Week from Monday 7th March 2011

As we hurtle towards the end of yet another financial year, I had a fun time shredding a bagful of old business receipts (pre-2007 - I don't think that'll ever come 'round again!). Phase One of the ANNUAL BIKE-RIDE-DUPLICATE-O-THON is nearly here again, so I updated my address labels database in readiness. This year, we have the additional fun task of trying to incorporate a brand new, but bloody awful, childish-scrawl 'LOGO' (think London Olympic Games, only far far worse!) for which the national Trust have doubtless paid a fortune to some poncey TOP AGENCY, but which doesn't lend itself to any known format. Meanwhile, Bunny and I exchanged haikus on the subject of Feng Shui:

Feng Shui? What nonsense!
Eastern decorating trends
For the gullible.

Red door on your house
Must move the sofa and lamp
Or bad will happen.

...which is nice... I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new version of PAGEPLUS from the Serif concern. I finally twigged their working method. Download the free "Starter Edition" of any of their graphics applications. One week later, you will receive an email full of handy hints on how to use your new programme. Another week after that, they will send you an email in which they try to sell you the full version of said programme at a ridiculously chopped-down price (usually about half-price). This is where you pounce at the opportunity. I've now acquired the latest versions of WEBPLUS (which is used on a near-daily basis), PHOTOPLUS (replaces ALL the other paint programmes I'd accumulated over the years) and PAGEPLUS (proved vital for typesetting in Chinese, as well as for opening and saving PDF documents) via this "HURRY HURRY HURRY GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT!" ploy - thus, at a swoop, replacing the old (mostly free from magazines) versions I'd been using for years. You still have to telephone them to register your products, thus enduring further salespitch... but it's a small price to pay. And their programmes ARE ruddy good...

This week, we celebrate both MARDI GRAS and the 53rd annual RABBITHOLE SAMMAS... I went for a stroll down the road to join the Muckers for a few drinkies (strictly quinine for me!) and to share a few laughs. Then the resident exponents of OLD FOLK'S PUB ROCK launched into some popular yet boisterous beat melodies (many of which were unfamiliar to me), thus making further conversation difficult... I eventually made my excuses and left them to it. So this was a normal  Friday Night in Stubbington...? So this was a normal  Friday Night in Stubbington...? So this was a normal  Friday Night in Stubbington...? So this was a normal  Friday Night in Stubbington...? So this was a normal  Friday Night in Stubbington...? 

Week from Monday 14th March 2011

...could've been worse I suppose... it could've been KARAOKE NIGHT! 

Down to Gozzy today to be a PRINT MONKEY (running off address labels and getting the BIKE-RIDE-ETCETERA-O-THON stuff underway). Tuesday morning brings a visit to the DENTIST for my sixmonthly (I have to make a return visit in May, because a previous filling has a crack in it)... A bit of RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT on how to turn CorelDraw files into PagePlus ones via the PDF route... 

A quite astonishing 'STORMY's MONDAY DOWNLOAD' (or 'HOT TICKLE', if you will) from the DGMLive concern this week, featuring seven-and-a-half minutes of the 2002 "NuevoMetal" KING CRIMSON really... um... GOING FOR IT! At the end, you can hear the Frippster saying "Shall we listen back to it...if only to draw breath?". Intense, Indeed, In Garage! On a slightly more dreamy level, I've also been enjoying P@'s 2008 "TUNISIA" project via the Bandcamp streaming facility.

The "FREAK ZONE" this weekend broadcasted a never-before-heard(?) session by FAUST. The Beeb's 'Peel Sessions' webpage (as well as a couple of fan blogs) inform[s] us that it was recorded at Maida Vale Studio 3 on the 29th October 1998, but no transmission date is given, so maybe it never WAS aired - before now, that is! Anyway, it's a goodly bit of late-Faust improv, featuring what is almost certainly the "Ravvivando" line-up, and is well worth paying a visit to the iPlayer for, while you can.

Wednesday: a delightful day and I'm sort of "BETWEEN JOBS"... So I went for one of 'ME DAZE OUT' and hopped on a slow train to BRIGHTON, where there are still INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOPS to be found, as well as sundry flea market-type establishments and second-hand book emporia. You can spend a delightful couple of hours just LOOKING. Which I mainly did. 

But I finally got both TEARDROP EXPLODES albums at a nice price from the excellent RESIDENT RECORDS. My old copy of "WILDER" has been unplayable for years, and I only had "KILIMANJARO" on an old Memorex tape (recorded via an old ghetto-blaster, right here in Brighton, circa 1980) - and you can imagine what old Memorexes are like when they're thirty-odd years old! Factor in all the bonus singles/EP tracks on these editions, and you can't go wrong really.

From the top-notch jazz and psych outlet BORDERLINE RECORDS (Hooray! It's still there!) I re-acquired Weather Report's "I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC". My old copy of that has also been unplayable for years, and I missed it deeply... Not to mention Miles' last great masterpiece "AURA". My old copy of that was perfectly playable, but it's nice to get it on a deluxe Sony remastered edition CD instead! Because it's ruddy good.

