Week from Monday 2nd February 2009

Well, ah woke up this morning... rather late as it happens, I overslept! Not like me at all! Imagine my surprise, when I peeped out through the blinds, to find there were several inches of SNOW on the ground. As usual, down here on the Solent Delta, we got off lightly - the overnight fall soon thaws and, later, the new stuff melts as soon as it lands. The roads are fairly clear and, although it's a bit parky out, it's pleasant enough for walking. But elsewhere in the land, there are ten-foot drifts and blocked motorways. Naturally, considering the metrocentric nature of the media, it is DZAT LOONDIN that complains the loudest.

During my travels, I've been enjoying the newly-acquired BPM&M "XtraKCts & ArtifaKCts" album. This is an amazing (and amusing) drum'n'bass extravaganza that Pat Mastelotto and Bill Munyon kconstruKCted entirely from KING CRIMSON samples. It's been reissued by popular demand on TONY LEVIN's Papa Bear Records. Other KCrim-related audio-matters... I've finished Volume 16 of my ongoing "HOT TICKLES" compilations, with the addition of a Pat Mastelotto remix of a track from honcho-Porcupine STEVEN WILSON's latest album. 

I also had a go at a WILSONMIX myself (really another "KCollision" piece), but the 'brief' was so restrictive, the potential rewards so underwhelming and the submission process such a kerfuffle, that I didn't bother to enter it. As I mentioned when I did the FEMI KUTI remix competition, I love the PROCESS of remixing other people's music, but the RESULTS never have broad appeal. I prefer never to have heard the original song before I work on it. But I just don't 'get' "COMMERCIAL" and probably never will.

Down here on The Coast, it's as if there were never any snow in the first place. Not a trace. It was all a dream. Anything you might have seen in the media was all SPECIAL EFFECTS. Go just a few miles upcountry, however, and it's a different story. The northern part of Hampshire is still covered and is still BEING covered. Wiltshire roads are squishy with slush (and not the nice, primary-coloured kind that you get from a machine at the corner shop). All over the land, local authorities have run out of salt to put on the roads. For years, they've been telling us to cut down on salt. Why can't they make their minds up?

Suddenly, we have ANOTHER MicePace site - "TEASET BODY REVIEW" or, as I like to call it, "Tea Set Body Revue". This seems to be the place to put some of the FREELY-IMPROVISED stuff of yore: "Tea Set Body Revue" itself; "Pale Definitive Mutilation", at least bits of it; "Unthinkable Behaviour"; that sort of thing. With the benefit of hindsight and digital apparatus, I've been assembling edited highlights to share with an eager world.

Week from Monday 9th February 2009

Having finished "A Confederacy Of Dunces" (probably not for the last time), I'm reading "Motor Mouth", one of JANET EVANOVICH's little crime romps set in the world of American stock car racing. It came highly recommended by The Bunny, when I, in turn, told her about CARL HIAASEN's [not dissimilar] work. It's by no means a 'heavy' read. I expect to get through it in a couple of days, at which point I shall make a start on the latest WILL SELF work, "The Butt".

This morning, I awoke with one of my "A BIT LIKE A HANGOVER WITHOUT HAVING HAD ANY OF THE FUN FIRST" heads, as my barometric sinus condition reacts to the heavy pressureness and encroaching stormitude. This usually involves the room spinning and an inability to eat my marmite on toast without wretching. "The Drugs Don't Work", as some awful dreary Manchester band once said. Only thing for it, at times like this, is to drink some herbal tea, get some fresh air (Damn The Weather!) and soldier on.

YOU KNOW YOU'VE GOT FAR TOO MANY CDs WHEN... you hear something on the radio that makes you go "Ooooh! Now That's What I Call Upper Nile Oud Music!", make a note of the artist and title, with the purpose of investigating further, only to realise later that the reason you found it so appealing is because you've ALREADY got the music in question on a CD! I used to have a really good record cataloguing system at one time, before I lost it all due to a terminal hard-drive disaster. I'm not sure if it would have helped much with a 'SENIOR CITIZEN MOMENT' like that though.

