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Blog Archive: November 2015

Film Scoring
On Thursday The Strings In My Quartet and I attended a Film Scoring Workshop at Morley College because are DEAD CULTURAL.

It was called a "workshop" so we thought it was going to be a jolly evening where we'd sit around in small groups being told how film scoring works and then having a bash at doing our own. However, when we arrived we saw that the seating was arranged in THEATRE style as if for a LECTURE and that is pretty much what we got. I wasn't complaining - I was KNACKERED from WORK (working full-time is AWFUL!) and the prospect of sitting quietly "listening with my eyes closed" was a LOT more appealing than actually having to DO stuff!

I expected the talks to be about how you DO film scoring, like how you decide the TONE of the music or the TEMPO, but it turned out to be more like a CAREERS LECTURE with a chap from the band Unkle spending a lot of time talking about how to deal with professional politics. It was a bit odd - I mean, it was fair enough advice but could have applied to ANYTHING. Similarly the other talks were more about general job stuff like getting work and dealing with payment, with one chap in particular apparently TERRIFIED by the prospect of speaking in front of an audience.

It was slightly rum... until the second half when the evening BLOSSOMED. In order to give some idea of how it works they set up a recording session with The Morley College Chamber Orchestra and then did two small bits of SCORE. Suddenly the speakers who had been so NERVOUS before were full of CONFIDENCE and ACTION, striding around bossing musicians and each other about, GETTING ON with it and generally being experts. They recorded two short pieces of music to a clip played on a big screen and it was full of INSIGHTS, like the fact that they DO use a click track BUT the tempo of the click changes from bar to bar to match the action. For this to work the CONDUCTOR listens to the click and conducts the musicians, who just follow him, which seemed to make it all feel more natural.

My favourite bit was the way they hopped about at high speed "patching" sections together, doing re-takes and whizzing around doing tiny little bits. It was SORT OF like how we record stuff at Snug, when we have a couple of goes at getting something right then nip in and out to correct small errors. Except, you know, with an orchestra.

It was lovely to watch people Doing Their Job Properly like that, obviously happy with what they were doing and probably RELIEVED not to have to be giving a TALK anymore. It was good, though if they do it again I'd recommend JUST doing that last bit!

posted 30/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Nightmare Before Christmas
"Huzzah!" say the little tykes and jolly Aunts and Uncles of Earth. "Tis nearly Christmas, which means a new song will be added to The Christmas Selection Box by MJ Hibbett & The Validators!"

I am happy to say that I hope to make the festive dreams of all those scamps and relations come TRUE again this year, even though the process of making it happen has been a RUDDY NIGHTMARE so far.

It didn't START like that, in fact the whole process got off to a thoroughly pleasant start way back in June, when The Validators played at Going Up The Country in Congelton. We discussed ideas for the Christmas song and Mr FA Machine told the story of Roy Wood sitting in The Blue Note in Derby having to put up with people saying "Roy! Do you wish it was Christmas?" This seemed like a FINE idea for a song and, within a week, I had written one.

Time marched on and soon it was November, so a couple of weekends ago I sat myself down and recorded my guitar and vocal parts, using a click track so that everyone else would be able to add their bits on top. I sent this to The Validators and the aforesaid Frankie suggested that I try singing it in a different key. As general MUSICAL DIRECTOR this is the sort of thing he is wont to say, and so I was powerless to disagree. "That'll be fine though," I thought. "In fact it might even be better!" for LO! Mr T Pattison was scheduled to do some DRUMS first, so if I then re-recorded MY bits to HIS drums rather than a click track it would all, if anything, be EVEN GROOVIER.

This is where the problems began. Somehow (possibly something to do with one of us recording at 48hz instead of 44, or vica versa, or not) the drum track Tim sent back was at an entirely different tempo. He'd recorded it along with the mp3 I'd sent him, but the SPEED was different. You can do all sorts of clever things these days to change the tempo or BEATMAP drums, but this was VERY DIFFICULT (or in my case IMPOSSIBLE) to do as the drums neither START nor END at the same time as anything else.

"Oh well," I thought, "It's just a bit quicker and I need to re-record my parts ANYWAY, why not just do it at that speed?"

I then spent an hour or so doing just that, only to find that the MIDDLE of the song had ISSUES, possibly due to either me, Tim, or BOTH of us getting a bit wonky in our playing which made it VERY difficult to play along to. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just play it like this and sort it our later."

Unfortunately, when I tried to sort it out I discovered that I had made things WORSE by playing a THIRD kind of wonky over the original two, so now NOTHING matched anymore. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just divide the drums up into smaller sections, turn THOSE into loops, recreate the entire track from scratch like that THEN re-record my parts."

DEFEATED I emailed Tim back and asked him to have another go, providing a new version of the ORIGINAL recording which I had double triple checked to make sure it was at the right speed. Hopefully THIS time around he and I can get ourselves together, then it's up to the REST of the band to find new and even more exciting ways to make it go AWRY!

What I'm basically saying is, if our Christmas single doesn't come out until FEBRUARY you will at least have been forewarned!

posted 24/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Not A Competition, But...
Over the weekend I had some rather LOVELY news about a couple of my scripts. My big High Concept sci-fi blockbuster "Six Billion To One" (under its original name "Alpha Male") made it into the Top Ten of The Big Break Screenwriting Contest, while a script for a short film called "Intern-National Space Station" got into the Quarter Finals of the Marquee Lights screenwriting competition. Both scripts could progress further, to the Top 5 and semi-finals respectively, but if that's as far as they get I'll be MORE than happy, for LO! it's been a bit of a LEAN period for this sort of thing.

Last year I went to a talk by Screenwriting Coach Lee Jessop called "How To Make It In Hollywood Without Moving To Hollywood", a title which appealed a LOT. She said that to get someone to even read your script you need to get PEDIGREE, and one way to do that was to enter COMPETITIONS and get placed in them. I took this advice to heart and have since entered a TONNE of them, and, as you can see from my DELIGHTFUL and not at all SHOW-OFFY writing website I've managed to do pretty well, getting placed in quite a few of them. What you can't see on that website, however, is the HUGE number of competitions where i got NOWHERE. That information is stored on a document which I keep to myself, logging which script I send to which contest, with notification dates so I can go back and check to see how I did. When results come in I use my Word For Windows SKILLZ to mark them as YELLOW if I get anywhere, GREY if I don't, and with an added SCORE THROUGH if I get nowhere but they send me an email to let me know.

For the past few months that document has been page after page of GREY. Huge long lists of scripts I sent out which either never got a response or, if they did, started with "We were amazed by the high quality of submissions overall but unfortunately ... " It's been a bit depressing to be totally honest, so getting a bit of SUCCESS cheered me right up!

The great IDEA of doing this sort of thing is that Hollywood Agents ring up and say "Hey buddy, I see you done real good in that there competition, so how'd you like a million bucks to write us a hit movie?" As you can see, REALISTIC DIALOGUE is one of my strong points but for some reason this has yet to happen in real life. I remain hopeful but while I wait for that to occur I'm thinking about adding a bit to the aforementioned writing site where you can view the first ten pages of my various scripts. Ideally this would lead to LA Producers to become TANTALISED and use their private jets to send me truckloads of CA$H but in the unlikely event of that NOT happening, it will at least give you, gentle reader, the chance to see what I've been banging on about. If/When I get it sorted out you will be the first to know!

posted 23/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Sketch Show
Since finishing the current series of The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum Mr J Dredge and I have been wondering what to DO with it. We'd very much like LOADS of people to see it because a) we like it and b) we spent AGES putting it all together, so have been discussing possible ways to make this happen. One idea we had was to select some of the best bits and stick them together in a SKETCH SHOW, like THIS:

As you can see, there's a couple of extra bits - the title sequence and the end credits - plus a few minor changes in the edits of the sketches, but it's basically about half the sketches all glued together. I must say, when it was all done, I was AMAZED at how much it WORKS, like some kind of proper sketch show or something. I was also surprised by quite how much music there is in it, almost like somebody had a TONNE of instrumental tunes that he wanted to shoehorn in...

Anyway, that's done so now we start the process of trying to INFLICT it on people, hence this further mentioning here. As ever, if you, dear reader, know any way of furthering this infliction on others we'd be very grateful if you could do so!

posted 19/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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In Praise Of A Dinosaur Planet
Now that I am properly COMMUTING to work I listen to my WalkPod a LOT, and as I came home last night it shuffled onto Literature Search, featuring Mr Chris T-T. I haven't listened to that song for AGES and I was surprised/delighted to discover a) how much I enjoyed it b) how NUTS it sounds.

This, added to Sunday's presentation of DRAWINGS of scenes from the story, made me decide to listen to Dinosaur Planet on the way to work this morning and, fittingly, I got all the way to Literature Search before reaching my stop. And do you know what? I thought it was GRATE - DANGEROUSLY so!

It's funny with Your Own Albums - when you're MAKING them you listen to them ALL the time and then when they're finished and released you do again for a while just because it's so EXCITING, but then that's pretty much it. I know some people say "Oh I cannot listen to my own records" (to which the sensible reply is "So why do you expect other people to then?") but I always find it's more a case that you've HEARD it so many times that you're not likely to feel the NEED to that often. Thus it is AGES since I've heard the whole album, meaning that today I came to it almost FRESH.

And I tell you what - it's quite a thing! Throughout the THREE FLIPPING YEARS it took to make it we kept saying "We've got to do this right and not cut corners, because we're not likely to ever do anything like this again" and when you listen to it I think you can TELL! There's SO MUCH going on ALL THE TIME - listening to the bit in the police station near the start I realised you could hear not just the dialogue and the background but things like CHAIRS scraping when people stand up, pages turning and phones being put back in their sockets. Later on there's a bit where you can HEAR the Corporal clicking his heels together and there's a section where Grandad walks down a corridor and puts the kettle on which took about an HOUR to get right! The dialogue was all done seperately (with different people recording their parts in Derby or London or at home) so EVERY sound effect was deliberate - looking back now I am AMAZED by how well it works!

Over and above the technical aspects though, the NICEST thing about listening back is hearing the voices of some of my FAVOURITE people in the whole wide world. It's funny - there's some sections which remind me of recording them (the Dinosaur Chorus in Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates conjures up some VIVID mental pictures of CONFUSION) but mostly I picture the CHARACTERS. Thus I can clearly see PC Darren being ordered around by Sergeant Phil and WPC Jenny, even though those three people have never been in the same room together.

It's wonderful but, as stated above, also DANGEROUS. I'm now far enough away from it all to have mostly forgotten how DIFFICULT it was. Also, now that I've given nearly all the copies away I don't have a MOUNTAIN of unwanted CDs in my flat. These, added to those drawings on Sunday, are starting to make me think that maybe it WASN'T such a crazy idea after all. All right, not many people bought it and hardly anybody played it on the radio and it did take several years of being annoyed and yes, yes it WAS incredibly stressful when the packaging had to be sent back TWICE, but hey! look at it now! Look at the artwork! Listen to all those sound effects!

I mean, FEAR NOT everybody, we've got the new Validators' album to sort out next year not to mention Hey Hey 16K to finish off, but once all that's done... maybe it wouldn't be beyond the bounds of sanity to do something similar again?

Or maybe I should just go and re-read the blogs about what a PAIN it was recording it all?

posted 17/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Perfect Finish (for now)
On Saturday night Mr S Hewitt and I were heading off to Cambridge to complete the current run of Hey Hey 16K. We'll be back for some more shows in February, but this would be GRAND FINALE for all the shows of 2015.

We got off to a good start with a healthy PINT in The Parcel Yard before zooming off to Cambridge and clambering into a TAXI. We were playing at The Centre For Computing History and last time I'd been I'd walked from the station but a) it was MILES and b) this time it was CHUCKING it down, so transport seemed SENSIBLE.

We were doing the show as part of "A Retro Gaming Night For Alli", a charity event raising money for Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield. The main draw of the evening was a chance for people to have a go on all the many and varied MACHINES (most loaded up with GAMES) that they have in the museum and, once we'd dropped our gear off, Steve and I took FULL ADVANTAGE of this - Steve had a go at Jet Set Willy while I, to paraphrase the song, very nearly got through Jetpac. It was GRATE!

Best of all though was a GIFT I received from some proud parents who presented me with pictures that their children, Wiley and Charlotte, had drawn based on Dinosaur Planet. They were BRILLIANT - Charlotte had drawn the meeting between Captain Keith and Muriel, while Wiley had drawn The Battle Of Peterborough (with a LOT of blood) and The Giant Robots. "We listen to it in the car," I was told, which pleased me NO END as, of course, that is where it is MEANT to be heard. I'm always EXTREMELY happy to hear that Actual Kids are listening to the album ESPECIALLY when there are drawings (which I always keep - I should do a GALLERY really). The only downside is that it does always make me think "Hey! Maybe doing ANOTHER concept album wouldn't be such a terrible idea after all!"

Soon it was SHOWTIME and, as with the last time I did a gig there, i felt REALLY guilty when Aidy from The British IBM had to go round the building ROUNDING people up, DRAGGING them away from the computers that they were there to play on. I had wondered whether anyone would bother coming into the classroom we were doing the show in, but as it was most people DID and we had people crowding in at the back STANDING UP because we hadn't put enough chairs out!

Steve and I were also a bit trepidatious because we weren't sure how the show would go down with this audience. As I point out at the beginning, it really ISN'T about The Home Computing Boom Of The 1980s, and I'd feared that at that point everyone would say "Sod that then, that's what I came for" and leave, but happily they did NOT. In fact, as it turned out, the audience were BLOODY LOVELY and laughed at all SORTS of stuff, almost as if they were a group of people who were mostly EXACTLY the right age to get all the jokes and references!

It was DELIGHTFUL, especially during the A.D.A. Lovelace / Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time section. Usually this is as close as we get to a bit of a LULL in proceedings but this time people WHOOPED it up - there was even a GASP of recognition when Ada appeared! I also thoroughly enjoyed the ACTING i have been doing lately (i.e. reacting AFTER Steve says a line, rather than during, and waggling my eyebrows at opportune moments) and there was an INCREASED level of tomfoolery throughout.

We had a BRILLIANT time, basically, and were only sorry to have to dash off in a taxi to get the last sensible train home, upon which we toasted our success with well-earned Train Beers. It was a great way to finish off a great year of Hey Hey 16K shows, let's hope that last few next year carry on in the same way!

posted 16/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Forging New Business Models
This week, for the first time in about TWO YEARS, someone very kindly bought a "Postman's Back Breaker Back Catalogue Gift Pack Attack" from the Special Offers part of our online shop. This was all very exciting, and caused me to go and have a rifle through my STOCK.

This is always a delight, but even more so these days as there is a lot LESS of it than there used to be. When i lived in Leytonstone the spare room was pretty much FULL of boxes and boxes of CDs but since then (thanks to a suggestion by The Stock In My Warehouse) i have been following a two pronged policy of stock reduction, firstly by giving away CDs to people who come and see our shows and secondly by not ordering MORE. This has worked extremely well - in fact it has worked almost TOO well, because I now find I have only ONE box of Forest Moon Of Enderby left and only about SIX copies of Dinosaur Planet!! These are the two CDs that I've generally given away over the past few years, I think I'm going to have to start giving away something else for the rest of the dates!

During this stock evaluation I discovered that I'm also out of the My Boss Was In An Indie Band and Better Things To Do singles, not because of any SALES RUSH but because as I've tended to chuck them as extras in when people order other stuff. I DO however now have a few more copies of Shed Anthems available, as another box was discovered in Tom's spare room a while ago - the shop has been updated accordingly!

While all this has been going on The Validators themselves have been back in action - not in the tawdry, run of the mill world of PERFORMANCE but in the THRILLING arena of Business Practice Methodology, as we've been developing new procedures for efficient collaborative album production. Oh yes - I am ready to deliver PAPERS at the Business Excellence Conference of your choosing!

As mentioned before, we're currently in the MIXING stages of our next album. Usually this would involve one or more of us spending several nights at Snug in Derby saying "Can you turn everyone else down?" before sending the results back to the rest of the band who would feedback by saying "Can you turn me up?" However, this time around I thought we could save ourselves the TRAVEL by asking Mr R Collins to just get on and do it himself - he's ENGINEERED all the sessions, know's what we're meant to sound like, and very definitely knows what he's doing, so it seemed like a sensible solution all round.

Now, however, we're onto the next bit which is us all listening to the tracks and giving thoughts on further TWEAKS. Early on we agreed that we'd discuss this amongst the band first and provide one unified list of changes, rather than BOMBARDING Rich with bits and bobs, and so we all agreed to listen and send back a) general impressions of the overall sound b) specific points for each song to ME by the end of last week, so I could compile them into one document.

The Validators are a well-oiled ADMIN MACHINE and so everyone duly complied, leaving me to create a surprisingly AGREEABLE list of comments. Much to my surprise we were in almost total CONCORD about what needs doing, with only one song causing any real dispute. We're currently in the process of discussing this document ready for fine tuning and sending back to Rich, after which we'll hopefully be almost ready for the next decision: the running order. We're probably going to be deciding that with a FITE!

And then, of course, we enter the wonderful realm of Actual Physical Copies. This time I'm going to try and NOT buy twice as many copies as I will ever sell - it'll mean less free copies to have to give away for the following five years, but it'll also mean I don't have to buy a new cupboard to keep them all in!

posted 13/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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War Horse
On Monday night The Members Of My Cast and I went to The THEATRE to see War Horse. Executive Summary: it was really good.

We went because the aforesaid Questions In My Quiz had entered a competition for tickets and WON! We did wonder whether we'd get palmed off with terrible seats but as it turned out we were RIGHT near the front, DEAD centre - pretty much the seats we would have picked if we could!

We got there a bit early so had time to appreciate The New London Theatre, which is very much like a NICE version of The Barbican or The South Bank i.e. that sort of 60s/70s concrete architecture but somehow FRIENDLY and welcoming. The Names On My Signs noticed that the two bars were called "The Wintergarden Bar" and "Middlesex Bar" and worked out that these were the names of the theatres that preceded it - she was RIGHT! Wot a BRANE!

The show itself was pretty amazing - it's about a horse that gets taken to the front during the First World War, basically, and The Big Gimmick of the production is that they have HUGE puppet versions of animals. They are INCREDIBLE - you don't FORGET that the main horse has three people working it at all times, but you see through them to an actual living animal, breathing and with its own personality. It's RATHER good!

The rest of the show was good too - it was staged very much in that Peter Brook/National Theatre way (i.e. that I only ever saw on Channel 4 documentaries and adolescent attempts to watch The South Bank Show) where it's a black backdrop, large ensemble cast playing different parts, and bits of PROPS and SCENERY that get re-used and moved around. It worked EXTREMELY well, SORT OF like a musical without songs... er... that DID have songs in it, but not a musical. If you see what I mean.

Anyway, it was dead good and at the end I had a SMALL CRY - HOORAH for Theatre!

posted 12/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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One For The Ages
On Sunday afternoon I headed into London Town to perform Hey Hey 16K at the Go Faster Stripe Festival. This was a MARVELLOUS all-weekend event where eight different shows were being filmed in front of an audience for release as a DVD. Mr S Hewitt and I were VERY excited and honoured to be part of it!

I'd spoken to the soundman a few weeks before - "I'm in a hospital!" I said to explain my poor phone reception. "Oh, I'm sorry." "No, I work here" - and he had a PLAN about how to record us. Steve and I have never used any amplification for this show and so they had to find a different way to record us. Stands and clip-on microphones were suggested but we had to gently decline them - using stands would throw us completely, as we're used to moving around on stage, and the hula hooping and cardigan changes would have made a RIGHT old racket with clip-ons. This meant they had to try out several different configurations of ambient microphones until they got it right, and even then there were FEARS that it might not be the best way of doing it. "Your voices might not sound very good", we were warned. "That'll be ACCURATE" we replied.

(I've since been told by Mr C Evans , the proprietor of Go Faster Stripe, that the footage "rocks". So that's all right then!)

I'd been a bit worried about how many people would come to see all the shows, especially ours, but Chris had cunningly got the room set out in CABARET style (i.e. with tables) so it looked pretty cosy and we had about 30 in for us, which is at the very TOP of our usual attendance level. It was a bit odd beforehand as there were people DOING things like lights and sound and cameras and Moving Furniture which is NOT what we are used to, and both of us were feeling a bit nervous. This performance would, after all, be RECORDED and would therefore probably end up being the DEFINITIVE version of the show for The Ages!

