Here and Now

14, dropping ot 8°C, changable

Here and Now is radio three’s main contemporary radio show. I have only strted listening to it recently, but am getting a lot from it already. I like hearing stuff that doesn’t leave me feeling like I have heard this sort of thing before. So much "classical" music is almost generic, the basic structures are the same, though of course nuances are fascinating. Trouble is just that- nuances. You often need to search for the best performances to get the best nuances out of any single piece.
Anyway, currently playing as I write is something by Michael Finnissey. Piano and small orchestra, playing the oddest cascades of staccato notes, fast and with guts. I’m off now to see what discs I can order online.

They’re going to take ages, possibly not ’till December, but I’ve ordered the following:

  • Agaetis Byrjun – Sigur Ros 
  • Yoshimatsu – Orchestral Works
  •  All the Ends of the Earth – Contemporary & Medieval Vocal Works
  •  This Hungry Life [Live]- Tanya Donelly 
  •  Why I Hate Women (Pere Ubu) 
 Not everything I heard on the show, but this will do.
Finally, one odd thing; my outside thermometer has started working after about 6 months of no readings. Currently 7.4°C.


13°C, cloudy

Turpentine: planning a new one.
Below are three oil sketches outlining my current idea for the next picture. That’s a horse in the background (but you wouldn’t know it) clearly a need for some horse research. The idea stems from a conversation about a dog-cat relationship. The dog haunts the cat and I tried to use the analogy with a horse stalking a person to try to imagine how that cat feels about it.
There is about ten minutes in each sketch, using a quite a big brush- a No.8 round with a good tip on it. The bristles are very soft, but that’s ok with oil paint thinned so much with turps.

Packington Pigs

17°C, clearing & windy.

Walk: it takes 1h 40′ to walk the 8 miles from Tamworth to home. Add a few minutes to stop and watch the packington pigs. I took the car to Tamworth for a service, planning to shop while it’s being done. Plans changed when they estimated a 6 hr wait- so I went into town shopping, then take the bus home. That bus left ten minutes before I got there, so I started to walk. I had this idea to catch the bus in Hopwas. Once underway though, walking has a nice feel to it, it’s warm, the scenary is interesting and the action builds a natural rhythm. I walked all the way home feeling good about it- those busses are so annoying, getting home glad I bypassed them.

The Big digger

15°C, rain, lots of it.

Big Digger: actually a JCB thing. It’s loosely based on the machines I can see out of the window from here, the working model is built from scratch like a "speed-modelling" exercise. Note: I didn’t make the derelict buildings, they were a freebie from Beaumont from ages ago.

There is a video to go with it, but it reveals a problem with forward-kinematics hierarchy*. The pistons all work- pointing the right way, the caterpillar tracks are a solid object, so no articulation there, I wonder if it’s possible to use an animated map instead of animation the geometry. Version 2: on a roll with this one, there are numberous changes, mainly fixed the problem with *linkages based on the world-grid instead of the object’s parent. The wheels look less like a kiddies toy, and the animation has 2 particle systems for falling rubble. All done in Max’s native tools, no plugins.

I don’t mind saying that this was hugely satisfying, it wasn’t free from problems, but they were all overceom and in a good time span too. It’s a job that left me feeling competant.

Why do a big digger? A= It’s my holiday job; let me explain. To make sure we don’t talk about teaching all holiday, we make up "virtual careers" for each holiday. In the past I have been a fletcher, a bodger, a stone mason (note the hearty traditional roles there). My career this holiday is being a Big Kid, so I have to get excited about the big diggers. And there are a whole load of them visible from this room. 

Linseed: added the long-awaited crane flys to the Pointers picture. There are five crane flys in there now, possibly more to come. This was a long session, 1½ hours. A nice way to spend a rainy October day.

Firefox 2.0: looks much the same to me, some interface changes- the rest is identical as far as I can see. BBC review


The Tee-shirts

16°C, clear blue skies, 49miles

Linseed: the end is in sight- I’d like this one done by the end of this week. They now have tee-shirts, a new arm (which has only 2 layers hence the wrong colours). The total layer count must be up to 6 now, probably only two more to go I estimate. Then there is the little matter of the crane flys, that will take 2 days to complete- all with tiny No.2 brushes.
I’m getting quite impatient now, this picture has gone on for two or three months- It must be finished soon!

Bad news– Arab Strap are splitting up, they have just released a farewell compilation album.

Photo: I know this is 3 pictures in one day, but it really sums up the season and the weather today.

waiting in the carpark

14°C, clouding over.

