Week from Monday 3rd April 2006

After many years of devoted service, I decided that my ancient AppleMac should be put into retirement. The [original!] mouse was starting to get a bit tired, and the P-RAM battery was long overdue for replacing (so when you turn it on, it's 1956 and in black-and-white). Oh, and the inkjet printer is empty. Nowadays, the machine only gets used for running an accounts spreadsheet on Claris Works and for the occasional game of Seahaven Towers. I've had it for well over ten years now; previously it had been Shelfy's, before that it was a state-of-the-art machine working for Southampton University. Show me a fifteen-year old Windoze PeeCee with THAT sort of history (that still works)!

So I've packed it all away, thus clearing up deskspace for my EVEN OLDER Amiga 2000, affectionately known as "BIG BROWN". As I mentioned elsewhere, I've been revisiting some of my electronic 'ballet' music from the last century for a 'PROJECT'*, so it'll be handy to have ready access to the technology on which much of it was originally created: a Motorola 68000 processor, 8-bit sound and graphics, 60-odd megs of hard drive and 3 megs of RAM - That was the doggie's doings in 1990, I'll have you know!

The boring 'SERIOUS' stuff will now be the sole domain of this here PeeCee and the AMIGA will become my 'HOBBY' machine of choice, rather like a treasured vintage motorcycle. CAR-BOOT SALES sometimes turn up useful spares for old Amigas. Over the years, I've accumulated several boxes full of stuff, useful and otherwise, although I've yet to find a MIDI-to-serial interface box for it. 

I spent FAR too long playing TETRIS on the ol' beauty. By Saturday evening, I was seeing coloured bricks when I closed my eyes... A dose of the old "CHEESY LUCIDS" put pay to that though and I dreamt about something involving a nuclear power station and some zebras.

As I write this, I'm thrilling to the sound of the double-trio KING CRIMSON thrakking and werrrnnning their way through a set at The Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in 1995. Heavyyyy! Ah yes, the latest CRIMSOCLUB release has landed, first onto my doorstep and then immediately onto my WalkPerson for repeated listenage.

*A 'PROJECT' which I have now finished: THE ELLIS ELECTRIC CHAMBER ENSEMBLE PLAY "THE BUDGIE" AND OTHER BALLET WORKS... Plinkety, plinky plink and, indeed, plonk! For I am of course "STOCKY" HAUSEN.

You can always tell when things are slow on the 'PROPER WORK' front - I start mucking about with the GRIDLER SECRET SPACE WEB THINGY! If you are reading this, the new features will be more than obvious.

Week from Monday 10th April 2006

Oh this is most embarrassing... A little old lady friend of my Mother's is approaching her 90th birthday (Bless!), so I was set the task of tracking down the song "FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS", if possible, the hit 1954 version by BILLY COTTON & HIS BAND, or failing that, the version by MAX BYGRAVES. Scanning through the catalogues, I find that very few of Mr Cotton's records have made it onto the CD medium and, of those that did, none of them contain his big hit. However, Max's version turns up on several compilations. So I set off to the CARBOOT SALE to thumb through all the piles of seedydisks and tapes that I probably wouldn't NORMALLY bother with, to see what I could find. AND LO! There, on cassette, I espy "AN HOUR OF MAX BYGRAVES" (What an ominous title!) with the tune in question being the first track on side two. Luckily for me, I only have to copy the ONE song onto a disk for her and not the WHOLE thing!

I very nearly bought a Casio CZ Synthesiser Module for 8.00, but stopped myself (Nowhere to keep it, not enough hours in the day to learn how to use it). For fifty pee, I found a copy of the allegedly rare-as-rocking-horse-shavings ORB album "AUBREY MIXES", albeit on cassette rather than the 'collectible' vinyl medium (I'm only in it for the MUSIC!). And I found a couple of RUSH live seedies for a daft pittance. Mind you, Rush 'live' albums sound EXACTLY like the studio albums, but with added audience noise (Discuss! Arch-fan Mervyn Purviss will probably disagree with THAT statement most strongly). In fact, in the case of the 'official bootleg'-quality "RUSH IN RIO", it's rather difficult to listen to the music AT ALL for the sound of 50,000 Brazilians cheering the lightshow.

THE PEDANTIC PEDESTRIAN got a mention on this week's FREAK ZONE for his informative e-mail about the questionably-named Curved Air drummer FLORIAN PILKINGTON-MIKSA. I will let pass the pathetic attempts at Portuguese and the incorrect pronunciation of numerous Brazilian proper nouns, in yesterday's shoddy article on TROPICALIA, by JUSTIN "kind of like so-called PROFESSOR kind of like kind of" SPEAR. Whatever the e-mail equivalent of "WASTING YOUR BREATH" is, that is what I'd be...  [NB: Tropicalia's very own GOLDEN BANANA, TOM Z is once again appearing at the hideous BARBICAN on the 1st of May, but only a few of the most expensive seats remain available at this juncture].

Who can trace a link between ROBERT FRIPP and BILLIE HOLIDAY in the DGM "Degrees of Separation" contest this month? Well, I can, I think...

