Tuesday, 28 May 2013

"Be excellent to each other" and "Party on Dude!"

I was talking about religion today with a friend. I've always had a problem with organised religion, though not all aspects. I don't have a large sense of conviction that god doesn't exist, or that religion at it's core is inherently wrong. Perhaps it's because in the era in which I was doing most of my growing up I saw a lot of examples of people using religion as a way to control or judge others, as a way to exclude or make people feel inferior. People use religion as a way to make people feel guilty about things for which no guilt should be felt, and to excuse behaviour that can cause lasting harm. It is perhaps this, and the fact that I saw Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure many many times while I was growing up that I have a fairly humanist approach to life, or possibly just that I've screwed up enough times in my life to understand that people do things and behave in ways that don't always reflect who they are, or do them justice.

I think religion has it's place, for sure. I understand that common belief can create a unification, a common understanding of the world and humanity and allow for a cohesive society. And please note here the distinction between religion and God. I don't deny anyone their gods, and I don't believe or disbelieve in some kind of higher plain. And I don't deny anyone their religion. But I find the idea that people take religious texts and teaching strictly as the word of God to be a difficult one. There is some kind of notion that God spoke to people once, and they wrote it down, accurately and without any self serving notion, and God said all there was to say, and then shut up. Forever.

There are several problems with this perspective. Firstly, different religions although not completely dissimilar in their basis and teachings, do have strong, and in some cases quite fundamental, differences. For those who believe in many gods this is less of an issue than for those who believe in only one. Those who believe in one god often tend to fall into two camps, those who believe that everyone worships the same God, but under different names, and different (though they comfort themselves, likely incorrect) faiths, and the other camp tends to discount the gods of other religions entirely, believing that only they and their fellow worshippers are the chosen, the saved. Another powerful discreditor to this idea is the Bible, or the library, the collected testimonies of witnesses, careful selected to exclude contradictory statements or those by women. Exclusions that only recently are coming to light, and offer a much wider perspective of the history and teachings of that time than patriarchal society would have had us believe.

I could go on a huge rant here about patriarchy, and how women have been demonised over the centuries whether as witches and as manifestations of evil or agents of the devil (one only has to read the thoroughly entertaining, and deeply disturbing, Malleus Maleficarum), or simply as feeble minded and childlike in order to maintain a patriarchal society, but that's not relevant here. I can see the logic in the idea of sexual union existing in a marital set up in an economic era in which women were considered property, and generally had no means of supporting themselves economically, and especially in an era without contraception and washing machines and labour saving devices and prepackaged food and childcare, where women would be unable to support themselves and their offspring without the structure of the family unit, with members all playing their part. Economically, sociologically, it all makes sense for that era. And there is logic behind a religious mentality that would educate its followers that sex outside of the safety net of that socioeconomic structure is wrong, because, lets face it, the best way to ensure that people are provided for is to ensure that there is a socioeconomic structure present to provide for them, and the marital unit or a similar set up largely filled that role for a long time and across many cultures. Dare I say it, I can also understand, in the confines of a model where women were considered as such, a model that afforded the model of the same sex relationship little social currency - where women were unable to protect or provide for themselves, a social model was created to provide for them, not a model based on human relationships and feelings, but on simple biological procreation and economic stability. Men were able to support and protect themselves as single entities, women were not, thus from a social and economic perspective a union of two men could be considered selfish, while a union of two women could be considered intensely vulnerable. But the world has changed. The labour market has changed, our life styles have changed. Unhappy or abusive marriages are no longer an economic necessity, women no longer compelled to continue with pregnancies that would destroy them physically or emotionally, and people no longer have to forfeit the right to a happy relationship just because they got unlucky having a teenage fumble. People are thankfully more self sufficient, and this allows the freedom to love who you want, whether you or they are man or woman, it doesn't really matter. Family these days can be considered a much more fluid concept, with open adoptions, multi-parent families paving the way for a model built on flexibility, honesty and openness, rather than a man, woman and 2.4 children (or whatever the Mormon equivalent is). Again, I have no problem with marriage. But it's not for everyone, and not for anyone to judge those who choose not to. They have their reasons.

This is turning into a rant, and it was never meant to be so. I just had an urge to write down how I try to live my life. I regularly fail, but I persist in trying all the same.

Be kind to people. When you aren't, whether intentionally or otherwise, try to put it right. Try to understand people. When you can't, remember that it doesn't mean that you are right or that they are wrong. If something about someone elses behaviour makes them happy, but goes against your own beliefs, step back. Look at the bigger picture. If their behaviour, actions or beliefs don't offend or cause harm to anyone then it's not your place to judge them. Just because you don't understand doesn't make it wrong. The world is bigger than you or I, and it's full of things we don't understand. More over, we are all unique, and it's unlikely that you'll ever walk in my shoes, any more than I'll ever walk in yours. We may have similar experiences, but not the same. We are not the same and should not be judged as such, but as individuals. Be openminded, because life is vast, and have fun. Basically, "Be excellent to each other" and "Party on Dude!"

