|Thursday, April 27th, 2006|
8:54 am - In Brief
Laurence had a fabulous time in New York.|
She brought back mountains of great records.
DJ-ing tomorrow at Workers Paradise.
Dave and Sibyl are going to come.
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|Sunday, April 23rd, 2006|
6:11 pm - Cocoa
The historical background of cacao is quite complex. Although the cacao plant (Theobroma cacao) is indigenous to the forest valleys of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers in Eastern Venezuela, it has been known in Mexico and Central America for several thousands of years. The Aztec and Mayan civilizations of Mexico believed that the cacao plant was of divine origin, and they greatly valued the product. The cacao beans were used to make a beverage known as cacahuatl. Only available to the highest of Aztec society, cacahuatl was made from ground cacao beans and maize, and flavored with vanilla, capsicum and other spices. This drink was a favorite of Montezuma, who consumed more than 50 golden goblets filled with cacahuatl daily. Moreover, cacao beans were used as a form of currency, the value of which was determined by their size. Four beans could buy a turkey, while around 100 beans could purchase a slave. Peter the Martyr described the cacao beans as "blessed money which prevents the owner from greed, since they cannot be stored or hidden in the earth (Nielsen 1995)." Thus, the cacao bean had a unique role as a divine delicacy and monetary unit. |
Cacao had been cultivated by the Aztecs for hundreds of years before the conquest of Cortes in 1519. The Aztecs believed that the cacao plant was brought down from the heavens by Quetzalcoatl, god of the air. This belief was the source of cacao's divine presence in Aztec society; however, it was also the cause of the downfall of Aztec society. Because Cortes somewhat resembled their image of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztecs, hoping that their most beloved god had returned, accepted the Spaniards. This enabled the Spanish Army to easily conquer the Aztec empire. In 1528, Cortes returned to Europe with cacao beans and the knowledge of their use. Though the Spaniards kept the Mexican recipe secret for a while, it eventually spread throughout Europe with great popularity. Up to this point in time, cacao beans were prepared in a beverage (cacao liquor), similar to the way the Aztecs made it, but with added sugar. In the 1800's, however, cacao powder was separated from the cacao butter, milk was added, and chocolate as we know it today was first developed.
Today, cacao is cultivated in many other tropical parts of the world, including West Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The chocolate industry flourishes, as people all over the world enjoy the distinct flavor of chocolate. The consumption of chocolate candy per capita in the U.S. alone is 4.6 kg/year, which is small when compared to the 9.9 kg/year per capita chocolate consumption of Switzerland (Rössner 1997). There is obviously a large demand for chocolate throughout the world; however, the implications of chocolate consumption are scarcely understood. Chocolate is the most commonly craved substance in the United States (Weingarten and Elston 1991), but the foundations behind chocolate craving, or chocolate addiction, are only speculative. Whether the craving can be attributed to the pharmacological effect of compounds within chocolate, or whether it is due to sensory perceptions is unclear.
Though sensory properties of the nervous system are likely to be necessary, the relation of chocolate craving to certain drug induced psychoses indicates that the pharmacological effect of active substances in chocolate may also be involved (Di Tomaso et al. 1996). Schifano and Magni display this relation in the experiences of seven subjects who had a history of MDMA ("ecstasy") abuse. The seven subjects consisted of six males and one female, and all of them described the same association. After having quit MDMA, a chocolate craving developed that promoted an intake of up to 2000 calories of chocolate per episode--sometimes they were binges, and sometimes they were not. One episode of chocolate craving per week was the average, and was usually preceded by a weight loss of up to 14 kg (Schifano and Magni 1994). Attributing the changes in appetite to decreased central 5-hydroxytryptamin functioning, the authors also speculate that chocolate may be useful in combatting the effects of MDMA withdrawal because it contains amphetamine-like phenethylamines as well as caffeine and theobromine. These interesting observations shed light on the pharmacological aspect of substituents within chocolate. Thus, an organized approach to coordinate the pharmacological effects of different chemical constituents within chocolate is necessary to fully understand the implications of chocolate consumption.
The conclusions proposed by Schifano and Magni are primarily concerned with the pharmacological effects of the methylxanthines within chocolate, namely, theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine comprises approximately 0.60f the final chocolate product, while caffeine accounts for about 0.1% (Nielsen 1995). Although these percentages seem very small, they reflect a significantly higher caffeine concentration than one cup of tea (0.02%) or one cup of cola (0.018%) (Presti 1999). These methylxanthine compounds act on the central nervous system to produce a stimulant effect. The dose dependent physiological implications of their actions are increased blood pressure, dilated bronchial passages, and diuresis. The mechanism by which these effects are achieved is thought to result from the interaction of methylxanthines with the adenosine receptor. Specifically, theobromine and caffeine act as competetive antagonists at the adenosine receptor, thereby producing a stimulant effect by limiting the inhibitory consequence of adenosine binding.
