Thursday, 26 May 2011

A Kate McGarrigle Day

Prompted by Jerome listening to Loudon Wainwright and then Martha, it turns into something of a Kate McGarrigle day for me. This involves listening to a few albums, especially the first album, Dancer with Bruised Knees and Heartbeats Accelerating. Then a couple of live shows from the 1990s. Later, I also listened to More love songs and Therapy by Loudon Wainwright, as counter-balance perhaps

Have there ever been saddeer songs that I eat dinner, Unhappy anniversary, Your mother and I, . . . . .

Unlike Jerome, I am not a fan of Rufus Wainwright, but might listen to some of his stuff having seen him perform with Martha at Glastonbury in a short clip on Youtube. And there are some great videos to go with The Swimming Song I noticed - especially liked one featuring dogs and one by an old guy planning guitar in a feature called Songs Kate McGarrigle taught me to love

One of the true greats in my view - the world is a worse place for her absence from it

Great 1970s pic I thought

Pictures I've saved recently but not used before

Over time, as one does, various pictures are saved to one's PC. Some are intended as illustrating possible future entries, some, perhaps are not. The following 11 pictures are some of those currently pending in some sense

Yeoman Rand from the original series of Star Trek - quite an impact on me as a teenager

Hippy chick, Mountain Girl, by Kesey's bus, Further. Hoping to read Ken Babbs' book On the Bus while on holiday

Not sure who this is, but she has lovely eyes - and the thighs are pretty great too

Lucy, from Twin Peaks - one of the eccentric female characters I always like

John Martin's painting, Sodom and Gomorrah

A photo from the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake

Janine Turner, from my favourite tv show, Northern Exposure. Did I read somewhere that she is now a Tea Party person, fronting an organisation related to the US Constitution.

Imogen Thomas (left) - rather nice looking I reckon

Elizabeth Sladen, Sarah Jane from Doctor Who. Also a major influence on me as a teenager and who sadly died recently

Renee o'Connor and Lucy Lawless, stars of Xena, Warrior Princess, from the film, Bitch Slap. Were their characters in Xena gay? Renee's nun is certainly very expressive in the tiny scene they are in. I must watch the musical Xena episode again - Season 3, episode 12 I believe

The oddly named, Ariel Tweto, from the reality tv show about Alaskan pilots that I have been watching recently - cool hat!

Final preparations for Italy, and an incredibly painful leg

Off to London to meet Emma for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant she likes near Green park. On the way I manage to not see a step and have badly torn my left calf muscle. I am reduced to a slow and painful hobble.

We talk Emma's work progress and her summer accommodation ideas (now she is definitely moving out of her current place), just general stuff. The meal is very nice but we are still forced to find a Ben and Jerry's at a cinema for dessert

We are now into the last prep for the Italy trip - some work to finish, a decision needed on what projects to work on next. As usual, I have data sets to finish and these will covere the period from Feb 22nd and should lead to being able to calculate various important stats such as detailed drawdown numbers, plus things like position sizing issues. I am itching to raise the current 1/3 position sizing to 2/6 in June (a very big day), then 3/9 by end of July if things go well.

And one final issue - what to take with me to read in Italy. At the moment I have Peter Mathiesson's Nine Headed Dragon River, Genius - a very short introduction, the Giles Deleuze volume in the series, Routledge Critical Thinkers, Gierach's Trout Bum, the last year's issues of Philosophy Now and The Philosopher's Magazine; Hibberts The French Revolution, several financial e-books (pdf files) and so on. I will probably be able to read about a third of what I have taken.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Bobby Fischer

Despite being quite mathematical, I was not really any good at chess when I was growing up. I have not played for over ten years since playing neighbour's child - who I beat easily though he was only aged 8 (but was head of the school's chess club). At one point, I think when I played at school I reached No 5 in the school "chess ladder", but usually I was about 12th. So not much good really.

Recently I have been reading "Bobby Fischer goes to war", which I bought in Oxford for £2 and which covers his world championship battle with Spassky in 1972 - no actual chess features, but very readable I thought.

In the early 1980s there were a few TV shows about chess, featuring people like Tony Miles, Spassky, Karpov, etc (all pre-Kasparov). I used to really enjoy these and have been looking to see if any appear on any download sites, but none so far.

My main fault when I play chess is that I don't have much conception of what my opponent is doing and it is always a surprise when they trap me with something.