Friday, 24 May 2013

Coughing like a dirty old man

So I'm home alone tonight. Soon that's going to be every night. It's probably going to be a bit weird for a time; like or loath sharing your space, when you no longer have to there is always an adjustment period. But it should be soon now. Bursaries have approved my change in circumstances form, and extra monies should be arriving soon, and Cattenberg Battenberg will no longer be financially tied. It's all shaping up rather well on the financial side, albeit after months and months of worry.

Not taking my magic pills for a couple of days has well and truly done me over. Their absence provoked uncontrollable vomiting and migraine yesterday, and although the magic pills are back in place, my throat is raw and irritable, resulting in a violent cough, which once again exacerbates the vomiting and also the reward of a lovely lovely tension headache. The moral of the story is to take your meds boys and girls. You might not realise quite how much they're helping until you stop.

With my cough induced headache, and perpetual vomiting (again, too much information? I think I share my crazy way too freely), tonight is not the night to watch Django Unchained, as I want to give that some serious attention. Instead I am watching Super 8, which is pleasing me way more than I expected following the reviews. It's quite a lot of fun. Or it would be, if I didn't feel lousy.

So in short, money will soon be sorted, being as how it is agreed, I feel lousy but medication solves that, my living situation is soon to be resolved and Super 8 is kinda fun. Laptop light is too bright for sick headache ness, so I'll be off.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Also it is hard to concentrate

when you can't hold down a glass of water. Man alive! I hate all this anxiety crap. Stress is way easier when you allow it to break you, when you fall adrift and go on benders with booze, alienating your friends and acting like a tit. When you try and hold everything together, you pretty much succeed, but you feel ill as a bastard ill person, and eating and looking after yourself kind of go out of the window. Looking after everyone and everything else, I can do that, but me, not so much.

I forgot to take my magic pills

Two days. Two days is all it takes for the headaches and nausea to come back. I've been puking like a drunk all morning. Or a pregnant lady. And the sleeplessness. Yup, sleeplessness and nausea is highly reminiscient of morning sickness. No danger of that though. There are things you have to do to make that sort of thing happen. Oh but lordy! Last night was a sleepless one. I have no idea why, but I couldn't calm myself, and yet I couldn't identify the cause of the anxiety either. I know it wasn't the underwear. My friends laughed at me, those who didn't, well, I guess they aren't friends. They don't deserve my time. The Big Ex actually thought it funniest out of everyone, and suggested that for those with a negative response, I should send a picture of some granny pant passion killers, just for balance. I don't see him that way any more, but it's times like this I remember what I did used to see. They were good times. I wouldn't go back, and nor would he, but good times. Sometimes it is good to make a dick of yourself, it helps remind you who the important people are, and who aren't. And just because someones role in your life changes doesn't mean that they become less important, as Cattenberg Battenberg and I are establishing now. With the relationship over, we are establishing ourselves as better friends than we probably ever were before, and more effective partners in the raising of our daughter.

Cattenberg is spending the next couple of nights at his Dad's house. Since nausea means I can't go swimming today, his absence means I'm free to work out in the living room this evening once the travel sickness pills and little magic pills take effect. So I shall be sweating my butt off with some weights and bouncing jumpy video based activity. Curtains firmly drawn obviously... And then swimming again tomorrow. I had thought about increasing from 40 lengths to maybe 50 today, but the sickness rules it out. I think an easy 40 will be sensible tomorrow, then I can look at an increase to 50 on Tuesday, hopefully pushing to 60lengths by the end of the week. What I'm looking for it to get back up to 80 lengths (2k), and then decrease my time.

Today is being spent working on my portfolio tasks due in tomorrow. There is a lot to do. My head really hurts, and I could do with an extra couple of days. Or at least no timetabled classes tomorrow. Oh well. Let's get this puppy kicked. Metaphorically. I'd never kick an actual puppy. But the piece of work is technically small and unintimidating, and consequently I've still got way too much of it to do. I need more challenging work to inspire THE FEAR. Seriously, how's a girl supposed to get any work done without the fear?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Swimming, embarrassing underwear and insults in Makaton

Oh but today has been quite a day for the Woodcat. Kittencat overslept, so I was moderately late for today's session at university, though thankfully I got there before anything properly started. We had a joint session today with the nursing students about interacting with and treating service users with learning difficulties, and carers. One truly heartbreaking aspect of this session was the lack of respect that all too often service users encounter in their treatment, the dehumanising and debasing treatment described was abhorrent. Differences in communication abilities really impact the way people are treated, rightly or wrongly, but in too many instances can mean that people are treated as less than people, and not afforded the respect and dignity that we all deserve. There was an exceptionally moving talk from a parent and carer to someone with profound learning difficulties, and the session was jointly hosted with a nurse and a service user with a great sense of humour. We learnt some basic Makaton, my favourite of which being "That doctor is a pain in the arse", before heading to smaller sessions with nursing students to reflect on how what we'd heard would influence our attitudes and our practice.

This afternoon I swam. I've been meaning to go again for a few weeks, and every time something has come up - yesterday it was a flat tyre, last week it was the sheer virtue of being a girl. Too much information? Probably. seems to be a theme today. I forget how much I love swimming. I also hadn't realised how much stronger I am these days. In 2007 I had to build up from 10 lengths almost killing me, now I can go straight in at 40. I haven't been in ages, and I was only just starting to feel a bit tired by the end. I am a slow swimmer though right now. 40 minutes for 40 lengths? Absurd. I was always slow, but I used to be slow in the 2k in an hour kind of way. I reckon I can get back to that in a month or two if I work at it.