So Tuesday and Wednesday were the sum-total of our SPRING days for now... it's now grey and drizzly again. No matter, I'm indoors with something fairly UPBEAT (NEW ORDER followed by REMMY ONGALA) cranked up on the stereo-apparatus, as I do a goodly batch of COLLATING & PARCELLING to go to the Post Office this afternoon.

Week from Monday 21st March 2011

So the PACIFIC RIM and the MAGHREB are each, in their different ways, being ripped apart... but didn't they promise us that the world is going to end NEXT year...?

'Phase I' of the COLLATE-O-WHATSIT-RIDE-O-DOODAH-A-THON is packed off to the fifteen corners of Hampshire. It's all on the back burner now until May - apart from the matter of the BILL and the possibility of ONE O' ME DAZE OUT in Andover sometime. Today, I went down to Gosport to tie up some loose ends and, as it's a VERY nice day ("Spring, Redux"), I did some MOTIVATIONAL LEG-STRETCHING (sometimes called 'walking' for short) all the way back home again.

Having just heard some of it on "THE FREAK ZONE" this week, I have been proselytising, left, right and centre and to anyone who will listen, on the merits of "WITCHAZEL" [sic], the astonishing new album by MATT BERRY - Yes! the very same! That 'Garth Marenghi' and 'IT Crowd' comedy actor bloke is also an amazing musician. The music is indescribable really. The best I can come up with is "A very English take on the strange sunshine pop of SUFJAN STEVENS... via the spooky-psych-folk of COMUS... with maybe a little pastoral PINK FLOYD or CARAVAN... and lots of EURO-PROG thrown in for good measure..." Within minutes of hearing a track on the radio, I was there on iTunes, purchasing and downloading the whole ruddy kaboodle. Rather like hearing THE BEES for the first time, I instantly adored it, because it sounds EXACTLY like all the things I love about music made before1976. If it is indeed a PARODY, it's an extremely skilled and affectionate one, like XTC's "DUKES OF STRATOSPHEAR" spin-off project... clever sods... Ah, just LISTEN to it, okay!?!

This week's download from the DGMLive concern is another show from the KING CRIMSON Double Trio's series of Japanese dates in 1995. I have so many similar shows of this vintage already (not to mention all the interesting improvs gathered together on the "THraKattaK" album), that I probably wouldn't have been bothered with it under normal circumstances. However, all of the proceeds from this particular download are being donated to the JAPANESE RED CROSS SOCIETY, so I've paid out my ten dollars for the cause. 

With MATT BERRY almost permanently on the 'jukebox' now, not to mention the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA's 1973 Toronto concert newly added to WOLFGANG'S VAULT (oh yes! that "Convocation Hall" show which was a favourite among THE GOLD LAMÉ TAPES), I probably won't get around to actually listening to the KCrim Show JUST yet.

Week from Monday 28th March 2011

BRITISH SUMMER TIME officially begins... but I spent most of Sunday an hour behind everyone else, because I'd forgotten to change the clocks! Weatherwise, within the space of a week we've gone from "Brr! A Bit Nippy 'Round The Toes At Night..." and "Double Duvet After Teatime", to "Wandering Around Town In A T-Shirt" and "Leave A Window Open For Some Fresh Air". Not quite "Wear Shorts At All Times", but we're getting there.

Oh dear, I appear to have had a fresh craze for MAGMA thrust upon me! "Köhntarkösz" was this week's featured album on "THE FREAK ZONE", and rather splendid it did sound too. Also, I've been digging into the Dutch "VPROJazzLive" archive (or rather "archeif") and - lo and behold! - I came across a recording of the Kobaian kiddies' appearance at last year's "NTR MUSIC MEETING" in Nijmegen (along with, incidentally, no end of KCrim-related stuff - a couple of Adrian Belew gigs and the improvisational supergroup that is Bozzio-Holdsworth-Levin-Mastelotto - all of which I shall come back to later, yum yum.)

DREAM DIARY... No doubt inspired by my recent visit to Brighton, I find myself in the midst of a flea market in what appears to be an abandoned industrial building of some sort. There was one particularly intriguing stall selling vintage tapes - yes! tapes! What was curious is that everyone was carrying pocket torches to examine the goods, because there was no other form of lighting in the building, even windows... EARWORM UPDATE: After spending a few days with various tunes by The Teardrop Explodes lodged in my brain, my head now seems to be soundtracked by the Barenaked Ladies' theme tune to "Big Bang Theory".

Gawd, I wish all those people who waste so much time and breath complaining about what my[_____] have "done to their profile" would channel just a bit of that energy into doing something about it! One forumee complained that she couldn't change the colours on her page if she used the readymade styles, only if she started her own from scratch - well, what's stopping her? I'd be the first to admit that my[_____] royally messed up the site back in November and they are only now showing signs of getting it together. There is much about my[_____] which NEEDS complaining about. But YOUR profile page is YOUR affair. Stop moaning that it "looks like a poor copy of Facebook" (Mine certainly doesn't!) - because it only looks like that if you DON'T customise it yourself. The Joy of my[_____] is that you CAN be creative with it. That's what sets it apart from "Certain Other Social Networks". The old Profile 1.0 pages were equally dull before you did your own thing. Click on that "CUSTOMISE" button and explore the options available to you. You can always change it back if you don't like it.