Couch to 5K Songs

Posted by matthew on Feb 20, 2010 in health, music, technology

On Australia Day I started the Couch to 5K running program, and I’m now up to week 4. For a while I was using a purpose built C25K app on my iPhone, but I’ve now switched to Runkeeper Pro, which is really excellent. It creates a GPS map of your run and automagically posts it online for you, but the feature I like most is that you can quickly and easily set up your run in intervals. It’s simple to set it up to coach you through an interval program, while playing your own track list in the background. It’s magic. So I have been trying to find the perfect song list to motivate me while I’m out there. Here’s the best set I’ve come up with so far:
1 A-team Intro / The A-Team / The A-Team
2 Nicotine & Gravy / Beck / Midnite Vultures
3 Gloria / Them / The Best of Van Morrison [Mercury]
4 Buddy Holly / Weezer / Weezer
5 Tainted Love / Soft Cell / The Very Best of Soft Cell
6 Lust for Life / Iggy Pop / Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop
7 Wild America / Iggy Pop / Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop
8 One After 909 / The Beatles / Let It Be
9 Back In The U.S.S.R. / The Beatles / Love
10 I’m Waiting For The Man / The Velvet Underground / The Velvet Underground & Nico


Liquor laws are crushing live music

Posted by matthew on Jan 18, 2010 in music

I rarely mention the fact that I’m a teetotaller, because it’s never been a popular move. However, considering the topic at hand, it seems relevant to declare this at the outset. While I don’t drink, I do make a habit of frequenting a lot of venues in Melbourne that sell alcohol and provide live entertainment. Being a non drinker, I always make a point of paying for food and drinks at these venues when I can, because I believe in supporting the live music scene I’ve come to love. Unfortunately, however, the way that the current licensing laws are being interpreted is causing a lot of good venues to close their doors. Why? The liquor licenses are going up, sometimes by very large amounts, on venues that are deemed to be “high risk”. Sadly, this includes one of Melbourne’s favourite jazz venues, Manchester Lane (closed temporarily, hopefully) and now legendary Melbourne music venue The Tote has finally called last drinks.

Being a non-drinker, I’ve never been a fan of drinking or violence, but this really has got to stop. The Victorian government is in the process of throwing away a couple of generations of social capital in the form of our precious live music scene. In my experience, the good live music venues are not usually the ones with the worst track record for angry altercations, and I’d really like to see the research that conclusively shows that venues like Manchester Lane need to justify their existence compared to many of the other night clubs around. Ever seen thugs at a jazz venue? Didn’t think so.

If you think it’s gone too far as well, write a letter, call a talk show, or sign a petition. Or maybe even write a blog article about it, like me. But do something, before it’s too late.


Busy Tuesdays

Posted by matthew on Aug 6, 2007 in cricket, dance, music

At the moment, Tuesday evenings can end up being quite cramped, between playing cricket for Cav and performance trainings with CLH, but last week was something else. It turned out my team had three games scheduled on the same evening (needless to say we could only complete one).¬† This caused quite a bit of confusion and bemusement, particularly for the teams we didn’t end up playing. The good news is we won the game we did play, and went to 7 wins from 8 games in the League. After the game, Lotte and I headed to The Snug to hear Torben Rees Trio perform again (I recommend getting a hold of Torben’s first CD, by the way). As usual we had a bit of a dance in the tiny space between the band and the tables¬† — if you have Facebook here’s a link to a video posted by James.

Team Photo, Churchill College, July 31 2007.


Dancing at The Snug

Posted by matthew on Jun 20, 2007 in cambridge, dance, music

As promised, here’s a video clip of me dancing last Sunday night at The Snug in Cambridge with Maria. Colin Hazel is playing ‘I Can Give You Anything But Love’. James Bush is the cameraman.


Colin Hazel at The Snug

Posted by matthew on Jun 19, 2007 in cambridge, music

Check out this movie of Colin Hazel playing All Along The Watchtower at The Snug in Cambridge a couple of nights ago. Colin’s definitely our favourite performer here. We try to check him out every Sunday if we can. A clip of us dancing to some of his jazz stuff is to follow.


Devil of a Holiday

Posted by matthew on Mar 23, 2006 in dance, music

The weekend in Hamburg was terrific. We had possibly the best Lindy hosts in the entire world, Arne and Fabian, who made sure to check with us on our breakfast preferences before we left, and then greeted us with a smile on arrival in Hamburg. They have a really interesting, large apartment at the top of a very steep spiralling staircase in a building in a handy part of the city. Hopefully they will get to Cambridge (or maybe even Melbourne?) one day so that we can return the favour. Lotte had a baptism of fire into the international lindy hop teaching world, with 12 hours of teaching over 2 days assisting Bill. The advanced classes were quite a decent level, so she had her work cut out for her, and she did an amazing job. At the end of the weekend they had them in the palm of their hands, and the students were all starting to really get it. I enjoyed the opportunity of a weekend with no responsibilities apart from doing a bit of DJing and having fun. I also met a DJ with perhaps the most astounding collection of beautiful swing music I’ve ever met — Swingin’ Swanee. This woman is a professional, and it shows. Bill, Ellen and I took her on in the DJ Battle and never stood a chance. I heard she owns around 4,000 albums, most of which were in her personal vinyl collection. She has only fairly recently started using CDs to DJ. I highly recommend getting hold of her CD collections Wild Party, Devil’s Holiday, and That’s Rhythm from Ceraton.


Finding Your Passion

Posted by matthew on May 24, 2005 in life, music, tv

I seem to be waning on the blog entry side of things. No excuses! Instead I’ll give a quick update on as many things as possible. First, the building work on our house continues apace. I can hardly believe that I have failed to document the entire process with pictures, but I’ll try to get some tonight. Of course, pretty much all there is to see now is a bunch of freshly painted walls looking extremely nice, but anyone who visited our place prior to the repairs should see the improvement. We’re both delighted with the quality of the work. They are clearly using very good quality materials and doing the hard stuff like the details as well as the more obvious stuff. They’re even repainting walls that didn’t need to be repaired at all so that everything matches exactly.

The weekend was quite relaxing. Lotte has been doing quite a few sleepover shifts lately while we save up for our trip, so Squigs and I had a couple of nights to ourselves towards the end of the week. I decided I needed to get a new game for the Xbox to while away those nights and went with a pre-loved copy of Medal of Honour: The Front Line on the recommendation of Thomas from Holland. Not a bad pick up for only $25 I thought, but I haven’t really had a chance to play for long yet. I’d like to try it in multiplayer mode but I doubt it would compare to BF 1942 (which rocks on the new iMac G5, by the way).

We went to lunch at Mum and Dad’s on Sunday. It was really great to see the famdamly and as a bonus Gran and Uncle Dave were there. Uncle Dave is the funniest uncle ever, I think, and he never fails to crack me up. It’s always fun to see Lotte’s reactions to his jokes because I know she’s thinking about the our particular family’s brand of humour. Anyway Lotte had to go to another sleepover shift and I had some time to kill before going to see the Cairo Club at Mayfields, so I went and saw an early evening showing of Star Wars III. The reviews are right. It sucks slightly less than the other two prequals. That’s about all I can say about it though. The lego version of the Star Wars characters are more human than these cardboard cut outs if you ask me. It’s just so disappointing. I’d vote for Ron Moore to remake the entire series if I could.

Speaking of which, I am really starting to miss Battlestar Galactica. I’ve tried to keep myself occupied by reading the Battlestar Blog (minus the spoilers) and watching the series again as it went to air. I even read Philip K. Dick’s The Simulacra, which I expected to be a good sci fi novel about human identity. It was not. It was a load of complete and utter drivel that I cannot believe is written by the same guy who came up with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which of course was adapted to become Blade Runner. I’ve read a few works now by Philip K. Dick, and some of them weren’t great, but none were as impressively ridiculous as this one. Does anyone out there have recommendations for better stuff by him? I’ll be interested to see the film version of A Skanner Darkly. It’s a pretty short story so I’m wondering how they’ll get a full feature movie out of it actually.

The plot summary of A Scanner Darkly says “Caustically funny, eerily accurate in its depiction of junkies, scam artists, and the walking brain-dead, Philip K. Dick’s industrial-grade stress test of identity is as unnerving as it is enthralling.” Yeah, maybe it’s eerily accurate because apparently one of my favourite sci fi authors was not unknown to illegal substances himself. That helps to explain why an awful lot of the character development in The Simulacra is along those lines. It’s not that it’s not accurately written, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to add much to the story. And there are so many little ideas that just don’t get followed up in the plot that it feels like a lot of things are happening but there just aren’t any real consequences. Even by the end I couldn’t really figure out who the main protagonists were let alone start feeling any kind of empathy for them. I’ve never gotten to the end of a novel before with the feeling like I hadn’t gotten to the main story yet. Maybe I’m just missing something. I’m sure I’ve just offended a lot of hard core sci fi fans, but maybe someone will explain why I’m wrong.

