Thursday, March 31, 2005
So anyway, yes, as I said a while ago, I finally bought myself a ukulele. And here it is, pictured, to give some idea of scale, next to its foster brother my battered acoustic guitar.
That guitar, incidentally, was acquired second hand from my friend, the ludicrously successful and prolific children's book illustrator, Adrian Reynolds some years ago (in settlement of an £8 debt if I remember rightly). We were at college together way back and then housemates for quite a while. Nowadays he lives round the corner. It is in all respects coincidence and in no way a reflection of our subsequent illustrative careers that he now plays a great big double bass and I've just got a teeny weeny ukulele.
Anyway, the ukulele (or "uke" as we aficianados call them) is a Mahalo tenor. Tenors are the second largest standard size of uke - smaller than the baritone but larger than the concert and the more common soprano. I tried out a concert uke in the shop but found it a bit too fiddly for my clumsy mitts. I'd probably have adjusted eventually but the tenor felt just a touch roomier on the fingerboard.
And it's great fun to play. Ukes are tuned to different notes but at similar intervals to those of the top four strings of a guitar. So having previously learned a fair number of guitar chord shapes over the years (pretty much only ever play 3 or 4 of them, but I know more than that) I can now use the same shapes (but with two fewer strings to worry about) on the uke. So I've quickly progressed from really awful to awful and even, thanks to a Zoom PS-02 digital multitrack recorder (lovely toy) I picked up on eBay a while ago, accompanied myself on guitar on a favourite Magnetic Fields track, The Book of Love. And do you know, for all my ineptitude on both instruments it actually sounded okay. Then I "sang" over the top of it and suddenly it didn't.
But even making bad music can be a good thing, I think. So long as bagpipes aren't involved.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Friday, March 25, 2005
I don't often do this kind of ordinary, link-based entry but this story, via Neil Gaiman's blog, about graffiti artist Banksy getting paintings into major New York galleries by the simple method of taking them in and gluing them to the walls is too good not to share.
In other, less jolly, news (again via Mr Gaiman): further evidence that the United States of America is in danger of becoming even more buggered than it already is. "Freedom is a dangerous thing," says Republican, Dennis Baxley in defence of his proposed bill to, essentially, limit the freedom of speech of college professors. Is it just me or is it getting so the Constitution of the United States is becoming more and more like the one on the barn wall in Animal Farm? The pigs keep changing the bits they don't like.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
A woman playing solitaire on an electronic device no larger than a deck of cards.
Monday, March 21, 2005
So anyway, my excuse for a lack of posting last week is that I was away at the seaside for a couple of days at the end of the week and trying to get ahead with work in the days preceding that.
I had a jolly nice time, thank you for asking, down in sunny Brighton (plus an afternoon in its more homely second cousin Worthing) seeing a bunch of splendid friends I have down that way. Highlights included: onion soup (from a Jamie Oliver recipe but made less dangerous by my friends Chris and Catherine); balancing a My Little Pony on top of a My Little Pony annual (2004) on my head to amuse a 5 year-old; beating said 5 year-old at noughts and crosses and thus causing her to cry (an over-reaction frankly - it's not as if it was all her pocket money that I won); a goodly amount of time spent with Mr Michael Chester, which is always stimulating and inspirational; finally buying a ukulele.
And of that last, I should think, more later. For now, though, I had better sniff the old grindstone for a spell.
Oops, late again.
Dave Shelton: bringing you last week's pictures today! Still, last thing Sunday or first thing Monday, you end up with the same number of pictures in the long run... Hmm, maybe I'll just do a whole bunch on December 31st...
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Monday, March 07, 2005
In an effort to discover why certain people couldn't see the pictures here earlier I did some bumbling around technically and accidentally turned off all the pictures for everyone for a while. If you were here recently and couldn't see much then I apologise. If you still can't see anything then it's probably due to some Norton-related problem that I haven't yet figured out. But I'm working on it.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Before I begin I would like to stress that the following is Not What Normally Happens when you give blood. It's usually virtually painless and no great inconvenience and only leaves you with a small plaster on your arm and a smug feeling of virtuousness. Plus you really do get tea and biscuits afterwards.
However, for some reason when I gave blood on Tuesday it had slightly more of an aftermath to it. Specifically, my left arm now looks like this:
I apologise for the rubbish quality of the photos but I think you can just about make out the interesting colour combination of curry yellow and raspberry ripple purple. And, yes, it is a bit painful, thank you for your concern. So I hope my pint's gone to someone deserving because for probably the first and last time in my life I have truly given until it hurts.
Anyway, according to National Blood Service advice this is not really anything to worry about and should sort itself out soon enough.
The superstitious among you may like to note that this was, apparently, the 13th time I'd donated blood. I'm averagelystitious myself though so I'll pay that no heed.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Been drawing some monsters. Might do some more later.
I'm going to have me a brilliant idea for a children's book with monsters in, write and draw it, get it published and be enormously successful, wealthy and respected by my peers. You just see if I don't.