As it turned out it WAS pretty definitive in that we had fun, got some laughs, and cocked up several bits. My guitar went a bit out of tune halfway through which put me off, causing a TERRIBLE mistake where instead of giving Steve his PROP half-pint of Very Drinkable Beer I gave him MY almost finished pint of Somewhat Chewier Beer, meaning he couldn't show off his drinking skills OR enjoy it! The out of tuneness got worse as it went on so after a couple of songs Steve STOPPED me to sort it out, which was very wise. He then tried to go back a line so we could edit it back together, but then SOMEONE decided to mess around and make REMARKS so it'll probably have to stay in!

It was GRATE fun to do, and there was much relief when it was finished. Afterwards I spoke to the camera lady, who turned out to come from STAMFORD. "It's weird to hear someone say 'Stamford' out loud!" she said, which is what I always think when I hear it! We then regrouped in the dressing room (it had a DRESSING ROOM - though a different one from last time I was at The Bloomsbury, which I discovered was now an office by the simple method of going for a nosey around and bumping into the surprised man whose office it now is!) and had a Chris, who seemed pleased with how it had gone. We started to tell him a STORY and he WHIPPED out his phone to record it - DVD Extras!

That done we nipped over to The Euston Tap to meet Mrs M Hewitt for a quick pint which turned into two slower pints, so much so that we MISSED Bec Hill who was on next and only arrived back in time to see Mr G Osborn and Mr J Hare doing their soundcheck. I'd fully intended to stick around for the whole show but a) was knackered b) had had a LONG weekend and c) would be seeing The G-Dog in a few weeks for the next Totally Acoustic anyway, so decided that Going Home was the sensible option.

It turned out this was the CORRECT course of action, as 45 minutes later I was lying on my sofa at home fast asleep. SHOWBIZ!

posted 11/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A History Of Docklands
We had a lovely time with PARENTS at the weekend - after their TRIUMPH at Totally Acoustic on Thursday night we spent the next day stomping around in the Olympic Village. This featured a trip up The Squiggle, a wander round the park, a trip to Crate Brewery (who was a bit Arsey to be honest - I think I'll have a go at Howling Hops instead next time), and a long awaited return to Tap East. It was GRATE!

Saturday was similarly delightful although it did feature a trip to The Most Depressing Museum In London i.e. The Museum Of London In Docklands. I thought there was going to be a load of stuff about THATCHER and the building of Canary Wharf etc which I expected to make me FURIOUS. By the end of our visit a bit of Thatcher would have felt like light relief!

We started off with a trip to the third floor. Well, we started off with a cup of tea, but for the purposes of this narrative we'll skip that bit and do as the pamphlet instructed and go to the top of the building, where there was an exhibition about SLAVERY. It was an a) excellent b) profoundly DEPRESSING exhibition, which went into how it all happened, what it was like, and the effects it has had since. It was AWFUL. I slumped round feeling terrible that humans could do such a thing, especially BRITISH humans who were the worst perpetrators of it. Towards the end I got ANGRY instead, thinking about the rich bastards who profited from slavery and were never punished in the slightest and, indeed, are the ancestors of the rich bastards who are still in control of the country today. The last exhibit on the floor was a huge portrait of the first Chairman of The West India Dock company. "Who's this posh shit?" I growled to myself, leaning in to see his name.

His name was George Hibbert.

Thoroughly depressed by all this we went down to the second floor, relieved that we'd surely now DONE all the upsetting stuff. Here we were told the history of the building of Docklands, which largely involved OBLITERATING an entire town of working class housing and digging a big hole to fill with water. The occupants of these houses received no compensation and were shipped off to live in the already overcrowded East End, turning THAT area into a slum and ending up with everyone getting cholera and dying.

Surely - SURELY - I thought, things cannot be any worse on the last floor? Surely when we walk down one more flight of stairs there will be tales of jolly stevedores or sixties antics with the dock workers like what Peter Kay was in that Danny Baker programe?

We walked down a floor. "THE BLITZ".

