Drums are clunky and clumsy to sit down to. Bits are threatening to fall over, poke your leg, clatter and clash in a big noise. But once I do sit down, it feels like a beast is at my beck and call.
Everybody has something that eases their mind. Different people are affected by different things. Some friends have told me surfing does it, others running, others fine art and drawing. We are all so different, but everyone has something they absolutely love and fall into so deeply that they don’t even notice time passing, or tiredness, or anything else but the task at hand. I have a few things. Golf. Motorbikes. Fly fishing. Music.
The problem is, I stopped playing drums. I got busy. Then I grew older and got REALLY busy. And then I forgot what it felt like to sit at the very bottom of a song and push the other instruments forward. Control the tempo and the sound. For me, there is really nothing like it.
My friend came to town the other day and we met up at a guitar shop. He wanted a Fender to pass on as a family heirloom. I tested some out with him, and I played drums as he strummed the blues. I remembered that great feeling all over again.
Every week I add a few new songs to my playlist on Spotify (See the link to the playlist here: link).
Choosing the songs is the end of a rather convoluted process:
On Spotify, I ‘Like’ all songs and albums (I’m about half way through) included in the following book: link
I listen to the resulting recommendations from Spotify in my ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist.
I Pick a few standout songs and add them to my chimpwithcans playlist (link here).
The results are broad in their musical genre. It has turned into a pretty chilled playlist and I really enjoy pressing shuffle now. It has so many songs I never would have heard. Importantly I feel like I have had a say in training and filtering the Spotify algorithm to spit out something interesting.
This week, my Discover Weekly gave me the following standout tracks:
Fela Kuti – “Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am”. Below is a great review of the song:
Released as part of a quartet of albums from the most productive year of Fela’s career, “Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am” has all the hallmarks of a classic Fela single, a languid, self determined instrumental warm up that goes on for several minutes, putting the listener in the right frame of mind, and setting up a tonal theme for the rest of the performance, a choral style, call and response chorus in conjunction with Fela’s omnipresent band, and long winding verse that defy the laws of composition and march at a tempo that only Fela decides. But what really distinguishes this song from the rest of the master’s oeuvre, is the masterful storytelling that Fela employs. Fela had always understood that at the core of his sway over his fans was his ability to empathize with their terribly oppressed lives, and the skill with which he consumed their stories, ruminated on them and regurgitated them back, defiance milled into the broth.
“Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am” is brimming with defiance, delivered subtly as an exchange, reflected through a lens of righteous justice. Fela sings of the oppressed, and personifies the oppression of Nigerian people. He asks through a direct chorus and series of vignettes, that the suffering of oppressed be respected and that if it is not, then the oppressed is justified in their decision to revolt, to take arms against the persons who mock their suffering and remain unempathetic to their oppression. He substitutes the government for smaller, more relatable avatars of power, like the landlord who wields the power to deny shelter, or the policeman who can take away a man’s freedom, or even closer. Never to look away from intrigue when the opportunity presents itself, Fela subverts his own theme in the third vignette about a husband, citing that sometimes it is our own avarice and pride, not an external agitator that puts us in trouble.
Sidney Bechet – “Blue Horizon”. Holy moly please listen to this man play a clarinet! I remember when I was about 11years old my Mum tried to get me to play an instrument and I tried clarinet. I had zero idea it could sound like this. My efforts sounded more like a strangled ibis making an escape from the torture chamber…..But this man…..The control, the wary tension of the small group surrounding him. The sharp tone, a vigorous vibrato. This is an absolute master and I had NEVER heard of him until today. More fool me. Have a listen, just beautiful.
I’ve had to buy a new iPhone. The old one died in a fit of convulsions. Dead battery, slow performance and broken screen – after four years it all seems to happen at once.
In setting up the new Beast, I’ve become interested in the layout and settings on my phone. In particular I’m concerned about how the default settings on an iPhone drive certain behaviours. Notifications, constant sharing of information and confinement to the Apple ecosystem are all worth considering, I feel.
“Exhaustive” is the word I’d use for the article, but I also found it fascinating. It has resulted in the below home screen for my phone which I am liking very much.
These phones are running our lives more and more. From work to social interactions. As Ben Evans says, The smartphone is the Sun in our digital solar system. Everything else revolves around the phone. This being the case, it’s worth thinking about how we set up the phone and interact with it.
I’m very easily hooked into social media Buti am trying to set up the phone to make it easier to drive more productive and healthier habits than scrolling Instagram, Twitter or WhatsApp all day.
It is often the big events which give new impetus to a project or a lagging goal.
I was busy before the pandemic and now I have a very busy life. So far COVID 19 related lockdown has been a blur of work, babysitting, house cleaning, logistics. I know I am not alone and many people have even more to do than me. I also know some people are going through this lockdown with no work and no children to worry over. I wonder what that’s like??…..But I digress.
Impetus itself is a mid 17th century word from Latin. It comes from impetere ‘assail’, from in- ‘towards’ + petere ‘seek’. This suggests a searching and overcoming of obstacles. Impetus is often an externally generated thing in my life. I wish it was more internally driven.
Start of a new streak. Here’s hoping I have the impetus to keep it going for at least 30 days.
We are in lockdown in a beautiful location. We are lucky. There are regular scenes resembling a cover of a sci-fi novel.
Peach and pink sunset over the bay, the sea was perfectly still as a navy submarine, half submerged and performing a routine drill, cruised past like an alien ship in the evening. All the while a bright white moon hung in the pink sky. La Luna smiled down on us from the other side of the bay, almost scraping the pastel colored mountains which surround us like one of Mars’ orbital rocks.
On another morning, further out to sea a pod of hundreds of dolphins were in a feeding frenzy. They gorged themselves on a huge shoal of smaller fish which they had trapped. A boiling, choppy circular mass moved along through the water until the feeding was done. From high up here it looked like one of Jupiter’s storms passing by.
Now at night time the darkness of the water fills up space from our viewpoint to the city. Far on the other side of the bay is where the water ends and the city starts. I see an amber glow and winking, yellow lights floating on the blackness of the sea. The city is like a huge mothership hovering on the ocean.
Look for the sci-fi around you because it’s surely there.
The addition of ‘escape the jungle’ to my blog’s main menu is taking shape. I plan to add a few sub menus to cater for all the things in life that help me to escape the jungle – to be less chimp and more rational being. Less anxious and more free.
So far I have art, design, productivity and psychology.
Within these categories I will post my favorite stuff. There will be subcategories too I guess…sport goes somewhere. This is the stuff I love and enjoy. The stuff that makes my life better.
For a few days I couldn’t write. I don’t believe in writers block, but exhaustion and overload are real and encourage resistance to create.
We are all in the middle of a war. The global pandemic is spreading. As much as it is a war against a terrible disease, it is also an assault on the senses. A drain on our energy if we succumb to the non stop media coverage. It grabs attention. The media distraction is only exacerbated by young children and old grandparents relying on my wife and I to help navigate the family. It has been a load and for three days it squeezed any bandwidth I had for writing right out of my mind.
For me, this is a mini-tragedy (compared to the global mega-tragedy unfolding around us) because I had built up a decent streak of writing every day for over a month.
It is surprisingly hard to start fresh. But once you start, the words do flow. You just need to start.
More creativity to cope with tragedy. I’m back and I will hit a month again.
It is often said that teachers are important, noble, and essential (disclosure – I come from a family full of teachers). But why do people say this exactly?
I think it is because of the long term. Teachers (if they’re doing their job) are trying to prepare young people for long term success. This is not the case with so many jobs.
Wall Street traders trying to profit as much as possible in the shortest time frame. Or the fast food store selling the cheapest rubbish to as many people as possible. This sort of short term-ism or race to the bottom is not really useful with proper teaching. Instead it requires patience, creativity and a long term approach.
What stops many teachers making the impact they ought to make or gaining the recognition they deserve? I think it is likely the system in which they have been employed for so long. The industrial model of education which we still mostly use, treats children like factory employees, squeezing them into predefined boxes and encouraging cramming for tests. This is not necessarily preparing them for the real world problems in this Information Age. But I digress.
It helps a lot if you are confident about the desired outcome. If you know what you want. I’m not sure what the stats are, but I bet that the odds of something happening go way up if you have the end goal clearly emblazoned is your mind.
All of the most important things related to a project – values, culture, status, leadership – they depend on the parameters that are set.
Maybe an example will help me express myself. If you write a novel, and it starts as a tragedy, then slips into a sci-fi, then to a slapstick comedy, and finally reaches a crescendo as a religious historical piece – well that sounds like a confused mess.
Genre and its audience is perhaps where you want to start. It helps to define the values, the culture and the modus operandi.
With that in mind, I have realized my writing on this blog tends to split into different interests. I might write about creativity, African trade, productivity, music, or sci-fi all in the space of a week.
This needs to become a little clearer, and step one in the splitting out of interests is to redesign the site a little. I think this new template is clearer and the menu at the top will help to clarify things.
It’s a work in progress.
For anyone who has reached this far in the post, happy Monday chimps. 😀