ART/ILLUSTRATiON: The Rainbow Goblins, Ul de Rico (1978)

I first drafted this post in September or October, 2022. But I’ve only now finally gone back to and finished it!

If I’m honest this isn’t my normal mug o’ Java. But I’ve been softened up for it by Masayoshi Takanaka’s wonderful double-album of the same name, that’s both based on the story, and uses Ul de Rico’s art on’t the packaging.

I love this!

Sometimes getting an entry into something this way – so, the fabulous Takanaka album predisposes me to being more receptive to the artwork/story that inspired it – widens one’s aesthetics. If I’d only seen the book, I might’ve rejected it out of hand.

Pretty amazing, eh!?

Some of the artworks, such as the one that adorns Masayoshi’s album cover, or the one directly above this paragraph, really do draw me in, and seduce me. Others, like the one directly below, I’ve grown to love.

And this in turn leads me to dig stuff like this:

The rainbow goblins’ dream. Far out!

And in the end I’m won over, and full of admiration for the simple charms of the story, and the intensity of the artworks. How about this for endpapers:

Flowers melt into a marbled ink pattern.

Ul de Rico did a follow up, called The White Goblin. And Masayoshi Takanaka followed suit! I’m listening to the latter right now. I’m not as immediately smitten by it as I was by his Rainbow Goblins project. It’s a bit more mainstream rock/pop.

The saga continues!

But, truth be told, I feel myself being sucked in and won over. Seduced ever further from my own usual aesthetics. In the end, it feels to me as if I’m relaxing and letting Ul de Rico and Masayoshi Takanaka take me, one by each hand, into their visual and sonic worlds.

And I think that’s a good thing…

ART: 17th C. Dutch Genre Painting – Baburen, The Procuress

These go back to 2014! Nine years ago.

When I found these two art works recently, whilst putting yet more stuff into our attic, I brought them down, to have a fresh look at ‘em. And I’m pleased with how they look.

The pencil drawing was my first look at reproducing Dirck van Baburen’s The Procuress. I actually chose to leave the Procuress herself out of the picture, which also changed the overall format of the piece (from off square to a portrait type rectangle). Instead we have just the young dandy and his lute-plucking lady.

A terrific book! And the source of this project.

I found van Baburen’s The Procuress in this rather lovely book. It’s an old’un, but a good’un! My mum had a copy back when’s he did her degree. I think I’ve posted about this book here before? But I’ve not found that post, so can’t link to it yet!

16-18th, April, 2014.

Here they are individually, for a bit of a closer look. The pencil drawing is finished. But the oil stalled before completion. So I need to finish that off.

These two pieces are both for sale, should anyone want either. The pencil drawing for £89, and the oil painting for £239. That’s unframed. I can frame them as well, if required. Or a buyer could do it themselves.

Woman Holding Scales, Vermeer, 1664.

I’m planning to do more in this line, as I enjoy it, and it teaches me a lot. I have a few favourite paintings I’ve long wanted to reproduce, such as Vermeer’s Woman Holding Balance, and Caravaggio’s very theatrical St Paul.

Caravaggio’s dramatic vision of St Paul.
Together again. Indoors this time.

The first three pics of my efforts, further up this post, were taken outside in the sunshine. These last were shot indoors. But all the pics in this (and almost all my blog posts) are taken on my iPhone. So, hardly pro/ideal! But hopefully they get the idea across?

ART: Josep Palau i Fabre & Picasso

I love this photo of the younger Josep.

I posted about this dude and his passion for Picasso quite a while ago (read that here if interested). And I find myself wanting to post about this pairing again.

Here they are together.

As per my previous post, I have three of the four ‘whoppers’ i Fabre published. And I really want to get hold of any more there might be. I’m aware of just one more, as things stand. Which, alas, seems both rarer, and consequently more expensive.

This is one version of the book I don’t yet have.

I’ve learned, thanks to my search for the cheapest way to buy this book, that it can be bought brand new, for €150! From Poligrafa, the Spanish publishers responsible for all these fabulous books. And in English (or Catalan!), as well as Spanish.

