Friday, 7 January 2011

G Dawg Sings & Whistles

Follow the link below and download the mp3 file for a rare recording of G Dawg demonstrating what it really takes to be a top flight whistler. Excuse him the poor recording quality and enjoy.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Couple o Mixes for my Peeps

Here is a link to a mix I made a couple of years ago, summer of 2008:

I'm not sure if the track listing will be preserved or no, so here it is:

Love - Always See Your Face
John Mayall - The Bear
The Byrds - Have You Seen Her Face
Bob Dylan - I Shall Be Released
Stephen Stills - I Shall Be Released
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Almost Cut My Hair
The Band - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Dillard & Clark - Don't Let Me Down
Gram Parsons - A Song For You
Derek & The Dominos - Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad
Gram Parsons - The New Soft Shoe
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Too Much Time
Fairport Convention - Sloth
Rolling Stones - Wild Horses

And here is a link to a mix I made, oh I don't know, mayhaps 2 or 3 months ago:

David Holmes - The Johnny Otis Show
Lieutenant Pigeon - And The Fun Goes On
Augustus Pablo - Java
Elvis Costello - Alison
Mighty Baby - House Without Windows
Harvey Mandel - Wade in The Water
Camille - Ta Douleur
Frank Zappa - I'm The Slime
Os Mutantes - A Menha A Menina
Dr Alimantado - Johnny Was a Baker
Sun Ra - That's How I Feel
Track 02
The Incredible String Band - The Hedgehog Song
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Too Much Time

From the first to the second collection there is a bit of progession in taste, perhaps, and yet there is an element of stability too. The first mix is dominated by a country rock and blues sound, provided by Gram Parsons, Dillard & Clark, The Stones, The Band, John Mayall, and Stephen Stills, and yet there are elements of psychedelia too (Love, The Byrds, CSN, and Fairport Convention) which will come to dominate the second mix, along with (and here's the progression) a healthy dose of dub, and, for want of better description, otherwise quirky songs. The first turned out to be an earthy and consistent collection of good old time songs, with a touch of some mind-bending jam sessions. With the second, my tastes became, perhaps, broader, and what we ended up with is, I think, a cool mix of upbeat and surprising songs. This mix is also quite consistent with itself, I think, but at the same time I've involved a lot more genres (jazz, dub, rock, pop, psyche, disco, soul, country, world) and each one of the songs seems to have a definite catch, something that will grab your attention. Either way, without out further ado, I hope you enjoy the music.

Thursday, 9 December 2010


[Yet another Murakami short story from the Spider Monkey collection]

Please don't ask me anything about Roppongi. Concerning the area of Roppongi, I have absolutely nothing I can teach you. If I have any kind of business there (and naturally, if I didn't have business there, I wouldn't go) I always alight at the Roppongi train station. In that instant of exiting the train, I am already confused. Is it Kamiyacho that is Roppongi? Or is this Roppongi? No matter how many times I've been there, I can never remember. Well, in any case, I stick it out and alight at Roppongi proper. Whilst being frightened by some distasteful foreboding - Today's going to be a bad day, for sure - I climb the stairs, then exit above ground. I regulate my breathing and all too soon I'm glancing about the place. Over there's the Mitsubishi Bank, and that's, um, the Almond Cafe and... As my thinking progresses, the inside of my head becomes confused, like wet mud spreading outwards slickly in the middle of a darkness. In my mind's eye I try to put together some kind of map but I always lose sight of the buildings and their interrelation. Which one is the Actors' Stage? Which one is the Defense Agency? Which is the WAVE Building? ...

I don't want you to misunderstand me: I am definitely not bad with directions. Rather, I think it must be something to do with the place. When I'm in Aoyama, or Shibuya, or Ginza, or Shinjuku, or any other place, and I'm walking around, I have not once become lost. But I want you to believe me: it's only Roppongi that's bad. I can't find my way anywhere in that place. I don't know the reason why, but it's bad there. Some kind of strange magnetic field or something like that might be having a strong effect on my spirit. Or maybe the Defense Agency is using a secret electronic device in some strange experiments. Or it could be that some aspect to do with Roppongi is stimulating some aspect of my subconscious, and in turn confusing some aspect within my frontal lobes, perhaps. Beyond that, there is no further reason I can imagine. There is no reason why Roppongi should make me so violently confused to such an extent.

So, to get back to the point, please don't ask me anything about Roppongi. And also don't ask me anything about structuralism. Concerning structuralism, I have absolutely nothing I can teach you.

Well, anyway, take care of yourself.

[In this translation I have attempted to be quite literal, as far as structure, content, and grammar are concerned. You might find some of the phrasing a little awkward, perhaps a little out of place or repetitive, and this might in part be attributable to its alien sound. If I were to translate it how I normally do, sentences would be moved around & chopped up, little phrases added to make the flow of it more natural sounding, and a general effort would have been made to give the translation a more English feel.