Early and late Fischer

Another huge step forward in our trading programme

An idea has been brewing for some time, > month

One term remained undefined, which seemed to stop the proposed system

The rush to get reserach finished before our holiday - and leave J with constructive things ton assess -

the flash of insight on the way to colelct our weekly indian takeaway, from trying to quantify a particular distribution, a definition of a term drops out.

Then, when trying to apply this in practice with some examples, a new, improved definition comes out

Then, on typing up the research, a final definition - from which the thrust of the research programme gets completeness

takes 6 hours to process 4 days under the new definitions

Gradually speeds up - but how to discuss with J. Some case studies, May 16th

Two hours on sunday morning - gives him some hints

Sunday - late pm - can a equivalent methodology be found for the other market we principally trade? One hour later - the answer is a resounding, yes

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Two hours at the allotment - the first decent session for ages

Last year was a "fallow" year for the allotment - too busy with my MSc in the spring. Last autumn I received a letter from the committee suggesting that I should do something with it this year else it would be taken away from me and given to some poor family so they could grow food for their table - I suspect most allotmenteers are actually middle class these days?

One or two tidying sessions before today's big session. Ralph is assisting me and is, of course, hugely competent compared to me. He elects to use a sythe rather than a strimmer and clears about 5 times as much as I can do.

We are rained on briefly but this doesn't deter us. In two hours, most of the site is clear - or at least the weeds are two or three inches high rather than waist deep. Next task is to cover some of the mulched areas with black plastic for the year. And one area will be treated with roundup and hopefully should be usuable by June. And I have to think what is going in the polytunnel - maybe peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Must get organised

A self-created Yoga Detox

Once again I have lapsed in my attempts to regularly go to the gym. But what I have been doing is a sort of Yoga-based detox. I have stopped drinking coke and stopped buying a daily chocolate bar and have stopped buying the occasional cake from Millets. Instead, I am drinking lots of water, eating more fruit, etc.

Though I can do my own yoga routines, I have been watching old episodes from the yoga-today website. At one time, you could download and keep their daily episode, but I think it is a pay-site now. I have mostly been watching Neesha episodes, feeling that I out to get back in touch with my inner hippie. I had forgotten just how much fun she is as a yoga teacher. She reminds me a bit of Linda's pilates client, Helen.

So far I have done about five, one-hour yoga sessions, based mainly on holding poses for extended periods of time in deep stretches. Not very energetic, but already having an effect on me. And my food detox has certainly left me feeling less bloated during the day.

101 "favourite" tracks - No 91 -100

91. Teardrop Explodes, Strange house in the snow

Another band I first heard on Peel, yet they were far more commercial, at least initially. I can remember seeing them on an Old Grey Whistle Test programme in the early 80s around the time of the second album. Excellent stuff

This track is from the final, very odd cd "Everybody wants to shag . . .". I thought that was a superb album and I was rather disappointed that it was their last.

Recently I have been listening to Julian Cope's solo stuff more. He has certainly had a diverse solo career!

Alternates: The poppies are in the field, Just like liela Khaled said, Soft enough for you

92. This Mortal Coil, Wind becomes waves

This is probably just an excuse to have a second track by Lisa Gerard in my list. The whole idea of this "band" was pretty odd and I don't think the concept worked very well, with this track and Cocteau Twin's Song to the Siren were exceptional. The droning accordian (?) is a real highlight for me and pre-figures my later interest in artists like Pauline Oliveros or Stewart Dempster.

Oddly enough, I did rather like the second This Mortal Coil album after it dispensed with 4AD's stars
93. Throbbing Gristle, Hamburger Lady

Can you really be said to "like" a track by Throbbing Gristle? I only have vague recollections of TG when they were first active - the occasional article in the music press. But this was enough for me to buy their oddly named 20 Jazz Funk Classics album. Until quite recently, I wasn't actually very sure what this track was about - turns out it is about a burns victim in a hospital!

In the mid 1980s I did go and see a couple of shows by Psychic TV as well as a tiny film festival they held somewhere in Hoxton. All very odd.

Alternates: Discipline

94. Throwing Muses, Surf Cowboy

I have loved Throwing Muses from the moment I heard a track from their first album on Peel one night, and they are a band I have seen quite a few times live (maybe 8 times?). I actually most like this track for the guitar solo in the middle - the strange minor key and relatively low notes.

