Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dawn on the Adriatic Sea

It was with some surprise that I saw it getting light outside as I wasn't sure if we had already docked at Igoumenitsa, the second Greek port after Patras before making the crossing to Italy.  Somehow I must have slept through it although how that happened in the wretchedly uncomfortable seat will remain a mystery.  Right now most are still sleeping and there are sleeping bags on every free space on the floor that isn't immediately needed as a path to somewhere.

The start from Katakolon was, I thought, within limits but that did not turn out to be so.  And there is a good reason for that as the speed I could make on the scooter was about what I had planned but it took much longer to get through Patras than I anticipated.  Getting there was one thing, getting to the port once I arrived was quite another.  It was dumb luck that I found it at all as I had been driving through Patras for some while and then took the Patras-C exit as I thought this could be the middle of the city.  That turned out to be a good guess as I stopped in a Shell station and the serviceman gave me further directions to the port.

You may have already guessed that I missed the boat to Brindisi and that would be a splendid analysis.  I had no option for spending twenty-four hours until the next one left so the only option was what's the next ferry out of here.  That turned out to be a trip to Ancona which the girl told me is a little bit north of Brindisi.  I asked about Bari and she said, oh yes, just a little bit north of Bari.  Since I didn't know where Ancona was but knew Bari and Brindisi weren't so far apart, I decided to take that ferry.

She also said, oh yes, there is WiFi on the ferry.

It turns out her estimation of things was a wee bit optimistic.  I had hoped to check in on the blog via WiFi from the ferry as this one would get to Italy quite a bit later than the one to Brindisi but that hasn't been possible as it does not have Internet capability.

It also turns out her estimation of 'a little bit north' was optimistic as well.  Ancona is about five hundred kilometers north of Brindisi and consequently about a thousand kilometers north of Catania where Mount Etna is located.

This presents something of a tactical dilemma as the scooter, loaded down as it is, has become more dangerous than it ever was.  I had not expected the weight of the guitar to so upset the balance of the scooter but that's how it went and it's incredibly dangerous to drive.  The question now is whether to abandon the volcano and simply continue north since I am so far north already.  From Ancona I won't be so much more distant from England than I will be from Catania.

What's logical to do right now is obvious.  But that means skipping the only volcano I'm ever likely to see in my life and missing the chance to dance with Cat on the slopes of it.  That sucks pretty ferociously but so does a two-thousand kilometer round trip to get there.  We shall see!

The Thrill Ride of My Life

Yesterday's ride was the all-time most dangerous stunt I have ever tried as the scooter is not only unbalanced but the extra packed on it makes it act like more of a sail than ever and wind will cheerfully blow it off the road.  When it's a one and a half lane road shared with big trucks, you've got the makings of a thrill ride you will absolutely never forget.  I was running at about seventy to seventy-five kilometers but the trucks were going at about one hundred so that made for a backwash from them that could have done an Atlantic hurricane proud!

The reason for the unbalance is the guitar case as the body of it on one side of the case is much heavier than the neck and head of it on the other.  I've said sometimes how my shoulder will sometimes be shot after a gig and that's why; it really is a heavy guitar.  Even so, it's not as bad as a Les Paul as they must put lead shot inside those damn things.

The additional entertainment of the packing is that it goes too far forward and that puts me in a highly awkward riding position.  All the way down the road my cojones were telling me what a bastard I was for treating them so badly but I told them to shut up as I wasn't enjoying it much either.  As soon as I can get somewhere stable, I'll certainly be tearing it down again to see what else I can do.

While it doesn't really make any difference how long it takes to get to England, I'm leaning more toward just doing it as there is dangerous which is often fun and then there is plain stupid which often results in dead people, namely me.

There will be time for thinking more on this when I get to Ancona as it will be about 18:00 so that will be too late to take on very much traveling and I will be looking right away for somewhere to sleep.  The first thing will be to find WiFi so I can break my radio silence and let you know I am not a dead people already.

So, if you were looking for crazy, you found it!

There's Always the Option to Back Out

In any situation one can turn chicken and back out.  If I were to turn about and go back to Greece, it wouldn't be any more dangerous than anything I have already done and perhaps give the option of trying again after rethinking things.  However, that would mean several hundred euros having disappeared with so much as a pile of well-smoked roaches to show for it.

Taking that option would mean going back to Pyrgos and taking Harry up on his offer of an apartment in Pyrgos to ride out the summer.  Good science means considering all options and this one is available until I pull away from the coast in Italy.  Therefore I will hang about in Anacona at least for the night before deciding what to do.

This may be the time to return to my own song, "On the Road with a Mouse and a Chicken," in which the mouse is useless because I can never find it and listening to the chicken is never a good idea or you would never go on the road in the first place.

Somewhere in Italy ... No Idea Where

After landing in Ancona, I headed out of town but this turned out to be vastly more difficult than I hoped.  I am now somewhere south of there but I have no idea where.  The ferry docked at 18:30 or so and ever since then I have been trying to find someplace to sleep with one premium level of exhaustion repeatedly telling me, dude, you are so screwed.

This situation is really dangerous.  Before I get riding again I will tear the load back down and will definitely abandon anything not needed to keep a B-17 in the air.  I'm sure you've seen those kinds of movies.  If it's this or the plane going down, whatever it is goes out the window.  You want guitar passion ... it's no exaggeration that I've risked my life for this one!  This isn't a whine as I am very damn glad it survived and I've still got it.

This is present moment so it gets us caught up.  I'm sorry I couldn't post an update sooner but there was no possible way.  I couldn't even find a cafe between here and the port with WiFi.  I'm staying in the Hotel Girasole and the rate is €50 which makes a profound hit in the finances but I was to the point of putting the sleeping bag down on the side of the road, I just couldn't see anywhere a cop wouldn't have easily busted me for doing it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

And so Begins the Adventure!

I will leave in a few minutes for Patras where I will catch the ferry for Brindisi, Italy.  I'm leaving later than I anticipated but I'm also finding I have to abandon more than I had hoped.  So it goes.  I still leave Greece with very fond memories most especially of the Greek people who are the happiest people I have ever met.

There's only one thing to say at this point:  Arrivederci!

Nylon Guitars at Cat's Art MusikCircus

Joaquin Gustav returned last night for Healing Friday and Tango Time at Cat's Art MusikCircus.

Joaquin Gustav always gives a very delicate and gentle performance.  For a while his shows were not attended so well but that has been getting much better and last night people continued arriving the whole time.

The most special parts of Joaquin's performance are when he plays his tangos.  While he often plays Latin versions of pop songs, where he really excels, in this reporter's opinion, is when he plays a tango. I don't know if these pieces are specifically Argentinian and I suspect probably not but they are so full of Latin magic and much more than bringing a Latin style to a pop song.

Voodoo Shilton gives the second performance on Friday nights and the cutover to his music was flawless.  The first thing we heard was something short but quite pretty and this was only so he could verify the stream was working.  Definitely pro stuff!

Voodoo Shilton always has a quite dramatic look for his shows and I haven't been to hear him performing anywhere else so I really don't know what he wears for those shows.  I'm pretty sure we can be safe in assuming he does not wear a suit or, worst of all, business casual.

Voodoo started right away into one of his originals entitled "Sunrise" and within it we heard the magic words, "Here we go!"

Whenever Voodoo says that it's like a high-powered motorcycle putting the wheel up in the air and going to some impossible speed.  One of the strongest features of his music is the dynamic while he plays as he's not content to play a song from start to finish without traveling with it, in many cases at a very high rate of speed.  Another one that's particularly memorable for this is also original and it's entitled "Village Jam."

For a while, Voodoo's shows, while technically-brilliant, were going dry as they were predictable.  I guess it was a month or so ago that he shifted his approach altogether and now you really won't know what he's going to do.  He has become quite enamored of experimentation and this has brought a whole new liveness to his music.