The physiological stimulus provided by methylxanthines in chocolate could have many implications. Along with the treatment of MDMA withdrawal, this effect could be beneficial in providing a greater general understanding of non-drug cravings. Though non-drug chocolate cravings are most likely involved with the same pleasure and reward pathways that psychoactive drug cravings manipulate, it is unclear exactly how these non-drug cravings manifest and consequently affect behavior. Moreover, it is not clear how the effect of methylxanthines actually influences non-drug cravings--or even if methylxanthines play a role in this respect. In any case, the idea that chocolate cravings may be related to the pharmacological effects of these compounds must be examined further. Also, the role of other pharmacological constituents in chocolate must be considered.
A rather novel approach at attempting to associate chocolate craving with compounds in chocolate was conducted by Di Tomaso, Beltramo, and Piomelli (1996). They considered that since chocolate is rich in fat, it might contain lipids that are chemically and pharmacologically related to anandamide. Actually, they found three compounds that eluted from the gas chromatography at the same retention times as anandamide, N-oleoylethanolamine, and N-linoleoylethanolamine. These compounds also displayed electron-impact mass spectra representative of these N-acylethanolamines. In the samples tested, the total concentration of N-acylethanolamines ranged from 0.5 to 90 mg/ g, and each particular compound was present in a certain order of concentration--N-oleoylethanolamine > N-linoleoylethanolamine > anandamide (Di Tomaso et al. 1996). Anandamide alone was present at concentrations varying from 0.05 to 57mg/ g of chocolate. The authors also found that there were no unsaturated N-acylethanolamines in brewed espresso coffee or white chocolate, which is used as a control in behavioral studies.
Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine) was determined by Devane et al. (1992) to be the endogenous ligand for the cannabinoid receptor. It's name is derived from the Sanskrit term "ananda," meaning bliss, since the this compound produces Cannabis-like activity. Anandamide binds to the cannabinoid receptor with high affinity, mimicking the psychoactive effects of plant-derived cannabinoid drugs, but is less potent and has a shorter duration of action than D9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Also, there is evidence that it may be considered an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter, since it is released from neurons and is rapidy metabolized by selective enzyme activity. In any case, anandamide in chocolate may reveal the meaning behind chocolate craving, and possibly provide a link between non-drug craving and the endogenous cannabinoid system.
In order to understand the relationship at hand, the underlying mechanisms of anandamide functioning must be considered. Anandamide was found to "specifically bind to membranes from cells transiently (African green monkey kidney- COS) or stably (Chinese hamster ovary) transfected with an expression plasmid carrying the cannabinoid receptor DNA, but not to membranes from control non-transfected cells (Mechoulam et al. 1996)." Further effects support anandamide's similarity to the D9-tetrahydrocannabinol. For example, anandamide inhibits forskolin-stimulated adenylyl cyclase in cells that were transfected with or that normally expressed cannabinoid receptors, but did not have the same effect in control cells. Also, it activates the hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal axis, increasing the serum levels of ACTH and corticosterone in a dose-dependent manner. Anandamide binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, however, produces different functions through each. When bound to CB2 receptors, anandamide is inactive, and actually has an antagonistic effect at the receptor, blocking the action of palmitoyl ethanolamide. On the contrary, anandamide has been shown to cause apoptosis and inhibit the proliferation of b lymphocytes in cells containing the CB1 receptor (Mechoulam et al. 1996).
The exact physiological role of anandamide and the cannabinoid receptors is not yet known, but certain conclusions can be made. The conclusions are based on the anatomical distribution of the cannabinoid receptors, the specific activity of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and the activity of the endogenous cannabinoid ligands. Via the cannabinoid receptors in the cerebellum and in the basal ganglia, anandamide and other Cannabis agonists are thought to act on the coordination of movement and time perception. Moreover, high density binding to receptors in the hippocampus suggest an effect on memory, and receptor binding in the cerebral cortex affects perception and reasoning. All of these results are well documented effects of marijuana intoxication; however, the complicated nature of the underlying biological processes ensures that there is still more that we do not know. Nevertheless, anandamide could contribute to the understanding of these mechanisms in the future, and could consequently reveal a link to non-drug cravings, such as chocolate craving.
However, the link between non-drug craving and the endogenous cannabinoid system of the brain is not only dependent on the anandamide in chocolate. The other two N-acylethanolamines that were discovered in chocolate also play a role in the pharmacological impact of chocolate. Although their exact biological actions are yet to be defined, N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine seem to participate in regulating the level of endogenous anandamide. These compounds do not directly activate brain cannibinoid receptors; rather, they were found to inhibit anandamide amidohydrolase activity. The degradation of anandamide by neurons is catalyzed by anandamide amidohydrolase, which hydrolyzes the amide bond to form arachidonic acid and ethanolamine. The inhibitory effect of N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine on this enzyme results in increased levels of anandamide. This effect was demonstrated in rat microsomes and intact cells. For instance, rat cortical astrocytes, which normally hydrolyze exogenous anandamide in culture, were significantly affected by N-linoleoylethanolamine. In the presence of this substance, the degradation of anandamide was strongly reduced, and there was a corresponding increase in the amount of residual anandamide (Di Tomaso et al. 1996).