Uh oh! I'm getting messages from SHELFY that this diary is getting boring - "Do Something Interesting" indeed! That is usually a sign that it is HE who is getting bored. I have been keeping this DIARYBLOGJOURNAL for close on six years now (Crikey!) and, as far as I am aware, Shelfy is the ONLY person who still reads it regularly! Which is fine by me. It's always been THERE FOR ALL TO SEE, but I would be utterly amazed if there is ANYONE ELSE who finds ANYTHING of interest within it [Please feel free let me know otherwise]. But one can only comment on the weather, or list the day-to-day minutiae of an empty working life so many times before it becomes a chore to write and a chore to read! I suppose I COULD mention the fact that I've been assembling musical material for his "BLIT STREET" project, whatever that may turn out to be? That I spent hours searching in vain for my samples of chirruping cicadas for his 'desert' scenes? So I did some new ones? And looked for rude camel noises? And I did some more 3D images to add to my "CGI Stuff" album on MicePace? Or that I researched paintings depicting references to "THE TEMPEST" for Bunny? [Excuse the interrogative cadence throughout that paragraph]

Week from Monday 16th February 2009

Binky has just told me that there was ANOTHER band called "TEASET BODY REVIEW/REVUE" around in the 1980s, who recorded a Peel session and everything! Now, the chances of two completely different groups of people hitting on that particular random selection of words are astronomically improbable. Nevertheless, I told him to break it to Shelfy gently. Besides, if one searches for that phrase using this G**GLE malarkey, the ONLY examples it cites occur within the pages of this very diary! I think the Nail might be teasing, like the time he told us he had a Japanese student who wanted to 'interview' us about the music business.

I've been trying to describe to our American educationalist friend what a typical state education was like "IN OUR DAY". We didn't have 'school spirit' and 'senior prom' and 'high school hops' around here, oh no!

I grew up through the state educational system of the late 'sixties, early 'seventies. Compulsory education started at age five. There may have been 'pre-schools' and 'nursery schools' in those days, but probably only for the very privileged. You started off 'primary school' as an 'infant', then when you reached eight or so, you went up to the 'junior' school. By the age of eleven, you were expected to have grasped the basics of "THE THREE Rs" - reading, writing and arithmetic (yes! I know!). At eleven you sat an exam called the "ELEVEN PLUS". If you passed it, you went to a GRAMMAR SCHOOL, where you were groomed for GCSE 'O' and 'A' Level exams and, ultimately, further education. EVERYONE ELSE went to a SECONDARY MODERN (or COMPREHENSIVE) school. This bears repeating - your entire educational future was determined by whether, at the age of eleven, you could cope with an examination situation. Secondary schools were (at least in this area) single sex establishments. There WERE 'co-ed' schools in those days, but, if you lived in a particular catchment area, you went to the school you were given. So between the age of eleven and sixteen, for me, there was no such thing as girls. School uniform, of the blazer and collar & tie variety, was compulsory. Secondary schools had a lot of pupils (the word 'students' was never used to describe anyone below college age), so they were divided into four or five colour-coded 'houses' for registration and assembly purposes. The stripes on your tie showed which colour house you belonged to. Much later on, classes were 'streamed' according to pupil ability. Class sizes were usually 30+ to a room. Once you got to the 'fourth' year (around fourteen), your curriculum (which CSEs and 'O' Levels you would aim for) was partly determined by you, but also by the vagaries of the timetable system and the availability of specialist teachers. So, for example, if you had the idea that you wanted to continue studying French and, say, Technical Drawing, then you couldn't... because those classes coincided on the daily timetable. So you were forced to make the choice that would suit your chosen 'career' path (at the age of fourteen, don't forget!). This was no problem for the thick kids, because they could leave school at fourteen anyway. Eventually the compulsory leaving age was raised to sixteen. Corporal punishment was not only allowed, it was encouraged. This usually took the form of a 'caning' or 'slippering' (the teacher's own discretional choice of  rubber-soled footwear), but one master favoured the non-business end of a pair of wooden blackboard compasses as his weapon of choice. Obviously, because these schools were full of "EVERYONE ELSE", there was violence of other kinds as well. Bullying was systematic. The rough kids adhered to the various tribal groupings of the day (mods, then skinheads, then 'suedeheads', once awful feathered mullet haircuts started to creep into fashion) forming gangs, usually aligned to various Association Football teams, whose main aim appeared to be to gather in grunting, Neanderthal groups on a Saturday afternoon and kick the sh*t out of something or somebody. In school you have to 'belong' to something (I don't suppose that fact has changed). If you were seeking an alternative lifestyle to being in a skinhead gang, there were various extracurricular activities you could enjoy - I was in the sailing club, a history club, plus I attended extra art classes out of school hours - or one could join one of the various paramilitary youth groups (scouts, cadets) - yes! I WAS an Air Cadet before I became a space cadet! This inevitably had you labelled a "poof" by the toughies. There was also a 'Youth Centre', but as this became the place for 'The Lads' to congregate after the 'match', it was best avoided by the more sensitive. Once the school leaving age was raised (RoSLA), we fifth formers had a common room in which we could chat, read, do homework, eat our sandwiches and see who could get to the one record player first. With the coming of RoSLA, a little bit of mutual respect crept into the system, and the old hierarchical order of houses and prefects gradually dwindled. The final year of secondary school (the fifth form) was ALL about studying for and sitting exams. Nowadays, students are graded on their coursework and overall progress, as well as the written exam, but it wasn't like that then. It was MAKE OR BREAK TIME. The various subject exams would determine whether you could proceed to the next level of 'further' education: sixth form college (academic) or technical college (vocational) and then onto 'higher' education: a polytechnic or, for the elite few, a university (in the days when a University WAS an elite institution and not the norm).