My socks weigh in at 12 kg!.
I know this because I weighed myself at 101Kg with them on, and then decided to try again with no socks on- then it came out at 89Kg. I don’t know why I decided that (actually I do really) but those socks feel quite light to hold. Does that mean that wearing two pairs would make getting upstairs quite difficult.

the History Boys

17°C, rain in the afternoon

I was going to write about how the TV series "The Simpsons" aren’t actually funny. But instead….
The History Boys, Dir: Nicolas Hytner, By Alan Bennet & : made into a film in a way that often makes me want to see it on the stage. I know that’s a different experience but one can wish. Suspending disblief was easy, it was a parody in places, there were only two tiny details in props that distracted away from the date in which it was set- 1983. Otherwise it was very thorough. It’s a film that may appeal to anyone who left school in the mid eighties (as I did) or are involved in the profession- (as I am) or are applying to Oxbridge (as I never even considered). Often the film is hilarious, charactatured and in places self-mocking. The film is set in Yorkshire- it looked like Sheffield to me, but the actors accents weren’t right. but still…. you could hear Alan Bennetts voice, curious how that can happen- think of Richard Dawkins. Did I post here about Richard Dawkins voice sounding out from his book- The God Dilusion. Read his words and you may be able to hear his voice speaking, accent and all. Same is true here in this film- but then I can’t guess the accent from one I have not heard on the radio. I gets off the track.
there are other threads explored in the film, especially homosexuality which are treated with a frank acceptance that seems out of character for the period. Oh well, there are holes in the film as I have hinted but the whole thing is strong enough to be unflustered by them. therefore it comes highly recommended by me. Go see.
warning– the first link above has a plot spoiler.

Death in the Blue lake

15°C, some sun + rain

When: the "Black White & Grey" CD, by When arrived today. It sounds better than I remember- probably because I only had a tape of it before. I can see this one getting listened to a lot. Parts of it can go on my mp3 player, as can Samuel Barber’s Adagio. there must be more gems in that tape collection that need replacing on CD/LP!
Get your copy here, or at least listen to a sample: Rer
On the subject of music, Tom Waits lyrics:

  Dead And Lovely

She was a middle class girl
In over her head
She thought she would
Stand up in the deep end
He had a bullet proof smile
He had money to burn
She thought she had the moon
In her pocket…

But now she’s dead
She’s so dead forever
Dead and lovely now

I ‘ve always been told to
Remember this
Don’t let a fool kiss you
Never marry for love
He was hard to impress
He knew everyone’s secrets
He wore her on his arm
Just like jewelry
He never gave but he got
He kept her on a leash
He’s not the kind of wheel
You fall asleep at

But now she’s dead
She’s so dead
Forever dead and
Lovely now

Come closer look deep
You’ve fallen fast
Just like a plane on a
Stormy sea
She made up someone to be
She made up somewhere to
Be from
This is one business in the
World where that’s no
Problem at all
Every thing that is left
They will only plow under
Soon every one you know
Will be gone

But now she’s dead
She’s so dead

Forever dead and
Lovely now

I’ve always been told to
Remember this
Don’t let a kiss fool you
Never marry for love
Now they’re all watching
The sea
What’s lost can never be broken
Her roots were sweet
But they were shallow

But now she’s dead
She’s so dead
Forever dead and
Lovely now


Help files not working

15°C, grey, then sunny intervals with rain.

There must be something wrong with my Windows CD, a recent re-install of Win 2000 has left me with the same fault as the first time I put windows 2K on. Hyperlinks don’t work in compiled .html help pages. There is a peculiar solution, it is here:

If you have installed Service Pack 4, the fix is to open a Command
Prompt window and then run these two commands:

regsvr32 /u <drive>:winntsystem32hhctrl.ocx
regsvr32 <drive>:winntsystem32hhctrl.ocx


that technique worked last time but then I lost the file after a reformat. Funny how I found the solution – during an idle moment I searched for my name in Google to look for my oldest posting somewhere. I’m only putting this here in case I loose it gain- not an act of generosity.

Holiday soon, one week off, time for a couple of paintings, especially finish the crane-pointers plus another quick A4 one. Some animation, including the deconstruction of another element- probably something asteroidal this time. There’s no harm in planning.

My Music week

16°C, clearish

We’ve been invited to play music in school in support of national music week. "Play some music in lessons" the our head of music says, so I have. The response from teenagers have been mixed. It seems the more vocal ones, those who are more willing to express their opinions really want music that they are familiar and comfortable with. The range that covers is very small, heavily populated but none-the-less small. My aim is to resist this, and play stuff that challenges the cosy comfort blanket that music represents to many of them. Radio 3 was greeted with scorn before it even started, and when I changed to radio 6 (Marcone’s The Freak Zone) the class were complaining before the tracks had even started.
This was an interesting reaction. It seems that many teenagers are more stuck in thewir ways than old people are supposed to be. It’s not even clear that these teens are listending to music in the same way. they are looking for something that works like a membership for a sub-culture, they can illustrate their membership with lists of bands on Myspace. Frankly, this strikes me as absurd but then perhaps I expect too much.
So what shall I torture them with tomorrow?
Captain beefheart?