A few years back, Throwing Muses played a show in London that was one of my all-time favourites, mainly as they were a band I had not expected to ever see again live. But there are rumours that another revival will occur soon - fingers crossed

Alternates: Most of University

95. The Ukranians, Cheresh Richcu

I saw the Ukranians as "support" for The Wedding Present and very good fun they were too. This was just after the WP Ukranian Peel session so it wasn't that I didn't know the joke. Still they do seem to have continued on for several cds in their own right.

I have no idea what this track is about, but it is good fun stuff


96. Velvet Underground, Venus in Furs

The most extraordinary track by the most extraordinary band. Whenever I hear this track I am struck by its sheer brilliance. Of course it is Cale's droning violin that makes it for me.

Alternates: What goes on (live), Foggy Notion (from UV)

97. Weather Report, American Tango

Someone in a room down the hall from me when I was a student in 1981 really loved Weather Report, which is when I first heard them. I am not actually a great fan of them, but this album and particularly this track are wonderful.

Over the years I have repeated tried to listen seriously to them but they just haven't clicked with me.

98. The Wedding Present, Take me I'm yours

Has to be the Peel session version with the extended ending - a work that totally sums up the ludicrously over-the-top early Wedding Present, based on the simple idea of strumming away madly the same chords over and over again.

Never really got in to the later WP albums though - don't know why


99. Yonder Mountain String Band, Their live version of Pink Floyd's Pigs

A band I came across from bootleg live show websites and who are now the band I most want to see live. They are why I booked to go to the Telluride Bluegrass festival in 2006 (though I didn't make it there).

100. Neil Young, Words

I find myself listening to Neil Young more now than ever before. At various times in the past - e.g. when Weld came out - I have had a flurry of interest, but it usually fades. But the last few years have seen me listen to him quite seriously. I am amazed that someone can have recorded so many great tracks!


101 "favourite" tracks - No 81 to 90

81. Shriekback, All Lined Up

I came across Shriekback from more or less their formation, as keyboard player Barry Andrews had been in Robert Fripp's League of Gentlemen who I quite liked. I bought their first album, Tench, and a smattering of their later material, and saw them in concert 3 or 4 times. Never very successful commercially, I thought they made a handful of really great tracks of which this is my favourite. I came to dislike the main type of music they played, a very "in-your-face" sort of funky, dance music, but some of their quieter songs were quite exceptional.

Alternates: Coelacanth, Midnight Maps, Evaporation

82. Sigur Ros, Untitled track 2

Another band first heard on Peel. For ages I was unsure of the spelling of their name and so could get any of their CDs! But they are also a band that I feel really declined rapidly over the last couple of years, and I thought Jonsi's solo album was terrible. When I spent a week fishing in Iceland in 2000 (?), our guide claimed to know them well - but I suspect that everyone in Iceland claims to know Sigur Ros, just like everyone probably knows Bjork.

The Sigur Ros movie, Heina, is really great though


83. Siouxise and the Banshees, Overground

It was in 1978 that I started to listen to Peel more or less every night. And that year saw the first two Siouxsie sessions, of which this track was one. For a few years, these were my favourite Peel sessions (and are available on the deluxe CD version of The Scream) until the 1983 Cocteau Twins sessions. I was totally blown away by these two sessions, unlike any music I had heard up to then.

Sioussie and the Banshees played a show at Warwick University near where I lived and though we were only 16 at the time, myself and one or two other school friends went to see it - my first punk show, boy did I look silly (and for the reason of not being dressed like the punks)

Alternates: Anything else from The Scream e.g. Switch, Metal Postcard, Mirage, Carcass . . .

84. Songs: Ohia, Captain Bad'ass

A band (or solo artist really) that I stumbled across on the now defunct music site I think it was a link from their Shellac page, because of the track Steve Albini's Blues. I have gradually collected all the SO albums and most the subsequent Magnolia Electric releases and Linda and I went to see a show at a tiny club in London a few years back. Great stuff, and proof that a really low key production can still work really well.

Once, ages ago, I came across a website with loads of SO live recordings and some great artwork to go with them. Now I can't find either the live recordings or the pictures, or the website

Alternates: Steve Albini's Blues, Hard to love a man like you, most of Ghost Tropic

85. Sonic Youth, Cotton Crown

I saw Sonic Youth's first show in the UK, supporting Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Hammersmith Palais. They wandered on stage, propped two guitars up against the monitor boxes so they feedbacked all the way through the show and played 35 minutes of tracks like Brother James. Great stuff. Since then, I have bought pretty much every SY cd as it has come out, but this is by far my favourite track.