Whisper Ek3 took that liveness to the air!

And Kate Lytton was juggling while she danced.  Let's see the Flying Karamazov Brothers do that!

Voodoo's experimentation is not limited to learning new songs as he is also playing constantly with the orchestration and bringing in new instruments.  I had never heard an udu or even heard of one until I heard him playing the one he found ... and who knows where he found it as the udu is an African instrument and has an indescribable and highly mystical sound.

One song in which Voodoo's udu adds a really delicious difference is "Summertime" and many say it's better than the original.  When I think of the original it's with Paul Robeson singing it and there isn't any better than that ... but neither is there any better than the way Voodoo interprets it as the methods are not at all the same.  Voodoo's orchestration, arrangement, and rhythm are different for the song than anyone I've heard with it before and below it all you can hear that udu with its mystical drone as if to say the summertime is much more than sitting on a porch drinking lemonade.

Voodoo is being quite a bit more aggressive in his approach to music and the audience obviously appreciates it as he had a very good turnout and they kept coming throughout the show.

And Cat and I danced.  There wasn't any poignance about it being a last dance as it wasn't.  There will be a delay before I get back to the MusikCircus but these dances are by no means over!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Day of the Show

Today is the day to depart Greece for Italy.

I won't be leaving Katakolon immediately as the scooter ride to Patras is about one hundred kilometers so, at worst, that will take a couple of hours and the ferry to Brandisi doesn't leave until 17:00.  This is a time when it is preeminently important to ensure I have not left anything behind other than that which I have to abandon specifically because there is not room to carry it.

The latest news is that I have a relative in Edinburgh who has very generously offered to put me up in a flat.  I declined and asked instead for a recommendation of an inexpensive place to stay but she insisted that it would not be an imposition as she is not around much anyway.  Her offer would definitely make the visit to the U.K. survivable and there has been substantial question of that due to the frightful conversion rate for the dollar to the British pound.

So the question remains as to whether the trip itself is survivable and that's the adventure, isn't it!

I will not depart for Patras without first writing another update here and I expect the departure update will come about midday.

There's Amateur Crazy and Then There's the Real Thing

There's been quite a bit of amateur and highly-affected crazy in the last few days as any fool can get bad-ass with an avatar but I'm now one wake-up away from the real thing.  I've been called crazy all my life but that doesn't mean I can stop trying and this scoot to England I'm pretty sure qualifies as full-out certifiable.  There are some of you who wouldn't give a euro for the chances I will make it but that makes it all the more delicious!

Cat had a cool idea in that I should contact SVM, manufacturers of the scooter, to tell them what I'm planning on doing.  After they stop laughing, maybe they would be interested in supporting this!

The focus is very much on the ferry ride to Italy just now as that will be fifteen hours at sea!  Thus far in my life, my longest sea voyage was about 19 kilometers going from Tortola to Virgin Gorda.  That was pretty cool as you fly a big jet to Puerto Rico, then take a small plane to Tortola, and then take a boat the rest of the way to Virgin Gorda.  Unless you're filthy rich, that's the only way to get there!  This was back when I actually worked and, if you can, visit there sometime as it's the most gorgeous blue water gorgeosity I've ever seen.

So, that 'sea voyage' was nineteen kilometers but it looks to be about a thousand kilometers from Patras to Brindisi.  I have no idea about seasickness and Cat has strongly advised getting some Dramamine before leaving and taking it before boarding.

In researching it more I've found the passage if you just rent space on the deck is €64 and it's €85 if you have a ticket for a Pullman chair (much like an airline seat).  I assume the deck space means you will throw out a sleeping bag.  I've got one so why not.  I'm quite sure it will be cold as the temperature was really headed for summer a few weeks back but has fallen back quite a bit and it will definitely be colder out on the water.

The general plan is to update here before I leave for Patras and then I will check in again when I get there and before boarding.  I suppose it's possible but I suspect unlikely that the ferry will have WiFi.  By the way, lose the image of the ferries that crossed the Sydney Harbor as these are gigantic!  I'm amazed the traffic could be so enormous for this but they wouldn't have such big ships if it were not.

So, just a bit of rambling prior to departure.  It's highly scary but that's the same as exciting, just looking at it a different way.  Soon!

The Day the Sun Came Out

It had been so many seasons
in which the sun shone not at all
and the crops were always stunted
by the ever-growing pall.
The clouds and mist grew darker
as we fell down through the years
with the misery so weighing
that even children shed no tears.

But then we saw a rider
with his brilliant silver shield
that he threw into the sky
to light up all the fields.
He sat there all alone
as he surveyed what he'd done
and all throughout the land
the people saw the sun.

No-one could go near him
after he chose his harsh fate
as a man without a shield
could not survive the hate.
The ones who fed the darkness
and fed the people's fears
would ever seek to find him
and soon they would appear.

He brought peace where they brought anger
He brought love when they brought hate
He brought light when they brought darkness
and they would serve their wicked fate.
To endless reach they'd hound him
Crying their bitter shallow goals
and they'd bleed him when they found him
to restore their dark control.

The people in this new sunlight
praised the rider on this day
Perhaps they will keep singing
and give some place to stay
The rider's life is forfeit
if the dark lords have their way
but the people have their song to sing
and they can take the day.

Dedicated to Edward Snowden

Silas Turns on the Lights at the MusikCircus One Last Time

Silas Scarborough (i.e. me) came back to Cat's Art MusikCircus last night to play the last show before taking the adventure on the road into Europe.

Here's what it looked like from the stage as I was working with Cat to get the lights set up correctly.

I have no intention of making this the last time I ever play at Cat's Art MusikCircus but it's not predictable when I will be able to do it again.  So it's the last, for now, until I can reconnect from somewhere else which I will do as soon as possible.

From the start the show felt 'on' to me or, more accurately, I felt 'on' as I was trying for the first time live the acoustic emulation of the Godin xtSA.  I didn't know at the time if the difference was so technical that it wouldn't be audible but I talked to Cat after and she said she could tell the difference.  From my side, I hear a crispier sound and, for some reason, it makes me more inclined to strum chords, something I would otherwise keep to a minimum as it my thumb (the one I busted) screams bloody murder when I do it.  Last night it wasn't too bad and maybe the explanation is that I wasn't so much playing barre chords which require quite a bit more strength to finger them correctly.  No need to get all scientific, tho, as it just felt good to be doing it.

I haven't yet gone through the recording of the show but Cat said something in there was right on it.  There was no way she could say which one as nothing I was doing had a name; it was all a matter of playing whatever sounds right, feels right, and sings.  Listening to the recording is a discipline I recommend to everyone and it applies just as much to me as anyone else.  Hopefully I will uncover something good and I will then put it out on the Ride the Dragon podcast.

It's a lovely thing when people come to your show and don't leave before it's over and that's how it went last night.  What really sets the MusikCircus apart is that people don't come there trolling for dates or simply to watch the spectacle while they talk in private Voice or whatever as they really do listen.  I'm not the only one who will tell you this as I've heard other MusikCircus performers say exactly the same thing.

As always, the set blew by faster than I could believe and something that surprised me was that I hadn't used any back tracks at all.  I didn't even use the Boss RC-50 looper that much either.  You bet I was doing loops but they were all on the Boss GT-100.  The looper memory isn't as long on that one but it doesn't put an arbitrary rhythm on you and that gives a lot of freedom.  What that means for the road is that possibly I wouldn't even set up the RC-50 if space and electrics are limited.

The show went out to an hour and fifteen or so and I had hoped to go longer than that but I was really finished.  I tried sitting for a bit with the weight of the guitar off my shoulder but once I settled a bit it was really over.  Unfortunately, that was when I got a message from Sister Julie to ask if I was done yet and I was sorry to tell her I was much more than done!