And then, alas on such a productive, rewarding, and uneventful day, disaster struck. Disaster. DISASTER. I came across a stash of underwear that's not seen the light since well before I was pregnant, but recent weight loss and swimming mean that I'm closer to that size again, and it's cheaper to find again what you have than buy anew. And I found I have some pretties that are still pretty new and lovely, and I got excited and sent a picture of some of them to my friend Driver. Only my phone is temperamental at the moment, and it sent the picture of my smalls to loads of people. Loads. So many in fact, that actually, I'm going to put the picture of my smalls here.  I think it's got to the stage where everybody being able to see them is way less embarrassing than a few people having seen them.

Pretty, yes? But I think some of the recipients thought they were getting sent some kind of "message" from me, as opposed to reading the giddy about underwear message accompanying the picture sent to Driver, and clearly much less of a come on than a girl discussion about pants and bras. I tried to call/text everyone to apologise and ask for deletes, but some people replied before I'd got to them, and were excessively shirty about it, and didn't acknowledge subsequent apologetic grovelling. But hell, it's not like I'm in the pants. Now that would have been a traumatic sight.

When I told Cattenberg, showing him the picture and text, he said "That's definitely not a come on." Hence forth Kittencat has been spouting all evening, "It's not a come on Mummy. It's not."

Freaking A.

Yeah. My day has been awesome. How was yours?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Today I am playing Kinison-Goldthwait

Kinison - Goldthwait by Danny Saul
Today I am playing the album I've been meaning to play for a few days, Kinison - Goldthwait by Danny Saul. It's not a new album, and I've heard it before, albeit not for some time, so it's not particularly noteworthy that I'm playing it today. I've been meaning to play it for a few days because it's seriously beautiful, but music this lovely deserves a quiet house, and no distractions. I'd actually forgotten quite how lovely it is. Melancholy, wistful, dark and enchanting, this is music to lose yourself in freely. When it stops, you emerge confused and bewildered, but with a sense of radiance and joy, a feeling you get only in the presence of something truly magical.

I forget sometimes that the people I know and the people who make these beautiful things are the same people. Email Danny for a physical copy, and it's yours for the exchange of something valuable (money, your first born, Jack Rose vinyl- I think cash is the preferred option, but feel free to barter). It's definitely an album to own.

Why do I care what others think of me?

Kittencat has a penchant at the moment for a show on CBeebies called "What's the big idea?", or as we call it, Hugo. This morning we were watching Hugo, and at the end this question was posed: "What's more important, what I think of me or what others think of me?"

A friend of mine asked me a similar question recently also, and I thought the answer ought to be fairly obvious. Thinking about it this morning though, I see that this is a complicated question, with an answer that is more complicated than I think many of us wish to admit. This is my answer, as far as I am capable of articulating.

Obviously the former. I'm ace. It's really not up to other people to define, or judge, who am I, what I like, or what I do. So long as it pleases me, I don't care what other people think of my too short hair, or the fact that when in my mother's car I cheerfully and tunelessly sing along to her Rod Stewart CD. It matters not what other people think of the fact that I'm an E4 trash American TV addict, or that I will happily talk to interesting strangers like I've known them all my life. I like to draw and sew and write and knit and paint; I don't care what other people think of the results or lack of them. I am a terrible dancer, but I love dancing, and would refrain for nobody. I don't care if others like me as a person, mostly because I believe that some people are compatible as friends and others are not, and that since I don't like everybody I see no reason why everybody should like me. I have no problem with the fact that my favourite films are usually populated with car chases and explosions, and that I have possibly watched Army of Darkness more times than anybody else ever. I don't care if people find me physically attractive, or what they think of my clothes. I look like me, and I wear what I want to wear, or at least, I wear what I have. They are not always the same thing, and even more reason why people shouldn't judge you on such things. I don't care what other people may think of things I've done. People make judgements about situations and events they cannot comprehend. My life is my own and as long as I am okay with who I am and what I've done, that's really all that matters. It's taken me a long while to feel this way. When I was younger, I was a lot less strong, a lot less secure in myself, and the affirmation of others was more important to me. I minded more than I should of done, and regularly felt the sting of rejection that comes of being judged unfavourably on ridiculous, superficial criteria, rather than recognising the lack of importance of such small mindedness.