Here’s another.

Second-hand editions of this title are all more expensive. But sadly anything at all, let alone say £20-30 (roughly what I paid for the third volume in this series), is way too expensive for me right now.

I exchanged some emails with a chap called Carlos at Poligrafa today, thereby learning of the newer/cheaper buying option. But thanks to me not speaking Spanish, or quite following all his English, I’m none the wiser as to whether any more posthumous (to i Fabre’s passing, that is) volumes are in the pipeline.

Looking exceedingly cool!
Nice wheels, Josep! What a dude.

HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: Pre-Medieval Nonsense of a New Age Nutjob

This is both a book review (my first zero stars one!) and a polemic, I guess. It also touches upon troubled familial relations.

Many years ago my mother gifted me a copy of Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. I read the first half, and found it asinine. But, in essence, I agreed with Hay, that thinking positively is healthier than thinking negatively.

But the second half of the book? That was another matter entirely. And it is in that part of her ‘work’ that Hay’s true colours are shown to be, not to put too fine a point on it, a motley flag of insanity. Insane, and very dangerous for anyone taking her advice to heart.

I have, I suppose, some unresolved issues with my mother, around both the break up of our original ‘nuclear’ family. And, subsequently, being treated less equitably than other siblings. When my sister lived abroad, my mum visited Spain far more frequently than travelling the few miles to us, for example (I’ll leave it at that, for now).

Anyway, back to the main topic of this post. Her having bought me this book, whilst in part motivated by good intentions, perhaps, revealed a deeper – I might say unstated, except it wasn’t/isn’t – view of her apparent opinion of my life circumstances.

What it boils down to is what is nowadays referred to as ‘victim blaming’. In this case it’s the ancient pre-scientific idea that illness is a form of punishment for ‘sin’, wrongdoing, evil, or just a bad attitude. Call it what you will.

When I first read You Can Heal Your Life I put it down in absolute shock, horror and disgust when I read Hay’s moronic assertion that the disease Polio is caused by ‘Paralysing jealousy. A desire to stop someone.’ She has an A-Z, or, more accurately, an A-W, of similarly ridiculous ‘explanations’, for everything from Abdominal Cramps to Warts! [1]

The impact of polio on my family’s lives is huge. Polio killed my grandmother on my father‘s side, contributing to the consequent disruption of his life (he and his brothers were brought up in foster care, as orphans). Polio also disabled my maternal grandmother, meaning she lived her adult life on crutches, and eventually in a wheelchair. My mother had issues with family, quite possibly related again, in part, to the knock-on effects of this disease, running away from home very young (so I’ve been told), and ultimately into the arms of my father.

Does she really and truly believe that these two ladies got polio as a kind of cosmic or psychic punishment for ‘Paralysing jealousy. A desire to stop someone?’ Such views are horrific; they are obscenely offensive, and totally unfounded. The actual cause of polio is, as should be universally known now, a virus, identified in 1909, transmitted for the most part via water contaminated by human faeces. [2]

Something that struck me very forcibly when I decided to research this post is the total mismatch between endorsements and critiques in relation to Hay. Everybody , from Wikipedia’s entry on her, to the Guardian’s obituary, simply parrot Hay’s own completely unsubstantiated ‘personal history’. There’s no mention at all of any sceptical views of her anti-scientific ideas and claims.

I find this deeply shocking. Does her financial success make her immune to proper evaluation? Apparently so. The only objective or balanced critiques I could find were those of individuals, pointing out what crackpot nonsense she grew rich peddling.

It’s a great shame, I feel, that so many people – millions, perhaps, if sales of her stuff is any indication – are suckered into uncritically adopting her bullshit. Even if only thanks to the positivity aspect of her ideas. It smacks of a blinkered desperation. I can understand that. Having chronic ailments myself, I recognise that deep longing for some kind of simple solution to what might otherwise appear to be intractable problems.