However ...

There are still almost twenty-four hours before I leave so maybe there will be an opportunity somewhere in there to play some more.  All that needs to be done tomorrow is to ride to Patra.  That's about a hundred kilometers which isn't that far.  The boat doesn't leave until 17:00 so there's plenty of time to get there.  I can't do anything during regular MusikCircus hours as Joaquin Gustav and Voodoo Shilton will play tonight and I don't want to miss those shows but at some other time who knows!

Much love to everyone who was at the show and I hope to play for you again very soon!

Cat was out there looking beautiful:

Something that was very cute was Yevette Nishi sent me a pic in which she and Cat are framed together:

It's Second Life, man, you don't need shoes.  It never gets cold and no-one drops bubble gum on the floor!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Silas Scarborough - Last Show Before the Road

The Internet seems to have stabilised to some extent and I will be performing at Cat's Art MusikCircus at 1:00 pm SLT / PDT.  This will be a major moment for me and I'd love to share it with you.  This will definitely be a night for playing until my fingers fall off!

On Saturday, barring any last-minute blow-up, I will leave Greece for Italy, ultimately winding up in England.  It's one thing to try a jaunt like this when you're twenty and it's quite another to try it when you're sixty.  It's a scary prospect but it's hugely exciting and I'm very much looking forward to it.  You can see the initial leg of the expedition on the Map above and this goes from Pyrgos, Greece, to Patra.  Then I'll take the ferry fifteen hours to Brindisi, Italy, and subsequently to Catania in Sicily.

It may look senseless to go South before going North to England but there are two reasons.  The biggest one is to take Cat dancing on a volcano as I'm hugely curious about Mount Etna, the most active volcano in the world.  The other reason is that any breakdown during this stage means I can try to find my way back to Brindisi and subsequently back to Greece to try to recover there.

After I head back North again and get past Brindisi, there won't be any turning back as the scooter will have about a thousand kilometers on it so presumably it has established its reliability.

I'm sure the anticipation will find its way into my music in some way and I hope to play for you tonight at the show.  I hope to also play along the road but it's impossible to guarantee that so tonight's the night!

Godin xtSA Acoustic Setting

There are three modes of operation with a Godin xtSA:  standard electric (1/4-inch plug), MIDI (13-pin modified MIDI plug), acoustic emulation (1/4-inch plug).  You can use all three at once if you like but that's probably more demented than most would want to get.

The standard electric plug gives just as it sounds.  The signal is coming hot off the pick-ups and twist it as you like in the amplification stage.

The MIDI output is the fastest I have ever used and it tracks very accurately to what you're playing even when you're picking very quickly.  The output from that goes into a Roland GR-20 guitar synthesizer or similar.  There is a toggle switch on the body of the xtSA to select guitar alone / guitar and MIDI / MIDI alone.  There is also a switch that will send an interrupt to the GR-20 to switch voices in real-time.  The capabilities of this guitar are really quite exceptional.

The acoustic emulation is what I have used very little but I have been playing with that today.  The way it works is to send the signal off the pick-ups through acoustic emulation electronics, through a four-switch EQ on the body of the guitar, and on out to the amplifier.

I'm quite pleased with the sound and, assuming the Internet works, I will probably use it tonight.  This does not even faintly mean my intention is to get 'unplugged' but rather to play with the sound using the stuff I like using the most.  I'll do that more as the day goes on as sure as hell the Internet isn't working worth a damn now.

For some reason, the acoustic emulation on the xtSA does inspire one to get 'strummy' and I was having a good ol' time doing that.  I really don't care if it sounds like an acoustic guitar and I definitely don't want it to feel like one but I did like the sound and the EQ gives the ability to contour it quite a bit.

I'm not optimistic about the Internet but it was down altogether at this time yesterday so perhaps it will surprise me.

Texas Executes 500th Prisoner and Rick Perry Wins a Trip to Puerto Vallarta

Governor Rick Perry of Texas said he didn't lose any sleep over the possibility of having executed an innocent man and of course, as a Texas Republican, he wouldn't.

Last night Texas executed its 500th prisoner since the death penalty was reinstated and just to share every little bit of humanism from that barbaric state, the prisoner was a woman.  (CNN:  Texas executes 500th inmate since 1976)

Texas is one of four in the Bucket of Blood states (i.e. Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Mississippi) that have accounted for seventy five percent of the executions in the United States.  Of course, to win the free trip to Puerto Vallarta, you have to be first state with five hundred executions and, with a total lack of morality or consideration, Governor Rick Perry, a God-fearing man, has done it.

On winning the Grand Prize, Rick Perry only had one question, "Do I have to take my wife with me to Puerto Vallarta?"

T Minus Forty Eight Hours Until Departure from Greece

While this could all still blow up in my face, the plan is staying focused on departing Greece on Saturday morning.  There's all the more impetus behind it from the total failure of the Internet for another five or six hours yesterday.  Plus, every morning the dogs start commemorating, at about six or six-thirty, the loss of Ol' Yeller.  Greeks take history very seriously you see.

I will do the last show before departure tonight at the MusikCircus and it was great fun playing the one last night.  What was a great surprise was the Internet stayed stable long enough to do the show ... but then started crashing again after it.  I'm sure there's a technical explanation for that but, well, after so many times I don't care.

Here are some pictures of the show courtesy of Yevette:

So we know who this guy is and here's another one:

If I could play for Cat and dance with her at the same time, it would be perfect!

Here are Mel and Riana Magic dancing:

And Yevette Nishi looked like she was having a pretty good time too:

Kindaguitarded got there late but it was still cool to see him.  I don't have the link off-hand but he's got some pretty cool videos on YouTube and I believe he's due to play at the MusikCircus one of these days.

I hope I have his name right but you can skate that as everyone calls him Kinda.

Thanks to Yevette for the pics!

Right now the Internet is up and down again at fairly close intervals.  Whether it will be possible to do the show tonight is unknown.  What I do know is I hate living like this and I can't wait to get rolling.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Think YOU Have Killer Bees!

In Texas killer bees use the brute force approach and a billion or so of them attack you at the same time.  It's highly evil and you will probably die if they do that.

However ...

Today Harry was stung by a bee and swelled up profusely to the point of needing medication at the hospital to get it back under control.  He is doing much better but was, in effect, drunk from whatever they gave him at the time.

Nathalie, his wife, was telling me about it and she said something similar had happened to her and it was somewhere around her chest.  The result was so much swelling that it restricted her breathing!

Each attack was from ONE Greek bee!

Maybe you think, oh, of course, Greeks are susceptible to anaphylactic shock ... and that might make sense if Nathalie were not French.

It seems there is a price to be paid for the sweetness of Greek honey!

Maestro Michi and Magicians Reis and Aldo Return to Cat's Art MusikCircus

I was asked yesterday by a less-than-creative Andy Kaufman wannabe in Second Life how I could stand to see the same acts each week.  The flaw to that attempt at provocation is they're not the same acts each week and Maestro Michi came back to Cat's Art MusikCircus to show that once again.

A better question would be how you can stand to read my reviews each week as the report isn't likely to change much.  I've already told you that Michi Renoir plays a different set every week so his music is different but my report remains the same!

I've already told you about the extraordinary range of voices he pulls from his synthesizer so I can't surprise you with that either.  I'm quite sure his synth isn't using stock voices and that he has customised it for the sounds he gets as the richness of them is quite exotic.  In combination, they're extraordinary.

But I've already told you that!

And what I will also tell you again is the only way to really appreciate Maestro Michi Renoir is to come out to hear him play.  My review really won't make any difference as what he plays then won't be the same as what he played last night.  If you don't want to hear the same thing over and over, Maestro Michi is definitely giving the show you want to attend.

