Week from Monday 3rd March 2014

I start the week with two days in a row of LATE BREAKFAST. On Monday, I have an early appointment with the DENTIST - just my regular six-monthly poke'n'scrape this time, but I have to go back in a couple of weeks to have an old filling refilled. Just when I think I'm getting over the worst of my cold, I got soaked through during the walk home... ruddy hailstones, would you believe? On Tuesday, I have a similarly-timed appointment to re-sit that BLOOD TEST I took last month...

THIRD FOURTH FIFTH TIME LUCKY? I've started a new BLOGGER site to house our sprawling 'COLLECTIVE EXERCISE IN SILLY WORD ABSORPTION' project "ANARCHAEOLOGY", consisting of the entire contents of the 'SCARY SNAKES CUPBOARD' lovingly typed out on the old Vicarage AppleMac (sometime in the early '90s) with the intention of binding it together as a PROPER BOOK. Only we never did. It subsequently existed in digital form on "The Gridler" website at the turn of the century, then it resided on LiveJournal for a while, before ending up on MySpace for the amusement of a small coterie of international bohemians "Who Might Appreciate This Sort Of Thing". But we all know what happened to the MySpace blogs, eh kids? For a visual style for the blogspot, I recycled some of the ideas I'd explored when I created the "Merzbau"-influenced collage theme for Our Old Space - all skew-whiff and smudgy, faded typewriter on crumpled yellowed paper (VERY 'scary snakes cupboard', then!). It would be nice to include some of Shelfy's distinctive cartoon scribblings this time around, by way of ILL-YOU-STRAYS-YAN...

I was amazed and amused by a recent (Los Angeles Times?) survey that found that YER TYPICAL AMERICAN doesn't understand what various COMPUTER JARGON terms mean, even the kind of people who might actually bandy such things about willy-nilly. Now bear in mind that this survey [a] appeared on THE INTERNET ITSELF (that's usually pretty reliable, isn't it?), [b] cites a shopping voucher company as its source, [c] doesn't say in what form the questions were phrased (were the 'joke' answers part of a multiple choice?), [d] is a little vague about how many people are considered a 'cross section' of the population for the purposes of the survey, and [e] quotes an awful lot of PERCENTAGES, as all market researchers do when they want to make themselves look clever and everyone else look stupid... so it should all be taken with a huge dollup of saline substance. But it's still quite funny.
Allegedly, a sizeable percentage of the US population think that:

- HTML is "a sexually transmitted disease"
- a Gigabyte is "an insect commonly found in South America"
- a Motherboard is "the deck of a cruise ship"
- MP3 is "a Star Wars robot"
- USB is "a short name for a European country"
- Blu-Ray is "a marine animal"
- Software is "comfortable clothes"
I went for a legstretch into town, to discover that MY FAVOURITE CHARITY SHOP has got a fresh influx of JAZZY VINYLS and CDs on its shelves... I picked up a couple of double albums by GIL EVANS for 99p each(!), "Flags" by BILL BRUFORD & PATRICK MORAZ at a similar price, "Orpheus Suite" by the COLIN TOWNS MASK ORCHESTRA (£1.99 for the CD) and T-BONE BURNETT's twangtasticly odd "Tooth of Crime" CD (quite expensive, that one - I paid a whole £2.75 for it!)

IT MUST BE SPRING. This week, I'm making a start on Phase 1 of the ANNUAL-SPONSORED-BIKE-RIDE-A-RAMA-LAMA-PRINT-O-THON stuff...

DREAM DIARY... unloading flightcases and rolling them up the first of a series of steep ramps outside some big stately home... Someone else rolls them up the next ramp, so I've no idea where they are going to end up or what they are for...

Week from Monday 10th March 2014

Ho yus... SPRING IS DEFINITELY HERE NOW; the geese have flown, the tortoise is awake and I can leave a window open at night without freezing to death! The weather forecast is peachy for my trip OOP DZAT LOONDIN this week.

DREAM DIARY... Hanging out with THE WILDE FLOWERS (members of Caravan and The Soft Machine - Robert Wyatt, Pye Hastings and all)... We play some sort of 'happening' event, inside what appears to be a plexiglass box filled with soft furnishings, situated in the middle of a shopping precinct, with the 'audience' pressed up against the glass looking in... a near-riot ensues...