THE HUMAN NAIL is summoning various Gridlers and other ne'er-do-wells to be interviewed for his latest video project. One is sat down and then asked such questions as "WHAT IS FILTH-O-BOP?", WHAT ARE THE ORIGINS OF FILTH-O-BOP?" and worryingly "WHY IS FILTH-O-BOP?". These snippets will then be inserted amongst all the other malarkey as is his wont...

Hooray! Here comes a Bank Holiday!

Week from Monday - sorry! - TUESDAY 18th April 2006

I'd recently acquired, at a bargain price, the DeeVeeDee of "STAR WARS III: REVENGE OF THE MEGAPIXELS", so I spent a large part of the weekend watching that (with and without the director's commentary) and all the hours of documentary that come with it. Note to Willy: If anyone needs an LAYMAN's explanation of  what HIGH DEFINITION DIGITAL CINEMA is all about, then this is a VERY good place to start!

On Saturday, I simply had to go on ONE OF ME OUTINGS. At first I'd considered a trip to Brighton, but I find that if you're going anywhere on a train THIS weekend, then it'd better be in a westerly direction - All the trains terminate at Fareham and there is one of those good old "REPLACEMENT BUS SERVICES" in operation if you want to go east. So I went to Southampton instead. 

I find I usually mis-time my visits to the City Art Gallery - they are always "BETWEEN SHOWS" whenever I turn up on their doorstep. There are posters outside for an exhibition of drawings by HEATH ROBINSON, but THAT show finished two weeks ago. There is just an exhibition of the 'permanent' exhibits being exhibited. 

I also discover to my disappointment that yet another of my fave record emporia is closing down (ESSENTIAL MUSIC). There simply isn't a thriving market for non-mainstream, back catalogue stock these days, such as the FOCUS album I purchased there this very afternoon. In fact, shops that don't 'DIVERSIFY', as have the MeagreStores, into electronic games, portative telephones and other teen ephemera, are on to a loser. 

Such MeagreStores do, however, tend to be in a perpetual state of ongoing 'SPRING SALE', so there are ALWAYS bargains to be gleaned. I found some "WORLD MUSIC" items, that I'd missed the first time 'round, for a mere 3.99 each: another TRILOK GURTU album (always a sure thing), the OUMOU SANGARE anthology that World Circuit put out a couple of years ago and the zany acoustic Brazilian 'supergroup' project that is, or was, OS TRIBALISTAS. All are fabulous.

Shelfy just turned up to tell me about his new project involving ACCORDION DEMOLITION, a very political statement in this, the home of the TOP ROOTS PUB FOLK SCENE.

He informs me that Gridling Band guitarist JOHN OLD, veteran of many a Vicarage "UNTHINKABLE BEHAVIOUR" jam session, has died doing what he loved best, which was sailing off the coast of Portugal. I for one will never forget his unique renditions of "Rhapsody In Blue" and "The Carousel Waltz".

The Shelf had a little recorder-walkperson with him, requesting that I tell him some jokes about accordions. But it didn't function properly. I too no longer have a cassette machine on which to 'jot down' ideas, my portastudio and dictaphone having passed on. What one really needs, I mused, is a hard-drive recording SPODPOD-type device which would double as an MP3 player and recorder Walkman. 'So get one,' says Shelfy...

So, it being my birthday, I thought I'd treat myself to one from Argos' "LAMINATED BOOK OF DREAMS" ( Bill Bailey). I wasn't about to pay Apple or Sony prices, but I spotted a sub-90 device of indeterminate eastern manufacture. It's as ugly as sin, built like a Russian tank, yet features all the FUNCTIONS one REALLY needs, rather than being a FASHION ACCESSORY to impress the girls with.

Week from Monday 24th April 2006

So lots of fun is being had with the new device I have christened ODD-POD. I have copied onto it the accumulated contents of my MP3 'jukebox' disks and I'm trying to organise them into convenient folders - there are nearly FIVE DAYS-worth of music contained therein already!

I also experimented with the mike and line-in recording facility, but whichever CHINESE BOILER FACTORY designed(??) the device has made the headphone socket double as the line-in socket. As there is no OTHER way of monitoring the recording as it happens, line-in recording is a bit of a hit-and-miss process! The built-in mike means the device can fulfil its role as a convenient 'dictaphone' for musical jottings, but I won't trust it to 'save radio shows for later' JUST yet.

My task for this weekend involved going through a boxful of seven-inch vinyl (from the attic of M'COLLEAGUE THE GLASS LADY) to select choice items to DIGITISE. In the end, I ended up dubbing them off onto a tape instead.

I consulted the Record Collector Price Guide as I did so, should there be anything 'valuable' to be found, but none of the reccerds were in what you'd call 'mint' condition.

Musically speaking, however, there were some real gems to be found. FIND OF THE CENTURY was a delightful version, by MARTINAS & HIS MUSIC (who?), of the Arabic classic "(Ya) Mustapha", which must have been released to cash in on the late-fifties "EXOTICA" craze. I also acquired some very nice French singles and a real stonker for the "DUFF COLLECTION" (Hi Mervyn!) performed by the German beat sensations THE CRYIN' STRINGS.

Werrrp! Here comes ANOTHER Bank Holiday! Mayday! Mayday!