So after all THAT we went for a thoroughly deserved pint, and then a couple more, and some whisky, before parents went off to their hotel and we went home. It had been a DELIGHTFUL visit, certainly delightful enough to survive the GRUELLING history or Docklands, but I needed to get back and to my bed for LO! the next day we were recording THE SHOW!!

posted 10/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Busy Night
Last Thursday I rolled up to The King & Queen to find it RAMMED with people. When I'd popped in a few days earlier I'd been warned that this might be the case, but apparently it was even MORE packed than expected as an EXTRA leaving do had arrived, wearing fezzes. The bar staff were BUSY, but being the bar staff of The King & Queen they handled it ADMIRABLY.

All of the acts arrived in very good time - Ay Carmela, Ivor Game, and NJ Hibbett (and Lin) i.e. some PARENTS! Dad and Lin were over for the weekend and had been collected by The Branches In My Tree and brought over for the occasion. They play in FOLK bands, so we thought it might be fun to have them come and play at Totally Acoustic some time. SPOILERS: it was!

We retreated from the THRONG, got set up upstairs, and welcomed a small but DELIGHTFUL group of people to the show. I'd spent a lot of my commuting time over the past couple of days listening to mixes of the new Validators' album (more on which later in the week) so thought I'd kick off with a couple of songs from that. As it happened the two songs I chose - We Did It Anyway and 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 also appear in Hey Hey 16K so it was a bit odd doing them SOLO, especially with Mr S Hewitt sat in his usual front row seat!

After that Dad and Lin came and on did ANOTHER two songs from the show, I Come From The Fens and Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer! It just so happened that these are the two of my songs they do ANYWAY, but it was still a funny coincidence. This was their first proper gig as a DUO (they usually play in a BAND - ROCK parents!) and they did really well, finishing with a rousing singalong version of "Streets Of London" which was GRATE. I was very proud!

Next up was Ivor Game, who I'd never seen play before. He emailed a few months ago to ask about playing, with links to some of his songs. This does occasionally happen and often I think "OH NO" because it's almost always from people who've never been to Totally Acoustic and think it's a stern faced folk club where everybody sits in glum silence looking at finger picking, so send me lengthy songs lacking much in the way of humour or choruses. Imagine my DELIGHT then when Ivor's stuff turned out to be WONDERFUL - the songs stayed with me for DAYS after listening to them then, and they are still with me four days later NOW, for LO! Live he was a REVELATION. Hugely tuneful, beautifully performed - he was ACE!

As indeed were Ay Carmela, who came on last. As an aged VETERAN of The Indie it is always heartening for me to meet some of these Young People who are doing the bands of now and LIKE them, and as members of Ay Carmela are a) in pretty much ALL the current Indie bands and b) LOVELY, I was very heartened indeed. They even joined in with a game of What Kind Of Publican Would You Be? (where you stand behind a bar and everyone works out, well, what kind of publican you'd be) which, to me, marks them out as GOOD SORTS. The gig was FAB, although there was CONFUSION amongst the audience as to where on earth the TAMBOURINE was coming from. The drummer was sat on one of those drum box things, and it was only after several songs that we all worked out that he had the tambourine on his FOOT. The relief in the room to have this answered was PALPABLE.

In summary then it was a BRILLIANT evening, which concluded as ever with CHAT before we made our way downstairs to find a scene of MADNESS. The pub is often BUSY downstairs after a gig but this time it was CRAZY. DANCE MUSIC was playing loudly, drunken people were staggering around and there was ACTUAL DANCING! It was weird, but rather nice - back in the day, approx 1,000,000 years ago when I started going out, everyone young or old went to the same pubs and so sometimes it would happen that a BOOZER would turn into an impromptu disco. I've not seen it happen for AGES and, though I was happy to see it could still occur, I was glad to be going home!

posted 9/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Always Finish On A Song
Slightly earlier than previously threatened, the VIDEO that I was on about the other day is now LIVE and on Youtube and Facebook and RIGHT HERE:

This is the last in the current series of videos - I think we might string some of them together into a ten minute "show" for foisting on PRODUCER type people in the hope of getting someone to actually PAY us to write something, but it's the last one we're planning to MAKE for a while. I must say I am VERY proud of Mr Dredge and I for actually managing to get a new video out every week for the past 10 weeks or so, and quite pleased with how it's all turned out, but it will be nice to give my eyes a rest from going BOGGLY EYED with the editing. Hopefully there'll be more but, as we come to an end for now, what better way to go out than with a SONG eh? Answer: NONE, there is NO better way!

