Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Paul the Prince

Why do I love Paul Weller so much?? Well here's but one stirling example.. Performing Broken Stones



Broken Stones performed on the Jools Holland show in 1995. The song appears on 1995's Stanley Road, perhaps the album that is most indicative of Weller at the apogee of his powers (although the man has hit many peaks with great albums scattered throughout 30 years of record-making).

Weller's Broken Stones is up there with any of his finest songs. This is classic songwriting that mixes toe-tappin' soul with Otis Redding vocal stylings. Weller looks great, plays the piano great, sings great, is utterly fluid and in the groove with his music. Great hair, great jacket, fantastic cravat!!

You're the prince, Paul!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Advice on diabetes control, and, the supplements I take


Last weekend I had a friend of a friend ask me to send him information of all the supplements I take to help control my type 2 diabetes; he’d been given a rundown of my golden report card from our mutual friend. Instead of emailing you, Wayne, I’m blogging this episode (as I’d had in mind to for some months now), so hello to you!

First things first, diet and exercise are the key determinants to maintaining satisfactory blood sugar levels. Your unswerving determination in maintaining a regular diet and exercise plan is crucial to reversing diabetes and to preserve your overall long-term health. You must remain resolute and steadfast at all times. You don’t have to be conscious of your condition as something that takes over your every waking hour, instead you keep your background awareness locked in to the pursuit of diabetes management at all times. This will guide you to the right foods, the right exercise, the right supplements, etc.

Diet:

"The closer you are to nature the better off you'll be...hunters & gatherers is what we are". These are the words from a blunt dietician I visited at the D-clinic when I was first diagnosed. This takes you to what you should eat, you're intake should consist largely of free vegetables with about half of that comprising of raw salads. By "free" you keep your intake of starch-rich veges like potatoes to an absolute minimum. (Sweet potatoes, the orange ones, are fine though.) You must acquaint your taste-buds to the vibrancy and delicacy of fresh, enzyme-rich salads and vegetables. This is an absolute MUST if you wish to have any success with this venture.

If you eat meat or chicken then keep that to a reasonable minimum and make sure you serve yourself lean cuts only. Nonetheless the intake protein is important with every meal. I prefer tuna and vegetarian options such as chick peas, soy etc.

For breakfast I eat raw muesli in soy milk and add dark berries & yoghurt.

Snacks - here's the killer! You MUST get out of the habit of craving & consuming junk foods. These include biscuits, cakes, chocolate etc. This is not to say that these foods are absolutely forbidden, but to maintain diabetes control these foods must stay clear out of your daily habitual intake. Reserve cake for special events only, and only have a very fine sliver. Or have a full-piece if the cake is low fat & low sugar. Chocolate is very high in saturated fat and should only be consumed rarely and minusculey. My advice is to go for the dark, cocoa-rich varieties.

I recommend you get into the habit of snacking on fruit. The sugars in fruit are blended with dietary fibre and are rich in nutrients. Most fruits are low-glycaemic, meaning that it takes an extended about of time for the glucose to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore 2-3 pieces of fruit per day are fine. Apples and other cool-climate fruits remain the best option although citrus is good. You just need to be a little careful of tropical fruits as these are relatively sugary and high-glycaemic.

Other snacks I like to nibble on are goji-berries (these are antioxidant-intensive), and raw nibble mixes. Raw nibble mixes include raw nuts, raw sunflower seeds and some sultanas and are available at health-food shops. ALWAYS choose the "raw" option. Remember, the closer you are to nature the better off you'll be.
There are biscuits available that are low-glycaemic and with that (and most pertinently) are low in fats and refined sugars. If you eat biscuits, hunt these ones out at your store.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrate-rich foods are fine in moderation. Remember that veges & salad should make up the bulk - roughly half - of your intake. Always choose low or mid-glycaemic options of bread, rice & pasta. Avoid white bread if you can, particularly the sliced loaf variety. (Italian style bread is a little better - in moderation this is ok). Ideally go for low glycaemic breads with the seeds etc. Most breads have labels on their packets, always go for the low-GI variety. Remember to keep your bread intake moderate.

The same applies to rice. Most strands of rice are glucose-intensive and like potatoes, these travel into your bloodstream as glucose faster than table-sugar! That they are a little more nutritional that table-sugar make them the more viable option however. With rice try and stick to Basmati or Doongara at all times. And do not eat any more rice than you absolutely need to.

Table sugar and sugars in general - keep to an absolute minimum although it's not the end of the world if you swallow a bit of the stuff. Train your taste buds to do away with sugar and sugar-substitutes in your coffee and tea. I'd only recommend natural sugar-substitutes such as stevia & xylitol. By and large your tastebuds will become sensitive to sugar when you begin to avoid it and you won't be craving sugar in your drinks any longer.

