What People Think I Do – Professional Juggler

Facebook is evolving into people sharing more about what they are consuming compared to what they are doing. Personally I like to share the media I am consuming, especially if it is worth other people spending time on it. But I like Facebook because it lets me keep up with what people I know are doing in life, and the constant images and articles posted is getting a bit tricky to cope with.

That said, if a meme comes a long, I like seeing the various iterations that apply to my life. I shared the “What People Think I Do/What I Really Do” image for cruise ship workers, not because it applies to me, but because I thought my cruise ship friends would like it. Check that link for a maaaassssiiiiivvvveee gallery which shows all kinds of professions (currently 825 images)… the meme really has run its course by now.

But I hadn’t seen one for jugglers, certainly not professional jugglers. There are some very well defined images of jugglers in the minds of non-jugglers, so the setup was obvious. And what do professional jugglers really do? Practice. Which means drop. Which means pick stuff up off the floor.

So I took a photo of me picking up a club, found a photo of a juggler smoking in the park while playing with contact balls, stole a photo of Anthony Gatto from his website, and selected the most offensive clown juggler image in my scan of Google Images. I made the final images, and put it on Facebook.

I’m guessing it is the most-viewed or most-shared thing I’ve ever posted to Facebook, maybe more views that the snowball fight video I posted a few years ago. Back then there wasn’t a simple metric to judge views or shares though, so by the numbers, a stupid meme that took me 20 minutes to make takes the crown. As of five days later, it has 1,828 likes, 853 shares and 73 comments. I guess that’s cool.

Of course, now I’m sick of seeing this meme. It’s disappointing for people to make one for their profession, and simply forget to put a joke in it. I saw one for journalist. The final “What I’m actually doing” image is someone sitting at a desk, with a phone, typing on a computer.

Well guess what? The majority of professions that let you spend time on Facebook mean you do most of your work sitting at a desk, using a computer. Well done! You’ve pointed out the obvious! The same last image is used in the meme for musicians, graphic designers, comedians, etc etc etc. At least the computer programmer has the same “sitting at a computer” photo for all of the images, which is funny.

Come on, people, if you’re going to spend time on something creative, at least have something interesting to show for it at the end.

I love to read comments and feedback about my blog posts. Please email me, I reply to every message: luke@juggler.net

Prinsendam at night – November 2010.

I’ve worked on the Prinsendam many times, sometimes up to seven cruises in a single year. I have more photos of the Prinsendam in different ports than any other single subject I can think of. Maybe one day I’ll collect together all the images I have of this one ship into a single blog post, and add to it every time I take a new one.

But for now, here’s a photo of the Prinsendam in Civitavecchia, Italy. On this cruise we missed a port due to bad weather, and turned up in Civitavecchia eight hours early. I decided to take a walk off the ship at midnight, and I’m glad I did. This is one of my favourite photos of the Prinsendam, as it’s rare that I get to take photos of it at night from outside the ship.

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I love to read comments and feedback about my blog posts. Please email me, I reply to every message: luke@juggler.net

Idea: Real Time Beatles Tribute Band

I just watched a Beatles tribute show by a band called The Beatles Experience. It’s hard to judge how good a tribute band is when they are playing such music. Even the worst karaoke performer can get the everyone joining in with Hey Jude, and it takes really bad audience not to at least shake it up a little when they hear the a band knock out twist and shout. I don’t want to compare The Beatles Experience to a karaoke set, they were way better than that, but there’s no doubt that it’s the material that is the real strength, and the real attraction.

So that made me think: what would be the “greatest” tribute band be like? Would dressing and looking exactly like the Beatles do the job? How about playing every song note for note, perfectly?

Here’s my outline for the ultimate Beatle’s tribute experiment. I’ll call them the Real Time Beatles.

  • Get four guys, all about the right age.
  • Make sure they don’t know too much about the Beatles, but immerse them in popular music from the 50’s.
  • Make them play together in a club in Germany for years, but only other people’s music.
  • After enough time, let them learn and play only the very first Beatles songs.
  • We know when the Beatles wrote each song, and when they performed them for the first time. Only let the Real Time Beatles learn those songs after the correct time has passed since the previous song.
  • Over the years, they learn and perform only the songs that the Beatles knew and played at the same point in the band’s career.
  • I’m sure we have the set lists from many of their concerts, so the Real Time Beatles can play those same sets on the correct dates.
  • They have to change their hair and clothes to fit with photos of the band at the time.