It has been demonstrated – the placebo effect, for example – that the mind can be very powerful in relation physical health. But to adopt Hay’s alleged position (her own life needs to be thoroughly investigated, as to the truth of her own claims/actions [3]) is to fly in the face of the findings of all modern medical science.

It has been medical science, not New-Age quackery, that has dealt with my psoriasis and related arthritis, and manages both my physical pain and mental ill health. We can thank (or curse?) developments in public hygiene, in light of this hard won knowledge, for creating the conditions that have allowed for humanity’s demographic explosion.

I thought about giving this book half, or maybe even just one star, for the first part, about the benefits of positive thinking. But the issue is that these come attached to the second part, which, in my view, is poisonously bad. Evil, in fact. The rose here is attached to an enormous stinking turd that really cannot be ignored.

It has oft been said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It’d be damning enough if one were to know how many desperately ill people have died as a result of taking Hay’s unfounded nonsense as truth [4]. That people will have died following her advice is sadly inevitable.

But, just as bad in my view, is the pernicious and completely bogus idea that illness is the fault of and consequence of the sufferer’s thoughts and/or actions. This adds self-righteous condemnation to the arsenal of the healthy, and unnecessary guilt and self-condemnation (how ironic, given the alleged healing of loving oneself Hay professes to peddle!) to the afflicted.

My mum needs both her hips replacing. According to Hay’s worldview this is somehow my mother’s own fault, on some negative psychological level: ‘Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.’*

This would be laughably preposterous applied to a car; do my tires regularly need replacing because, A) they have a ‘Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.’ Or B) due to physical wear and tear?

If your local garage mechanic said ‘You don’t need new tires, your tires just need to truly love and value themselves. Here are some affirmations for them to repeat.’ Would you pay them, or go back there in future?

Not the cartoon I wanted. But the same idea.

In her lifetime Hay profited monumentally from peddling her dangerous brand of nonsense. Her personal claims are all totally unsubstantiated. And her broader claims fly in the face of medical science. Why – other than the toxic marriage of hopelessness to comforting BS – has she not been taken off her pedestal? It has to be the present day sanctification of success. She’s made lots of money, so she must be right.

Louise Hay (source: wiki)

* These quotes are lifted from the appalling second part of You Can Heal Your Life. It ought to have a Government health warning: New Age BS is no substitute for scientifically grounded medicine.

NOTES:

[1] Her ‘explanation’ as to the cause of warts would be hilarious, if it weren’t so frighteningly vacuous: ‘Little expressions of hate. Belief in ugliness.’ Her list reads like a dotty New Age analogue of horoscopes; arbitrary, open to wide interpretations, and based not on real knowledge of understanding underlying facts, but a vague even whimsical form of associative imagining. Warts are in fact caused by a virus. Not by the mind of a person who may have them.

[2] Tragically, under our current Tory rulers the potential return and rise of such diseases is being increased by the total disrespect shown to both the environment and the humanity it sustains, by their rampantly capitalist ideology. Brexit is part of this downward scramble towards private profit-motivated deregulation.

[3] As far as I’m aware none of Hay’s autobiographical claims, from the alleged facts of her childhood, to her ‘miraculous’ curing of her self from cancer are in any way reliably documented.

[4] I need to re-find the quote, but one of the few critical things I found about Hay included a comment from a bereaved man whose wife died whilst following Hay’s imbecilic ideas.

BOOK REViEW: The War For All The Oceans, Adkins

This is a fantastic book. Worthy of the rare but coveted six stars.

In some respects it’s quite surprising that there’s so much interesting naval history to be told, when one remembers that Nelson’s 1805 victory at Trafalgar meant there wasn’t another major maritime engagement ‘twixt then and the end of the era, at Waterloo, in 1815.

The book commences with three chapters that culminate in the ill-starred fate of Napoleon’s Eastern adventure. Once again it’s Nelson who puts the kibosh on ‘Little Boney’s’ plans, at the Battle of Aboukir.

Remarkably, despite the period that Trafalgar indubitably represents, there is still much of great interest to be told, as Britain and France carry out global economic warfare, Bonaparte with his Continental System, and England with her blockading and her growing global hegemony at sea.