So yes, I don’t care if you think I’m uncool, or if you never like me. Simple. Yet I find I do care what people I care about think of me. I care about my friends, and in being able to share things with them. Or course, I don’t care about trying to please them by being something I’m not. But I care about what they think of me, because your friends are an important part of how you interact with your world, and how you perceive yourself. Being able to share the joy of things with other people is important. Your friends and your relationships with your friends are very important. In the case of the many talented folks I know, they would probably still create lovely things even if everybody hated what they did, though positive affirmation doubtless aids them much more than negativity ever would. And in instances where my actions affect or upset others, what other people think of me becomes hugely important, and influences how I think of myself. I avoid situations that feel even vaguely wrong, as if something feels wrong when you do it then it usually is wrong. That said, sometimes things that aren't wrong to me are wrong for other people. I don't like to cause other people unnecessary grief or upset, this fits under the category of things I believe are wrong and don't intentionally do. So when I do impact others negatively, of course their opinions become very important, especially in situations where your actions cause friends to perceive you in a different way, a negative way. The way your friends perceive you inevitably acts as a mirror, a mirror held up to show an uncompromising view of yourself, warts and all.  When someone who thought of you positively develops a negative opinion of you, it matters. In seeing what they see, or trying to fathom what they see, your opinion of yourself also deteriorates. While my opinion of myself is very much a personal thing, it works in direct relationship to how I interact with the world and the people I care about, as well as simply what I do myself. I care if I upset people I care about. Actually, I care if I upset anybody, but I care more when it affects people I care about.

So yes, what I think of myself matters more than what other people think about me but what other people think is also hugely important. How you treat others, and how people feel about you is a huge part of how you feel about yourself as a person. I am not insecure in myself, or who I am, but yes, what other people think of me does matter. I think what other people think matters to all of us, whether we admit it or not.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

There are only two people in my life that I will never speak to again

Sometimes I wonder why I continue to try when people are arseholes. Then I remember that we are all arseholes at times. Sometimes life conspires to make you act like a dick, and to be a pain in the arse, a wanker, generally unpleasant and hurtful. It doesn't mean that's who you are. Who am I to judge those who are normally awesome for being the opposite, when I am often at least as bad, if not worse? Sometimes you have to step back and remember who people are, and not judge them on circumstance or behaviour. People are fallible, and they mess up, and they are also great in equal measure.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Last chance to dance

So I'm sitting here, trying to revise cranial nerves and whatnot, and my mind flits back to 2004, and possibly the most impressive line I've ever heard, though I didn't think so at the time. It was the end of Blues Week 2004, an annual event of lectures, guitar, harmonica, piano/keyboards and vocals tuition, and I'd been working bar all week, so every evening had been an awesome collective jam of international blues musicians. This was the week I'd learnt to make martinis, because what the cool blues dudes want, ladies and gentlemen, is martinis. Vodka martinis. Lots of them.
On the final night I wasn't working, and went to hang out on the right side of the bar, drinking vodka martinis with Keith Dunn, Homesick Mac, Michael Roach John Cephas and Phil Wiggins and others, and then got dragged along to the after party, a weird experience of dancing to blues and rock and roll, in a student self catering flat with a lot of middle aged to old guys, with the most incredible jam set up on the go, and a good stash of beers. It got to about 5am, and Mr Dunn offered to walk me home, ostensibly to save me from the old guy I'd wafted away from my neck four times previously, we could all tell it was getting a little tiresome. We walked to my little basement studio, talking music and pottery, and what it's like to live in the Netherlands, continuing this chat over coffee and ginger nut biscuits. Now Keith Dunn is rather a large chap, and he sort of sprawled himself on my tiny single bed, with me sat opposite on the sofa, and kind of, well, inferred that I should join him. I declined graciously. But I have to give the dude credit. He was quite old, and I was 23. So respect is due. He finished his coffee, took the rest of my biscuits with him, and disappeared into the night. But as he bid me goodnight at my front door he said "Last chance to dance." BEST LINE EVER. Or maybe the worst. But still, impressive.

Friday, 10 May 2013

One step closer to regaining my financial independence as an adult

And giving Cattenberg the return of his. All the paperwork is in, and it's all down to the relevant organisations that provide the funding as to when this will be complete. Tax credits, done. Bursaries, done. Student Loan, done. Childcare application, done. BOOM. Hopefully soon, much as Cattenberg and I are getting on exceptionally well as friends, we're looking forward now to separating our existences and places of abode more fully, that is him in a nice new gaff, Kittencat and I here in Cat Lady Towers. We don't have a cat. Kittencat says cats don't come in houses. I bow to her judgement. That, and we can't afford a cat yet. Maybe one day, but for now life is too complicated.

Upcoming Manchester Music Events

Since Kittencat rent forth from my subsequently tattered body two and a half years ago, you'd be forgiven for thinking I stopped paying much attention to the Manchester music scene. Mostly, because you'd be more than part way right. Not from any waning interest you understand, just that you can't really take a small person to those sorts of events. Yes, I am still a responsible (ish) adult, and I go out less than I did. So no doubt I won't go to all of the events I'm interested in (see the tab, I occasionally update it), but I thought I'd share my interest all the same. I'll no doubt be at some, but if you're worried about bumping into me, chances are you won't, while if you're hoping to, chances are you will. (Avoid gaze or buy me a drink, as appropriate.)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sitting in the dark

I'm catching up with TV. It's cool. But. Right this very second in time I'd like a hug. From a grown up. Without intentions or complications.Or snot. Two year old hugs are always snotty.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Do you remember the bit in Rain Man where Dustin Hoffman describes being kissed as "wet"? Yeah, that.

(This refers more to my lack of those kind of feelings and responses than anything to do with the incident(s) in question. But I'll get to that (those? whatever) later.)

Wow! Sunday was one hell of a day at Sounds From the Other City. I missed Stroke Cats, and their lovely songs about nose picking, so the first act on the bill for me was Irma Vep and Douga at the Salford Arms. Lots and lots of fun, awesome set, cheers to the lovely Hollanthropist for coming with, gossipping about Infected Mushroom and other bands on the way, and recommending my first beer! From there we raced across to Islington Mill to catch Adrian Crowley, who was rather fabulous, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him play. After that I waltzed back to the Salford Arms to catch a little bit of Cosmic Dead and Karl Astbury, which was good and noisy, but a bit samey after a time, so dodged into the United Reform Church to catch a little bit of Sacred Paws. I stand by my original assertion of somekind of riot girl/punky/5,6,7,8's thing all mixed up with Fleetfoxes, though I will say that this is a tad too simplistic. A two piece, the sound they produce is incredibly full, though possibly the songs sounding very samey is down to the limitation of the two piece set up, or simply a newness thing. I think they have a great sound, but as yet, not much variety in that. So I left, and bumped into Richard Knox on the steps outside the church and he gave me a chip. They were awesome chips. So I acquired me a bag also, and sat on the steps and talked the hind leg off Rich and his friend because... well because in an attempt to control my cold I'd raided my medicine cupboard, but the only pseudo based cold meds I could find expired years ago. I took it anyway, then picked up some new on the way. But I was whacked out on the old ones, and unable to have to good effects of the new ones for fear of the old overdose, so apologies. I was a bit chatty. I'd like to think in a good way, but I'd only be kidding myself. But yeah, chips were had, pretty sure I didn't offend anyone, and Rich and I had a lovely chat about lots of things and stuff on the way back to The Angel for Die Hexen. What a lovely chap.

Die Hexen, on the other hand, is not a lovely chap. Die Hexen is very definitely a lady. A very theatrical lady, with a mesh mask over her eyes reminiscient of Pris Bladerunner make up, and some gauzy wing style fabric. It was a fun set, though standing by the hot food counter in The Angel was possibly not the best idea. Hotter than a hot thing. After Die Hexen, it was a run, yet again, back to The Salford Arms for McLean/Nichols/Quimby. That was an absolutely awesome set, and bumped into Danny Saul outside, along with his friend Martin, who I've mostly been listening to this week under the guise of Warm Widow, and his friend Andy who suffered much of my conversation for the rest of the day. Still whacked out on the out of date pseudo, I may have been somewhat effusive in my outburst of appreciation of Warm Widow. Thankfully twas taken as meant, Martin really is a lovely chap. And ginger. All the loveliest people are ginger. After McLean/Nichols/Quimby, there was a break where folks got fed and refreshed and all of that prior to Queer'd Science. I got talking at ten million to the dozen to a girl called Rachel, who I neglected to get a second name for, but she's an artist, and does drawing for things, and we got talking about the artists at the mill, and that she knows someone who does what I want to do with renting kiln space at the mill. So in a couple of months, once I have me a little work space set up, Woodcat will be playing with clay again. SO EXCITED!!!

Queer'd Science. OOOFF!!! Fantastic. Seriously awesome. And so few women can sing like that well. Yes, that was bloody brilliant. I said thank you to you at some point when I was roaming around Islington Mill, but I'll say it again now, that was awesome, thank you for the death metally screaming. It was a blast. At Queer'd Science I spoke to Irma Vep guy, who was also quite pleased to note his set had gone down well. I was down with the dancing for a while, but after being body slammed and foot trodden on by a guy who must of been at least sixteen stone three times in a row, I once again retreated to the safe spot that was the hot plate. Also, by this point the good pseudo had kicked in so I was feeling sharper than a bag of bees bottoms, and not at all whacked out, at least not in a bad way.

 I did a bit of checking out where folks were headed next, I decided on Islington Mill for Denis Jones. Danny was going there, but on not getting the friendliest of friendlies from those quarters, I decided not to tag along there, and made my own way across. On the way I pavement danced to some lovely swingy music in the street with a random man called Stuart who gave me a Volkov Commander necklace, then bumped into Philly Phill, we dumped my coat in my car, and watched Denis Jones! Sweet. Phill said because he often sees Denis play for free he forgets quite how good he is. That set definitely acted as a reminder. It was blooming brilliant. There were a few things going on at a few places after that, I opted to stay at the Mill for Daedelus, which was great. (Phew, this is turning into a long post. But it was a long day!)