[Interesting vocabulary alert: bad at directions in Japanese is: 方向音痴 (ほうこうおんち) which breaks down into direction (方向) and tone-deaf (音痴). In the original it struck me as quite a Murakamiesque word to use, when one considers how much music permeates his work. When reading Murakami one can't help but notice the frequency of such sign-posts; his constant references to darkness & subtle strangeness on the one hand, and music & sports on the other. They are the symbols which give meaning to his world.]

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Another Self Portrait もう一つの自画像

Recently I haven't been posting that much, and for that I apologise. Reasons are, my wife one month ago finally came over to the UK, after a two month delay, and at the same time we moved into a new apartment in Queen's Park, London. So I've been a little preoccupied -- enjoying the good life, dining out, walking about the big city, and catching up in general.

This little number below I started around New Year and finished a couple of months ago. Quite happy with the results. I made this self portrait initially from looking in a mirror, and finally just by looking at the canvas and figuring out what colours should be what and what lines and shapes looked best. A long time ago, I remember speaking with a girl who maintained, staunchly, that one should never paint without consulting the subject: that is, never paint from your head. Well, she was (and is, I suppose) a great painter, and I guess that method works for her. Different horses, different courses, as they say. I personally think that every artist, whether they want to or not, will always be influenced by their own impressions and imagination. The difference between her and I is, I actively seek my own head for inspiration, and for her, it just leaks in anyway.

Well, anyway, whatever she or I or anyone thinks, I suppose, at the end of the day, the paintings will take care of themselves.

Self Portrait, oil, 8 x 10 inches.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Night-time Spider Monkey

[The eponymous story at the heart of Murakami's collection of ultra short stories, Night of the Spider Monkey (to give an alternative translation of the title). You can see my other Murakami translations here, mostly from the same collection.]

It's two o'clock in the middle of the night, I am facing my desk, working on a story, when a spider monkey has somehow broken open the window and entered.

"Woah! Who are you?" I asked.

"Woah! Who are you?" The spider monkey said.

"Don't copy me," I said.

"Don't copy me," the spider monkey said.

"Doon't copee mee," I said, also copying.

"Doon't copee mee," said the spider monkey in italics.

Man, I thought, this is going to become a problem. If I get caught by this night-time spider monkey mimicry maniac, I'll never see the end of it. At some point I've got to throw this bastard out. There's some work I have to do by morning, no matter what. I can't just let this continue until God-knows-when.

"Heppo kurakura shiman ga totemu ya, kuri ni kamasu to kimi wa koru, pocopoco," I quickly said.

"Heppo kurakura shiman ga totemu ya, kuri ni kamasu to kimi wa koru, pocopoco," the spider monkey said.

Even spoken like that, because I had spoken at random, I couldn't judge whether the spider monkey was right or not. Bit of a waste of time.

"Yoseyona," I said.

"Yoseyona," the spider monkey said.

"Wrong! I wasn't speaking in italics."

"Wrong! I wasn't speaking in italiques."

"Is that the right spelling?"

"Is that the write spelling?"

I let out a sigh. Whatever I said, it had no influence over the spider monkey. Without speaking any further, I decided to continue my work in silence. But whenever I pressed a key into my word processor, the spider monkey silently pressed the copy key. Tap. But whenever I pressed a key into my word processor, the spider monkey silently pressed the copy key. Tap. Yoseyona. Yoseyona.

[This particular story presents a few interesting problems for the translator. Where I used italics as opposed to a normal font ("Doon't copee mee,") in the original Japanese Murakami uses katakana and hiragana ("マネヲスルルンジャナイ"). Also, where I make the spider monkey give the wrong spellings, Murakami made the spider monkey talk using different kanji. (Or maybe it was the spider monkey in the driving seat?) The last couplet of conversation is, I feel, difficult to translate. In the original Murakami says, 「字が違ってるじゃないか」 which translates roughly to "Aren't the characters different?" And in reply the spider monkey changes the first kanji, , to which has the same pronunciation but instead of meaning "characters" means "time". So what the monkey says in response is, "Isn't the time different?" Which I think is a quite witty (if senseless) repost. To do the same thing in English, a language of far fewer homophones than Japanese, might well be impossible. As I said, it's difficult.

[On another note, the title, Yoru no Kumozaru, could be translated in a few ways. Until I had read the actual story, I always assumed it was "night of the spider monkey". However, in the story, the expression is used in such a way as to necessitate the translation, "night-time spider monkey". I'm not sure if I was just wrong before, but, well, in any case, it does work both ways, and both translations do come up if you google them...]

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Surfaces 表面

Here are some photos I took; various surfaces from about Japan; the seaside, a cave, a train, &c.

Friday, 9 July 2010

2 More Murakami Stories

Old Man Mushikubo's Ambush*

As he cleared his throat, Old Man Mushikubo said, "I'm Old Man Mushikubo."

"Yes, I am aware of that," I replied. In this part of town, there were none who hadn't heard of him.

