Sunday, 30 January 2011


Projects. I need projects.

This blog is going to be one of them. For a project to work in this context, it needs a degree of potential interaction with the rest of the world (that’s you.) I’m not saying that you should send feedback, comment or shout about every article that will appear, but it’s nice that you can, ain’t it? Anyway, you’re welcome to save it for telling me in person should that be appropriate. I would like this blog to form a good account of myself. This, is me. Well, sort of. It’s like me but searchable and in a better font. Also, I don’t have widgets. But if I did they’d be fucking awesome.

Now that I’ve gone and changed so much, as outlined in my previous post, it’s more than tempting to carry on with changes in many different areas but exercise/being healthy in particular needs to be done as I seem to spend a great deal of mental processing time on feeling disappointed that I’m not fit. So, I’ve started running. There are some good opportunities for doing this around where I live – Ravenscourt Park, the route past Brook Green and Hyde Park isn’t far away. Mostly I’ve been running back from Hammersmith or Ravenscourt Park. It’s only a couple of miles but I really have to start this gradually. I made the schoolboy error of running each day for the first two days and felt absolutely crippled for another two days. Alternate days are much better. In the off days I’m trying to do stuff like press ups and some very limited space staff spinning.

Running is one thing, but I’ve always wanted to learn a martial art. Since I’m not massively fond of getting kicked in the head these days and also because it promotes relaxation and health, I’ve started practicing Tai Chi from some video courses that I found. I find I’m enjoying it very much and I believe it will compliment the running and other exercises really well. Also, I’ll be able to bullet time fight an entire room of twats provided they’re moving through treacle.

The start of all this exercise malarkey has been marked by stopping smoking with the obligatory couple of alcohol-related failures along the way. Frankly, I’m starting to think that drinking just isn’t doing me any favours either. I love it and I want to continue being able to drink, but it does very bad things to my willpower. I don’t need to convince Drunk Adam that he’s a stubborn bastard, because that’s already in place. I do, however, need to change the set of values that he is stubborn about. Might start using nicotine patches for when I'm out drinking, though they do make me feel pretty rough.

At some point in the next couple of months, I’m going to buy a bike. I know that to ride in London you need to have your head examined, but I’m going to do it anyway. There’s too much I’ll miss out on otherwise.

A few aspects to this. Firstly, music is such an important part of my life that I have to be able to give it more attention. I wish I’d never stopped. Secondly, I really want to work on songs with my friend Polly - a talented singer and lyric writer whom I had the honour of being in a band with back when I was in University. We’ve had a few jamming sessions since I got back in London and it’s been such a pleasure to play with her again. Thirdly, I’ve been really lax with doing anything as Dirty Fire Project. It’s been dormant since the last EP came out. I have to say that I think a major reason is that I don't think many people heard it and of those that heard it only very few of them were actually into it. The release was delayed and promotion took ages to arrive on myspace. Also, maybe I should have stayed away from doing techno for the "difficult second EP". Bah.

Ignoring dFp for now - in order to be an effective member of a band, I feel that I want to sort a few things out:
  • I want to get better at playing bass – learning chords for once rather than relying on intuition and watching what people are doing. I guess there’s a school of thought which says that that really isn’t a bad thing, but I could do with actually knowing about what I’m doing. For this, I need a bass teacher. It’ll probably be expensive but I have got many a bad habit, massive gaps in my knowledge and I’m sick of being rusty. It will be worth it.
  • I want to get more comfortable with playing in front of people – although this tends to not be a huge massive problem thankfully, I’ve done gigs before and came through the other side of the experience relatively unscathed. Nothing else will address this but performing.
  • I want to be able to sing while playing – now that’s a toughie. It’s something I’ve never really had any interest or skill in. However, now I’m practicing. I’ve had to start with things that I know really well - the Violent Femmes' first album! I know the lyrics and for most of the songs I know the basslines. So far I’ve been able to get through three songs from start to finish (minus solos). Not the world’s best renditions to be honest but it’s early days. It’s so strange splitting my concentration. I have to really focus on projecting and enunciating the words or they lose their shape, edges lost and flowing into each other. So easy to get stuck. The more I’ve tried the more I realise that the times it is easier is when the lyric’s syllable pattern matches the fingerwork. This comes out when extra syllables make me put extra notes in automatically (oops). Keeping the timing steady (or even remotely similar) is very difficult. Practice, practice, practice. It’s a big skill to learn and if I can do it with the Femmes’ mix of simple and intricate basslines then hopefully I can generalise out from here.
It's a sad state of affairs, but my electric 4-string bass is pretty fucked right now. I let a friend borrow it and they let a friend of theirs do something screwed up with it and now, now it needs me to find someone to recondition the whole thing. The electrics need re-wiring, the fretboard is filthy, the backplate needs replacing and the stickers I was so keen on applying just need to go. There seems to be a music/possible repair place in Shepherd’s Bush so I’m going to have a word with them once I’ve cleaned it up a bit. Bad of me to have let it fall to such ruin. I've been seriously looking at buying an electric upright bass too, but I can't conscionably do that without having flogged my old 6-string bass which I cannot play, or fixed my 4-string.
So, that is the array of projects that I’m currently thinking about. I guess there are a couple of others. I’m certainly not playing things like Eve Online that much at the moment because it’s such a horrendous thief of time. I’ll keep the accounts on because I am very attached to them, but I can’t invest the same kind of time that I have been doing. I knew at the start that I’d give it a year or so and that is what I’ve done.

Finding the balance between projects, getting out to see and experience what London offers and seeing friends - that's the goal. Preferably all three at the same time.

My priorities are: relax, get involved, learn.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

On Change

Changed job -- thank fuck
Changed city -- back in the capital
Changed living arrangements -- by myself
Changed diet -- healthy
Changed smoking habits -- stopped
Changed exercise habits -- started

Change skills -- improve, diverge
Change luck -- what the thinker thinks, the prover proves
Change looks -- vanity, resolve fear of getting older
Change mind -- yeah. best of luck with that one.

Monday, 17 January 2011

The arc

It's proving quite tough to revisit the story ideas I had the last time I was in London - ten years ago. I'm trying to put together a story arc for one of these two connected stories and I realise, to my horror, that I really don't know what is happening with that story. Annoyingly, it's also the one which I've written most of. I'm not sure now whether that is because I'm less able to write the actual chapters of the companion story or maybe the fact that I've written stuff for it has set it in stone, such that I am loathe to change things. It was always supposed to be run in parallel, linked by a set of isolated phrases and situations, but I can't see how to make the ideas I have for it stretch to either the required length or to extend beyond the scenario that is currently in existence.

This is really annoying. I'd like to do the ideas already poured into this some justice. I don't want another dead project that never got off the ground, especially since characters and situations have been going round in my head for an entire decade.

They need /out/.