Category Archives: geek

Facebook is VERY ODD INDEED.

Call off the search – the gremlins behind tech failures in Facebook have been traced to HG Wells.

Time travel proved through medium of Facebook.

Time travel proved through medium of Facebook.


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The signatures are legion, for they are many.

I think it’s about time I update with something about music – just for a change. The whole accomodationism vs. science education debate on the blogosphere is leaving me pretty worn out (incidentally, I must register here my fervent hope that Jerry Coyne uses my term to describe the accomodationists – The ‘Pew Atheists’, a ho ho ho), plus I’m playing in West Side Story at the moment, and that’s just killer.

So – in the spirit of light-heartedness, dear reader, I present to you the largest number of signature items on a gig. That I’ve done, at least.

Here, for a Music Faculty staff concert, is my rig – try and spot all the signature items:

Get ’em all?
OK, following the signal chain, R-L:
Boss Chromatic Tuner; Dunlop Zakk Wylde Wah; Xotic Andy Timmons BB Pre-amp; Digitech Hardwire Valve Distortion; MXR EVH Van Halen Phaser.

So, the tuner and the distortion aren’t really pulling their weight – FOR SHAME.
In my defence, though, the tuner’s needed because every audience deserves a guitarist who’s in tune.
And the distortion? It just kicks arse. Seriously great sound, I may scrawl my own moniker on it with a Sharpie if I have an idle moment…

Next up:

Yes, it’s a replica of Eric Johnson’s favourite Dunlop Jazz III pick.
I can’t even excuse the purchase of this, and needless to say it doesn’t form the bulk of my chat-up material.

OH HAI what’s that on my Parker Fly?

I just think those Satriani straps are funky. The new Metheny ones are really tempting, too…

And finally:

My oldest guitar, a lovely 1st-edition Ernie Ball/Musicman John Petrucci signature model.

So there we have it, a little trawl through some of my gear. And this is only the stuff I use to play RAWK – we haven’t even touched on the big band jazz stuff, or my country equipment, or the stage show rigs, or…

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Filed under blatant hero-worship, geek, gigs, Guitar, music

OK, I’ve watched ‘Star Wars’ too many times.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single Imperial Storm Trooper in possession of a good blaster must be in want of SOME BASIC AIMING ABILITY.

I know that we can’t exactly have the protagonists die immediately, but those fellas are so inaccurate as to be redundant, plot-wise. Even a little bit of blaster-whipping would be an improvement.

Which does throw into question this moment in Episode IV:

LUKE: These are the same Jawas that sold us R2 and 3PO.

BEN: And these blast points, too accurate for Sandpeople. Only Imperial stormtroopers are so precise.

LUKE: Why would Imperial troops want to slaughter Jawas?

‘[S]o precise’. Hmmm.
Come on, George! First, Greedo, then Parsecs, now this!

Honestly, some times I get so mad I just have to blog.

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I Can’t Dance

Although the title of this post may convince you otherwise, I’m not very self-aware.

I admit, even my closest friends who I’d class in the Worryingly-Obsessed category might hesitate before ever conceeding that I could ever be described – even for a second – as groovy.

Watch, children, as your humble scribe attempts to artfully flick a Metaphor Frisbee (made from 95% Humour) into the waiting grip of a Reciprocal Laugh-ee.
Instead, Mrs. Thatcher, the Irony Lady, has decreed that he throws a Simile Boomerang constructed purely from that rarest of Literary Metals, Depracation.

While we wait for the Simile Boomerang to complete it’s graceful arc, let me tell you about Genesis.

Yes, the Literal Truth, and Inerrant Word. Of Phil Collins.

I’ll try and hide my love-affair with sub-clauses – whoops, here’s one I should probably get rid of, it doesn’t seem to contribute anything to my argument – and get on with my argument.

Rekindled a dormant interest in Genesis today, while watching their new DVD “When In Rome”. Having had some friends see the reunion tour last year, I was very excited to have such a high-quality memento of the tour.

Also, my life at the moment seems to be revolving around Genesis alumni. The Wells Cathedral School Big Band, with whom I have the great pleasure of working, have just recorded a CD at Peter Gabriel’s beautiful Real World Studio – due for public consumption in July.
Also, for upcoming concerts, they’ve been working on a number of Phil Collins’ Big Band charts, including the ridiculous Los Endos Suite! Fairly challenging. Maybe not one for the ‘Slow-dance’ section of their gigs.

Anyway, always a pleasure to see Daryl Stuermer play guitar on this disc – superb tone and feel, as usual. I wish I could have been there!

Until next time – it’s nearly International Guitar Festival time, remember to sign up soon!


P.S. Caught the frisbee. And, no, I really cannot dance.

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You know what’d go well with this? Rocks.

And what more of a title could you ask for?

Following a period of intense jazz study [an odyssey, one might hesitantly posit], I’ve been joyfully expanding my musical horizons. This may, in fact, be single-handedly responsible for keeping my branch of Fopp solvent.

So, A LOT of CD’s have been whirred and assimilated this past week. It’s always a pleasure to find new artists who can reinvigorate your musical tastebuds, and this has been no exception.

Let’s see what I’ve been banging my head to:

Bartok’s 6 String Quartets

Superb, just superb. It’s easy, with compositions of this nature, to view them through purely academic lenses. But so many textual nuances get sidestepped if you follow the musicological route. Poor old Shostakovitch seems to suffer the same plight. I mean, forget the analysis – this music is rich.
Plus, the recording I have of this [The Emerson Quartet] is top notch.

The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly – Kate Rusby

As someone who really isn’t ‘up’ on the UK folk scene (although I’ve gigged with Vin Garbutt!), it’s nice to reconnect with what’s going on in these parts. Gorgeous music, wonderfully played. It makes me glad I don’t just shred!

Stupid Dream – Porcupine Tree

If you’ve been confused and/or a little intimidated by the sheer breadth of Porc Tree’s back catalogue, I’m here to help.

No, really.

This one’s been on steady rotation – ‘Stupid Dream’ is an excellent cross-over from their roots of ambient-prog-electronica, into a slightly more classic-prog-meets-metal theme that really took over with ‘In Absentia’. The songs, the singing, the playing – they’re all first class. Eccentricity has become hummable!

Erotic Cakes – Guthrie Govan

“Mmmmm…erotic cakes.” echoes every nerd around the world when they hear the title of this CD. Maybe. I mean, how would I know?

Come on…13 years in the making?! We’ve waited, and it’s finally here. It was, admittedly, getting to the stage where I would feel perfectly justified fashioning a rudimentary entry device (say, a brick), and using said article to ‘requisition’ the master tapes from Mr. Govan’s abode.

But I’m too patient for that. So I waited, and hummed ’80s cop show theme tunes to myself in the meantime.

Lots of notes, and a ridiculous sense of humour. Perfect – from the hilarity of ‘Rhode Island Shred’, to the truly insane solo in ‘Fives’, topped with the beautiful tribute ‘Eric’.

OK, not ‘new’ albums, but 2 which I listened to for the first time in a few years:
Rust In Peace – Megadeth

YES. Thrash’s masterstroke. A friend and I agreed recently that thrash guitar just stopped, really, after this. I mean, the bands got more technical, more political, or just damn louder, but Mustaine’s boys had it ALL.

The sophistication of the guitar solos alone make this essential listening.

Dr. Feelgood – Motley Crue

I just LOVE rock ‘n’ roll. While Van Halen served up ‘spring break’ rock with a wink, the Crue were blinking the whole time. Now, THAT’s rockin’.

And finally, my favourite album of the recent present?

Embrace The Storm – Stream of Passion

Born out of Ayreon and Elfonia, this album just does it for me. Arjen Lucassen’s textures and unconventional melodies, coupled with Marcela Bovio’s beautiful voice, just have to be good. And there are some great guitar solos, reminiscent of Michael Lee Firkins actually (with, however, an annoying tendency to step into Hammett-esque ‘obsessive compulsive wah-wah disorder’ mode).

And I know we’ll never hear songs like ‘Out In The Real World’ on the radio, which is just a huge shame. And I’m still shivering thinking about ‘Wherever You Are’…deep.
This is the classier, unpretentious side of Prog-metal. Thoroughly recommended.

So much music. So little time. Thankfully there’s really not much on the telly.

Mind you, Love Island…pretty compelling viewing…


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Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly addicted.

MySpace has taken my life, despite [or because of] my caustic remarks recently on ’emo patience-baiting MySpace whores’. Just so you know, I stand by those remarks [well, they’re mine], but I’ve actually got into the music promotion element, rather than the “here’s a list of my favourite Evanescence songs in the order in which they make me want to hurt myself and post pictures of me with my dodgy webcam” sort that seem to spawn in some dark recesses of the Internet.
Bear with me, ladies and gentlemen – a slight tangent is in progress. We’ll be back to normal shortly. So you might, perhaps, want to put the kettle on, or something. I don’t know. It’s your life, dammit.

Anyway, if I was Steve Wozniak [and not a day goes by when I don’t say that to myself] I’d be hopping onto this whole meme-spreading cult of ‘net denizens. Of course, you couldn’t copy it wholesale. No, you’d have to sterilise the concept, make it all a dull gray with sickening green highlights, and turn it into the ruler of the Internet. A Sultan of Surfers©, if you will.
Yes, it could be paired with iTunes to provide music, and whatever else they deem essential for todays hip go-getting paradigm-shifters.

The name? Surely you’re all ahead of me on this one?!

I present:

Incidentally, if this does get patented by Apple, and I don’t get a cut, I will be severely hacked off.

So, maybe, posting the idea to the entire Internet may have been a bad marketing decision.


Filed under essays, geek, humour, irreverence

Daylight? Whit?

Thanks to a medically-inadvised combination of revising my website (having to learn Dreamweaver, Flash, and all the assorted gubbins that go with being ‘a bit of a geek’) and studying Popper ‘cello pieces on the guitar (for personal use only, I dread the unfortunate audience that’d have to sit through such a concert), I’m really not seeing a lot of sunlight at the moment. Thank any unspecified deities then that the weather up in Scotland has been poorer than the scriptwriting for ‘Will & Grace’.
And with analogies of that standard, I may just be asked to join their writing staff.


I’m also on a mission to prove that watching Futurama ad nauseam increases brain power and muscle tone ten-fold. Let’s just say that I’m an optimist.

[Addendum, purely to emulate any MySpace contemporaries]:
Currently listening to an obscene amount of John McLaughlin, after his ‘Remember Shakti’ gig at The Sage left my jaw suffering adversely from the affects of gravity.

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