posted 5/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Adventures In Acting
Sunday started with some JOLLY good news for me - my script "Alpha Male" has got through to the semi-finals of The Big Break Screenwriting Contest in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section! I was VERY pleased, but also surprised - this is the original version of the script which is now called "6 Billion To One" and has been re-written a LOT in the past few months, in answer to various CRITIQUES that said a) huge chunks didn't make sense and b) the ending's a bit boring, so for the original version do so well was, as I say, SURPRISING. Also: GRATE!

The rest of the day also involved FILM MAKING, as I was meeting Mr J Dredge to film the final video for this series of The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum. As this is the GRAND FINALE it seemed only logical to finish on a SONG, so that is what we did, and we had a VERY enjoyable time doing it. I was even able to use some of the ACTING skills i have developed in years of Fringe Performances e.g. when reacting to somebody else's line it is important to remember to react AFTER they have said it, not BEFORE. I know this is pretty HIGH LEVEL stuff what you would normally need an PhD in DRAMA to properly understand, but I offer it to you anyway.

It all seemed to go OK and when I got home it also LOOKED all right. Best of all though, it SOUNDS good - getting the sound right has been a RIGHT pain for all of our videos, but this one is almost entirely pre-recorded, so I don't have to worry about it so much. All I DO have to worry about is the epic psychadelic middle sequence i.e. what insurance should I take out for all the MINDS that we are bound to BLOW?

The desperate hope is that we'll have it done and out by Friday, but there's still quite a bit to do so it might end up being bumped until next week. You can, of course, be sure not to miss it by going and LIKING our facebook page. Go on, give us a LIKE! We LIKE the LIKING!

posted 3/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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An Intellectual Weekend
I had a right old weekend of BRANE FLEXING this weekend, full of culture and THORTS.

It began on Friday evening, when The Artefacts In My Exhibition and I went to see The Museum Is Where The People Are, an event run by UCL in The Olympic Park which was a) interacting with residents b) showing off some stuff they had in their collections and c) saying "Hey everyone! Did you know we have three museums open to the public? We totally do!"

It was rather good - we had a beer, heard a choir, looked at some things and The Words In My Conversation grabbed a passing Art Geek and got him to explain a PRINT to us, during which he told us about these three museums they have. It was a MOST pleasant, also ARTY, way to kick off a Friday evening which, for us, continued with TEA out and some beer. Hoorah!

The next day I was off to my old stomping/working ground of Birkbeck College, to attend Transitions 6, a one-day conference about COMICS. As mentioned previously, I'm due to start a PhD in COMICS this time next year, so Professor R Sabin, supervisor and all-round good guy, suggested i go to this. I must admit before I went I was thinking "I wish I could just stay home, I am ker-knackered" but actually it was GRATE. I've been to LOTS of conferences and they have usually been DREARY but this was really really interesting. The keynote was about British Girls' Comics and was BRILLIANT, then I saw a whole heap of DISCUSSIONS and THORTS, throughout which i found myself thinking "Hang on, I know what they're on about here AND I have opinions about it!"

In the middle of the conference I popped out for LUNCHEON with Mr J Dredge, where we discussed filming the FINAL video in this series of The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum (more news on that tomorrow!) and had some ideas about what to do NEXT. We then popped round for a quick look at The Cartoon Museum (because I'd not looked at ENOUGH comics that day) before I went off to fulfill an ERRAND.

For LO! It is Totally Acoustic on Thursday so I needed to nip to The King & Queen to drop off some posters. I bloody love that place - it's a PROPER PUB! I had a quick pint while I was there and marveled at the mix of people and the way everybody was happily co-existing in a unique, friendly environment - just like pubs SHOULD be. I wish I could go in there more often, it's lovely!

And then it was back for the second half of the conference. As I say, I'd started the day wishing I could have stayed at home but by the end I was SO glad I'd gone - it had reminded me that I AM going to be doing this crazy PhD thing and how much FUN it has the potential to be. On cold days when I'm having to get up early for WORK that's something to very much look forward to!

posted 2/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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