noideadog: (culture)
Three bits of Cultural Education today:

Branford Marsalis in the NCH this evening. It can be a bit tedious to sit and watch jazz in a polite atmosphere where you're not encouraged to shout "Yeah!", but this was excellent and I got that great saxophone shiver down my spine. I was all ready for the tenor sax to explode my brain, but I didn't know soprano sax could be like that. So good. I hereby resolve to never dismiss the soprano saxophone again.

Daredevil comics. You assume, don't you, that Daredevil comics have to be about biff and pow and brightly coloured pictures of The Man Without Fear! punching bad guys in the face. But Daredevil: Wake up is beautiful and well made and is a comic for grown up people who like comics. I'm very pleased about this and may even go so far as to say that Tiarnan was right and I was wrong. Maybe.

Hamlet on DVD. My secret shame: I'd never read or seen Hamlet. I wasn't altogether clear on what Hamlet was about, apart from a chap called Hamlet and a skull and someone called Ophelia and 80% of the things people quote when they're quoting Shakespeare and plenty of what they say when they're not quoting as well. I watched the first hour this evening, but I have to sleep now, so I'll finish it tomorrow. Gosh, Laurence Olivier wasn't bad, was he?
noideadog: (sax)
I'd planned to do a music theory exam in December, but I under-estimated the notice the Associated Board would need. The last date for registration was September 22nd. Damn. I suppose I should start thinking of them as a proper educational institution, instead of assuming they'll be delighted to accomodate my whims.

So that means the March exams, and registration before January. I'll need to do grade six if I want to keep going with the AB saxophony exams, but I've just read the syllabus and it looks really hard. You have to write music! Maybe that shouldn't have come as such a surprise, but I've just finished the workbook for grade one, and the only creative bit[1] is making up the last half of a short rhythm. They give you a couple of bars to tap on the table, and at the end of it you listen to what you instinctively finish it with, and write it down. You're not even allowed use rests because they're too hard for grade one. By comparison, grade six includes:

"the recognition of the dominant seventh chord in root position, first, second and third inversions, and the supertonic seventh chord in root position and first inversion, in any major or minor key; and the figuring for all these chords. An understanding of the principles of modulation and a knowledge of cadences, ornamentation and melodic decoration (which might include passing notes, auxiliary notes, appoggiaturas, changing notes and notes of anticipation) will also be expected"
(and much, much more)

Uh.. huh. Appoggiaturas, yes, certainly. I'll certainly include the appoggiaturas. Can't have too many appoggiaturas. [Dictionary sez it's a fancy Italian way of saying 'grace note'. Pff.)

So.. that doesn't seem immediately attainable to be perfectly honest with you. I guess I'll move on to the grade two workbook and see where I am by January.

[1] Actually, that's a lie. The most creative bit is the page where you have to draw a treble clef fifteen times and not go outside the lines. (If you colour it in, you fail.)
noideadog: (they might be giants)

Originally uploaded by xymb.
I just ordered a Hanson ST-8R tenor sax. It's exactly like the one to the right (the ST-8V), except that it's unlaquered raw brass instead of the grain blasted black vintage finish you see here.

Should have it in a couple of weeks. I am Very! Excited!
noideadog: (Default)
Today's been mostly about sleeping. In the future there'll be devices where you can plug yourself in and leech all of the tired out of you, but for now we have to make do with crashing out on friday night and not waking up until it's dark again. I haven't done that in a while. It feels -fantastic-.

Pete, my saxophone teacher, has lent me his tenor sax for a week. They're the bigger, bendier ones fifth from the left in the Saxophone Family Portrait here. I play alto, third from the left.

Check out how beautiful the tenor is. As the saxophones direct people say, it's just -cool-. I've wanted to try one for ages, but the opportunity hasn't arisen. I'm not nearly confident enough to walk into a music shop, ask for a go on an instrument and then, you know, play squeaky scales on it, to pitying passers by. It's awesome of Pete to lend me his.

