Week from Monday 3rd September 2012

We are just a day or two into the dying '-EMBER's of summer, but I've already spotted my first CHRISTMAS-related TV commercial! Oh, for fffff... Santa's sake!

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH... With the coming of WEBPLUS X6 from the Serif concern, it is now possible for me to create a version of WILLY'S WEBSITE optimised for those new-fangled SMART MOBILE iDOOBRIES, and I fully intend to do so. But first I need to find out a bit about said devices and their workings, because I have absolutely NO personal hands-on experience of the wretched things, nor am I likely to... the Serif manual isn't very forthcoming about important concepts like screen sizes and resolutions. I could rush headlong into [re]designing the pages to my own satisfaction, only to find out that they don't fit on the screen or they are too small to read or summat! What do I know? Yep! you guessed it, "A WORK IN PROGRESS"!

DREAM DIARY... Coming home from a festival, Shelfy suddenly says enthusiastically (a very unlikely scenario), "Let's go to Southampton, YES are playing!"... This was of course not just any old Yes gig. There was a full horn section and choir and the interminable Chris Squire bass solo was played from on top of Bargate itself. During the show, I saw (a very young looking) Alan White getting off a bus and going for a pee ("I'm not needed for this bit")... I had a chat with the man who was pre-selling CDs of that night's show (like they did at the Butthole Surfers gig in London), but I had to explain to him how it was done!

Another mad frenzy of POWERPOINTING before Uncle Willy jets off again to Amsterdam. I forgot to ask him if he got caught up in the HIJACK SCARE they had at Schiphol last week...

An opportunity for a wee WALKIES this morning... I came home from Stubbington via the quaintly named TIPSY COPSE and followed the track across the fields from there...

Even though I'd sworn that I'd had my fill of SPORT for another year, I found myself getting drawn into LA VUELTA A ESPAÑA. It's a shame we only get a daily hour of highlights instead of live coverage, because it has proved to be a FAR more exciting event than LA TOUR DE FRANCE. With time bonuses at stake, the winner of the 'overall classification' is the rider who has actually fought the hardest for it, instead of someone who has acquired the jersey by winning the time trials, then clinging on to it for a fortnight by playing safe in the peleton. There are a lot of uphill finishes, so there are fewer grandstanding sprinters who go for stage wins and nothing else. In short, it is a PROPER RACE!

Week from Monday 10th September 2012

"YOU KNOW WHAT REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS?" ...you know what really grinds my gears? Those stupid meaningless statistics that appear in the small-print of all adverts, now that they are obliged to do so by the Advertising Standards bigwigs. You know the ones? "86% of 217 people surveyed..." and that sort of thing? Never mind that it is impossible for 86% of 217 people to respond to a survey, because 86% of 217 is 186.62 and during those months I spent in Market Research, I never ONCE interviewed 'sixty-two/hundredths' (or even 'thirty-one/fiftieths') of a person. Sounds a terribly messy job. Do they mean "186 people out of 217" (or maybe "187 out of 217" if they're rounding the numbers the other way)? IF SO, WHY NOT JUST SAY THAT, EH? Because advertising agencies treat everyone as morons. Morons think that if you use percentages rather than ACTUAL numbers, then it somehow sounds more "SCIENTIFIC". It also disguises the fact that 217 is a pathetically small and unrepresentative quota for a Market Research survey. They even do this when the number canvassed is as small as 30! They will say something like "94% of 29 people" (you do the math!). MEANINGLESS and almost certainly MADE UP.

People who work in advertising are NOT stupid. They just presume everyone else IS, including the CLIENTS who pay them obscene amounts of money for this bullcrap. As long as you occasionally remind yourself that the advertising industry operates on just one basic 'principle' - "EXPLOIT THE GULLIBLE" - then the world will make that little bit more sense. Think about it.

Having mentioned YES and SHELFY in the same sentence in my DREAM DIARY, and posited that I thought it "an unlikely scenario", I got an e-missive from Shelfy to say that he'd heard some Yestunes wafting out of a window while he was up on a scaffold painting things and had thoroughly warmed to the experience... which has prompted me to drag out my naughty recording of the 1980 "YEGGLES" Tour for this morning's "OFFICE AMBIENCE".

