Week from Monday 6th May 2013

SPRING IS HERE (SHALL WE DANCE?)... It's a Bang Collar Day, we kenned, so I went for a day out at 'the seaside'! I hopped on a train and spent a day wandering (and wondering) around BRIGHTON. The Fringe Festival doesn't officially start until Monday, but the streets and squares were already full of buskers and jugglers and CACKY MIME artistes (just an average day in Brighton then?!). Of course, what makes a trip to Brighton good value for your rail ticket is the SHOPPING! MY kind of shopping too. Within a square mile of the station, there are nothing BUT flea markets and second-hand bookshops and charity shops and musical instrument shops and... PROPER RECORD SHOPS! Even if you manage NOT to spend any money at all, there is so much to enjoy, just GAZING AND DROOLING. I however DID spend some money on a number of desirable five-inch silvery plastic things at reasonable prices - mainly stuff of a proggy nature (Yes, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf, Porcupine Tree, Can), patching a few gaps in my collection and ticking off one or two items on my "WANTED" list along the way. I also went to the HMV up the hill in Churchill Square for a current "GUILTY PLEASURE", the soundtrack album to the hit TV drama "NASHVILLE" (compulsive telly, which I rather inaccurately described as being "like Dallas with Telecasters" - actually, cavernously twanging vintage Gretsches are more the order of the day).

I can never listen to GENTLE GIANT without bringing to mind our MERVYN PURVISS pondering the question "How the f*** do they remember it all?"

Talking about remembering things... Pursuing my THEORY that the reason CLASSIC MYSPACE has got so slow and buggy is because IT'S TOO BLOODY FULL, I've made a start on springcleaning my own particular corner of it. I emptied all the trash, deleted all the old blogs (which are already 'archived' on the Blogspots), deleted any comments older than six months or so, then I started to delete all the stuff in the 'saved mail' folder, having first archived it in a text file or two. Some of it makes for interesting historical reading. And I've still only just got up to the end of 2009! Of course, in those days, there was a LOT MORE GOING ON... so consequently, there's a lot more to 'archive'. I had at least three different collaborative projects on the go and there were still lots of OTHER musicians about, all thanking each other for this, that and the other. Eventually, when I've saved all this stuff, I'll knock it into some sort of shape as a web page hereabouts. It will probably only make sense, or indeed be of ANY interest whatsoever, to a mere handful of friends (none of whom are still on MYSPACE anyway), but what the hey?!?

Still TWEAKING stuff on the laptop... it's an ongoing PROJECT! Today, I configured Mozilla Thunderbird to communicate in and out with my GMail account and I learned how to import the GMail address book into Thunderbird (the trouble with Google is it saves all your GooglePlus contacts on the list as well, so you still have to manually edit the list afterwards). I'm afraid don't feel sufficiently competent at WRITING using laptop keyboards and those horrid scrolly pads. I feel completely cack-handed. 'Taint bloody natural... Give me a nice solid mechanical keyboard anyday. I still keep a USB mouse on hand just in case.

Week from Monday 13th May 2013

DREAM DIARY... A theatrical performance of some kind... four people (who may or may not be 'celebrities' that I haven't heard of) are dressed in white rhinestoned suits, 'impersonating' Abba rather badly... while another, dressed as 'a pool of vomit in the gutter' (he is wearing a 'manhole cover' constructed about his shoulders, while his protruding head has been painted and textured with brightly-coloured latex 'sick'), is offering critical advice. My role in this scenario appears to be directorial...

Aha! It's EUROVISION time!! This year's "MY LOVELY HORSE" AWARD for blatantly ripping off a previous entry goes to (da de de dah!) GERMANY. Their song "Glorious" is IDENTICAL to last year's winner "Euphoria", down to the last chorus... My own particular favourite in the first semi-final was CROATIA's entry, in which a troupe of traditionally costumed gentlemen sang sincerely in rich baritones about something or other. It failed to qualify. Indeed, it is quite interesting to note that NOT A SINGLE ONE of the former Yugoslavian states has qualified this year... Nothing else has yet grabbed me musically - it's the usual bunch of duff indentikit eurosongs, only distinguishable from each other by the ludicrous theatrics. When it comes down to it, the songs might be instantly forgettable, but you can always enjoy the back-projected cartoons, the dancers pretending to play taiko drums, or the bloke shut in a glass box... Only one song has dared to break the mould so far, that of the Netherlands. It has a gloomy semi-gothic Alannis Morrisette vibe about it, a piece of outside-the-box thinking which could be its saving grace or its downfall, depending on how the voting goes. And we all know how unpredictable the voting can be in Eurovisionland... ARMENIA typically fielded a really horrible rock ballad (co-written by Tommy Iommi out of Black Sabbath - really!). ALBANIA's rock song had more than a touch of nineties prog-metal about it. But no one ever votes for the Eastern European rockers anyway... My personal favourites for Thursday night included MALTA's folky skiffle number (about Jeremy who works in IT) and GREECE's rembetika-meets-ska drinking song... but the most wonderful mash-up of the evening was BULGARIA's entry, which featured full-on "Mystère des Voix Bulgares" trio harmonies (natch!), a gaïda player (natch!) and an incredible amount of percussive showboating! Fantastic, but it didn't qualify for the final, needless to say... I predict that NORWAY's hip modern techno thing might do well in the final vote, or maybe GEORGIA's Lloydwebberish show tune? Or that extraordinary thing from ROMANIA with the scary operatic falsetto vocals? We shall see...

