A Guitar and a Challenge.

16 09 2009

Learning an instrument seems to be a lot harder than I had originally thought. I have always wanted to be able to play an instrument properly whether it be the piano (my current musical desire), the drums (my instrument of choice if I were in a band) or the guitar (my current challenge). I play a decent enough recorder but this raises the question of what exactly does a decent recorder sound like. It isn’t exactly the most pleasant of instruments. I know how to play because of school requirements more than anything-it was either the recorder or the choir. There was also a small phase of being taught how to play keyboards but after learning three chords, which I have since forgotten, my Mother stopped paying for lessons. Fair enough as after a while my attendance at these lessons was rare, I was a very shy child and had become increasingly embarrassed about asking to be excused from lessons to go and learn the keyboard. Anyhow, many years later here I am complaning to my Mum about her not forcing me to learn an instrument as a small child.

I’ve got my hands on an acoustic guitar and some beginners guitar books. I’m working my way through them, slowly. So far all I seem to have achieved is hard fingertips and a state of confusion.

Chords-there are so many to remember but the thing that gets me is the position of the fingers. If it was possible to tie fingers in knots then I’m sure my left hand would be useless by now.
Strumming-I can strum down, I can strum up but the combination of down and up and down again isn’t as much of a smooth motion as many people make it out to be. Not just yet anyway.
Holding the guitar-No matter how many different positions I hold it in I feel like a hillbilly or country folk singer type. I’m hoping this will be overcome quite soon.

I’ve been told that the first part is the hardest, i.e. learning chords, strumming etc and once you pick that up it’s easy. Surely once I’ve learnt the chords and how to strum I can play guitar! Putting the chords in order and turning the strumming into some sort of rhythm is learning how to play a song. That would be a whole other challenge that my "skills" haven’t advanced to yet.

Will hopefully keep you posted about my improvement!

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How To Win The Lottery (part 2)

15 09 2009

Okay so I know the moment has passed but I thought I’d post my two cents on last Friday’s show.

Despite being more confused about how the trick was done I thoroughly enjoyed the programme. I clearly must be watching the wrong programmes but I rarely find that an entertainment show on television that engages my mind as much as a Derren Brown programme does. Half of my brain seems to be concentrating on what he is saying and taking it in whilst the other half of my brain is overlooking what is coming out of his mouth and trying to read between the lines.

Derren seems to enjoy a live environment and appears relaxed which adds to both the entertainment factor of the show and my paranoia.
Although the majority of the audience were waiting for the ultimate reveal about the lottery trick I was rather enjoying the build up. An audience member avoiding a mouse, a guy avoiding a knife through his foot, it all adds to the explanation anyway.

An explanation that I’m not sure I believe to be honest. Deep maths?! Is that even a real thing? Although the last option of fixing the machine isn’t really his style part of me hopes he did. We will never find out though.

I read some tweets about the show and many people seem disappointed with The Events on Friday. Aside from the ones who genuinely believed they would find out how to win the lottery I think the others are hoping there is a bigger thing behind the lottery show. Some believe it was created simply to set up for the next show entitled How To Control The Nation, which looks fantastic by the way, or it will be if it works. We will never know the ins and outs of how he predicted the lottery or if there were/are underlying reasons behind it but it definitely got people talking.
 





How To Win The Lottery

11 09 2009

In one of the most gripping 10 minutes of television that I’ve seen in a while (maybe that says more about me than Derren) Derren Brown seemingly predicted the lottery. There are many theories flying around about how he did this, I too have my own. Well, when I say my own I meant I read a tweet on Twitter and concurred with his thoughts…

Derren and Co have even set up a website here in which theories can be discussed. Now that is confident. The only thing that we know for certain about Derren Brown predicting the lottery is that he didn’t predict the lottery.

However he did it Wednesday nights show is the best advert I’ve ever seen for a television show. Roll on "The Events".





Ready For This? (Are you sure? It’s quite long…)

8 09 2009

Tim Minchin-Ready For This? The Lowry, Salford. 2nd September 2009.