Eventually everyone seemed to show up at the Mill, and there was much merriment in the Chat Roulette disco with Corky and Timbretone and Nuclear and Panda Dom and Philly Phill and lots of others. Andy and Martin Warm Widow and Rich Knox and Elaine Reynolds and lots of sexy people everywhere, for lots of bumping into and gossipping. I'm very open to the world right now, so I may have too much informationed EVERYONE about my current set up life wise, but they all took it in good humour. I got hit on three times, but I'm taking it as a previously observed phenomenon I like to call "everyone gets less choosy after midnight". It's something I used to see happening in clubs in Exeter, boys I knew would flirt with the girls they fancied, then, getting nowhere by midnight, would move onto the less attractive friend. Man, I sound so down on myself! But seriously, I was out in a black baggy tee shirt, cardi, jeans and shoes that look like orthopaedic monstrosities (I love those shoes), and I wasn't giving anyone even a hint of an eye. But yeah, random curly haired chap who lived near Sankeys, you were pretty and weird. Red tee shirt arse grabbing man, you were weirder. But I ran away successfully from you two, and danced with Danny's mate Andy, who is a sweet boy mostly, though by no means entirely, because he says that at 32 we are classified as "young old". There was a point in the evening where he tried it on, though once again I am attributing that to the afore mentioned phenomenon "less choosy after midnight", and I thought I explained quite well my current lack of urges, desires and general openness to friends but little else. It seems I did a poor job, as when I gave him a lift home at the end of the night, he kissed me, and not wanting to create a weird situation, and since I am currently again feeling the mantra "try it, you might like it", I went with it for a minute. He seems very nice, and it was a good kiss, but I still lack those things, and so it was kind of like watching my body kissing someone, and not being able to feel what was going on. That sounds really insulting. I don't mean it that way. He's a pretty boy. If I was on it, I'd probably totally have been there. But I'm not. Hopefully I'll see him around though, I'd like us to be friends because he's quite fun and interesting and all of that jazz. I went home, and had a lovely cuddle with Kittencat, and then when she woke up Cattenberg manned the decks for a few hours so I could get a couple of extra hours sleep, as one wasn't really cutting it. All in all, a madly fun day!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Research Day for Sounds From The Other City 2013, or, Yeah, I lack the knowledge! Let's get me some of that! Bands, Music, all that shit.

Yesterday morning Kittencat ran at me, all excited, shouting "Look at this! I'm reading it!" whilst brandishing a flyer for Sounds From theOther City. She's excited, it'll break her heart to know she can't go. But she's only two, and I think it might be a bit much for her. So Kittencat's got an exciting day of watching kids tv presenters at the Stockport Plaza on Saturday, and she'll be doing entertaining but non Salford based fun on Sunday with Cattenberg Battenberg, while I go and gleefully submit to a beautiful assault on my ears.

As I hark on about regularly, I am totally out of the loop, being as how I took a couple of years off to spawn me a kid and all that, and somehow in that time managed to find myself in Dewsbury for a year. During that year, the closest I heard to an exciting gig listing in my locale was Coolio at a bingo hall, though I can't say I was tempted. Anyway, this means that I'm a little behind the times, and though Sounds is, for me, a day where I'm generally happy to go where the wind takes me, it's always good to have a little prior knowledge. So today is going to be spent updating myself with a smattering of the bands on offer, so that if one group of friends swings left, and the other swings right, I'll have an idea which way I want to go.

Anyway, I'm not going to post realms and realms about each band below, though I'm thinking I may run through them properly at a later date. And these are entirely snap decisions, so I reserve the right to subsequently like something I've dismissed/insulted below. I'll write them up properly another day, maybe...

I'm going to attack this by line up listings. Yeah. Let's get this done.(I got nine of eleven done. I might update later, I might just wing it. Print off stage times here)

Underachievers Please Try Harder @ The Crescent
Parenthetical Girls - Jaunty, fast pop, little bit like Brett Anderson riding on a happy pill electropop Pulp-Suede mash up Waltzer horsey. Quite fun.
September Girls - Riot Girl meets the Beach Boys in 5th Avenue for dancing after 14 bottles of £1 Becks
Haiku Salut - Piano accordion glockenspiel neoclassical funk ambient weirdness with the odd tappy rappy sound. Interesting, but no Fez. I think there will be better contenders.
Post War Glamour Girls - Depression meets we're about to find out the murderer is his mother. Interesting use of samples, nice vocals against nicely creepy music. Worth a look
Swimming Lessons - Meh. On a first listen (only one song, so I could well be wrong) this is a poor attempt of failure where others have succeeded previously. Bit dull.
Songs for Walter - Dreamyish chirpy steady pop. Very steady. Look at the sound lines on Soundcloud. Straight lines all the way. Happy enough to please, but one song is much the same as the others. I'd sit through it unoffended. But on a night where more is offered, I'll take more, ta very much.
Letters to Fiesta - Interesting vocals, some go for the dark jaunty pop approach, some electropop, others a little folk Kate Bush (okay, that was lazy, but for speed, you know?). Not sure, but I'd be interested in seeing them. I don't think it'll be Sunday.

Faktion vs Wet Play @ The Old Pint Pot
There is a lot of good stuff on this set list, but I have to go and watch kids tv presenters at a theatre near you shortly. I might update it if I have time this evening, but… Needless to say, you know to expect fun times here.
Faktion present an “Unknown to the Unknown” Label Showcase
DJ Q presents ‘CLASSIFIED’
Robert Gordon (Forgemasters)
Walter Ego
Mista Men
DJ Haus
Samrai & Platt (Swing Ting)
Jah Bricks
Faktion DJ
Wet Play
Gramme (live)
Ruf Dug (Live)
Jason Boardman
James Holroyd
++ many more

Now Wave at St Phillips Church
Stealing Sheep - Psych-folk lo-fi drone synth pop. Twinkly. Pretty.
Still Corners - Ethereal vocals and multi instrumental guff, quite pretty, bit samey when one track played next to another. Good in one song at a time isolation
Deptford Goth - I see the theme in this stage. Quiet, pretty, lo-fi, male vocals, all ambient and sensitive and shit. Music that you see on teen dramas when they're about to do the making love as opposed to just the sex.
Ofei - Looked up, variety of disparate genres, no clue which this one is, but to hazard a guess, some kind of passable lo fi dream pop ambient stuff
Greatwaves - Pretty. And interests me a bit.
BiPolar Sunshine - Sounds like he's listened to Suburban Kids and mixed it with Christian R&B. I think I actually quite like it.
+ more

Trash-O-Rama at The Angel Centre
DIVORCE - Noisy noisy noisy. Dark and noisy. Soundcloud, quietly through a laptop to avoid waking the child likely doesn't do this justice. I think live would be good.
Queer’d Science - In your face punk synth with some screaming. I like this a bit.
Die Hexen - Oooh, I just put Die Hexen on, then released that I heard it the other day on the SFTOC download mixtape thingy. Basically, they're awesome. Probably. Based on what I heard then, and what I'm hearing now.
Laser Dream Eyes - No idea, can't find them. Laser Dream Eyes surprise, that's what they sound like.
Ill - There are too many artists with Ill in the name, and I can't be bothered to trawl through them all. No doubt they sound sick. Sorry, that was a really bad pun.
Stroke Cat - I love Stroke Cat for song titles such as Getting through the day (Without picking my nose) and Oh no, the bees will get me (I don't want to die like Macaulay Culkin). Also they're quite fun. There's a slight element that could almost be called White Stripesy, but I'm going to forgive them that, because they're good, and they sing about socially relevant topics, like nose picking.
+ Red Laser Records DJs (Ste Spandex & il Bosco), TOR DJs & guests
+ secret guests tba on the day via Twitter @trash0ramadjs

Hey! Manchester @ Islington Mill
Daedelus - just awesome. But you know this already.
BC Camplight
Rozi Plain - is brilliant. Again, you know this.
Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Based on the 2 and a half minutes I gave this while I located the charger for the baby monitor, it's really really pretty.
Denis Jones
Treetop Flyers - Sitting in a field on a sunny Sunday morning, with a festival hangover (you know the nice fuzzy almost pleasant ones?), with a low key opener on a stage. That's what I wanted for this, not hunched over my keyboard, in my dressing gown and spotty PJs.
Adrian Crowley - Pretty, melancholy, lovely. It's making me think of something that's eluding me right now, but it's nice. Very nice indeed.

Slip Discs @ The Deli Lama
Goves – Inoffensive bleepy tapey chewy drone
Ian Vine – Droney drone. I’m guessing this is a drone stage. Is this the Manchester Ian Vine? Sounds interesting.
Tom Rose – Too many Tom Rose listings, not enough life left. Drone, no doubt.
Aaron Parker – gave up.
Chaines - ditto

Buried Bones @ The New Oxford
HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER – Whole Americana vibe, with cheesy dadrock Joe Cocker esque female warbling backing singers, though this doesn’t feel offensive or overdone. Cattenberg Battenberg says it’s a bit like when Britpop try to go heavy, like Primal Scream when they try to do Led Zep. Kittencat likes it. She’s dancing.
William Tyler – Experimental guitar pretty. This guy’s played with Silver Jews. We like.
Astral Social Club – Lots of mad sounds screaming me into being awake. I like this.
Bridget Hayden – Still erring towards Americana, but with lots and lots of chewed up heavy. Drone rock.
Chalaque – Can’t find. Oh well.
Bing Satellites – Tags on Soundcloud say ambient and ambient shoegaze. Yeah. Probably. Cattenberg says he’s got some on a hard drive, I’ll give them a proper listen another day. It’s slow and mellow, and doesn’t seem equipped to deal with the current speed dating musicathon. I think I like it, but I need time to listen properly. Probably a good chill out from the madness of the day.
A Belied Guaniko – Can’t find. Overall this stage seems like a nice blend of sounds, so be interesting to hear.

Mind on Fire vs This City is Ours at The Kings Arms
I haven’t got time to go through this one this morning. I might give it a go later, or I might just swing by and see what’s going down.
Deft ((Rwina Records / Space Hardware)
Blaksmif(Blah Blah Blah / Synchronicity)
Szare(Horizontal Ground / Idle Hands)
Rain Dog(Project: Mooncircle)
Real (WotNot / XVI Records / Sounds Of Sumo)
Frameworks (live band)(My First Moth / First Word)
Cogi(Broken Bubble)
PYC Sessions DJs
This City is Ours DJs
Mind on Fire DJs
OneFiveEight DJs
Ghosting Season DJs

Fat Out til You Pass Out vs Bad Uncle at Salford Arms
I want to see everything on this line up. EVERYTHING.
The Peter J Taylor Guitar Orchestra – I WANT TO SEE THIS SO BADLY IT HURTS
Cosmic Dead & Karl Astbury – I like that. I like it a lot.  It’s heavy. Yep.
Irma Vep & Douga – Irma Vep! I think that speaks for itself. Do it.
Borland & Champion Lover – Only heard a bit, could be interesting. Seems quite cool.
Keith Floyd performing ‘Live at Pompeii’ – Keith Floyd’s dead! Oh wait, different Floyd. Sorry. Ahem. Always going to be worth a look, I’d say.
Quimby, McLean, Nichols