Glen says, "Saxophones don't make bad noises; people make bad noises", and this evening has been all about proving that. The tenor is exausting to play. I need to breathe about three times as often as with the alto, and since it's heavy -- not far off a stone in weight -- and pretty tall, I have to keep sitting down to rest. The low notes aren't reliably happening yet either, frequently turning into interesting squeaks and octave jumps. Notes are arbitrarily not coming out at all, or are accompanied by spit and hissing air. Keys are further away than I expect them to be, and end up getting missed entirely. The instrument's too heavy to hold right in front, and too cumbersome to hold at the side.

I'll get used to all of that though. Apart from those tiny things, it's gorgeous. It's loud and rich and mellow, and any phrases that come through cleanly sound glorious. I played some easier slow sonorous pieces that I know well enough to not have to concentrate on, and they flew out of it, all round and lovely. I reckon grade six won't happen in 2006 now, but I'm going to see if I can find £1000 somewhere and switch to tenor for a while. If anyone's looking for me, follow the strangled foghorn noises.
noideadog: (they might be giants)
Woohoohoohoo! "Pass with merit". I am a meritorious grade five saxophonist. *honk*
noideadog: (weirdofreak)
Ooh. My sax results have been delivered, but my sax teacher is in England for another week and can't get to them. This is better than my original suspicion that he was waiting to see me in person to tell me I'd failed. Hurray! for postponing the news.

Here is a joke I heard that is rude, inappropriate and also not very good, but that I will nonetheless share with you, because I have nothing much else to say.

How do you know when a northsider is having an orgasm?
She drops her chips.

How do you know when a southsider is having an orgasm?
She drops her accent.

Hahaha! Sorry. Please tell me a joke that is good.
noideadog: (me)
What I planned to do in 2004.

* Get a driving license.
I passed the oh-so-tough theory test and got a provisional license. I took nine lessons and applied for my test. It's in thirty weeks or similar. I'll take lots more lessons closer to the time, but I don't expect to pass without owning a car. My vague plan for this is to make a best attempt at it, and buy a car when I'm on the useful second provisional where you're allowed drive on your own.

* Pass Solaris Certification exams.
I did the first one. It was stupidly easy. I didn't get around to doing the second one, but it's on my work objectives with "Q2!" written beside it, which means I have to before June or I don't get an enormous bonus. I mean, I don't anyway, but if I don't do it, that'll be partly why.

* Take the grade 4 saxophone exam.
Right on! 115/150. It's a pass, not a merit or distinction, but I'm happy to have passed. Another good thing is that if I hadn't worked for the exam, I'd never have discovered how much I like playing scales. I like the science of them. Music theory's really interesting.

* Save 1000 euros apart from SSIA savings.
This was easy. It's amazing the effect that actually saving money can have on your actually having savings. I did this a couple of times over, by joining the work credit union and asking them to hide money from me every month.

* Learn a new skill using evening classes.
I did four weeks of fencing. It was enjoyable while it was happening, but I found it heavy going both mentally and physically. It might have worked as a Saturday afternoon activity, but it's not something I could easily psyche up to after a day at work. The only other new thing I learned was swing dancing, a variant of which I'd done already, so it wasn't entirely new.

* Go to China for a holiday.
It took a while to convince myself that it would be ok to do this on my own. I didn't manage it in 2004, but the flights are booked for April 2005. My longest holiday ever lasted eighteen days. I've probably never spent even seven days without people I know around me. Three weeks in China is going to be very interesting.

* Live in a house which has a cat.
I wonder what I was thinking about when I wrote this. Well, I don't live in a house with a cat, but that's ok. I'd like to be a cat lady when I'm old, and I'd quite like to be one now as well, but it's not very likely until I own my own place.

That's the lot. 2004 wasn't a very successful year for me in terms of Doing Stuff I Plan To Do, but I reckon I scored more than 50% there. I'm still working on this year's list, which is a small bit less vague and probably a big bit less easy, but until that's done my major life objectives are "See bottom of laundry basket" and "remember to buy milk". I'm not that optimistic about those.
noideadog: (they might be giants)
The results are in. They say "Right on!". Grade Four Sax Ninja right here, baby!
noideadog: (scary jellybaby)
The sax exam went well, I think, though the aural part of it was messy. The sight singing didn't work at all. I've no idea why I can't do sight singing, because I'm sure I knew how in primary school, but the two hours I spent the previous night figuring out and singing intervals weren't enough to manage the whole five notes I had to sing. They worked out as doh-reh-ti-lah-doh, if I'm remembering right, so it's not like it was anything difficult, but I seem to have a blind spot (deaf spot?) for knowing what a note should sound like without singing the scale up or down to it. Anyway the rest of the exam went fairly much to plan, so in the spirit of jinxing it entirely, I'm going to say that I probably passed. It'll be a couple of weeks before I know for sure though.