I received a notification from the YouTube concern that our CC had uploaded a 'new' video recital, entitled "A WOMAN SCORNED... IS A BITCH". Forgive me for losing track, but I couldn't remember if I'd already musically "DONE" that particular poem before...

Ah! what the heck! Let's do a new one anyway! I had another of my strange, off-kilter, ADVANCED NON-RHYTHMIC PERCUSSION parts lying around, which seemed to fit the flow and rhythm of CC's reading... then I started playing around with loops and samples and came up with something a bit more upbeat and DANCEY! As always, THE ART IS IN THE EDITING. Once I started gluing and collaging the bits together with the WAV editor, things started to take shape as a [de]composition. With the addition of a little virtual atmosphere, I was also able to make a musical EVENT out of CC's amusing FLUFFING O' LINES. Her plaintive cry of "I always go with the first take..." therefore (literally) takes on a whole new dimension. FUN FUN FUN! Brought to you in glorious CACOPHONIC©

DREAM DIARY... Maybe because I watched "DISTRICT 9" before going to sleep*, I had one of those dreams involving a lot of tediously-detailed bureaucracy, lots of queueing and questions and filling in forms... I was in some sort of internment camp with the members of a Turkish orchestra. Come to think of it, I'm not quite sure how I knew they WERE members of a Turkish orchestra... I received an official-looking letter. I immediately knew it was from my bank, but it was all written like this: "Klat ot deen ew, eciffo llac esaelp"...

*This is unusual for me. Normally, if I watch something on TV, or hear a piece of music, it takes several days for it to 'brainworm' into my subconscious and manifest itself in dreams somehow. Must be a particularly powerful film then! On the other hand, it's not unusual for the 'influence' to travel in the opposite direction. After last week's episode with YES, I've had a mad LISTENING CRAZE for their music and I even found myself downloading a set of ROGER DEAN wallpapers for the PC!

I paid a visit to the EMPORIUM O'HAIR for a much-needed bit of tonsorial croppage. It was starting to really irritate me around the FUNNY EARS...

I'm finally seeing off the last of (definitely not 'The Last Night Of') the BBC PROMS season. As always, it's been a educating and entertaining festival, with plenty of opportunity to hear music that one might never otherwise encounter. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR? The São Paulo Symphony playing GINASTERA and VILLA-LOBOS... JOHN ADAMS' jazzy, filmscore-like "City Noir"... finally seeing what an ONDES-MARTENOT looks like... the always-welcome KRONOS QUARTET... lots of stuff by PIERRE BOULEZ (which upset all the Beethoven fans!)... the youth orchestra doing EDGARD VARÈSE's hilariously theatrical piece "Tuning Up"...

Week from Monday 17th September 2012

FAIRPORT CONVENTIONAL... BBC4 had one of its "themed" evenings over the weekend, dedicating several hours of its airtime to the popular English Folk Rock ensemble we know simply as THE FAIRPORTS. Great bunch of lads, dear sweet guys, love 'em to death and all that, BUT... the Anniversary concert, featuring the present-day line-up, sounds REALLY TAME - there's just no ELECTRICITY there anymore (literally, for the most part) ...nice polite COMFY SLIPPERS music. If perchance you've recorded it all for later, best just skip over that bit and go straight to the career-retrospective documentary instead!

DREAM DIARY... Counting pygmy hippos in French...

The weather is still suspiciously sunny here, so I went for an afternoon out in Southampton. BRITAIN'S LAST REMAINING RECORD CHAIN now have racks containing "pre-owned" CDs (and DVDs) for just two of your English pounds, always worth a rummage. I got one of my favourite BOOTSY COLLINS albums in a Japanese import edition for just such a silly price.

I've finally "caught up" with all the KING CRIMSON 40th Anniversary Series, now that I've bought "DISCIPLINE" for - let me see - the FOURTH time! I would not count it as one of MY favourites, which is probably why I've not been in any hurry to buy it yet again, but Steven Wilson's new mixes find me appreciating the album with FRESH EARS as always. Nice to have the whole of that Whistle Test session on disc, plus a few studio gems I'd not heard before (12" Dance Mix of "ELEPHANT TALK", anyone?).