Comfortable on a Tightrope @ United Reformed Church
Volunteers Park - mad as a box of boxes playing an electronica set on a casio keyboard, with occasional drone in Dogger, Humber and German Bight. Madly varied output, so probably worth a look.
Sea Pinks - Sound notably derivative of the sixties generally, but without me being able to lay an immediate specific reference. Does not sound like the Beatles, as many of this ilk are wont to do. I'm not finding them terribly exciting, but they are quite nice.
La La Vasquez - Girls, singing predictably off key, generic rock instruments behind. S'okay I guess. Won't be going to see.
Edible Arrangements - I want to like this because of the name. Hip hip hippity hop synthesiser lift music.
Sacred Paws - Girl vocals, aim seems to be to produce something like riot girl meets Fleetfoxes? I was inclined to err on the side of interest, but all three songs I played sound exactly the same. Exactly the same.
Waiters – Drone rock pop. Played a couple of tracks, pretty samey samey samey samey samey samey samey.
Occult Hand - Chewed up droney electronica - feels like it's about to do something else, but never quite does. The track I heard was neither challenging or engulfing. Background to a submarine thriller maybe.
The Swamps - aiming for fairly dense punk, lack lustre on recording, maybe better live?
+ Manchester Scenewipe present Manchester SceneSkype at Islington Mill Gallery, a day of live link-ups with acts from all corners of the globe.
++ ‘Red Deer Club Secret Sessions’ conjure up a series of undisclosed shows in secret spaces.
+++ the Volkov Commanders create a performance bazaar.
++++ Baptists and Bootleggers host a stage of live ambient improvisation featuring an array of musicians from the around the festival.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

N.Racker makes the most excellent instruments out of nails and batteries and unadulterated cool

Sunday night was A-Sun Amissa, Fieldhead and N.Racker at the Bay Horse. Still a little bit wrecked from staying out until 6am Friday night/Saturday morning, it was tempting to do the old lady thing and stay home and sleep, but I really wanted to go! So I did, although I was good, and did sit and do some revision with a beer until Corky and Timbretone arrived. Yeah, that makes up for going out before your exams, honest.

Anyway, the gig. I recently met, courtesy of Corky, Richard Knox of Gizeh Records and Elaine Reynolds, sexy lady and violinist extraordinaire, and attendance on Sunday was in part due to curiosity about their respective musical talents, and in part because I wanted to hear N. Racker. It's been a while since I went to a gig entirely cold, I hadn't heard any of them previously, but I heard good things about Fieldhead from Corky, and I've heard rustles of interest around N.Racker that stirred my curiosity.

A-Sun Amissa is a musical collaboration between Richard Knox (Glissando, The Rustle of the Stars, Of Thread & Mist), Angela Chan (Glissando, The Rustle of the Stars, Tomorrow We Sail) and Gareth Davis, though on Sunday the line up was just Knox and Chan playing a guitar and violin drone set. It was pretty. I'd describe it as the kind of music that you're supposed to get lost in, but I wasn't lost. I found myself observing the symmetry between the music and the images projected on the wall, and wondered which came first, whether composition framed images, or images augmented composition. Several times my mind wandered to completely unrelated places. Knox is talented at creating sounds with his guitar and pedal set up, and Chan similarly talented with her violin, yet I only found myself pleasantly entertained, not lost, and not moved. Hopefully that will come with time, because they are good. But not magical. Not yet.

Next up was Fieldhead, a project led by Paul Elam, and supported by violinists Elaine Reynolds (The Boats, The Declining Winter) and Sarah Kemp (Lanterns on the Lake, The Declining Winter). Sunday's set was Paul Elam and Elaine Reynolds. She is a sexy lady. And an exceptional violinist, and more than possibly what made this set for me. I actually haven't heard anything quite like Fieldhead for a while. It's ambient electronica, with lots of tape hiss and quite lovely string arrangements, but maintains quite a strong rhythmic quality, and made me think of slowed down techno, and left me with the most peculiar desire to play a load of dub when I got home. Don't be put off by this. They're quite awesome.

Last on the bill was N.Racker. I'd never played them before, and I assure you I'll be acquiring the entire N.Racker back catalogue as soon as funds deem it possible (curse thee, monies!). I believe the man in N.Racker is called Sam (?), though it's difficult to find information on the players of this outfit online - rather nicely they let what they make speak for itself. To a backdrop of old archive footage of woollen mills in Rochdale, this was the most fantastic thing I've seen in a while, him playing strings nailed and screwed onto old speakers and bridged with old batteries, playing them in turn like a harp, or with paint brushes and a handheld fan. She played a harmonium, some jingly jingly bells and a flute, as well as making some lovely vocal sounds. The improvised set showed off a beautiful musical collaboration, both parties playing off each other with a level of intuition that meant for an almost flawless set. I say almost flawless, there were a couple of moments where they could have been braver, build more intensity. There were moments that should have been pushed to more than you could bear. This was a performance that was hugely beautiful, and I was entirely engrossed, and not just because of the excitement of the homemade instruments and ingenious lovely. But I wanted to be pushed to feel more. N.Racker is capable of that, and I look forward to seeing them again.