Phew — well, it’s been months since my last post! I’ve been planning to post on here for a while, but everything’s been crazy, and still is — I’m just catching a moment at the end of today (and likely at the end of several days, as I probably won’t have time to finish this blog post in just one of my free moments) to put something together. And since it’s a brain bite, because I’ve got too much to write about, let’s begin with a bit of music.
Dream Theater: On The Backs Of Angels
Dream Theater, who first formed in 1985, are one of the world’s best-known progressive metal bands. Combining much that’s typical of both progressive rock and heavy metal, and featuring a front-man who looks like he should be wearing a Sons of Anarchy jacket, they’re famous for both their creative style and their technical proficiency. This is one of my favourite recent songs from their repertoire — which is extensive, so there’s lots more to find if you like this one. Some of their music is gentler, and some louder — this one rests quite nicely in the middle. Give it a try, and hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
(Also, as a fascinating tidbit — three of the members of Dream Theater (including former drummer Mike Portnoy) are married to three former members of the all-female heavy metal band, Meanstreak.)
Speaking of music…
One thing that I’ve been doing recently is a back-to-basics thing, trying to teach myself the piano from the ground up, using something called Alfred’s All-In-One course, which appears to be a three-book progression from Hopeless to somewhere between grades four and six (probably a mixture of bits from either end). I can already play some bits of music — chunks of Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata, though my knack for Bach’s Invention in A Minor has faded, alas — but learning from the ground up, even from the first book that I’m now working through, has taught me that I really didn’t know too much.
It’s also harder on my hands a little, but I’m hoping that — as I progress — I’ll learn to play the piano, rather than just learning to play a few specific bits of music on it. This does mean playing simple tunes over and over, but I find I’m far more tolerant of that than I once was. Child me was fine with it, teenage me hated it, but adult me seems to be content to wheel back to the beginning and get this right from the ground up. I’m progressing in leaps and stumbles so far — some parts fast, others not so quick, but I’m being more patient than I’m used to.
(Note: as of writing, I’d just spent three days essentially playing variations on When The Saints Go Marching In, and got more satisfaction out of getting it right than I did with most of the more complex things I tried to learn. It’s been many, many years since I last learned any instrument from the ground up, and I’d expected it to be a lot less fun than it’s actually turning out to be.)
That’s the point of all this, after all, isn’t it? Well, lately, I’ve been setting the short fiction aside more, and bringing together some of my novel-length projects. I have a lot of drafts written, and all told, they amount to the bones of at least four novels, and possibly as many as six, depending on how you break it all down. In time, I think I’ll bring these together — but at the moment, my mind is pursuing a completely different novel, as that’s the thing that is most exciting me right now. And ultimately, that’s the thing that’ll keep me coming back to it and help me to drive it through to completion.
And food and health!
Not going to harp on this point too much, but it’s all going well at the moment. I also realised recently that the dietary and health plans I’ve followed since 2001 have, essentially, all been part of the same evolution of one new idea — initially born of shunning the failed concepts of the 70s in the hope of finding something that actually works, but then growing from one simple idea into another, until at last you get a more complex model of how human physiology actually works, all backed up by an ever-increasing pile of scientific studies. I’ll revisit this another day in detail, no doubt, but it’s something I’m finding equal parts promising and fascinating at this point.
And Neko, the Mighty Bird Huntress
After a spell of hunting with too much eagerness and not enough stealth, today (which is the third day of writing this blog, for those keeping count on their fingers) Michiko’s speed finally overcame her over-eager nature and let her catch a bird, which was subsequently brought inside with its head inside her mouth, and then rescued by my wife in a panic. I’m not sure whether to feel worse for the bird, which was rescued in a bit of a state of shock and just sat around outside for a while, or for Neko, who probably has no idea why it was such a bad thing that she finally succeeded in catching her birdy.
And, at last…
It’s actually taken me TWELVE DAYS to get from the start of this post to the end of it, which gives some idea of how busy I’ve been. But I’m here now, and I’m going to end as I began — with a little bit of music. Because, after all, why not? And because I think they’re interesting, let’s start with a cover-version that’s been doing the rounds.
I’m very fond of cover versions, and have quite a few that I like — I’ll probably return to posting some of the others later. But for today, though I was sorely tempted to post either a Motorhead cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, or the excellent Nirvana cover of David Bowie’s ‘Man Who Sold The World’ — both worth looking up, if you’re unfamiliar — I’m going with a cover by the metal band Disturbed, of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’.