I'm working from home today to try and get rid of my cold. It's quite nice to have rabbits running around your feet as you work, but it's distracting to have to shout "Don't!" and "Bad bunny!" and "StopeatingtheInternetpleasedon'tchewonthatcableweneedthatcable" every five minutes. At this very moment, Rabbit One's nose is deep-investigating Rabbit Two's backside. He doesn't seem to have noticed. Odd creatures.
noideadog: (me)
I successfully got away with what [ profile] trjh calls 'Tom Sawyer cookery' yesterday, when I offered to make dinner, and then managed to be in another room while most of the actual cooking was happening. Of course, since I wandered back into the kitchen occasionally to stir things and add more chillis, I take full credit for how good the sort-of-vegetarian-paella-thing turned out. (Are there any meals that can't be improved by adding chillis. Cheerios, maybe? I'm not sure.) Anyway, I'm paying for it today because whenever I bite my nails, which I do when I can't decide what to type, I get ambushed by chilli shards. I can't seem to get rid of them. Like the mafia, and the common cold, karma always gets you in the end.

The common cold is kicking my ass, and more relevantly my lungs right now, with a sort of rattly sound when I breathe in and a sort of coughy sound when I breathe out. My sax exam has been moved forward from the second week in December to next Wednesday, so I'd really like to be able to breathe normally for the next few days. (Or super-normally. That would be ok too).

I've never done a music exam before. It's quite exciting/terrifying, and a lot more formal than I'd realised. Apparently, two of the pieces need to have a piano accompaniment, for example. I was reeling from that when they told me about the aural tests. There's singing as well. It's all a little too interesting, and I think I might prefer if it was like [ profile] bringaisce suggested, where you have to play in front of ten jazzmen, and a pass mark is making any four of them say "Right on!". The jazz exams are probably exactly like that. Maybe next year.

It's [maybe a bit] interesting [if you're me] that folk have time to livejournal more when there's nothing happening. And conversely when everything's mad busy and you have stories to tell and opinions to solicit it's all too much hassle to write it up properly, so you end up talking about chillis and coughs and the Polyphonic Spree instead. It's the curse of Livejournal. Well, the other curse of LiveJournal, after *HUGS!*

The Polyphonic Spree are playing the Ambassador this evening. Am I optimistic that they'll be worth the twenty eight euro ticket? No. No I am not.

Edit: Shows what I know. That was _so_ _cool_
noideadog: (Default)
Half of the city centre was blocked off today, so I took the very long way home, which meant walking to Pearse Station, taking the dart to Sydney Parade and then walking the length of Ailesbury Road. There's nothing like watching thousands of people finish a marathon to make one feel like a pointless underachiever. Well done, marathon-running people, if there're any here. You guys are old-meaning awesome.

An hour of (woefully unpracticed) scales this evening didn't help much with the self-affirmation. I spent a while afterwards figuring out the music for 'Light and Day/Reach for the Sun', the song I'd had stuck in my head all day. I haven't really played much music that isn't already written down, so I was pleased that the notes that fell out in the end were in tune with the CD. I mentioned it to [ profile] mr_wombat. He'd noticed, but had also heard the painful scales warm up:

"Oh." (Real casual-like.) "I didn't know you could hear that."
"I figured I might stay out of your way because you were going to be *pissed* after making those noises."

It's fair comment.

There's a lot of this weekend that might be worth telling, but I like my bed more right now.
noideadog: (Default)
I was going to post about what a lovely evening I'd had, and then I thought I could expand on it and say what a lovely day it has been, but that seemed to detract from the fact that it's been a great week. And it'd be unfair to mention the week without referring to the general excellence of the month so far. You know, if this keeps up, this year may well end in the black. Right on!