Avoid soft-drink!

Alcohol - a double-edged sword here. Alcohol has the short-term effect of lowering your blood sugar because, in a nutshell, the liver is too busy dealing with the turps to have to deal with its other functions such as converting glycogen into glucose. For those who take medication or insulin, care needs to be taken when consuming alcohol as the frequent risk is going hypo, ie, going too low in blood sugar levels. The problem is that alcohol is high in calories and converts to fat very easily. Overweightness with diabetes is anathema as overweightness blunts insulin sensitivity and therefore creates higher blood-sugar. Alcohol is also damaging to the body and particularly the endocrine system, and as diabetes is a form of compromised endocrine function, you don't want to exacerbate this by boozing. Remember too that the liver plays a highly important role in diabetes management, second only to the pancreas in fact.

Nonetheless alcohol is fine in moderation if you have every other aspect of diabetes control in check. The better options are red wine & beer as these have some nutritional and therapeutic value. They also contain chromium too which is an important mineral for blood sugar regulation.

Fats:

Avoid crappy fats like you'd avoid the plague, particularly man-made trans-fats. Trans-fats are often cited as causal to glucose-resistance which is a major track leading to diabetes. Evidence shows that trans-fats harden the lining of the cells. With diabetes you need to keep your cells as open and supple as possible. Therefore - avoid take-away foods that include pastries, margarines etc. Check the labels on foods you buy. You don't go where trans-fats are, as much as you can help it.

Keep saturated-fats to a minimum. Keep processed foods that are high in saturated-fat to the absolute minimum, in fact avoid these altogether. Some saturated fat will be found in animal foods. Other poly or monounsaturated fats will be found in natural foods such as avocados, nuts, fish etc. These are ok, as are natural oils such as olive oil, uncooked. Keep frying to a minimum. Just avoid the processed junk-fats and you're halfway there to overcoming the big D2.

If you like pizza choose the vegetarian options (or tandoori chicken if you like that), with minimal cheese and a flat base. No pan-fried options!!!! (full of crap fats).
Cheese is perfectly acceptable in moderation.
Fats do not raise blood-sugar levels in themselves. Excess, refined fats however cause cellular resistance to insulin. With diabetes you need to hone your body to be as insulin sensitive as can possibly be.

Exercise:

You must exercise. At least 45 minutes a day preferably. If you enjoy brisk walking try and make sure you walk some inclines, hills etc. This will stimulate your muscle mass in your legs more. Muscle is very sensitive to glucose and when stimulated will take in blood sugar faster than when you are sedentary. Do push-ups, swim, get your blood pumping, circulation racing. You’ll sensitise your body to insulin in the long run and you’ll be burning off excess blood sugar in the process.

If you’ve done everything I’ve said you’ll have done much to reverse diabetes. Diabetes type 2 is reversible, meaning, that it’s a relative form of cure, but in my opinion it is not absolutely curable. No matter how well you’re doing, if you go to watch a game one afternoon and eat a hot dog, hot chips and sink a few beers, you’ll have ruined it. You can never go back there again, to the crap-eating days, if you were there to begin with (I wasn’t).
Be determined, be purposeful, be happy, be forward, love life, love your body. Enjoy your body in action as it walks, swims, makes love, delights in the sunlight. Meditation and yoga can be highly beneficial. Drink lots of water, avoid stress, and most of all, remain grateful for your life.

Ok, here’s my regimen of supplements. There are others worthy to explore such as Ginko, American Ginseng etc. Consult your naturopath and formulate a plan with them. In my opinion, CoEnzyme Q10, Chromium, and Gymnema & Bitter Melon are the primary supplemental necessities for diabetes control….and then you have magnesium, zinc etc. I wish you well on your journey!

Morning, upon awakening.

Glass of sparkling mineral water mixed in a teaspoon of wheatgrass powder, a half-teaspoon of calcium ascorbate, and a pinch of oj to taste.

Breakfast: usually raw muesli with sprikles of psyllium & amaranth, blueberries & yoghurt. Coffee. Dandelion tea. Ceylon tea.