The 'eighties KING CRIMSON I have always found 'interesting' rather than 'exciting'. I can be agape at the extraordinary craft involved and can appreciate how they influenced the whole Chicago "post-rock/math-rock" scene. It is very ARCHITECTURAL music - very considered; there is not that much room for 'IMPROV'; nothing left to CHANCE; not enough of that certain 'something' (which, for argument's sake, we shall call 'JAZZ') for it to really THRILL me. Yet here I am, post-Steven Wilson, finding myself appreciating this stuff afresh... so I shall enjoy re-visiting some of the live shows of that period, to see if I have been missing out on 'something'! First stop will be the Gold Lamé recording of the chaps at the Hammersmith Palais in September of '82... BRING ON THE DANCING HIPPOS!

In HMV, I also stumbled over the 'other' GREENSLADE double-pack that I'd been looking for. In this case, it really turns out to be "Buy One Get One Free" rather than "Two For The Price Of One" - their third album "SPYGLASS GUEST" is definitely worth having (something of a mellotron-tastic classic, containing some of their strongest tunes), whereas the fourth and final album "TIME AND TIDE" is mostly rubbish (two quite good instrumentals hidden amongst some truly awful songs).

DREAM DIARY... Haggling over the last DAMO SUZUKI t-shirt at a comic-book and collectibles stall in a tent at a school fête. On a more serious note, I'm due to give evidence at some sort of hearing...

Week from Monday 24th September 2012

I've hit a bit of an impasse trying to do a 'mobile' version of UNCLE WILLY's WEBSITE. It works now, but not as I'd like it. First SERIF's 'redirect' script didn't work (I had to cobble together one of my own), then we had a heck of a palaver trying to get the navigation menu to work on a mobile (it worked on all the regular 'desktop' browsers)... If in doubt, write a dirty great BLOG about it... The ultimate answer to the question "HOW DO I PUT A NAVIGATION MENU ON EVERY PAGE?" turns out to be... I don't!

Autumn arrives, bringing some suitably autumnal music... the new TRAVIS & FRIPP album "Follow" has landed on my doormat. Rather delicious it is too, although I haven't fully explored all the extras on the DVD yet...

On Wednesday, I went to the Specsavers concern for my biennial eye test. Surprisingly, given all the time I've spent squinting at postage-stamp-sized web pages lately, there's been no major deterioration in my eyesight in the last two years and my 'prescription' is almost the same. My existing reading specs will do. I took the opportunity to order a cheapo spare pair nevertheless.

There is a major relaunch for my[_____] just around the corner. I mean "MAJOR"! The mood on the streams is a split-down-the-middle mixture of optimistic excitement and pessimistic trepidation. It all depends on how you welcome that thing called "CHANGE", really. I'm glad to say that I can stop typing my[_____] now, as the new my[_____] logo is a revised version of the original 'knobbly little men' symbol. Friend and regular correspondent "DRUDE" raised a very interesting point in one of his comments on Mr Timberlake's profile - "What will happen to all our blog posts?". It remains to be seen (I certainly didn't see anything that looked like a "blog" in the promo video)... but if you DO have a lot of your LIFE'S WORK 'preserved' within your my[_____] blogs, I would certainly recommend that you take this opportunity (before it's too late?) to back up EVERYTHING and "archive" it all on a PROPER dedicated blogging site (such as Blogger or WordPress, Tumblr or LiveJournal), as I did at the beginning of this year when I began to question the my[_____] blogs' "fitness for purpose". For your own peace of mind, I beg you... Don't come crying to me if it all goes PFFFFTTT!

Talking about BLOGS, I appear to have written THREE of the little buggers this week! Not only did I rant about MOBILE PHONES in general and my experiences in trying to 'design' for them in particular, I also 'reviewed' the full range of SERIF software and posted my initial thoughts on the new TRAVIS & FRIPP album.