'Right on!' is the end of "Au Contraire" by TMB[f]G[,b!], and is also what I've been saying a lot since I started playing (or trying to) jazz with PaulT, Powerman and Ciara. My Bluff Your Way In Jazz says that, being a feeble middle-class European, I should eschew 'man', 'cats' and 'digging' in favour of 'my dear chap', 'guys' and 'being rather knocked out by', but it doesn't make a call on 'Right on!', so I expect I'm safe enough.

Making music with other people is my new favourite thing. It's even better than dsl.
noideadog: (Default)
Under cover of darkness, I'm about to leave the office carrying a saxophone case full of bags of rabbit food. I'm like the world's least probable smuggler.
noideadog: (Default)
People with GoogleSkills, any thoughts on how I could search for this?

A Swiss man at a trade fair was showing an effective device he called the Hansen SaxMute. It's a mouthpiece mute, as opposed to the usual ones which fit inside the bell. I have a badly photocopied piece of paper saying that his name is Eric Hansen, and with an address of "Bel Air 54 CH - 1723 Marly, Switzerland". The blurb is in German, French and English. It includes

  • Mouthpiece mute

  • Limitation by a diaphram of the volume of air and sound passing through the saxophone

  • Evacuation of the excess air through a separate channel. This evacuation is easily controlled by simple rotation of the button"


"This mute is subject to the usual patent procedures protecting the inventor"

The trade fair was a few years ago, and this man hasn't shown up again anywhere, but his product was tested out at the time and people were very impressed.

I promised a guy who doesn't Internet that I'd do my best to find it, but google's not throwing up anything so far. Willow would just tappetatappetatap and bring up an english language version of the Swiss patent office site, and a newspaper photograph of Eric Hansen grinning a lot. Life should be more like TV. Anyway, suggestions gratefully accepted.
noideadog: (Default)
Schedules are difficult things. Inspired by [ profile] gothwalk and [ profile] inannajoness' studies, and by Paul Powerman's early morning writing, I've been considering what I could do to stimulate my brain and make myself a motivated, educated and generally more interesting person. Maybe I could learn some new skills, or work on the things that I should already be able to do. Maybe I could learn how to write emails in one go, without editing and re-editing (and re-phrasing. And re-editing. And re-considering my audience. And re-editing.). That would make my life about 12% better. Maybe I could properly learn about music theory, instead of picking up a bit here and there, and marvellng at the science of it all. World in being my Oyster shocker! Etc!

(I don't think it's called a midlife crisis when you're twenty six. I'll have to look that up.)

So, I've been asking myself how I'd fit something educational into my busy schedule, and the answer seems to be "with a great deal of difficulty".

My saxophone demands just twenty minutes per day. That's perfectly reasonable, but since I'm not at home much during the loud parts of the day, it's a demand that's being mostly ignored. McCullough Piggotts are selling a sort of muffler thing though, so I'll have to investigate whether that means you can play at 1am without bothering the neighbours. That's probably very optimistic. The sax needs more time though, poor thing. It's doing its best, but we both know that I'm the dead wood in our little team and I think its plaintive strangled-lighthouse impressions are a Message. The summer holidays are nearly over, so lessons are going to start again soon. They're just half an hour one day per week, but they needs to fit into the week somehow, and it can't be on Wednesday because Wednesday is for swing dancing.

Swing dancing is a terrific amount of fun and I'd hate to give it up entirely. It's all about fun and cocktails and asking strangers to dance (and finding out they're about twenty. Kill me.) and those are all important things to do. Fun is vital. You can't give up _fun_. The problem is that swing takes up the entire evening from work 'til pub closing time, so nothing else is going to happen on Wednesdays.

Then there's fencing, which can happen on Tuesday or Thursday. I'm usually home by 9 after fencing, but I'm usually exhausted and brain-fuct by that stage. Friday is workdrinks night. I could lose that, I guess, though I'd miss it. Bookclub is every 4th Tuesday, for the entire evening, so making fencing be on Thursday would probably for the best, and maybe putting the sax lessons before bookclub on Tuesdays. I have to fit an hour a week in there somewhere to learn to drive. Some sleeping, say between 2am and 8am would be useful too. And my employers unreasonably expect me at my desk between 9 and 5:30, and really that's between 9 and 7, because trying to get southside at rush hour is an exercise in swearing.

