Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Content and Concept

Travelling home from work on the bus last night, I overheard two men talking about their experience of a play they had just been to see. One of the men was keen to usher the point that in the production of a 'radical' piece, the concept should not be allowed to overule the content. Although his friend appeared to be replying somewhat disengenously to his provocations, I thought the main protaganist was proffering something of substance through his meditations. He acknowledged the value and neccessity for conceptualism but remained ambiguous as to where boundaries should be drawn. This is of course the fundamental component behind our drive for creativity and it made me think further about all that I've so far learnt in architecture and most recently, the film and it's concept referred to within this post.

There seems to be an increased frequency in the amount of drivel flowing around my brain at present and I'm struggling to ascertain where I should mark the edit points. I suppose that's the joy of keeping a blog in which I am answerable to nobody, but free to write as much or as little as I like without practical consequence.

This week, I've had the pleasure of watching Keith's film - 'L’Etranger: 85 days in Font'. I'll be stunned if you consider yourself a climber and haven't at least heard of his excellent production. As one would expect of this scientifically minded gent, the film wasn't merely "put out there", but had experimental roots in freeconomics. That's not to say he was giving away a laptop or penthouse suite with every download as some of you materialists might be accustomed to by now; rather, he was intrigued to see how the climbing 'community' would respond to an above average climbing production and the concept of donating an arbitary amount (a similar experiment to Radiohead's recent album release). I need say no more as you should be reading Keith 'Karl Popper' Bradbury's own words via his blog (

The film was a refreshing change from skipping through 20 minute car journey scenes (granted there are some short scenes in this vein, but they have been well considered) as many productions are wont to do. It was nice to see plenty of shots of failed attempts on hard boulder problems rather than just an edit of the successful attempts. This is especially humbling for those out there who aren't Fred Nicole or John Gaskins as attention is drawn to the 'act' of slaying problems toward the upper echelons of one's ability at a given time; the bizarre differing of responses by Keith in surmounting the different problems was of most interest to myself.

My only piece of constructive criticism concerns the typographical choice. I understand the semantics behind what Keith has tried to do but feel that there's a whole world of other typefaces that could perhaps better represent the intention. Please feel free to correct me in this assessment Keith if I'm seen to be uttering gibberish. My love of type sometimes overcomes me and reduces me to the nerd that I am!

I've been keeping some scribbled notes in my Moleskine (read: he definitely is a pathetic nerd!) about some things I wish to comment on. Although of little consequence, they amuse and entertain me at the present time and I hope to document them over the coming week. I feel the supermarket value milk chocolate review will be of great use to you in particular.

Lorenzo - The guru's training plan is starting to pay dividends. I feel as though I'm coming to occupy a new shell; one which is more powerful and more subtedly aware of itself than before.

I'm considering keeping a seperate architectural blog at the moment in preparation for the months ahead. I can't say it will be of interest to any of you but it'll hopefully act as a suitable repository for my ideas and inspirations.

I hope you are all well.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Builder done good

Not normally akin to making two blog posts in a day but I thought this little observation warranted a rant.

Working in a large climbing wall situated within a large city, I get to see all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds. From 4 year old gypsy children from the neighbouring wasteland popping in to steal milk to 40 year old upper middle class business people undergoing 'team-building' exercises (quite why the cut-throat environment of modern day competitive business has any business to do with 'team-building' seems a grand irony).

My favourite observation though has to pertain to women. On a daily basis, highly attractive women come to the wall alongside their boyfriend. Never, ever, ever will you see an attractive woman at the wall with a high level climber. Instead, she will be seen with the mandatory template 'V0-campus-in-poor-style' awful haircut and mildly offensive gut specimen. He will thrutch and lunge at every jug through the top section of the step wall, ultimately culminating in the 'will he, won't he' last move which although never graceful, is always amusing. He will hit that jug in the least helpful manner, and from possessing a 13 second lactic threshold will fall dramtically and awkwardly back to the dusty old blue mat that swallows up thousands of his type every year. Despite this, his uber attractive peer will wow at his 'big' muscles and later at home comment on 'how strong and heroic' he was today at the wall. He will deposit semen across her breasts in an act of masculinity and tomorrow they will dream of buying an SUV or a deluxe Barratt home in Congleton.

All this, despite Crouch mounting the campus board to the tune of 1-4.7-7.7 on small rungs in elegant style subsequent to your man's thrutching display. And it's this that makes me realise why attractive women never adorn the arm of high level climbers. In order to be a high level climber, you live that sort of monk life referenced earlier today. Women like the aforementioned want to watch X-Factor in between a fuck before heading to the News bar. Shit I'm so judgemental but I know I'll see the same tomorrow!

My time at the wall will soon be over as the hedonistic lifestyle must end and the dollar must flow into the bank. But I have to say, this daily sight pleases me greatly and it's almost a satisfactory substitute for poor pay, inadequate hours and valuable training time.

