Archive for August, 2008

Fists Activity

August 25, 2008

Short post to note a great week for the band.

Spent last two days in session with John Sampson and Andy Wright at Random Studios in Sneinton.  It could not have gone smoother, recording Skit, Cockatoo, You Dudes Rock and Little Ghost with no pain.  Really impressed with the studio which is a converted terraced house with live rooms downstairs and control room, living room and kitchen upstairs.  A little bit bizarre coz only communication between control room and live room is via mics and headphones and live rooms are quite small BUT the place is set up fantastic with good equipment including some superb antique microphones. 

What really made the session go well was Sampson’s strength as a producer and the fact that we were really well prepared knowing the songs.  No excuse if we weren’t well prepared because we’ve been playing those songs for years. 

Last played them during our support slot for Amusement Parks on Fire on Thursday night.  Went well great sound system and stage at Stealth, good crowd and APOF are a really nice bunch of lads, carrying nothing of the arrogance or aloofness of many signed bands.  I particularly enjoyed the aftershow party performance of You Slut, who you might describe as an instrumental math-rock band, displaying some very intricate guitar work and an astonishing drummer.  Loads of riffs carefully arranged but not cold, it was absolutely rocking.

In the preceding days we had one band practice and many rhythm section rehearsals, when Theresa and I mapped out each of the four tracks we were going to record, down to the smallest beat.  We practiced hard and that really paid off last weekend.

‘Your Attitude is like the Aroma of your Heart’

August 17, 2008

We are truly capable of amazing things if we can unlock our potential.  Who knows the limits of his potential?  We are fortunate if we find someone who sees potential in us that we cannot see, and helps us release it.

Stagging it Up

August 17, 2008

Human nature is not all weakness.  It has its strong points also.

– Sermon XIV: Sources of Moral Weakness and Moral Strength, Henry Ware Jr, 1847

Went to London for Andy’s stag do.  I got carried away and starting drinking early and lots.  While the Stag retained an element of composure and control, I was the one having one over the eight.  A casual observer would think that I was the one enjoying my last night of freedom.  The next day I woke up very pleased to find my phone, passport, wallet and keys all intact.  Unfortunately I had not been able to maintain my four-year unbeaten run of not throwing up, and in spectacular fashion, over the white futon mattress a kindly soul had lent me.  The vomit had arrived without warning, as I turned off the light and collapsed into my bed.  I think the futon was a lot lower than I expected.

Drunk as a Lord, I scooped up the main body of the sick and went to sleep.  Early next morning I grabbed a sponge and made a better job of it, making several trips back and forth between the futon and the kitchen sink for hot water and fairy liquid.  The sick was of a bad type, very dark and chunky.  What was in there anyway? I hadn’t had anything to eat all night!

I’ll never forget the time when I chucked up a thick ball of vomit the exact consistency and size of a pizza dough.  Like plasticine it could be moulded and shaped but left no marks.  I was stunned.  If all sick was like that we wouldn’t have such a hard time cleaning it up.

I did the best job I could with the white futon but frankly it looked a mess.  Staring at the laminated floor I felt sad that I could not have been sick over that instead, it would have been very easy to clean up.  But like I said it was an instantaneous hurl, a surprise attack.  I didn’t feel sick beforehand, never even thought about being sick, I had a four year record.  Also there was no way I could have contained the sick orally while I ran to the toilet.

So that stained futon was the one sticky finger that reached through time from Saturday night to Sunday morning to bring me down with guilt and displeasure.  Oh and also I lost a pad from my glasses but I have a spare one of those.  It could have been worse.  I almost got into a fight apparently, which is uncharacteristic of me. 

I turned the mattress over and slept a bit longer.  When my host woke me I decided not to tell him straight away.  After breakfast I shoved £20 into his pocket and explained what had happened, leaving him to decide whether to get a new futon or clean the current one, as I shook his hand, thanked him for his kind hospitality, said ‘nice to meet you’ and made my way to London Bridge tube station.

Its amazing how much money you can spend drinking.  My friend Joey Chickenskin doesn’t drink at all so he saves money, retains his health and doesn’t embarass himself getting into fights or throwing up over somebody’s sofa.  He’s an outgoing guy and doesn’t need booze to oil the mechanism of social interaction.  Thats an inspiration I’m going to be inspired by.  But of course I really like booze.  Even if I cut back I would always enjoy wine with dinner.  I often crave the cool wheaty fizziness of beer and more days that not I will answer that craving in the affirmative.  I drink less than others and more than some.  I struggle with this because I want to be productive everyday, and have a list of things to do everyday, and I know that drinking is double jeopardy, because it makes you less able to do things right now and less able to do things tomorrow.  Drinking robs time from you and dilutes the quality of your sleep.  But after a long working day, when your mind and body have been performing for hours, is it wrong to sink a beer, to blunt the sharp receptors of your brain, to gently stupeify yourself, to let the hands of the clock that you have watched move so gratingly slowly for hours now relax like you and tumble forward over themselves?  How can it be wrong?  When it feels so right? …But then you have another one, and another and at some point it stopped being a good idea and became a bad idea, for all the reasons I don’t need to go into now.  It is a wise man who recognises where the turning point is, and denies the culture where one drink follows another like words on a page.

Intellectually, the mind is clear, bright, quick, when a prudent moderation has left the courses of life unclogged; but is heavy, stupid, incapacitated, when the salutary measure has been overstepped.  And so universally.  All excess debilitates.  Even excessive thought enfeebles the mind; and the anxious or ambitious scholar has sometimes studied himself into incapacity; and the overwrought religionist has been known to sink away from the rapturous insanity of fanaticism, to the dull monotony of idocy.  There is no true strength but in him who has self-control, and that is moderation; a perpetual and watchful restraint upon the feelings, emotions, appetite, speech, demeanor – so that nothing shall be done thoughtlessly, and the man shall always know whether or not he transgresses the rules of duty, decorum and kindness.

Visiting the brewery of a stately home it was explained to me the origin of the phrase ‘one over the eight’.  In times gone by, workers of the estate, which was not located near a natural spring, were refreshed not by water or tea but in ‘small beer’ – the weaker beer produced when malt is used a second time.  Each worker had an allowance of eight pints per day.  The man not practicing Henry Ware’s ‘prudent moderation’ would be said to have had ‘one over the eight’.

One over the eight

One over the eight

I read somewhere that drinking a little alcohol the day after a binge helps the body process the toxins flying around inside.  So I drink my last two Budweisers, give myself the night off and look forward to a day of cash poker tomorrow.

Unbelievable Clapping

August 13, 2008

Look at this confident young man showing off his hand clapping skill

Think of the musical and sexual applications of this technique

All in Rap

August 11, 2008

I don’t know if you’re stupid, or if you’re on crack, but my full house beats your trip jacks

There is a brilliant music video called ‘All in Rap’ which appears to be by an artist called Prah.

Its not brilliant because of the quality of the track, its not good because it uses women as ornaments, and its not good because the artist lacks a full grasp of the distinction between a full house and trips…. BUT IT IS FUNNY….

Is Johnny Chan aware there is actual video footage of him laying claim to a pot while holding tens full of nines, when his opponent holds jacks full of tens???

Trumper

August 11, 2008

Waheed Ashraf got a surprise Happy Birthday last night at Dusk Till Dawn – Simon Trumper leading a room full of poker players in song – although it would be kind to call it singing.

Later that night Trumper was spotted at the Dealers after hours game at Rileys – a 10p/10p Dealer’s Choice cash game where stacks regularly exceed 2000 big blinds. A good proportion of poker dealers are, of course, degenerate gamblers. The degenerate gamblers of the Dusk Till Dawn staff gather most nights to take turns in crippling each other financially with games such as Hi-Lo Cross, Super Stud Kings and Queens Wild, and 5 Card Draw with 5 Draws and Kings and Queens Wild.

When a new variation is introduced I will usually call off all my money during the first hand, while others sit back and observe how not to play the game. Slowly I adjust and learn to play more prudently, which is when Robin will come up with a new game.

Fists Recording

August 11, 2008

Fists are booked to record some tracks with John Sampson of Swimming on the 23rd and 24th August.

This is long overdue for us a chance to record some more material to a high standard.

James of the band organises everything he does a brilliant Job. People from radio are asking for stuff to play but hitherto we have not had very strong recordings. If we can get four tracks done with John, in addition to stuff we did at Baselab Studios a few months ago, we are ready to go and this band can go to the next level.

We’re in a good place right now as James has built up a good network of contacts in terms of getting gigs etc.

The upcoming recording session clashes with Dusk Till Dawn Deepstack Festival. Dam i thought that would be a conflict if i can’t get the time off… but fortunately got the time off.

Poker

August 11, 2008

Last night I achieved some goals, passed a milestone, broke a ceiling and realised some potential. To poker players my result will be no big deal. Non-poker players bear with me please.

Two and a half years ago I was a non-poker player. Now poker dominates my life.

People like me get obsessed by poker because they try it, like it, fluke a big score, and then, understandably, conclude they must be really good at it. Unfortunately for the debutant, and fortunately for the expert, successful poker is achieved in many fine shades.

There is a film starring Gene Hackman as a basketball coach. He gives a big speech to his team before a game. Although they are the underdogs, they can win by doggedly seizing every single small edge available to them on the court. Although the team is outclassed on paper, the sum of the many small gains will more than compensate. If the other team is less determined to win, or makes mistakes, our heroes will be there to snatch the ball away.

In poker the good players can see and seize the small edges. They are patient, accumulating gains, not getting upset, as the debutant will, at ‘bad luck’, knowing that in the long term all the little good decisions, all the little edges will add up to profit. In the long term luck has nothing to do with it.

The debutant must credit his good play for the favourable cards he receives, and blame his bad luck for the unfavourable cards he receives, or even blame his fellow players for his losses, or better still not acknowledge his losses at all, which is easy to do if he does not keep good records, or record only the wins. The losing player is inclined to turn over another new leaf, opening a new spreadsheet on his computer to record results, keeping it up to date, proudly viewing a graph of his winnings. Then, when things are not going well, he doesn’t find the time to enter every result. There are gaps in the record. Soon the spreadsheet is out of date, and next time he plays he must begin again. All this is natural and necessary, lest he be happy to admit that he loses money playing poker, for the vast majority of players do lose, but the vast majority of these do not admit it, to you or to themselves.

Now the good players are like bookmakers, they sit there with the others, they are gambling at the same game, but they have the better odds. They have accumulated experience, judgement, knowledge and skill combined with formidable discipline. They have an edge and they are determined enough and want to win enough to hold this edge down hand after hand after hand, knowing that one deviation will undo the profit of ten small gains. There are many players who have the experience, knowledge and skill of a good player but lack the necessary discipline. They will either achieve it or remain losing players.

I remember feeling clumsy and uncomfortable and out of place during my first poker tournament in a casino. The next week I went back and won the tournament and £1400. That made me feel a lot more comfortable and of course poker was now a profitable endeavour… or unfortunately not, as I found out during two years of small-stakes internet poker frustration. At times I was genuinely upset – why was I losing? Teeth-gnashingly upset – why was I losing? But one answer, or two answers to this question is not enough. The expert could reach into his stack of small gains and come up with a fistful of answers, and the difference between him and me was a series of fine shades.

So slowly the player becomes more expert as he learns to not repeat mistakes, think more deeply, have better discipline etc etc etc. The great players learn fast and don’t stop getting better. The really bad ones dig a bizarre tunnel of superstition, denial and bitter negativity to let them keep playing. They are addicted to gambling. Merely bad players dig a less nasty tunnel, often assisted by some isolated or misapplied chunks of knowledge garnered from a poker text, or knowledge borrowed from other players. Comically, bad players often complain self righteously about others’ poor play and how it inhibits ‘a good game’. Bad players will focus, they must focus on, crazy irrelevant variables to avoid focussing on THE RESULTS. So bad players will really go to town on little details like the shuffle of the cards or the placing of the dealer button at the start of a game. There are a very few recreational or party players who don’t mind losing a little now and again, but their contribution to the poker money supply is perhaps negligible. For such is the time consuming, compulsive and spell binding aspect of playing poker, that those who play it play it a lot.

Now somehow I’ve managed to push my way into winning ways at poker. F*cking hell it wasn’t easy. Last night I went back to the club where I first made that big score, which for two and a half years I’ve been trying to come close to. And last night I did it. And I played well. And I pissed the bad players off I had them moaning at me. And I’ve been winning for months and have a large and rigorously maintained spreadsheet. And I keep learning and getting better. And I love it.

Being Creative

August 11, 2008

The Sweat. The longing you can’t tackle. The short highs and long lows, the triumph that feels like it might last is gone next day, the difficult and uncomfortable tellings of your life, the pain and anger, all these things take their turn, sometimes often, often rarely. This is our life, the life of the brave and daring.

My friend BD and I were born in the same week in the same hospital. We grew up together and share some of the same ambitions and shortcomings. Whenever we meet we have long animated discussions about our ambitions and shortcomings, and what we have recently learned about ourselves – our favourite topic of conversation. I’m going to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I reach the end of this branch, then I’m going to let my left foot take all my weight, now I’m putting out my right leg and stretching out my right arm straight and my face is creasing because I’m reaching out as far as I can for the good thought I’m trying to say. We have such high goals. The yawning gap between our ambitions, vague and distant, and THE RESULTS robs us of sleep at night, makes us feel uncomfortable in ourselves and, naturally, gets in the way of actually getting shit done and creating something beautiful.

Two ways around it. One – revise your m*therf*cking ambitions. Ambitions are not things that can be achieved. Goals are things that can be achieved. Ambitions are longings, like urges. Long term urges. They are vague and unspecific and if you are putting off being happy until you achieve your ambitions you are being very hard on yourself. It is difficult to know just when you’ve achieved an ambition. Its confusing, like driving past a road sign that said ‘Ambition – One Mile’, cheering, you’re almost there, then a minute passes, then two, and what has happened? you are on the right road but have gone past it? missed it? don’t understand. Ambitions don’t make sense. Goals make sense. You achieve a goal, move on to the next one. ‘My ambition is to be famous’ – but the ‘being’ part of ‘being famous’ is ‘being’ famous to other people. Can you remember when you became famous? No I can’t. What did it feel like after you became famous? It was weird. I had reached a point in my career where I was now famous but instead of feeling a sense of achievement I felt a bit empty and strange. I asked myself ‘Is this it?’ It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Two – get on with it. Edit. Get a stone and carve, you’ll work out what it is when its carved. Write ten songs and two you’ll remember. One you’ll want to play again. Sit at the computer and pour out words, nonsense and anger at first. Start a blog, which in theory could be read by somebody, so you’ll have to try and write something good, but its healthy to not care about what other people think. Once its written its up there, and the more honest, straightforward, simple and funny the writing was the easier it will be to not care and the more you will smile and the less sensitive you will be and the more you will laugh at yourself and the greater time you will have. Your art is not you but just something that you happened to make. The thing that you made yesterday or an hour ago, you can view it and laugh about it as if it were something that you made as a child. Don’t stop. In the factory, don’t move the quality control from the end of the production line and place it at the beginning. Let thoughts of ‘is this good’ or ‘is this bad’ not impinge upon the setting down of your idea. Come back to it the next day or next week when the answer will appear as soon as your eye meets the page.

Changes at Dtd

August 11, 2008

Dtd management today announced that the club was forthwith slashing the opening hours in half, closing two hours earlier each day and not opening at all on Mondays and Tuesdays.