Week from Monday 3rd February 2014

DREAM DIARY... Putting on a really bad taste West End musical, a bit like "Springtime For Hitler"... I wish I could remember more about the show - but then, to me, ALL West End musicals are 'bad taste' and sound like "Springtime For Hitler"! I do remember something of one number, in which someone in an oversized Homer Simpson suit is inaugurated as President, with lots of flagwaving and pyrotechnics... We all sit around reading the reviews the next morning, but they seem to describe a completely different show... We decide to adopt some of the 'ideas' described in the reviews, because they're better than the ones we have...

F***BOOK IS TEN YEARS OLD TODAY. Think of it. Over a billion people CAN'T be wrong, right? This morning, I popped into Our Old Space for the first time in a while. It is with great sadness that I must report that NOTHING WHATSOEVER HAS HAPPENED since my last visit. No one has anything to offer that they couldn't just as easily "share" on more generic social sites like TWITFACE. Empty platitutes abound and the CREATIVITY has fizzled out entirely. All of the pioneering MySpacers (the folks that invited me there in the first place) appear to have got bored with it and moved on. Social media is, by its nature, FICKLE. I get that. Unfortunately, the days of 'ANYTHING UNDER ONE ROOF' social media have also gone now. All of the GOOD STUFF has been swallowed up by bigbizniz and the CREATIVES have been forced back into a state of SPECIALIST SELF-AGGRANDISEMENT (musicians try to make themselves heard above the din on 'proper' music sites; writers struggle once again to attract enough people to read their stuff via 'proper' blog sites; artists and photographers on... well, you get the gist!). I'd like to believe that this is an indication that we're now all considered GROWN-UP enough to organise our own CYBERLIVES for ourselves, but I'm more inclined to see it as DIVISIVE, maybe refective of 'THEM & US' society as a whole. Any changes to the way social media sites are run and perceived have a knock-on effect of leaving Mr or Ms PUNTER with a shallower [gene] pool in which to fish for interesting acquaintances. Going back a couple of years, who would have imagined that, for F***book refuseniks like me, GOOGLEPLUS would eventually offer a better "SOCIAL LIFE" than any of the alternatives? If you want to 'meet' LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS now, then join a G+ 'COMMUNITY' that reflects your own special interests. Or go outside.

On Wednesday, I attend the local surgery, having been "INVITED" (their word, not mine) for a FREE NHS HEALTH CHECK (their words, not mine). They took my blood (well, some of it). I have to go back in a couple of weeks to discuss the results and, I dare say, to undergo further probing. All a waste of time, but at least I got a vigorous WALK AGAINST THE WIND out of it, all before breakfast...

Talking about 'wind', I just found a vinyl copy of the STOMU YAMASH'TA & EAST WIND album "Freedom Is Frightening" in my favourite local charity shop. It's in pretty good nick for something that's over forty years old. The sleevenotes insert was missing, so they probably didn't have a clue who or what it was or what to do with it, hence the laughably cheap selling price of £2.99. I was able to get all the missing details off That Wikipedia They Have Now.

I decided to 'CHANGE MY NAME' for Google purposes - I've always felt uncomfortable having to use a REAL NAME on Google. Though GooglePlus as a whole is still pretty geared towards the nerdier sort and I prefer to stay within my own little 'gated community', very occasionally I feel compelled to express an opinion out there in 'general population'. But 'out there', it is never long before the level of discourse descends to rudery and abuse. It's getting a bit like F***book, really. Give all the YouTube trolls full-blown Google accounts and this is what happens. Ah well, there goes the neighbourhood.

Google's user policy prevents me from calling myself PEDANTIC PEDESTRIAN (or a variant thereof) as I do everywhere else. That's clearly not my 'REAL NAME' but a 'NICK NAME', so they disallow that as 'valid' and suggest I create a themed 'page' under that name instead. I mean to say, how are they supposed to poke about in your business, share your data and try to sell you things, if you go and hide your true identity?

I had to come up with something that SOUNDS like it COULD be a real name. I considered a few anagrams, then the Joycean STEPHEN DAEDELUS and HUMPHREY CHIMPDEN-EARWICKER (so close! so VERY nearly chosen!!)... Then I pondered over a number of Wodehouse-derived pseudonyms... but in the end I plumped for something a little closer to home, namely LARRY HADDOCK. If I've set everything correctly, then business clients will still see my real name on emails, but for FUN'n'GAMES'n'BLOGS'n'SUCH, I can hide behind an alias at last.

Week from Monday 10th February 2014

Sorry, I can't be LARRY HADDOCK after all. Shelfy pointed out that, if a customer uses GoogleMail to receive my messages, while the sender tag is now in my REAL name (which is what I wanted), if they hover over the little picture of my face, they will see the pseudonymous identity instead. It doesn't work like that if anyone uses Outlook or Thunderbird, but still. I can't successfully use one name for one part of Google and another for the rest, it throws up too many further complications. So I have to use my real name, even on GooglePlus. Oh Bugger. There's one other possibility - I could create a 'themed' page in the name of Pedantic Pedestrian and hide my main G+ profile, but I'm not sure how the social interaction will work with that setup. We'll see. It was fun being Larry Haddock for all of 15 hours anyway.

Currently my twin demons: GOOGLE and the NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE... I use the word 'service' advisedly. A couple of days after I had the blood test last week, there was a phone call to say there'd been a mix-up and I would have to do it all over again in four weeks' time. Now I have to traipse into town to make another appointment (If you've ever tried to PHONE the Health Centre, you won't ask why I don't do it the 'convenient' way). I already have a check-up appointment next week - Why couldn't it wait until THEN to make the rearrangements? So much for the "You Are Invited For A Free Health Check... It Will Only Take Twenty Minutes Of Your Time" schtick. But that's how the NHS operates, keeping its patients - Sorry! I mean 'CUSTOMERS' - running about in a state of heightened anxiety and cluelessness. When the choice is that or BLISSFUL IGNORANCE, I'm not surprised that many choose the latter.

WHY I HATE THE NHS #602: I made two new appointments and scrubbed the one I DID have for next week (because there's no point going to that one with incomplete or inconclusive data). I was unable to ascertain from The Person On The Desk (how would she know?) if the need for the repeat blood test was (a) someone screwed up the first one, or (b) there's something wrong with me. Then again, if it can wait for a whole other month, it can't be THAT bad, can it...? Now we have to start all over again in the middle of March! (Ah, well... I got another nice brisk WALK INTO TOWN out of it.) Psshaww! I pour scorn on your "The NHS Health Check should take twenty minutes..." nonsense.

WHY I HATE GOOGLE #137: Now my entire Blogger READING LIST has disappeared. Any attempt to repair/replace it results in the classic "Whoops! Sorry, Something Went Wrong, Try Again Later" scenario.

To put me in a more positive frame of mind, I've just bought my coach ticket for next month's TRIP OOP DZAT LOONDIN to watch SOME KCRIMSONS in action. At THIRTEEN POUNDS for the return journey, it is considerably cheaper then going by train, for the 'pleasure' of which you won't see much change out of FORTY QUID these days. It's just as fast as well (at least it looks it on paper). I must remember to put aside some cash for the Tube dash back to Victoria after the gig (£4.70 to be precise).

Ah... my READING LIST is back again - Time to catch up with the BLORGS!

This morning, I installed MOZILLA THUNDERBIRD on my Windoze pooter. I have once more got used to checking my mail on the Linux Lappy in this way (thus using the GoogleMail interface less and less), so I now feel comfortable using it on Windoze as well. Having emptied all of my online GMail folders, Google tells me that the "server feels unloved...". Oh puhlease!

Here in THE SUBAQUATIC KINGDOM OF WESSEX, the rain continues with its no-longer-amusing 'forty days and forty nights' routine. Farmer MICHAEL EAVIS had a jolly good rant in the ZENTRUMNAL ZUMMERZET GERZETTE, with many a 'told you so' aimed at the thickies at the Ministry of the Environment. Only now that the Thames Valley is also affected (all those MPs' houses?) are the GUBNINT starting to pay attention.

Back in that favourite local charity shop of mine, I found a copy of the third LOOSE TUBES album "Open Letter" - excellent condition vinyl elpee; autographed by (most of) the boys in the band! I'm still on the lookout for the SECOND album "Delightful Precipice", because these albums will almost certainly never appear on CD. By the way, it being some sort of anniversary this year (thirty years since they started? twenty five since they stopped?), the band are getting back together to cram themselves into RONNIE SCOTT'S, as well as doing the CHELTENHAM JAZZ FESTIVAL for the BBC.

Week from Monday 17th February 2014

I never thought I'd still be RANTING on this subject so long after "THE EVENT"... but our Binky has announced that he's finally "pissed off" with MySpace and is setting up an alternative outlet...
Re: I AM TOTALLY PISSED OFF WITH MYSPACE: If you are quitting MySpace for good (I know I have), then ensure that you remove your content BEFORE you close any accounts (I know I have).
Otherwise... they've got your stuff and there's nothing you can do about it.
What Specific Media really really wanted when they acquired MySpace was the 'rights' to all that lovely 'content' that folks had put on the MySpace servers over the years. All those songs, all those videos, all those blogs and photos. Old MySpace is gone, but the content is still there on their spanky NEW servers. Most importantly (from the point of view of their special exploitative agenda), this includes all of the songs that folks posted on MySpace profiles which were subsequently ABANDONED. During MySpace's heyday (2005-07'ish), a lot of people (including record companies on behalf of their signed artistes) set up 'BAND' sites, filled them with songs and then, eventually, just left them to fester. Either they got bored with 'em and went to F***book, or got pissed off with the way MySpace was changing things when Murdoch bought the company, or 'LOST THE KEYS' to their profile (that is to say, they forgot the password or other log-in details and thus couldn't do anything with their profiles anymore even if they wanted to).
So... MySpace have this big library of music that they don't 'own', but DO 'own' the 'rights' to, based on the tacit agreement that, because the music was freely put there by YOU THE OWNER, you have freely given THEM 'permission' to distribute YOUR music for THEIR profit - i.e. they are making a packet from advertising revenue. You get diddly. Tough titties bunky. WELCOME TO THE 'FREE' INTERNET.
I don't personally have a problem with giving MY own music away for free. If I've come to realise one thing over the years, it's that no one will ever like it enough to give me actual MONEY for it, so I may as well get it 'OUT THERE' one way or another.
But I do frown upon a third party making wads of dosh through the "sharing" (snearingly ironic double-quotes) of someone else's music, but not paying the 'content creators' their due.
The onus is therefore on you, the 'content creator', to remove your 'content' if you don't want them to have it. If you still have passwords for any of those abandoned accounts that you've created over the years, then you have to 'upgrade' each dead account to NewMySpace, go through your library and remove all the songs and then close the account. It's a pain in the ass to have to do this numerous times if you have loads of old profiles (I know I have)... but it's also rather satisfying in the end (sticking it to the man, man).
This is really the polar opposite of the situation with 'other' media sites, whereby if you find someone is distributing your music without your permission, YOU have to issue a take down notice to get THEM to remove it. Either way, the website continues to rake it in and you get all the grief... It's effectively legalised piracy.
For more about this kinda crap, follow David Lowery's "The Trichordist" blog (I know I have).
As I say, you have my undying admiration for having stuck with MySpace this far. But I see that you too have concluded that it's no longer for likes of us. I know I have.
I tuned in to last night's "FREAK ZONE" to hear an interview with Claudio Simonetti of the Italian soundtrack maestri GOBLIN, a band whose groovy sound I admire greatly. But the very second I heard the words "...tonight we also have a 'Featured Album' from Mancunian mavericks THE FALL...", it was all I could do to dive headlong and screaming across the room to access that red 'OFF' button (I'll visit the Beeb website later to hear the missed interview).

I GAVE IT A FAIR TRIAL... but I decided against using the Windoze version of MOZILLA THUNDERBIRD after all. As I mentioned before, I have found it is occasionally a handier, safer way to access my mail when I'm out and about with the Linux lappy (some public networks have, shall we say, 'questionable' security...?). But on my own 'workstation' here at home, it's fairly redundant for me to use an extra layer of software just to do the same job as Google's own. It HAS given me an excuse to spring-clean my GMail folders though, so the 'trial' period was not entirely wasted!

Meanwhile, I advised CC on Firefox add-ons that will allow her to download video clips, so that she can create montages to go with her poetry recitals. Work continues on assembling the third CC:PP album (still untitled, but I did play around with some graphical ideas based on Soviet space mission badges). I have NEARLY got to the stage when I can do a 'test pressing' to hear what it sounds like on a proper hi-fi, but I keep finding things that need further work (or even need cutting out altogether - redundant repetition!). Certainly the running order of the tracks may still be subject to change (You will recall my 'policy' of not listening to my own stuff once it's finished. When I return to it months later, I can usually review it with a freshly critical ear). Not only that, CC has recently bought a new iMac, so she is keen to re-record some of her 'vocals' as well.

Apropos of nothin', here's my own list of the TOP TEN KING CRIMSON COVER VERSIONS. It's a list straight off the top of my head, so it'll probably change in about five minutes' time. All of them have a certain 'something' about them, in that they are fresh, risk-taking reinterpretations of the songs rather than just carbon copies of the originals. Some of them are out there on 'That Interweb They Have Now' (see links), some of them aren't (see lack of links). I'm not including any 'solo' versions by past or present members of the KCrim:
TOP TEN KING CRIMSON COVER VERSIONS

1.  Alice - "Islands"
2.  Shining - "21st Century Schizoid Man"
3.  New Fumes/The Flaming Lips - "Moonchild"
4.  Alien Planetscapes - "A Sailor's Tale"
5.  All Human Parts Orchestra - "I Talk To The Wind"
6.  The Unthanks - "Starless"
7.  kd lang - "Matte Kudasai"
8.  Deep Schrott - "King Crimson Medley"
9.  Brand X - "Red"
10. Twelve Moons - "Easy Money"
In his blog, SID SMITH has been working his way through the huge box set of HERBIE HANCOCK's "Complete Columbia Recordings 1972-88" and commenting on each individual recording. As the box costs over a hundred and sixty quid for the lot, this is more than I'll ever be able to do! But it HAS given me the opportunity to revisit a few of the albums I purchased the first time around (mostly on cassette for £2.49 from WHSmith's), to see if we agree in our assessment. It is frustrating that a lot of the GOOD JAZZ stuff originally came out only in Japan, while we here in the west were only deemed worthy of hearing the DISCO albums. Some of these have not dated at all well. You can't even think of it as 'JAZZ-FUNK FUSION' anymore, because the 'jazz' part of the equation has been sucked out of it completely. One album in particular ("Lite Me Up") hardly seems to involve Herbie Hancock's keyboard work at all, it could just as easily have been released as a HEATWAVE collection. All of them have VOCALS that are cliched in the extreme and have you begging for the INSTRUMENTAL sections to kick in. I mean, it's perfectly okay as a superior kind of POP music... BUT IS IT JAZZ? (No... Ed.) But then I think back to the patchy 'CROSSOVER' material that was also being released under the SANTANA name at that same time (and ever since) and I realise that it was probably the accounts department at CBS who were calling the shots by this point. To use parlance that they themselves might recognise, who were the 'TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC' for this particular blend of bland?
(Actually, if I cast my mind back to the "JAZZ-FUNK WEEKENDERS" that I attended on the Isle of Wight in the early 1980s, then it dawns on me that I WAS THAT 'TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC'! Kids, we would bop the nights away to this kind of funk-fusion (I heard an early LEVEL 42... the UK PLAYERS... GONZALEZ... Christ! I even saw SHAKATAK!!), back in the days before "DANCE MUSIC" as you know it became the industrially mechanised and purely-functional beast that it is today... Oh! and HERBIE HANCOCK's own gig at the Hammersmith Odeon in January 1984 was pretty good... although listening back to it now, a whole ten minutes-plus of "YOU GOT STAWS IN YO ASS", featuring Bernard Fowler's interminable Walrus of Lerrrv routine, does rather try my patience. As do the Syndrums...)
DREAM DIARY... During my visit to London, I've wandered off track and I find myself in a LEAFY SUBURB (looks a bit like Watford or Guildford, only even LEAFIER). The locals are lamenting the fact that a construction project, that would provide them with a 'BRIDGE' into the middle of the city, has now been cancelled. I stay and natter, visiting a non-descript local shopping mall, while realising that I REALLY need to get back into town because I'm running out of time.

Week from Monday 24th February 2014

I completed my week with ONE OF ME DAZE OUT... I hopped on a train to CHICHESTER for a walkabout, perusing the many JERRIDY SHOPS, not to mention certain record emporia. GUILTY PLEASURES: the 'Everyday Story of Country Folk', the 'Dallas With Telecasters', the 'Grand Ol Soap Opry'... "NASHVILLE" is back on our screens for a second season! Yip yip! So naturally I just couldn't wait to grab the latest volume of SOUNDTRACK TOONS to add to the collection. The second season no longer has T-BONE BURNETT at the helm as music producer, but his worthy deputy BUDDY MILLER. Much of the music still has that spooky, twangy, reverb-drenched sound that we love from the previous discs. No disappointment there then...

I appear to have caught the HEAD COLD that's going around, so I've been sleeping the hours away for the last couple of days. I occasionally crawl from my deathbed to do a bit of work...

...and I've done the first test pressing[s] of "CC:PP 3" to hear what it sounds like on a proper hi-fi. First impressions: Sound quality is... QUALITEEEE!! But I think this one needs a little bit of 'buffer' space between the tracks, rather than segueing continuously, as is my usual preference... I've just got as far as listening to "IN THE SHADOW OF THE RAINBOW". Crikey! it's weird!

I've now concluded that it's AS GOOD AS IT GETS (you can take that either way). THE PROOF IS IN THE PUTTING it online... I'm still not entirely sure WHERE it'll eventually end up for public consumption, but I've now put the whole SELF-ASSEMBLY KIT (a first draft of the CD artwork included) on my Google Drive, so that CC can 'share' it (although she's an absolute FIEND at not checking her GMail for weeks at a time, so I don't know when that'll be!?!)