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The Tigger’s 2015 in review: stats and more

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

2014 emailteaser - The Tigger's 2015 in review: stats and more

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Now at the start of the year I made some a series of reasons why people should read this blog so that I could gain 1000 followers. I now have 385 that read this blog directly; 29 read through Tumblr; and 985 see my book reviews through my FaceBook page – https://www.facebook.com/elayne.coakes which does have other stuff on it too.

So what I said was:

  1. I don’t blog a lot about my health and moan about my family or the state of the union or be vehement about my politics or… I blog about a variety of subject matters that interest me and hopefully you, some of which, especially as the majority of my followers are from the US, may be unfamiliar to you;
  2. I write good grammatical English (UK spelling), properly punctuated, and I know how to use the apostrophe. I don’t usually write in stream of consciousness mode but nice precise paragraphs.
  3. I write about a good variety of subjects so you are very likely to find something to interest you in them  – from flowers and gardens, to crafts, to travel, to – in particular – books. Illustrated by my husband’s excellent photographs. As a European I get to a lot of countries you may wish to visit in Europe, but also have been to many more exotic locations such as China and India and these are  described here. More still to come on past adventures, but this year I shall be flying out to Boston and New York and cruising back on the Queen Mary 2; and also Ireland later in the summer for sure. [Sorry, 2015 has been dominated by books but still I did cover other items, and shall try to do better in 2016]
  4. I read a lot of books and write informative and well researched reviews that don’t give the plot away and are not summaries. There is no plot synopsis but a comment that will be relevant to the subject matter and will inform. [2015:This is absolutely still true and will continue to be so]
  5. If I can get over 1000 followers, I will be authorised by more publishers on the NetGalley site which means I will get to read yet more books that are just being published, and more books by new authors you may not yet have heard of. I shall endeavour to keep up the interviews with them that I have recently started. [2015:I now have at least one author interview a month, sometimes more, and I am recognised by several publishers as shown by my widgets including being in the Brash Priority Reveiwer’s Circle]

 Here are details of 2014’s activity to compare to this year’s:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

The busiest day of the year was January 21st with 75 views. The most popular post that day was Feminism? Vegetarianism? Linked or not?. In 2014, there were 60 new posts.

Click here to see the complete report. for 2015.

And do please comment and come and read more posts!

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Music/Random and interesting items
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Music and Ants: Weird connection?

I just love going to the proms every year as it introduce me to new musicians, composers and music, especially as the Proms organisers ensure that a: they commission pieces from young and upcoming composers and b: there are always UK   and often World premieres of music.

So here is one that we went to recently where every piece but one was a premiere either UK or World.

  1. Pierre Boulez arranged by Johannes Schollhörn: Notations 2, 11, and 10.
  2. Johannes Schollhörn : La Treizième
  3. Shiori Usui: Ophiocordyceps unilateralis s.l.
  4. camponotus leonardi
  5. spores
  6. pathology
  7. the grip
  8. hyphae
  9. Betsy Jolas: Wanderleid
  10. Joanna Lee: Hammer of Solitude
  11. the hammer alone in the house
  12. a presentiment
  13. a suicide
  14. Pierre Boulez: Dérive 2

Ok you say but just what on earth do all those titles mean and where do the Ants come in?

Well Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is also known as the Zombie Fungus! It affects ants of the Campotini tribe which includes the carpenter ants – apparently there are around 48 ant tribes – who knew this other than biologists I wonder? Anyway, this Zombie fungus is to be found in ants in tropical forests. The fungus spores infect an ant which leaves its nest and fellow ants and makes it way to the forest floor where it attaches itself to the underside of a convenient leaf. It remains on this leaf until it dies. It stops foraging etc.  It takes between 4 and 10 days for this to happen and during this time fruiting bodies for the fungus grow from the ant’s head (yuk)

see photo by “Ophiocordyceps unilateralis” by David P. Hughes, Maj-Britt Pontoppidan –   800px ophiocordyceps unilateralis - Music and Ants: Weird connection?(http://www.plosone.org/article/showImageLarge.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0004835.g001. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis.png#/media/File:Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis.png)

which obviously opens and then release the spores to infect the next ant. So the music sequence from Shiori Usui reflects this happening. Hyphae is the phase of the fungal growth from the head and thus release and finally death of the ant.

The other interesting piece in parts of course is the Hammer of Solitude. This was written to reflect a poem by Rory Mullarkey. Rory Mullarkey is also a playwright (http://www.bloomsbury.com/author/rory-mullarkey) and has won several prizes for his plays and is still  very young only having graduated from Cambridge in 2009.

Quick bios on the young composers:

Shiori Usui: http://britishmusiccollection.org.uk/composer/shiori-usui/ http://shioriusui.com/

Moved to England at age 17 and has been composing here since. Her English stills needs some clarity… Works in ‘sound’ and ‘noise’ improvisation.

 

Joanna Lee: http://www.joannalee.co.uk/

Currently just completed a PhD in composition at Birmingham Conservatoire,

 

 

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Music is my Muse

Guest Blog Post – Music is my Muse music - Music is my Muse

Ali Parker

 Everyone has a muse, and where mine has always been good to me, she requires one thing – MUSIC! I listen to music all the time and a variety of it at that. I try to keep it to piano music while I’m actually writing just because I start singing and lose my place. BUT, the minute I’m plotting or scoping out a new character for further development – the good stuff comes into play. I have a few of my favorites right now that I listen to.

 

In the End – Linkin Park

All of Me – John Legend

Stay with Me – Sam Smith

Counting Stars – OneRepublic

Battle Scars – Lupe Fiasco & Guy Sebastian

I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift

Broken – Seether featuring Amy Lee

Clarity – Zedd featuring Foxes

Don’t Wake Me Up – Chris Brown

Glowing – Nikki Williams

 

Why does music work? Music, like art opens up our minds to the possibility of creating something new. The brilliance of the song-writer, the decadence of the singer’s voice and the movement of the music pull our hearts and open our minds. That’s my music is and will always be my favorite and probably ONLY muse. I’m faithful to her…. What’s your muse?

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A day in London – what can be seen:

Last week we had a day ‘out’. My husband and I decided to see some things we had been wanting to see for a while plus we had booked tickets to the theatre AND to a concert.

So the two things we had wanted to see were situated very close together near Goodge Street Tube Station. Just opposite is Heal’s. The famous store. That specialises in design and craft work. As it was hosting a craft market of modern craft workers and I wanted to go and see just what was on offer and also what the prices were.  This proved to be very instructive as someone was selling hand-knitted hats with a pompom – in a bag – at £75 each! I couldn’t believe this and immediately decided I needed to add some pompoms onto the hats I knit for charity as clearly they will be more worthwhile – but £75 of more worthwhile I am not sure….

Just round the corner from there is the Building Centre- http://www.buildingcentre.co.uk/. Where they had an 3D model of London showing the new tube lines and also posters and other interesting items discussing how London was being developed and where the new ‘towns’ within London were to be built.

Whilst interesting as both these exhibitions were, neither took too long to visit so there was plenty of time to go to an afternoon performance at the theatre. At the Hampstead Theatre was a play called Hello Goodbye. Now this was really a ‘duvet day’ play – a RomCom with amusing and quite sharp wit.

The play by Peter Souter (his first) and directed by Tamara Harvey starred Shaun Evans and Miranda Raison with Bathsheba Piepe playing in the second half plus a substitute for Luke Neal. Shaun will be familiar to many TV watchers of crime drama as the Young Morse  in the series where we get the prequels to Morse the grizzled detective – and plays him  very well too. In fact it was somewhat surprising when he took off his shirt to see just how toned his muscles were and that he actually had a six-pack considering how weedy he looked in his baggy clothes! But I guess all actors needed to show some muscle these days. So Shaun did very well on stage and played the geek well. His co-star Miranda did her very best with the script but it did, initially, leave her looking very unlikeable and shrill. She did better as the play progressed, but overall, in our theatre group discussion, we felt that the playwright had not done a great job with her lines. And we didn’t give the play more than 3 stars. We also were not that impressed with the direction and found that seeing it on a large apron stage left a number of people unable to see vital parts of the stage, including one member of our group who was behind a pillar and had to move her seat.

So that was the afternoon spent reasonably agreeably but the play did leave us somewhat unsettled.

We found the evening entertainment much more satisfying.

We went to the church of St Andrew, Holborn for a concert (http://standrewholborn.org.uk/).

St Andrew Holborn has been a site of worship for at least 1000 years but when the Crypt was excavated in 2001 Roman remains were found so the site could have been in use for much longer still. It is situated between the City and the West End, and St Andrew’s first appears in written records in AD 951 as a church on top of the hill above the river Fleet. The river Fleet being the river most associated with the press of course ie Fleet Street. But is now very hidden indeed. The Fleet flows from Hampstead Heath starting with 2 springs on either side of Parliament Hill going down to the Thames, joining it at Blackfriars Bridge. In Roman times it had an estuary at Blackfriars and even a tide mill and the word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon for estuary. Now it is a sewer! The Hampstead and Highgate Ponds come from the Fleet and the river flows down through what is now called Kings Cross but was originally Battle Bridge where Queen Boudicca fought the Romans in 60AD. There is of course a legend hat says Boudicca is buried under Kings Cross station – platform 10 to be precise. You can trace an amount of the old river’s course through the wells it fed, of which some still remain as wall remnants eg the Chalybeate Well in Hampstead. The Fleet also provided the water for the Bagnigge Wells spa of 1760 which was located on Kings Cross Road.  In Farringdon Lane you can see another well through a window which used to belong to St Mary’s Nunnery. If you stand in front of the Coach and Horses pub on Ray Street  you can sometimes hear the river through a grating as it flows beneath. For more on London’s Lost Rivers do take a look at the book by Paul Talling.

If you want to read more about the River Fleet as a river rather than a sewer  as it now is and as Micelle Obama saw it, then look at the page http://lndn.blogspot.co.uk/2005_08_01_lndn_archive.html where Diamond Geezer ( a Cockner rhyming slang name) gives a really detailed history and description of the river from which I have snipped the following map of the river’s route.

fleet - A day in London - what can be seen:

The concert was given by the Londinium choir (http://www.londinium-voices.org.uk/) and compromised ne short work and then the Rachmaninoff Vespers (All-Night Vigil) performed in the ancient Church Slavonic chant. It was Rachmaninoff’s last major work before leaving Russia and also represents both the final flowering and greatest achievement of the Russian Orthodox (Church) tradition before its suppression after the October Revolution. Rachmaninoff’s work was preceded by Knut Nystedt’s haunting O Crux, performed in memory of its composer whose hundredth birthday would have fallen in 2015 had he lived.

This performance we gave 5 stars. Luckily we didn’t have to sit all through the night for the Vespers as we were just given the movements 1-15 although it could have taken 3-4 hours if sang in its entirety.

Note that the Londonium choir was some 40 people singing in harmonies without instrument and was truly heavenly.

 

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