 

I’d been waiting for this for a while after one song on the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 2008 got me hooked on the genius that is Mr. Tim Minchin. Repeated viewings of his "So F**cking Rock" DVD and You Tube videos had fueled my obsession thus far due to various things that meant I couldn’t get to see him live.  Finally I had the tickets in hand and was on my way… only to nearly miss the start of the show.
We (my brother and I) made it though and got settled into the particularly good seats we had.

Excitement kicks in as my eyes fix on the grand piano sitting centre stage in front of a black backdrop reading "Ready For This?". I thought I was but it turns out that I was wrong…

The sound of the title track of the tour Ready For This? blasting through the speakers and strobe lighting built up the anticipation for Tim who appeared during the song with his usual big hair and bare feet and asking amusingly "Who needs a band? Who needs friends?"

With Tim sat behind his piano he launched into Prejudice a very clever song which leads your mind one way for a good two minutes before fooling you and taking you down a different, hilarious route. The beginning of the song implies that it will be about the use of the word "nigger". This seems to make a few audience members a bit worried as to what is to come in the duration of this gig as obviously this word is used rarely and with extreme caution usually, although comedians do like to break the mould. It turns out however, that it is a very catchy song about gingers. The audience burst into laughter as they hear the line "only a ginger can call another ginger, ginger" and then again when they realise the anagram. Tim encourages the audience to sing along which might have worked a bit better if the audience had a better understanding of Tim Minchin. To me it seemed that the majority of the audience were new to Mr. Minchin and at this point were just trying to work him out. Quite a few members of the audience were aware of Tim though and his ways. These people, including me, were only too happy to join in the singing. Through interjections of laughter of course.

Next up was Tim’s attempt to  talk to the audience, which he admits he isn’t very good at. Personally, I like his slightly awkward style and to watch how he eases into the gig. It could have been a help or a hinderence that a girl screamed out that she loves him. Not the best idea as she was sitting on the front row.
His "stand-up" sections are mainly put in place to give a background story or outline to his songs. He has a quality Australian accent which makes me smile anyway, regardless of the jokes, which are in fact very funny. One that sticks out inparticular is an observation on Henry VIII’s song, Greensleeves. The joke involves ice-cream vans and paedophiles. It’s the way you tell ’em… and I er, can’t!

As this review is rather delayed the exact details are beginning to fade. I clearly remember all the songs though. I would go as far to say that Tim Minchin’s songwriting skills are genius. He is a fantastic pianist and manages to combine incredible piano solos with witty and hilarious lyrics.
I Love Jesus is a song that doesn’t actually include a piano or many lyrics but it is hilarious. As Tim went to pick up his guitar we saw a glimpse of Tim’s first night nerves as his guitar strap got tangled up in the lead. Nothing major. He also stubbed his toe twice throughout the gig. Slightly worried about his feet for the rest of his tour…
Back to the gig though. I Love Jesus is another audience participatory song, they were more eager to join in this time despite the awkward sense that we wereat church. That was the point of the song though, the whole hippy Jesus stuff doesn’t really work anywhere else.
The Good Book is delivered in the style of a slow witted American further proving the ridiculous nature religion can have.
He then moves onto a song dedicated to his wife entitled If I Didn’t Have You. I was particularly excited to see this live after I read it was to be included in the set (thanks Twitter) as previously mentioned it was the song that got me hooked and it includes a comedy wiggle that gets me grinning from ear to ear. Sadly the wiggle wasn’t at it’s best as Tim admitted, "what’s up with my wiggle? It’s fucked up". The song is still very funny though with it turning into a mathematical evaluation about how it is very unlikely that she is "the one".
After some more set up talk describing how a bad review had knocked his confidence and taken a while to get over, the song which "journolousts" must dread (not this one [haven’t got a bad word to say about the guy] although being in the mindset of a journoloust technically doesn’t qualify me to be one). Set up as a song written to show how Tim has moved on from the review he launches into Song For Phil Daoust. It begins as a forgiveness song but has quite a gruesome twist as he sings "But I still want to cut big chunks of flesh out of your stupid face, and make your children watch while I force you to eat them." This reminds me of the only part of a Hannibal Lecter film I have seen and the reason I won’t watch anymore of them. The song is quite upbeat however, and makes me very happy. Que another dose of uncontrollable laughter.
Dark Side came next in all it’s theatrical and frankly genius glory. This song has everything, the funny lyrics, a smoke machine, amazing piano solos (which at one point encourage him to do a one line rendition of Kings of Leon’s Sex On Firebefore incorporating Greensleeves into the end of the solo), a focused and "dark" element, an upbeat section andit’s catchy. Not in that "aargh, get out of my head" sort of catchy, the kind of catchy where something in your everyday life will remind you of this song and you’ll start singing it only to have people looking at you strangely as quite often they haven’t heard this song or Tim Minchin. These people need to be helped and shown the way of the Minchin.
Dark Side finishes and takes us into an interval. In which the interval song is played which sneaks into your brain and refuses to escape for a while.