Sooo... *draws colourdy diagram*.. I sort of have time for something new, in theory, if it only happens at weekends or late on Monday, and if my laundry does itself and Age of Mythology carries on without me. (I bet it would). Though, crap, I forgot about DDR. I should DDR more.

How do people do it? I admire the people who have eighteen hobbies, a full time job, a college course and half a dozen kids and still find time to get out for a walk and enjoy the sunsets. (Have they sold their eternal souls for more free time? Do I need my eternal soul?)

And finally, an entirely unrelated grammar question. Is "Let's go" correct? And if so, is "Shall us go?" correct? It sounds.. y'know.. incorrect.
noideadog: (meerkat)
Three unrelated things.

O'Briens make great salads, even when they've run out of hummus (though the hummusful ones are better. Nyom). They'd run out of salad bowls, so I'm eating my chicken and mixed leaves out of their metal mixing bowl. It's good to be friends with the people who make lunches.

Newly crowned Most Annoying Thing In The World is trying to play a wind instrument while you have a runny nose. Try it. I dare you.

Couldn't sleep again last night. I went to bed at 11:00 to try and get up early today and was still lying awake at 02:30. I hate not being able to sleep.
noideadog: (they might be giants)
A joyful thing is when someone says "I know precisely what you mean" and you know that precisely, they do. I love that.

My saxophone and I had a blazing row ten days ago when it refused to make beautiful sounds, and I couldn't accept our joint inadequacy. I think it's time to go crawling back, "Autumn Leaves" in hand, and ask forgiveness. I'm looking forward to it.

Like they say in Eddie Rockets, everything is good today. It really is.
noideadog: (Default)
Dear God or Gods,

Our lack of belief in each other means that we don't talk much, and I'll accept that you don't owe me any favours, but if you could give me a break on this thing, I'd be very grateful. Very. Really.

It's about the sleeping. I need a lot of it; I'm getting almost none, and most of that seems to be between snooze alerts in the morning. I can't continue like this. It's not just the panda eyes, though I don't think you can deny that that's getting to a ridiculous stage, and it's not just that not sleeping at night means that I've become very unpleasant to work with (though again, I imagine that's getting old). It's the apathy, is the thing. You know how interesting the world is when you're really tired? None. No interesting at all. Nothing is fun. Nothing is worth doing. I'm not used to being bored and it's making me crazy.

Maybe we could compromise and you could just give me back interest in ..say, my saxophone and I'll agree that I can live with being bored to death by ..the Internet, maybe? Or maybe you could just let me get some sleep? Come on, the alternative is sleeping-drugs of some sort, and I don't think either of us want to go there yet, hm?

Love and kisses to the pantheon,

noideadog: (Default)
This is a song about something that happened to me.

(Smoky sax intro)
Woke up this morning
(Din-dah, din-dah)
In my own bed
(Din-dah, Din-dah)
Yeah I woke up this morning
(Din dah-dah-dah-dah)
With a paaaain in my head
(Din-dah, Din-dah)
Reached for a glass of water!
(Din dah din dah)
And drank it down quick
(din dah dah dah dah)
But it was last night's gin and boy did I feel sick
Well I've got the bloo-oo-ooos
i've got the blues real bad
(Din dah dah dah
dah dah dah
dah dah dah
dah dah dah)
I'm just glad I wasn't driving!
noideadog: (black books)
50 books, continued

4) Yes Prime Minister: The Diaries of the Right Hon. James Hacker, by Jonathan Lynn and Anthony Jay
I love Yes Minister (When's the BBC best sitcom programme on?), and this is each of the episodes of the first series written up in diary form. It would be perfect if the authors hadn't felt the need to explain every joke in "Editors' notes". It's as if every time Humphrey said something cleverly phrased to sound loyal, the episode stopped and a voiceover said "Humphrey wasn't being exactly sincere here!". Horrid shame.

5) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K Dick
Better than the very excellent movie. I'd have liked more of it to fill out the world a little, but I realise that it's supposed to be fast paced and sort of alien.

Running to saxophone lesson. Late late late.


noideadog: (Default)

February 2014

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