Glass of sparkling mineral water with 1 heaped teaspoon of Olive Leaf Extract (immunity & well-being), & half a teaspoon of Bitter Melon powder (blood sugar), some Tumeric powder sprinkled on top, taken with:
- - 1 capsule of Astragalus (immunity)
- - 1 capsule of Ginger (immunity & well-being)
- - 1 capsule of Gymnema (blood sugar), 4grams
- - 1 capsule of CoEnzyme Q10 (cellular energy production & well-being), 50mg
o o I take Blooms brand of CoEnzyme…it includes Salmon oil & Vitamin E for effective assimilation.
- - 1 capsule of Liver Tonic, containing St Marys Thistle etal, usually ‘Natures Own’ brand.

after Lunch:
- - 1 capsule of full dose Men’s Ultivite Swisse brand, multi-vitamin/mineral/herb compound
- - 1 capsule of CoEnzyme Q10, 50mg (this substance is supplementary to that which is naturally occuring in the body).

after Dinner:
Glass of sparkling mineral water with a heaped teaspoon of Olive Leaf Extract, taken with:
- - 1 SucroBalance tab, ‘Natures Own’ brand although there are viable equivalents. This contains:
o o 50mcg of Chromium (blood sugar)
o o 2g of Gymnema
o o 1g of Grapeseed extract (?...something good!)
o o Magnesium
o o Zinc
o o Etal
- - 2 capsules of Pao D’Arco (immunity & well-being)
- - 2 capsules of Fenugreek (immunity, colds & flu, blood sugar)
- - 2 capsules of Lecithin (liver)
- - 1 capsule of odourless Arizona Garlic (immunity, colds & flu, blood sugar)
- - 1 capsule of Gymnema (*optional extra*)
- - ½ teaspoon of Bitter Melon mixed with the mineral water (*optional extra*)
Finally, sprinkle CINNAMON on your coffee!!! Cinnamon regulates blood glucose very well. Cinnamon cappucinos for you, from here on.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Showtime: sex art war & the main man


Showtime
hang a guitar on my shoulder
check the vacant drooling faces around the room
another heartbreak battle
and I'm only getting older
Jesus help me when I say
I'll give this all up pretty soon
Daytime
time to fight the morning's headache
gulp an aspirin bang together one more song
inspiration cauterised by years of useless heartache
every shallow night's reaction
sounding twisted up and wrong
these last years
years gone down to the showtime...
- by Don Walker from the song 'Showtime' from the Cold Chisel album Breakfast at Sweetwearts 1979.
It's been a busy fortnight for me just passed. Much live theatre, live music and a couple of live performances over the past week. Tonight being Sunday is my first night in since the week before last when I was dogsitting, and I'm now feeling the wearying effects of not having enough rest or sleep.


Drama School have executed a brilliant season of graduate plays carrying the theme "Sex Art War". Roy Williams's Days of Significance was a modern, pertinent expose on disenfranchised British youth. From what appeared at the outset to be a typical Brit-punk piece of schoolboy/class-war theatre in the likes of Nigel Williams's Class Enemy, Days brought in the element of the boys going off to fight the war in Iraq. The play melds around the life of these boys and the stay-at-home girls who feebly attempt to come to grips with these mighty war issues they do not fully comprehend and are not permitted to have an educated understanding of, thus they take their confusion and uninformed zealousness out on each other. Not much fun to be had, but gripping theatre and performances nonetheless.

Brad Fraser's Unidentified Human Remains and the True nature of love is something of a masterpiece of modern theatre. It's very of its time, late-80s/early-90s, very north American ala Toronto/New York. The characters delve into their amoral, hedonistic sexual obsessions and come through it all in confusion, loneliness and fear, even pyschosis and sadism. Amidst the panoramic set design that made the stage appear a lot larger than it was, the play was directed with a pace and precision that gripped Fraser's terrific script into a most enjoyable night at the theatre. Unidentified Human Remains is essentially a most well-written play. Concise yet weaving with a tight narrative flow and wonderful imaginative flourishes, Fraser really melds into the psyche of his characters and situations. No wonder this play has been a great success for him ever since its first production some 18 years ago.

Neil LaBute has been a rising star in American playwriting & scriptwriting over the past decade. He goes places no others have quite dared to. The Shape of Things is a four-hander, a dark comedy with many laughs to be had. Underneath LaBute's brittle humour is his devastating expose of ruthlessness in the realm of love and relationships. One only has to see the film In the Company of Men to witness how uncomprisingly brutal LaBute allows his characters to be, puncturing the expectations of love with cold, sharp ruthlessness. The Shape of Things centres on an art student and her relationship with an English-lit student. Throughout the course of their relationship he allowed her to influence him to change his hairstyle, lose weight, shed the glasses, don a sportier jacket, have a nose-job, drop his friends and even videotape their sex. All this to discover by the end of the play that she was using him for her art project with their relationship and its before & after photos, its garments, and videotapes, all on display. What is art, and what is love? These were the questions left wafting at the close of this classic LaButian play.
Last Saturday night 11 Oct Brig & I did a nice gig at a classy inner-city venue. Pennie & Bruno made an impromptu appearance and hung around to watch a set which was nice. (Always great to see Pennie & Bruno). I'd warily noticed there were loads of kids sitting on the street as I was packing up and loading the gear. These kids weren't causing much drama except to themselves, loads of beer & cheap wine guzzling with flurries of aggressive language being thrown about wantonly. I didn't like the vibe at all so I pulled up a flurried exit mit haste smoke & fume.