Second half and there is a buzz in the audience as they are largely intrigued as to what is lying on the chair on stage, they slowly realise what is on the chair they move onto "why".
It is a bear suit which is laying in waiting for some (un)lucky audience member. Tim selects one of the guys who he had picked on in the beginning of the show. He was reluctant to get on stage so Tim picks him up and puts him there, it’s one way to keep the gig moving! Now to get him into the suit, he took a while due to constantly sticking up the middle finger to his friends, irritating. Instructions were then wispered into his ear before Tim started Bears Don’t Dig On Dancing. Another different song style which includes a clip of Jump Around and a rave section. Towards the end of the song "Matthew Bear" had to dance, he did well although the majority of his dance included yet more hand gestures to his friends. Tim admitted that when the song was originally performed a professional dancer was used and had forgotten exactly how long he needed to dance for. A few audience members were getting into the dancing spirit themselves.
After Matthew had de-beared himself Tim launched into the first of the Twitter selected songs in the form of If You Really Loved Me in which Tim reels off several odd yet comical things that someone should do to prove their love. The audience really seemed to like the idea of videoing someone while they pee…
To introduce the next song Tim explained that no matter how well or indeed how bad a gig was going there was generally always a lull three-quarters of the way through a long set. He explained that he had come up with a problem to solve this-a 9 minute beat poem entitled Storm. A very impressive section of the gig involving Tim debating with a new-age hippy at a dinner party. His linguistic and delivery skills shine blindingly here. I was astounded as to how he could remember all those words and the pace in which to deliver them, but that’s his job I guess! By the end of it if he had me 100% converted to rationality and the wonders of being in the world we are, and I wasn’t even sure that I needed converting.
Sadly the gig is drawing to an end but not before Tim is back behind his grand piano to play Confessions. A song split into three parts, each of which focuses on an important issue yet finishes with an upbeat song about boobs. The audience quickly pick up this twist and eagerly join in. To their delight the conclusion to this song includes a reworking of the Dolly Parton classic I Will Always Love… Boobs!
The gig finishes with a more spectacular version of Canvas Bagsthan I had previously seen during my You Tube searches. Arms were waving, voices were singing along and lights were flashing. As the fan was blowing through hair hair, both on his head and chest as his shirt was now flying open, he looked like a full on rock star and rightly so. The pyrotechnics went off in the background before the shout of "blackout" from Mr. Minchin. We were left blown away, with huge smiles on our faces.
For the encore we got the second of the Twitter selected songs, You Grew On Me. Would have preferred Rock N Roll Nerd or Not Perfect but it’s still a good song and the audience loved it.

Tim Minchin’s gigs are the perfect mix of comedy and musical genius. As his musical style varies from song to song and his skills on the piano are worth the ticket price alone anyone with a love for either music or comedy would fully enjoy his show. I highly recommend it to everyone.
I think The Scotsman describes him best when they say "He plays like an angel, sings like a rock star and has a devil sense of humour."

We also managed to meet Tim after the show (something which I usually avoid doing, these situations often turn out to be embarrasing). We chatted for a while in more of a friend to friend way rather than artist to fan, which was refreshing. He stayed until he had got to see everyone who wanted to see him despite his initial rush to get home. What a nice guy.

Tim Minchin
Angry (Feet) An ace fansite.





Ready For This? (Are you sure? It’s quite long…)

7 09 2009

Tim Minchin-Ready For This? The Lowry, Salford. 1st September 2009.

 

I’d been waiting for this for a while after one song on the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 2008 got me hooked on the genius that is Mr. Tim Minchin. Repeated viewings of his “So F**cking Rock” DVD and You Tube videos had fueled my obsession thus far due to various things that meant I couldn’t get to see him live.  Finally I had the tickets in hand and was on my way… only to nearly miss the start of the show.
We (my brother and I) made it though and got settled into the particularly good seats we had.

Excitement kicks in as my eyes fix on the grand piano sitting centre stage in front of a black backdrop reading “Ready For This?”. I thought I was but it turns out that I was wrong…

The sound of the title track of the tour Ready For This? blasting through the speakers and strobe lighting built up the anticipation for Tim who appeared during the song with his usual big hair and bare feet and asking amusingly “Who needs a band? Who needs friends?”

With Tim sat behind his piano he launched into Prejudice a very clever song which leads your mind one way for a good two minutes before fooling you and taking you down a different, hilarious route. The beginning of the song implies that it will be about the use of the word “nigger”. This seems to make a few audience members a bit worried as to what is to come in the duration of this gig as obviously this word is used rarely and with extreme caution usually, although comedians do like to break the mould. It turns out however, that it is a very catchy song about gingers. The audience burst into laughter as they hear the line “only a ginger can call another ginger, ginger” and then again when they realise the anagram. Tim encourages the audience to sing along which might have worked a bit better if the audience had a better understanding of Tim Minchin. To me it seemed that the majority of the audience were new to Mr. Minchin and at this point were just trying to work him out. Quite a few members of the audience were aware of Tim though and his ways. These people, including me, were only too happy to join in the singing. Through interjections of laughter of course.

Next up was Tim’s attempt to  talk to the audience, which he admits he isn’t very good at. Personally, I like his slightly awkward style and to watch how he eases into the gig. It could have been a help or a hinderence that a girl screamed out that she loves him. Not the best idea as she was sitting on the front row.
His “stand-up” sections are mainly put in place to give a background story or outline to his songs. He has a quality Australian accent which makes me smile anyway, regardless of the jokes, which are in fact very funny. One that sticks out inparticular is an observation on Henry VIII’s song, Greensleeves. The joke involves ice-cream vans and paedophiles. It’s the way you tell ’em… and I er, can’t!

As this review is rather delayed the exact details are beginning to fade. I clearly remember all the songs though. I would go as far to say that Tim Minchin’s songwriting skills are genius. He is a fantastic pianist and manages to combine incredible piano solos with witty and hilarious lyrics.
I Love Jesus is a song that doesn’t actually include a piano or many lyrics but it is hilarious. As Tim went to pick up his guitar we saw a glimpse of Tim’s first night nerves as his guitar strap got tangled up in the lead. Nothing major. He also stubbed his toe twice throughout the gig. Slightly worried about his feet for the rest of his tour…
Back to the gig though. I Love Jesus is another audience participatory song, they were more eager to join in this time despite the awkward sense that we were at church. That was the point of the song though, the whole hippy Jesus stuff doesn’t really work anywhere else.
The Good Book is delivered in the style of a slow witted American further proving the ridiculous nature religion can have.
He then moves onto a song dedicated to his wife entitled If I Didn’t Have You. I was particularly excited to see this live after I read it was to be included in the set (thanks Twitter) as previously mentioned it was the song that got me hooked and it includes a comedy wiggle that gets me grinning from ear to ear. Sadly the wiggle wasn’t at it’s best as Tim admitted, “what’s up with my wiggle? It’s fucked up”. The song is still very funny though with it turning into a mathematical evaluation about how it is very unlikely that she is “the one”.
After some more set up talk describing how a bad review had knocked his confidence and taken a while to get over, the song which “journolousts” must dread (not this one [haven’t got a bad word to say about the guy] although being in the mindset of a journoloust technically doesn’t qualify me to be one). Set up as a song written to show how Tim has moved on from the review he launches into Song For Phil Daoust. It begins as a forgiveness song but has quite a gruesome twist as he sings “But I still want to cut big chunks of flesh out of your stupid face, and make your children watch while I force you to eat them.” This reminds me of the only part of a Hannibal Lecter film I have seen and the reason I won’t watch anymore of them. The song is quite upbeat however, and makes me very happy. Que another dose of uncontrollable laughter.
Dark Side came next in all it’s theatrical and frankly genius glory. This song has everything, the funny lyrics, a smoke machine, amazing piano solos (which at one point encourage him to do a one line rendition of Kings of Leon’s Sex On Firebefore incorporating Greensleeves into the end of the solo), a focused and “dark” element, an upbeat section andit’s catchy. Not in that “aargh, get out of my head” sort of catchy, the kind of catchy where something in your everyday life will remind you of this song and you’ll start singing it only to have people looking at you strangely as quite often they haven’t heard this song or Tim Minchin. These people need to be helped and shown the way of the Minchin.
Dark Side finishes and takes us into an interval. In which the interval song is played which sneaks into your brain and refuses to escape for a while.

Second half and there is a buzz in the audience as they are largely intrigued as to what is lying on the chair on stage, they slowly realise what is on the chair they move onto “why”.
It is a bear suit which is laying in waiting for some (un)lucky audience member. Tim selects one of the guys who he had picked on in the beginning of the show. He was reluctant to get on stage so Tim picks him up and puts him there, it’s one way to keep the gig moving! Now to get him into the suit, he took a while due to constantly sticking up the middle finger to his friends, irritating. Instructions were then wispered into his ear before Tim started Bears Don’t Dig On Dancing. Another different song style which includes a clip of Jump Around and a rave section. Towards the end of the song “Matthew Bear” had to dance, he did well although the majority of his dance included yet more hand gestures to his friends. Tim admitted that when the song was originally performed a professional dancer was used and had forgotten exactly how long he needed to dance for. A few audience members were getting into the dancing spirit themselves.
After Matthew had de-beared himself Tim launched into the first of the Twitter selected songs in the form of If You Really Loved Me in which Tim reels off several odd yet comical things that someone should do to prove their love. The audience really seemed to like the idea of videoing someone while they pee…
To introduce the next song Tim explained that no matter how well or indeed how bad a gig was going there was generally always a lull three-quarters of the way through a long set. He explained that he had come up with a problem to solve this-a 9 minute beat poem entitled Storm. A very impressive section of the gig involving Tim debating with a new-age hippy at a dinner party. His linguistic and delivery skills shine blindingly here. I was astounded as to how he could remember all those words and the pace in which to deliver them, but that’s his job I guess! By the end of it if he had me 100% converted to rationality and the wonders of being in the world we are, and I wasn’t even sure that I needed converting.
Sadly the gig is drawing to an end but not before Tim is back behind his grand piano to play Confessions. A song split into three parts, each of which focuses on an important issue yet finishes with an upbeat song about boobs. The audience quickly pick up this twist and eagerly join in. To their delight the conclusion to this song includes a reworking of the Dolly Parton classic I Will Always Love… Boobs!
The gig finishes with a more spectacular version of Canvas Bagsthan I had previously seen during my You Tube searches. Arms were waving, voices were singing along and lights were flashing. As the fan was blowing through hair hair, both on his head and chest as his shirt was now flying open, he looked like a full on rock star and rightly so. The pyrotechnics went off in the background before the shout of “blackout” from Mr. Minchin. We were left blown away, with huge smiles on our faces.
For the encore we got the second of the Twitter selected songs, You Grew On Me. Would have preferred Rock N Roll Nerd or Not Perfect but it’s still a good song and the audience loved it.

Tim Minchin’s gigs are the perfect mix of comedy and musical genius. As his musical style varies from song to song and his skills on the piano are worth the ticket price alone anyone with a love for either music or comedy would fully enjoy his show. I highly recommend it to everyone.
I think The Scotsman describes him best when they say “He plays like an angel, sings like a rock star and has a devil sense of humour.”

We also managed to meet Tim after the show (something which I usually avoid doing, these situations often turn out to be embarrasing). We chatted for a while in more of a friend to friend way rather than artist to fan, which was refreshing. He stayed until he had got to see everyone who wanted to see him despite his initial rush to get home. What a nice guy.

Tim Minchin
Angry (Feet) An ace fansite.





Music Magazine Decline

30 08 2009

After listening to The Music Week on BBC6 Music concern was raised over the decline in sales of music magazines. Obviously this has been blamed on the recession and the internet. These are definitely factors, especially the internet. With a world of information at the click of a button why bother spending £3 on a magazine which is mostly full of information you aren’t interested in. Personally though I enjoy flicking through a magazine. The quality of the writing is far better than the drivel produced for some internet articles (possibly including this?!), the pictures appear to be of better quality when printed on glossy pages and magazines seem to retain my interest more. The internet has so many distractions whilst you can bury your head in the pages of a magazine and concentrate on what you’re reading.

When it comes to NME however, I stopped buying that magazine a while ago. It seems to be the Bible for what I like to call "Scenesters". People who follow the crowd, are "individual" yet look the same as every other scenester and only love the latest "cool" band although they loose interest in the band as soon as someone else has heard of them. Irritating. The main reason I stopped buying NME though was the fact that at least half of the magazine is adverts. It isn’t exactly a thick magazine in the first place so to fill half of it with advertising is rather annoying and slightly rude to the reader in my opinion. The articles themselves are only half a page long and they contradict themselves from issue to issue. I understand advertising is needed for funding but at least bulk up your articles and make your mind up.

Long live Q Magazine I say. Although they seem to love Keane, Kaiser Chiefs and U2 they do produce some damn good stuff. Plus Muse are the main feature this week and that’s always going to sway my vote!





Inglorious Basterds. Interestingly Bloody.

29 08 2009

Before I begin I must confess that I haven’t got the greatest Quentin Tarantino knowledge (I’m not even sure if I’ve spelt his name right!). I haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction or either of the volumes of Kill Bill. I know, I know I have a huge list of films I "should have seen".
There are two things I know about Quentin Tarantino:1. He likes blood and gore.
                                                                                                 2. He is a bit crazy.

These points clearly come across in his new film Inglorious Basterds. I went to see this film unsure whether I would like it or not. I mean I can handle gore to a certain extent but from what I’ve heard Tarantino takes it to the next level. Plus, I wasn’t really sure what the film was about, the trailer doesn’t even include the full title nevermind a proper idea to the plot. At least it didn’t give everything away though as trailers tend to do these days.

From the minute the film began I knew it wasn’t going to be what I had expected. The film was spilt into different sections. The first of which introduced a evil yet strangely likeable character named Col. Hans Landa. Unexpectedly humerous and intellegent he seemed to portray the nazis in a different light. I eventually grew to hate him mind.

The camera work and interlinking of different sections of the film was cleverly done. The plot to me was unpredicatable and characters lives were not guarenteed. I also found the film quite funny at times. The majority of the cinema audience seemed to agree. As for the violence and gore it did seem a bit over the top at times. Without wanting to reveal too much, my scalp felt sore during certain scenes. For the majority of the film I feel the violence was required, obviously due to the nature of the topic and because it just wouldn’t be a Quentin Tarantino film if it didn’t involve a bit of gore. I did make me stop and wonder what a danger Tarantino would be to the public if he wasn’t making films.

Brad Pitt was obviously played a key role and once I got over his odd accent I actually quite enjoyed his character. For me however, it was the foreign and lesser known actors than shone. Such as Chistoph Waltz who played Col. Hans Landa, Melanie Laurnet who played one of the few women roles, Eli Roth known throughtout the film as "The Bear Jew" and who also directed the film within the film "Nation’s Pride" (thanks IMDb) and Til Schweigher who provided both the loudest laughs and the most gruesome killings as Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz.

To my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed Inglorious Basterds and may now have to finally watch those fore-mentioned Tarantino films.

As a footnote I guess I should mention that three different couples walked out during the film so I guess it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…