DAYS iN: A Sporty Night

The ball was… ? In, by 1 mm!

Feeling utterly washed out. Which is a bit of a bummer. Decided that lots of TV sports might be the tonic.

First up, The French Open. A dramatic and engaging end to Garcia vs. Blinkova, with the latter ending the home favourites’ run.


Then watched a bit of men’s tennis, with Masetti vs Shevchenko. Both new names to me. Ageing, eh!?

And at eight o’clock, switched over to watch the UEFA European final, Sevilla vs. Roma. I hope it’s a good match. I need some visceral brainless fun!

The match is in Budapest, a place I’d love to visit.

Hmm? Decided to bail out of the footy, at half time. 1-0 to Roma, but not very exciting. Went back to the French Open, and have opted to stick with Djokovic vs Fucsovics.

Novak I know, of course. His Hungarian opponent, however, is less well-known to me. I think I’ve seen him before. But he’s not as familiar.

Novak in action a Paris.

I came to this match just as they completed an epic hour and a half long first set, including an amazing 33 shot rally. Sadly, the next set was looking very one sided, Novak crushing the Hungarian.

So I’ve gone back to the football, where it’s now 1-1 (both goals scored by Roma!). Which is still dull! Back to Roland Garros… and Novak eventually wins in straight (as opposed to gay?) sets.

Dybala’s goal.

So… back to Budapest. And it’s looking very much like it’ll go to penalties. Hey ho. I’m going to stick with it to’t end! A sporty evening, to chill and still my still somewhat troubled mind. And it’s doing the job.

But, wait… what’s this? The BT Sport coverage of the match has just stopped. Before the match is even over. Que pasa?

Mancini’s own goal.

MUSiC: Jazzbois

YouTube has thrown up another new groop for me to enthuse over, Jazzbois. I love their stripped down mellow funky grooves.

Rhodes, drenched in tremolo, very fluid basslines, and stone grooves from a very minimalist drum set up. Poifeck!

Taking the essence of seventies cosmick grooves, with a ‘dope’ bit of head noddin’ towards the kind of laid back hip-hop that sampled so much Blue Note, and the like.

It’s a cosmic brew I really dig.

MUSiC: Thumpasaurus, Struttin’, etc.

I discovered this group, Thumpasaurus, after watching a few videos of Scots hi-energy funksters, High Fade. A trip to the latter’s website revealed that they were touring in support of a band called Thumpasaurus.

So I googled Thumpasaurus, and found these guys. This Californian group take their name (albeit spelled slightly differently) from the crazy musical universe of George Clinton’s Parliament:

Strangely, a musician friend, Dan Antopolski, who’s gone on to be a professional comedian, once had a group called The Thumpasaurus People, which might(?) have also featured Tom Finley, now of Groove Armada!

This American Thumpasaurus crew met at music school, and have opened for Knower and Vulfpeck. They have a very confident and charismatic frontman, and are clearly very good musicians.

Despite all of this, they aren’t entirely my bag. They talk quite a bit about funk, but I find most of their stuff more poppy. Plus the whole persona and antics of frontman and singer Lucas Tamaren are very theatrical.

Still, an interesting new group to have become aware of, with a few tracks, such as Struttin’, that I can really dig. And plenty of fun videos that are worth watching and enjoying.

MUSiC: Sisotowbell Lane, 1968

One of my all time favourite tracks from one of my all time favourite albums. This live rendition was filmed in New York, 1968, at a benefit tribute for Martin Luther King.

MUSiC: Temporal Analogues of Paradise

I can’t recall right now how I got here… I think it started with a funky jam band called High Fade, a track from whom came up in my FB feed?

Anyway, many hours later, long after that, having gone down a bit of an online musical wormhole – taking in all sorts, from Joni Mitchell’s Sisotowbell Lane (a longtime fave which I must learn!) to new music (Thumpasaurus’ Struttin’ is fun!) – I wound up checking out Shawn Lane.

Lane’s entry to the world stage was, as far as I can tell, joining BOA, when they’d shortened their name to Black Oak. The music is kind of pedestrian ‘70s hi-NRG rawk. But Lane’s shredding, aged around 16 (he joined the band at 14!) is insane.