I played on Thursday night at the Raglan which turned out to be a very pleasant, soothing night of reciprical performance and listening to others get up and play. There was even a bit of money to be had, $20 which kindly paid itself for the salad and drinks I bought on the night. The Raglan in Alexandria is the sort of place where, for its apparently non-descript surroundings, you can genuinely relax and lie back as you take in the music and the constant supple sips of red wine.
This afternoon I did a set down at the Kauri in Glebe. The photo above is taken from one of the pub's windows. It was ok, a pleasant afternoon out all in all. In a fortnight I'll be providing the p/a and wearing my mr. soundguy hat. This should imply a few extra bob in hand for me, depending of course on how many beers are pulled during the course of the afternoon. And being the fastidious bastard I am I'll probably take along my whip. I can't stand lackadaisical pick-yer'nose performer types!!!

On Tuesday night I slunk off across town to see the main man play at the Annandale. Now this was a solo gig which is a curious anomaly considering that the Annandale is suited far more to alternative bands weekend grunge gigs. It's a fine live venue housing a large dark, dank room and is not so suited to acoustic singer-songwriters, particularly mid-week. Tuesday was cool and wet and the sort of night you'd just love staying home and being poised within your shelter and blankets. But because I love the main man and try and support him and his blessed music as often as I can, I drove myself over across town to the Annandale.

Parking near the venue was a forboding experience. The place had that empty vibe about it, resembling a bat cave that discouraged probing, attention. No inviting atmosphere to speak of at all. I walked in and spoke to the kid at the door. The main man was scheduled to commence his set at 9:50. It was 9:35. I'm hear the tinny, earnest sounds of young-guy rock penetrating through the drab'n'darkness. I smiled and said I'd be back in 15 minutes. I took off into the street and walked up Parramatta Road, strolling past and window shopping at all those guitar shops. In particular there's a new store called 'Bass People' that specialise in quality bass guitars. The two guitars on window display were an Alembic and a custom Warwick Streamer. I couldn't help but notice the 4-star showroom price tags, was this a spivvy sports-car dealership or a bass shop? The Alembic and the custom Warwick Streamer are the best of the best admittedly, when you're talking bottom end.

I walk around the block, purposefully and briskly. I walk past no one. It is drizzling. The cars whurr through on Parramatta Road in both directions, driven by people eager to be arrived at their destinations of settlement. I finally hurry back into the Anny to pay my twelver and go into the gigroom. The main man is tuning up. I see someone I know and we share a polite chat and I buy him a beer. He's there to see the support act but seeing the main man he tells me, 'is a bonus'.

I loved the set but it was obvious the main man was not enjoying it. Truthfully, it was an inconsonant time and place for this sort of thing. All of us would better off be home that night - that's what was in the air, perhaps to be transported to another venue on another night...the Manly Boatshed for instance which purportedly, I gather from the words of the main man's blog, was a much better gig.

Nonetheless the main man is a magic musician and I felt better and stirred and inspired for hearing those wonderful songs on a rainy Tuesday night. In particular the 'main song' was performed with more of a stark, almost pained, poignancy than I'd ever heard it. Long may the main man keep strummin' that 12-string! Thank you killa, for your gift, and your tremendous music.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Doreen in the nude



Doreen in the nude, as performed by Al Ward on 21 September 2008 at the Balmain Rowers Club Balmain. The song is co-written by Al Ward himself and Lee Williams. The song was recorded in 1979 by Al's band, the Hokum Ensemble, then featuring Alan Meadows, my brother-in-law, on lead vocal. I don't have a copy of this song in it's original 1979 incantation. I'm awaiting digitisation of the vinyl EP they recorded and released back then, during the wonderful Balmain-year of 1979 and I look so forward to hearing Alan Meadows singing 'Doreen in the Nude' again from that EP. He performs the song with a delightful comic theatricality, full of little adlibs. The soundtrack is replete with kazoos, mandolins, washboards. In short it has that classic, authentic jug'blues sound.

I believe Doreen in the Nude, written by Al Ward & Lee Williams, to be one of the greatest Australian songs ever written, post-European settlement.

That may not be overtly evident here. I suspect Al hadn't performed this song in a very long time yet he pulls it off suavely and admirably. It's a way more laid-back delivery of the song compared to the original, more Australiana John Williamson in style, almost country.

Notice the audience becoming more animated with their laughter as the song progresses. :) Alan Meadows chimes in with the harmony on the line '...moonlight on your knees'!

The supreme magic of the song nonetheless exudes. Doreen in the Nude is stirring and uplifiting, and will make you laugh and smile. Enjoy!

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...