Week from Monday 5th May 2008

"DON'T KILL IT. LEARN AMAZING SECRETS OF LIFE FROM IT." ...That was another bang-collar-day, that was. I didn't do all THAT much this weekend, but the lull was most welcome, ne'ertheless. Having just re-installed my favourite wave editor programme following the big meltdown, I found myself dipping into "CHTHONIC BOOM" again: the beast is now over fifteen minutes long (BUT IS IT ART? It's certainly SOMETHING along those lines). Also, (conspicuous by his absence) Shelfy's "BALD GORGON MICROTRIBE" riff (it's a synth part, but it has the feel of a Tony Levin bassline!) has been made into a loop for future use, if I can compose an interesting drum part that'll go with it.

After such a weekend of veg-out, and with the weather being rather "PHEW! WHAT A SCORCHER", I've been doubling up on my walking activities this week.

This week, I've had a CRAZE for the eighties jazz-funk stylings of STEVE COLEMAN's "M-Base" collective. Then again, if he WILL make almost his entire back catalogue available for FREE download... (Thanks to DGM for the heads-up about this).

Week from Monday 12th May 2008

I went for one of "ME DAZE OUT" to Guildford, a pleasant afternoon browsing through the emporia and JERRIDY SHOPS. I came away with another volume of JAMES JOYCE, this one collecting (most of) his poetry and his Ibsen-esque play "Exiles". As is often the case with these authoritative editions, the accompanying essays and notes are as interesting as the main event itself!

I've been trying desperately to see if there is ANY chance that I can come to grips with all this server-side web application lark. THE STEEL BAND PROJECT wants a secure, members-only bulletin board site setting up, but it is WAY beyond anything that I've tried to tackle before. The more I look into it, the more I realise how much I don't understand. Just reading the literature has given me a headache. Actually, the 'theory' side is gradually beginning to make sense, but without access to a suitably furnished server, I have absolutely NO way of putting any accumulated knowledge into practice.

This week, I am easing into my "ANNUAL CHURCH-PEOPLE'S BIKE-RIDE PRINT-COLLATE-&-DELIVER-A-THON", with a whole mess o' BIG YELLOW POSTERS to be folded and counted. My 'delivery buddy' SHELFY is once again [that which we have come to call metaphorically] "LIVING UNDER A TREE":- a state in which he refuses to return any attempts at communication, participate in anything remotely sociable or, indeed, address ANY issues put before him, for fear that he will somehow slip into a dreaded state of NORMALITY. There's a very fine line indeed, between [what HE perceives to be] "RUSTIC ECCENTRICITY" and "DOWNRIGHT RUDERY". Genuine eccentricity is NOT consciously contrived.

AND SO IT WAS... that I went to the seaside (Well, ANOTHER seaside anyway, one WITHOUT the view of the Isle Of Wight) to take in some BRIGHTON FESTIVAL festivities. There were brass bands galore, some of them from the Balkans, some from the Downs, with ample opportunity to try out my 'new' camera technology... There were flea markets to explore, art galleries to ponder over (some in people's houses) and record emporia of the good old-fashioned kind to spend money in... There was some really cakky street theatre:- a couple of oriental gentlemen in funny hats, blowing whistles to the enormous delight of the kiddies; another 'act' taking the [rather pointless] form of a radio sketch show... There were FOLKIES in the street - for the record, I think they were called Sheelanagig, but they could have been anybody (RUN AWAY!)... There was a visit to a proper seaside CHIP SHOP (larger portions than are humanly edible!)... There was much opportunity for 'peoplewatching':- Y'know all those extreme freakychic hippytypes that one sees wandering around at WOMAD? Well, that's apparently NORMAL behaviour in Brighton's Bohemian Quarter (or do they just spend their lives following festivals around?)... Then there is the main event of the day, a good old BALKAN KNEES-UP at the Dome... First up, the Belgian fiddledemon TCHA LIMBERGER & HIS BUDAPEST GYPSY ORCHESTRA: There's no doubting their musical chops, but they were a bit dull to start with, perhaps a tad 'academic', rather like a slightly re-gypsyfied version of some Liszt chamber music (great 'home' listening perhaps, but not too engaging in person). They only demonstrated any real energy towards the end of the set... FANFARE CIOCARLIA, on the other hand, are the schnauzer's appendages. Having witnessed them at CLOSE quarters during the afternoon out in the fresh air, I knew what kind of brassy din they are capable of... but stick 'em on a stage in front of a heaving crowd of festival-goers and we see some real fireworks... This is music with CHARACTER. They do all the usual Balkan 'wedding band'-type repertoire (they are probably used to keeping up this level of energy for days on end!). They also throw in a few latino styles for good measure. But when one of the trumpet players switches to vocals, you'd swear they were playing some flavour of rai music! And you should hear their version of the James Bond Theme!

Week from Monday 19th May 2008

I don't normally get the 'Monday Morning Feeling' - Monday is pretty much the same as any other day, as far as I'm concerned! But this morning, I had a sense of foreboding dread that it was going to be one of THOSE days. Some sort of suppressed guilt mechanism that kicks in after a weekend of enjoying oneself, perhaps?

Sure enough, I discovered that I had COCKED UP MIGHTILY on a job that I had just had printed, and it would all have to be done all over again. Ho Hum! 

Once everything was back on track, I visited THE HUMAN NAIL to return a disk I had borrowed. But I ended up staying and 'laying down some tracks', as we say. Inspired by my close-quarter brassy experiences during the weekend, I put some of my rudimentary sax stylings on a couple of Magix projects [that the Binkmeister had previously half-finished with the aid of GREGSON THE PANTHER and several six-packs of beer]. Needless to say, I also saved the results onto my flashstick as well, so that I can rearrange the parts 'in my own idiot'. I've since come up with a piece that is rather reminiscent of the early-'80s "PUNK FUNK" scene, so I've given it the working title of "A CERTAIN PATIO" (although it sounds more like a low-budget PIGBAG). Both Gregson and the Nail are heavily featured (playing solos that they didn't know WERE solos until I got hold of them!), so I don't know yet which 'band' will eventually claim it for their MicePace (possibly the XMAS TREES?) ...I also discovered that I could sound remarkably like a Master Musician of Jajouka by playing a melodica through Binky's 'Kaoss Pad' device. That could come in useful... A sample of this interesting new sound will now greet visitors to my MicePace page.

I've just been watching GENESIS' "When In Rome" concert, slightly distracted by the fact that the core line-up of the band is now Alexei Sayle, Sir Alan Rickman and my old French teacher...

Just as I am due for another flurry of activity, my COREL DRAW installation has become somewhat unstable (that completely useless error report wizard thingy keeps popping up and shutting it down for the flimsiest of reasons. Even simply opening a file is likely to cause the application to crash!). I've just wasted half a day trying to get it to behave, before giving up and reinstalling it from scratch! And while we're on the subject of applications not working properly, I've noticed that some of the new features on the MySpace homepages do not GET ALONG with the latest updates of Mozilla Firefox. For example, Firefox will get a fatal error and shut down if  you click on the fancy new buttons on the "New Friends" page in order to send your new friends a message. So I've had to resort to using the rival Opera browser to carry out any 'work' behind the scenes on my MySpaces. 

Week from Monday 26th May 2008

Another BANG COLLAR DAY... the weather is crap. Did a little bit of work (Bike-Ride-A-Thon stuff); Had to alter the settings to the new version of the AVG anti-virus and adjust my firewall accordingly, because my outgoing mail kept bouncing back at me; Watched the JOHNNY CASH biopic "Walk The Line"; Read some PG WODEHOUSE...

...a week of getting stuff to-and-from the printers, collating said stuff and giving ALL my money to said printers. I also accompanied my mother on a search for just the RIGHT microwave oven, read yet more PG WODEHOUSE... and had an outbreak of eczema on me botbot (known by the antipodeans as 'speedo rash' or rather "SPOYEDIYEH RESH").

NOTE TO SELF: Remember to take an antihistamine BEFORE you go on a Saturday morning nature ramble! Having delivered a couple of parcels, I walked the secret GREEN route back from Portchester and suffered a few sneezing fits along the way. Another handy health tip for all you RAMBLING GENTLEMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE  is that a baby's nappy cream will keep that chafing 'speedo rash' at bay.

The Roar of PROJEkcT FOUR has been this week's soundtrack of choice. Although, with the coming of summer, I feel a GENESIS craze coming on... coincidentally in a week when the MAIL ON SUNDAY is giving away one of its free promo seedydisks, to promote the DVD release of "When In Rome":- much of it being tracks from the "Live Over Europe" album, while the rest is made up of 'New Studio Mixes' of singles and selected album tracks. That's funny, I thought that all the Genesis albums that I bought [again] on CD in the nineties were supposed to be the "DEFINITIVE" editions? Mustn't quibble though...

Shelfy was surprisingly keen in responding to my e-prompt about the DELIVER-A-THON. We are doing our tour of Hampshire on Wednesday next. I shall now put together a new selection of ROAD TAPES for that COSMIC RAMBLE EXPERIENCE.