Week from Monday 7th May 2007

I started the long weekend on a HIGH, having had my entire belief system turned upside down - How CAN a supermarket-bought £20 deeveedee player OUT-PERFORM, in nearly EVERY respect, a £100-plus, so-called 'hi-fi', CD player? I find myself enjoying my collection with FRESH EARS!

However... halfway through the weekend, I discovered I'd run out of anti-histamine JUST IN TIME for the HAY FEVER to start kicking in... and, of course, the shops are closed for an extra day! Resigned to staying up all night with a SEASONALLY STREAMIN' SORE SEPTUM, I sat there reading [nearly all of] SID SMITH's CrimsoTome again...

I bought one of those nifty little doobries that will allow me to plug my ODD-POD (or other portable devices - Ask your Stockist for details) into a car cassette slot... A BOON FOR THE COSMIC RAMBLE SEASON, I'LL WARRANT! This lunchtime, Shelfy 'n' I 're going over to "OOR WILLY'S" to discuss, amongst other things, the [LONG overdue] updating of his website, so I shall have an opportunity to test the device en route.

I'm looking forward to the EUROVISION SONG CONTEST this coming weekend. After last year's surprise win by LORDI with their hilarious 'Spinal Tap From The Delta Quadrant' routines, I predict a swing away from the homogenised, Westernised, broken-English discopap of recent years towards the kind of SO-BAD-IT'S-GREAT extravaganza that Eurovision was in its heyday. I think we'll find that many entries will go for shock tactics and bad taste rather than pretend that 'music' has ANYTHING to do with it! ...My notes on the occasion:

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA - folksy, Mouskouriesque ballad with bouzoukis and lots of arm waving... SPAIN - "I Heart U Mi Vida"; boy band with pretend percussion... BELARUS - "Work Your Magic"; rhymes 'potion' with 'emotion', oh what a surprise!... IRELAND - the Top Celtic Names 'Dervish' (fiddles, accordions, bodhrans, eek!) team up with some coleen who can't sing for toffees. Horrible!... FINLAND - Goth chick called Hannah with a rock band (in porkpie hats); Cranberryish and okay but for the duff lyrics... MACEDONIA - dull and ordinary, rhymed '...for meee' with 'harmoneeee'... SLOVENIA - overblown, operatic pomposity; bonkers!... HUNGARY - squawky Joplinesque blues with a bus-stop sign; ghastly!... LITHUANIA - more Mediterranean than Baltic; jazzy acoustics and bongos; Okay!... GREECE - 'Yassou Maria'; a Ricky Martin rip-off... GEORGIA - William Orbit-style techno; "Ray Of Light" with cossacks; quite odd really... SWEDEN - "Worrying Kind" by The Ark; T-Rex-y glam rock boogie, it's 1974 again!... FRANCE - punky pop, like the Toy Dolls dressed by Gautier; the Plastique Bertrand revival starts here!... LATVIA - the cast of 'Oliver' warbling in Italian. With roses... RUSSIA - broken-English suggestiveness from three shouty schoolgirls à la Avril Lavigne (well, it worked for TaTu)... GERMANY - cool swing, eine deutche Harry Connick Jnr... SERBIA - 'woman in comfortable shoes' does non-descript power ballad... UKRAINE - mad Sylvesterish Hi-NRG techno campery; this is favourite to win... UNITED KINGDOM - dancing cabin crew; tries to curry favour by mentioning lots of European place names in the lyrics... ROMANIA - try to curry favour by singing in EVERY European language, set to a traditional 'On A String In A Box' euro-oompah two-step beat... BULGARIA - this is very Bulgarka! microtonal singing and mad percussion; surely no-one will vote for this?... TURKEY - surely this is exactly the same as the Greek one? (another Ricky Martin perform-alike)... ARMENIA - "tell me whyyyyyeee when we say goodbyyyyeee I wanna dieeeeee, dryyyeeee your tears when you cryyyyeeee, there's no reason whyyyyeeee..." Oh puhleeze!... MOLDOVA - Goth chick with fiddles, a bit like Cher when she tries to rock out... THE INTERVAL SHOW was NOT Värttinä unfortunately, but a circus extravaganza called (I think) Apokaliptika, featuring lots of pyrotechnics, advanced flying trapezery and sword swallowing with light fittings, all accompanied by heavy metal cellos. Those crazy Finns... 

The [block]voting was of course laughably partisan. Nobody except Malta and Ireland voted for the UK entry. No surprises there. Ireland deservedly came last. They might just as well have entered "My Lovely Horse". The Turkish and Greek entries WERE suspiciously identical; both were performed by Ricky Martin clones and both featured choruses that went "Shake it, shake it, something something...". My 'Tip For The Top', the Ukrainian entry, a Hi-NRG gay-club anthem featuring a silver-laméed Timmy Mallett look-alike, came second. The surprise winner was Maria, the 'woman in comfortable shoes' from Serbia, with a power ballad that I've forgotten already. It must have been Serbia's 'turn'...

