I don't know and can't translate today? HMMM?

How will you die?
Song: Playground Love
Artist: Air
Comment: Noted: Steer clear of the swings.

Is someone trying to kill you?
Song: If I Fall
Artist: Aqualung
Comment: Ah - maybe WITH an aqualung.

What's for dinner tonight?
Song: Violin Sonata No.5 In B Major Op.24 "Spring" ?. Rondo. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
Artist: Itzhak Perlman V/ Vladimir Ashkenazy P
Comment: That will be very chewy.

Your farewell message to the readers of this:
Song: Hermann Loves Pauline
Artist: Super Furry Animals
Comment: Pass it on.

Amon Tobin - Foley Room


It seems there's a bad smell in the city.

But never fear, citizens - Consolidated Edison are ON IT.

Special trucks equipped with highly trained (or at least highly confident, reports are unconfirmed) Con Ed employees will be patrolling suspect areas with their windows down, attempting to determine the coverage of the smell. If your normal business generates a gas-like odor, please keep it to a minimum. Eat fewer high-fibre foods.

There has been no detectable leak, but still, if anyone feels 'Ooh, it's definitely stronger here' please draw a large chalk arrow on the sidewalk indicating the direction the smell is getting stronger, and sign it with your name, address and the reference billing number of your last Con. Ed. utility bill.

Thank you.

The Engine Room

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Everyone has a moment of "So this is what goes on behind the scenes..." at some time in their lives. Do you know what I mean? That moment when you walk into the kitchens in a restaurant, or when you were shown the cockpit of an airliner. And rolling up your sleeves and working behind the scenes (moving away from the cockpit example) gives a new perspective to something you never really thought about before, something that before you took for granted. Before, you were a consumer. Maybe you were aware, a little, of what went on, but you weren't involved.

I worked as a waiter, which was hard work and showed me what it takes to feed 180 people more or less in one go, but I think most people have sat in a restaurant and thought "What IS our waiter doing? Chatting with the other waiters! I bet our food's going cold somewhere." So it's not like the inner workings of a restaurant are out of the normal field of thought. Same goes for a newsagents.

The first time it really hit me was at university. I'd just joined the student radio station executive committee (for executive committee read 'people who spent more time in the station than in lectures') and there was a semi-dull student referendum going on that I was sitting in on to vote on a few things. There were maybe seventy or eighty people there, and things were only just getting enough votes to be judged as there-or-there-abouts democratic. The university was so-so political, with a few extremely fervent societies. One of these wanted to protest the increase in university fees, and suddenly tabled a motion to go and occupy the main university administrative building - immediately.

There weren't enough people for a vote, and the mediator asked people to go and get other students to vote. Caught up in the urgency and excitement of the moment, people went out and asked their friends, "Hey, are you doing anything? Do you want to go and occupy Senate House?" which isn't exactly democracy in action, but after a crazy ten minutes the now-packed referendum meeting voted hugely in favour of a demonstration and the crowd began pouring out of the Student Union. Caught up in the flow, I spotted another guy from the radio station disppearing off into the Union Building and it hit me that rather than joining the crowd in the demonstration at this point I should be joining him instead. Bounding up the stairs to the station to grab a minidisk recorder and mic (a moment's silence for the minidisk, ladies and gentlemen...ok) it hit me that I was outside the normal experience of the day's events, that my 'The Day We Stormed Senate House' was going to be different to most other people's, and I would be doing something different.

Half an hour later I was clambering over other student's legs as they staged a sit-in and I tried to get around the admin building, standing by on my mobile phone, providing odd little reports here and there about what it was like, who was there and whether or not the Vice-Chancellor had been let out of his office yet. The occupation went on for six or seven hours (there was a large ball that night, so people started drifting off when it got time to get ready. Viva La Revolucion!) but in that time, in putting together voxpops for local news channels and keeping up coverage on the station, a lot happened behind the scenes.

My job now is completely different in duty, but in one respect a bit similar. If it's done well, the people it's intended for will never notice the work you did. It's all done in the engine room.

That feeling of being in the engine room - where a lot is done in order to maintain an effect - the duck floating serenely while paddling like hell beneath - I like it. I like being in the engine room. In some ways, it's hard to resist.

I know few people who love books passionately without wanting to write them. With the really great, consuming love of music comes the desire to make it.

Work excepted, I feel...on the wrong side of the door at the moment. I get up in the morning, eat my breakfast reading Fark while listening to music, go to work and read a book or Metro on the train, get to my desk and work for the day listening to music, maybe read some more over lunch, listen to music and read on the way home, and when I get home Krissa and I watch TV or a DVD, I play a video game or fart around on the internet...always consuming, always sitting and absorbing, being shown.
Never in the engine room.

Now I like to steer clear of New Year's Resolutions. I prefer having a To Do List, which I sort of forgot to do last year. Ha ha. Um.

But still, a couple of fancies have seized me of late, and I think I'll take one of them up. I'm just not sure which.

Rather unfortunately for you, considering that this post is already bloody long, one of the fancies struck me after three or four things; hearing a cool brass/string section in a Brazilian song at the in-laws' over Christmas, being jealous of Beth's boyfriend Eric's decks, discovering M : 1,000 Year Mix by Ergo Phizmiz, and Krissa's by now rather predictable remark when she spotted me playing with the iTunes mixer at the New Year's Eve party: "I always know where to find the DJ".

"Ex-DJ" I think to myself. I loved doing that, but I don't think I could do it again. I'm too wrapped up in my own tastes, which I'd love to be able to tinker with music though. Blend, strip, loop and tweak. On a computer, mind. Software being cheaper than hardware, and not requiring on-the-spot genius. I used to do a fair bit of audio production at RaW, so I know my way around the sound software up until about 2002.
So that's a possibility.

The other one is drawing. I doodle, I sketch, I scribble, and I love doing it. I'm a fan of Sarah, Sally and Julia, and Nick is bloody brilliant. I also just got my hands on a big bundle of comics - a mixture of vintage and modern stuff, and reading Neil Gaiman's introduction to one of the books made me think about narrative flow, and how comics, writing and storytelling can work together. We're not talking about this becoming an online-presencey activity here because I don't have a scanner, but I'd love to take this up more seriously.
So that's a possibility too.

Of course, I have a strong history of going through hobbies like this in an intense but faddish way, but if I started to discount things before trying them I might as well give up now, right?

So...which do you think?

Hopper Gnu Ear

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I spent far too much time trying different permutations for the title to this post.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway. Happy New Year!

I hope your 2006 had the good grace to leave without running up a huge tab on the minibar and then sneaking out down the fire escape and taking the bus three stops to where it left the car.

I hope your 2007 is free of rampaging bloodthirsty demon hordes.

And so forth.


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