Week from Monday 4th May 2009

M'AIDEZ! M'AIDEZ! Having tried and failed to help Bunny with a little IT problem, which resulted in our "getting cross at cross purposes", divine retribution dictates that I should have some sort of digital disaster of my own. AND LO! my digital TV receiver/recorder box suddenly gave up the ghost, taking some of the previous week's crime stories with it. I have cabled up an old VHS tape deck as a temporary replacement, but it's not ideal. I have so got into the habit of NOT watching much telly during the evenings, but saving all the good shows for the weekend. I've just been scrabbling through my files for the digibox's receipt, to determine whether it is still under warranty. The shows I missed because of the box's demise, I was able to watch online via the TV stations' excellent "CATCH-UP" websites. My BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY is largely taken up with a trip to the out-of-town domestic appliances store where I bought it, and returning with a replacement. Followed by the usual kerfuffle of setting up that slightly iffy software for the first time. And discovering that which way round you plug in the gold co-axial cable makes a surprising amount of difference to how well the box receives its data.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY from ROBERT FRIPP:- actually this was from a while back now, but I thought it germane to recent topics (apologies for taking the lines out of context or, indeed, taking the lines at all!)...

"The creative process is utterly mysterious. 
     It is magical, unknowable, indefinable.
 The creative process is concrete. 
     It is know-able, do-able, feel-able, available.
Both these statements are true. 
Both these statements are contradictory..."

I finished putting together the parcel of belated bidet treats for Bunny (DVD of "The Tempest"-related stuff, a couple of CD-Rs of our recent musical enterprises) and thus ventured into the hellhole that is the POST OFFICE, for the delight of spending an ENTIRE lunchtime with a queue full of folks who care not for the niceties of personal hygiene, in a building that looks and sounds like a building site. Oh, what fun! On top of which, the Royal Mail's pricing structure is nowadays completely incomprehensible. The cost of sending a package is dependent on such variables as WHEN you want it, WHERE you want it, how BIG it is in terms of weight AND physical size, whether it will fit through a scanning machine and, presumably, what sort of mood the lady in the Post Office is in. How else can you explain why a pack of tickets to London (albeit for next-day recorded delivery) costs WELL over a fiver, while I can send a jiffy bag o' fun all the way to LIL OL' LOOZIANA for less than £2? Go figure, as they say.

Lately, I've been listening to (and watching) some incredible New Orleans musicians, several of whom left me lock-jawed in admiration with their technique... They must breed 'em with extra fingers over there! A current topic of 'conversation' with Bunny:-

There are two types of music in my world - 
"Music For Doing"
and "Music For Listening".
First there is the music that I can actually aspire to, 
that I can actually say "I'll have a go at that".
That is the music I play.
Then there is all the OTHER music:- you can ONLY look on in awe; music which, even if you lived a dozen lifetimes, you could never actually acquire the craft skills to DO IT YOURSELF.
That is the music I prefer to listen to.

I guess I still secretly harbour the Gold Lamé Principle of Musical Participation - "It can't be 'PROPER' music if I can do it!". Although my version of the Principle might be more like, "It MUST be 'PROPER' music, because I CAN'T do it!"

Speaking of which... I've downloaded the final date of the SLOW MUSIC PROJECT's short West Coast tour of 2006. It's a slow burner (well, obviously!). It's not QUITE up there with my favourite gig of the tour (San Francisco), but the second set is well worth the price of admission - Listen to it in the dark!

Despite the horrors of actually having to go to the POST OFFICE last week, one cannot fault the promptness of the Transatlantic delivery service from this end! There in under seven days for under £2? Second class domestic mail takes longer! I'm eagerly awaiting Bunny's first impressions of our little efforts... oh, and I've just received my splendid NEW ORLEANS JAZZ & HERITAGE FESTIVAL 2009 t-shirt, which travelled here even faster!

Having completed our ROCKY MUCUS project, we at THE MALE LA LA'S are wondering what to tackle next. We have recorded a stunning (three minute) version of HAWKWIND's "Brainstorm" as a one-off, but we are also considering another full-blown "COVER AN ENTIRE ALBUM" project. Maybe we should pick something that nobody likes in the first place. Something that DESERVES the La La's treatment. SUGGESTIONS PLEASE.

COUNTDOWN's 'Dictionary Corner' guest has been STEVE "INTERESTING" DAVIS, the man that the esteemed periodical "THE WIRE" dubbed 'the snooker-playing uber-nerd'. During the course of the week, he has managed to mention HATFIELD & THE NORTH, SOFT MACHINE and, of course, MAGMA: names which were received with complete and utter blank-faced bafflement by all present!

Week from Monday 18th May 2009

The weather's been awful. Just awful. Which is acceptable at the weekend, when it DOESN'T REALLY MATTER if you go outside or not. But when you have to venture out in it in order to earn a crust... well...

At least "LE SHOW" is back on schedule this week, although, again, it's as an MP3 download rather than as a streaming RealPlayer file. Is this a permanent change to HARRYSHEARER.COM? Or just a consequence of broadcasting "ON THE ROAD" from places like Nashville or Columbus, Ohio? No biggy... as long as I can listen to it one way or another!