Week from Monday 14th May 2007

...FANCY A GAME OF 'PEEKABOO MR GURDJIEFF'? ... I went into town on Saturday and spent rather a long time trying to find a cashpoint with money still in it. Navigating West Street was made doubly difficult by the fact that it was hosting a Falklands-related church parade of some kind. Nowadays, on occasions such as this, it is customary for the authorities to erect bloody great crash barriers, herding pedestrians like sheep away from the goings on. It just won't do to let 'Ordinary' people anywhere near 'Important' people. In a pedestrianised 'broadway' this has a venturi effect, whereby the normal flow of 'traffic' is funnelled through a six-foot gap. The gawpers stand around behind the barriers, blocking what thoroughfare is left and making movement impossible or, at best, uncomfortable. And the weather has been ghastly all weekend, moan moan moan...

Now I have TWO websites (No...'ang on, make that three!) on the go - if only the clients didn't keep 'moving the goalposts' (to coin a cliché)... Every time I add content to the web, some more gets taken away - Moving The Project Backwards. DELIBERATIN' I don't do very well, I like PROGRESS. Never mind, they're all running up 'tabs'. Shelfy is [bored and] desperate for an excuse to GO AND SEE THE PONIES - and LO! as if by magic, an opportunity has presented itself! In the e-mail tray is a communication from the heart of Wiltshire - my BikeWebClients have sent me fresh content for their used/second-hand bikes page. I am able to do the updates CYBERSPACIALLY, but their 'tab' has grown to the point where making a personal visit might be ADVANTAGEOUS.

Rooting around in the attic for a Royal Air Force crest to reproduce for engraving purposes, I found a box of paperbacks which included the first TERRY PRATCHETT novel I ever read ("The Colour Of Magic", as recommended by Sniltweasel [Director]). I'm now reading it again (as I've forgotten how it goes).

MR FRIPP must be in a VERY laid back mood upon his return to Wiltshire after his Crafty sojourn in the Iberian peninsula. The first thing he does is lay down an AMBIENT piece (recorded just days ago and already 'out there' as a free download) in which HARDLY ANYTHING HAPPENS AT ALL FOR AN HOUR, somewhat in the nature of Captain Eno's "Thursday Afternoon" or "Neroli". I don't think I'll try listening to this on the bus, I'll probably doze off and miss my stop...

I've completed the task of transferring my entire CD collection into the POSH RING BINDER SYSTEM I've been acquiring over the last few months when funds will allow. When I say 'entire' collection, there are, inevitably, STILL going to be two 'tupperware' storage boxes containing [a] the complete works of KING CRIMSON and [b] all those annoying cardboard 'digipaks' and 'minisleeves' which don't lend themselves to ANY kind of practical storage system that I can envisage.

Shelfy and I went to 'SEE THE PONIES'; him to see about some GASKETS and me to get paid for work done and to collect some fresh tasks. We also went to see WILLY about HIS webbo and visited DAVE the Secret Grazing Bus, somewhere north of Wickham.

Week from Monday 21st May 2007

On Saturday, I went to Winchester to spend a couple of hours 'soaking up the atmosphere' of MAYFEST. Of course, what this REALLY means is that every time you turn a corner, you bump into yet another bunch of black-faced, scrumpy-chugging MORRIS DANCERS. Gawd, if I hear just one more version of "Speed the soddin' Plough" today... The Cathedral Green is occupied by 'CRAFT' stalls (i.e. vendors of hippy tat). There were CLOGGING displays under several echoey archways (tiresome racket) and a ROCKABILLY COMBO (consisting of heavily tattooed and bequiffed geriatrics, who could well have been first generation teds) playing outside of the chemists'. There was also an interesting "LOCAL CHARACTER" who shuffled about, staring into a little picture frame (or was it a mirror?), bellowing out the same two lines of "All You Need Is Love" over and over again. Probably some kind of street theatre. He'll be getting a grant from Hampshire County Council then.

On Sunday, I walked to the 'posh' CAR BOOT SALE ('a much better class of old squit') out Titchfield way. Among my 'less-than-a-fiver's-worth' acquisitions this week were an anthology of PETER COOK & DUDLEY MOORE writings, looking brand new and unread at 50p, and a CD copy of TALK TALK's miseryguts masterpiece "Laughing Stock" (Ho! Ho! Ha! Ha! Hee! Hee!). 

"Oo're they then? Izzat ther name o' the band? Never 'eard of 'em! Them wuz part of a jahb-laht... Oi only loiks fifties rock 'n' roll, me. Stick ter wha' yer know, thass wha' Oi say!" the stallholder helpfully informed me.

I also grabbed a handful of 20p 'at-that-price-does-it-really-matter?' cassettes, but only one of them, a TOMITA album (one side of which is his take on the tunes of HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS) can I see myself ever listening to more than once. For those of you unfamiliar with his oeuvre, Isao Tomita was the Japanese equivalent of WENDY "Don't Call Me WALTER" CARLOS, who did synthesiser arrangements of the popular classics in an appealingly bleepsome analogue fashion. He is one of my fave "CAR BOOT SPECIALTY ARTISTS" - you NEVER see his albums anywhere EXCEPT booties and charity shops these days - and I've picked up several of them for mere coppers over the years.