It’s quite revealing and surprising, given how The Napoleonic Wars as a whole have come down to us as a vastly oversimplified tale of the British David vanquishing the ‘Corsican Upstart’s’ Franco-European Goliath, to learn how often we bungled things.

And the British Royal Navy, as much as it formed the oaken walls protecting Fortress Albion, was complicit in some of these disasters. (?)’s Buenos Aires fiasco is dwarfed by the almost D-Day like (in size) but also Dunkirk like (in losses) Walcheren affair.

Add to all this Britain’s nautical rise to ascendancy in both the East and West Indies, and eventual supremacy in the Med and Adriatic, and even accounting for such mishaps as the 1811 Baltic convoy disaster (the biggest loss of life of the period being attributable to Nature, not war!), and a brewing stand-off that develops into war with the US (again!), and it’s apparent that it’s only natural that this era is so ripe for vivid storytelling in the age sail.

The colour and drama leant to the overall narrative, excellent as that is in itself, by the supremely well chosen and deployed firsthand testimonies, can’t be overstated. This is a rollicking good read. History at its dramatic finest.

BOOK REViEW: Finest Hour, Clayton/Craig

This is another book gifted to me on my recent birthday, by friend and neighbour, Chris. Thanks, mate!

The first I read from this new batch of books was Waiting For Hitler (read my review of it here). That was about the 1940 invasion scare, and there’s a significant amount of overlap with this book, which is mainly about the 1940 Battle of Britain.

I say mainly because this really quite epic and yet very homely account starts with the collapse and retreat of the BEF, in France, and is therefore initially more land and sea based, rather than aerial.

Authors and historians – and, I guess, TV presenters; this is the book companion to a BBC TV series (which I haven’t seen) – Clayton and Craig expertly weave together accounts from every level of British society (plus a few others, mostly Americans). There are sailors, pilots, soldiers, child evacuees, WAAFs, secretaries, journalists and even the big guns, like Churchill and FDR.

I found this a thrilling and very gripping read. And I was glued to it from start to finish. Starting out in France, with an ignominious retreat in the face of the seemingly invincible Wehrmacht, via the ‘miracle of Dunkirk’, to the Luftwaffe’s battles to first destroy the RAF, and then bring terror and ‘revenge’ to London and Britain’s cities.

I’ve knocked off half a star, about which I feel a bit conflicted, for the slightly ‘tally-ho, chaps’ populist tone the books slips into occasionally. It is in truth a very broad ranging and nuanced account. But just every now and then it tips a little too far towards the ‘celebratory patriotic myths of WWII’ vibe.

But in conclusion, Clayton and Craig very deftly weave together a highly exciting and often quite moving tapestry of accounts of this incredible period in British and World history. One is drawn into the very real moments, and even the feelings, from the mundane to hugely significant, from personal sorrow, to national hope.

A superb book that I’d highly recommend.

BOOK REViEW: Waiting For Hitler, Midge Gillies

This was a fun and easy read.

Using several strands of private historical narrative – from ordinary British folk, such as two sisters in Norfolk, or Scots artillery man Frank O’Brien, and members of the Home Guard, etc, to resident ‘aliens’, such as Italian Decio Anzani, or the German Jewish Baruchs – Midge Gillies weaves a tapestry of warmly human firsthand accounts around the theme of ‘Waiting For Hitler’, or the invasion scare of 1940.

It was rather nice that there were quite a few stories relating to areas I know, mostly in East Anglia (and even London), such as Snettisham, and Hauxton. It turns out that Gillies is local – she lives in Ely! – so that might account for the unusual number of Anglian anecdotes!

A lot of what one reads here makes Dad’s Army look worryingly like documentary history, as opposed to loving satire. England, esp. after the ‘heroic’ debacle of Dunkirk, was not well prepared! And the way we treated ‘enemy aliens’ is revealed to be shockingly heavy-handed and unjust.

It’s hard to credit the impact an imminent Nazi invasion really must have had. Though this book does an admirable job of trying to convey the range of feelings, from ennui to all out panic, and from the unifying ‘we’re all in it together’ to the divisive paranoia around fifth columnists.

