Bargain at the Music Shop

I was very disappointed to discover that the Billy Hyde music shop here in the CBD was closing down for good. I only found out when I dropped by their store last Friday to look at Recorder-related books and music sheets. That Friday was supposed to be the last day for their sale that we mentioned in an earlier blog. When we got there, we then realised the actual reason for the sale.

They were going to relocate to Blackburn and December 8 was their last day in the CBD. I’ll miss that shop. They’re the only music shop in the city that carried its more than fair share of recorder music books and sheets. The Allans music shop in the city didn’t carry as many recorder titles (unlike their branch in Kew). And so, I’ll sorely miss the Billy Hyde shop.

Anyway, the original deal was that the newer books were 25% off and the older books were 80% off. But that Friday being the last day, they slashed the price even further. The newer books were now 30% off. The older books, while still 80% off, could be taken for free with a purchase of a newer book.

I couldn’t believe it.

I was interested in two of the new books they have on sale: Enjoy the Recorder Descant Tutor book 2 by Brian Bonsor (because I already have the first book) and Recorder Excellence by Bruce Pearson and Wendy Barden (only because it comes with a CD and a DVD). To be absolutely clear that I understood their bargain deal, I went to the cashier with the two new books in tow as well as three old books.

“So, if I buy these two new books, I get these three old books for free?” I asked the cashier tentatively with one eyebrow raised.

“Yeah,” he answered cheerfully. “You can take the lot.”

Take the lot, huh?

I went to the bargain boxes and grabbed two more old books that interested me and soon returned to the cashier. Again, I asked the same question with a slight ammendment. “So, if I buy these two new books, I get these five books for free?”

With no hesitation, he agreed. I then quickly pushed the books toward him before he changed his mind and said, “I’ll take them!” Maybe a little too loudly, though.

In the end, I was able to take home seven books from the shop for the price of two books that were both discounted by 30%. It was a pretty good deal.

It was only later that I realised that maybe I should’ve also looked at the old books for other instruments as well like for the piano, guitar, violin and flute! D’oh! At the very least, I could’ve sold those free books at eBay for something. Ah well.

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Published in: on December 12, 2006 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tooting Again

A year ago, I was very much into playing the recorder (a fipple flute) but after a couple of months at it, I stopped practicing. However, I’ve picked up practicing the recorder again just a few months ago and I’m pleased with my current progress.

However, I’ve put my learning on hold temporarily to concentrate on practicing some Christmas tunes. I hope that I would’ve already mastered the songs enough so that I can go through the tunes without making a mistake if I do play for my family over the Christmas season in the Philippines.

As it is, though, I don’t have a lot of time to practice because of the stuff I have to do when I get home from work. If I have time to spare, I might record (no pun intended) myself playing a couple of Christmas tunes and post it here.

Published in: on December 6, 2006 at 9:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Billy Hyde sale

The McKillop branch of Billy Hyde is currently holding a sale on the following items until December 8.

  • 25% discount on all print music, books & plays on stock. Doesn’t include orders.
  • 80% discount on items without barcodes.
  • 70% discount on items with Fine Music on the barcode (as opposed to Billy Hyde Fine Music).
  • 80% discount on print/plays/books downstairs including those already discounted.
Published in: on November 20, 2006 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

White and Nerdy

While listening to one of my favourite podcasts, Geekson (a podcast by four geeks for geeks like me), I heard mention of a supposedly very funny music video by the famous comedian singer Weird Al Yankovic. The song is called “White and Nerdy” about this white guy rapping about being, well, white and nerdy.

Watch and listen to it now:

I think it’s hilarious. But only maybe because I’m a big nerd myself. It’s so funny because it’s so true. Most of the things he mentioned about being a nerd applied to me or to most of my nerdy/geeky friends. To name but a few geeky traits I possess that is mentioned in the song: I play D&D, I program JavaScript and Pascal (way back when), I used to collect X-Men comics, I love Star Trek, I have two of Stephen Hawking’s books in my bookshelf and I even used to own a soldering gun (I studied Electronics Engineering in University, after all).

So, yeah, I’m guilty of being a big nerd. And proud of it.

Published in: on October 6, 2006 at 12:54 am  Comments (2)  

Please Stop Playing

Age must really be getting to me because here I am again with another rant that would make me look meaner than I really am. Still, I want to vent so…

There’s this busker who has taken a spot in a big intersection in the CBD. He sits on a stone bench at the corner of the intersection, a tambourine tied to his feet, Walkman head phones over his ears and a tin whistle in his hands.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind the sound of tin whistles (also knowns as pennywhistles, flageolets, or Irish whistles) due to their similarities to the recorder (another flute-like woodwind instrument) in sound. But these things can be pretty loud — in the screeching sense of the term.

It doesn’t help matters that the busker was playing the tin whistle with absolutely no regard for tune! He taps his feet to the beat of whatever music it is he’s listening to, thus making the tambourine ring out rhythmically. Okay, no problem there.

But the whistle playing…! He’s listening to what must be this beautiful music over his head phones and he tries to keep up with the tune of it on his tin whistle. Forget that. He’s not even trying to keep up with the tune at all! It was like the sound of a twitter bird being tortured. Fast-paced high-pitched shrieks of pure noise accompanied by the sound of a beating tambourine. He’s giving tin whistlers everywhere a bad name. Imagine a wanna-be singer auditioning for Australian Idol singing out of tune whilst listening to his or her iPod. Only worse!

I’m don’t normally rant about performers who are mediocre in their chosen specialty. If I think an actor did bad, I normally just let it go. There’s this guitarist busker every morning in the Flinders Street subway who simply doesn’t have the voice for singing and I just ignore him. But the whistling busker? I couldn’t take.

Now I feel bad for thinking this, but I even considered telling him up front: “Could you please stop playing?” Yeah, I know it’s mean of me to think it, but that’s how much it annoys me. I know I should just be thankful that he’s at least doing something to earn money instead of just sitting on his bum and begging for it.

I’ve read somewhere that there was a plan to form a sort of committee to assess whether a busker would be given a busking licence in Melbourne depending on his or her level of skill. At the time, I couldn’t believe that they would think of doing this. What? There’d be auditions first before getting a busking licence? What would be considered good enough for the streets of Melbourne? I thought it was ridiculous and it would be unfair.

Instead of a committee, maybe there should just be a box where people can submit complaints regarding specific buskers. Get enough complaints and you get your licence to play in the CBD revoked. Those buskers who are mediocre performers probably wouldn’t get complaints as it will be too much of a hassle for the passers-by. But for the annoyingly poor performers, well, they might just be bad enough to push a few people to submit a complaint.

Okay. I’ve vented now.

I don’t really want the busker out of business. It’s his way of earning a living, after all. Goodness knows he might need the generous donations he gets from busking. In the end though, his “music playing” annoys me intensely. I might just have to avoid that intersection during lunch break in the future. Still, all the best to him. I hope somebody would be kind enough (or annoyed enough) to offer him free lessons in tin whistle playing though.

Published in: on August 22, 2006 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out of Action

I haven’t been posting for a while now. Reason? Well, let me count the ways.

Been Sick
Yes. I was sick, for real. I took a sick leave two Fridays ago because I had a bad case of hayfever or something I thought was hayfever. Because a week later, I still had a blocked-up nose and couldn’t stop from sneezing. It was terrible. My nasal passages were making odd creaking noises whenever I took breath. I was pretty sure my officemates noticed it during one of our meetings.

Watching Movies
We watched the Pixar/Disney CG movie, Cars, last weekend with our friend Irar. I liked the movie and i thought it was hilarious (almost as hilarious as Dreamworks’ Over the Hedge, in my opinion). I think I would’ve enjoyed the movie better though it my head throbbing and my eyes watering (because of my illness mentioned above). We were planning to eat out with Irar after the movie but because of my not-feeling-well, I had to cut our outing a little short.

Bought Magic Sing
Magic Sing is basically a microphone with a video karaoke machine built-in. I think it is quite popular in Manila and Pinoy expats. I found out about it from our friend and neighbor, Milkshake. He has one and we’ve used it a couple of times. It made me want to have one, too. Unfortunately, that meant waiting till we fly home to the Philippines to buy one.

But, as fortune would have it, we just discovered that Magic Sing was actually available locally in Australia. We saw one on eBay and bought one including a chip that plugs in to the mic that contains about 900+ songs in Tagalog. The Magic Sing mic itself has about 2000 English songs already. I’d say that is a better deal than having to buy the Singstar mics and song games for the Playstation2.

So, we ended up “testing” it after I received it in the post. And we’ve been “testing” it ever since.

Caught Up to Star Trek Enterprise Season 4
Yes, Enterprise ended a long time ago in the US. Here in good old Australia, Enterprise Season 4 has just begun showing every Tuesday midnight (Wednesday, actually) on Channel 9. Then, for several weeks, Enterprise disappeared from Channel 9 without notice because of the Wimbledon tournament telecast.

In the end, we sought another way of finally catching up to the last season of the Enterprise series. So, when we weren’t testing the Magic Sing mic, we were watching episodes from Enterprise season 4. Too bad it had to be cancelled just when it finally lived up to its story premise and setting. I have to say that I liked most of the episodes but I hated the last episode of the series. They should’ve just ended it with the episode before last.

Watching our Favourite TV Shows
Our current faves on TV are 24 (good on Channel 7 for doing double-episodes twice a week), House, Prison Break (season finale last week and I felt short changed), Stargate: SG-1 (season 10 at last! About bloody time, Channel 7), NCIS, Numb3rs, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Ghost Whisperer (a reluctant fave), Beyond Tomorrow, Catalyst, What’s Good For You, Lonely Planet Six Degrees, Lost (actually, we’ve seen it all through to the last episode of the current season but eh), Honey We’re Killing the Kids, Border Security, Medical Emergency, and Mythbusters. Yeah, we’re such a couple of couch potatoes.

Working Out
Since we are such couch potatoes, we figured we need to work out. Watching shows like What’s Good For You and Honey We’re Killing the Kids actually motivates me to work out and eat healthier as well. Anyway, we have The Biggest Loser – The Workout DVD and we’re following the workout plan outlined in the DVD.

We had to workout for around 45 minutes six times a week for six weeks to see results. We’re currently in week number three and we haven’t exactly done the recommended six days in one week. Still, better some exercise than none. I can already feel the workouts becoming easier and less painful. At the very least, my joints don’t make as much noises as when I started out.

Drawing my Webcomic
And when I’m not testing the mic, watching TV, movies or DVD and working out, I’m drawing pages for my Lovarian Adventures webcomic. I had to draw a page that has horses in it and set in a forest. So, I had to do research on trees and horses. In the end, I faked most of it. Here is the end result.

And now, I finally had some time to write something up for the blog.

Published in: on July 16, 2006 at 11:04 am  Comments (1)  

Keys Me

Last night, Raquel and I have received from a friend of ours an email titled “Keys Me” with a link to a YouTube video and not much in way of a description as to what to expect from the video. So, we clicked the link, watched and discovered why the email was titled “Keys Me”. Click on the image on the right to see the video first.

Apparently, the singer, Alyssa Alano, is a Filipino celebrity (nowadays at least as I haven’t heard of her before now) and a member of a group of female stars under contract with Viva Entertainment dubbed the Viva Hotbabes. So, no, she is not a loser in a singing contest as the video was implying with the scoring animation in the end. But then, she might as well have been.

I found the video hilarious! And not because of her accent (which is not her fault) but because she didn’t take the time to learn the lyrics of this well-known song before singing it in public. It’s as if she only knows the words from hearing the song over and over again but never really understood the words sung by the original singer from Sixpence None The Richer.

So, when she sang it, she used made-up gibberish words strung together in parts of the song that didn’t make any real sense to her — just as long as those string of words sounded like what she heard from the original song then it nobody will notice. But in fact, people who are more familiar with the song will notice, specially those who are more educated in English. The least she could’ve done was go on the Web to look for the actual lyrics for the song and memorised it before going on stage.

I feel so embarrassed for her. Her only saving grace, probably, was that she was at least moderately pleasing to watch.

Published in: on June 15, 2006 at 8:21 am  Comments (5)  

Hello, I’m Into Johnny Cash

The first time I’ve encountered the name “Johnny Cash” was in an old 1970’s Christian comic book that belonged to my born-again aunt titled, Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. Incidentally, Johnny Cash is known to start public performances with this simple introduction. Anyway, all I knew about Johnny Cash for a long time was what I have learned from that comic book: he was a popular rock/country singer in the old days, got into drugs, gave up on drugs and later found God again.

The old music I know, I know from listening to the music my parents are into. I don’t think they were ever into Johnny Cash so I never knew his music. And I hadn’t bothered looking up his music growing up.

The next time I encountered the name “Johnny Cash” was a few years ago when I was still working in Canberra. Peter, our boss at the computer lab, noticed that everybody at the lab had headphones on and was listening to music while programming. We had ripped our CDs as MP3s on our PCs and that’s what we listened to all day. He looked at our collection and asked us for “some Johnny Cash”. He kept going on about Johnny Cash but that still didn’t convince me to look up the guy’s music.

Then just recently, the movie Walk the Line starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon about the life of Johnny Cash came out in movie theatres in Australia. Ever since I took up playing the guitar, I’m now always on the look-out for guitar influences, so when the movie came out I was slightly interested in watching it. In the end, we did.

It was great to see how Johnny Cash started his career and how it progressed. I also got a sampling of his songs by watching the movie. I kept waiting for the part of the story that I’ve read from my aunt’s old Johnny Cash comic book but it never got to it.

Although I found some parts of it rather boring (my apologies to the hard core fans), I still found it very entertaining. Not only that, I went out the movie theatre wanting to get a CD of his songs.

At first I was considering getting the movie soundtrack. Frankly though, I wasn’t too impressed by Joaquin Phoenix’s version of the songs. So, I looked for samples of the songs in the movie but sung by Johnny Cash himself instead. And yes, as expected, the Johnny Cash sung songs were definitely a lot better. I got myself The Legend of Johnny Cash CD and liked the tunes in it. In fact, I’m listening to it right now as I’m typing this.

I’m only saddened to discover that Johnny Cash had already died on September 12, 2003. I wish I knew about him before he passed away. Thankfully though, his music will stay with us for much much longer.


The Man in Black

Published in: on March 22, 2006 at 8:19 am  Comments (4)  

Jammin’ Night

Ever since I bought a guitar and sold my old guitar to my friend, M, I’ve been kidding him that we could do a bit of guitar jamming some time. I hadn’t counted on jamming with anybody so soon as I have yet to improve my feeble guitar playing skills.

Anyway, just this Saturday, M had some CDs he wanted to return to me so he dropped by. Of course, since he was coming over anyway, he brought the guitar with him so we could jam, too.

It was great! Sure, I wasn’t in the same league as he was (even though he claimed he only knew a few songs), it was fun to learn from somebody who knew more than I did.

We spent an hour with him trying to teach me how to play The Hurt by Kalapana. I got what chords I needed to play. Actually playing the song properly was more difficult though. I just think the song is still beyond my abilities at this moment in time. Still, it was great fun.

Now, whenever I have some spare time with my guitar, I try to play the Kalapana song (hoping one day I get to play it smoothly) in between actually going through my guitar learning books. So far, everything is slow going but I’m hoping all my efforts will pay off eventually.

Published in: on March 13, 2006 at 8:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Hakuna Matata?

Gj and I have been wanting to see the Lion King musical even when they were still showing it in Sydney. We thought we could fly to Sydney one weekend, see the show and come back. When they brought the production here in Melbourne, we said we’d definitely watch it while it’s still in town. Of course, we got distracted with everyday things and other activities and have put it off. Early this year, they’ve announced that the show would end by June 4 and with merely 13 weeks to go, we finally picked a date on when we want to see it.

We’ve booked some time off from work around Easter and thought that it would be a good time to go. To our dismay, tickets in the Stalls A section from now till the end of April are either all booked out or only have single seats available. After almost an hour of anxious anticipation, we were finally able to book seats on May 3 through Ticketek. We would have preferred seeing the show on a Friday or during the weekends but those were also sold out or only have single seats. I told hubby maybe we could probably buy two separate seats and just meet during intermission, but he won’t have any of it (and I was just kidding anyway).

So if you’re considering watching the show, better get your tickets now before it’s too late!

Published in: on March 8, 2006 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment