flaviomatani: (Default)
( May. 27th, 2017 09:23 pm)
How's your week-end?

I'm just back from a gig, playing classical guitar at an Irish goth wedding.
flaviomatani: (flavguitarpark)
( May. 20th, 2017 12:25 pm)
Off in a little while to the Hampstead Alternative Picnic, the first one this year, in front of Kenwood House as usual. What do you say? It may rain? You say it like it's a terrible thing. Or very unusual in London... :D



https://www.facebook.com/events/1858383921112207/
* you might not be able to see the event as it is set to 'private'. If you want I can send you an invite.
I think I'm lucky in many ways. I arrived late to what I found out I really liked in life and yet I was able to do it, do it more or less well, do a degree on something like playing the guitar (doesn't it sound kind of crazy, to be able to do that?) but it comes with snags and perils.

I'm self-employed. If those lessons don't happen I don't have money coming in. I work in two schools where, very belatedly, they changed my status and I'm no longer freelance but it still is the case that if there are no lessons I get no money. Still also true no paid holidays, sick days, etc. Of course I knew all along that this came with the territory doing work of this kind. If I had arrived a couple of years before I did in the '80s I probably could have got a proper peripatetic guitar teaching job with a local education authority and be assigned to several schools, I would have been paid by the taxpayer so several issues wouldn't arise: these days I get paid what the parents pay (instead of out of general taxation), so if they can't afford guitar lessons the kid cannot have lessons and that's that. Thank Mrs Thatcher for that , as for so many things.

It is a precarious way of making a living ('you call it a living..?') and more for a guitarist than for other instrument players -back upon the time it was vaguely possible to make a living playing little concerts, restaurants and private functions so one didn't depend so much on lessons.. those times are gone. There is hardly any live music in places like restaurants and when there is it is never a guitarist. When (rarely these days) I have been offered this kind of work they've offered me pretty much the same money I used to get paid for that sort of thing in the '90s so.. no, thanks.

I'll never be able to retire but I'm kind of ok with that as long as I'm in good health and doesn't go la-la. Given the inevitability of human decay and the second law of thermodynamics, we'll have to see what comes.

All the schools I have taught at have their particular little annoyances, but that might be for another post (even though it was one of them that made me start this entry...)
The HunterThe Hunter by Chris Carter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A short story introducing Robert Hunter, detective, on his first day at LAPD. Brief, very well put together and enjoyable -if the account of a horrible crime, however fictional, can be said to be enjoyable...



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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of EverythingFreakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I came to this book somewhat belatedly after it was recommended to me by a friend. It was a very interesting book even though I didn't always feel I could agree on what the authors were saying, or rather their conclusions, but what it posits is interesting, it does seem to provide useful tools for analysis of things that are not, prima facie, of an economic nature. It is also very entertaining and overall quite well written. Well worth a read if perhaps much more lightweight than you expect at first. There is also a danger, in these Trumpbrexited times, of dismissing experts almost out of hand. This is something that the manufacturers of 'alternative facts' would love you to do.



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Looking at booking train ticket for Infest on the August Holiday. Last year I paid 30-something pounds for the return ticket, bought in June. The cheapest ticket I find today is £76 and the equivalent of the one I bought last year is £111. Is there such thing as trying to book too early?
flaviomatani: (Default)
( May. 9th, 2017 07:51 am)
There still seems to be a sort of Rapturist view of politics for some people in which we don't get the options we want so we walk out and don't vote for a Macron or a Hillary because they're evil too, even if the alternative is so so much more evil... I've come across a few examples of this recently and don't quite understand it...
@GreekAnalyst on Twitter:
Brexit 52-48: "Clear, decisive victory."
Trump 46-48: "The people have spoken."
Macron 66-34: "OMG France is so divided."
Phew.

At least the fascists didn't win.

If only the UK would take an example of that.
flaviomatani: (flaaagh)
( May. 4th, 2017 08:29 pm)
My friend Jeff Conway ( @pushingnormal on twitter) has been putting out anagrams of May's mantra, 'Strong and Stable'. Some do seem to hint at the policies therein:


"Bad Strangle Tons
Stern Sandbag Lot
Bastard's Long Net
Lords Be Stagnant
Bad Glasnost Rent
Altar Bent's Dongs
Satan's Blog Trend
..and er...
Strong Anal Debts"

"Strangled on Stab
A Strangest Blond
Bad Tart Longness"

and, today:

"'Strong And Stable' Anagrams for Thursday:
Slanted Brat Song
Bland Groans Test
SS Blond Anger Tat"
There is a very Strong smell of Stables here.... 
(but, actually, horsesh*t would smell much nicer than all this peddling of hate)
 
Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Another apocalyptic story told in two different time frames? This one works, though, at least for me. I could relate to these post-apocalyptic musicians wandering from town to town.

