Monday, 30 May 2011

Luton Carnival 2011

Just like a year ago, the weather could have been better. At times, it was just pouring. Otherwise, a great day out, and, in spite of rain, very decent performance from Arco Iris.

One thing that bothers me is that, once again, we did sport the same old garb as for any other gig. This is so un-carnival-like. It looks as if we don’t really care. Which is not the case, I can assure you.

Another thing that bothers me. I did not realise it until today, but this may have been my last gig with Arco Iris.

More photos of Luton Carnival @ Shutterstock.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Soft-Fibre Advance Trek Towel

by Lifeventure

By now everybody should know that a towel is about the most massively useful thing a hitchhiker can have. That’s why the annual Towel Day was established ten years ago. Let’s celebrate it!

It’s been a while since my last hitchhiking attempt; still, never say never again. In any case, a towel is a great thing to have about, and the best towel I ever owned is this one.

(You may have recognised this photo as it was used in my Lolita post.) It’s lightweight, it’s compact, it’s soft and it dries in minutes. After a day on a sandy beach, shake it out couple of times and... a miracle: all the sand’s gone! Now wrap it around yourself any way you like and go home.

Saturday, 21 May 2011


by Jacques Offenbach

I was browsing through my LilyPond posts and noticed that all the examples I gave so far are in “common time”, i.e. 4/4. This is default time signature in LilyPond, so we had not worry about it — until now. But even now we should not worry much about it.
  • To add any other time signature, use \time command, for instance \time 2/4, \time 3/4 and so on.
For the annual Members Concert at Duxford today, Timur played two pieces with Beginner Violins and Beginner Guitars; Yuri played two short pieces with Improver Violins; I played That’ll Never Happen No More by Blind Blake (customised lyrics) with Advanced Guitars; and, as Beginner Trombones, we did that pièce de résistance, Galop Infernal aka Cancan from Orphée aux enfers. (As I am the only remaining trombone student and the other player was my teacher, we also could have been called Advanced Trombones.) I think it went rather well, I managed to hit most of the notes.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Last Brother

by Nathacha Appanah

Inspired by a little-known page of history but deeply personal tale of a brief childhood friendship, told by a man in his seventies. (How, may I ask in parentheses, could this young author write as if she grew during the Second World War and lived a long life after that?) Profoundly moving book, sympathetically translated by Geoffrey Strachan.

I pictured her back in our house in the forest, her shoulders hunched, as if forever prepared to receive blows, I pictured her with her mixtures, her potions and her magic formulas. I pictured her falling over, battered by my father, and I felt the sudden weight of her in my hands. I pictured her with the red parakeet and I heard her burst of laughter at David. I thought about those long months when every morning and every evening she massaged my legs to heal me. And there, this little scrap of a woman, smiling on the balcony, in full, bright sunlight, this was her and at the same time it was not her, and, on the return journey I always ended up in tears over it, this illusory happiness at the end, over all the things that had come much too late to erase everything else.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Dub Side of the Moon

by Easy Star All-Stars

Bold concept, brilliant implementation. Released 30 years after the Pink Floyd’s classic, this respectful tribute album by now should also be considered a classic in its own right. And, just like the original, has to be listened to in its entirety. Ignore the bonus tracks though.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Disability Sport & Arts Festival @ Chesterton

According to my records, I have been playing with Arco Iris for two years already! Is there a better way to celebrate this than with a gig like today’s? AI played two sets for the Disability Sport and Arts Festival at Chesterton Sports Centre (11:30—12:15pm and 13:30—14:30). As venues go, this one was a bit strange (basically, we were playing in a car park), but then we’ve played stranger locations. During both sets, the audience (including the mayor of Cambridge on agogô) joined in!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Cookin’ in Bonn

by Emil Viklický

Back in 1980s, I was lucky enough to buy couple of Czech LPs. One was called Together by James Williams and Emil Viklický. Another one was Dveře (Door) by Viklický (also featuring Bill Frisell, whose name did not mean anything to me at the time). These two albums showcase the amazing diversity of Viklický, from acoustic jazz piano duets on Together to jazz-rock of Dveře’s A-side to neo-classical Suite for Piano No. 2 on the B-side.

I have no idea what happened to these vinyls. So far I did not come across much of 1980s Supraphon’s production transferred on CDs. In fact, I did not see any.

Now, quite by chance, I got hold of the promotional copy of the 2006 live album of Emil Viklický trio, with František Uhlíř on bass and Laco Tropp on drums, released by the never-heard-of label, Dekkor Records. Sixty-eight minutes of amazing music. My only reservation is the title, for I would never describe the trio’s lyrical playing (refreshingly free of showing off) as “cookin’”. Aspen Leaf, Desire, Lover Come Back: to sit down and cry.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

It is one beautifully written book. Not a single dull story here. Still, one’s got to have favourite ones, right? Here: Pigeons at Daybreak, a day (and night) in life of a middle-age Indian couple. Pineapple Cake: a Catholic wedding in Bombay as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Scholar and Gypsy: adventures of the young American couple in India — he loves it, she hates it — then they go on holidays, with an unexpected and humorous role reversal.

