2008-11-15 23:56:01
It's snowing like nobody's business...

photos to come when I wake up.
2008-11-11 11:47:42
I tried out the pool at SAF this evening, it's not too bad and wasn't too full either for around the time I'm likely to be going. However after not a lot of time in the pool my arms are knackered, I'd forgotten how much work freestyle actually is on your arms, and any exercise I've been doing recently has been purely lower body. Now I'm exhausted and all I want to do is sit down and have a beer - which is probably not a good habit to get into.

To top it all off it seems to have been a holiday today and none of the shops were open except the bakery, so it will be interesting what I can rustle up for dinner (aside from beer).
2008-11-10 19:34:58
I've been banished back to my little hut in the woods since the return of the pianist whose room I have been squatting in for the last 2.5 weeks. It feels like a post-apocalyptic scene as nothing has changed except it smells musty, and since the Turtleboys left tonight, ALL the surrounding huts are now devoid of people.
I do love my wee hut and have refurbished it with a coffee maker, a rose and some more wall decorations, however it will never be as cool as hanging with the late-night crowd in the Music building. And there were no strong men in the neighbouring huts that I could summon tonight when I was about to leave - it was pitch black outside except for the flicker of an enormous deer-antler right in front of my window.

This week has rolled in a fresh bunch of adventures. Wednesday night saw a Klezmer jam hosted by yours truly, which began with 3 of us running through a piece of music in 7/8 that we had transcribed the week before. By the time we had finished the piece, 15 people had magically appeared, some with instruments, many curious artists who were up for clapping and dancing while we read and improvised pseudo-klezmer music. It was an electric night, made even better with the eclectic pile of pilfered drinks and snacks that people brought.

Of late, I've been getting down and dirty with a big transcription project - I set myself the challenge of transcribing Isora Club - a Danzón, and arranging it for flute, clarinet, cello, bass and piano. I was quite smug what with perfect pitch and all, and my head has since shrunk a tad as it's two weeks in and I'm still struggling with getting down the notes in the piano part. I'm going about it very analog - pencil, paper and a small mountain of eraser-shavings on my desk, and trying to 'hear it in my head' - as I could probably get another college degree in the time that it would take me to learn how to use Sibelius.

Inju (my wonderful collaborative pianist and future wife) and I found ourselves in the right office at the right time, and yet again playing in a friday night concert! Though this time the piece was not nearly ready when we were propositioned 2 days before, so following the National Arts Centre Orchestra concert with Pinchas Zuckerman, we found ourselves practicing side by side until 1am. We pulled it off (memorised too... but only just) and celebrated hard at the reception afterwards.

Sunday a small bunch of us met at 7:30am at breakfast, then drove to some natural hot-springs nearly 3 hours away, in the heart of BC (British Colombia). Needless to say the whole trip was amazing, and the almost-untouched hot springs were sublime. Some of us even braved the running back and forth from the hot water to the freeeeezing creek. I now feel like I can say that I have seen a bit of Canada beyond the castle-in-the-clouds that is Banff and the West Edmonton Mall. We saw some incredible countryside - ghostly expanses where the pine-beetle has ravished all the trees, and some glorious mountains bathed in sunlight. And I was awarded my first proper Tim Hortons experience - terrible coffee and a greasy box of 40 'timbits' donuts. There's a whole system to eating Tim Hortons and every time someone bit into the unpopular Cherry Surprise, they passed it back to ever-fattening 'tourist'.
2008-11-06 07:22:38
Today is the Festa Major de la UAB. Which includes, amongst other things, some sporting events. Unfortunately I was too late to join either of the 5 a side football teams from CAOS (our department), but I did do the 3 km run (carrera en castellano). I surprised everyone (not least of all myself) by finishing ahead of the other CAOS people. I finished with a time of 12:23 in 51st place.

Now I'm going to go lie down...
2008-11-01 17:37:35
It has been two weeks since my last post on occasionallyhuman. This seems to correspond neatly to about the time when i renounced my good intentions and bought a bottle of Tanqueray.

Despite the fact that I now have a liquid outlet, the events of the past fortnight have left me with memories that I desire to record in writing, or in song format, whatever spills first.

The jazz concert was a riot - Edwin (Bill Bailey on crack with a violin) and I had solos, and made it our mission to learn jazz improvisation in half an hour the day of the gig. I think they could smell that we were frauds, but we pulled it off with fireworks, and had a rocking time. Following that was a wine-fueled reception, then a jam with the 'indie' guys - band The Wooden Sky. Their indie magic and Tom Petty covers brought out a side to everyone that I have not previously encountered, and am so happy that I did then!

The next week involved playing and recording the 'christal harmonica' (note: wine glasses) for a piece with oboe, performing 'my piece' again in Craig Day Day, jamming with a Kanun player - expert in middle-eastern music - which morphed into a day of comprehending 7-beat rhythms, experimenting with microtones and transcribing a whole piece, which has planned performances and recordings for kanun, flute and bass. I also had two wonderful lessons with Henk Guittart on the Leclair sonata, which culminated in a performance of it last night with harpsichord and continuo, and me avowing to read Quants' treatise 'On Playing The Flute'.

Wednesday 29th October is decidedly one of my favourite days in history. After our middle-eastern listening session turned into a chill day-long jam with Phaedon and Jake, Adam Kinner - room-neighour and wild tenor sax / clarinet / drums / singer / composer / player - put on a private show in his little room of improvisations and songs he'd cooked up during the residency so far. I was completely blown away by his stuff, which included playing clarinet into a snare drum and singing an interactive song whilst playing kit, which had the audience humming a pentatonic tune while he sang poetry about slaves. It all ended with us humming a melody in three parts, which he will use for a future recording of the work. It was such a love-filled moment, like a scene from Rent - it brought a tear to my eye.
We retired to the indie-boyz' hut once again where we had the craziest dance-party in the history of mankind. Everyone was going wild to james brown and jackson 5, shaking or banging any kind of instrument that was lying around.


The Wooden Sky, my new favourite thing have sadly left to begin a tour of Quebec, but we have had plenty to distract us from the indie-shaped hole in the universe that they left behind. My first ever pumpkin-carving session happened on thursday, and my team who did a stellar job of etching Barry Shiffman's (director of music here) face onto the squash were rewarded with a measly 'honourable mention'. Last night, my first real halloween saw a funk party with live band (of course) in farrally halls, and a mixed-bag of nutty costumes. I went as Old Gregg of the Mighty Boosh fame, and awarded myself best-costume prize of the night for involving a torch to create my 'downstairs mix-up'.

over and out

2008-10-28 06:19:28
As any Melburnian who's been overseas knows, the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism is doing a pretty good job. Everyone outside Australia seems to think that it's always sunny and warm, everywhere. And then you you have to explain that Melbourne is in the south of Australia which means that it's often cold and (in the past) raining. Actually, maybe we can just blame Neighbours.

Anyway, today I feel like that here. It's freezing, fortunately for me when I'm working I seem to loose all sensation in my body, but I've just stopped for lunch and I'm shaking it's so bloody cold. Of course I just checked the weather and apparently it's a low of 11 today, so maybe I really am used to the warmer climate.
2008-10-21 22:55:44
Afternoon-long session with the jazz greats, piazzolla tango quintet, jam with an indie band and 86% poulain chocolate.

I am so happy right now.
2008-10-20 07:12:32
It's said that the natives avoided Banff, specifically the site where the Banff Centre now sits. It's supposed to be a place of anomalous sleep, visions and contains some connection to the spirit world - those caught somewhere in between life and death. Sadly I haven't been privy to any ghosts or apparitions yet, but there have certainly been a few curious happenings for which I previously had no explanation. I haven't lost hope though, halloween is on its way.

Don Hill, resident crazy bald person at the Banff Centre showed us a couple of his documentaries last night, which shed some light on the situation. Having had a ghostly encounter in his house in Canmore (closest town to Banff), he hooked himself up to electrodes in a quest to justify his experience scientifically. In a weird mixture of paranormal experiences, physics, psychology, medicine, music, art and spirituality, he ultimately failed to come to any conclusions. However he did find that the electrodes mentally reproduced his ghostly encounter, and that electro-magnetic fields hang about densely rocky and tectonically active places. It turns out that the site of the Banff Centre is sitting on an intersection of 5 major faults.

Is it a coincidence that this 'Centre for Creativity' is built on this sacred, unstable, vision-inducing site? I don't know, but I was starting to worry that my mind was going soft and artsy when I had trouble sleeping, and more worryingly when I did fall asleep I never escaped doing mundane tasks at the Banff Centre. Or the fact I get electric shocks whenever I touch anything anywhere here. Or after drinking a cup of coffee the other day my heart rate went crazy and I felt like I was having a panic-attack.

I feel much better having something to hold accountable for all this.
2008-10-16 09:22:18
Weather: Cold, but in the positives
Epiphany Of The Day: There is no sense at all in trying to give up caffeine while I'm here.

Eating healthily most of the time, no problem. Sustaining some form of weekly physical exercise, certainly doable. Trying to lay off the coffee and still find the will to open my flute case each morning, not something I need to be fighting with. It's been a learning experience only having to think about one person every day - and can be very nice when I get the urge to take a hot bath at 11am - however I tire myself out very easily and embrace all the legally available stimulants I can get!

We had a rocking Cabaret concert last weekend. I played three movements of the Bolling suite for jazz flute and piano, with bass 'n drums. It was great fun, though a little strange playing to a 'musician' crowd that listened intently to every act instead of chatting and sipping wine, which is what I had envisaged.

I enjoyed a wonderfully refreshing lesson with Daniel Taylor, countertenor. He reminded me that I have a back (body-part) and refreshed all the Alexander Technique advice I had conveniently forgotten hunched over my music stand in the little hut for the last three weeks. Since then my breathing, sound, posture and confidence have had a little push in the right direction. I dig this whole self-study thing, but I certainly appreciate the value of human interaction. I couldn't do it without someone gently reminding me of the simple things...

Friday night will see the première of Craig Day's work for solo flute. I'm very excited about performing it, and am going to try and push the boundaries ('I see a boundary, I eat a boundary' - Boosh) by playing it by memory. A warning to the people in the front row, there's some extended techniques which may involve involuntary projectile spit!

2008-10-14 13:02:00
I just made the best white sauce I've ever made, in fact it was so good that I almost another half a litre of milk to bring it back to something resembling a liquid, now the rice to 'other stuff' ratio in my Tuna Mornay is way off. I also had to cook it in a flat bottomed pan since I left the pyrex bowls in a box and we don't have any in the kitchen. I'm still stoked about the white sauce though.
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