Week from Monday 1st August 2011

Back to the HOT & STICKY this morning. I had some time on my hands - nothing in the 'urgent' folders - so I thought a nice walk down to Gosport would be on the cards (given that I've been vegging out indoors for the whole weekend!). I took the 'green'est route possible: following the track across the freshly reaped, crow-filled field, to Crofton School, holding my breath as I passed dangerously near the sewage farm, skirting the airfield, down the new Cherque Farm 'expressway' around Lee, emerging in Gozzy somewhere adjacent to Browndown and another crow-filled field.

This afternoon, I'm listening online to a BRAND X concert, in good old, "Rough-As-A-Bear's-Ass-But-Twice-As-Lively" b***leg format, via the good people of JAZZFUSION.TV. The sparse on-screen details say it's from "My Father's Place" in Roslyn NY, 1977... but I'd hazard a guess it's a little later than that, maybe mid-1978, as they introduce 'new' "Masques" material and the drummer is surely CHUCK BURGI (well forward in the mix, as are MORRIS PERT's percussives!). Dooorn't rilleh mattah thoow, it's greeeeaaat!

I find myself waiting in a Gosport car park, trying to appreciate Frank Bridge's "Sea Suite" (which has seemingly been arranged for orchestra, traffic noise and cement mixer) on Radio 3's "Composer of the Week" slot. The 'Pleasure Trips Over The Harbour' helicopters are also doing a roaring(!) trade.

Week from Monday 8th August 2011

I got inspired, about a week ago, to 'write' some music in D minor ("The saddest of all keys...", of course). Don't ask why, I just did. But when I do that, it usually comes out sounding not so much "LONELY LOVELORN WAYFARER", but more "DON'T GO DOWN IN THE BASEMENT!". Subsequently, I took the basic material (as MIDI data) and treated it various different ways (a piano version; one with some big fat synthesisers; a more orchestral-sounding one...) Basically, I'm just having fun noodling with Magix and some VST plugins. 

Voila! the "HORRIPILATION" trilogy - a soundtrack waiting for the right horror movie to come along! 

The tracks have generally gone down well with my 'small cult following'. The music has even inspired CC to write (and record) a nice poem to go with it. So now there will be a FOURTH PART OF THE TRILOGY, with WORDS!. Coming soon to a "CRIES OF CALLIOPE" near you!

Hooray! The new version of SERIF WEBPLUS is here! Woohoo! NEW TOYS! Version 15 (or "X5", as these things tend to go nowadays), has a number of yummy new features which are proving invaluable already: The ability to make linked pictures or forms appear in a "lightbox" rather than in a separate browser window; A much better "snap-to-grid", which allows you to tabulate pages without that rather archaic Serif way of working with tables (or having to resort to an external editor for creating the layout code, and then importing the HTML into WebPlus, which was my previous method of choice). There are also some newly-improved E-COMMERCE features for including a PayPal shopping cart, but I haven't fully explored that aspect of it yet. However, the built-in word processor is still as full of quirks as those on earlier versions. But I long ago taught myself how to WORKAROUND those!

Because of a recently eavesdropped SPACE-RECOMMENDATION (Thanks, Existential Pathos!), I've been reading Mikhail Bulgakov's "THE MASTER AND MARGARITA". It's "a masterpiece... a classic of twentieth-century fiction", according to the New York Times and the book's blurb. It's also very funny (well, at least it's a lot funnier than Solzhenitsyn or Pasternak ever were!), a delightful piece of surrealism and extremely "Can't-Put-Down-able".

Week from Monday 15th August 2011

Another weekend, another CC:PP piece on the go. This one is EXTREME - a little something in the approximate style of a drum'n'bass / jungle / dubstep / or-whatever-they're-calling-it-this-week MASH-UP, featuring a CC reading which had already been subjected to all kinds of Garageband FX by the lass herself... I, in turn, cut it to shreds and put it to a lopsided UN-DANCE track... Of course, by the time I had done all that, you couldn't make out a single word, apart from the occasional repetition of the title "JUDGMENT DAY" (spelled the American way of course!). So I then requested that she recite a 'clean' version, so that I could insert lines from the poem between the mayhem. 

This one should sort the casual listeners from the diehard fanatics!

On Saturday, I went to check out the 'new' CAR-BOOT SALE out the back of Segensworth. It's still quite small at the moment, but I'm sure once word gets out, it will rival the Titchfield one which happens on Sunday mornings... I stocked up on joss-sticks and found a couple more of CHARLAINE HARRIS' Sookie Stackhouse novels to add to the "TO READ" pile.

Hearing some of ENNIO MORRICONE's music at the PROMS over the weekend, prompted me to take "CINEMA PARADISO" down from the shelf again. If it wasn't already a favourite film before, it is now! The more I watch it, the more I get from it...

Speaking of the PROMS... Today (Tuesday), I'm catching up with a couple of missed performances from the last few days, including the Ensemble Modern playing STEVE REICH's "Music For 18 Musicians" and Mats Bergström doing his "Electric Counterpoint" (little fluffy clouds and all!). Tonight I will be looking forward to the third of BARTOK's PIANO CONCERTOS to be performed this year, which is, in fact the SECOND one...