One thing that I must start writing more about here is the theme that seems to link a lot of my interests together: identity. I’ve noticed that this is the real area that interests me about my thesis, and the related themes about performance, constructing the self, subjectivity, and ontology are really just ways of investigating “the big issue” for me. Gameplay and educational issues like authenticity are definitely of less importance in terms of my interest. That’s weird I think because I’m an educational designer who loves games. I’ve mentioned that Blade Runner (whose main theme is human identity) is my favourite movie, and that BSG gets me for exactly the same reason. The same thing with Total Recall (another Philip K Dick remake as it happens). Clearly I’m not alone in finding this theme of identity compelling, but I do find it interesting to notice that my academic interests have come around to it as well. One of the things that Paul Gruba (co-author of Writing A Better Thesis) says is that you really need to take notice of where your passion lies. Well, I can’t write my thesis about Lindy Hop or cricket, so I guess this will have to do.


Fletcherising in Cairo

Posted by matthew on May 10, 2005 in dance, music

I’ve been thinking a lot about a 20s – early 30s themed dance night at MLX this year. The main reason of course is the continuing evidence that Peter Milley’s 10 piece Cairo Club Orchestra is one of the most engaging and talented swing era bands playing in Melbourne. On top of that, we have never actually heard CCO play at MLX, and there is an increasing interest in big band music from an earlier era — particularly that of the early 1930s. The downsides of such an idea are few, but one of them is that many dancers find the tempos of the hotter stomps and charlestons to be too difficult, and the durges are too slow for some people. So it’s this feeling that the night could be frustrating for some dancers.

My first thoughts are to try to talk to Milley about the idea of tailoring a song list for Lindy Hoppers. We usually do that anyway when hiring a band for MLX. But then I got to thinking about the idea of asking if he would consider looking for arrangements of particular tunes that I know the dancers would go for. The trick is that the line up CCO uses is very consistent and almost always includes a banjo, giving the band that very particular Charleston/dixie feel that only a banjo can. I know that they use a guitar sometimes though. And maybe their banjo player can also play guitar, or they can use another guitarist on certain arrangements.

Anyway in my fantasy world they would transcribe or find arrangements for the Fletcher Henderson classics like Big John’s Special, Christopher Columbus, Wrappin It Up (The Lindy Glide), The Sugarfoot Stomp, The Henderson Stomp, and The Moten Stomp. These are all particular favourites of mine. I’d also be interested in talking to him about some Chick Webb and Jimmie Lunceford stuff of course, but I don’t know if they would go for it. Webb’s Strictly Life, Go Harlem and (oh my) Harlem Congo, and Lunceford’s Four or Five Times, Lunceford Special, Tain’t What You Do, Harlem Shout and For Dancers Only would all be great. Food for thought.


That twenties feeling

Posted by matthew on May 8, 2005 in dance, music

Tonight was the premiere of the SwingCity DVD. The band was the Cairo Club Orchestra, and we’ve just arrived home tired and aching and covered in sweat. Cairo Club is an authentic 20s dance band, and there really is nothing quite like it in Melbourne. They play charts you won’t hear anywhere else, like ‘My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes’ and a really beautiful version of ‘The Mooch’, which remains one of my favourite songs. The quality of the band is such that every soloist is compelling without dominating the arrangments. I also absolutely love the trumpets in this band, of which the bandleader Peter Milley is the lead. They always amaze me with their precision, and they make a lot of use of mutes, which I always love.

The DVD went down very well, and we finally have our first batch of re-authored DVDs (i.e. without the sound glitch in the first run). It’s satisfying to see it on the big screen and hear people laughing and joking in the audience. Naturally we talked all night about what we were planning for this year’s event. We’re officially excited again. It always takes a long while.


Oz iTMS in June?

Posted by matthew on Apr 12, 2005 in music, technology

The Mac rumour sites have carried plenty of stories about it before, but recently the stories about an Australian iTunes Music Store have been coming from other sources as well. I always wonder how these stories get started, because in my experience even Apple employees are kept in the dark until the last minute these days. The tantalising nugget of info in the most recent story that may give a clue is that Apple has supposedly been booking space in music magazines. I suppose someone might be putting 2 and 2 together, but there’s always a chance they are coming up with 5. A mid-June launch would put the Oz iTMS after WWDC, which seems likely to me — but why not announce it at WWDC? Maybe they’d prefer to time it with some local event for maximum coverage. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve actually been using iTMS since it was announced, with the help of a friend stateside. I pay him $US20 with PayPal and he lets me buy another 20 songs. I realise I’m going to have a problem when it comes to exercising my right to use these tunes into the future (specifically when I register for iTMS Oz) but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. This is another reason why DRM generally sucks — we get told we can’t buy things based on geography because that suits companies, not individuals. Why should we not get the right to use something in different countries — after all even nation-states recognise that people move for legitimate reasons. Multinationals generally don’t have to answer to moral questions, however. There’s no authority big enough to make them.