Games at Twilight
One of his worst afflictions, Mr Basu thought, was not to be able to read the newspaper himself. To have them read to him by his wife. He watched with fiercely controlled irritation that made the corners of his mouth jerk suddenly upwards and outwards, as she searched for her spectacles through the flat. By the time she found them — on the ledge above the bathing place in the bathroom, of all places: what did she want with her spectacles in there? — she had lost the newspaper. When she found it, it was spotted all over with grease for she had left it beside the stove on which the fish was frying. This reminded her to see to the fish before it was overdone. ‘You don’t want charred fish for your lunch, do you?’ she shouted back when he called. He sat back then, in his tall-backed cane chair, folded his hands over his stomach and knew that if he were to open his mouth now, even a slit, it would be to let out a scream of abuse. So he kept it tightly shut.
When she had finally come to the end of that round of bumbling activity, moving from stove to bucket, shelf to table, cupboard to kitchen, she came out on the balcony again, triumphantly carrying with her the newspaper as well as the spectacles. ‘So,’ she said, ‘are you ready to listen to the news now?’
Pigeons at Daybreak

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Primary Phase

by Douglas Adams

I have started to pack up my CD collection for a move, with a concomitant release of hundreds of jewel cases. Now, where did I last see that 3-CD box?
The introduction begins like this:
“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space. Listen...”
and so on.
Yes, exactly, “listen and so on”, for this one is the original and the best. More popular than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than 53 More Things To Do In Zero Gravity, and a life-saver on a long car journey with or without kids. Proven!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Primary Phase (Original BBC Radio Series)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Sexual Life of Catherine M.

by Catherine Millet

Judging from the Amazon reviews, a lot of readers took an offense at (a) the book being dull (as in “I read this book twice, it is so boring, why did I even buy it?” dull) and (b) our sexually liberated Ms M. being there for no other reason but to please her men.

I know. The modern reader wants to see the heroine being strong, independent and having plenty of orgasmic sex on her own terms. But that would be fiction. This is a memoir, and I applaud Ms Millet’s honesty. If you find this book dull, try memoirs of British politicians, or their wives.

When you write a book in the first person the latter becomes the third person. The more I describe my body and my actions, the more I leave myself behind. Who recognises themselves in those magnifying mirrors which show cheeks and noses as vast fissured landscapes? Because sexual pleasure brings you outside your own limits, it can impose the same sort of distance. Perhaps there is even a structural relationship, and the distance governs the pleasure as much as it is governed by it, at least for the category of creature to which I belong. Because, and this is the point I wanted to make, the same woman whom I described as uncomfortable under someone’s insistent gaze, and who hesitated to wear suggestive clothes, the same woman in fact who partook blind in sexual adventures with faceless partners, this same woman, then, takes indisputable pleasure in exposing herself on condition that the exposure is distanced at once, by a narrative.

Friday, 6 May 2011

No Earthly Connection

by Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble

It is a great shame that, for an artist as talented and prolific as Wakeman, so few of his solo efforts are actually worth listening to. No Earthly Connection is one of these few; musically, probably his best album. Years ago, I had it on the tape (for the record, its other “side” was occupied by Criminal Record).

This Japanese paper sleeve CD looks exactly like the 1970s vinyl (although it’s way more expensive). It even has a square bit of mirror plastic that you are supposed to roll into a cylinder and look at the sleeve as shown here. Magic!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Super Bass Solo Technique

by Victor Wooten

The electric bass legend Victor Wooten definitely has super bass solo technique, but I guess you wouldn’t be able to pick much of it from this DVD. As a lesson it is next to useless if you are anywhere below advanced level. To be precise, Wooten demonstrates two techniques: double-thump slapping and two-hand tapping, both of which I hope to master one day, but I guess I can find better material on YouTube.

Musically, it is top-notch stuff, and the backing band is amazing, especially Victor’s brother Regi who apparently is doing double-thumping on his guitar. I’d love to see more of that; however, the camera is focusing on Victor most of the time. The video was shot back in early 1990s, which explains the low-resolution picture and strange angles.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


a film by Gore Verbinski

An enjoyable, if rather predictable film (that we just watched in Saffron Sreen). Johnny Depp is voicing a typical Johnny Depp character. Rango even looks a bit like Victor from Corpse Bride. My favourite scenes invariably include the four-piece Mariachi band. Especially the one where they go electric.