Destroy the boulders friends and maintain the hunt for that Spanish sport climbing beauty you know is out there.

The Monk Life

Is exactly what is required to crush hard blocs. I'm in the 1% of people that can't see Keith's video yet as ibook g4 is now too low spec. However, I just watched the trailer and it awoke something within me. It was a strong feeling and it combined everything I love; bouldering, techno, and devotion. Don't even know why I'm writing this post. I'm going to destroy today's training plan installment.

Monday, 21 July 2008

So solid poo

Headed to crag y on saturday past for a meetup with M. McShane, Hession, Jennings, Adams and Sugden. Conditions were in our favour and shit was getting sent like UPS by the majority. Despite feeling strong, I didn't send anything new and indeed struggled to find the crucial toe scum on The Fool (7c+ to 7b+!). I attributed this to me not having my old soft top V10s, but M. Jennings being the wisened old dog that he is suggested it was a mere balance transfer issue and insinuated that I am a technique punter. Indeed I am, who needs feet? Shall sort this next time out.

I'm now ensconced within the guru's training plan and can feel the onset of some serious gains. Deadhangs with 2 sandbags and a weighted belt have never felt so good!

Deep into the hunt for temping work at the moment, so not much to report. Due to a lack of money and food, I'm at my parents Ivory towers for a week or two in the hope that I can eat more than dry Weetabix in order to sustain and prolong my existence. Crouchie, we must end this lifestyle and go on an Awesome strike!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Parisella's express

I have a confession.

The guru's plan was to commence on Monday just passed except it hasn't yet started. Last Sunday I did the tests as required, but knew this would be the last week where I could get outside for quite some time and hence intend to start tomorrow.

As some of you know, I have some unfinished business in the cave; a problem that has conspired against me continually. The gaps in between sessions on this problem have been too great and thus so far denied me of success. On Friday, between groups at the wall, D and I headed to the cave for a 1.5 express session. D has a similar affair, albeit not quite as tried, so we hit the theraband hard, made sure all muscles were warm and got stuck in. Pleasingly, I managed to pull onto Trigger Cut and hit the trigger. I never used to be able to even pull off the floor, so this micro goal was a satisfying one. I didn't do the main event problem but instead realised something interesting.

If you come to have a protracted siege on a problem that becomes a bugbear to you, you find yourself evolving around the problem - "I could never used to do the second move but never fail on the crux move" becomes "now I can do the second move whilst asleep but not the crux move." You come to feel finite improvements in one particular sector of your bicep (at least that's how it feels). The distance between the holds seems to dimish tenfold and their size becomes exaggerated.

Now, there are no moves I cannot do and can in fact do the finish footless on repeat. I'm quite aware that in order to do a problem you have to be both stronger than it and be able to perform that succession of moves so that you are essentially still fresh at the endpoint. In a similarly protracted manner, therein lies the simple explanation for non-completion (it's not failure). To climb things close to your limit (except it feels nowhere near in the strength department), you need to get on them more frequently. But will the next few months and years afford me the time to continue developing physically and technically? If the return to architecture is still such an appealing prospect, I sense not.

Speaking of which, the final decision is to be made this week. By Friday, my future will be dictated by this. I need to sit down and do some number crunching/feasability checks, meet with an architect and then make a fully informed decision.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Bring the noise

As many of you will have noticed, the last two weeks have been vile, humid times. Humidity is my number one enemy, making me feel sleepy and downright lethargic. Lethargy isn't a great friend of high intensity, small crimp based indoor bouldering sessions and as such, I've resorted to a month of hardcore routing. I've been having a lot of simulated clipping sessions on the step wall in preparation for some things I'd like to clean up at the Tor in good time. I've actually really enjoyed it and seem to be making fast gains clipping off small edges on overhanging boards with minimal footholds. Granted Crouch has been doing such circuits with a weightbelt but I'm still catching up from the lack of training from the first semester of architecture.

Speaking of which....

It's been time for the thinking to end and the action to start. Some simple facts; I am not Dave Graham or Chris Sharma. Nobody wants to pay me to climb. I'm good at Architecture and would dearly love to work in the profession. I can't work such cushy hours as I'm doing right now for all my life. I need to be challenged in a working capacity. I don't deserve to be paid coppers when I'm in possession of a brain. A sedentary state of mind breeds a mental malaise.

The sum total of this realisation is that next week is a week of direct action. I have two meeting's lined up with architectural associates and I'm going to probe their minds about some issues that I need to address. I'm trying my ultimate hardest to get decent hours in an architectural practice doing anything that can immerse me in that form of environment.

So next week sees 2008's Raven Tor season start. Myself and Mr D will be at the Tor at Gaskins O'Clock to receive optimum temps thus preventing prime excuses for failure. There will be no grease to fight and no crowds to negotiate. There will only be success.