Monthly Archives: May 2005

Possible Name Change

Shuggie seems to be teething, as is reasonable at his age. He’s nipping and chewing at everything. In fact Mairi had the idea that we should rename him Chompsky. To which I replied that if we caught him chewing something he shouldn’t, we could shout, “No(am), Chompsky!”


Minidisc Sales Pitch

Just found this old email from a friend. Back in 2001, I was wondering whether I should buy a minidisc recorder, and so I asked him what the deal with them was. His reply clinched it. Here it is in it’s full glory…

Subject: What is this, twen’y questions?


Matthew, Matthew, Matthew, what am I going to do with you…

Ahem, MiniDisc (MD) is non-linear as opposed to say, an audio CD burner which doesn’t allow you to make a ‘track sandwich’….

As you can see I’m not much good at technical jargon. So, basically here are the pros and cons:


  • You can record from CD digitally or in analog. In Dig it will record track marks identically to the CD.
  • You can delete/move a track mark without effecting the actual tracks.
  • You can delete any track, the other tracks automatically shuffle together. Eg. If you delete all the recorded tracks but the last one, it then becomes the first one.
  • You can change the order of the tracks, even portions of the track, I’m a bit of a doyen in this department. If you get a machine I’ll do you a disk that’ll make you shit stools.
  • Each time you press record it creates a new track. Usually you would precede this by pressing ‘end search’, to avoid erasing over previously recorded tracks.
  • In/Outs may vary machine to machine. My portable recorder has Anal/Dig IN, Mic IN, Line OUT and phones OUT.

I’ve got three MiniDisc machines. One hifi component, one portable recorder/player and one portable play only. If you intend to just buy one, it’s got to be a portable recorder/player. It can be used with your hifi to Dig/Anal record your CD’s, you can edit/delete to your requirements and you can strut your funky stuff at the roller disco. Plus if you’re mic’d up you can take dictation, some are Voice Actuated.


  • Recording is in Real Time, with the exception of a 2:1 I saw once. But that was part of one of those hideous microCD systems. I’m a seperates-man…
  • Serial Copy Managment…If you record in Dig, the chances are you won’t be able to re-record this for a third party. You have to record Anal if want to bootleg.
  • MD is a compressed format, which means that you do lose some information/fidelity. The compression system used sacrifices extreme top/bottom freqs that, in theory, are not detectable to the naked ear. However, audiophiles argue that it diminishes the ‘presence’ of the music. In my personal experience a first generation copy is rich in bass and treble and is sonically no different to the original. Second and third generation is a different story (I’ll tell you sometime). To be honest the soundstage depends on a number of factors: your amp, your speakers and your speaker cable.

Because of the above point I wouldn’t for example use MD to archive your collection of rare Django Rhienhardt 78’s. No, for that I’d use DAT, a more expensive format, but still considered more or less industry standard. That’s what I do with my early Frogs singles and Ray Barretto collection.

To sum up, if want a format to provide a soundtrack to a tube ride or sereptitiously record your group therapy sessions, MD is currently the primo format, bar none.

Sorry this is so vague, I’m useless.

He obviously has Sony stock.

Update: As a result of this, I bought, and still have somewhere, a Sony MZR700 which served me well until Mp3’s took me over.

My Gadgets

No real reason for this post, other than the fact that I have these objects lined up on my desk at the moment, so I thought I’d describe them.

Palm Tungsten E PDA

More details here. I love this thing. It’s slim, powerful enough for me, and does lots of things in a small package.

Nokia 6810 Mobile Telephone

Provided by my work, so I didn’t get a choice of model. This thing has a fold-out QWERTY keyboard, so I don’t have to bother with the predictive text thing. It does make it a bit chunky though. I have got it set up with GPRS, so I can read this website! Remember to use the mobile version, with no graphics, and simpler layout [edit – no longer available].¬†Good battery life, and a loudspeaker for hands-free calls (untried as yet), and an FM radio for listening to Radio 4 (are there other stations?). One major gripe – the headphones use this wire coated in a nasty feeling plastic, kind of sticky, which makes them very hard to untangle after they’ve been buried in your bag. Sometimes I get on the train, and by the time I’ve extracted the headphones from their ‘kabelsalat‘, I’ve arrived at my destination.

Sony MZ-R700 Recording Minidisc Walkman

Ah, this thing. Got it in 2001, after a friend gave me a detailed explanation of how it all works. It’s been great. I make MP3 compilations by setting up a playlist in Winamp, with the Pause Between Songs plugin running to ensure track marks get inserted, then record in MDLP mode to fit over 3 hours of music onto one disc. I spent ¬£150 on it 4 years ago, and see no reason to spend the same amount on an MP3 player now. OK, the convenience, the cool factor, yadda yadda. By some clever hackery (not my clever, I just followed the instructions), my MZ-R700 thinks it is an MZ-R900, with added features! w00t!

Well that concludes the gadget roundup for today. Fascinating.

Act II Redux

After yesterdays horrors, last night was a bit of an improvement. A bit of thrashing through the lines with the wonderful Katy, and I was able to get through the first big speech of the Act. That’s a tough one, because as well as talking, I have to move around, and do other stuff as well (wait and see). But the second one was a bit of a struggle. I needed lots of help from the Incredible Knitting Prompt, and all in all it was a bit painful. More than it would be normally, that is (wait and see). But a few thrashes through of the lines should set me right.

It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine! (said in high-pitched voice, with eyes wide and a sweaty forehead, trembling)

Character Development

An extra rehearsal last night, and what a doozy it was. Act II, from the top. It went swimmingly(ish) until the fateful bit when I have to perform some intricate moves using both hands, which coincides with the long speech that I don’t know yet. Yes, I know, only a few days left.

I just need to buckle down and stand in front of the bathroom mirror and practise. Or I could do my other line-learning trick of sitting on the train with a filched notepad, and scribbling down the lines, then checking to see if I got them right, then repeating until Paddington. Either way, I need to damn well do it. Mmm.

I was pretty upset by it, and embarassed, and the worst thing is the fact that it throws everyone else, especially when I have a large chunk of lines, and I keep having to stop, or missing their cue lines out. Of course, co-actor Jeff was very supportive, saying, “You’ll be fine, you know you know the lines, the loud music downstairs isn’t helping, having half the cast missing isn’t either, don’t worry.” Thanks Jeff.

But after that effort, it was good to be able to get into some micro-direction for the scenes between Sade, Marat and Evrard. Anger, digust, withering scorn. And that’s just the director! Ah aha ha ha. Apparently there are 3 de Sades, because of the way the play is structured. A play within a play, a wheel within a wheel like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.

So, the plan. We run through Act II twice tonight, so I’ll get some line runs in before that. Hopefully it should go a lot smoother.

Nothing worse than a fumbling Marquis.

Bipolar Rehearsal

Ah, the pleasure and the pain. Or, in the case of last nights rehearsal, the other way round. We’re at the point where we really should be zipping through full runthroughs. Instead, we limped our way through the first Act, with the slightly hysterical energy of the terminally afraid.

I was one of the worst culprits. I know the lines. But still, there I was, shattering the pace, causing hiccups and making everyone retrace a scene while I bumbled around, muttering, “Sorry” and looking sheepish. More work needed there, methinks.

So, after the tea break (during which we realised we don’t have anyone operating the lights – can you help?) we went at Act I again. And lo and behold, we tripped through it fantastically. OK, some v v minor glitches, but it was a vast improvement, and we were able to head off into the cold May London rain with smiles on our faces.

So all we need to do is rehearse, it would appear. It seems to have a positive effect.

1 week to go!

Doesn’t It Hurt?

OK, I’ve been in two minds about saying this before the show, because I didn’t want to spoil any surprises, but then I thought you’re either coming to see the show, or you’re not, and if you’re not, I’d like to you come, and this may encourage you to fork out and turn up.

I get whipped on stage during the play.

For real. No shirt, no padding, no sound effects. OK, it’s a play whip, but it does actually hurt. Just not for long. And the red marks fade remarkably quickly.

To be honest, I’m more nervous about taking my top off (and the lines, don’t forget about the lines) because lets face it, while I am a fantastic specimen, what I am a fantastic specimen of is your basic slightly doughy thirtysomething WASP.

But at the end of the day, you only live once, it doesn’t hurt much, and I’d probably regret not just doing it.

So what are you waiting for? Get along to the Carlton site, pick your date, phone and book tickets and come and see me get what you probably think I deserve. Apart from everything else, it’s a great play, with a great cast, and some great singing. And a bathtub. Oh, and I GET WHIPPED LIVE ON STAGE BY TWO ATTRACTIVE YOUNG LADIES. Mustn’t forget that.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was ‘suffering for my art’, but padding and sound effects would dilute the theatrical experience somewhat. And I wouldn’t get so much attention.

The Renmuircam

Sometimes the street, sometimes the dog, sometimes nothing.

Thanks to Fwink – the open source webcam software

Note: no longer functional.

We Have A Script

Worth announcing, because as we’ve only got two-and-a-bit weeks to go, having a full script is kind of useful. I have to say though, it’s a doozy. Like I said before, I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but on the other hand, I really want to, if you know what I mean.

Put it this way, the props list just got a lot longer, and more interesting…

Look, just buy tickets and come and see it, and bring tissues with you. K? K.

Pain Threshold

When rehearsing a play, and trying to learn your lines, there is a pain barrier that must be broken through before you can really feel free on the stage. That is when you put the script down for the first time. You think you know your lines, (or you don’t, but you’re supposed to) so you go ‘off book’.

And you stand there, squirming, unable at a very base level to remember what hell you’re supposed to say (“Of course, Monsieur” as it turned out).

But eventually, you struggle through, with help from co-starsactors and The Incredible Knitting Prompt. You have managed to burst through the pain barrier, and now you can concentrate on where you are supposed to be, and not fidgeting.

But in this play, it would appear there is another pain barrier/threshold. I don’t want to say too much here, for fear of spoiling the plot, but suffice to say things are done to me on stage which some people I know think should have been done to me a long time ago. Mmmm, I’ll let that sink in.

In other news, the poster is now done, so pop along to The Carlton Website for ticket details and the Official Play Page for the poster. Get booking, get buying, get spending! Witness the depravity! Cheer the perpetrators! See him get his just desserts!