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January 29th, 2016

09:11 pm - Grateful

Recently, the BBC showed a two-part series for the tenth anniversary of Gareth Malone's TV choir-making. The first part focused on the school choirs, and the second part focused on the rest of the choirs, culminating in a reunion showcasing the school choirs and The Choir of Choirs. It looked like it went really well, and it looked to be as much about Mr Malone as it was about the choirs - it was really rather lovely, and a delight to see him having so much fun and enjoying the company of some who have sung in his choirs over the past decade.

It also hit home just how much my life has changed - I vividly remember watching, particularly the South Oxhey choir and workplace choirs, thinking 'I could do that', and doing Take the Lead, investigating Voces8 concerts when 'walking distance' meant anywhere up to around 3 miles from a train station - now it means 0.6mi (I've checked on Google maps) and I am pretty much done after that. [Work is 0.4mi from the station.] I watched him doing energetic warm-ups, the same as the sort of warm-ups we did during every workshop for Take the Lead; my class teacher this year also uses some of the same physical aspects to get the children going when they're flagging, and I actually cannot do it. Watching him conduct, I found myself realising I used to have that kind of energy - I genuinely did! - now even to stand that long would be exhausting, let alone doing anything else. I am all the more grateful that I had the opportunity to do so many different musical things when I was able to - Stepping Stones, Creative Orchestra, Fiddle Fiestas, Windband Days, music school, BYO*, Take the Lead!, teaching music at Pulloxhill, conducting the Beechwood choir, all the other musical stuff we did in Sixth Form, Adelphi Players, playing at congregation gatherings, Sound Inventors, B Festival, etc., etc., etc.!
*I'm especially grateful for having done BYO; it was such a musically enriching experience and some of the pieces we played were just awesome. It's also particularly special to me that the last time I played in BYO was for Shost 5, and with a dear friend.

This isn't 'woe is me' at all, just ... a marker in time. I am at peace with the situation, frustrated slightly at times but that soon passes. I just look forward to long walks in the countryside and singing and dancing and playing in orchestras in the new system. I look forward to being able to be DOING things for whole days, not having to monitor myself and take breaks and stop altogether after half a day (or more often, after a couple of hours). It has made Jehovah's promise of paradise far more real and far more special to me.

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September 30th, 2013

12:22 am - Cheerful comedy

I don't know if I've posted this before, but I really like Adam Hills' comedy. I will put in a small caveat: I don't like that often in his stand-up he swears, and in many post-watershed programmes he will also swear. However, his style of comedy is very ... I don't want to say 'gentle', because if he picks up something being wrong - particularly if it's unjust or unfair - he will have a bit of a rant about it. But his comedy is always very positive: he doesn't put people down, he doesn't make jokes at anyone's expense, and when he does have a rant it always comes with suggestions for how to do better - e.g. 'don't say {horrible thing}, educate yourself and then say {better thing}'. [That doesn't really explain it, but anyone who has seen it will know what I mean.] Put it this way: some of his solo shows have been called 'Life is Good', 'Happy Feet', 'Joymonger', and most recently, 'Happyism'.

One thing I really like is that he's always smiling, and that always makes me smile - I really noticed it this evening, when I was catching up on Celebrity Fifteen to One; it wasn't an overtly comic show, although there were some bits of comedy from the answers the contestants gave, but Adam Hills was presenting it and just made me smile :)

Anyway, that's my little ramble for tonight.

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July 14th, 2012

11:07 pm - URL meme

This is a quick little meme I nabbed from kiwiria:

Type in each letter of the alphabet in your address bar, and write down the first hit for that letter. (I'm not counting results that come up from anyone else using the computer whilst still on my account, nor sites for job searching.)

Actiononhearingloss.org.uk/community/forums/tinnitus.aspx?g=topics&f=2 - Tinnitus forum
Bbc.co.uk/iplayer/ - BBC iPlayer
Crosseyedpianist.wordpress.com - Muso blog
Doodle.com/v9gsfkfsua8mmdh8 - Tickets for John Finnemore's pre-Souvenir Programme tryouts this year (all done now).
Ebay.co.uk (the second result was the Wikipedia entry for Horrible Histories!)
Gxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxschools.org.uk - our school website (censored for security)
Ibank.xxxxxxxx.co.uk - online banking
Luton.naxosmusiclibrary.com - Naxos login using my library card number; brilliant!
Nationalrail.co.uk - Train times, stations, routes, everything else for the UK
Oyster.tfl.gov.uk - Oyster card information for travelling around London
Qvcuk.com - online shopping
Rlslog.net - er, ssshh.
Vimeo.com/37442603 - Video of Mat Baynton (of Horrible Histories fame) playing one of his own songs.
Watchtower.org - soon to be merged into jw.org. Official website of Jehovah's Witnesses
Xe.com - online currency convertor
Z13.invisionfree.com/Smoke_Signals/index.php?showforum=1 - Smoke Signals forum, mainly dealing with deafness and hearing loss.

Also, a photographer has decided to take one photo every day for a year. That sounds an interesting challenge, so I'm considering trying it for a month or two. Not that I think my photographic skills are anything, but it'd be nice to look out for something interesting every day, even on days when I don't go anywhere or seem to 'do' anything. Though I need to find the charger for the camera battery first!

Current Mood: amusedamused
Tags: ,

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May 7th, 2012

02:14 am - Weird ears

I had a bit of an odd experience a few weeks ago. My hearing went dull, my tinnitus was a fair bit louder, and my ears felt full - just randomly, no cold symptoms or anything. Sound made my hearing dull even more, the tinnitus get even louder, the pressure in my ears greater, and made me feel very dizzy. This was on the Sunday, and going to work on Monday was really strange. My left ear felt better than my right (the tinnitus is always louder in my right now; has been for a few months), but naturally being in a classroom it got quite noisy at times. It didn't get ridiculously noisy, but enough so on occasion that I could hear nothing above the tinnitus, and I had to hold onto something in order not to fall over! By the afternoon it was better - thank goodness; I don't know how I'd have kept upright during music with all three classes - and by the evening there was only a slight residual feeling of fullness and slightly louder tinnitus than usual. By Tuesday everything was back to normal.

So yeah, strange.

Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Sherlock theme

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May 1st, 2012

05:50 pm - Lemons, Landmarks, and other fannish musings.

There is a 'Lemons and Landmarks' project that is the brainchild of pudupudu (explanation here for anyone interested; I don't expect anyone on my flist is unless they've listened to Cabin Pressure). I really want to do something with the lemon - give it face/arms/captain's hat/whatever, or draw it in a suit, or something, but I don't know what exactly and also it might be a bit sad.

For the landmark part, I was thinking of the white lion in Whipsnade, Ivinghoe Beacon, Ashridge, or somewhere like that. The deadline I think is 16th May; we're going to London for one of John Finnemore's Priory Engagements on the 13th, but we don't even live in London so I'd like to submit something closer to home. There is the monument about Catherine of Aragon in Ampthill Park, but I think Emagan and Elle will submit that. There's also Bletchley Park, parts of Milton Keynes, even Bedford with its selection of historical connections ... kind of spoiled for choice, but not many things locally are actually well-known landmarks. Oh well, we'll think of something. We can just take loads of pictures and select the best one or two to submit. Though I think pudupudu has one of, if not The Best submission: Roger Allam, aka Douglas Richardson.

Also, 'The Unbelievable Truth' seems to fairly often feature John Finnemore, but even when he's not on it, it's still a pretty funny (and educational) programme ... I guess it's kind of in the spirit of QI, but the humour is cleaner! Available on iPlayer here. It's hosted by David Mitchell and features a mixture of well-known and slightly-less-well-known-but-equally-funny comedians, and was created by Graeme Garden and Jon Naismith - familiar names to the regular Radio 4 listener :)

Another fannish custom among Cabin Crew (a term used to refer to fans of Cabin Pressure) is the game Yellow Car. Mr Finnemore posted a video entitled The Official Rules of Yellow Car, on his blog and Youtube. Now, I used to think to myself 'thank goodness John Finnemore's fans aren't all as crazy as Benedict Cumberbatch's*' ... I've kind of had to re-think that after reading the comments on that post, but I think we're probably crazy in a different way. I've never heard of anyone swooning over John Finnemore in his presence, for example, but as a collective fandom we seem to have a tendency to overthink things!
[*No offence whatsoever to anyone who is a fan of Benedict - I myself admire what we know of him and his work - just the way a lot of people seem to swoon over him in fandom really isn't my style; each to their own. And I use the word 'crazy' because it's alien to me and I can't understand it, no matter how much I try! Whereas the way John Finnemore's fans pick up and run with jokes long after Mr F has written them might strike other people as crazy.]

One would find it difficult to believe this post was initially only intended to be about travelling lemons.

Current Mood: creativecreative
Current Music: Don't press the button on the light blue bollard.

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December 23rd, 2011

02:10 am - Wherever You Are

Disclaimer for the following post: I do not judge anybody, ever. It is not my place; we all have free will and it is up to each individual how they use that. I can form an opinion about actions, based on the standards set out in the Bible, but I will never judge a person by their actions.

I'm simultaneously both really angry and really sad. I watched the first episode of The Choir: Military Wives on iPlayer a few weeks ago, and when I saw the impact that deployment of troops has on those left behind, I was shocked. I already knew, on an intellectual level, that war is barbaric: it kills people both military and civilian, which obviously impacts their families and friends; and when soldiers come back alive they might not necessarily be intact - and even if they are physically intact, there are the emotional and psychological wounds that will leave scars. No human being can witness war without being affected by it, of that I am certain. But I'd never thought about the impact it has on families whilst the troops are in action. Seeing just a glimpse of how horrendous it is for the wives/girlfriends and children left behind made me angry and sad. Sad because I felt for them, and angry because it is preventable; the agony is just unnecessary. I suppose they usually have an idea of what they're getting themselves into either by marrying a soldier, or when a husband signs up, but I'm just angry that this situation exists, that people are needlessly suffering. I know why war happens and why the military exists and therefore also this situation, but that's not the way things should be.

One thing that continually baffles me though, is why people still join the military despite seeing what goes on in war. I can sort of understand back in the two world wars that people felt it was the right thing, to defend the country, and they had no idea of what horror awaited them. I'm absolutely not saying they were right; I'm just saying I can sort of see how they might have thought it a good idea. But nowadays we see footage of war, hear reports, hear accounts of surviving soldiers and see how awful a soldier's life can be afterwards due to physical and/or emotional trauma - yet people still volunteer. I'm not judging anyone because that's really not my place, but it does strike me as a strange - nay, insane - thing for a human being to do. Then factoring in the pain that those left behind have to experience - and even more so when a soldier is killed - it's just beyond me. Even if I possessed the ability to understand it, which I'm certain is not the case, I don't think I'd want to.

Since watching the first episode, my iPlayer desktop had all of my downloaded programmes disappear, so I didn't get to watch the second episode. Now they've come back, minus those that expired in the meantime, so I still have the third episode to watch. But this evening the BBC showed a compilation of the episodes, each edited from an hour to half an hour, into one long programme - this is what brought all of this emotion to the fore again, and I just had to at least try to get some of it out. Usually when I watch anything Gareth Malone has done, I know how I feel about it because I can 100% get behind the cause and can be overjoyed when everything works out in the end. This time is confusing: on a human level I am so, so pleased that he's helped these women find some purpose, and something for them, something to distract them whilst their other halves are away. On the other hand, I feel sad and angry that the situation exists and I just can't get behind the Military Wives' Choir the way I could any of his other ensembles, because this choir exists solely because of the barbarity of war, basically. Or more accurately, it exists because these women support the military and are a part of it, and that is why I cannot in any good conscience give this choir my support. Hence the feeling of confusion.

That's not to say I don't care. If I didn't care I wouldn't be confused (and it wouldn't have taken me so long to compose this entry) - and I cried during the first episode so no doubt I'll cry at the third too. The one occasion on which I watched the video for the song (I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it since) I blubbed my heart out; if that's not caring then I don't know what is.

Current Mood: crankycranky

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December 4th, 2011

09:26 pm - Sobering illustration

This morning I slept through my alarm, then woke up at about 11 with a headache so I decided to go to Limbury's meeting to give me time to get myself together and get rid of the headache. I am so glad I did!

Mark gave the talk, which apparently was the same one he gave at Leagrave a few weeks ago but I hadn't been there. The theme was 'Trust in Jehovah's saving power' but there was one point he made that really, really hit home that I just had to share.

He used the illustration of a newborn child, and he was describing the father's feelings towards this child, whom he had helped create. The child in his arms, looking up at him with big round eyes, that look up at him as if to say 'you're my daddy. You're going to look after me; you're going to feed me, you're going to love me and cherish me and care for me.' The father's crying, overwhelmed with joy at this newborn child all bundled up in blankets, his nose running (or at least, his was). The family are all there, all wanting to have a hold, and the father knows he's going to have to let them all have a hold. But just a little longer; he doesn't want to give the child to anyone just yet; just a little longer.

But imagine having to give the child to someone who doesn't want them. Someone who isn't going to look after them, who isn't going to love them, feed them, or any of those other things. Imagine having to give your child to someone who is going to hate them, ridicule and revile them, treat them really badly, and ultimately kill them.

No human could ever do that, but Jehovah did.

The point was that in itself, Jesus' ransom sacrifice is a cast-iron guarantee that Jehovah really cares for us and really wants us to be happy, so he absolutely will provide whatever support we need to go on serving him. But for me, that was the most vivid illustration of what it cost Jehovah to allow his son to die for humankind that I've ever heard. I heard a few sniffles so clearly it affected others too.

I wish I could tell it as well as Mark did; if I can get hold of the recording I'll have to put up the clip because I just can't do it justice. I think also it helped because we all know Mark is very emotional anyway, and all throughout the illustration he was holding the baby in his arms, really visualising what he was saying. I find it difficult to visualise things unless I have something to which I can really relate it, and his delivery of the illustration was just perfect because I really could see it, and it helped me understand a lot better emotionally what Jesus' sacrifice cost Jehovah, rather than just intellectually. Of course none of us can actually fathom it properly, but it helped me understand a lot better.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Hugh Laurie - Let Them Talk (album)

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October 30th, 2011

04:25 pm - 普通话!

So it seems I'm gradually learning Mandarin now, for the Chinese group! After joining them for the book study for the first time, I decided to go along for a while and see what happened. Well, it's enjoyable, hard work, and exceedingly beneficial personally because it means I'm considering the material to be studied at least twice properly (plus any quick read-throughs prior to preparing properly).

Additionally, Mike and Dodie stayed over at the Yearnshires' last week (they were here for Dodie's Mum's memorial service and flying back on Tuesday morning) and were saying about how ripe the Mandarin field is for harvesting - the Chinese are natural students on the whole, and brothers and sisters are starting Bible studies with almost every Chinese person they meet because they really want to learn about Jehovah and the Bible. In this area there is a huge need for Chinese-speaking brothers and sisters to keep up with the demand for Bible studies and to care for all of the students' needs, and those who study here and then go back home to China take with them their love for Jehovah and their desire to continue getting to know him. So while our work in China is banned, the more people who take the word back there, the easier it becomes for our brothers and sisters there. And when the ban is lifted - which it likely will be - there will be a huge need for ones to go and to openly care for the spiritual needs of all of the interested ones.

It was this conversation that made my heart burn, and the desire to participate in the Chinese ministry started to grow. Over the week it's been on my mind more and more, then I was told on Monday that from today we have a Watchtower study in Mandarin too. So I felt I needed to make a decision. I have the circumstances for it; I'm young, single (no major family responsibilities), in reasonable health, with a car, and without wanting to be immodest, I have the ability to learn the language if I apply myself and rely on Jehovah. So I've decided that I would like to join the group. I'm going to speak to Peter about it, and Mark and Norman said to run it by James Batchelor - I'm glad, because my original thinking was that I'd probably be more use in the Flitwick group; although I'm now not so sure, I would really like to have it confirmed that it's okay for me to desert move from the group!

So if I can move, I'd like to do so in January, to give me time to prepare myself, to learn useful Chinese for ministry, and to work with everyone in the Flitwick group if possible just so I have some closure.

The book study in Chinese is fairly hard work, but I was in for a shock with the Watchtower! The book study at the moment and for the next few months analyses the Acts of the Apostles, so it's all been along similar themes, with similar vocabulary each week - but the Watchtower study has a different theme each week, or each two weeks, so it's a lot of different vocabulary. Which for the purposes of learning the language is very useful, but it's also a lot to take in. Also, the book study is 20 minutes long; the Watchtower is about an hour long so it's a lot more material too. Definitely material to be studied in a few sittings, rather than all at once! But it's very fulfilling to know that the Chinese students are benefitting from the meetings much more than if they could only attend English meetings, and all of us learning Chinese benefit from preparing the material thoroughly and from learning the Chinese.

It'll be a big change for me, but I'm quite excited. I think it's what I need to get me off my bottom and actually start putting in some proper effort again! And really helpfully, Odile said today that she'll send me the notes from the language classes, which will help me catch up a bit. (I didn't apply because at the time I had no desire for the Chinese ministry - typical. But I needed to do this because I really want to, for the right motives, and NOT because I felt I should, so I don't regret not applying for the classes.)

Ooh, I downloaded Google Pinyin converter, which means I can easily do this: 上帝给我们圣经。 你是基督徒 :D

Now I'm eagerly awaiting my songbook and Bible in pīnyīn XD

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: 他必呼唤

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July 24th, 2011

07:12 pm - Icons

So upon becoming obsessed with The Big Bang Theory, I went off in search of some Jim Parsons / TBBT icons. Two that I was already using are by shalowater:
. However I wanted a sad Sheldon icon, found the perfect screencap, but just could not get it right (see Exhibit A:
- argh.)

So, shalowater has very kindly made me two icons of the screencap I wanted:
. Now I just have to decide which one to use, as I only have one space!

But anyway, this was just a shoutout to shalowater to say THANK YOU!!! and also to everyone else, if you have fandoms in common then go and check out her icons (and other arty fanworks too); they're brilliant! Actually even if you haven't fandoms in common, chances are you'll find some stock icons that take your fancy :)

Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
Current Music: Myriads of brothers - in my head

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May 31st, 2011

06:43 pm - Ramble

This is going to sound such a stupid line of thought, but anyway. I've been thinking about it on and off for a while, but seeing some photos on Facebook of Paul, Barney, and their parents, and suddenly seeing where the resemblances were (Paul looks like their Dad; Barney looks like their Mum; yet somehow Paul and Barney still very much look like brothers) prompted me to think about this again.

I find it absolutely amazing that, as humans, we were all children. We were all tiny, helpless babies. In fact, we were all, at one stage in our life, single cells - and biologically speaking, our life came from a single cell from a man and a single cell from a woman - two cells not even in the same organism. And so the fertilised ovum eventually results in a fully-formed human being, that has the potential to do great things. I'm not talking necessarily about the famous people, or the ones who change history; while they may do / have done great things, I'm thinking more of the ordinary people who touch and change many lives.

In my initial musings before writing this entry, I was thinking about Paul and Barney. The photos of them and their parents (whilst on a Voces skiing trip) made me wonder how their parents felt, seeing their children growing up, turning into adults leading their own lives, with the potential and ability to change other people's lives. And they themselves have played their part in shaping Paul and Barney, by being able to give them a good education, supporting their musical endeavours, etc. So they have played a part in changing the lives that Paul and Barney touch.

Humans can have a very powerful effect on others, for good or for bad, and not necessarily through intention. Teachers inspire pupils, giving them a different direction in life; fanatics wreck and end lives when they kill and injure others - terrorists and solitary criminals alike. It's fascinating to think that even small, innocent actions can lead to profound consequences. In the grand scheme of things we are less than insignificant - even our entire solar system is infinitely smaller than a speck of dust in cosmic terms - but within our own world, we can have great power. From that one fertilised ovum can come astonishing things, and it's up to us to use our power wisely.

I've always known that human life was a miracle, but it really hit me when I was looking at those photos: life is actually a miracle far beyond our comprehension, and I had to attempt to [very badly] put it into words.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Me and My Shadow - Voces8

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May 3rd, 2011

05:54 pm - van Gogh: Painted with Words

Oh, ow. I just re-watched Vincent van Gogh: Painted with Words. I think I cried slightly less this time because I knew what was coming, but it didn't make it any easier. If anything knowing how it ended and seeing the signs way off made it more gut-wrenching. And the impact his illness must have had on Theo ... *sigh* So tragic. It's really scary to think that without medication he just had to ride out every episode - I am frankly surprised and impressed that he survived them for so long. I know he tried several times near the end of his life to kill himself, but he did astonishingly well to ride things out up until that point.

My head's a mangle, though nothing like van Gogh's must have been. He seemed an interesting character; I look forward to meeting him - and Theo, who nearly had the proverbial patience of a saint - in the resurrection.

On a technical note, I found a subtitles file for it - they need a few corrections but they are on the whole quite accurate. Which is a relief because it means I won't have to attempt to subtitle the whole thing from scratch!

Current Mood: pensivepensive

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April 29th, 2011

09:37 pm - A date for the annals of history

It would feel a little odd not to mark today, as it is indeed the day that Prince William and Kate Middleton got married and are now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Naturally I was a little curious about their wedding - Kate's dress was really very beautiful - and by all accounts it went well. Good for them.

But I was at the recording again of Cabin Pressure. I am absolutely exhausted but very, very happy - especially as yesterday was the B Festival, prior to which I spent the afternoon with Paul and Charles workshopping the Goldington Academy Choir and The Harmonettes. Elle and I sang with the Oakley Community Choir as support from Take the Lead (Elle's 2nd generation TtL) and it was just a wonderful, wonderful evening.

Cabin Pressure was BRILLIANT! Oh my goodness. At the end of Qickqick...aq? Qikiqtarjuaq Roger Allam was crying with laughter! We also had Paris, which was another Burling day, and the male half of Ottery-St-Mary as the cast had kindly agreed to redo Martin's scenes. Newcastle would have been impossible without the other two guests, but it means we have Benedict as Martin for 5 out of the 6 episodes. It was fascinating to see the same script played by two different actors - though it must be said that last time, Tom Goodman-Hill was a truly excellent Martin nonetheless.

Sooooooooo tired. And I have an Adelphi Players rehearsal tomorrow, so I'll have to update properly at some other point soon. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz................

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: This Marriage - Voces8

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April 15th, 2011

03:21 am - Very quickly, because it's so late ...

On Tuesday afternoon Peter and I delivered Memorial invitations to most of the outerlying parts of Tingrith (I still haven't done the middle of the village, oops) which was really good fun. But it set off what I'm sure must be hayfever; I'd had itchy eyes for a while but it's progressed since Tuesday to a runny, blocked nose and a dry, itchy, sore throat. I asked Peter this evening if he was alright after having done Tingrith:
'Yes, fine'
'Oh good, it's just it set off my hayfever and I was worried about whether you were okay ... '
'Oh, that must be why I've been feeling - my eyes ... when I was trying to read I couldn't see properly'
- oops. It's almost become a tradition that he helps me do the outerlying parts of Tingrith, and I hope it doesn't put him off for next year! I did apologise, but I don't know whether he heard me. Though, it obviously hadn't been as bad as I was imagining it could have been, otherwise he would probably have made the connection. Yes, I'll console myself with that!

Onto better news: Emagan, Elle and I went to the Cabin Pressure recording on Wednesday. Oh my goodness it was AMAZING!!! So, so hilarious, and we spoke to John Finnemore afterwards. The way he speaks is fascinating, I rather like his hands, and he is a true gentleman. He was so unbelievably sweet, and seemed genuinely surprised that we wanted to speak to him. He's so very modest too - on his blog he is (http://johnfinnemore.blogspot.com/) and he is exactly the same in real life. I can't go into detail because I must go to bed, but he obliged when Emagan asked whether she could be so bold as to ask for a photo, and he really listened to us too, even though he was struggling a bit to hear (as were we; strange, because it wasn't all that busy. All of the teenyboppers who'd been there purely to see Benedict must have left!). Even when another lady butted in and he couldn't hear her very well, he tried his best to answer her questions. [I actually got the impression beforehand that she was there for Benedict, who wasn't able to make it due to total lack of voice, and all of her questions were about Benedict's part. That was quite annoying, but hey ho. His answers were interesting nonetheless.]

I have a new curio-obsession! Poor guy ... I just can't get over how modest and sweet he is!

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: I Got Rhythm - Voces8

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March 15th, 2011

03:22 am - Subtitles and icons

I am posting this at stupid o'clock because my body clock's all messed up again. However with the weather having turned nicer it will help me to get up during the daytime, so for the moment I'm not too worried.

I've gone for a Paid Account trial because I rather liked the idea of more userpics, but of course once the trial expires half of them will become inactive for six months, until they'll be deleted from the server. The way it decides which ones to render inactive is by frequency of use in posting entries. I wonder if private entries count? Then I shall be able to post without spamming my f-list.

Anyway. I discovered http://www.universalsubtitles.org/en/ which I sincerely hope will catch on. Making subs with it is still time-consuming, but not half as time-consuming as using most, if not all, downloadable subtitling software. I speak from tortuous experience! And one can also download the subtitle file, which was a pleasant surprise.

So ... I need some Voyager icons and possibly one or two train-related, plus a couple more Sherlock ones, and then to decide which I'm most likely to use overall and post (privately, so no spamming) with them. Decisions, decisions ... I may also, once the trial ends, investigate the cost of buying extra userpic space. With the Paid Account, it costs $2 for months of 70 extra! So surely the maximum of 15 extra for a Plus Account couldn't cost very much.

I'm actually quite proud of my new Voces8 icons.

For reference, these are the current ones I have uploaded; I'm working on finding who to credit for those that aren't mine. If anyone reading knows who to credit for any of them, please do let me know:

Icons!Collapse )

I need to try to sleep. G'night all.

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Me and My Shadow - Voces8

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January 17th, 2011

06:32 pm - Accent meme

Nabbed from shanima! I'm hoping it's okay ...

Your name and/or username
Where you're from
The following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pyjamas, Caught, Orange, Coffee, direction, naturally, aluminium and herbs
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

Read this passage from The Speech Accent Archive:

Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go [and] meet her [on] Wednesday at the train station.

The grammar in some of that needs fixing ^^

When I suddenly realised sometime during my teens that there were different accents (I know, I know, I am SLOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW) I became interested in listening for them. I somehow became aware of the distinction between dark Ls and ... whatever the other one is, and then just kind of became aware of vowels and various other parts of accent. Then since we discussed unification of vowels during the final session of Take the Lead, I have a tendency to zone in on vowels - I was listening to the weatherman yesterday, and completely missed the weather because I was trying to place his accent. I failed, as it happens.

Current Mood: geekygeeky
Current Music: Some Tinie Tempah rubbish *blood boils*
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November 1st, 2010

10:52 pm - Ace!Sherlock

This really oughtn't be a big thing but please forgive me. Considering Sherlock is the very reason I realised my own asexuality, I was very pleased to hear this on the commentary of A Study in Pink:

Moffat: Now this is one of the ... supposedly controversial things - actually a subject we never discussed at all, which is Sherlock's sexuality, because, although people talk about it being ambiguous and mysterious, the truth is, the books are completely clear. He's not interested, At All.
Gatiss: Mm, mm.
Moffat: He's interested in what his brain is doing, not the other end of his body, um be ...
Gatiss: - all the rest is transport.
They then go on to discuss the fact that people either assume that because he's not interested in women he must be gay, or that he is attracted later on to Irene Adler, but actually it was just that she was the only woman to defeat him so obviously she was of interest to him - but not romantic interest.

Also, Benedict Cumberbatch today in a live chat (for PBS, who are currently airing Sherlock in N. America):

Nolwe:Do you find there are any similarities between you and Sherlock's character?
Benedict Cumberbatch: I can be quite fast talking. (My steonographer here agrees!! ) I can be tempermental and impatient with mediocrity. I can be work obsessed but I'm not asexual and I'm not the worlds' number one consulting detective, I just look a bit like him.

So naturally I'm quite happy :) I guess they're having too much fun with the running 'are they/aren't they?' gags to ever explicitly state it in the script, but for Sherlock it's a complete non-issue anyway, so explicitly dealing with it beyond the conversation in Angelo's in ASIP would probably be a bit weird. (That said, they're very clever writers so if they felt so inclined I'm sure they could do so more than competently.)

I'm not really sure why I felt the need to write this. It probably stems from the fact that in the fandom people tend to ship Sherlock/John or Sherlock/anyone else, when even the most well-written, in-character fics are discounting his complete lack of sexuality. I do also think he's probably aromantic too, as the writers probably aren't overly concerned with the distinction between sexuality and romantic interests - and, well, this is Sherlock. The commentary implies he's Just Not Interested in anything else; indeed the entire canon thus far seems to imply that. However, as nothing has been stated about romantic interests I guess it is potentially less clear-cut and maybe this is just my reading of him.

Also because asexuality is a fairly new concept to me, it's still on my mind.

*sigh* Sherlock has totally and utterly addled my brain. NEED MORE CANON!

Apologies for how rambly and incoherent this post probably is. I'm tired and have been overthinking things - a dangerous combination!

Current Mood: contemplativeobsessed
Current Music: Hakuna Matata

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October 31st, 2010

07:33 pm - Writer's Block: The witching hour
Do you celebrate Halloween? What do you like most and least about this holiday?

No, never. The origins of Halloween for a start put it completely at odds with my beliefs anyway, not to mention the attitudes that it engenders within some people who take the concept of 'trick' to frightening levels. It can be a scary night for those who live in areas where youngsters do this; we generally don't get trick-or-treat-ers round here but I feel for those who do.

I'm glad we haven't, actually - I don't want children dressed up as grotesque creatures standing on our doorstep! The whole festival just disgusts me. I could never become involved with it whilst holding a good conscience; it is based in beliefs that are completely unscriptural, plus the commercialisation of it (as with every other such festival) is also contrary to Bible principles. How could I ever celebrate something that so clearly and thoroughly offends Jehovah God?

Current Mood: crankycranky

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October 10th, 2010

01:09 am - Voces8 on YouTube and other thoughts

I've been snagging the audio from YouTube videos of Voces8, and it reminded me: One thing that Paul mentioned during one of the Take the Lead! sessions was about somebody having put up a dreadful video of them on their Facebook page, which was illegally recorded and he was quite annoyed by it. He said it's not that they're precious about copyright, because in today's world one kid buys the CD and the rest of the school can have it copied onto their mp3 players or phones within a week, but because it was such poor quality, it reflected badly on them. He's right, it is a rubbish video; one for personal memories rather than public viewing!

It got me thinking, though. I am an avid devourer of YouTube videos (for the visuals and the audio) of Voces8 for a number of reasons, and I wondered whether I should be feeling guilty?

- Most of the concerts are in foreign countries, so even if I had the money for the ticket, I'd still not be able to get there.
- Most of their concerts in this country are too far for me reasonably to be able to get there; travelling would end up costing more than the ticket anyway!
- All of their concerts (apart from the Aces High launch concert, which will not be repeated) are a mix of sacred and secular works, so even if I can feasibly get there and afford it, I still couldn't attend most of them anyway.

Anybody who would vaguely care, knows that I am willing to pay to see them, and hear them. I bought Aces High as soon as I possibly could - on the day of the concert, beforehand - and any feasible concerts I ask about the repertoire, in case I would be able to go with a clear conscience.

I do bang on about them rather a lot, so I'm trying to support them by word of mouth as much as anything else!

- I have bought studio recordings of most of the pieces I have of theirs (apart from those not available).
- I love to hear the different versions of pieces over time; how they vary in numerous ways.
- The YouTube versions are additional to the studio recordings, not in place of. I have several versions of various songs because they are all different!

I'm so ... anorak-y! The different balances from different qualities of recordings really interest me. Obviously the studio recordings are mixed and balanced to give the perfect sound that they want us to hear, but in the live recordings different harmonies are heard, and the balance is often a bit different, and it just fascinates me because I can get to know the pieces even better. THAT is the main reason I want the audio. The visuals, I want because every live performance is slightly different. The best thing about seeing them live is the performance aspect; they still blow me away by how much they truly play to - and bounce off - the audience. So visual recordings are fascinating too, because it gives little insights into their characters and the way they personally interpret the music.

So, do I feel guilty? No. The YT snags are for my personal interest; if I send links or recommend videos I try to select the ones that show them well, that reflect well on them, with the hope that if the other person likes what they see that much, they will buy tracks online or a CD, or even go to see them live. I try to use videos they have uploaded themselves, or have liked, because I know that they approve of the video. If not, well I try to use good judgement.

There have been a number of new videos uploaded recently (in the past week or so) of Voces8 in France in August, and they are good quality. They are also in HD, but I don't recommend the 720p setting because I'm not convinced the camera was HD! So when moving, the edges tend to be HD pixels :P I've put the secular ones into a playlist here: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=1AFD835B6B6DD218 The sacred ones will also come up in a search for 'Voces8 >> Search Options >> sort by upload date'. The ones to which I refer are all uploaded by DolfRabus

While we're on the topic of Voces8, Paul contributed a very thoughtful blog post to Vocal Blog, here: http://www.vocal-blog.net/2010/10/the-music-of-bach-an-inspiration-to-us-all/ I would like to muse upon it here at some point but I shall have to re-read it with plenty of thinking time before I can do so. Suffice it to say, I found it absolutely fascinating.

I can't believe it's gone midnight and I'm happy! This hasn't happened for rather a long time. I really need to find a suitably happy yet generic Sherlock icon! (My DVDs came, by the way - they are AMAZING and I think Sherlock has addled my brain. But in a good way *g*)

ETA: Making an entry public is quite liberating. I think I should try it more often. Though I do need to re-read my posts before making them public, just in case ... hopefully I got away with it this time!

Current Mood: bouncybouncy
Current Music: Me and My Shadow - Voces8 (in my head)

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October 7th, 2010

04:35 pm - ?

Wow, my sister makes herself really angry about the tiniest, most ridiculous things. It actually breaks my heart to see her in such distress, of her own making, not having a clue what to do about it.

I love my sister, but she sometimes makes herself very difficult to tolerate. She also doesn't believe us when we tell her it's distressing to see her so angry and upset; she says we're lying to make ourselves look good.


Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated

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August 31st, 2010

08:26 pm - The Great Outdoors

Now that my contract at Dell Farm is up, somehow I seem to be discovering the desire to be outside exploring! 'Secret Britain' is a programme in which Matt Baker and Julie Bradbury visit a selection of well-kept secret beautiful areas. So far I have seen two programmes, and in both the presenters have climbed and abseiled, and in the second, Julia went caving to find an otherwise inaccessible cavern / mini-valley-type-thing. I'm wondering whether next week they'll be doing archery?! I wish I had the courage to go climbing, and I'd really like to try some proper caving - the desire to do so has increased since watching 'Secret Britain', that's for sure.

Also all of the beautiful scenery they show, plus various recent discoveries of the countryside around us, makes me desperately want some decent walking gear and the time to go off on rambles. We're going on holiday to Wales in October, staying in Borth, and looking it up on Google maps has made me SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited!!! The terrain and beach look AMAZING, and there is a train station there too. I followed the train line round a bit, and it goes through the countryside, along past the coast, and all for a very reasonable fare (yes, I checked). I am waaaaaaaaaaay beyond excited! I'm currently looking for walking boots and fleeces on eBay. Ideally I'd love a fleece gilet which would also do me for ministry, but an outdoor fleece of any description would be useful, as we're coming up to winter. I'm not wishing away the year, but the weather seems to have turned as of last week and I'm now cold!

I'm also on the lookout for new brakes for a mountain bike I discovered we have. It's a Salcano full-suspension mountain bike that Dad picked up from the side of the road years ago, not in fantastic condition but useable once we replace the back brake. And possibly replace the front inner-tube; I'm not sure yet. Natasha's friend is doing a 50-mile round trip from ... somewhere to somewhere else and back, in October, and Natasha said I could probably go along too. Even if I can't, or it just doesn't happen, but I want to get cycling anyway.

Yesterday we had a congregation barbecue in Wendover Woods, which was really lovely and great, great fun :D I met a sister who has recently moved to Flitwick who absolutely loves the outdoors, so we were enthusing together about where we'd like to go for walks, and what we'd like to try. It was SO cool!

All of this outdoor-ness is making it exceedingly difficult to work up any enthusiasm for any other jobs though ...

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

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August 21st, 2010

05:56 pm - Last [official] day at Dell Farm

Well, that's it. Actually, not quite; I'm going in on Monday to take a card and some chocolates (which seem to be the traditional departing gift of choice; who'm I to buck the trend?), to return the fleece, and to square up the office. Helen said there was no need, but I shall anyway. It did dawn on me that maybe she was worried that I'd be claiming for needless hours, but I have no intention of claiming for the time; it's my choice to go in and it's only because I want to!

It seems there will be only three of us around on Monday - the Andys and myself. Stephanie was actually quite cross that it was my last day yesterday! It was also the last day she'll see Andy T, which came as even more of a shock to her actually, because she'd not been expecting it at all. Helen and Wendy were really lovely, and said some really sweet things - Helen said she'll be lost without me around in the afternoons! She wants me back in December for the farm tour part of the Nativity Days (I'm not sure I want to be part of them taking the donkeys round and asking at various doors if there's any room at the inn) but of course I shall have to see what happens. I'd love to, that's for sure, but if I find a permanent, stable job then I'm unlikely to be able to do the casual work for Dell Farm.

I got distracted near the end of that paragraph so have completely lost my train of thought. Anyway, I have my new glasses and so now I can read road signs from a reasonable distance! I'm not all that keen on them but they're less hideous than I was imagining they would be. And after all the emphasis that was placed on how thick the lenses would be, both are thinner than my previous pair of glasses! Honestly, the guy made a huge fuss about my left eye especially, saying that as the frames were cheap and none too substantial, there would be a great risk of the lens coming straight out if I knocked it at all, and that it'd be very heavy, blah blah blah. a) I don't care, as long as they do the job; b) it turns out it was a load of fuss about nothing anyway. The lenses really aren't that thick!

I don't understand the current obsession with high-index lenses. I heard a lady ask at the adjacent desk whether a particular pair of frames would hide her prescription, and it seems to be a common thing because the first explanation of my prescription that the optician gave me was that the lens would be only a little thicker than it was in my old glasses. I guess he wasn't to know that I don't care.

I just don't get it though. Is it some vanity thing? Looking straight through the lenses at a person's eyes shows whether the lenses are very strong or not anyway; high index lenses make no difference whatsoever in that respect. I understand that sometimes for very high prescriptions it's necessary otherwise certain frames won't take the prescription, but that's not usually the case. Maybe they feel it's a sign of weakness to need a higher prescription? Okay, maybe, but if you're going to look at it in that way, the first sign of weakness was needing glasses in the first place ... I dunno, if anyone has any thoughts on this I'd like to hear them. I can't promise to be open to changing my mind, because this is one area where I'm just a pragmatist, but it would be interesting to hear other perspectives.

Eh, who'm I kidding? The only thing on my mind is Dell Farm! That, and the fact I'm so very tired, even though I slept for 9-10 hours last night. I think the whole week has just caught up with me - the stress, constant 'performing' (I had a total of about 2 hours without kids; all of which were spent rushing around trying to sort out various admin problems), and most nights I admittedly got to bed later than planned. If it had just been the summer camp, I think it would have been a lot easier, but the journeys to and from every day just make it that bit more tiring and stressful. I don't know how the Andys do it full time every week - for the residential visits, they're there 8-5 (or 12-9) every day, every week. Having done this week I have even more admiration for them than before! (Helen and Mike are there full-time too, and Wendy and Dave, but they're not with the kids for all that long really.)

It's difficult looking for jobs, because my heart is still at Dell Farm. Ideally I'd like to find another casual job with a fair amount of work, so I can be totally flexible. That probably wouldn't work though, because I'd need to have a certain minimum income for each week or month, and with casual jobs that just doesn't happen. Even if I could have a contracted minimum of one day a week at Dell Farm, I could get by. BUT that's just a bit too optimistic at the moment! So ... I don't know. We shall see.

Interestingly, I never thought I'd be able to lead any sessions by myself. It turns out I can now lead caving without psyching myself up for it, or even worrying about checking the caves. I can just do it. So, maybe I can lead workshops at some point? I honestly can't see myself being able to, but then I couldn't see myself leading anything at Dell Farm, so I guess it'd be possible. Maybe in the future I could combine workshops and casual work at Dell Farm and sustain myself that way.

I need to shut up now and get on with, y'know, doing something useful!

Current Mood: okayokay

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August 16th, 2010

10:10 pm - Summer camp week 3 thus far.

Er ... where do I start?

My family are on holiday so I have the house to myself. This would be fantastic if I were at home enough to appreciate it, but my time at home is taken up by cooking (ARGH) and washing up after myself, then flaking out because I'm rather tired from the summer camp. I just need time to catch up with myself, to update properly so I can get everything off my chest.

I hate cooking for myself. I just can't be bothered, but I have to be bothered otherwise I'll become ill. It just takes me so long to decide what to do, then to do it, then to wash up and actually get round to eating it.

Summer camp will be good, I think. I'm the escort on Andy T's bus, which is quite fun and also means I have a shorter journey to drive. It does also mean that driving home I'm more likely to hit traffic (I meet the bus at Icknield High School) but it's still a shorter journey, I think. Also, this morning I led the farm tour with my group - by myself, I might add - and Stephanie pointed me to the incubator where a chick had JUST hatched! There were four, and they were absolutely adorable! The cutest little things ever! And I got to hold one - six months there and I've finally held a chick. Hoorah!

I also led the caving without having any time to prepare, so I'm pleased with how it went. The group were really quite lovely actually, and a lot less cynical than most groups we have. They were completely taken in by everything - though to be fair, they brought up tunnel 4 so I just went along with it; and upon working out the heiroglyphics on the wall ("Watch out for the Dell Farm mummy") they kept on about the mummy, so I had no choice but to go along with it! In the end they were so hyped up about trying to find tunnel 4 but we ran out of time, so the only way to actually get them to come out of the caves was to tell them that tunnel 4 doesn't exist. (It doesn't.) Then when I told them my story about the Dell Farm mummy, they took me seriously, and were trying to work out the practicalities of it. It was a delight, actually! Really refreshing.

In other news, I had another sight test, this time at Tesco, and my prescription explains a few things! It's now
R -3.00 / -0.50 / 27
L -5.00

It explains why I can't read road signs until I'm too close to do much about it! Especially my left eye. The bad news is that as I'm employed, new glasses cost a bomb. Online purchasing is useless unless I have my PD, which I haven't, so it'd be an awful lot of trial and error to get it right online. High street opticians' prices are just extortionate - to reglaze my frames at my usual optician would cost me £60. Er, don't think so! So, I've ordered some specs for £10 from Tesco which I can wear when I send my current ones off for reglazing. I asked the guy if he could work out a PD from my existing lenses and he said he can, so I'm hoping it'll work. That'll cost me £20 plus the postage to get them to him, so it's worth a try.

I feel like I want to have a public entry so I'm going to leave it there :)

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

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June 21st, 2010

06:40 pm - Writer's Block: Acquired taste
What is your favorite weird food combination? Have your friends ever tried it or do you only eat it in private?

I do enjoy pickled gherkins closely followed by Earl Grey tea; even better is tartare sauce instead of just gherkins. I haven't had the courage to dunk the gherkins in the tea yet though! Nobody else has tried it; I suggested it to my sister but she wimped out.

I also LOVE salad consisting of lettuce, tuna (in sunflower oil), and black olives, drenched in olive oil, plus whatever else is in the fridge (cucumber, gherkins, beetroot, whatever) - I don't think it's that weird but I've just been told it is. Maybe the fact that I love soggy lettuce is weird though? And raw potatoes. I'll happily just sit and eat a raw potato for lunch - and in public XD

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

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April 26th, 2010

09:18 pm - Warm, fuzzy dream

I had a dream a couple of night ago which left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. I was participating in some random workshop led by Gareth Malone. Another girl there was partially deaf, but she wasn't very good at making sure she was in a position to lip-read very well, which surprised me. Gareth kept trying to make sure he was visible to her, but she kept moving! The first part of the workshop was mostly conducted sitting in a circle, and I found myself scooting round to different places when people moved in front of me. During the break I somehow mentioned to Gareth about making sure I could lip-read him; I think I said something about being grateful that I was fortunate enough to be able to find gaps in the circle to lip-read him, otherwise I'd not be able to hear what he was saying. He was a bit surprised and sort of said 'oh, I didn't realise' and then asked how he should conduct the second part? It was really sweet, but I assured him that I was okay, and that it was my responsibility to make sure I could see him - just as long as he didn't lie down, which he did once during the first part.

Quite possibly none of that makes any sense, and I've no idea why I dreamt it! The fact he was so sweet in the dream did leave me feeling warm and fuzzy though :)

Current Mood: amusedamused

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April 25th, 2010

11:32 pm - Update in bullet-points

I really want and need to update but I can't be bothered really. So a few quick points:

- BYO was pretty good
- I'm REALLY fed up with my family. Dad's in a constant huff and Isobel is deliberately evil all of the time. Her current broken record line is that I should die, and because I'm not dead it's really annoying her. Either she means it, or makes a very good act of meaning it.
- Take the Lead session 7 was really quite good, and the conversation Paul and I had afterwards was quite helpful.
- Voces8 concert on Monday 3rd May :D
- I had an interesting dream about participating in a workshop with Gareth Malone.
- I've also dreamt recently that I was pregnant :S
- Jon-Luke's been in a few of my recent dreams
- ... I also dreamt that somebody tried to 'con' Spencer into taking a free, brand-new Fiat 500.
- Peter's stuck in New York until the 1st May - he was supposed to fly back on the 16th, the day after the volcano started erupting.
- I've attempted to buy a laptop but three times they'e cancelled my order. THREE times! I hate Tesco; I wish there were somewhere else I could shop but realistically there's nowhere nearby, except maybe Waitrose but they're ridiculously expensive.
- I'm now on the timetable at work! Yay! We put initials next to activities on each school's timetable to indicate which instructor[s] is[are] leading, and I'm now down for Animals at Dell Farm on next week's timetable. I feel like I've arrived :D
- We went to the zoo on the 16th, as a day for the Easter holiday scheme, and it was brilliant. I didn't feel quite a fully-fledged member of staff, but close. I think I wrote about that day, actually, when I said about Jay.
- Speaking of whom, I've spoken to him once since then, when he asked me whether Mike was in the office. Other than that, nothing - and the only day he's working next week is my day off. It's weird, I would like to see him and speak to him, but at the same time wouldn't wish to lead him on, as it were. Maybe this is the best way.
- I can feel myself slipping towards feeling down. I'm hoping it is mainly hormonal, though alarm bells always ring regardless of whether it ends up being hormonal or not. The family issues don't help - especially Isobel's bullying; it's a steady stream of verbal abuse.
- My ministry is suffering from my inherent laziness, and I know this is contributing towards feeling down. The vicious circle is that I then feel less inclined to do anything about it, but I really need to pick myself up.
- On a happier note, I speak to a lovely lady in Flitwick who loves to read the magazines, and if more than a week goes by without me seeing her she says she misses me, which is really sweet! I must e-mail her tomorrow, actually.
- I er, wimped out of the Adelphi Players' rehearsal yesterday. I came close to going but then my insides were playing up (no doubt as a result from the stress of not feeling up to facing it) so I decided not to go ...
- ... and instead of using the day as intended, I pretty much wasted it. Then ended up in tears from Isobel's abuse. Grr.

- On a more grave note, Martin's been in and out of hospital for months. Now they've decided to keep him in (considering he'd be back within a couple of days each time they turfed him out, this is the sensible approach) and they've discovered he has pancreatic cancer. The tumour is vascular and therefore inoperable, and may have metastasised to his spine :( Prognosis? I don't know yet. {At this point I would usually start rambling about how I feel about it, but this absolutely cannot be about me.}

Okay, a few hundred points then. Oops. Goodnight all.

Current Mood: guiltyblue

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April 2nd, 2010

09:16 pm - QOTD


Frankie Boyle on Mock the Week:
"I bet when [Michael Jackson] went to the Jehovah's Witness (sic) meetings, they pretended not to be in!"

Glad they recognise he was a Witness in name only!

Need to update soon ... probably not tonight though. Too tired. Zzzzzz.

Current Mood: tiredtired

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January 16th, 2010

07:30 pm - Voces8 launch concert


Actually that doesn't do it justice at all.

Last night was the launch concert for Voces8's new album, 'Aces High', at King's Place. It's a lovely venue; they had some jazz musicians in the foyer, and it's all very spacious and light - generally very pleasant. I spied that they were selling CDs (presumably by most, if not all of the main artists performing during the festival) and sure enough, Aces High was one of them. Hoorah! So I snapped one up.

Hall One I could see was designed for acoustics, but it's quite aesthetically pleasing too. I read a review of Stile Antico's performance on Thursday which described Hall One as "such a lovely space – a beautiful blend of light wood (that still smells of wood, deliciously!) and plain blue, subtly lit" - I concur. The stage isn't huge, so it suited a group of Voces8's size perfectly; it still gave them room to stage the performance without being too big.

I had a Saver Seat, and got the perfect seat! (They're allocated by the Box Office, so a Saver Seat could literally anywhere) I was in the middle of the third row :D I heard somebody say behind me that the front row had been reserved for 'victims' - ! Had I been a couple of rows further back I think I'd have struggled to make out the words for the new repertoire; I'd have had trouble to lip-read. So for me, definitely the perfect seat!

The concert started with what became a running gag (I thought it was clever, and was amused when all was revealed at the end) - Clare and Louise were dressed as secret agents, with silver ... I'm not sure how to describe them. They were a bit like hard-shelled suitcases, or flight cases. They appeared a few times, between songs.

- Goldeneye
- I Got Rhythm
It was interesting to see it was a bit different from the previous versions I know of theirs. Dingle's bass was quite different from the one I know; and the staging of Rob and Charles' duet ended with Charles jumping into Rob's arms!
- Fever
- Dream a Little Dream of Me
This was just the men, and very relaxing.
- Feeling Good
Emily doesn't sing the opening solo quite as Cath did; I think it's great to have a different person making it their own.
- A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
This was dedicated to Mrs MacDougall because they'd promised her they'd put on their next album, and it's not on there ... I really hope it goes on the next one because I really liked it!
- Straighten Up and Fly Right
- Me and My Shadow
I LOVED the staging of this! It's one of my favourite songs from 'Evensong' (the album) and to see it staged, now I know it really well, was fantastic. The interaction between Charles and Rob, and between them and the others, was greatly amusing! Especially 'we start to swing' and Charles started dancing, noticed Rob was looking at him oddly, and just stopped, looking somewhat miffed.
- Jailhouse Rock
Again, just the men.
- Good Vibrations
This is the sort of music on which I grew up (20-30 years behind my time, but oh well!) and I thought it was simply brilliant! Particularly impressed by Paul's triplets - that was quite some tongue agility! (Wind players: imagine triple-tonguing continuously for a good 30 seconds ... I'm not sure it's exactly triple-tonguing, but close.) Also the 'dow' sent back and forth between Paul and Dingle was quite amusing.
- Cloudy
Quite a change of mood! Rather an emotional song.
- From Russia with love
Barney was the soloist (Bond, a counter-tenor? A novel idea, peut-être) - it was interesting to hear him for a length of time; usually we only hear interjections from him and Chris and the rest of the time they're blending into the harmonies (or being percussion, in Barney's case). I can usually pick out the tenors and basses, but the countertenors and sopranos I don't find as easy to pick out - though I know how Emily and Andrea sound solo because they seem to have more solos than the countertenors anyway. I find it difficult to work out the words the countertenors sing, especially Barney (no idea why), but listening to the track on the CD, I really do like his voice.
- You Only Live Twice / For Your Eyes Only
- Nobody Does it Better
Well, what can I say? There was some ... risqué staging there! Many amusing moments though :)
- Slap That Bass
Another 'show tune' - fantastic choralography; great fun!
- Encore: Mack the Knife
EDIT: The soprano 'he disappeared; never came back again' got a chuckle frm the audience.

Non-edit: Afterwards I spoke for a short while to Paul, and then just about got to see Charles. I sort of wanted to speak to one of some of the others, but I found myself chickening out. (They were all [Paul and Charles included] inundated with people wanting to congratulate them anyway.)

I know I've said before about Voces8's performance, and rapport with the audience, so I'll try not to wax lyrical again (suffice it to say, my very high opinion of them is now even higher). I made a point to really watch them, although there came a point when I had to try to stop watching Charles - his facial expressions (especially the eyebrows) kept making me laugh! I can't remember which of the songs it was, but at one point he really played to the audience; he went completely OTT because we'd started to giggle, so he went for the outright laugh. It was very amusing indeed :D

Thinking about the triple-tonguing: in one of the other tracks on the CD (I'm not saying which - not giving anything away as the album's not released yet!) one of them does some flutter-tonguing! That's how it sounds, anyway. It's either Barney or Dingle; I haven't worked out which yet. (I could triple-tongue if I practised for a few years, but I cannot flutter-tongue, so I'm a bit envious!)

I played 'Good Vibrations' to my dad last night, and he was impressed! Hooray! I doubt I've converted him yet, but it's a start anyway.

Just a small point or two: In the programme, it says that Voces8 'leads an international jet set lifestyle' - does EasyJet count as jet set?! Also, it says they have two albums due for release in 2010 - obviously Aces High, but I'm intrigued to find out what the second one is!

No prizes for guessing what my music will be for the next ... oh, three months or so?

EDIT: Such a lot of work evidently went into creating a show, rather than just a performance. The theme was that of 'the Aces High Club' - forgive my naïvety; I'm unaware as to whether this is a real or fictional place, but anyway: think James Bond, sophistication, cocktails, black tie/evening dresses, etc. Very high class.

[Yet another] EDIT: In the interests of attempting not to be completely biased, I have to say I prefer some of their show tunes (I Got Rhythm, Straighten Up and Fly Right, etc.) a bit slower - how according to YouTube, they used to perform them. Me and My Shadow I only really know from their Evensong album, but they sang it at a faster tempo ... and I prefer it as it was, a bit slower. I'm sure there's a reason they sing them faster now, and maybe it's just because it takes me a while to get used to change that I'm not so keen, but there we go. Just my humble opinion! However, it doesn't change the fact that the evening was superb!

Current Music: Aces High (album) - Voces8

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December 15th, 2009

11:19 pm - Icons

1.Comment to this entry saying 'ICONS!' and I will pick 6 of your icons.
2.Make an entry in your own journal and talk about the icons I picked!

I chose this while I was still doing chemistry, I think - I wanted a science icon that was something different from my scientist; it's more sensible!

I love the London Underground - The Tube. Absolutely love it. I wanted an icon to represent this (obviously) and stumbled across this skeleton map, without the station names, which excited me no end, and also looks a lot less crowded / messy than a map with the station names!

I also love House but so many of the icons one can find are very specific, thanks to Hugh Laurie's infinite variety of facial expressions (and indeed the other actors are great too). This one I liked because it was a bit different and so apt for how I so often feel!

... kinda self-explanatory really. It's a clarinet; I go through different instrument icons and at the moment I'm going through a clarinet phase. Unfortunately I don't think I've ever found a really elegant viola icon - not that I'm saying this *is* elegant, but it's just clean, uncluttered, and I think looks rather pretty too.)

I really wanted a 'mad scientist' icon, especially when I was still doing chemistry. I'm not satisfied with it totally, but it was the best I could find at the time ... and it does the job :) I usually use it to signify feeling zany/ditzy now.

I really, really got into The Choir on BBC2 and just had to get an appropriate icon or two! This is him conducting the South Oxhey Community Choir (from the series 'Unsung Town') at Abbey Road studios, recording In My Life, to get the choir to hear how they sounded and boost their confidence for the then forthcoming SoxFest.

Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Fair Phyllis - Voces8

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November 28th, 2009

01:09 am - Quote of the Day

On Have I Got News For You:

Ian Hislop: Anyway, you got off ...
Jimmy Carr: Well yeah, I didn't do anything wrong; turns out that's not against the law(!)

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: I Got Rhythm - Voces8 (Beijing)

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November 14th, 2009

10:50 pm - Exploring Sing Up

Okay, some of you will have a friend request from exploringsingup - that is me; my replacement for http://taketheleadworkshops.blogspot.com/ - my blog for Take the Lead! but it'll also be for the rest of Sing Up stuff too.

If you're not interested I won't be offended if you don't add that account. If you've not been added it's probably because you're never around so it's kinda pointless to add you! The vast majority, if not all, of the posts'll be public anyway.

Um, yeah. Just thought I'd mention it. I won't get round to updating and customising it for a short while anyway probably - the next session's on Wednesday and I've not even written up session 2, lol. Oops.

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

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