One of the main reasons the Beatles stopped doing live shows was that they became too popular. The screaming fans would scream so loud they couldn’t hear the music, and the band on stage couldn’t hear the music either. But the Real Time Beatles won’t have that same problem! They can keep doing live shows, but incorporate the material from the Beatles albums that was never performed live.

And then, at the moment that the Real Time Beatles reach the point where the Beatles split up, keep the band together. At this point they will be some of the most knowledgable authorities on the Beatles music, having learned every song in order, and progressed as musicians to fit the mould these songs have provided. We can then feed in music from the solo careers of the Beatles.

At this point they can start writing and performing their own music.

Will the music be any good? No idea. The experiment is one of nurture over nature, with four random musicians who live the same musical lives as the most popular band of the century. It would be a fake continuation of a band who played the same music, but without the fame and accolades. At least the music would be interesting. Right?

Mainly I like the idea of the commercial interest in the Real Time Beatles. If you book them in the first year, the set list would be limited. “Can you do this and this and this?” “No, sorry, we’ve not released Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band yet.”

And if you want to book them for a certain date, they would turn up with a pre-selected set list and outfits. “Yeah, sorry, I know you want us to do these other songs, but this is the date of our Mets stadium show.”

“Look, we’d love to a gig next weekend, but we’ll have to do it without George. He’s going to be unconscious in a drugs haze.”

“If you want us to perform Long and Winding Road, you’re going to have to book us again in three years.”

“The Frog Song? Are you high?”

It would be cool to set up some famous photo shoots too. A recreation of Sargent Pepper’s album cover, but with different famous people as cardboard cutouts. Abbey Road zebra crossing walk. That would be fun.

Or maybe all this is only interesting in my head. Such things normally are.

I love to read comments and feedback about my blog posts. Please email me, I reply to every message: luke@juggler.net

In Berlin – October 2010

Can I call the photos I’ve taken in the city where I live “travel photos”? Maybe so if I’m doing tourist stuff. In October of 2010 someone I’d become very close to visited me in Berlin, and by the time she left we were boyfriend and girlfriend. It was a long distance relationship, and it didn’t last for more than three months, but I have lots of good memories from the time we spent together in Berlin, London, Brussels and Rome. I have photos from each of those cities too. Why not share the photos from Berlin now?

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I love to read comments and feedback about my blog posts. Please email me, I reply to every message: luke@juggler.net

The main influence on my songwriting

Over the 15 years I’ve been writing music, who has had the biggest influence over my songwriting? Good question. There are intangible and tangible links between the different styles of songs I write and other musicians, but there is one artist on whom I focus time and time again when actually putting words down on paper.

Britney Spears. Surprised? No, you probably saw the photo. But welcome to my brain.

The time that she released her first single, Hit Me Baby One More Time, was around about when I started writing songs more seriously. There’s a lot to like about Hit Me Baby One More Time, but the chorus really got to me. In a bad way.

From memory, it goes like this:

This loneliness is killing me,
I must admit, I still believe.
When you’re not with me I lose my mind.
Give me a sign,
Hit me baybay one more time.

What the fuck? So many problems. Put aside the weird abusive relationship overtones and just look at the rhyme scheme.

Me doesn’t rhyme with believe. Mind, sign, and time? Are you kidding me? It’s not as if there isn’t a rhyming scheme, because non-rhyming songs can work out fine. This is aiming for, and spectacularly missing, very basic rhymes. Five lines, and none of them rhyme with any other. Is it intentionally bad poetry?

But considering she doesn’t enunciate properly when singing, and is almost gurgling through forcing her voice to sound as young and sultry as possible, nobody notices how fundamentally flawed the chorus really is.

And anyone who does notice doesn’t care, because they’re really just looking at her tits.

I don’t think about Britney as a sex object… actually I do. But I don’t think about her with sexual desire, only about the fact that she was very successful because of her sex appeal. Her song writing skills (or those of whoever wrote her songs) didn’t need to be anything great, as the pop production, music videos, dance choreography, publicity machine and sex appeal could make up for it.

I don’t have the benefit of sex appeal and dance moves and publicity. The majority of my songs are just me and a guitar, or me and a piano, with no pop production to make people tap their feet. My songs stand or fall on the merits of the lyrics in exactly the way that Britney’s don’t.

Why is why, whenever I have two lines that almost rhyme, and I think, “Line and find are close enough, right?” I immediately hum “Hit me baybay one more time” and rewrite the lyric until it’s good enough. Good enough for me. Not good enough for sexy Britney; good enough for someone with no belly button on display.

I love to read comments and feedback about my blog posts. Please email me, I reply to every message: luke@juggler.net