Week from Monday 2nd December 2013

I'm having a bit of a CRAZE for the FLYING JEFFS (translation: I appear to be listening to rather a lot of Jefferson Airplane of late)... Last night, the FREAK ZONE failed my "IF I FIND THAT I HATE THE FIRST COUPLE OF SONGS HE PLAYS, THEN I PROBABLY WON'T GET THROUGH TWO WHOLE HOURS OF THIS..." test, so I turned out the lights and flew away on an 'Airplane' instead...

I spent Saturday afternoon in the HIGH-DEFINITION company of professional Canadians RUSH. The three-DVD set, that I'd snagged for a mere three quid in a charity shop, turned out to have only two discs that would behave themselves (Disc Two is damaged and it defies 'cleaning'). Sadly, this means you have to skip over "Natural Science" and "Witch Hunt" in the second set and there's a slight moment or two of freezeframe during the encores. Not to worry, eh? there's still hours of fun, and I had it, eh?

LINUX MINT 16 has gone public this weekend. I've now had over a week to try out various configurations in "RC" and to see what fits. I've now finally 'PLUMPED' for a non-Cinnamon option (something about Cinnamon 2 didn't agree with me) and I've gone with MATE as the version that "DOES WHAT I WANT THE WAY THAT I WANT IT...". I experimented for a bit with having the 'panel' (that's the 'taskbar' in Windozespeak) at the TOP of the screen, in a style slightly reminiscent of the old System 7.1 AppleMacs (a bit of nostalgia for the old folks!). Looking at other people's screengrabs, I see that this is a popular choice, especially amongst those who came up via Ubuntu. But now I've put together something a lot more CLASSICALLY WINDOZELIKE again, with the launcher ('Start') menu in the bottom left-hand corner and a few app shortcuts in the bottom right. One slight difference: because the application windows (by default) tile from the LEFT of the screen, I've put my desktop ikons in the empty RIGHT hand side, so that they don't get in the way or get hidden by the windows.

Down to Gozzy to do some deliveries this morning, then off to the CASH 'N' CARRY...

DREAM DIARY... At a garden party in the suburbs of... well, London, probably, but it was nowhere that I recognised... Lots of white painted walls and white plastic furniture... Seemingly, everyone I ever knew is there(!), as well as a lot of people I didn't know in 'real' life... I seemed to spend a lot of the time on a sofa in the garden shed, wrapped in a blanket and chatting to an Indian lady, who may or may not have been the mother of a 'friend'... eventually dawn came up and I'd missed my ride home...

I found a 'terminal' script that fixes the "CENTERING WINDOWS" quandary on m'LINUX. Hoorah! Now FIREFOX (amongst others) opens up in the middle of the screen where I like it, and I've put the desktop icons back over on the left where they belong (What an old fusspot I am!). I'm loving the MATE version of LinuxMint a lot more than I did the Cinnamon flavour. It's arguably not as PRETTY, but it's a lot more robust and manageable. One tiny niggle remained - there's a slight screen flicker when you open certain app windows. A poke-about on That Google They Have Now reveals that this appears to be true of a number of Radeon-based laptops and it's ESPECIALLY true when running the dreaded Windoze 8. SO... IT'S A 'FEATURE' THEN! Mine's not TOO bad. I don't see any of the 'tearing' that other folks experience when watch videos or playing games. I can live with it. I grew up with Commodore Amigas, for gawd's sake!

This month's new musical "DISCOVERY" is REGAL WORM, the brainchild of Jarrod Gosling (aka Varrod Goblink), who was also involved in HENRY FOOL (last month's new musical discovery!). It's quite, quite wonderful and thoroughly bonkers to boot. It's PROG, Jim, but not as we know it. There's shades of the Canterbury Scene, of course, some Gentle Gianty moments, as well as some 'zeuhl' influences, or such 'Rock In Opposition' bands as Univers Zero. And anyone who could come up with "6:17 PM - THE AUNT TURNS INTO AN ANT" has clearly been listening to Jean Claude Vannier's "L'ENFANT ASSASSIN DES MOUCHES"... but it sounds entirely unlike any of the above. It's so ECCENTRIC. Given some of the tired TWEE NONSENSE that gets labelled as 'PROG' these days (should you believe what you read and hear via the magazine of the same name), this is most REFRESHING. Mad stuff! I wish I'd done it!