Anyway, I have an empathic connection with Lane, because he ultimately died from a pair of diseases that I share with him: psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Anyway, that’s a story for another time/another post, I reckon.

This post is dedicated to the much more positive side of Lane’s life story: the virtuosity and artistry that he attained. And on the two videos I’m sharing here, he’s in the company of two other virtuosos, bassist Jonas Hellborg, and drummer Jeff Sipe.

This kind of ultra-chops-fest isn’t usually my bag. I mean, I do dig a lot of technically accomplished music. But I tend to favour mellow grooviness over face-melting blood-boiling insanity!

Anyway, whatever, as folk says these days. I think the music here, albeit instrumental, speaks – no, make that sings – for itself. What do you think?

HOME: Dans Le Jardin

It’s been great to enjoy being out in our long narrow back garden, with this recent bout of warm sunny weather.

I took this series of snaps today, during a break from my regular wednesday drum teaching (which I’m currently doing remotely, from our home).

During this same break I also attached the central – and third and final – of the roofing trellis panels for our ‘green room’

It felt good to nip out from the dark indoor space of the drum room/office, and get some sunlight. And doubly so to do something practical building wise.

I also cleared some of the less attractive looking stuff from this view down the garden. Very verdant!

The above is the ‘cottage garden section of the garden. And it’s supposed to be full of hollyhocks, foxgloves and poppies, etc. But it’s mostly been taken over by very tall grass.

One of the right or so foxgloves that have come back. This is the only one (of many that we’ve planted) to have survived on the southern side. The other seven or so are all on the northern side, which, in our garden, gets much more sunlight.

The above, and the next two pics look very like some of the earlier ones. They are the same view, looking back to the house. But if you look very carefully you’ll see I’ve moved a few things.

The next step is to paint the new trelli (plural of trellis!?), and touch up some of the old peeling paintwork.

It ought to be very nice once the wisteria has climbed over the roof, giving dappled shade beneath. That was the plan. we might add some more side panels as well, to make it more of a ‘room’.

And we have two cast-iron bench ends, which need some new wooden slats, to make a nice little neck to go inside.

MUSiC: Jeff Buckley, Last Goodbye

What a package: the looks, the voice, the musical talent. Taken far too young. Imagine all the music he might’ve made! Still, at least we have something to remember him by.

I adore this song. And indeed the whole Grace album. just listened to Lover, You Should’ve Come Over, and this track. They still blow me away.

MEDiA/BOOK REVIEW: W. Allen, Taschen Movie Icons

I think Woody Allen has to be my favourite film maker. He’s the only one for whom I basically want to see/own all his work.

He’s quoted in here as saying, in 2005 ‘I’ve had carte blanche for 35 years and I’ve never made a great film. It’s just not in me to make a great film; I don’t have the depth of vision to do it.’ I’d have to beg to differ! I think he’s made lots of great films.

At the time my particular edition of this entry in the Taschen Movie Icons series was published, in 2009, Match Point (2005) was Allen’s most financially – and poss’ also critically? – successful film. Also due to that print date, this book only goes up to 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Play It Again, Sam, 1972.

Since then Allen has made more than ten more movies, including Midnight In Paris, which now often tops lists of his most fiscally lucrative films. But, as Allen himself says in this little tome, ‘I do all my films for my own personal reasons … I don’t make them for approval.’

In a very low key example of what Jung termed synchronicity, I was saying in another post earlier today that the very best poetry is, or ought be, concise. Only to find this Allen quote, about the art and craft of comedy writing, herein:

‘For example, “it’s not that I’m afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” … if you use one word more or less, it’s not as good.’

A Midsummer Nights Sex Comedy, 1982.

Unsurprisingly the theme of serious versus comedy rears it’s head, in this very light and easy read of a book. At one point in his career it was clear he felt very adept at and confident in his comedy skills. And later on he reaches a similar point with his ‘serious’ stuff.

