Week from Monday 5th December 2005

Miserable weather and a miserable brain meant that very little was achieved over the weekend. I veg'ed out with the M.U.ZAPPA novel - Let's hope they don't try to make a film of it with HUGH sodding GRANT in! I also got around to watching Terry Gilliam's film of "FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS" (Johnny Depp IS Hunter S. Thompson IS Raoul Duke!), entered "THE FREAK ZONE", did the crosswords and all that usual kinda weekend kinda jazz...

M'COLLEAGUE THE GLASS LADY has been clearing out her loft and she presented me with an elderly acoustic folky guitar she'd had tucked away up there. I put some new strings on it and polished it up - it'll do JUST DANDY as a slide instrument once I've broken it in. In return, I've lent her my PROJECTOR so that she can look at the boxful of photographic slides she also [re]discovered.

By process of elimination, I thought I'd nailed the optimumnumnmnm time for using that infernal dial-up connection malarkey (and actually achieving anything) as be mid- to late-afternoon. Ergo, my monitor bore the slogan

If thy E-Mail ye wishe to see,
Wait until a quarter to three!

rendered in a faux-amusant,'OFFICE MOTTO'/'BUMPER STICKER' sort of fashion, to remind me not to bother trying to use it at any other time. However it would now seem that applying even THAT narrow window of usage was no guarantee of success. I've tried several solutions (short of spending money that I haven't got) to improve connection 'at my end', such as using an alternative ISP and phone number, adjusting modem settings and drivers, reinstalling software, but none worked reliably. The CONSPIRACY THEORIST in me believes that the phone-lines and 'pay as you go' services have been DELIBERATELY SCREWED UP as a way to force us into using the more expensive options available.

(If you can read this, it's because I've found a new "WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY" at around one o'clock when everyone else has gone to lunch!)

If thy E-Mail ye wishe to be checked,
Then One of ye Clock is when to connect!

Week from Monday 12th December 2005

GIGANTIC POISONED ELECTRIC HEAD: All musical projects were curtailed due to a sudden attack of the regularly occurring, sinus-related, aural infection known, around these parts, as "FUNNY EARS". Actually it's not THAT funny, one of 'em is rather painful this time round. I WAS planning to record various random noises from my 'new' guitar (tapping the body in different places, scratching the strings with different plectra, using various household implements on the strings, yada yada yada standard avant-garde 'extended technique' vocabulary), to then input into the POOTER to use as source material for a sampling-collage-musique concrête-type project. I then realised that I don't actually have anything at home to record with anymore! My 'trusty' old FOSTEX, through years of neglect, has developed the kind of erratic pitch, stretching elastic band effect you used to get by sticking your fingers in the spools of a reel-to-reel machine and mucking about with the speed while recording - pushing back the envelopes of "WOW & FLUTTER"; an interesting EFFECT, but useless for normal use. I have the use of a handy little DICTAPHONE, but the manufacturers of same have cunningly used non-standard jack sockets for the 'ins' and 'outs', thus making it necessary to purchase THEIR microphones and cables to connect to other devices - useless for what I wanted to do.

I did a short piece based on a FUNNY FOSTEX TAPE - I might as well use the "effect" just this once before I throw the machine away - but I don't know what it sounds like yet, as I'm wearing this ridiculous woolly hat over my ears.

This week, the "FREAK ZONE" contained a greater-than-usual amount of hideousness as it was a "BEATLES SPECIAL", being the anniversary of the day that JOHN LENNON got out of bed on the wrong side. The programme included some REALLY CHEESY cover versions, which made you realise how much better the originals were in comparison (even if, like me, you are of a minority who think that The Beatles are highly over-rated - Hello Blockhead!).

I can't help noticing from recent "FREAK ZONE" progs that there is a disturbing trend spreading amongst - ahem! - RECORD COLLECTORS, whereby appreciative noises are being made about late-'sixties and early-'seventies LIBRARY MUSIC and easy-listening. Sixty-pee Woolly's compilations are changing hands for three-figure sums. The Mike Sammes Singers and Jack Emblow are spoken of in hushed tones. THESE ARE VERY WEIRD PEOPLE. To my [admittedly, at the moment, damaged] ears, most of it STILL sounds like sub-James Last ELEVATOR MUZAK of the CHEESIEST KIND, way beyond warranting ANY sort of attention, ironic or otherwise. It's not grown-up, it's not clever and it's certainly not that FREAKY!

But Hey! What do I know? If JUSTIN "kind of so-called Professor kind of" SPEAR starts doing features on the "ZONE" about BERT KAEMPFERT, then I'll KNOW the music world is in the hands of cloth-eared fools.

Week from Monday 19th December 2005

Our Classical Music Correspondent DON G.O'VARNEY writes: "Dear Radio Three, but what if you DON'T WANT to listen to Bach?" ... The BBC, in their wisdom, have decided that a good way to celebrate the Festive Season AND the composer's 320th Birthday (320th?) is for Radio 3 to broadcast NOTHING BUT the complete works of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH between now and Xmas Day. All well and good, as CONCEPTUAL RADIO goes, and pleasant enough listening, but after just a couple of the two-hundred-and-something hours on offer, it begins to dawn on you just how similar it all sounds. Remember that in the 17th and 18th Centuries, composers were employed by Kings and Dukes who WANTED it that way - "Just knock me out another of those harpsichord sonatas, I quite liked the last one!" - If the composer found himself a "BIG HIT FORMULA", then he was content to recycle himself for evermore, as long as the folks who paid his wages were happy. A bit like Status Quo really. Still, there must enough people out there who think that JSB is the corgi's cojones, for Radio 3 to blank out the twenty-first century altogether for a week or so.

This Sunday was the last chance of the year to 'do' a CARBOOT SALE: Not a terribly impressive turnout, and what WAS there was covered in frost, but I did get one-or-two last-minute XMAS ITEMS for various folks. The Pre-Xmo Sunday papers always feature bigger-than-usual CROSSWORDS, that are supposed to take 'the average family' the entire holiday period to complete, but these have, of course, been dispatched by Tuesday morning as usual. THE LAST BIG WIND-DOWN WORKING WEEK BEFORE XMAS is time to call in some debts and, in turn, pay people who need paying, so that I may HOLIDAY with a clear conscience! And just for the hell of it, I added a new WELCOME screen to THIS HERE WEBSITE. Because I can.
Hooray! It's time to HIBERNATE! See you in a couple of weeks!