O'course, we 'ad it toof... never did me any 'arm (OR DID IT?). It has to be pointed out too, that this was no hard-bitten, run down, inner city comprehensive we're talking about, this was nice semi-rural, suburban Hampshire... so I'm guessing this was pretty much THE NORM in those days.

A sudden flurry of activity on the "BLIT STREET" front. A tape of Goldlamé Skeleton's recital [of the first couple of "Van Noonan" chronicles] has been SAMPLED for a couple of pieces. I've been trawling the nets for sound effects (camels, crickets, birdies and general desert ambience), and Bunny has been trying out for the Nerys Biscuit parts. Also, after a couple of decades, I've made a start on typing out our 'Shakespearean' play "THE PEDESTAL" for digital media distribution. It'll take a while, but it's long overdue. When we first wrote it, all we had was a manual typewriter and tippex. My only copy is xeroxed on blue paper. I must give the musical score (by THE EMINENT CELLISTS) a listen sometime, for inspiration.

I'm suffering withdrawal from my fix of topical satire, what with "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART" taking a sabbatical, and the fact that Rupert Murdoch won't let me watch "THE COLBERT REPORT" anymore. So I am delighted to have discovered "LE SHOW", the weekly syndicated radio hour cum podcast from HARRY SHEARER (Spinal Tap's Derek Smalls, "The Simpsons" voice artist and "Saturday Night Live" veteran). His webbo is one of the most beautiful 'flash' sites I've come across in ages, with handy dropdown menus and animated graphics throughout (providing you're using Opera or Firefox, that is - I can't vouch for anyone still struggling with M****soft's insecure-to-the-point-of-paranoid piece of... browsing software!).

Week from Monday 23rd February 2009

It's the time of year when I find myself counting out leaflets and stuffing envelopes, then mailing them all out again to the far-flung corners of Hampshire. It's all on behalf of the CYCLING CHURCHPEOPLE. This year, I can console myself with the promise that it'll go a long way towards buying me a new computer. Meanwhile, on THAT side of the Atlantic, they're dancing in the streets again, the little tinkers.

I sort of gave up on the latest WILL SELF novel about halfway through. I just didn't CARE enough about any of the characters to find out what happened to them next, and I rather thought it got bogged down in all the invented anthropology... So now, instead, I'm reading Binky's copy of JULIAN COPE's "Japrocksampler" and I'm enjoying it immensely - yes, even the stuff that "strays off the subject", young Nail!

Well, I KNOW I have several messages waiting for me in MyMySpace, no doubt including all the latest gossip regarding the MARDI GRAS shennanigans and some news from Shelfy about something or other. But unfortunately it will have to wait, because the SpaceMice refuse to let me read them at the moment! I'm locked out of my inbox. 

[There's a lot of THIS about this week - it appears that whole chunks of Google were inoperative for a day, Bunny's Yahoo account delivered my e-mail incomplete and, following Binky's lead, I finally give up on AVG Anti-Virus because of its erratic behaviour. Possible vermicular activity?]

So I'll go back to COUNTING THINGS and listening to the latest KING CRIMSON clubdisc, recorded in Milan during the 2003 EUROPEAN (BUT DEFINITELY NOT THE UK) TOUR.

Once all my 'counting things' was out of the way, everything having been dispatched across the county and the all-important bill in the post, I find myself playing around with some more of DAVE THE LOAF's pieces - creating a sort of REMIX SANDWICH, whereby the dronier Tapeworm Vessel tracks can provide a backdrop for the more rhythmic Darkening Scale elements. Rather like my "kCOLLISION" exercises, my input merely consists of choosing and close-matching the basic tracks for tempo and key (or at least some kind of compelling harmony), maybe adding a little TREATMENT here and there and then letting good old CHANCE do the rest. How very Cage. I have two pieces that I think work rather well, with a third one on the way. First comments from the man himself are encouraging.

This morning, I treated myself to a viewing of "POLLOCK", the Ed Harris movie about the well known action-painting fish.