Perhaps because we know the feared invasion never came, even when one does read these accounts, it can all seem to partake of that ‘cosy rosy memories of WWII’ nostalgia Britain seems so obsesssed with!

Still, all told I found this an enjoyable and compelling read, and can definitely recommend it.

PS – Thanks, Chris, for gifting me this on my recent b’day. T’was a good read!

BOOK REViEW: The Wild Boys, William Burroughs

Just finished reading this. It’s a short and fairly easy read, albeit the prose veers between normal and ‘cut up’. Luckily there’s enough standard English to make it readable.

I’m fascinated by Burroughs. I think he’s prob’ a bit nuts, and possibly a bit of a huckster/charlatan. But he has a great command of language, and an amazingly vivid if somewhat twisted imagination.

In essence, a great deal of Burroughs writing – at least what I’ve read – is autobiographical. But rather than straightforward documentary narrative, Burroughs serves up a postmodern bouillabaisse of fevered drug-addled eroto-fantasy, interwoven with crumbling memories.

Burroughs wandering life as a trust-fund dilettante, globe-trotting in search of, essentially/frankly, thrills, and being both gay and – by dint of the latter, to some extent – Bohemian, lead him to live in all the places that crop up here: St Louis, Mexico City, London, North Africa, New York, etc.

Burroughs’ unusual outsider life – involving crime, drugs, and a sexuality that meant living not like but as an outlaw – all conspired to fuel a pretty weird fantasy world. And so The Wild Boys (and other writings) veers towards being his kind of heir to the Marquis de Sade’s vision of ultimate freedom in a melange of sex and violence.

Depending on the reader’s tastes, it can make for quite compelling and entertaining (or off-putting) reading. What it’s real merits may be, I’m very uncertain. In some ways I enjoyed this book. In others, I was disappointed.* As with much of Burroughs’ work, it’s like the somewhat choreographed dredgings of a disordered and fairly warped mind.

In some of his writings all of this is filtered through very standard prose, in others – particularly when he employs his cut up style – it’s practically unreadable. Here it’s a mixture, thankfully erring on the side of comprehensible. But the visions it describes are, well… read it. See what you think!

The book signs off ‘William S. Burroughs, London, 1969’. This was an interesting time in his life, about which you can learn more here.

Pop group Duran Duran’s hit song is named after the novel (more on this below). And I’ve read that cult gay film maker Fred Halsted was in discussions with Burroughs about making a pornographic movie of The Wild Boys. But that never came to pass, alas.

* The titular Wild Boys don’t really come to the fore till very near the end of the book. Making many of the ‘plot’ synopses of this work I’ve seen seem way too glib/conventional.

Notes

I made the following notes as I read the book. I forgot to do so for two chapters, so those are in [brackets]!

CHAPTER / Remarks / score
Tio Maté Smiles - Cinematic surrealist Mexico City sleaze… **1/2
The Chief Smiles - Moroccan death sleaze … ***
Old Sarge Smiles - St Louis nun-sleaze, with a sprinkling of racism… **1/2
Bury the Bread - Audrey moons, Old Sarge rants; a psychedelic melange… ***
Penny Arcade Peep Show #1 - Funfair surreal gay sex dreams ***1/2
Le Gran Luxe - Big swanky party surreal gay sex dreams ***1/2
[Penny Arcade PS #2 - I forget!]
[Miracle Rose - … er? Something to do with anii… & ‘rectal mucous’!?]
Silver Smile - Frankie & Johnny gay sex dreams ****
Frisco Kid - Klondike gay sex dream ***1/2
Penny Arcade PS #3 - Cinematic cut & paste
Dead Child - Golf course gay sex dreams morph into shaman jungle dream ***
Call Me Joe - Defection from the straight army to the Wild Boys **1/2
Mother & I - Perverts vs Police State: ‘Our aim is total chaos’. Wild Boys eroto-horror… ***
Wild Boys - The title finally addressed… more of the same [gay sex dreams]… **1/2
Penny Arcade PS #4 - Tree-house-boat gay sex dream ***1/2
Penny Arcade PS #5 - Assassin gardener **1/2
Wild Boys Smile - Arrival, more of the same [gay sex dreams]… The End ***