Rather than endure the full THREE AND A HALF HOURS experience in real time, I decided to DIGIBOX the Saturday night finals so that I could fast-forward through it on Sunday morning (I telescoped the whole thing down to TWO AND A QUARTER HOURS by skipping through the boring bits, i.e. most of the songs). Once again, I was proved to be absolutely useless at predicting the outcome of the voting. Many of the entries I THOUGHT would do well ended up right down the bottom of the votes table. The winner was eventually DENMARK, whose song was one of those things that is infuriatingly chirpy when you are listening to it, but which you will have totally forgotten five minutes later. Eurovision in a nutshell, then...

If I've only learnt one thing this week, it's the correct way to pronounce MALMÖ... Goodnight Mallllmurrrrrrrr...

Week from Monday 20th May 2013

DREAM DIARY... Backpacking adventures in Greece with an old school friend and real-life travelling companion, who I just happened to bump into on the same campsite... We are camped out in the grounds of the "university library", a Regency pile that isn't in the least bit Greek-looking... It is incessantly raining throughout, and we somehow managed to join several smaller tents together to make one huge 'bigger-on-the-inside' orange one. We contrived some makeshift rain hoods which also, apparently, "ward off the evil effects of wine"...

I've also been having a lot of TETRIS dreams, the result of playing the game too much in real life. The KDE version I have on my laptop doesn't appear to accelerate towards the end. This doesn't exactly push the skill envelope, so a single game can go on for hours. The version I have on my WINDOZE7 is a bit faster, allowing a little less pondering time between drops... but none I have tried comes close to the 'classic' AMIGA version for sheer griptitude. (note to self:- perhaps I should see about getting that Amiga emulator up and running again?)

This week, I've been immersed in the world of THE CRIMSON PROJEkcT, via a couple of newly-downloaded "OFFICIAL BOOTLEG" recordings taken from their various tours over the last twelvemonth... and just when I think I've already heard everything by the German pop sensations CAN, I discovered a couple more 'rarities' on That YouTube They Have Now: an album called "OGAM OGAT", consisting of lengthy outtake jams from the "TAGO MAGO" sessions, and a 1972 radio session recorded at Cologne's WDR studios. Streaming as we speak...

Week from Monday 27th May 2013

Yet another HOLLER DAEMON DAY is upon us and it is rather pleasant out, so I hit the CAR BOOT SALES. I came away empty handed, but that's not really the point, is it?

Another "OFFICIAL BOOTLEG" download from The CRIMSON PROJEkcT is thrakking and b'booming as we speak. It's the second of three nights at Tokyo's Club Citta', recorded this March - so presumably there'll be another one coming up soon? How many versions of "Dinosaur" or "Frame By Frame" does a bloke really need? (How long is a piece of string? How many roads must a man walk down?). I have to say, this is the BEST SET YET by a long mile!

Starting to make headway with phase two of the "BIKE-RIDE-A-THON-O-PRINT-&-COLLATE-O-DELIVER-O-THON-A-RAMA", but we're WEEKS behind schedule (NOT my fault - the concept of "deadlines" is lost on these people). So I shouldn't think the KOUNTYWIDE KOSMISCHE RAMBLE (really the only thing that makes it all worthwhile, let's face it!) will be for another couple of weeks yet. I think also that a trip to the ISLE OF WIGHT might be a possibility this year... we shall see...

DREAM DIARY... Playing a five-bassist version of "Big Bottom", with all the old Frenzy Society gang in a pub in Portsmouth. I had the use of a rather nice Warwick six-string for the evening...