You can get a taste of Michi Renoir's work on his Artist Profile at Cat's Art MusikCircus Web site.

The second set of the Synthesizer Night comes from Reis and Aldo who are from Brazil and Italy, respectively.  Both live together in Italy now and they had a special guest with them in the studio last night.

Reis Alter, the beautiful singer of the magic from Reis and Aldo

Aldo Brizzi, the magician, musician, and composer behind the music.

Just as with Maestro Michi, there is no predicting what they will do from one week to the next.  They have a long list of songs from which they will pull as people won't let them get away with leaving them behind.  And well they might leave them behind as Aldo Brizzi is constantly composing new material so they could just as easily throw out older material and only do new work.  There's no way the audience will let them do that so they make up a balance and it's always magical.

Just as before, I have told you about the wonderfully ethereal voice with which Reis has been blessed and I've also told you how she can bring it up to the most deeply sensual and sexual tension of everything you would expect from Brazil.  I've told you this but it doesn't hurt to tell you again!

I've told you also of the extraordinary percussion Aldo creates and the very subtle way he builds the music to support Reis in her singing.  Any teenage kid with an electric guitar can grandstand but it takes a master to build the music that weaves everything together and Aldo is well-qualified in experience and schooling to do exactly that.

Partway through the show they introduced us to their special guest, Bruno Masi, a young Brazilian guitarist, and he spoke to us a little bit.  I thought it might be easy to find him in a search but didn't have any good luck as there is also a Bruno Mars who does not appear to be a match.  I will search more as Aldo's recommendation means he has got to be good.

We will miss Reis and Aldo at the MusikCircus from next week forward until, I believe, July 23, as they will be going to tour again in France.  We wish them the best of luck on the tour and they will be gladly welcomed when they get back again.

For more about Reis and Aldo, please take a look at the Artist Profile on Cat's Art MusikCircus Web site where you can find videos and links to their Web sites.

And, oh yes, Cat and I danced!

What's all the more remarkable about Cat's outfits is that she often makes them herself!

It Ain't Sexy but It's Safe

Mounting a shelf to the position where the passenger foot rest attaches didn't go anywhere and the importance of finding a better way was the attempt to leap from the scooter that the guitar made on the trip into Pyrgos.  More accurately, the guitar case made the leap as the guitar very deliberately wasn't in it.  The case didn't make it all the way to freedom but one end scraped the ground and got a bit of road burn from it.  So that makes two of us as I've had plenty of road burn from two-wheelers in my life.  The case isn't significantly damaged as it's a first-rate flight case but that doesn't mean I'm ok with it flying independently.

The new and improved method of attaching it is not ideal as it makes the scooter significantly wider but it is definitely secure:

While it's a bit awkward, it does have one advantage is not it prevents slumping.

The GT-100 will go on top of this and the sleeping bag on top of that with the tent at a forty-five degree angle over all of it.  The sight of it will be egregiously hideous but it should be effective and the tent should serve well to keep rain off the stuff below it.  The splashguards are good so there should be little coming up from below and, besides, in a heavy rain I will park it anyway.

And because this last part was about as boring as the setup ever gets, here's a picture of the beach at Katakolon:

There still isn't the blazing heat (e.g. 40+) you would expect and actually the temperature has dropped quite a bit.  Even at its hottest it's not like to approach the total blazing hell of Arizona where it has been 50+ this week (yah, well over 120F).  My friend spoke later about how her oven had broken and I thought, yah, it must have exploded in the face of that!

So, What About the Adventure?

There will be one more trip to Pyrgos today and hopefully it will be possible to mount a shelf on the side of the scooter as there's a quite nice nut holding the passenger's foot rest that would serve very well for mounting.  That would mean the guitar can be attached as safely as possible and it's the second to last task required before leaving.  The other is to renew my insurance.  None of these tasks are particularly interesting but all could be exceptionally unfortunate problems if I don't attend to them.

I will play tonight and also tomorrow at Cat's Art MusikCircus.  I will also attend the shows by Joaquin Gustav and Voodoo Shilton on Friday.  I intend to depart on Saturday morning and it's about 100 kilometers to Patra where I will catch the ferry to Brindisi, Italy.  Because I'm on a UK / EU passport, going between countries is no big diplomatic deal and no papers are required.

The ferry to Brindisi departs, I believe, at about eight p.m. and then takes all night to get to Brindisi.  My plan is to sleep on the deck and they are fine with that if you're too cheap to get a cabin.  I am most certainly that cheap and I'm definitely that broke (laughs).  Hopefully I will find an Internet cafe in Brindisi where I can check in here and then roll some distance before I connect back up in the afternoon.

Maybe I should stop using 'angel' to describe people who have helped me as maybe that's a bit precious but you're certainly very dear friends, all the more so in that you all know I would have shared this adventure anyway but still you help and it is very, very much appreciated.  Much love to you all!

It really looks like it will be soon now.  Tick...tick...tick...

GCHQ Makes Britain as Popular as the NSA Has Made America - Updated

The tapping of fibre-optic cables by Britain's NSA-analog, GCHQ, has caused justifiable outrage in Germany.  (The Guardian:  Germany blasts Britain over GCHQ's secret cable trawl)

As with the US, they claim to be catching terrorists but who are they, where are they, and what did they do.  Every part of this from Guantanamo forward, is a flagrant violation of every legal principle imaginable.  The NSA and the GCHQ are sharing information so this isn't a case of parallel evolution but rather the Evil Twins creating an Orwellian empire demonstrating the worst of the Emperor's New Clothes.  Obama and Cameron claim to be dressed in such finery from the protection of these insidious services but it means nothing when no-one has any idea what protection has actually been afforded by the NSA and the GCHQ.

There's nothing new on Edward Snowden this morning except that Putin remains emphatic that he is not going to turn him over to the US.  It is one hugely bizarre turn of events when China and Russia stand more for freedom than the US or the UK are willing to do.

Note:  the GCHQ is already classifying political extremists with terrorists and criminals which is exactly what Orwell predicted.  None of the nine thousand being monitored have police records.  You don't even have to ask to know this is happening in the US as well.  (The Guardian:  News UK news Police Police unit monitors 9,000 'extremists')

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why the US is Being Humiliated

The article on this subject was written by Simon Tisdall, a journalist for The Guardian, and it's the first thing on the subject of Edward Snowden that CNN has published that has much of any timeliness or relevance to the subject.  (CNN:  Why U.S. is being humiliated by the hunt for Snowden)

Regardless of political party, US politicians are posturing like a bunch of high-school prom queens hustling for an advantage.  The absurdity of John Kerry threatening China or Russia with anything may be the most ridiculous thing that's happened but Nancy Pelosi is right behind him as a member of some Intelligence Committee in the Senate.  They're showing themselves not only to be hypocrites but toothless old goats.

Until the US stands up for transparency and truth, expecting to be taken seriously by anyone isn't likely.  The first step toward that is running General Keith Alexander out of town, ideally out of the Universe.  That sick bastard has been a huge part of the offenses committed by the NSA and its clones around the world and is a large part of why there is no cooperation coming from anywhere.  The US cause is obviously not just and acting like a bad-tempered bully will not make it so.  (Wiki:  Keith Alexander)

As optimism rises around the world that the US will not be able to crucify Edward Snowden as it is currently doing with Bradley Manning, the greater the amusement at the farce Obama has made of an otherwise creditable Presidency and the ridiculousness of Washington as a whole.  It doesn't represent the world, it doesn't even represent Americans.

Edward Snowden Staying One Step Ahead of the Brain Police

Today it was first announced that Edward Snowden was not in Russia and had never been there.  At that point it looked like the news about Moscow was a gambit from WikiLeaks to create disinformation to protect Snowden. (The Guardian: Edward Snowden never crossed border into Russia, says foreign minister)

However, it has now been announced by Putin that Snowden has been at the Moscow airport all along.  (The Guardian:  Putin: Edward Snowden in Moscow aiport but will not be extradited)

The key point to his position in Russia is that there is no extradition treaty with the US.  Snowden has broken no laws in the country and they have no reason to arrest him or turn him over to the US.

The posturing coming out of Washington and the disingenuous rubbish about what the NSA has been doing are alienating more and more people around the world.  While the American people have been largely silent, it's not unanimous and a petition demanding a pardon for Edward Snowden has over one hundred thousand signatures.  With that many, a response from the White House is mandated.  (Huffington Post:  Edward Snowden Pardon Petition Passes 100,000 Signatures)

I'm becoming more optimistic Snowden will remain free and the US will be forced to address in total transparency what the NSA has been doing.  The world is outraged and nothing but transparency will come even close to settling this.  The current display of arrogance is only making it worse.

The Road (and Ferry) to Catania

The Map has now been updated with the general route to the Mount Etna volcano.

View Searching for Ithaka in a larger map

This may be the craziest thing I've done yet but there is fairly strong competition in that regard so I will have to do my humble best although a fairly decent eruption from Mount Etna would clinch it for sure.

The next phase will be to head north through Italy and France to get to England.  I have no idea where I will live there but we've already determined it is necessary to establish residence to get medical.  My current assumption is that somewhere outside of London will be considerably less expensive than living in the city but that has yet to be verified.  I have seen flats for €200 in Germany but I must get medical together first.  The exchange rate for the British pound is much worse than for the euro so I doubt it will be practical to make England my base plus going on periodic jaunts to Germany won't show me even half as much as I want to see and feel of the country.

A hope for England is that I can get the Godin fixed.  There's something wrong with the bridge / synth pick-up and hopefully that can be fixed for not too much money.  If you have never heard a guitar with a MIDI synth, it is absolutely out of this world and that was the biggest reason I chose this guitar.  I found other reasons to fall in love with it after playing it but that aspect is unbelievable and you have to hear it to believe it.

As previously, if you can help with this through the Support the Search for Ithaka, it would be greatly appreciated.  My income is a pittance from Social Security and when it's gone it be gone.  What I'm sharing on this so far isn't too sexy but it should get interesting once I get in the wind.  More to come!

More Blooter on the Scooter - Updated

This part is about as sexy as bedding down with a Washington politician but the steps are necessary to prevent as much as possible problems after I roll out of here.

The part that has been solid from the start is taking a ferry from Patra, Greece, to Brindisi, Italy, and that's about 60-70 euros.  It would be better to take a ferry directly to Sicily but none take that route.  That means going south to the volcano before going north but that's all part of the adventure.

As to preparatory steps, the drive belt on the scooter was replaced today.  Unfortunately that was fifty-five euros but it's like buying the insurance as it's not sexy at all but it's protection against a huge problem if it were to break on the road.

Harry confirmed today the insurance will be set up today or tomorrow morning.  I'm not sure what it will cost and, by my standard of living, that will be another big dent but that too is mandatory as that gives me a green card for international insurance.

I will return to Babis, the Scooter Doctor, tomorrow and I must bring the guitar case with me so he can review what would be possible for attaching a 'shelf' to the scooter to mount it solidly and safely.  I will abandon clothes, etc but no chance I'm leaving that behind!

Part of the reason for leaving Greece is that I seem to have become quite allergic!  I have huge congestion and you can hear that when I do shows.  I go through napkins for blowing my nose by the ream.  I will do a show tomorrow night and I will do another one on Thursday but those will likely be the last from Greece as I anticipate now that departure will be this week-end.

I haven't done it yet but now I've got a reason to update the Map so you can see the Road to Catania as that's where we will find Mount Etna.  Cross your fingers for an eruption!  It's said to be the most active volcano in the world and seeing rocks in Greece is pretty cool but seeing them flying through the air is even cooler!


The international insurance is in-hand and it didn't cost anything!  However the insurance as a whole expires in a month.  De dum, de dum (laughs).  Must think on that some more.

lefty and Bo Singing It at the MusikCircus

Happily it wasn't Baby Face lefty who came to play last night at Cat's Art MusikCircus as this was the lefty who has been playing for a very long time and that Baby Face was just a little strange!

lefty Unplugged plays in Second Life and his real life counterpart, Kevin Farrell, plays quite frequently around his home but usually not solo.  He spoke last night of a recent gig in which he was performing with a clarinet player and a fiddle player.  He didn't say it but I imagine he was also performing with his long-time band-mate, Darren Poyzer, and the result was a show that lit up the whole place.  I would dearly love to attend one of those shows in real life but his Second Life solo shows are excellent as well.

lefty is consistently one of the most inventive performers around as he has a very subtle technique with his guitar and uses various devices with excellent facility.  If you listen carefully you will hear a looper come in and out of play, sometimes there is a touch of echo, and overall there is a very delicate touch to his music.  He doesn't play cheesy Am-C-G progressions and he was playing some most unusual chords last night but that's another part of why his music is fascinating.

Where lefty also has a very delicate touch is in his use of vocal devices as it sounds like, for one, he uses a pedal for a variable reverb at times and this is just one of many ways he augments his singing.  The sound of his voice is very cool in any case but these touches embellish it in his own unique way.

Where lefty really excels is in his mastery of the dynamics of a song as as he will bring a song down to a very gentle delicacy and bring it back up until it is highly emphatic.  This is where his experience really comes through as he is not only playing the song but the emotion behind it and he's a genius at it.

Learn more about this highly creative musician on his Artist Profile on Cat's Art MusikCircus Web site.

Unfortunately, Cat had more Internet troubles in Germany last night and couldn't get online for a couple of hours later than normal.  This meant I kicked into Guardian Tiger stuff to cover her but I know she hated missing lefty.

Untolerable Bohemian played the set after lefty last night.  Everyone calls him Bo and he has a radical singing style; he wouldn't be untolerable if he didn't!

There's no way to fully review Bo's performance as he has a bit of an affliction in real life that mandates he take it easy.  There's no chance I will reveal any details on that except to say we hope it passes soon.

Untolerable Bohemian gives a highly-enigmatic performance as he takes a beat and swings it all the way around the Moon.  While he plays covers almost entirely, they aren't at all attempts to sing anything the way the original sounded but rather to carry them out in his own style and interpretation.

The other side of the Untolerable enigma is that he was previously playing electric and bringing out a large number of original songs.  I don't really understand why there has been such a big change in his style but he is young and his willingness to explore different aspects of his music is a big part of what makes him an excellent match for performance at Cat's Art MusikCircus.

I've heard a little bit of what he played in previous times but I've never heard him do it live and I would very much enjoy it if I could.  However, I'm in a clear minority as you can see women swooning over his current work whenever he sings so we shall see what develops as he continues growing.

Cat arrived not so long after Bo got started so she got to hear one of the sets last night and hopefully the weather in Germany will settle down soon!  So of course we danced!

My ol' Dad was one hell of a fine dancer but I know this move would have impressed him!  Bo is swinging his beat in the background and I'm swinging my woman.  It's all part of the magic at Cat's Art MusikCircus!

Edward Snowden May Now Be in Iceland

There has been no confirmation of this but there is now a claim that Edward Snowden passed through Norway on the way to Iceland.  It is most unusual that neither The Guardian nor WikiLeaks has said anything on the matter but the claim appears credible.  (The Nordic Page:  Pirate Party Norway: - Snowden Passed Through Norway to Iceland)

All the while, Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been sputtering about Washington's displeasure with countries that have harbored him and have not turned him over to the U.S.  The absurdity of expecting cooperation from countries the NSA has been hacking is dropping U.S. credibility possibly lower than it has ever been.

