Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Case of The Mutilated Chessboard

Still not thirty pages into Simon Singh's "Fermat's Last Theorem" and he throws in another conceptual gem of a problem apparently first propsed by a guy called Max Black in his book "Critical Thinking" in 1946. It sounds like the title of an Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel (who incidentally met up in Sky Arts' "Urban Myths" series here). The Wikipedia entry for the Mutilated Chessboard problem is here but basically it's this

"Suppose a standard 8×8 chessboard has two diagonally opposite corners removed, leaving 62 squares. Is it possible to place 31 dominoes of size 2×1 so as to cover all of these squares?" 

Here's The Problem

... and basically it is actually impossible because each domino must cover a black and a white square and the board is left with thirty of one colour and and thirty two of the other. There are conceptual solutions but you cannot solve it in reality. Itn the book this was introduced when talking about the concept of mathematical theory against scientific theory. Science always has doubt because it is based on observation whereas mathematics demands absolute proof and until that happens it's always just a theory.

So suitable music for this, Elvis Costello's "Watching The Detectives" , something from "Chess" but I'm going for Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" as it mentions a chessnoard and it is sucjh a perfect piece of music. Enjoy your Thursday everybody.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Packing Plastic

This is the 1600th post on this blogm, thought I would just mention that.

Last Friday I decided to order a copy of "Under Dubwood" by The Dubwood Allstars. I can't remember where I heard this first, probably 6Music, but I had been listening to it on Soundcloud, but the song disappeared from there although the account is still there.

I followed the link to the website and ordered the single on vinyl, the third repress here on the Caught By The River site (it's not available on Amazon), I have recently really got into reggae and ska on vinyl through the home cinema sysem with subwoofer on reasonably loud.

"Under Dubwood" is a mix of Richard Burto reading the introduction to Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood" backed by King Tubby and John Holt's "Ali Baba" as backing (see below and here). "Under Milk Woood" contans some amazingly eveocative phrases such as "Starless and Bible Back" (appropriated for thitle of a King Crimson album.

Anyway the point I was making is that the single was dispatched as well as an MP3 link, and on Saturday I went out , thinking that a seven inch single would fit through the letter box. On returning hope the was a  note from th epostman telling me that they couldn;t fit it through the letter box, so I had to go and collect it on Monday morning from the local depot. I then saw why it would fit through, a sturdy close on twelve inch package, so light I wasn't sure there was anything in it, so I opened it to make sure it was in there and it was. I told the lady in the Post Office about it and she wrote down the details to check on Youtube.

The thing is the service from Caught By The River was ultra excellent and efficient, but surely a little less packaging would be greener and more economical, but what the hell, I now have a wonderful piece of vinyl in my collection and here's the proof on Instagram.

Have a brilliant day everybody.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Anvil Music

Twenty pages into to Simon Singh's "Fermat's Last Theorem" and I'm finding out how Pythagoras determined the principles of music based on mathematics with the helm of a couple of blacksmithsand the simple defintion of perfect numbers and the spin offs from that. This is twenty pages in. Three hundred pages to go. Will I finish it? You bet I will, I just finished Bob Dylan's "Tarantula" so any book directly after that will be a breeze.

I think everyone should take a stab at "Tarantula" and try to avoid throwing it through the window or lighting a fire with it. I enjoyed the dense but sparse volume.

Yesterday I was feeling extremely demotivated, not wanting to work, walk or do anything, feeling in a very black mood for some reason. Today I tasked byself with some hefty mathematical work and it ended up taking most of the day pushing my PC way over the edge of it's capabilities but eventually getting what I wanted in the end.

Then I felt like actually setting up some meetings o sort some improvements to working practices. The problem is that very often things are not a one off and have to be maintained, and most people are not really interested in aftercare.

Any way given all the talk of music and anvils we can only have Steve'n'Seagulls' cover of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck". Watch the video and you know why.

Good night and God Bless. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

& the lumberjacks are coming

It's the final few words of Bob Dylan's "Tarantula" described as Bob Dylan's only fictional novel although if you think of fiction you tend to expect a coherent storyline, Reading "Tarantula" is like looking at a Picasso or Dali, I was thinking Pollock too but maybe that's too free form, maybe Stockhausen and Zappa too. "Tarantula" has recognisable sententences and even chapters with titles that make sence, but it's the dense mix of text interspersed with poetry forms , and those paintings are like that , you can see the forms even though they may be bent out of shape, cut up or re-assembled.

Most of Dylan's songs are far more coherent than "Tarantula" and some have reasonably straightforward narratives, if sometimes slightly surreal, some songs are lists, streams of consciousness a la Dylan Thomas, so a lot less challenging than "Tarantula"  although sometimes Dylan's voice does grate on people, so if you want an easier introduction to his songs check out The Byrds "Sing Dylan" compilation.

My next book is Simon Singh's "Fermat's Last Theorem" which I have mentioned before and is a heftier tome. You know this book is importent when you have read twenty pages and are on Page 3 (foreword and preface!!) and the calculations in the Apeendices will probably be essential to my appreciation and understanding of it. Simon Singh is also an excellent and accessible writer, you couldn't include "Tarantula" in the latter.

Another beautiful Monday morning so I will leave you with The Byrds covering Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom"

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Cynthia Size A

It's been a restful weekend although I copped out and didn't get to The Late Shows but did get a copy of The Concert For Bangla Desh put together by George Harrison on Vinyl from Vinyl Guru. Spent a bit of time walking would town getting some essentials and forgetting about others. Put a brit of grass seed on the lawn to hopefully address the less grassy bit and made my first smoothie in an absolute age with some oranges and apples and frozen smoothie mix, ginger and milk. I'm sure it was very healthy and it tasted dead refreshing.

I don't follow recipes in smoothie making or cookery, just throw things in and hope for the best and it usually comes out good. The worst results are usually just too much so I have to despose of what I can't eat. At least when you are cooking, or making from reasonable fresh stuff you know it's not overloaded with sugar and salt.

I picked up an acoustic guitar today and ran through a basic "Big Muff" (John Martyn & Lee Perry) and was surpised that I knew all the chords but not all tehe words to "Ziggy Stardust" and "Rebel Rebel". Acoustics are so easy to pick up and do things with, although my electronic keybord is quite easy too, but I'm not as dextrous on that as guitar but I can still make some noise with it.

My son in law mark soldered together a synthesiser kit I got for Christmas, he is very impresive with sort of anything mechanical, electronic or computer based, but while the synthesiser is less capable that a Stylophone it is great fun to play with now that it's working.

Cynthia Size A was the name give to Hi T Moonweed's (Tim Blake) synthesiser of Gong's "Flying Teapot album just in case you were wondering where I stole that from.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Enlightenment Is Music You Need A Flashlight To Hear

Not one of mine, but a line from one of the poem sequences in Bob Dylan's "Tarantula". It caught my eye and my mind went into so overdrive trying to figure out what he meant by that and trying to rationalise how it fitted into reality and failed miserably, but, again, that's the point orf art and poetry and writing and music and theatre and film , it's meant to stimulate you and make your mind work and think. I haven't a clue what it means, or maybe I have an inkling but it means that my mind is switched on and functioning.

The weekend Newcastle hosts The Late Shows which is a series of events running into the night and I think I will slip out for an hour or two on Saturday. There is the Vinyl Guru's collaboration "Never Mind The Punk 45" with Gallagher and Turner which reminds me very much of a wonderful book celebrating the same DIY art work which I think it's call Punk:45 but it's downstairs and there are a few such books which are wonderful to browse through (I still prefer real books to ebooks even though I do possess a Kindle), but enjoy seeing the artwork. Punk had a wonderful DIY style which has been subjugated in the digital age due to the ease and simplicity and effectiveness of digital image processing.

So I could actually include a video of The Bok's "Happy Birthday" which Rabid Records were going to put out as a single before they went bust. When we spoke to them they asked us which studio we had used. We said "Studio?". It was recorded direct to cassette. The video I did is here, and the rest of the demos are on Soundcloud here.

Anyway I will leave you with The Damned's "New Rose" which was the first punk record I bought. Mye and my mate Dave Topping, who was guest drummer with The Bok, ordered it from a record shop in Chorley and his was missing a chip from the edge, so effectively unplayable , but mine was OK, as he lived a lot nearer the shop than me he just waited for a replacement to be ordered.

It's Friday, the weekend is here, and the sun is shining. Have a great day everyone.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Some Words

This has just come from saying goodbye to a dear friend recently and what tends to happen to us at gatherings and events wher you meet up with people you care for and like being with but don't see that often. I am not a poet, but the narrow visual form of a poem can make for simple easy and effective reading. I am still working my way through "Tarantula" by Bob Dylan and that is not easy reading but has grabbed my attention with it's stream of consiousness ramblings and semi-stories. Anyway this sort of sums up my feelings after these events. If it has a title it's "Hi"

Great To See You
Absolutely Lovely
It's Been So Long
I've Been So Busy
Not A Minute To Myself
What Have You Been Up To?
I Know
We must meet up
Maybe a Concert
The Theatre
We Must Do It Soon
Next Week
Or After The Bank Holiday
At The End Of The Month
Or Next Month
We Should 
We Must 
We Will
Til Next Time .......

But We Seldom Do

We should really make more of an effort to keep in touch with each other, it is far too easy to let it drift but we can make this happen, so let's do it. I'll leave you with a Roy Harper song "Forever", which I have always loved, and love to share this with you.........