Things I didn't like: at first the strands of the story, told in two different time frames, feel like one is given the story as a shuffled deck of cards that one has to put in order. This is a device that looked clever and innovative when Cortázar was using it in the '60s but today perhaps not so much.

Things I liked: There was a lot that I did like. The characters and the situation felt 'real'. It makes you think, inevitably, on the ways our civilisation is fragile -a pandemic as described in the book is perhaps not very likely (or is it), but so many things could.

I enjoyed this book which a friend described as 'a most Canadian apocalypse story'. Will be seeking other work by the author.



View all my reviews
flaviomatani: (the wall hammer landscape)
( May. 1st, 2017 05:53 pm)
This Ars Technica story could be more, long lasting bad news, as it is part of a deliberate policy by the current US administration -they seem to have decreed that climate change does not exist. Echoes of King Canute...


https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/05/epa-purges-climate-change-information-as-part-of-website-updates/
Good morning from Kings Cross, at a pupil's.

She 's playing an arrangement of Gounod's Funeral March for a Marionette, which my first music teacher used to call a musical stupidity and used to be the theme tune for Alfred Hitchcock's TV show in the '50s...

there is a water feature in the flat, a little fountain thing tinkling away while my pupil plays, making a nice counterpoint to it.

A nice morning so far. Good morning!
flaviomatani: (flavdblxp)
( Apr. 25th, 2017 08:44 am)
Perhaps a bit gloomy, that previous post.

OTOH, I've been reading Steven Pinker's 'The Better Angels in our Nature', where he posits that, contrary to our perception of these things, violence and war have been steadily decreasing along the last thousand years of history. He does support this with lots of stats and sources. So at least there is that. Progress may not be inevitable but it does nonetheless happen.
flaviomatani: (seventhseal chess)
( Apr. 25th, 2017 08:06 am)
Sitting in my teaching room at the school in Watford where I teach guitar on Tuesdays. It's sunny, there's a piano and a trumpet in the distance. And somebody playing on a drum kit somewhere, but we'll try to ignore that. Short working day here for the rest of the summer term as many pupils are on study leave, etc.

Getting a bit difficult to ignore the drums. How come all rooms in this building are insulated acoustically but the drum room is not?

Strange times. Seeing that headline (was it The Times?) celebrating the fall of the political elite in France... with a huge picture of La Pen celebrating, arms raised. Having to read a module and respond a questionnaire for this school on radicalisation of children and what to do about this if you see signs of it. The rise, as it would seem from here, of an anti-rationalism that has many aspects, from anti-vaxxers to Trumpeteers to the whole anti-expert attitude, the wilful, selfish ignorance that puts Trump in office and UK out of the EU. I've probably worn out the subject by now, but this is not quite the future one envisaged while growing up in the '60s and '70s. We were going to work less for more, there would be less injustice and more freedom, we were going to have more meaningful lives (and maybe that holiday on the Moon). Oh, ok, there was the whole flying car thing, the silver shell suits and the food in pills. Luckily none of those came to pass, says flavio while seeing people on the street that seem to be dressed in their pyjamas... it sometimes does feel, though, like at some point we took a wrong turn in the shift-space of all possible futures. We'll have to wait and see, says flavio, looking away from the paper headlines....
A friend of many years in Vz, somebody I used to sing and play protest songs with at youth rallies in the barrios in Caracas, sent me (on Whatsapp, which I hate) a link to a video of Inti-Illimani (the Chilean protest song band who had to flee Chile after the Pinochet coup in which over 50,000 people died) singing 'El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido'. My reply is on the entry to my reborn LJ en español now in DW and where I have exactly one reader. Watching that video gave me a bad case of longing... for certainties about the inexorable march of progress, the betterment of humankind and the hope for justice, freedom, all those big dreams. It is an unfinished piece as I was writing it on a phone, something I hate doing in any sort of long format. TBC, for sure....

This is my DW en español entry and the video:
https://flavenespanol.dreamwidth.org/215427.html
.

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