"I know I'm being abrupt, but I'd like to say to you one thing about my young daughter's virginity."

"Hold it. Hold it right there. I'm right in the middle of preparing my dinner. If you want to talk about that, some other day--" Disconcerted, I tried to maneuver him out, but Old Man Mushikubo must have sensed something because all of a sudden he quickly pushed half of his body in through the door.

"I won't keep you all that long. If you like, you're welcome to make your meal here, and while you're doing that we can talk."

Well, that's it, I thought, game over, as I cut the aubergine and garlic, chop-chop-chop. He must have planned this really carefully, calling at this time, coming to the kitchen door. Even though Old Man Mushikubo normally acts like a dope, it's at times like these he has a mind like a steel trap.

"May I ask what you are making?" he questioned me, appearing to show a deep interest.

"Um, aubergine and garlic spaghetti, with a haricot bean salad."

"Is that your dinner?"

"Yes," I answered. What a person eats for dinner is no-one else's business. If he wants to eat haricot beans, he eats them; if he wants butter-squash, it's butter-squash. And much like his young daughter's virginity, he has no right to go around talking about it. I was of a mind to open my mouth and tell him just that. But if Old Man Mushikubo were to dislike me there's no telling what he might spread around the neighbourhood, so I held my tongue. Once he's said what he wants to say, he'll go home after all.

Right up until after I'd eaten my spaghetti and salad and washed the dishes, Old Man Mushikubo kept droning on from the doorway, without pause, about the importance of virginity. His voice was so horribly loud, after he had left, my ears were left growling and barking. Such unbelievable misfortune. Then again, I suddenly thought, virginity has become remarkably uncommon these days.

The Spanner

The young man whose collar bone was smashed by Mayumi drove a white Nissan Skyline with an attached spoiler. She didn't know his name. On Sunday she was walking near her home when she was asked, "Won't you come for a drive?" For no real reason she got in the car, but then she was in Enoshima, against her will, being taken it seemed to a motel, so she took up a spanner from somewhere beside her and struck at the man's shoulder as hard as she could. With a snap, the collar bone broke.

Grunting, she escaped from the car, leaving the stricken man, and ran to nearby Odakyuu Station. She then went to buy a ticket from an automatic machine, when she noticed for the first time that she was still holding in her right hand a large spanner. The surrounding people were all staring at her and the spanner with undisguised suspicion. No shit they were. I mean, if a beautiful young girl walks onto train gripping a spanner, who wouldn't think "What the hell is this?"

Assuming an innocent attitude, she placed the spanner into her hand bag, boarded the train, and went home.

"Since then, I've always carried this spanner with me in my bag," she said to me. "Of course, I don't take it to parties or anything like that."

"Right," I said, pretending to be nonchalant. "Have you had any opportunities to use it since?"

"Yeah," she replied, looking into a pocket mirror and applying lipstick. "Two times. Once, in a Fair Lady; the other time, in a Silvia. Why is it only Nissans, I wonder?"

"Both times, collar bones?"

"That's right. Collar bones are the easiest to aim for. Not life-threatening either."

"Huh," I said. Though inside, once more, I grimaced. A smashed collar bone must be really painful. Just thinking about it made me shudder.

"But you know what?" She said, closing her make-up pouch with a click. "There are guys out there who deserve to get their collar bones smashed."

"Yeah, I guess so," I replied.

I guess so.

*The name Mushikubo looks like this in Japanese: 虫窪 and it means, taken literally, insect pit. At first, I didn't realise it was a real name (I'd never come across it before) so my first draft contained the moniker Old Man Fly Hole, which certainly lent the story a different flavour. It's lucky I checked it out on the internet. I should say, though, that it is rather a rare name, has an almost Dickensian flavour, and might cause the same stir as when an English speaker sees a funny name like, say, Bottomley. While this could be seen as a cautionary anecdote (it reminds me a little bit of a translation gaff made by another translator of Murakami stories) I guess it also makes you think about how deeply you could translate any Japanese text, say, by giving all the names their literal meanings. Yamashita (山下) would become Undermountain, for example; and Murakami (村上) would become Overvillage. If I recall, one famous Japanese text was actually translated this way, but I can't quite remember where I read it, or which one... Certainly, most translators, myself included, give names the phonetic treatment. Speaking for myself, if someone were to translate my name, George, into Japanese as 農業者 (nougyousha; farmer) I would feel perhaps less well represented than by the phoneticization, ジョージ (Jyouji). I don't think I am so far removed from common thought in believing that it is the sound of our names we are more attached to. Of course, Japanese people do have their own way of thinking about names, and when they name their children, the meanings of the constituent kanji are very important among other things. Though I can honestly say, I don't think you will ever meet a Japanese person who would introduce themselves as, for example, using given names, Exceptional Beauty (Nozomi; 希美) or Spring Tree (Haruki; 春樹)... In any case, whichever way you choose, it certainly goes to show there is always something lost in translation.