Meanwhile, I've been exploring some more new features of SERIF WEBPLUS, particularly the "Button Studio".

Uh ho... Obedient and trusting as I am, when Mozilla informed me that there were 'vital new security updates' for FIREFOX, I happily obliged. Then it became clear that my beloved STYLISH was not compatible with the new V6! Way to ruin my 'SPACE experience, Mozilla peeps! I temporarily switched over to GOOGLE CHROME while I explored the alternatives. My scripts run on Chrome, but only just. Not a happy bunny... It occurred to me that I still have an earlier Firefox in the PORTABLE version. Bingo! Stylish is back. The only thing is, the portable Fox is designed to run from a flash drive and so is very sluggish in everyday use... If only I could go back to good old speedy (and terribly attractive) APPLE SAFARI... further exploration ensued... I discovered that if you turn the Stylish script into a 'proper' CASCADING STYLE SHEET document, you can get Safari to 'go Stylish' to all intents and purposes. It is however virtually impossible to create a script that JUST applies to one page (such as my HOMEPAGE script)... Any changes are UNIVERSAL and non-specific. I have therefore changed the colours slightly so that they match the PROFILE page, as some of the modules and boxes on the homepage have the same designations as those on other pages (You find 'wrong' coloured boxes appearing on your profiles and blogs, if you don't make them match. Other people's profiles will, of course, also be slightly affected, but that's no biggy...)

Week from Monday 22nd August 2011

...but all that is by-the-by and merely USEFUL RESEARCH, because now I've 'rolled back' Firefox to a previous version and everything is hunky dory again. I reset Firefox with all its STYLISHness intact and then noticed that the stream's "Horizontal Menu" looked screwed up. It looks like the Monkeys are in the process of changing it to a dropdown menu instead and have gone away for the weekend and left it broken. But... benefit of the doubt... credit and blame where due... MY BAD! The fact that I no longer had the ability to reset the stream to "ALL" was a residual effect of my CSS and the fact that, as pointed out previously, some of the sections of the homepage have the same names as parts of other pages. I had 'accidentally' hidden something I shouldn't have! Thank de lawdy for the ability to scan a page of HTML and spot the anomalies. I've now corrected the Stylish, both here and on the Userstyles download.

(Having admitted MY mistake though, there ARE still dirty great holes in the my[_____] source code which I hope they are going to fix!)

IT'S WORTH REPEATING HERE: If you are on FIREFOX 4 or 5 and you are using STYLISH to tidy up my[_____], then stick to the version you are using like epoxy. Resist Mozilla's requests that you 'upgrade' to version 6, UNTIL THERE IS A STYLISH UPGRADE TO GO WITH IT. You NEED both for my[_____].

This week, the printers are on holiday, so the pressure SHOULD be off a little. A bit more time for "other" projects... such as the above, fitting in a CAR-BOOT or two, turning some more musical archives into MP3s... and an opportunity for some reading... I also took one of "me DAZE OUT"; On this occasion, I hopped on a train to the fairly ugly but, at least, pedestrian-friendly town of BASINGSTOKE. You do get a better class of charity shop up here in the mid-Hampshire commuter belt. As well as one of the better branches of Waterstones. And quite a nice market on Wednesdays.

"There's yet another new CC:PP piece baking in the kiln. I don't know if you should get to hear this one, it is a bit naughty..." Actually, there is a demo version of a new tune, which has just gone public on CALLIOPE CENTRAL. But we both agree that there is room for improvement. So while our several "FANS"* digest that version for a while, I'm continuing to hone and sculpt and create some new bits for it. 

[*"...our popularity is not waning, I just think our appeal is becoming more selective..."]

Week from Monday 29th August 2011

Wuurrrpp, here we go... It's Wednesday already and I haven't got around to doing THIS yet. 
We had another Bank Holiday. Didn't do much except read and listen to music. 
Back to 'work' on Tuesday. Spent much of it on buses (through the magic of the FirstDay ticket), whizzing from A to B via C and back again. 

I finished another version of the CC:PP track "THE HOLY GRAIL", anagrammatically subtitled "L'THIGH ROYALE", which I then posted on m'SoundCloud. Meanwhile, I noticed that the hyperlinked list of "Things I'm Rather Keen On..." had disappeared from my my[_____] profile. It used to be that one could have a module that runs, marquee-like, across both columns at the bottom of your page... but not anymore. Fair enough then. But instead of just resizing said module, the darned spacemonkeys deleted it altogether! So I've rebuilt it, this time running in a single column list down one side of the page. I figured that, if my[_____] are going to have that list of irrelevances at the foot of MY page, the least I could do is give them a list of things that THEY won't like!

The soundtrack to my afternoon is a new download from the DGM concern: a rather beautiful ROBERT FRIPP soundscape from the G3 tour of 1997, in which he is briefly joined by former Zappa "stunt guitarist" MIKE KENEALLY (who, on this occasion, sounds spookily like Fripp himself of about twenty five years earlier). It astonishes me how music of such pastoral calm can be created in a room full of baying heavy metal fans! So much for soundscapes being the product of the environment in which they are performed.