Therefore, the anandamide, N-oleoylethanolamine, and N-linoleoylethanolamine in chocolate could possibly have a synergistic effect on increasing the levels of anandamide in the brain after chocolate consumption, producing a slight cannabimimetic effect within the central nervous system. This provides support for the association between chocolate craving and the pharmacological effects of substances in chocolate. The link between non-drug, or chocolate craving, with the endogenous cannabinoid system of the brain seems to exist, but the question remains as to how activation of this system actually influences the subjective feelings associated with chocolate consumption. Because cannabinoids are known to raise sensitivity and produce a euphoric state, it is possible that elevated brain anandamide levels could induce a similar effect, intensifying the sensory properties of chocolate that are assumed to be essential to craving. However, elevated brain anandamide levels could also cooperate with the effects of other pharmacologically active components of chocolate, such as theobromine or caffeine, to produce a certain temporary psychological state, or feeling of pleasure, that is able to fulfill the craving for chocolate (Di Tomaso et al. 1996). Similar to the connection between the pharmacological effects of theobromine and caffeine to chocolate cravings, a further examination of the pharmacological effects of N-acylethanolamines in chocolate must be carried out.
Although some research does indicate a link between the endogenous cannabinoid system and chocolate craving, there is yet another perspective. Di Marzo et al. (1998) state that they "believe that the content of endocannabinoids in foods, and in cocoa in particular, is not sufficient to produce cannabis-like effects in mammals." They believe that besides chocolate, endocannabinoids can be found in other foods. They found N-acylethanolamines in human milk at varying concentrations (0.003 to 0.024 mg/ml) along with 2-arachidonoylglycerol at relatively high concentrations (0.33±0.11 mg/ml) (Di Marzo et al. 1998). They also noted that the content of N-acylethanolamides in chocolate is similar to that found in other plant-derived foods, such as soybean, hazelnuts, and oatmeal. These foods contained 2.3 mg/g oleamide, 1.1 mg/g N-oleoylethanolamide, and 2.8 mg/g N-linoleoylethanolamide. According to the authors, these concentrations, and the concentrations present in chocolate are not enough to induce cannabimimetic effects.
In order to determine the extent to which these substituents reached the blood stream--and, hence, were able to produce pharmacological effects after being consumed orally--anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol were assayed after oral administration in a series of in vivo tests. Four of the five behavioral tests showed that both compounds were active, but only at higher concentrations than are readily available in foods. On the contrary, small doses of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol provided a significant effect in all five tests. Comparing the activity of these substances after oral administration to the activity when administered intraperitoneally suggests that only 1.6-50f the orally consumed substances enter the bloodstream and are able to produce a pharmacological effect (Di Marzo et al. 1998). The rest of the compounds are presumably degraded in the gastrointestinal tract by fatty acid amide hydrolases, or anandamide amidohydrolases. Because such small amounts traverse the intestinal epithelia, Di Marzo et al. (1998) conclude that it is unlikely that the amounts of anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol found in chocolate and other foods are sufficient to cause observable psychotropic effects.
However, a distinction must be made between observable effects and pharmacological effects that are clearly cannabimimetic by nature. Although certain effects may not be behaviorally conspicuos at all, there could be underlying consequences involving the reward pathways of the brain. Any effect, whether minute in nature or significant enough to observe on the behavioral level of expression, could affect the hedonic capacity of food intake, and chocolate consumption, in particular. The relation of chocolate craving, then, to the endogenous cannabinoid system in the brain seems quite inevitable. This link indeed reinforces the idea that the pharmacological impact of certain compounds within chocolate is associated with chocolate craving as well as sensory-specific factors.
Human food consumption is characterized by a multitude of factors including "physiological state, acquired and innate likes and dislikes, palatability, the availability of foods, economics and sociocultural influences (Hetherington and MacDiarmid 1995)." Because food intake is governed by so many different elements, the analysis of chocolate craving and consequent chocolate consumption is very difficult. Each dependent factor influences the hedonic judgements made by a person, and those judgements consequently affect the person's decision-making ability. This interrelation can also be described between the neurochemistry of the brain and the actions, thoughts, and feeling that comprise human behavior. Therefore, the connection between the pharmacological effect of components in chocolate and chocolate craving should be considered part of the equation. The cannabimimetic effects of N-acylethanolamines in chocolate, as well as the stimulant effects of the methylxanthines in chocolate, should then be studied more closely in order to elucidate their role in chocolate craving.
Indeed, the link between the pharmacological effects of the compounds within chocolate and chocolate craving must be further investigated, and the role of methylxanthines and N-acylethanolamines in this respect cannot be ruled out. Hence, the study of chocolate craving can further the understanding of general non-drug cravings as well. Since sensory perceptions and pharmacological properties seem to be interrelated and since both seem to play a role in chocolate craving, it is no wonder that the demand for chocolate and the pleasure received from eating it has been shared across centuries. Chocolate, the divine food of the gods, is definitely a unique entity, which remains, in the words of R. J. Huxtable, "more than a food but less than a drug (Huxtable 1994)."
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|Monday, April 17th, 2006|
8:31 am - Bad Melody Driver - A Morning Rifle Through The You Tube
"Viva Cantando" by Salome.
Eurovision song contest 1969.
The song's pretty much of a dog, but I find that fantastic set, and those backing singers something of a delight. The song announces itself by blasting into a Wigan-stomper "Here we go!!!" fanfare, then promptly collapses through the floorboards. It's a classic case of 'bad melody driver', as the hooks in the song pop up and disappear in the same breath. The chorus doesn't go with the verse. The intro doesn't go with either, so to add to the confusion let's whoop things up at the end by throwing in a load of gratuitous minor key changes.
"Insieme A Te Non Ci Sto Piu" by Caterina Caselli.
A bit mawkish. Once again, this has got that bad melody driver thing going on. You feel like you're going somewhere, and then all of a sudden - you're not going somewhere. I like the way she stands up in the audience to sing. For a moment or so I thought she was going to burst into the national anthem. The organ sound is nice. Caterina Caselli was very big in Italy in the 1960's. I've gone through a lot of sixties Italian pop stuff lately and it seems unlikely that I'm going to find anything that exists in the same sublime realms as Italian film and TV music from the same period: Alessandroni, Nicolai, Morricone, etc.
I'm quite disappointed there are no Gianni Morandi tracks on You Tube yet.
"Uno Dei Mods" by Ricky Shane.
This is quite a good one. I like the mods in it.
"Sing Sing Sing" by The Jacob Sisters.
The Jacob Sisters descend on Tehran sprinkling their jolly magic schlager-dust wherever they go.
This is a bit gay for me, but very funny. And quite dark.
A mad woman caught on the street in Toulouse. I really would like to help. Poor dear.
"Eloise" by Barry Ryan
“The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, 'Thus far and no farther.'” - Ludwig van Beethoven
I love this. One can only imagine how jealous Scott Walker must have been at the time.
"Unknown" by The Slits
This isn't "New Town". Don't know what it is. I'm assuming it's some of Don Letts' stuff.
Great drumming by Palmolive.
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|Sunday, April 16th, 2006|
10:41 am - Giulia's Easter Party
Laurence is in New York with Dougee and Brady. Last night she went to see Ladytron.|
I'm going to have a bath, then wander over to Wardour Street for Giulia's easter party.
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|Saturday, April 15th, 2006|
11:21 pm - Internet Thought.
Unless you can create a relatively clean feedback loop between your internet activity and your daily life - your efforts will have been wasted, and your work will sit in a vacuum.|
If you're unable to make that link: better to mow the lawn, or help an old lady across the road.
The division between internet media and established media is a trick, a scam.
It's a way of siphoning dissident voices away from mainstream media.
It's like giving all the troublemakers a big playroom where they can make all the noise they want, and not be heard.
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|Friday, April 14th, 2006|
2:04 pm - My Blog Is Worth $0.00
|Thursday, April 13th, 2006|
4:02 pm - Signs and Wonders
11:48 am - What Is Magnetism?
From Gurdjieff's Views from the Real World, Pages 90-93|
Question: How can we gain attention?
Answer: There is no attention in people. You must aim to acquire this. Self-observation is only possible after acquiring attention. Start on small things.
Question: What small things can we start on? What should we do?
Answer: Your nervous and restless movements make everyone know, consciously or unconsciously, that you have no authority and are a booby. With these restless movements you cannot be anything. The first thing for you to do is to stop these movements. Make this your aim, your God. Even get your family to help you. Only after this, you can perhaps gain attention. This is an example of doing.
Another example, an aspiring pianist can never learn except little by little. If you wish to play melodies without first practicing, you can never play real melodies. The melodies you will play will be cacophonous and will make people suffer and hate you. It is the same with psychological ideas: to gain anything, long practice is necessary.
Try to accomplish very small things first. If at first you aim at big things you will never be anything. And your manifestations will act like cacophonous melodies and cause people to hate you.
Question What must I do?
Answer: There are two kinds of doing - automatic doing, and doing according to aim. Take a small thing which you now are not able to do, and make this your aim, your God. Let nothing interfere. Only aim at this. Then, if you succeed in doing this, will be able to give you a greater task. Now you have an appetite to do things too big for you. This is an abnormal appetite. You can never do these things, and this appetite keeps you from doing the small things you might do. Destroy this appetites forget big things. Make the breaking of a small habit your aim.
Question: I think my worst fault is talking too much. Would trying not to talk so much be a good task?
Answer: For you this is a very good aim. You spoil everything with your talking. This talk even hinders your business. When you talk much, your words have no weight. Try to overcome this. Many blessings will flow to you if you succeed. Truly, this is a very good task. But it is a big thing, not small. I promise you, if you achieve this, even if I am not here, I will know about your achievement, and will send help so that you will know what to do next.
Question: Would a good task be to endure the manifestations of others?
Answer: To endure the manifestations of others is a big thing. The last thing for a man. Only a perfect man can do this. Start by making your aim or your God the ability to bear one manifestation of one person that you cannot now endure without nervousness. If you wish, you can. Without wishing, you never can. Wish is the most powerful thing in the world. With conscious wish everything comes.
Question: I frequently remember my aim but I have not the energy to do what I feel I should do.
Answer: Man has no energy to fulfill voluntary aims because all his strength, acquired at night during his passive state, is used up in negative manifestations. These are his automatic manifestations, the opposite of his positive, willed manifestations.
For those of you who are already able to remember your aim automatically, but have no strength to do it: Sit for a period of at least one hour alone. Make all your muscles relaxed. Allow your associations to proceed but do not be absorbed by them. Say to them: If you will let me do as I wish now, I shall later grant you your wishes. Look on your associations as though they belonged to someone else, to keep yourself from identifying with them.
At the end of an hour take a piece of paper and write your aim on it. Make this paper your God. Everything else is nothing. Take it out of your pocket and read it constantly, every day. In this way it becomes part of you, at first theoretically, later actually. To gain energy, practice this exercise of sitting still and making your muscles dead. Only when everything in you is quiet after an hour, make your decision about your aim. Don't let associations absorb you. To undertake a voluntary aim, and to achieve it, gives magnetism and the ability to 'do.'
Question: What is magnetism?
Answer: Man has two substances in him, the substance of active elements of the physical body, and the substance made up of the active elements of astral matter. These two form a third substance by mixing. This mixed substance gathers in certain parts of a man and also forms an atmosphere around him, hke the atmosphere surrounding a planet. Planetary atmospheres are continually gaining or losing substances because of other planets. Man is surrounded by other men, just as planets are surrounded by other planets. Within certain limits, when two atmospheres meet, and if the atmospheres are ìsympathetic,î a connection is made between them and lawful results occur. Something flows. The amount of atmosphere remains the same, but the quality changes. Man can control his atmosphere. It is like electricity, having positive and negative parts. One part can be increased and made to flow like a current. Everything has positive and negative electricity. In man, wishes and non-wishes may be positive and negative. Astral material always opposes physical material.
In ancient times priests were able to cure disease by blessing. Some priests had to lay their hands on the sick person. Some could cure at a short distance, some at a great distance. A priest was a man who had mixed substances and could cure others. A priest was a magnetizer. Sick persons have not enough mixed substances, not enough magnetism, not enough ìlife. This ìmixed substance can be seen if it is concentrated. An aura or halo was a real thing and can sometimes be seen at holy places or in churches. Mesmer rediscovered the use of this substance.
To be able to use this substance, you must first acquire it. It is the same with attention. It is gained only through conscious labour and intentional suffering, through doing small things voluntarily. Make some small aim your God, and you will be going toward acquiring magnetism. Like electricity, magnetism can be concentrated and made to flow. In a real group, a real answer could be given to this question.
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|Tuesday, April 11th, 2006|
1:22 pm - Tuesday
|Sunday, April 9th, 2006|
12:17 pm - Today: Sunday
12:13 pm - Saturday
Laurence cooked breakfast, then she went shopping for shoes.|
Beautiful sunny day though cold.
Listened to Beethoven's Triple Concerto.
Listened to Beethoven's Choral Fantasy.
Watched Last Year at Marienbad.
Consumed large amounts of Freybourg and Treyer 'Santo Domingo'.
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12:12 pm - Last Week 'Til Now.
|Thursday, March 30th, 2006|
11:23 am - Last Few Days...
Fabrice came. Brought us a present: Mister Melody - Gainsbourg interpretes box set.
John came too. Nice to see both of them. Plenty of banter about music production techniques of the Sixties, and the 'air' factor.
Laurence cooked a fantastic dinner. Normandy sausages with apple, cooked in cider.
Everyone got completely pissed except me. For some reason I am completely immune to the effects of alcohol, and a m not physically capable of getting even tipsy, no matter how much I drink.
Nice weekend with plenty of good food and wine.
Modelling job with Graham Young.
Two commercials castings. Vodafone and Tetley Iced Tea.
I've been pencilled for the Tetley one.
Watched the Nico film Nico/Icon.
PV for Fabrice exhibition on at the Painting Rooms, which I will attend later.
Drinking coffee and listening to Beethoven.
Think I'll have a cigarette and then do some Gurdjieff exercises...
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|Thursday, March 23rd, 2006|
4:23 pm - Got Home...
12:15 pm - Entry
Bright sunny day in London.|
Debussy: "Pelleas et Melisande" blasting out of the Mac.
The present is embodied in Hexagram 50 - Ting (The Caldron): There is an intimation of great progress and success.
The sixth line, undivided, show the cauldron with rings of jade. Three will be great good fortune, and all action taken will be in every way advantageous.
The situation is evolving slowly, and Yin (the passive feminine force) is gaining ground.
The future is embodied in Hexagram 32 - Heng (Duration): Successful progress and no error is indicated, but the advantage will come from being firm and correct. Any movement in any direction whatever will be advantageous.
The things most apparent, those above and in front, are embodied by the upper trigram Li (Fire), which is tansforming into Chen (Thunder). As part of this process, brightness and warmth are giving way to movement, initiative, and action.
The things least apparent, those below and behind, are embodied by the lower trigram Sun (Wind), which represents penetration and following.
Off to town to do some financial stuff.
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|Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006|
6:27 pm - New Entry
In Bruxelles over the weekend. Modelling assignment for a Belgian bank.|
Eurostar boring. Bruxelles wonderful.
Photographed with an Eagle. The handler hires him out to farmers to catch rabbits, but he does a bit of modelling on the side.
Currently upping my protein intake by eating several raw eggs every morning. There's a slight problem with it in that raw eggs tend to eliminate biotin from the body.
Had a call from Becky at Mugshots - invite for screening of the film The Right Man, in which I play a gay New York art dealer (accent modelled on Fancy from Hannah Barbara's "Top Cat".)
Spoke to Dorothy briefly, she's very rarely in England these days. Zapping between San Fran and Italy most of the time. I look forward very much to seeing her tomorrow.
Fabrice is coming over from Paris to stay for a week - he's putting together an exhibition of photographs in the painting rooms in Flitcroft Street (just off Denmark St) - Featuring the work of Lee Black Childers, Bob Gruen and sundry other New York Warhol/Punk era types.
Today was pleasant. Spent the day listening to classical music, smoking, drinking coffee, and sniffing snuff...
Acetylcholine R Us.
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|Monday, November 14th, 2005|
9:00 am - Department of Homeland Insecurity
Department of Homeland Insecurity
Hang On Bill
Leee Black Childers
Lord Mayors Show
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|Friday, November 11th, 2005|
2:47 pm - Portrait of A Genius
Coffee and a slice of Laurence's lemon tart.
In protest at me having eaten all the icing sugar, she'd quietly omitted to put any in at all. It wasn't half bad though.
Spoke to Ally Cappelino re: DJ-ing at her bash in Shoreditch, Tuesday - at which I'll play 100 per-cent Wigan Stompers. Can't wait.
Wandered over to Oxford Street. Bumped into David Bailey on the way. He looked ancient. A really grumpy old man. Lord Lichfield died today. I've had my photograph taken by both these buggers. The former, a careers worth, the latter once only for a Pringle feature in Wallpaper magazine. I never liked Lichfield's stuff much, but I thought he was a nice guy.
His pic of me was a good'un.
In HMV I idled over whether to buy a copy of Switched on Bach. Didn't bother.
Listened to some of a new Joe Meek box-set: "Portrait of A Genius."
Telstar's still my favourite record. This compilation also has that fantastic Troy Tempest love-sick ballad vocal version on it: Magic Star - by Kenny Hollywood.
Am currently retaining a corking melody for the thing I'm doing with The Karminsky's.
Lyrics as yet unmanifest.
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|Thursday, November 10th, 2005|
4:30 am - Breakfast at Shervingtons
O.K. so I'm starting this blog. I've got a slight fear that living where I do (London EC1) it's going to come out sounding like Robinson in Space, so I might as well admit defeat, call it that for a while, and watch it transform into something else.|
Wandered down to Shervingtons old-style tobacconist/pipe shop in Holborn to get my American Spirits. Ancient wonky tudor building. There are three old-guy shop assistants: really heavy smokers - always smoking behind a big olden-days style glass counter, you have to wade through a sickly pea-souper to get served. The place is full of weird pipes, strange lighters, and super-obscure brands of cigarettes and tobacco. There's a humidified cigar-room at the side.
"Come for your fix, sir?"
"Yep. Oh, can I have some of those Tally-Ho cigarette papers too."
Outside the shop I light up. After a cool smoke I swan in to Sainsbury's for a pint of milk and a Mars bar.
The papers trumpet : Blair's First Defeat. (After his failure to implement the neo-nazi 90 day incarceration bill).
Pop down to have a psychometric gander at Shoe Lane. The location was the subject of a documentary on TV recently about the nazi bombing raid on St.Pauls.
The Luftwaffe had planned to fly over in three seperate waves, on the first wave they were flying almost blind so what they did was randomly drop thousands of thousands of incendiary bombs (which had a similar effect to petrol bombs)in order to start fires. The aim being that whole of London would be lit up by the fires so the next wave (who by then would be able to see properly) could drop their 'proper bombs'.
The fires caused by the incendiary devices became so hot that whole streets would just melt. Shoe Lane was one such. You can still still see some of the black from the fires on adjacent buildings in Fleet Street.
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|Thursday, November 3rd, 2005|
2:54 pm - Article: Live Echo Chambers
Live Echo Chambers|
"The best vocal chamber available to the mixers at United Recorders on Sunset Avenue in Los Angeles was about seven miles away on Fairfax Avenue."
There are a number of reasons why they're not popular. Most of them are well known and sound perfectly logical, but if there's somebody out there who seriously thinks any artificial echo system sounds better than a live chamber, I haven't met him.
The usual response to inquiries about live chambers is "Oh yeah, they sound great, but......." But; They take up too much room. But; There's too much noise around here But; They're not controllable like the....system. Every one of those buts is valid.
But; For some years, the best vocal chamber available to the mixers at United Recorders on Sunset Avenue in Los Angeles was about seven miles away on Fairfax Avenue. Neat trick? Not really, just the same kind of 'phone lines that have been used to carry the bulk of high quality audio around the country since network radio was invented in the 20's.
As a matter of fact they were so pervasive that we still use Ma Bell's transmission line standards for virtually all recording equipment. They used to be called Class A Lines.
The current term is Radio and TV Broadcast Lines, and they're guaranteed out to 15 KHZ. The cost of R/TV quality lines is wildly variable over long distances, but for a run of a few miles two unbalanced stereo pairs would probably double your phone bill. Not cheap, but it's a resource.
If you can get direct wiring, an old trick for monaural drive is to use two balanced pairs, and hang the drive line on one leg of each balanced pair. It's called a phantom line, and you get one free line for every line you buy starting with two at the cost of a couple of transformers per phantom. In other words 3 lines for 2 and 47 for 24. Class A 'phone lines solve the problems of available space and noisy environments at affordable cost even when nothing can be found in the neighborhood, and since a live chamber is not intrinsically expensive, the remote reality becomes a practical proposition.
The question of controlling the characteristics of a live chamber is another matter. While the driving sound can be and usually is equalized to produce an echo return sound that is brighter than that of the echoed instrument(s), controlling anything much more than that is not only cumbersome but largely a waste of effort. The writer speaks from experience here.
Bill Putnam once put a long, thin (but very tall) vocal chamber at one side of a control room, and hung the mike on a couple of clothesline pulleys, so he could vary the echo attack delay. As with a set of variable acoustics mechanisms in the studio room, the optimum setting was quickly determined, and the variables were let alone after that.
As an aside, Bill just loved chambers, at least partly because he not only recorded the first heavily echoed monster hit (Peg O My Heart with the Harmonicats, still the 2nd best seller of all time) he owned it. It was recorded on his Record Company Licence, Universal Records, and he leased it out. Big bucks. Built a new studio with the bucks.
In another case, the writer ran up a small chamber which rang about six seconds, and sounded wonderful on record work. Then we acquired some jingle clients, and stuck a cheap rug in middle of the chamber which we could unroll to pull the chamber time down to a couple of seconds on the theory that the jingle people wouldn't be able to handle a six second ringout at the end of a spot. Turned out they absolutely loved the long echo, and we just downpotted the ringout a little at the end of the spots. Either of those mechanisms could be remoted, but proved useless in the real world. In that same real world, the live chamber can't be varied for much of anything else except funny eq for effect. Questionable.
Fortunately, it doesn't need much of anything else, as unlike every synthetic system with which the writer has any experience, you can feed anything into a live chamber and it'll come out sounding terrific. A live chamber loves handclaps and claves, dotes on bass guitar and timpani, probably sounds good on cannons, and damn sure sounds good on everything else. It's primary advantage is that since it's a real room, it sounds like one in a way that nothing else can.
On the down side, it can't be made to sound like anything but a room, and from that standpoint it's a specialized device. In the case of a studio whose work involves extensive manipulation of material to produce sound tailored to a specific purpose, a live chamber may well be a waste of time and money. But: For studios in the business of preserving the illusion of reality, live chambers are indispensable. Motion picture work is a prime example of that kind of thing, and the film/TV people are pretty hard nosed about echo. Consider "ET" done on a spring chamber.
Preserving the illusion, or "getting a good picture" of the band is the major part of music recording whether the material is extensively over- dubbed or done as live as possible, and physical chambers contribute a great deal to the illusion. Oddly enough, they are very helpful in the case of overdubs, as their uniquely uniform response to all instruments yields a consistent acoustical environment to everything fed into them, with the result that they tend to merge overdubs into the overall sound. You'd never know the dubs weren't part of the original session, especially if you put a trace of live echo on the tracks you're overdubbing. In fact, a little live echo on a CD absolutely transforms the sound. So there's a case to be made for a live chamber, and there's a way to get it off the premises.
The next logical step involves construction and setup. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, a live chamber is a very live room. Actually, it's a totally live room, which makes construction a little different than for normal rooms. What's required is walls that neither absorb sound nor drumhead when driven by sound. In short, masonry. Don't panic. Masonry's cheap. Specifically, concrete block walls are cheap.
The ideal venue for a chamber is a nice quiet basement with a poured concrete floor slab and a concrete ceiling. Concerning the ceiling, fat chance, but it's not essential. A chamber needs about 10 feet to handle low frequencies, but only in two dimensions, so ceiling height is not critical. 10 x 12 x 8 to 9 feet works nicely. A little bigger is a little better, but it's best not to get carried away. While chambers get longer as they get bigger, even small rooms will yield several seconds of echo time, and very large ones tend to go somewhat muddy because of air absorption at high frequencies. It comes down to a matter of volume, and 800 to 1600 cubic feet appears to be optimum. Since it is the function of a chamber is to generate standing waves, the normal rules of acoustics don't apply. For that reason the actual shape of the room is immaterial.
I recall one that was built into the space left under a staircase. It was short, but the sound was first rate. Square, cubical, triangular and round rooms all work equally well, except for placing equipment. Assuming stereo, that could get pretty weird in a triangular space. If a concrete ceiling is not available, 1 inch Lamiboard (a heavy form of particle board at 200 pounds a sheet) will do, as will sandbagged solid 2 x 4's on edge. The primary thing is to prevent vibration, which eats energy and therefore cuts down the chamber time. Concrete floor slabs wick up moisture from the ground, so the floor slab must be waterproofed or the chamber will be damp forever.
If there's a question of ground moisture and/or wicking, lay a couple of sheets of plastic food wrap on the slab for a day and see how much moisture accumulates on the underside. You might be surprised. A proper door in a chamber is hellish expensive, and not really needed. A more practical approach is a 3 foot square hatch with a door made of 2 inches of particle board. Glue up two sheets of one inch board and use bolts to mount the hardware. Forget screws. They won't hold. The hatch should be airtight to keep outside sound out of the chamber unless it's in a dead quiet area. If it's really tight, you can get away with an amazing amount of outside noise. This is, after all, a soundproof room with the mikes normally sloped off below 200 HZ.
The only time I've had noise problems with a chamber was an oversized item that sat about 100 yards off lake Michigan. Storms caused enough ground vibration so that we had to mount the thing up on bridge pads. With walls and ceiling in place, waterproof the inside with one of the various masonry waterproofing paints to force the masonry to dry to the outside, and finish the inside with Portland plaster. That's the stuff used in bathrooms you can't drive a nail into, because it's not really plaster. If it were, the shower steam would take it out. Portland plaster is actually fine grained concrete, and it's hard as rock. It is also the equivalent of terrazzo or marble, with virtually no sound absorption at all. Given this construction and finish, the chamber should come up at ten to twelve seconds inside, yielding about half that on record.
Keeping in mind that it's easy to shorten an existing room but very difficult to lengthen one, go the whole nine yards and get the maximum ring for starters. Equipment; Neither speakers nor mikes are critical for a chamber, although the mike amplifiers had better be as quiet as possible since the mikes are working at levels down to no sound at all. The speakers and amps should be capable of handling 100 watts or more, partly because of the top end equalization normally set into the driver line, and partly because the chamber's signal to noise ratio depends on your being able to drive it to fairly high levels.
If you can put 110 Db SPL in the chamber you're not likely to hear anything with no signal, as the undriven room will be at 35 Db or so and that's a 75 Db S/N ratio. NoNoise is about 72. One very special bit of equipment is a 100 watt light bulb with a diode button under it. Keeps the chamber warm and dry. Setup; Nothing complicated here. Stick a speaker in each corner, and hang a mike about 7 feet off each one.
If you want a more solid stereo center (and the chamber will supply one) put the speaker-mike pairs closer together rather than increasing the speaker to mike distances. Seven to eight feet is optimum. In use, crossing the returns (left sent to right return) improves instrumental clarity a bit, and makes the overall sound even better.
Finally, a live chamber will do a lot for the sound of most studios, doesn't cost as much as might be thought, and if there's no room on or near the premises, can be remoted to any reasonably quiet space available using high quality telephone lines. The competitive advantage is undeniable, and the project is worth consideration.
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