I get this dichotomy. And it is very apparent – especially at the outset – that first, he has got better over time, and second, that this tension between serious and comic was an issue both for Allen himself and audiences, and critics, etc.

But for me, personally, despite how real and obvious an issue it is for the world at large, inc. Allen, it’s a false dichotomy. Ultimately Allen is an artist. His mediums are writing and film-making. And he’s done such a lot of it that it’d be surprising if he’d not gotten very good at it.

Allen and Keaton on the Radio Days set, 1987.

But he was good from very early on, starting out as a precocious gag writer (and going pro’ aged just 17!). Add to this his own unique character – his wit and wisdom, his very particular aesthetic sensibilities, and so on – and multiply that by his prolific yet diverse auteur style output, and you have a very impressive body of work.

This book is, like a lot of Taschen publishing, primarily visual. But there is a brief and surprisingly good little essay at the beginning, by Glenn Hopp (who he?). In this piece, entitled Woody Allen: The Poetry of The Joke, reference is made to ‘This higher comedy … [which] enriches emotion and fosters seriousness.’

That little sentence captures for me the essence of Allen: sometimes funny, sometimes philosophical. And often both at once. This book is a nice little thing to peruse, if you’re a Woodyphile, like me. It’s nice to see the numerous images, some stills from the movies themselves, others on set, or posters, etc.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, 2001.

It’s also rather nice for a fairly seasoned Allen buff like me to discover one or two things Allen’s done that I’d not heard of before. There’s reference to many films and other projects (theatre, books, etc.), most of which I already knew about, from The Front via Antz to Wildman Blues). But I’d not heard of Picking Up The Pieces before. Must check that out!

What little text there is is given thrice: in English, German, and French! There’s the very short Hopp intro/essay, a ‘visual filmography’ (the main bulk of the book), an extremely brief and incomplete ‘chronology’, a somewhat more complete filmography (albeit only up to 2008), and a short bibliography.

Not in-depth or exhaustive, by a long way. But a fun little title for a fan like me. Hence four stars.

There are many more titles in this series!

POETRY & FAMiLY: Larkin’s This Be The Verse (again!)

What a lot of Ol’ Bull!
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
Onan, the Librarian.*

If I had been Larkin’s editor at the time, or a friend or confidante, that he might’ve road tested this on, I’d’ve advised him to ditch verses two and three.

Verse one is brilliantly pithy and potent. After that it all withers on the vine. ‘Man hands on… coastal shelf’ is good, clever poetry, but verse one simply doesn’t need it.

Especially not the saccharine milksop climb-down of verse two’s ‘But they were…’ True, perhaps. But anodyne. Like taking a pair of secateurs to the Prime Minoan Bull that is verse one.

Taking The Bull by The Horns.

* Not the guy who said that the greatest one could achieve in this life was ‘To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.’

MUSiC/Health & Wellbeing: Be Thankful For What You Got

It’s fun to hear a great song in several different versions. I was actually listening to different versions of Curtis Mayfield’s sublime Move On Up when I stumbled across the subject of this ear post!

The one at the tippity-top of this post is, I think, the first version I heard. A reggae ‘ting, by One Blood. I’m not sure how the very first version of this number sounded. Maybe in the course of doing this post I’ll find out?

A much more recent and fairly faithful rendition can be enjoyed below, courtesy of those Orgōne folk:

And here’s the great Daryl Hall, doing a pop/soul/r’n’b version of it, with a singer called Rumer:

Some folk say there’s no point covering other folks’ songs. I disagree, very strongly; if a song ‘speaks to you’, why not embrace it, like a friend or lover?

Also, the sentiment is one I’m trying to practice, during what’s proving to be a rather difficult spell of my life!


Ok, so a bit of rooting around online yielded the above, William de Vaughan’s 1974 original of this ace tune. He also did a disco version later on…

What an album title!

Also found another reggae version, this time by Winston Curtis:

Though you may not drive 
a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls
TV antennas in the back

You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you've got

Though you may not drive
a great big Cadillac
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin' the scene
With a gangsta lean
Gangsta whitewalls
TV antennas in the back

You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you've got