In answer to something asked by PAUL THE PRINTER earlier in the week... Yes you can! Run COREL DRAW on a Linux laptop, that is. I've just done it to prove it CAN be done. You have to run it via "WINE" (which stands for "WINdows Environment" or "Wine Is Not an Emulator), a clever little thing which sort of converts Windoze stuff into UNIX stuff on the fly (not too technical for you, I hope!). Now that I've tried it, I'm not sure whether I really NEED it, but it's handy to know. Besides, I've got plenty of room on my hard drive, so it's not hurting anyone... and it's one more thing I can SHOW OFF to my friends. It doesn't work for everything though - I had no luck AT ALL with installing an old version of SERIF PAGEPLUS, by way of a further 'test'... or MICROSOFT POWERPOINT either... and when I tried to remove it, I had a moment of panic when I thought I'd lost all my system fonts. Wot larks, eh?

Week from Monday 9th December 2013

All those months and months and months' worth of BLOGSPOTS that I've accumulated, full of page after page of CSS/Stylish script... it has occurred to me, are all now pretty much REDUNDANT! Nearly every line of script has been rendered OBSOLETE by the fact that MySpace and GooglePlus (even Our Old Space to a certain extent) have changed beyond all recognition since I originally wrote the 'hacks'. I'm probably going to be starting again from scratch with the CSS projects for Our Old Space pretty soon, but in the meantime, I've been tweaking all the blog 'archives', so that all that useless script doesn't take up as much room (I've concertina'ed it all down into scrolling boxes). It's still there for 'REFERENCE', in the hope that it will inspire other people to create such things for themselves, but it's no longer of any PRACTICAL value to anyone on the aforementioned sites...

All that mucking about trying to put WINDOZE applications on my LINUX laptop ultimately turned out badly. As I mentioned, COREL DRAW 11 ran without any problems... but, it turns out, the other tools in the Corel suite didn't so much as load. My attempts to get Microsoft Powerpoint to run proved particularly disastrous. Although, on the second or third attempt, other MSOffice apps (Word and Excel) DID work. It's all a bit hit-and-miss really, this WINE business. What is really annoying is that, once you've installed something (unsuccessfully) on your virtual "C DRIVE", it's almost impossible to UNinstall it completely. You're left with a menu entry that isn't connected to anything, as well as bogus file associations (I recall this also being true of Microsoft apps on Windows itself, once upon a time). Having said earlier that MATE is a lot more robust than Cinnamon, it's certainly not bulletproof, by any means. I dug myself into a trench that only a COMPLETELY FRESH INSTALL of LinuxMint could get me out of. Luckily, I'm getting REALLY quick at doing that. I've done it several times already, since I started this, er... project, about a month ago!

NOTE TO SELF:- It works again now. Stop tinkering. LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

The highlight of the new "CLOCKWORK ANGELS TOUR" deeveedee, by the amusing Canadians RUSH, is a ridiculous (Damn! I wish I'd thought of it!) CALLIOPE 'N' BANJO arrangement of "TOM SAWYER", as performed by the band's dwarfish alter-egos DWUSH and the actor JAY BARUCHEL. In fact, there are so many wacky 'extras' on the disk, that I haven't actually got around to watching the concert itself yet!

I'm sick of the sight of COMPUTERS for this week... It's drizzlin', but I need to DAZE-OUT! I hopped on a train to Portsmouth and did all of the charity shops of Fratton and North End (that's quite a few!), eventually hitting Ross Records (not what it used to be) and then the Commercial Road branch of HMV. Good walking!

Top of the list of 'THINGS TO DEFINITELY BUY' today was the much anticipated seedydisk by ROVO & SYSTEM 7, "Phoenix Rising" - having acquired a goodly taste of it via That YouTube They Have Now, I'd been counting away the days till it appeared in the shops! This is System 7 as I like 'em! And wait till you hear their version of MAHAVISHNU's "Meetings Of The Spirit" (or is it "Meeting Of The Spirits" now? Nobody can ever agree, not even Johnny Mac himself!)

In (one of) the charity shops, I found PRETTY-DAMN-NEAR-MINT condition vinyls of both of WALTER CARLOS' "Switched On Bach" albums - legendary, pioneering works of electronic music, rivalled only by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop for historical significance. I must mention that they only cost me £1 each?!? In ROSS RECORDS (BUT MAINLY GAMES NOW) EMPORIUM, my browsings revealed a live GILBERTO GIL album (it might turn out to be fabulous; it could be crap; you never can tell with Gilberto Gil) and a WAS (NOT WAS) album that I didn't know existed. I've also ticked the GRATEFUL DEAD's "Blues For Allah" off my WANTED list...

As I was walking in the vacinity of Kingston Crescent, there was a commotion. An INEBRIATE FELLOW had fallen on the pedestrian crossing, decided that he liked it better SAT DOWN rather than attempt any more of that walking lark, and so opted to stay there blocking a lane of traffic. Any attempts to move him resulted in a flailing of limbs and a torrent of barely comprehensible filth. A crowd gathered, offering a wide spectrum of possible solutions, ranging from a well-meaning and reasoned 'talking down' to further torrents of 'language' and threats of violence from those of a less patient bent. I didn't stay around to see what the outcome was, but, by the time I reached Ross Records, there were police motorcycles winding in and out of the tailback of traffic and heading towards the scene...

Week from Monday 16th December 2013

It's that time of year when I bring out "THE XMAS SINGLE" again. My one concession to SEASONAL CHEER, my sole token gesture of PUTTING UP THE DECO'S, if you like, is to post this spooky sampledelic piece of audio MeRzdADa for all the 'world' to hear. Of course, this year will be the very first time that it DOESN'T come to you courtesy of That MySpace...
I don't observe ANY Christmas traditions... except this one! Every year at this time I always roll out this track for the delight of the spacecommunity.
HERE IT FOLKS! MY NODDY HOLDER MOMENT! MY VERY OWN CHRISTMAS SINGLE!
This originated as a version of RENALDO & THE LOAF's creepy "Jungle Bowels" track, which I recorded for consideration for their "THE MUSIC IS TABOO" remix project. But at the time, I wasn't that happy with the results and neither were the chaps, and I eventually submitted something else instead (it's still out there somewhere)...
Some months later, I once again dug out this 'work in progress', chopped it to bits and added the sampled vocal talents of longtime spacefriend THE EVIL DEMENTED BUNNY... and it no longer qualified as a mere RATL 'remix'. It had become SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY (i.e.; even creepier!). The Renaldos gave me permission to use the samples of their track and I 'released' it as one of my own...
The ROVO and SYSTEM 7 album now has permanent place on the jukebox, and thus merits the full REVIEW treatment over on my BlogSpots. This should make up for the fact that it arrived to late to make my "PICK O' THE YEAR" listings. I've no doubt that, if it had been released back in the Summer instead of during Festivus, it would have been up there in the top three.

I finally found the 'lost' video clip of UNCLE WILLY talking about his Stereoscopy workshop at IBC 2010 (which originally appeared on the IBC official site). It's turned up on someone's Vimeo page, along with several other interview clips from the same show...

Scandinavian chums the JOXFIELD PROJEX have released the final volume in their MP3 "ARCHIVE EPs" series (Number Nine: Last First Day), so this morning, I've been gathering them all together onto one CD-R, along with their excellent 2012 album "INSULT ON THE DANCEFLOOR". That'll provide a goodly day's "OFFICE AMBIENCE" and no mistake!

The days are frustratingly short - I wake up in the dark and it is dark again before teatime - but at least we're having some nice sunshine when there IS daylight. You just have to go out when you can and soak up what little Vitamin D there is... I went down to Gozzy on 'business' and then went on one of M'BUS JOURNEYS, just watching the world go by (the bit of the world that lies between Gosport and Southampton, anyway)... worked the CHARITY SHOPS at various points along the way...

National Parks roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nosing at your nips...
Though it's been said many times, many ways...


Week from Monday 23rd December 2013

It is, of course, 'THAT' time of the year... the time of the year when I desperately need "A PROJECT" to keep me amused, a serious antidote to all that OTHER boring crap that's flying around. I've dragged the trusty YAMAHA out of the cupboard for some MIDI-driven fun over the holidays...

I "finished" three new pieces: a short bit of PSEUDO SERIAL MUSIC (with which I was quite pleased, but which probably would offend musical academics); a really ridiculous PROFESSOR FASTTROUSER fake piano 'jazz' piece (which I've given away for free on Soundcloud); one of those "STILL NOT SURE ABOUT THIS" pieces that probably went a bit too far in the psychedelic FX department, or got CUT'n'PASTED once too often... so I left that one in the drawer marked "Come Back To It Several Months Later And See If It Sounds Any Good".

As I think I mentioned earlier, a whole three hours of Christmas Day afternoon is set aside to be spent in the company of the amusing Canadians RUSH...

The BBC seems to have blown its ENTIRE xmas budget on a single ONE-HOUR programme this year, so I tuned in out of a sense of duty to see what all the fuss is about. Once more, the bombastic "DOCTOR WHO" (for it is that) didn't do a thing for me. Why do they still bother? At various times during its fifty years' existence, I've TRIED to enjoy it, I really have... but sorry, I still CAN'T see what all the fuss is about. It's just STUPID. I grant you that nowadays it's 'IMPRESSIVE CGI' STUPID, instead of the 'MEN IN PATHETIC RUBBER SUITS RUNNING AROUND IN QUARRIES' STUPID of old. But it's still STUPID.

Ah well, back to the Scandinavian detective stories...

...till Friday, when things are back to some kind of NON-BANK-HOLIDAY 'normality' and I can brave the elements and go for a walk into town and back...

...and on Saturday, it being the Last Of The Month, I know there is a RECORD FAIR to be found in Southampton. I also learn that this will be the last of its kind at the STAR HOTEL, where it has lurked ever since the Council kicked them out of the Guildhall. As of next month, it will be held at the Conference Rooms at Solent Uni...

I managed to tick a couple of items off my WANTED LIST:- a missing MILES DAVIS album (the one with the rather silly title of "The Man With The Horn" - I realise it will come as a surprise to those who know me that there ARE still some Miles Davis albums that I DON'T have!) and the long sought after BRIAN WILSON & VAN DYKE PARKS album "Orange Crate Art"... I also found an item that certainly WOULD have been on the list, had I known it even existed in CD form, namely VIVIAN STANSHALL's Afro-[ec]centric "Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead".

THE MAGICAL LURE OF AN EYECATCHING RECORD SLEEVE... Browsing through the seedydisk racks of one of the many CHARITY SHOPS I visited, I caught sight of this garishly mock-oriental psychedelic THING hidden amongst all the redundant Justins and Beyoncés. A squint at the bad typography revealed that it was the "Atlantis" album by the Dutch band EARTH & FIRE (not to be confused with anything containing 'Wind')... a band about whom I knew absolutely nothing, save that they are often (lazily) compared to JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, they toured with GOLDEN EARRING and their lady singer used to go out with Bert Reuter, he of FOCUS and the overlong bass solos. This particular edition of the album is [re]issued on the consistently worthwhile ESOTERIC label (A MARK OF QUALITeEeEeEEH!), so I knew it must be worth gambling a couple of quid to see if it's any good or not. Well, immediately forget any comparisons to THE JEFFS, I don't hear it myself. But it's very much of its time (1973) and it often sounds more like a cross between YES and RENAISSANCE, with lashings of Mellotron (and I do mean A LOT of Mellotron!) and plenty of the classical licks that were all the rage in The Hague in those days.

Week from Monday 30th December 2013

I've been catching up with some of last November's LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL... or rather it's been catching up with me, as the Beeb has finally been broadcasting WAYNE SHORTER's 80th birthday concert at the Barbican. Today, I'm relaxin' with that and some much-neglected READING. I finished off the volume of OLIVER SACKS that I'd been dipping into, then I started to read a JOHN LE CARRÉ that someone gave me. Admittedly, I hadn't previously liked anything ELSE of his, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. After one short chapter, I decided that his tediously over-egged writing style is as terrible as I remembered it (having been forced to read "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" when I was at school)... so THAT one can go back to the charity shop then! Instead, I'm returning to more familiar CHARLAINE HARRIS territory and another collection of Sookie Stackhouse shorts.

That mysterious THIRD PIECE OF MUSIC, the latest "Come Back To It Several Months Later And See If It Sounds Any Good" one, has come in useful after all (well, some of it has, anyway). It fits right in with one of CC's recent poems "INSOMNIA", right down to the mad[dening] ARP synthesiser part, which is suggestive of the "million sirens screeching" line, and the ominous march of UNRESOLVEDNESS provided by the otherwise discarded "sequencer and mellotron riff"... So suddenly, just like that, we have a new CC:PP piece!

There's probably enough material "IN THE CAN" for a third CC:PP album. But I shall have to listen back to the newer tracks we have accumulated since "CC:PP 2 HORRIPILATION" came out (I rarely listen to my own stuff once it's done, so I can't remember which pieces, if any, are even worth "releasing"). Only then will I spend many hours playing around with the running order until it sounds like a cohesive "ALBUM" and not just "A LOAD OF OLD ODDS 'N' SODS THAT USED TO BE ON MYSPACE". That selective process normally takes me longer than it does to come up with the music in the first place, so don't hold your breath! Then I have the quandary of deciding WHERE it's going to go public. I'm beginning to feel that BANDCAMP doesn't really work for me/us, if traffic statistics are anything to go by. It's flatlined for months at a time. If I put the album there, NO ONE IS LISTENING.

My SOUNDCLOUD page, on the other hand, IS gathering followers, but I might have to seriously consider taking it to the next level and forking up three euros a month to go "PRO", if I want to do more with it... we shall see...

DREAM DIARY... Our chum Shelfy, out of nowhere, decides that he's moving to the Isle of Wight. But before he does, Rockette and I have to churn out a thousand button badges announcing the fact...

Today (Thursday), I thought of going out for a ride'n'walk somewhere... but I learnt that the trains OUTTA HERE aren't running, due to severe FLOODING! Instead, I started to gather together all of the CC:PP tracks 'FOR CONSIDERATION'... I also got sidetracked into 'springcleaning' and archiving the contents of my MUSIC PROJECTS folders...