But that said, I really liked Pink Stream from a few years ago too.

A few years back, I was in New York with Emma on a trip to visit US colleges, and SY played a show at the Bowery ballroom that I went to, the only time I have seen them on their "own patch". I have now seen them 8 or 10 times live, stand out shows include the 1988 Daydream Nation shows at the Astoria with rapeman as support or the "Goodbye 20th century" shows in London.

Definitely one of my favourite bands of the last 25 years

86. Spacemen 3, Rollercoaster

When I lived in Kenilworth in Warwickshire, there were very few local bands, perhaps the best known being The Specials from Coventry. I always rather liked Leamington's finest, Silverfish. Spacemen 3 were from Rugby, about 10 miles away. I saw them once at a local venue before they had achieved any sort of fame, and then once a few years later, just before they broke up. This type of drone-based space rock, psychedelia remains a firm favourite with me and more or less any band in this general field gets my thumbs up

Alternates: Che, Mary Ann, Things will never be the same

87. Spirit, I've got a line on you

I first came across Spirit when they played a couple of tracks on the Old Grey Whistle Test around the time of the release of Potatoland (1980?). Another hippy band that I would grow to love. Indeed I have been trying to complete my CD collection of their albums for some while now. I only saw them once - maybe 1984 or so, the Randy, Ed and Fuzzy version. I do have loads of live recordings of them though from all periods of their life.

The other week I came across some old music magazines in a box in the garage. things like Trouser Press, Ablaze, ZigZag, Forced Exposure and Dark Star. The latter has a free flexi 7" featuring Spirit's Midnight Train - now there's a track I haven't heard for a long time.

I was actually really quite sad when Randy California drowned a few years back.

Alternates: Most of the Clear cd, Look to the left,

88. Alan Stivell, The Foggy Dew

Back in 1975, I went on a school trip to Brittany, staying at Roscoff near St Malo. One of the guys on the trip bought Alan Stivell's Live at the Olympia having heard it in the house he was staying at. What a superb record that is. He made me a tape of it back in the UK and I virtually wore it out. It would be quite a few years before I acquired a CD of this.

In the early 1990s, we went on holiday to Concarneu and he played a show one evening while we were there - one of the highlights of my live music watching life. And once Linda and i stumbled across a bar called Stivell in some tiny town on the coast near Concarneau with pictures of him on the walls. I have gradually collected quite a number of his recordings, but there remain at least half a dozen I don't have. This year we are going to Brittany on holiday, so maybe I can get them then?


89. Swans, Blood promise

Alternates: Sex, God, Sex

90. Tangarine Dream, Track 1 from Bootleg boxset, Volume

Peel - 8 mins of ricochet, "old hippies never die"

Cloudburst flight

Tangarine Tree, tangarine Leaves



Sunday, 1 May 2011

101 "favourite" tracks, No 71 - 80

71. Will Oldham, Blue Lotus Feet

Alternates: Sheep

72. Pere Ubu, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo


73. Pixies, Gouge Away


74. Planxty, P stands for Paddy, I suppose


75. Iggy and the Stooges, Gimme Danger


76. Portishead, Roads

Alternates: Sour Times,

77. Primal Scream, Step inside this house


78. Elaine Radigue, Koume


79. Lee Ranaldo, Amarillo Ramp (For Robert Smithson)


80. R.E.M. Swan, Swan H


101 "Favourite" tracks - 61-70

61. Low, Do you Know how to Waltz?

Alternates: Especially Me (from the new CD), Pissing,

62. Mamas and the Papas, Look through my Window

Alternates: California Dreaming

63. Mogwai, Two rights don't make a wrong


64. Pete Namlook and Klaus Schulze, Careful with that AKS, Pete, Part 6


65. Pete Namlook, Mirage

Alternates, Asbendos

66. Joanna Newsom, Emily


67. Nico, The Falconer


68. Laura Nyro, Christmas and the beads of Sweat

Alternates: Map to the Treasure, Up on the roof

69. Sinead O'Connor, Ghosts


70. Mike Oldfield, Argiers

Alternates: Ommadawn Part 1