The ineffectuality of the NSA, CIA, etc in the pursuit of Snowden has become highly amusing as, despite the billions they have spent on spying and data collection, they have had no idea where he is.  They have focused so heavily on systems terrorists apparently don't even use (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc) that the data they are collecting is not only a gross invasion of privacy and a violation of the Fourth Amendment but it serves little to no effect in locating terrorists.  From what I've read Undernet.Org is an IRC group and this and similar types of vehicles are where the really bad guys hang.  (I have not visited that site and have no interest in seeing it)

I'm reasonably optimistic that Snowden will make it to a safe haven and the U.S. will be held accountable for its violations of law.  People around the world are rallying to support him as there is a very widespread rejection of U.S. policy and its abuses of the Constitution.  The gangsterism of the last decade are unacceptable in a free world and the U.S. will have to work quite diligently to regain any credibility after this.

Monday, June 24, 2013

I Ain't Running for Prom Queen

When I very much need support to be able to pull off this upcoming adventure, currying favor with people seems like the appropriate way to go but the material I've been writing lately regarding Edward Snowden has greatly alienated people.  Nevertheless it's important to me to write it as I strongly believe the man needs support.

Sometimes you reach a point in life when something has gone farther than ever should have been permitted.  You can ignore it and forever wish you hadn't or you can stand up.  The most shallow reaction is to portray what I write as America bashing as that's only true insofar as what has been done to it by recent administrations.

Everything is more complicated than it seems.  While Bush was a horror in terms of defending the Constitution, he also sent quite large sums of money to Africa to fight the horrendous problems with AIDS there.  Obama has done quite wonderful work in support of medical coverage but he too has treated the Constitution with contempt, all in the name of security.  Both missed the point altogether that security means nothing if you can't protect the Constitution as that is what enemies of the state want to destroy the most.

It's troubling that the reaction on Facebook to what has been happening could not possibly have been more flaccid but at the same time it's encouraging that Google+ has a quite active thread with many people contributing to it.  Any perception that all social networks are the same only shows lack of familiarity with them.  Facebook is showing itself to be less and less relevant all the time whereas Google+ is making a quite strong effort to improve the product as the communities there are highly-vibrant and it's much more than a thinly-disguised marketing device.  The irony is that Google+ is substantially more effective for marketing and professionals in this field seem to prefer it.

So, I will continue writing what I think needs to be written.  That may not serve me so well but Snowden didn't do what he did to serve himself.  What I write is minor relative to the sacrifice he made.

About the Necromancer

My view of the Necromancer is one who calls on the spirits and there is a black magic form of necromancy in which he is trying to raise the dead physically or, what I viewed as white magic, the attempt to raise the spirits of the dead.  Cat and I have talked about this at some length as she doesn't accept that poetic license is sufficient to push the definition of necromancy that far.  (Wiki:  Necromancy)

In my view the 'white magic' form of necromancy differs little from trying to contact my ol' Dad who has been dead for over a decade now.  I don't mean to contact him through a seance, ouiji board, or any such device but rather through 'places of power' such as I felt quite strongly in Tennessee and, thus far, have not felt so strongly anywhere else.

This isn't a call for you to 'vote' as to whether Cat is right or wrong as obviously she is right.  This started with a discussion of atheism and my view that it is too simplistic to have any particular value.  As soon as the astrophysicists start trying to explain the Big Bang they start talking about God as well.  From what I've observed, atheism is largely a rejection of Christianity and literal faith in the Bible which I view as quite dishonest as, assuming that is your intention, why not just say so.

Two things remain constant in the context of science and religion:  the first is that religion cannot prove God exists but the second is also true that science cannot prove He does not.  I'm not defending God as an omnipotent being hardly needs my defense for anything.  What you make of the matter is your own business but my perception of 'reality' is that we understand very little of what we can see and it's quite likely there is a great deal we can't see at all.

The Necromancer

Out in the darkest place you ever traveled
or imagined you would ever be
And out beyond the penetration
of the light from the farthest star
Out where the music and love
come to us all
That's where you'll find him,
The Necromancer

He casts his spells,
weaves his tales,
makes his magic,
as he calls on the spirits
to foretell the future
as he lives in his dream
and he smiles

But here at Cat's Art MusikCircus
anyone can do that
There spirits are flying through the sky
leaving multi-colored trails behind them
as they fly
So if you want to find the Necromancer
come to Cat's Art MusikCircus
and feel the love

That definitely isn't black magic but, by the textbook definition, it isn't necromancy either.  Something perhaps more closely related to my perception of the Necromancer is in theurgy or attempting to become one with the gods.  (Wiki:  Theurgy)

Some may perceive this as useless philosophical rambling but the application is toward my belief that love, music, and many things of that nature originate from outside us and we channel them into our lives.  That some are better musicians or more romantic may be what you add personally but the inspiration to do it is from something Greater Than All of Us.

In neither love nor music is there a scientific explanation for why they are so important to us.  Science can explain the physics of music but it can't explain why someone needs to do it and, as many have done, will give their lives to it.  The same applies to love as there are many things in human relationships science cannot explain.  It can tell us of hormone activity, what pheromones do, and things of that nature but nothing tells us why love is so important in the first place.  We could obviously continue the species without it as insects have no trouble with that and it would be a bit ambitious to ascribe the emotion of love to them.

Likely Cat and I will talk of this some more and perhaps the lyrics will change.  It's not her purpose to change me but rather we talk about various things and that's of great importance to me.  So, we shall see how it goes.

Google Tracks You, We Don't - DuckDuckGo

The title is the slogan for DuckDuckGo, a relatively new search engine that appears comparable to Google but without the insidious interactions with the NSA (U.S.), GCHQ (U.K.), or other enemies of personal privacy.  (The Guardian:  NSA fears spark traffic surge on DuckDuckGo search engine)

There has been relatively little reaction within social media to the abuses being perpetrated by the NSA, GCHQ, etc but there's relatively little reaction to anything on social media.  They will tell you they're changing the world but when asked where they'll respond, oh, everywhere, man, everywhere.  OK, Alphonse, take your Facebook soma and have a nice day.

Edward Snowden changed the world and he damn sure didn't do it with social media.  That story is well-known now, largely through the work of The Guardian which has come to exemplify freedom in a time when the media channels have been serving so assiduously as propaganda tools.

The way DuckDuckGo defeats the NSA is through not storing any personal information.  If it doesn't store it then neither the NSA nor the GCHQ can take it.  There wouldn't be much surprise, however, if the U.S. makes it law to force search engines to save search queries just so the NSA can take them.  There's one simple problem that occurs when you have too many cops and not enough bad guys:  that's when they come for you.

I'm more of a radical now than I ever was in the sixties and that doesn't mean I want to revive the Weathermen and start blowing up buildings but rather my view of the sordid regimes of the United States is worse than it ever was.  My U.S. passport expired in February and I don't care as it gives the Evil Empire one less way to control my life.

You saw how they do in the case of Bradley Manning.  He exposed U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan so naturally that makes him a criminal.  Julian Assange exposed more of the military corruption and he too became a criminal.  You see it again now with Edward Snowden who has exposed the egregious violations of the Fourth Amendment so now they hunt him.  That may not be a huge concern as if they're as ineffectual in looking for him as they were with bin Laden then he will be going into middle age before that even matters.  Nevertheless, the pattern of behavior by the U.S. government has been consistently illegal over a long period of time.

People sit back, fat, dumb, and happy on Facebook and think, screw it, I'm a good citizen so why should I bother with any of this.  What they don't consider is the much bigger problem of what happens when the government has broken the backs of all who are strong enough to resist.  It won't then be a matter of being a good citizen but rather whether you are a good enough citizen.  First the government said it was looking for terrorists but now it's become a matter of trapping anyone who speaks against their policies and does something about it.  This won't stop unless the people rise up and demand it.

In Germany first they came for the Jews, then they came for the Gypsies, then they came for the homosexuals, next for anyone with a physical disability.  They didn't stop and neither will the current regimes of the police states and the U.S. and the U.K. have moved very strongly into that category with their deeply-invasive attacks on personal privacy.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

So, How Does This Ride to London Work

The general plan, finances permitting, is to camp someplace hopefully secure overnight.  That will cost about fifteen euros each night as Euro camping is a whole lot more luxy than American places.  They are often right on the beach or have huge swimming pools or both.  Many have lots of other facilities as well.  I'm sure there are more economical ones but I haven't found one yet.

Campers always get up early and I do anyway so I'm anticipating the morning is drive time.  There are multiple reasons for that as it's cooler in the morning and therefore easier on me and easier on the scooter.  Riding in the height of the heat in the afternoon is a Very Bad Idea as I'm about as white as a Scotsman can get.  I will tan up in time but not enough to withstand full-out Mediterranean sun for prolonged periods.  After growing up in Australia I've got quite a bit of history with skin cancers and that's no big deal so long as you nick them off.  Basal cell carcinoma is not malignant and is only an annoyance but that doesn't mean it's ok to deliberately risk the worse kinds.

The afternoon is Cat time as that's when we can talk, I can upload pics and my deathless prose to the blog, and tell the story of the adventure.  From what I've seen of Internet cafes, you can hang out indefinitely so long as you buy a Coke or whatever.

Following that I will go off to find a campsite and hopefully one that offers Internet.  If it does have WiFi then I can attend shows at Cat's Art MusikCircus and possibly even perform.  I don't use any speakers or amplifiers so I make very little noise in a gig.  Maybe it's even possible to do a live remote from a cafe or some such along the way but the idea of busking is probably just a wee bit fanciful.  However, I won't rule it out as anything is possible so long as you let yourself dream it.

I do not have a GPS and I don't have any way to print a map so I will write as many notes as I can on how to get to Catania (Mount Etna) and subsequently north through Italy and France to get to England. That route bypasses the serious heights of the Alps and substantially reduces the threat of rain.

It's necessary to establish residence in England to qualify for National Health Service and it looks improbable to find a flat in London for anything affordable.  However, the hope is of finding someplace outside the city for a more reasonable rent.  London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and I really don't like living in the city anyway.  It will be very strange when people think I'm an American but I believe then I'll throw some German at them:  Möchten Sie mein krautrock hören?  (lache)  Ich bin ein Muttdog!

I'm going slow on launching as I'm full-out homeless once I roll out of here so jumping prematurely is a Very Bad Idea.  While James Corachea does quite a good song in "Leap Before You Look," this probably isn't the best time to practice that!

It's looking like Wednesday at the earliest but that's cool as I will get to catch some more shows at the Circus and possibly even play some more.

On with the adventure!

Racism is Supporting Obama Even When He is Wrong

Obama is charming ... but so was Reagan.  There is more charisma in both of these guys than a Hollywood cocktail party but that doesn't make it alright to use that charisma to turn the Fourth Amendment into toilet paper.  Reagan was instrumental in destroying protection against illegal search and seizure and undermining Miranda Rights and Obama has even surpassed Bush in finishing the job.

Obama has vigorously defended the NSA which either constitutes disingenuous political pandering or ignorance of what the organisation does.  He has also supported the NDAA which permits indefinite detention of anyone, anywhere; he has not done anything to reverse the Patriot Act; he has also supported FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) which is breaking international law every way it possibly can.  There is more but these examples are more than enough to demonstrate his willingness to subvert freedom under the pretense of protecting it.

However, this is not about personalities, neither of the politicians who implemented these egregiously-offensive laws nor of Edward Snowden who blew the whistle on what they are doing.  The much larger problem is selling out the Constitution faster than a pimp sells a hooker on a street corner while the American people do virtually nothing about it.

The Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Obama and the NSA claim they are only monitoring telephone call numbers as in the source number and the destination number, as Obama said it's just a modest collection of data.  However, the Utah Data Center of the NSA is designed for storage of massive amounts of data and that's hardly necessary if you're storing even less information than Amazon needs to sell books.

Edward Snowden is not the first whistleblower regarding NSA deceptions as William Birney did it previously and he had worked with the intelligence community for thirty years.  Calling either he or Snowden a spy is disingenuous political crap intended for the sole purpose of masking the indefensible transgressions of the U.S. government.

Supporting Edward Snowden is supporting freedom from governmental invasion, something the U.S. claims it is trying to prevent but obviously is not doing it.  Edward Snowden has left Hong Kong for Moscow on an Aeroflot flight but that is just a transition point to wherever he is going, presumably Iceland.  (The Guardian:  Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong for Moscow: live updates)

Good luck, kid!  Fly free!

Silas Scarborough Lights it Up at Cat's Art MusikCircus

A beautifully-verdant English countryside is really not complete until it has loud music and gratuitous stage lights and lasers.

I had been thinking of doing a show last night because it will be some while before I can do another one after I tear down my stuff and roll out of here.  I didn't think there was much chance Cat could be there but I figured I would record it and then she would be able to hear it later.  Sometime after I had committed to do it I was feeling pretty lousy as it was late but still damn hot and I was feeling quite drained from it.  But ... by then I knew Cat would be there so this show was definitely going to happen.

And that's when the magic of music kicks into effect as it's impossible feel bad when you play.  Cat was the only one there but I've told her many times that it's so important not to worry about the people who are not there and instead to play for those who are.  So long as Cat is there I will be quite happy playing for an audience of one any old time.

After a while, Sister Julie came too so I can look at the show as only having two people ... or I can look at it as her arrival doubling the size of the audience!

Note:  the size of the audience had nothing to do with any failure in the MusikCircus or the way Cat runs it as I had told her specifically I didn't want her to have to work in the show, just kick back and enjoy the vibe ... so that's what we did!

The first few tunes were obviously for Cat and I knew she would know it even without saying anything.  She likes it when I blow stuff up but she also likes it when I don't so it's always about what the moment tells us it needs.

That went into "Ice Cream Blues" for Sister Julie and it's not just a give-away as time does melt like an ice cream.  The song isn't about lamenting that ice cream melts but rather the thought that it would be pretty good to enjoy that ice cream before it melts!  It's just a simple twelve-bar tune but I don't see anything complicated in eating ice cream as there's no logical reason for doing it other than it being a simple pleasure.

And that was enough soft stuff so onward to "The Necromancer" and to get some explosions happening.

So the show went on for an hour and a half and just like eating ice cream it was a very simple pleasure ... it just takes forty years to learn how to do it!

I couldn't take any pictures of Cat during the show so here's one of her from just after finishing.

It's remarkable how if you're really good at it that an avatar can capture who you really are and she does.  What's more the outfit is one she made herself rather than buying it in a store.  Quite an amazing lady!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Get Yer Voodoo at Cat's Art MusikCircus

Joaquin played the first show for Healing Friday but it looked like he might be the one needing healing if he fell off the ball on which he was rolling around the stage!

Nice outfit, Joaquin!

Joaquin Gustav went straight into some Latin songs and the gentle grace with which he plays is a big part of why his set has come to be known as Healing Friday.  Unfortunately, it couldn't do much to change the weather and storms kept Cat offline.  This is when the Guardian Clown stuff kicks into effect and I was most pleased to see that it worked as attendance was quite good.

Healing Friday is also Tango Time as healing doesn't mean sadness in any kind of way.  There's a lovely spirit Joaquin brings to his shows and that's what does the healing.  That spirit shows through extraordinary speed while he plays but it's also very delicate and gentle.

What set the show apart from Joaquin's others last night was he started singing about halfway through and did it quite a bit.  He said at the time that he loves singing and you can feel it.  Singing isn't something he does all the time but when the vibe is right he goes with it.  I think he had played a show before the one at Cat's Art MusikCircus and I know he had one after but there wasn't any trace of getting frantic about that in his singing.  As with his play, it is very gentle and brings great peace.

Joaquin was saddened that Cat couldn't be there but still he did "Sunshine of My Life" which he often dedicates to Cat and I.  Even with Cat unable to be in the MusikCircus, he still played to her spirit.  It's all part of the MusikCircus magic!

Voodoo Shilton came up to the stage after Joaquin to play his regular weekly set but there's nothing about what Voodoo does that one would call regular.  I mean that as a high compliment as regular may work for cows or dietary fibre but it doesn't do anything good for music!  (By the way, you don't need more fibre in your diet, you need less meat!)

Check out that hair, huh!  So, yah, lose the thought of being regular!

Voodoo went straight into some looper work and what he is doing there is coming to characterise the new-do Voodoo!  He is using as many instruments as he can find, singing as much as he can, and pushing his music out as far as it can go.  Even though he is a wizard guitarist and can play some incredibly complex stuff, I had been getting tired of it.  However, from the richness of the sound palette he employs and his willingness to experiment there is a liveness that wasn't there before and it's very, very good.

As to Voodoo's sound palette, he fired the peanut butter jar and is now using a goblet.  That may sound trivial but it's not at all when you consider every note in the song has as much value as any other, regardless of the source of it.  This is very much the philosophy of John Cage and it may seem grandiose that every sound is sacred but think of it, if you will.

Voodoo is also bringing a mandolin along with the guitar plus a bass, the goblet, an udu, and perhaps most dramatic of all his singing.  For some while I hadn't been all that conscious of his singing but this new Voodoo is bringing it right up-front and he is using his voice very much as an instrument rather than as a background harmony to augment his guitar playing.

A song that shows beautifully his singing is "Summertime" and of course the song has been covered a billion times but not the way Voodoo does it.  He adds a unique rhythm to it and also accompanies it with his udu which adds a quite other-worldly sound.  Most of all, he sings it in his own style and it will very much carry you away to the summer time and make it even richer if you are already there.

Voodoo has been calling me brother and I like that a lot as to me that's a sign of mutual respect between musicians.  It's the same reason that writing about him and the performances by him and others at the MusikCircus is not a job to me but rather it's sharing in the brotherhood.  It's not because I don't like writing about my own music which I obviously don't but rather it's something I can give to music more than swinging my axe.  Thank you, brother Voodoo!

Fortunately the storm in Germany blew over before Voodoo had played for too long so Cat got to hear most of Voodoo's set and everything was quite wonderful as I was feeling pretty good in my Guardian Clown stuff because there were lots of people there enjoying the show.  Everyone was very happy with the vibe and Cat's arrival made it perfect not just for me but for everyone there.

And of course we danced!

So there is one very beautiful lady with one very happy Guardian Clown and Voodoo playing on the stage behind us.

Everything That's Wrong with Religion in One Video (Russell Brand)

Here's about ten minutes of everything that's wrong with American Christianity and it comes from Russell Brand in an interview with two members of the Westboro Baptist Church:

Of course these publicity-starved and massively-deficient mutations of monkey flesh revel in the attention but Russell Brand handles it with good humor that I admire as I believe very much that fighting them only gives them what they want whereas ridiculing them shows them for what they are.

The focus of the discussion is homosexuality but that really isn't why I consider it significant as it's a safe bet they hate a great many things.  Anyone who can heckle a mother while she buries her kid is the same type of person Hitler could have easily manipulated to start killing people or gleefully support such killing.  All the while they speak of their great love.

This type of thinking is rampant in America and you can see that in how little people do to deal with what Westboro Baptist Church does.  It's commendable that various silent protests have taken place to prevent them from disrupting funerals but that's really not such a big effort when you consider the population of the United States is about three hundred million and the Westboro Baptists couldn't possibly number more than about a thousand.

What got me on this subject is that Monday is the Greek version of the Pentecost and it's a much bigger deal here than I have seen in America.  Cat was amused when I said it was the Greek version but Greek Orthodox has its view of things and there's a Catholic version with another.  The difference, it appears to me is that Christianity has not been marginalised by the creation of a blue million competing and conflicting versions as it has in America.  Greek Orthodox is the faith of, I believe, about 98% of the Greek people.

What I observe here is the same profound faith I see in my brother and it has nothing to do with converting anyone but rather living what is taught in the Bible and not by hammering on a few isolated phrases that condemn homosexuality or whatever other agenda you like.   Instead, as with Brand, the belief is in the greater message of love.  Note that Lotho is Baptist so what the Westboro Baptist Church is doing is not symptomatic of that faith.

There's a great deal one could learn from Greece ... or my brother ... but America continues to regard itself as the teacher.

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Scooter Blooter

The verdict from Babis is the problem is not electrical but rather mechanical and he doesn't have an explanation for why it would stop working and then miraculously start again.  I went out to try again to start it at least three times when it happened and the scooter was quite determined not to start.  But then it did and hasn't screwed-up since.  So I will hold off for a few days on leaving to see if it happens again.

Harry is trying to find the cost for getting insurance that will be valid outside of Greece.  I'm not convinced it would have any value in recovering anything but cops will be quite annoyed if I don't have it.  Scooter insurance is not expensive but every euro counts for rolling out so we shall see.  Monday is the Greek Pentecost so there won't be word on that until Tuesday.

Sorry about the delays but this stuff is mandatory.

Babis, the Scooter Doctor, doesn't only fix scooters as there are all kinds of bikes at the shop and he has quite an array of racing parts, all the way up to full-out racing engine replacements.

That's Babis in the background.  In the foreground is a bike that isn't even close to street-legal.  How he got it registered is anybody's guess.  You can see the license plate tucked way underneath there.  There's a tachometer up-front but that's all and no mirrors either.  The tires are as close to racing slicks as you can get which means they're very soft rubber and have to be replaced often at four hundred euros.  I have no idea what kind of bike it is but I do know it has one gorgeous exhaust note.

It has Soho on the side of it but who knows what that means.  It has one ferocious motor in it as it's definitely not a 250 pretending to be one of the big kids.  It has some serious muscle.  So, of course he brings it to Babis.

Laralette's Lane's Laugh Lights Up the MusikCircus

Laralette Lane has a very sweet laugh and you will hear it a lot in her shows.  The laugh also comes with a lovely singing voice so her shows are always a pleasure.

Ordinarily I will zoom in for the Hollywood close-up but Cat made a beautiful stage that suited Laralette perfectly and here you see it.

Her name is Laralette but everyone calls her Lara and she was quite concerned before she started that a cold she had developed would prevent her from playing the whole show.  She just got back from the Second Life London Jam where she had been performing so I suppose she must have caught the cold over there.  Watch out for the fish and chips!

You would never have guessed Lara had a cold once she started singing.  She has a beautiful voice and that combined with her cheerful attitude creates a lovely presence that was drawing more and more people as her show went along.  Mostly she sings cover songs in her performance and that usually won't go well at Cat's Art MusikCircus but Lara adds her own touch to them that makes them special.  There's no predicting which ones she will choose as some are English, some Dutch, and some German.

You can learn much more about Lara in her Artist Profile at the Cat's Art MusikCircus Web site than you can from me writing about her and it includes videos of her on YouTube.

And Cat and I danced ... until she got taken out by an electrical storm

I played after Lara and I don't have anything more to say about it that I didn't write already (Griefers, Goobers and Grape Nuts) but I have uploaded some more tunes from the set.  You can hear them now on the Ride the Dragon podcast.

Direct links:

"I Love Rats" - This was the second tune and I was still annoyed.

"Bombs Away" - This was after the set had been rolling for a while.