If this diary is late this week, it's because I've had no internet service to speak of for a week (again already!). If you can read this, I've probably uploaded this from someone else's computer, whilst I was there uploading some 'paying' web pages. We have been discussing the idea of switching over our phone service (to the company apparently named after 'A PROMISING EIGHTIES ELECTRO-POP COMBO WHO MORPHED INTO MOODY PURVEYORS OF POST-ROCK EXPRESSIONISM'. Oh! do keep up at the back...) It'll be interesting to see if that makes any sort of difference.

I did try to upload this page 'from someone else's computer' and there was no remote server response at all. There appears to be no modem switched on at the receiving end. Have StuporNet turned off the 'pay as you go' service altogether?

This diary therefore ONLY EXISTS IN A SECRET SPACE OF MY OWN IMAGINATION. As indeed it should.

I am not going to set up another internet account until AFTER we have the new phone service settled. Paying a visit to the StuporNet website (by way of the PEOPLE'S NETWORK) reveals that our e-mail accounts still exist and are usable. (The StuporNet tariff still includes a 'pay as you go' option, oddly enough... hmm, perhaps it's just ME they've excommunicated, for repeatedly referring to them as 'StuporNet').!) So I CAN go about [most of] my normal business, communicating in this way via the library computers. But THIS computer is OFFLINE for the time being. It'll do it a world of good.

Did I mention that SHELFY is now a keen participant in all that MySpace malarkey? His page, called RABBIT SHOW REJECT, features a steady rotation of TUNES THAT TAKE HIS FANCY from the ARCHIVES OF NINNYNESS, including some from this very 'studio'. By all accounts, LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS from all over the globe have been sharing in his interest for the zany world of 'experimental' music. I have included a link to the site on the list attached. Enjoy!

Week from Monday 28th May 2007

Shelfy requested an MP3 of "I Am Your Uncle" for his MySpace site. The 'original' cassette, a Memorex, was so deteriorated that I had to first transfer the tape into a new shell so that it would be mechanically sound enough for copying. Memorex tapes of a certain vintage (and we ARE talking twenty-five years old here!) had little felt pads (glued in place inside the cassette shell instead of on little sprung metal strips) to hold the tape in contact with the playback heads. After a while these have a tendency to go rotten and fall out, making a TAPE TRANSPLANT necessary. I have also empeethree'd "ALDMONSTON ROCK", probably the only other track from that whole "Future Of Rock & Roll" period that I can still listen to without embarrassment.

REMINDER TO SELF to e-mail Sniltweasel with the message "Now THIS is the Future of Rock & Roll!" (linking to Rabbit Show Reject's MySpace).

Apparently, festival faves LOOP GURU have been in touch with RABBIT SHOW REJECT, expressing delight at our efforts. If, with "Twenty Five Minutes In A Warm Spoon", we've come up with an EARTHQUAKIN' DUB BEAT that even Loop Guru feel at home with then I, for one, am WELL MADE UP! I feel like another HAIKU to celebrate:-

I drove you; I know you well,
Oh lovely rickshaw.

A pleasant surprise came streaming out of the airwaves on Sunday night/Monday morning, as BBC 6music's "Live At Midnight" slot featured the esteemed Italian progsters PFM (or Premiata Forneria Marconi, as they are known to their award-winning baker chums) recorded at the Paris Theatre in 1975, around the time of their "PFM Cook" (aka "Live In USA") album. Marvellous stuff! The broadcast even retained Pete Drummond's between-songs patter, including a lot of bigging up for the "English" lyrics of PETE SINFIELD (who must have been between gigs with ELP and Bucks Fizz at the time). The broadcast has now been empeethree'd for posterity (along with what I have of the concert they did the following year, with Bernando Lanzetti on vocals).

The Bank Holiday did what Bank Holidays do, which is to be miserable throughout the weekend (rain and high winds and power cuts) and then having the sun come out when it's time to go back to work.

This week, a little later than in previous years, we kick off the second phase of THE CHARITY BIKE RIDE COLLATE 'N' DELIVER-O-THON - lots of work AND a 'cosmic ramble' or two into the bargain!

It's A Bit Of A Palaver... Using StuporNet's WEBMAIL facility on the Library's pooter is a bit of a hit 'n' miss affair and no mistake, what with there being no right button context menus and the fact that StuporNet's 'CGI-Bin' is prone to "Internal Server Errors" (every mail OUT seems to require several attempts). The inability to save the mail to file or to print it out, without consulting a member of staff to talk you through the convoluted process, is a bit of a pain. Even at this relatively pacey speed, accessing the WEB in order to mail one's chums feels a bit NEANDERTHAL to me, now that I've got used to using Mozilla Thunderbird (or even M***osoft Outlook Express). Each to his own.

But beggars can't be shoe salesmen... it IS only a temporary measure until we have that new phone service up and running and we can kiss BT and StuporNet goodbye...