Monday, February 29, 2016

Thought-provoking post about today's fitness industry

Touches on some things that are problematic in today's fitness industry.  The customers tend to be more focused on the appearance of fitness rather than genuinely feeling fit.  The fitness professionals who are supposed to help them seem to be part of the problem too - especially when it comes to motivational techniques and narcissism.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Elements: Week 6 Introspection

What new thing did you learn this week that clicked with you the most? 

Never a bad idea to review the instructional videos.

How will this change the way you approach movement the next time you practice?

I will keep reviewing the videos, looking for something to refine further.

Late last week, my surgeon cleared me to do moderate intensity exercises.  He specifically said pistol squats would be fine.  So this week I resumed practice of the pistol squat, as well as two other movements in which I am weak and would like to start improving: the Tuck to Bent-Arm Stand and the Tuck Hold.  I've started practicing these movements on Elements days that do not focus on the flow (5 reps of each of six different transition movements followed by 10 minutes of flow practice is a lot of work) and on the non-Elements days.  I keep it very simple, just one rep of each of the pistol and the Tuck to Bent Arm Stand on the parallettes, followed by one minute rest; and just keep doing this until a set time to stop. I try to allow up to 5 min. of Tuck Hold practice (hold as long as tolerable, rest 30 seconds then hold again), then 15 min. of cool down, so this is what determines the stopping time.

Today's Music Discoveries

Dave Holland & Kenny Barron - Rain

Watch: Eartheater's 'Homonyms' Is A Waking Dream

Todd Rundgren

Monday, February 22, 2016

Today's Music Discoveries

Django Bates' Beloved - Live at The Oslo Jazz Festival 2014

Ginger Baker & Sonny Sharrock - 1987 African Force Project

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My fate for the next 4-6 weeks

The doctor found no new damage to the retina, so I have been spared yet another emergency surgery and subsequent 1-month recovery period.  He did find a cataract as a result of the gas bubble making contact with the lens, which was unavoidable because he wanted me to sleep on my right side to make the bubble act as a splint on the retina holes that he repaired on the left side of the eye.  He wants to see me in about a month, presumably to make sure the retina is still fine as well as evaluate the cataract.  Right now, I do have blurry vision in my right eye, but it's hard to tell if its because of the newly repaired and still-healing retina, the gas bubble, or the cataract.  Presumably in a month he will know more about what the cataract will have done to my vision, which in turn will help him make recommendations.  He thinks that cataract surgery may be elective - meaning it won't be an emergency surgery and thus I'll be able to "elect" to put it off for months or even years.  But we'll know more in a month.

Although vision in my right eye is far from perfect, I do have enough peripheral vision to feel comfortable driving for short distances, and just being out and about in general.  The doctor said I don't have to maintain face-down position anymore, because the bubble has gotten small enough that there's nothing I can do affect the cataract or the retina healing.  He also said that while I should still refrain from riding airplanes or otherwise sorely testing the interocular pressure of my eye, I can do pistol squats again.

Despite the news about the cataract, I'm very happy to not have to spend another month at home recuperating from yet another surgery.

Today I was scheduled for Elements Week 6, Day 2 but I walked around a lot doing some shopping then spent a fair amount of effort chopping branches blocking my car with a newly purchased machete.  So I'll do Day 2 tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Today's Music Discoveries (Thursday)

1200 Micrograms - Acid for Nothing

Kahimi Karie - I am a kitten - 1st Live in Japan

Pierres Pfantasy Club - Got The Bug

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Today I will learn my fate

...for the next 4-6 weeks.

Today will be my latest appointment with the surgeon who operated on my eye.  This will be the third followup visit with him after my second surgery.

What happened on the third visit after my first surgery was his discovery of the two new holes in my retina - which would lead to my second surgery - and my reaction to said discovery, which was a vasovagal reaction - aka. "vagal episode" - which is a type of fainting.  I believe I fainted because I really had my heart set on returning to my normal lifestyle, which is going to work at the office on weekdays, lunch from the food trucks, occasionally riding my bicycle to commute to work, going out to concerts, etc.

Having a vagal episode is not fun - it includes painful tightness in the chest/difficulty breathing, and dizziness.  Thus,  I am trying to prevent myself from having one today, in the case of an undesirable doctor's diagnosis (more damage to the retina, inoperable cancerous tumor on or in the eye, some creature eating my eye from inside out, whatever).  So the approach I am taking is to make plans what I will do for the next 4-6 weeks for each possible scenario I can think of.  Maybe I won't be able to totally prevent myself from fainting again in the doctor's office but I think it will be therapeutic to organize my thoughts here.  The last time I fainted I wasn't even thinking of alternatives to the one scenario that I had deeply desired at that time.

Worst case scenario - I'm going to die because of cancer in the eye or whatever:

Start selling off/donating my possessions.  Put up house for sale.

Decide on who will inherit my retirement account money and other funds.  Start working on paperwork to get it done.  Get a lawyer if/when needed.

Call up friends and relatives to reconnect at least one more time.

Make arrangements for disposing of my body.  I'm thinking of being buried in a sack so my body can fertilize a tree or other plant.

While waiting for the end, play my guitar and record as much music as possible, even if it's crap, as long as I still have the necessary tools and am physically capable.

More likely bad scenario - I need another surgery ASAP:

Suspend practice of Elements on the day of surgery.  The first week after surgery is the strictest as far as having to maintain face down position and is probably the most critical week of the healing process.

Make arrangements for the ride to/and from surgery, because I'll probably go under general anesthesia again.

Take it easy the rest of the day, on the day of the surgery, as before.  This part of the recovery process sucks the most because the patch is on the eye and there's soreness and itching that can't be treated until after the followup visit on the day after the surgery to remove the patch.  Thankfully, it's only overnight.

Resume practice of Elements after the second followup visit with the doctor.

Starting from the day the eyepatch is removed, start playing guitar full time again.  This time there's no particular deadline to learn a particular tune.   I had Valentine's Day as a deadline because I wanted to put up a recording of myself playing "My Funny Valentine".  I wasn't able to play it as cleanly as I wanted to, so I did an experimental rendition instead.

Aside from the brief bout of wrist/thumb soreness, which has been gone for at least two weeks now, I enjoyed playing guitar full time .  This time around I'll enjoy it even more because of lack of deadline and no set expectations or goals, other than to continue learning and practicing chord-melody song arrangements out of the Galbraith book and the 335 Christmas course.

If I lose my job due to taking yet another month's worth of sick leave, wait until I'm healthy again, then  sell/donate/dispose of the majority of my possessions, including the house.  I'll probably keep:

Bike rack
One bike (got two now, don't need both)
Parker guitar
Viola (electric violin is great, but could be replaced w/ cheaper one)

I'll probably move closer to the city where a certain friend lives so I can keep working with her on her music.  I might find a place in the area, or just live like a vagabond, getting a tent or something.

Good scenario - Retina found to be in good condition so no further surgery needed

After a few minutes of jumping and hollering for joy in the doctor's office, ask him to fill out the "fit to return to work" form that my employer's HR folks will want.

Send him the form upon return home.

Celebrate tonight with takeout dinner and up to 3 glasses of wine.

Resume the old lifestyle as soon as the doctor says I can.

Oh, here's the track I ended up posting online for Valentine's Day - the Soundcloud description has info on the process used to make the track:

Elements Week 5 Introspection

How did this feel to you? More tiring? More invigorating? Are you starting to feel a rhythm to the movements and pacing now?

I feel improved smoothness in my movements - less jerkiness.  My stamina has improved.  I have been setting my "clock" (the basic Clock app in my iPhone) to the maximum recommended times (usually 3 or 5 minutes) and been able to practice until the alarm rings, without breaks.  I do take a little time at the beginning of each practice just to get into position, instead of rushing to get started as soon as I hit start on the clock.

I feel a little fatigue towards the end but not enough to make me feel like I'm straining.

I practice in the morning and feel invigorated enough to get on with my day.

What new thing did you learn this week that clicked with you the most? 

That it is ok to take my time during practice to go at a steady pace, and not rush.

How will this change the way you approach movement the next time you practice?

I will keep reviewing the videos/instruction for more details to work on, and continue refining my movements.

Today's Music Discoveries (Wednesday)

Inner City - Good Life - (CJ's Living Good Club Mix)

Wayne first crossed paths with Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1998 when they presented a retrospective of his music, which included this duet with pianistEric Reed.
"Meridianne - A Wood Sylph"
(Wayne Shorter)
Wayne Shorter - Soprano Saxophone
Eric Reed - Piano
Recorded on April 23, 1998.
Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY
"Speak No Evil: The Music Of Wayne Shorter"
Jazz At Lincoln Center Radio

Harper Lee - Only Connect

Waltz for broken hearts / Makes you wonder - Terje Rypdal

Liszt: Piano Sonata In B Minor, S.178 - Ivo Pogorelich

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jazz rhythm lesson for violin

Someday I will play the viola and electric violin again.  It's just a matter of when my retina will cooperate so I can escape this cycle of surgery, recovery, followup surgery, recovery, etc. so I that I don't have to keep the face down position all the time.

In anticipation of that, here is a rhythm lesson I found on the Jazz Violin Facebook group.  The exercises remind me of some bowing rhythm exercises in one or more of the Essential Elements book series for viola, but with more emphasis on swing feel.  I confess I have not worked on ghost notes in my viola bowing when fooling around with jazz phrases.   I will address that when I am able to practice on viola again.

As a bonus, one can also practice French comprehension as the teacher is Eva Slongo, though subtitles are provided:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Today's Musical Discoveries

A professional composer's list of 12 albums that stick with him, posted under a pseudonym.

F. Chopin : Waltz (Dinu Lipatti, EMI)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross : The Social Network (soundtrack)
Ry Cooder : Get Rythm
Lou Reed : Berlin
W.A. Mozart : Le Nozze de Figaro (H. Von Karajan, EMI 1950)
Dr John : Gumbo
Anton Bruckner : Symphony 4 (Sergiu Celibidache, EMI, 1998)
R. Strauss : Ariadne Auf Naxos (H. Von Karajan, EMI 1957)
The Clash : London Calling
Dr Feelgood : Down By The Jetty
J. Brahms : Symphonies (W. Furtwängler, EMI, 1947-1954)
L.V. Beethoven : Symphonies (A. Toscanini, RCA, 1949-1953)

The Veldt/Apollo Heights:

Article through which I discovered The Veldt:

Everyman Band

Allan Holdsworth Tokyo Concert - Ok, this isn't new to me as he's been one of my favorite guitarists for years, but this video keeps getting put online and pulled off:

Today's Musical Discoveries (Monday)

Red House Painters

Miles Davis - Cookin' (includes a version of My Funny Valentine that I like)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Guitar progress

In my Making Lemonade post, I wrote about how I decided to spend the majority of my remaining time on sick leave playing the guitar, and what I material I decided to learn and practice.  So how did I do after about 5 weeks of playing the guitar full-time?

Increasing repertoire

I memorized "For All We Know" and "My Funny Valentine" from the Galbraith book, and "We Three Kings" and "Away In a Manger" from 335 Christmas.  Hand me a guitar anywhere and I can play any of these 4 from memory.

I'm close to memorizing "Darn That Dream".

I've started learning "Alone Together" from the Galbraith book and "Silent Night" from 335 Christmas.

Not much progress to report on the two Stevie Wonder tunes - "I Wish" and "Overjoyed".  The bass line with the chord stabs in "I Wish" are just hard for me.

Why is repertoire such a big deal for me?  I just want to be able to play songs on a guitar, without accompaniment.  My initial inspiration was being at a party where seemingly everyone else was able to play a complete song on an acoustic guitar and when it was my turn, I didn't know any songs.

Another reason is that if I want to play jazz, I need to know real jazz tunes.  By working on these chord-melody arrangements of jazz tunes, I can learn how to play the tunes, and also expand my knowledge of chords/harmony at the same time.

Reading standard notation.

I prioritized repertoire above all, so I didn't work much more on Cello Suite #2 since the earlier post.  I know where that high D is on the 1st string now, at least.  

I've been using a pick to play this music and it's been fairly easy, as long as I avoid ending up with a note on my first finger and having to play the next note somewhere lower on the neck than that, or some other similarly awkward position.  I'm not that concerned about developing awesome picking technique on the guitar, but it's nice that I don't seem to struggle much with reading and playing this music, which helps as the ultimate goal is to memorize this piece so I can play it on the viola once I'm done with my post-op recovery.

Two-Handed Groove Guitar skills.

I was able to learn some of the basic "drum" skills - how to do a kick drum tone by slapping fingers or the picking hand thumb on the lower strings, how to do a snare by pulling and snapping a string, etc.  I was also able to learn how to play simple bass lines by using just the left hand (I'm a right-handed guitarist).  Where I struggled was combining a Latin bass line and a really simple kick-snare drum pattern.

After a slow start, I can now do the Latin groove at about 75% of the speed of the playalong video.

I'm still figuring how what roles the guitar will take in my music after I've recovered enough to play my bowed instruments.  I think rhythm will be a major factor, whether I play along live with a sequencer or two, or just sample the guitar into Octatrack and play guitar samples on the Octatrack.

Creative Arpeggio Design patterns.

I liked the sound of the arpeggios Tim Miller was demonstrating in the introductory video for this course.  The "modern" sound of these arpeggios reminds me of Allan Holdsworth and keyboard players like Chick Corea - not a sound I'm used to hearing out of guitar players.

The unusual fingerings and picking approach has made this material a challenge, but I've gotten some cool ideas that I look forward to carrying over to my bowed instruments for improvisation and/or composed lines.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Today's Musical Discoveries

Japanese band that sounds like Sigur Ros in this track:

The great guitarist Miroslav Tadic performing a traditional Macedonian song

80s band The Lotus Eaters

Don Cherry & Terry Riley- Descending Moonshine Dervishes [Live Köln 1975]

More Don Cherry videos

Octatrack: How to use the Flex Machine for Live Looping

Discussion thread from a while back:

Some relevant excerpts:

How I did it, step by step (please fill in):
1. Load a Flex machine.
2. Set it up to loop on, slice on, len to for instance 32 for recording 2 bars.
3. Set up recording of wich input by pressing function and "rec A B".
4. Enable record button for inserting record trig on the first beat (red light).
5. While record button is still enabled, push function and the beat you want to play it from (green light).
5. The playback trig should be red not green (trigless trig/lock)
6. Press PLAY and see what happens. Having LOOP set to ON doesn't change that much the result. 

If you set the internal input SRC3 of this track to CUE as the recording source, all cued tracks will be recorded, even if they are muted. So the trick ist to have one track with a flex machine playing its recorder buffer. Set this track always on cue and than just cue the tracks you wish to record and proceed as i wrote above. Perfect loop and layer.



Quick Tip on making "psycho, weird and beautiful sounds" on IOS

This was posted to the iPad Musician Facebook group by the well-respected Niclas Tamas:

Been blown away by the following: AB with Virtual ANS and using FieldScaper as an effect. 

This produces such psycho, weird and beautiful sounds I've ever experienced. 

Quick tip: put FieldScaper with "input monitor thru" to get the signal from Virtual ANS. 
Then set FS to Loop mode ("scraper start loop"). You'll find the panel strip above osc 3. Then go to Audio input controls. Use "Input amplify" and "Automatic Gain Control" to level the sound. You can use this together with your input sound volume to achieve balance between your sounds. 

Think I got everything. Try it out. It's a blast!

 Go Virtual ANS! Go FieldScaper! Alexander Zolotov Igor Vasiliev

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Octatrack Tutorial - How to make a drone from a brass sample

I've tried to make drone sounds on the Octatrack before but wasn't satisfied.  This approach looks and sounds more promising than any I've previously tried.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Elements: Week 4 Introspection

What changes have you noticed in your daily life since you started this program?

Nothing obvious, but I've been training the GMB way for a couple of years now.  Oh, there was one thing - after the first time I did the 10-minute beginner's flow practice I had a greater than usual appetite the following day.

Does anything feel easier?

Yes, the 180 degree Monkey and transitions between the animals.

Are you more aware of how you move in certain activities?

Not really because I'd already been training under GMB programs.

What new thing did you learn this week that clicked with you the most? How will this change the way you approach movement the next time you practice?

Transitioning between animals, once I got the hang of it.  I'll try to not allow "thinking too much" to impede the flow too much.  I'll also try to land more lightly on my feet.

Today's Music Discoveries

One problem with social media - too many friends with good taste in music.  It's a flood...

Sorry for not posting embedded videos - Blogger makes it a pain to do that and I'm tired of it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Today's Music Discoveries (Monday)

From the Youtube description:

"Drawn With Shadow Pens" is the new album by Antwerp based synthesist and sound-sculptor Yves De Mey. With previous outings on Opal Tapes, his own Archives Intérieures imprint with Sendai partner Peter Van Hoesen, and the now defunct Sandwell District, "Drawn With Shadow Pens" is the next offering in the Y.D.M. codex. Rarely is a gifted musician afforded the luxury of also being an incredible engineer, and this new album is a testament to these talents. "Prelament" sets the album off with a dense fog of acrobatic waveform maneuvers slowly shapeshifting through the audio spectrum before arriving at a vibrating, multi-dimensional sonic black hole . Tracks like "Adamance" and Xylo" sound like audible holograms, with stray rhythms dissipating into and out of sharp modulations and sinuous drone layers. A pure sense mastery over the instruments played is evident, however, many compelling sound events seem to occur and disappear almost magically. The beautiful and spacious depths of "Ostia" unfold with monk-like patience, creating a surreal and hypnotic electronic sound environment. 

Documentary on Russian New Music and Sergey Kuryokhin featuring Leo Feigin of Leo Records and Alexander Kan. Excellent footage of Pop-Mekhanika and of Kuryokhin at the keyboard. 

Japanese post-rock band Shojoskip

Raglani (I heard of him as a master of modular synth, but this is a beautiful guitar piece)

Monday, February 08, 2016

4 Reasons why guitarists get wrist & shoulder pain (and how to deal with them)

The article:

I've been taking advantage of my medical leave to play guitar pretty much all day, every day.  However as mentioned a few days ago,  I developed some wrist pain.  At present I can play my acoustic guitar for about an hour, then play my Parker Nitefly for the rest of the day without pain, as long as I take breaks at appropriate intervals.  I have no doubt I am guilty, to various degrees, of all four reasons described in the above article.

I enjoy living in the moment when I play guitar so I'm the least guilty of Reason #3.

Because I am required to spend most of my waking hours with my nose generally pointed at the ground, due to the gas bubble inside my eye, I can't really do anything about Reason #1 (poor posture).

Oh well - gotta do what I can do!

Maurice White's Dream Of A Boogie Wonderland Was More Than A Fantasy

Earth Wind and Fire was known for their distinctive album covers.  Some interesting background info  as well as a sampling of cover art can be found here.

I had wondered if there was a connection between their art conception and Sun Ra, who was known for his Afro-futurism.  As it turns, there was.  This excellent tribute article to the late Maurice White mentions it, as well as other great info.

Elements Week 4, Day 4

Today's Elements session may have been my longest yet, not including the ones in which I had to practice all the warmups and cool downs in the entire Elements program (those are great but they do take quite a bit of time when you do them all in one session).  Today was the first day in the program in which I got to play with a flow combining all three animal movements.

After the warmups, I had to practice each transition 5x each, which was nice and much-needed.

After the transition practice was 10 minutes of playing with the flow.  I worked up a sweat but avoided doing anything so strenuous as to create dangerous pressure on my operated eye.  I took several breaks from movement to help manage this.

It was an enjoyable session.  One of the suggestions was to explore some previously introduced variations, so my play included the bent-arm Bear, High Frogger, and 180 Monkey.  There were some awkward bits, but nothing painful, and there were bits in which I felt good flow and agility.

Today's Music Discoveries (Sunday)

Nujabes - Flowers

John Hicks - After the Morning (sample used in Flowers)

J Dilla - So Far To Go (well, I haven't been that familiar with this artist)

I actually discovered Nujabes the way a lot of Americans probably did - via the opening theme of Samurai Champloo, which was a very stylishly done anime but I'm not sure where it stands in greatness compared to Cowboy Bebop, Captain Harlock, etc.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

GMB's Planche Tutorial

I first became interested in learning how to do a planche after I saw videos of Bboy Junior doing them in the middle of a dance routine.

Here's one video of Bboy Junior showing his skills, including the pushups out of the planche:

GMB has generously released a free tutorial on how to do a planche here - there is no easy way to do it if you're not already ridiculously strong, but at least they give you a roadmap to get there,  free of charge:

A weatherman's solution for defrosting a windshield

Because of my ongoing condition I haven't been able to drive this winter, but filing this away for future reference.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Today's musical discoveries

An artist who makes house music using a chip from the Sega Mega Drive:

A nice electronic dance track made entirely in Gadget on an iPad

Indian electronic duo Perfecttiming

Modern classical/post-rock/whatsit band Victoire

Recording, mixing, mastering, and distributing your music — all from an iPad

The Veldt: Pioneering Black Shoegazers

Friday, February 05, 2016

GMB Elements: Week 4, Day 1

Yesterday, I finished Week 3 with the Bear mobility workout without issue.

Today I started Week 4 with the Frogger strength routine.  It was as fun as promised.  I didn't push myself too much on the jumps.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

GMB Elements - Full Return Week 3, Day 5.

As part of recovering from yesterday's wrist soreness, I reviewed GMB's articles How to Get Stronger Wrists: Bodyweight Strengthening and Flexibility Exercises and 4 Exercises to Build Unbreakable Wrists.   While I did not decide to follow any of the exercises in either article - exactly, anyway - I was convinced to resume the Elements program, at it incorporates similar exercises in the warmups, and in the featured movements (the three animals) - all of which make you load your hands with varying amounts of your bodyweight.  Elements is probably the best thing I can do to strengthen the wrists and compensate for all-day guitar playing.

I repeated Week 3, Day 5 - where I left off in this program - without any major problems.  I may have mentioned that my surgeon told me that I may walk for exercise.  Today's warmups, Frogger practice, and cool down did not cause any more strain than walking does.  I came close to straining a bit in the lunge stretch when I raised my arm but I quickly pulled myself back from the edge by simply lowering it.

I had a bit better time playing guitar today.  The main issue this time was that my left thumb was sore - in the meat of the palm area.  It may have been because I put a little bit too much pressure on it during the thumb portion of the wrist structure warmup routine. I need to be much lighter than that next time I do this warmup routine.

Hopefully I'll decide by tomorrow morning how I shall spend the day if the thumb is still feeling sore by then.  I'll definitely do Elements, then my usual lazy breakfast routine (eating, sipping 2-4 cups of coffee, web surfing).  Some possibilities are messing around with the MS-20 Mini, the OP-1, or the Bassbot TT-303.  Another is reading this web comic that I recently discovered called Stand Still, Stay Silent.  I could also watch some more Captain Harlock.

On a more positive note, my new monitor speakers arrived.  Due to the recent wrist/thumb issues, I've been practicing only on electric guitar - don't want to take chances playing my acoustic guitar and risk more problems.  I was using my tube amp but it died - tube probably just went bad.  I switched to using my Roland VG-99 amp modeler/multi-effects unit but had to run it through a cheap little speaker that's not particularly loud.  I got tired of the low volume and shopped for a pair of low-cost monitor speakers, finally deciding on Mackie CR3s.  They're exactly what I wanted - relatively small and light (I can't carry anything too heavy due to this eye and the gas bubble) yet loud enough so I can hear the details I need to hear as I practice.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

2015 Best Anime That I Saw #1 - Natsume's Book of Friends

This anime is so awesome that I struggle explain its awesomeness in words.  It does not help that I'm not a very good writer in the first place.  I will probably revisit this review and rewrite bits of it multiple times.

This is the anime that had it all for me - some stunning animation sequences, a dream-like style, strong cast of characters, and lots of emotional impact.  The best of any genre tends to be unlike other titles in the genre and this one is no exception - the genre being supernatural fantasy, with a touch of horror (nothing particularly bloody or gross though).  For one thing, it is a shoujo anime - meaning, the target audience is female - yet the main character is a boy.

The emotional punch that this show packs comes from the themes of loneliness, alienation, and loss of loved ones.  The titular character (Natsume Takashi) is an orphan who is so used to moving around so much - due to being misunderstood or no getting along with his host families - that he struggles to accept that the kindly couple who now hosts him might actually love and care about him.  His worst nightmare is the couple discovering his supernatural secret and thus kicking him out of the house as others had done before.  Enhancing the emotional impact is the gorgeous soundtrack.  Some of my favorite pieces from the soundtrack:

Perfectly balancing out the heavy, heart wrenching stuff is the comic relief, mostly provided by Nyanko-sensei, a powerful supernatural being (youkai) who has taken the form of a "good luck cat".  He reminds me of Bender from the Futurama TV show - rude, crude, and loves to drink.

The first season opening sequence gives some idea of how good the animation can be:

The first season end sequence, while not as stunning, does have one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a while.  It also strong hints at Natsume's deepest desire - to be at peace with a family that has wholly accepted him.

Natsume's Book of Friends can be watched here

GMB Elements (Slight Return)

I have not done any of the warmups from the Elements program since I ceased work on that program due to the 2nd eye surgery and recovery from it.  Somehow I have managed to play guitar all day and a fair number of hours into the night, every day, without noticing any issues with my hands or wrists.

Early this morning, I woke up and was unable to immediately return to sleep, so I picked up my electric guitar and quietly started practicing the minor pentatonic 212121 patterns from the Tim Miller course.  By the time I finished practicing these patterns, I noticed some soreness in my wrist, on the side of the thumb.  Perhaps it's because of all the guitar playing I've been doing, with approximately a third of those hours on the acoustic guitar, whose high action and thick gauge - compared to the electric guitar - demands more force in my left hand grip.  Or it could be I just got my wrist into some bad angles.

In any case, I decided to take today off from playing guitar.  Ok, I practiced a couple of things for about 20 minutes but that's it.

The other measure I took to address this new wrist issue was to resume practice of most of the warmups from Elements - the one warmup omitted being the supine hip rotations, as they require me to lie face up on the ground, which is against doctor's orders due to the gas bubble inside the eye.  I am supposed to avoid letting the bubble press against the lens because that might create a cataract.

With all the guitar playing I've done daily, and that I want to continue doing every day, I need to take better care of my hands and wrists.  Element's catalog of warmups addresses them quite thoroughly.  I will also pay more attention to keeping the wrist of the fretting hand straight when playing guitar, typically accomplished by moving the elbow as needed.

Yesterday's musical discoveries

A "lost" Paul McCartney album - really heavy on the synths and adventurous.

"Third collaboration between KEIJI HAINO, one of the most prolific artists of the Japanese experimental / noise scene, and the critically acclaimed ensemble ZEITKRATZER who enthuse with stunning interpretations of STOCKHAUSEN compositions. "

Lush - Sweetness and Light

1990 interview with the great folklorist Alan Lomax - not exactly music per se, but he made a great impact on music history by the work that he did:

Six-point plan to running a record label:

Long but fascinating article about jazz pianist Vijay Iyer:

Ulrich Schnauss