FOOTNOTE:

The Duran Duran song, The Wild Boys, is of little or no interest to me, particularly musically, in itself. But it is a little intriguing inasmuch as it was supposed to be the theme song to another mooted attempt at making the book into a film. The ‘songfacts’ website says:

‘Duran Duran recorded the song because Russell Mulcahy, who directed their videos, bought the movie rights to the book and planned to make it into a film. The band wrote the song for the movie, which was never made. At the time, this was the most expensive video ever made.’

MEDiA: Book Review – Das Reich, Max Hastings

First published way back in 1981, the title of this book is, I feel, a trifle misleading, inasmuch as a good deal of it is as much about SOE, British/Allied special forces, and French Resistance, operating behind the lines, as it is about northward march of the infamous Das Reich!

One criticism I have, which has several interconnected strands, has to do with the class to which Max Hastings himself and a good number of the public school educated British ‘cast’ of his subject belong. The slightly dewy-eyed self-love of all such elites is both rather unctuous and not a little odious. When Hastings rhapsodises over numerous rugger loving toffs, playing at war, even when it’s very real and may well cost their own and others lives, it’s hard not to wince a bit.

A secondary point arising from all this is the possible overstatement of British/Allied efforts, and a concurrent downplaying of the French natives’ own efforts. But rather than going over all this here, I’d urge the interested reader to simply get hold of Das Reich, and decide for themselves. Hastings summarises the complexity of such things very well.

The titular or headline story traces how Das Reich, pulled out of their role on the Ostfront, start out resting and refitting deep in Southwestern France, at Montauban. Initially, and rather inappropriately, they are tasked with fighting insurgents – with dire consequences – before finally heading for Normandy, in the aftermath of D-Day, to fulfil their proper role.

As already alluded to above, Das Reich also relates how the aforementioned insurgents, with help from Allied agents, seeks to impede the 2nd SS Pz Div’s northward journey. Thanks in particular to allegedly anti-maquis actions Das Reich carried out at Tulle and Oradour Sur Glane (with which latter subject The World At War TV series so memorably commences), there’s a frisson of horror in the story. Although, as Hastings points out, such barbarity was routine in Russia, where Das Reich learned the Nazi ways of war. Nor, indeed, are the Allies blameless; Hastings asks, rhetorically, can the area-bombers of Dresden really claim moral superiority over the SS butchers?

I found Das Reich a fascinating and exciting, well-researched and well-written, and – despite Hastings slightly patrician establishment vibes – pretty well-balanced account, of a very interesting episode in the campaigns of Normandy and beyond. Definitely recommended reading.

BOOK REViEW: Stick Control, G L Stone

The first part of today’s post is essentially a version of my old Goodreads and Amazon UK review of Stick Control, only I can update that and expand upon it here.

And because this is my own blog, I can also give more nuanced star ratings. In this instance I give Stick Control the rare and coveted six-stars, which, on my normal 0-5 ratings system, means off the chart brilliant.

The author, looking very, er… well… um…

Anyway, for starters, here’s the augmented Amazon review:

Jazz legend Joe Morello studied with George Lawrence Stone. That alone is recommendation enough! Morello was Stone’s star pupil. And thanks to Morello’s precocious work on Stick Control, we also have Stone’s follow-up, the snappily titled Accents and Rebounds.

I’ve been dipping into this for over two decades now. Although, to my everlasting shame, I’ve not completed it yet.* I use it in my drum teaching all the time. And I tell all my students it’s THE foundation book, ie essential.

A great tool for developing better reading, and – of course – stick control. Starting with such simple building block as singles, doubles, and groupings of three or four, per hand, the numbered exercises take you though a huge variety of combinations, leading with both right and left.

Joe Morello at the practice pad.

Stone says play everything 20 times. And play with a metronome at various different speeds. This is terrific conditioning practice on a pad, and fun to transfer to the snare. Of course one can then take it to the kit, and orchestrate it there in endless ways. All of this makes this book a lifetime investment. In a way, you can never truly ‘finish’ Stick Control!

Used regularly, and with the appropriate doses of discipline, this book can impart strength, stamina, speed, control of dynamics, and much much more. Definitely one of the most essential non-gear (ie not the instrument itself!) bits of kit in the drummer’s training arsenal.

* UPDATE: Since first posting this review, I am, now (summer of ‘22) making a concerted effort – not for the first time, mind you – to complete a continuous run through of the entire book. At the time of updating this, I’m about one third through the whole volume, getting heavily into the flam section!

A much younger G L Stone (from PASIC).

Some further thoughts…

So, that’s my Goodreads and Amazon UK review take on Stone’s classic work. In the latest update to that review I allude to what I’m calling elsewhere my Stick Control Summer Challenge. That’s going pretty well. One week into my summer hols, and I’m already just over a third of the way through the book.

This seems like a good time and place to add a few further thoughts on taking a deeper dive into this aged but illustrious tome.

For starters, having gotten further into the book than formerly – I did occasionally dip into later sections, but I’d only ever systematically done the first five or six pages previously!) – I’m encountering stuff I’ve not tried before. Some of it easy, some very challenging (for me at any rate!).

But there are also more fundamental issues, such as stick motion, and the exact ways to interpret certain notation. This is where a teacher from the Stone-Morello lineage would be very handy. I intend to explore this online, as I’m sure YouTube will provide some answers.

Morello looking very cool as an ambassador for Ludwig.

I won’t get into massive detail here, as this is an area for more exact exploration later/elsewhere. But taking just one aspect of the core subject, ie ‘stick control’, I’ve been practicing the material in this book sat at a practice pad, and using strokes that range from fairly full to ghost or grace note level.

And sometimes I’m leaning more towards French or German grip, but mostly I’m using American grip, somewhere in the middle. Stick height, grip, rebound, all these aspects start to come into focus more as you dive deeper into the book.

Another thing I’m finding myself fascinated by is, again, like much of what comes from studying this work, nuanced and multifaceted, and that’s how these exercises can become like meditative grooves. If one is playing 20 reps of a two bar exercise and then up to 24 or so different sticking variations of essentially the same (or very similar) rhythms, it gets quite hypnotic!

And one starts to hear the music or the groove in even these quite potentially dry exercises. And it’s fascinating how regularly locking in to a metronome pulse for 20-30 minute chunks throughout the day starts to build better time.

And if you set the metronome volume just right, there’ll be moments where you think it’s stoped, so you stop… only to hear the metronome still going. At those moments you’re achieving nigh on perfect time, as you’re covering the metronome so exactly you’re effectively masking it!

A classic shot of Morello in action!*

* The Guardian, rather cruelly, perhaps, used this shot of Joe for his obituary!

That opens the door on an aspect of this kind of study that I’m definitely falling in love with; the routine of regular practice is, it seems, like we’re told physical exercise is, or should be, both pleasurable and perhaps even somewhat addictive.

Now to lean into the ‘nuance’ aspect a little. I’m finding that the exact position of my hands and fingers on the sticks is coming more sharply into focus: if I find the right spot – esp’ noticeable the higher/harder and louder the strokes are – I can locate a zone where I can minimise the ‘shock waves’ that sometimes reverberate along the stick.

This must be the ‘fulcrum’, I guess? And it’s slightly higher up the sticks than I usually hold them. At least on the Vic Firth 2Bs I’m currently favouring for pad work. this actually coincides with another train of thought I’ve been having about modifying (or better yet making my own) sticks. But I’ll save that for another post.

Anyway, the ‘practice what you preach’ aspect of studying Stick Control over this summer is proving to be both pleasurable and beneficial. And the associated YouTube surfing has lad me to discover yet another meister-drummer, so I’m adding some of his stuff to my practice work-outs, such as this doozy: