Thursday, June 21, 2012

And in Other News...

...I have a brain! And here it is (well, slices of it)

That is just SO WEIRD!!!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Evil in the Cutlery Drawer

Singers are hypochondriacs (ah, here I must insert my standard "joke", sorry: I don't know what hypochondria is, but I'm sure I've got it...). They are hypochondriacs about their voices - which is fair enough, seeing as their voices constitute their livelihood. But there is something deeper too; a singer's voice is an extension of his or her being, it's like an extra limb or an extra faculty which defines their essential identity. If you are a singer, losing your voice is equivalent to a footballer losing a leg, or an artist going blind.

If you don't believe me, ask a singer!

In fact, you can ask me...

YOU: Neutron, is it true what is written above?


So, having established, by elementary Socratic logic, that, if all singers are hypochondriacs about their voices and I am a singer, then I am a hypochondriac about my voice, I can then add that, being a guitar and bass player, I am also, and for the same basic reason, paranoid about fingers; cutting fingers, bruising fingers, breaking fingers, losing fingers...

There is a knife, in the kitchen. A bread knife, a very efficient bread knife. This knife knows it is too good to be a mere bread knife. This knife has ambitions. It longs to cut more than just bread. It thirsts. It thirsts for blood. This knife oozes malevolence.

The first time I saw this knife, I knew we were destined to be enemies. And so it has proved.

We had some early encounters, some sparring matches where this knife revealed its intentions to me. It would slip, accidentally, from a thick crust and swish towards my hand, it would slice through a pretzel more easily than I expected, bearing down on my palm.

"Why did you keep on using it???" you ask in perplexity...

Well, quite simply it was the best bread knife and there is that thrill of slicing effortlessly through a loaf of heavy, dark Bavarian bread which would normally need half an hour of sawing with a boring standard bread knife. To quote Herodotus, the father of history, "great deeds are usually wrought at great risks", or, more briefly, "no risk, no fun".

The inevitable happened, about a year ago. I had become less vigilant, familiarity had bred contempt for the bread knife - I was slicing, someone spoke to me, I was distracted, I looked away and it struck! Slicing into my index finger...brown bread and red blood!!

This taught me to be on my guard whenever I was slicing, but meanwhile this knife has become devious. It has gone underground and may have received schooling from Al Qaeda knife terrorist cells.

It's yesterday evening and I am clearing out the dishwasher. Plates here, glasses there, cutlery in the cutlery drawer. I start to put in the knives and forks and notice that the middle section of the wooden cutlery tray has come out. It fits into slots in the other sections. So I press it back into its slots, only to notice that the front side has also slipped out of its slot. I press down on that side with my thumb, waiting for it to click into place when suddenly there is a cold searing pain in my thumb...

The bread knife. This bread knife of evil has managed to conceal itself between the front side of the cutlery tray and the side of the drawer, blade up!!! So, as my thumb presses down on the wooden front of the tray, the steely blade presses up thirstily into the flesh of my thumb and pierces it mercilessly, slicing joyously through the skin and sending a shockwave through my body.

This is one of those moments when time runs s l o w l y and you seem to think a thousand things in a millisecond, "whichthumbisit, isitmyfingeringhandormyplectrumhand, whenismynextgig, whichinstrumentdoIhavetoplay, isthecutinthemiddleorattheside, canIstillplaytheguitarwithaplaster..."

The bread knife is now confined to a separate cupboard, but I sense the final battle is yet to be blade out...

Monday, February 13, 2012

And on the Subject of Good Words/Phrases...

See temperature at top of screenshot

We have now had over a week of double-figure minus degree C temperatures here in Deepest Bavaria, all thanks to a Russian high (if that's a high, I'd hate to experience a low). The most minus last week was on Monday with a stinging minus 20°C, plus the gentle breeze chill factor = -27°C. I missed my tram that day and decided to walk the 4 km to the lesson I had. This was an error. It was like pushing your way through a rarified form of ice. The air felt frozen solid.

Now, I mentioned "bleak" last time but that wouldn't have fit in this case. However, there is a fine expression in German for this kind of cold, klirrende Kälte.

Translated into English you have something like "freezing cold" or "biting cold" but klirrende Kälte has much more going for it. First of all, there are the alliterative Ks which lend each word an onomatopoeic "crack" and then the double R in klirrende which, if you roll them slightly, elicit a similar effect to the universal human vocalisation for cold "brrrrr!!"

Klirrend normally means "clashing/clattering" so it also gives the cold an acoustic value - the coldness of crystal shattering on a cold stone floor - I suppose "clattering cold" or "jangling cold" would sort of approximate it, if we said that, but we don't. And anyway, klirrend even has something slippery and skiddy about it when you pronounce it; your tongue slithers from the front of your mouth to the back and then forward to your teeth again...

So, great descriptive expression, "klirrende Kälte".

As far as I am concerned though, to be rather more Saxon about this, this cold weather can fuck off!!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Bleak, bleak, bleakity bleak. If ever there was a morning which defined bleak then this was it out in the railway-bus exchange suburb Feldmoching...a thin layer of evil snow, leafless, lifeless puny newly planted trees, white tower blocks with feeble early-morning lights dimly glowing through some of the windows, cloudy anonymous sky, cold air...well, not just cold, more like fucking freezing air... -15°C and a little whiplash of wind to chill that minus 15 to minus goodness knows what...

Bleak is a good word though; only 5 letters but so's a good-value word - there's a whole load packed into that one little syllable.

If you're British and a product of my generation, or one before or after, you probably made the acquaintance of bleak in the Xmas carol "In the Bleak Midwinter" when "frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone..." Aye, that's bleak alright...and made tangible at 7.00 in the morning by a little insignificant suburb in Deepest Bavaria.