Wulf's Webden

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Saturday 15 December 2018
by Wulf
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Plans have almost come together

Children of the 80s will remember the catchphrase from the A Team: I love it when a plan comes together.

I’m almost there this Christmas. Presents bought, cards dispatched and, time critically, costume for tonight’s youth Christmas party completed (no more on that yet, in case any of them see this before the surprise is revealed!).

Also, I think the music is more or less ready for tomorrow – leading worship in the morning and singing at the carol service in the evening (St Clement’s, Oxford, 10:30am / 6:30pm). Just a few more things to do and then I can begin to relax and enjoy the festivities.

Friday 14 December 2018
by Wulf
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Up and Up

This week I’ve upgraded to WordPress 5.0 and then WordPress 5.01 as the engine for my blog. It’s a good tool but you’ve got to stay sharp to keep the security benefits of the new versions… and the fixes that follow shortly after a major release.

Thursday 13 December 2018
by Wulf
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Loopy Nativity

One of my tasks this week has been cutting together the church nativity. For the past few years, we’ve taken to doing this using video rather than trying to stage a live production – less time required for rehearsal, no worries about a key actor being unavailable on the day and a chance to make more use of it by showing at several events. On the other hand, it does then introduce the new task of video production, which is quite time-consuming in itself.

Last night, I took the first draft and added a new narration track provided by some of the young people and leaders. Next year, I want to try doing the narration track first and then filming against it as a lot of time is taken cutting out slivers between words to try and make the whole thing fit into the available footage time and have some semblance of words and actions fitting together. Then, for polish, I wanted to add some sound effects and music.

Originally, I’d planned to play the music live but I realised that I wasn’t going to have time to make a good stab at that. However, I remembered that the program I was using to splice the audio (Logic Pro X) has an extensive loop library and I was able to harvest what I needed from there – such as sheep baa-ing, cattle lowing, a brassy stab for when angels appeared and a few other things, such as a plane taking off (for the start – it is a sound full of anticipation!).

Music also came from prebuilt loops. I’d intended something with a more seasonal feel but, as it is fairly much in the background, I’m reasonably pleased with the result and I was able to furnish ‘moods’ from moving along to pausing to reflect and a bit of EDM to catch everyone by surprise when the outro offcut plays. Job done!  

Wednesday 12 December 2018
by Wulf
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Different Bones

I started reading Kathy Reichs’ Bones series of books not long after they started coming out. The protagonist is Dr Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who works out of both Charlotte, North Carolina and Montreal, Quebec, and uses her skills to uncover killers. Quite entertaining and with a relatively strong thread of real science (Reichs herself is an experienced forensic anthropologist) although I’ve given up following them closely. Despite the science, my credulity can only stretch so far to see the scientist continually stray out of the lab and into the direct path of whatever killer is responsible.

Recently, I have been watching some episodes of Bones (2005-2017), a TV series based on the same character. Mind you, that is ‘based’ in the loosest sense; the main character shares a name and a job title and everything else is different. Often entertaining but even further out beyond the land of realism.

It is like having two skeletons and the only thing they have in common is being made of bone!

Tuesday 11 December 2018
by Wulf
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Leave

No, not a political post. Just a note on the fact that I’ve now taken my first day of leave from my new job. That is a minor thing but it feel like a bit of a landmark – to have embedded sufficiently well that I can take a day off (although the effect is probably less since I still retain my four day working week).

Monday 10 December 2018
by Wulf
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Perhaps it’s the pedal steel?

Sometimes Scary Pockets cover songs I know well and, as with this example, they sometimes pick ones that pretty much passed me by:

In this case, I’d heard the song before but I couldn’t have begun humming it. As with most of the Scary Pockets output though, this one gets me tapping my feet.

What’s the magic? On this one, the addition of a pedal steel guitar is an unexpected delight, in the sense of being something delightful they haven’t used before rather than something I hadn’t expected to be delightful! However, I think it is really about good musicians taking the songs and making them their own.

New and old, mixed up with joy. I guess that makes this a Christmas-themed post!

Sunday 9 December 2018
by Wulf
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One More Rehearsal

Just one more rehearsal to go before the Carols by Candlelight service at St Clement’s (6:30pm, 16 December – all welcome). From this afternoon’s rehearsal, I think there are two main things for me to attend to:

  • Creating deeper mental ‘ruts’ for sections of the tune that don’t yet come naturally
  • Learning the words

If I can get those things down, I can focus most of my attention next week on watching the conductor and less on the songbook in my hands.