So now we are THE ART RATZ then? I certainly prefer that as a name over THE MALE LA LA'S (or the typographically troublesome ThE ChRiStMaS TrEeS). But it matters not. I just help CHURN OUT THE CHUNES and leave all that naming of things and fantasy 'public relations' stuff to the Binkies and Shelfies of this world.

This week's "CRAZE", following an airing of one of their Peel sessions on 6Music this week, is for the krautmeisters CAN. Not only can I finally compile the complete BBC recordings together in one place, but I bought the two Can albums missing from my CD collection ("Unlimited Edition" and "Out Of Reach" - yes! I know they don't 'count' that one!) as downloads from the 7digital concern. This morning finds me hunting the interweb for the cover pictures, for these and the two ALBUMS-SANS-SLEEVES I recently acquired at the carboot.

The "YET-ANOTHER-MAY-BANK-HOLIDAY" is upon us, historically the time when I kick off phase two of the "ANNUAL BIKE-RIDE PRINT & COLLATE-O-THON"...

Week from Monday 25th May 2009

...But first a nice WALKIES! On Saturday, the weather was delightful. I yomped for four hours to Portchester Castle and back, going via the wiggly-wiggly green route and returning by the more direct main road back to the town centre. As for the white things in my ears, the "SpookyElectricSpiritualVoodooSpaceJazz" of ALICE COLTRANE and MILES DAVIS was the order of the day.

Last week, THE HUMAN NAIL complained out loud about the kind of music that was being played and discussed on "THE FREAK ZONE". This week, it's my turn. The show, in line with much of 6Music's output this weekend, was a "POST-PUNK SPECIAL". The featured album was by THE SWELL MAPS. I certainly shan't be rushing to buy the downloads from 7digital.com THIS week! It was rubbish. The "Live Freaks" segment was a session by the dreadful BLURT. I, thankfully, didn't get that far. In fact, I had to give up halfway through the show and listen to something else instead (a glimpse at the playlist reveals that I jumped ship just in time to miss THE FALL. Phew!). I remember all this stuff from the first time 'round. Not much of it has stood the test of time. Just for the record, the ONLY thing I heard that had me thinking "Hmmm, that still sounds good!" was a tune by 23 SKIDOO. Oh, and THE PLASTICS! Who'da thunk it?

Monday, and I HAD hoped to go for a toddle to the CAR BOOT SALE. But one looksee out of the window showed me that the weather had taken a turn for the worse overnight. I personally have no problem with walking in the rain, but if the BOOTY is a washout, thus deterring the sellers, well... it would be a waste of time. Might as well catch up on me telly!

A pattern emerges... Throughout the week, it has been wet and windy in the morning when I need to go OUT to work, and hot and sticky in the afternoon when I have to be INSIDE to work. Typical! What is more, the effect of the rain on Gosport's highly polished block paving has already resulted in my skidding BASE OVER APEX and gashing a knee!

A new CRIMSON CLUB release arrived on my doorstep:- The 1972 Boz&Ian&Mel&Bob band in its dying days, live at the Orpheum in Boston Mass. Like most b**tleg recordings of its day, it's pretty dire, complete with clunks and clicks as the hand-held microphone is secreted inside jacket pocket or duffle bag, candid audience conversation and variable sound levels. This being a King Crimson b**tleg, however, it's worth tuning your head to the Filth'O'Soundworld (headphones are recommended here), 'cos you just KNOW that there will be SOMETHING on there which justifies the purchase price. It takes a while to get going, the earlier numbers are so-so examples of the standard repertoire of the time. But come track 6... the scorchingest version of the "GROON" jam I've yet heard! Ian Wallace is, for once, NOT let loose to deliver yet another ten minute drum solo, but features in some stunning band interplay that ALMOST (but not quite) anticipates the 'improv' sections that the NEXT bunch of Crims would deliver. And then - surprise surprise! - the jam SEGUES into a cracking "21st Century Schizoid Man", the only time I've ever heard this happen. One For The Fans, as they say.

Did anyone else have a problem with version 10 of the ADOBE FLASH plug-in when MicePace forced us to upgrade, on account of  their 'new' player demanding that you do so? The Flash Player on MicePace works a treat now, no complaints there - but, unfortunately many other STREAMING MEDIA PLAYERS did not! Whenever I tried to enjoy (for example) the BBC iPLAYER or WOLFGANG'S VAULT's streaming content, since installing Flash 10, I got the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!  This seems to be the case whether I use Firefox or Opera as my browser*. I uninstalled Flash 10 and replaced the earlier version that I had been happy with previously and everything worked fine again - except, of course, for MySpace's player, which is replaced with a sign telling me that I need to 'upgrade in order to view this content'. Catch 22! So last night, I searched the Q&A boards for other people who had had similar problems. Lots of people have. Someone posted a suggestion that the conflict might have something to do with certain firewall programmes. I experimented further and discovered that the fatal error message did indeed refer to a driver component of Kerio Personal Firewall 4. I uninstalled Kerio, replaced it with an alternative firewall programme, ran an application to clean out the Registry of any references to the old regime and... BINGUM SHIRTIĘ! we appear to have success (at least until Mozilla, Opera, Adobe or MySpace move the goalposts yet again!)
(*As a long-time non-supporter of M*cros*ft's big e thing, I can't personally vouch for that'n!)