I finished re-formatting all of the (pre-existing) "ANARCHAEOLOGY" episodes for BlogSpot purposes. They're now online once again for all to see (except that I haven't told anyone about it yet!). I've added JANET'S ORGANIC NOVELETTE as a sort of interlude between the two halves of 'the book'. Looking back on the original "GRIDLER" website (which I still have 'archived' on a disk), there were also some lengthy pieces by GOLD LAMÉ, an early draft of "SILENT CREEPS THE MEADOW LEECH", not to mention all of the song lyrics I could find at the time... They've never really been exhibited in public, so these might be appended to the blog someday, if 'the authors' agree to it.

WEDNESDAY: OFF OOP DZAT LOONDIN... I walked into town (the first LEG of a lot of walking today!), hit the cashpoint and bought some reading material for the journey (the BBC Music Mmagazine, complete with its fiendish cryptic crossword)... Then I was able to sit in the sun (Yes folks! Hoorah! Sit In The Sun!!) for half an hour watching the buses go by, while I waited for one of my own... The NAT'EX' 030 route fair whizzes up to London, but first it goes on a rather circuitous tour of Portsmouth. Someone at National Express has figured that Pompey has but two main sources of potential income - the Navy and the University, so the coach stops at the Hard Interchange AND outside the Uni Union building to pick up (after that it's non-stop unless anyone wants to go to Guildford). I saw parts of Portsmouth I didn't recognise (mainly because these buildings didn't even exist 'in my day').
'In my day' when I used to make the journey to and from London on a regular basis (back when I could afford it, or if someone else was paying), there was always one part of Surrey we passed through that I dubbed THE BERLIN WALL. I see it hasn't changed since! This is army camp country, where vast tracks of land are set aside for training grounds... spooky, desolate 'East German' landscapes; semi-flattened woodlands bordered by miles and miles of electric fence; strategically marked by red flags...
Arrived in Victoria, hit the ground running (well, walking, anyway!) -> (Ribble Bobble) Pimlico -> through a Royal park or two to Westminster, stopping to admire the pelicans and other wetland creatures -> up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, then Charing Cross Road to Oxford Street (having circumnavigated my way around the still-continuing obstacle that is the new Tottenham Court Road station works)... Now then, where's that HMV store...?
BAD NEWS: The big HMV store, which was practically empty on my last visit, isn't there anymore. It's another shoe store, if I'm not mistaken (ref: Douglas Adams/Brontitall/Shoe Event Horizon). GOOD NEWS: the shop is now back at its historical old address near the corner of Bond Street. BAD NEWS: It's only a fraction of its original size, with a much diminished range of stock to match (In terms of floor space, I'd say the Southampton or Gunwharf branches are bigger. The rest of the building is occupied by an unfeasibly large branch of Boots the Chemist). It's pretty feeble for the central branch of the ONLY record chain left in the country and, as I proceded about its bowels looking to tick items off my 'WANTED' list, I was mainly disappointed
But I did find another missing WEATHER REPORT album, the bumper Esoteric issue of MAN's "Back Into The Future" and - finally! - the DVD/BluRay edition of "NIXON IN CHINA" to replace my mangled cassettes. LET THE WALKING CONTINUE... along the remaining length of Oxford Street and continuing in a straight line along the top of Hyde Park -> passing Lancaster and all the other Gates -> through Notting Hill Gate (where I was ALMOST tempted to phone Shelfy, so that I could sing at him that "Life is great..." there) -> The world famous Record Exchange is still there on the main drag, that hallowed establishment where music journos used to offload all their freeby "Not For Resale" promo copies for some ready cash. I didn't find anything that I was looking for though. -> Continuing along that straight line, past Ladbroke Grove and into Holland Park before hitting the big roundabout (I don't think Quintessence did a song about Holland Park Roundabout, to the best of my knowledge) -> and suddenly you're in Shepherds Bush, with its Green and its Empire and its revolving cubic thingies. I go to the Tube station to buy my ticket up front for the mad rush back to Victoria after the show. I'm still an hour early for the Empire's doors opening, so I take this opportunity for a sitdown snack. I purchase a rather tasty vegetable samosa and a banana and take a seat at one of the concrete tables that the council have put on the Green for the benefit of old boys playing dominos and a couple of gentlemen fresh out of the office, making phone calls in a language I could even begin to recognise. Here I sat and made a few pencil notes for this here diary.
A rastafarian gentleman is still pursuing the age old vocation of the TICKET TOUT. He struts up and down the pavement, occasionally amusing himself by singing old Toots and Peter Tosh numbers, and giving forth the traditional cry of "Any spare tickets?". I jokingly reply "What? At these prices?" and, striking up a conversation, I pointed out that I paid over forty quid for it in the first place, including an obligation to pay a bloody great 'handling charge' to the legalised scalps at TicketWeb. Not only that, the ticket had my name printed on it. Surely, with all that to consider, no one would buy more tickets than they need? If they do suddenly find themselves ahead of the date with a leftover or two, then nowadays eBay reaps the benefit... But he soldiered on, bless him, another Character of Old London Tahn, and he did in fact have one ticket for sale ("Good seat! Row F!") by the time I went inside...
...where I undergo the obligatory BAG SEARCH. I suppose I should have known better, because I have encountered this before in London venues of this size. Most of these places nowadays have some dubious policy about bringing in your own "Drinks Containers". Six-packs of Special Brew I could well understand (on safety grounds), but this apparently includes my half-empty plastic bottle of tap water. Ah! but you ARE free to wander the building with plastic bottles bought on the premises. I think you can figure it out...
The Crimson ProjeKCt (featuring the Adrian Belew Power Trio and Stick Men)
Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 12th March 2014

B'BOOM - pm, tr, mr
THRAK - ab, tl, pm, mr, js, tr
DINOSAUR - ab, tl, pm, mr, js, tr
FRAME BY FRAME - ab, tl, pm, mr, js, tr
SLEEPLESS - ab, tl, pm, mr, js, tr
'B' - ab, js, tr
NEUROTICA - ab, js, tr
CRACK IN THE SKY - tl, mr, pm
CUSP - tl, mr, pm
'E' - ab, js, tr
STICK MEN IMPROV - tl, mr, pm
VROOOM - tl, mr, pm
FIREBIRD SUITE - tl, mr, pm
ONE TIME - ab, tl, pm, mr, js, tr
RED - ab, tl, pm, mr, js, tr
INDISCIPLINE - ab, tl, pm, mr, js, tr

Just for the record, the encores (which I couldn't stay to hear) were a further couple of 'hits' from the "Discipline" album, ELEPHANT TALK and THELA HUN GINJEET.
I left the auditorium during the last number of the set, took a 'natural break' and stopped in the lobby to buy a t-shirt (just in time - it's the last one in my preferred size!). I chatted briefly with the German fellow running the merchandise store on behalf of Markus' IAPETUS concern. His name was Erik. He handed me a couple of very collectable postcards entitling me to some free downloads from their Bandcamp site, tried to sell me a deluxe edition of the orchestral "Todmorden" and lots of other stuff I already have, and I blagged a couple of Stick Men stickers that they'd clearly ordered too many of...

But I must fly if I'm to catch that coach home! A dash across the Green, two Tube rides, several escalators and a brisk walk back down Buckingham Palace Road later, and I'm back at Victoria Coach Station. There are lots of nice pictures of vintage buses festooning the walls and windows to keep you entertained while you wait in the departures hall. At this time of night, it's pretty quiet around here, apart from a repeated recorded message stating that "The Coach Station Is About To Close, Please Leave In A Orderly Fashion", which I think someone has left on by mistake. No one takes any notice of it anyway. I sort of drifted into that state of SEMI-ZONED-OUT-NESS during the journey home - not actually technically asleep, but comfortably numb. The walk home from Fareham Bus Station is post-apocalyptic in the early hours. Not a person or vehicle is seen to move anywhere, just the occasional furtive fox or feline... I expect a "hangover" and blisters when I awaken, if I ever do...

Of course, the big obstacle to enjoying 'AN EVENT' right in the middle of the week is that it takes you a while to acclimatise afterwards. YOU NO LONGER KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS. I woke up on Saturday morning, convinced it was Sunday, and set about doing my weekly SECURITY CHECKS on the computer, as is my wont... "Ho hum, Jake!" thus spake Blake 'The Snake' Drake...

Week from Monday 17th March 2014

UP AN ATOM... I went for a VERY brisk, earlyish, morning walk into town, paid some money (back) into the bank, then took an equally brisk walk back again, had a bath and then... started the day proper. Our invigorating, uplifting new SPRING climate makes this burst of activity possible. Let's hope we've finally put all the biblical apocalyptic weather crap behind us at long last.

On Tuesday, following my morning visit to the printers, I've devoted some time to those FREE DOWNLOADS which the postcards handed to me in the Shepherds Bush Empire foyer entitled me. (Actually, I didn't download them for FREE - I voluntarily put a couple of euros in the Iapetus kitty. Not a lot, but it seemed only fair.) It comes as no surprise to find that a few of the tracks I already have on other releases, this being what I'd call a "CRIMSON RELATED" record label. Inevitably too, as with all complilation albums, there are going to be one or two tunes I don't like much. So the solution is to do a single disc 'COMPILATION OF COMPILATIONS', sequencing the best tracks all in one place. Mighty fine listening! One of the two new (new to me, anyway!) tracks by THIS FRAGILE MOMENT, a collaboration between Markus Reuter, Toyah Willcox and some of their Estonian chums, would make it onto any "Damn! I wish I'D done this!" list...

On Wednesday, I finally get to accept that "INVITATION" for a FREE NHS HEALTH CHECK which, after two blood tests, several visits to the Health Centre and countless phone calls spent listening to synthetic Mozart, has certainly occupied a LOT more of MY time than the "should take about twenty minutes" promised in the initial letter from all those months ago. Today's appointment is at the disruptively inconvenient time of 5.30 in the afternoon. I'm told I have high blood pressure. Big whoop! I already knew that. But they're clearly more concerned about it than I am, so on Thursday I get to meet a REAL DOCTOR instead of all the ancilliary staff I've dealt with up until now. Some sort of a 'RESULT': I've probably had high blood pressure since the mid-'eighties, but only now have I found a doctor who thinks it is worthwhile actually TREATING it. One of the perks of getting older, I suppose. The NHS considers its main remit is to cheat nature.

The BEEB has been running a season of ALFRED HITCHCOCK movies at the weekends, many of them in freshly restored 'prints' - "Vertigo"... "Rope"... "Spellbound"... "Notorious"... Now THAT'S what I call cinema! A most agreeable way to spend Saturday afternoon.

Week from Monday 24th March 2014

I just GASHED MY THUMB trying to break open a bottle of Nivea, to get the last few drops out. Life is sending me mixed messages.

Uncle Willy is taking part in a WEBINAR over in Paris, so I've gone online to see if everything looks okeydokey from here. It all seems to be working within its chosen parameters, but I'd probably take issue with les Françaises' choice of webcasting software, as it appears to be a WINDOZE-ONLY affair (No support for Linux or any of the plastic lunch trays favoured by today's hip young browser). The video is a bit laggy and the ASPECT RATIO is all wrong, making Willy look a lot skinnier than real life!

Wednesday... I have another DENTAL APPOINTMENT. I'm having a very old filling drilled out and a new one put in. True, that doesn't sound much like a bundle of larfs on paper, but I have a nice lady dentist with a goodly supply of novacaine and a friendly disposition. If only she also fixed lacerated thumbs...

An afternoon spent on the BIKE-RIDE-ENVELOPE-STUFFING-COLLATE-O-THON-PHASE-ONE-OH project, then taking an armful of parcels off to the post office for distribution to the fifteen corners of Hampshire...

Week from Monday 31st March 2014

I considered going to the RECORD FAIR in Southampton this weekend... but in the end I thought I'd save my pennies for "THE BIG ONE" in Reading on GOOD FRIDAY (coinciding with both my birthday and RECORD STORE DAY).

Some choice recordings of a NAUGHTY nature have been on my jukebox over the last twentyfourhour... first "A BIT O' NOSTALGIA FOR THE OL' FOLKS", namely GENESIS' 1977 show at the Southampton Gaumont (which was originally beamed live straight from the soundboard to the local hospital radio network and has subsequently found its way onto That Internet They Have Now)...

...and now someone has snuck out an excellent audience recording of them CRIMSON PROJEKCTs doing the Grugahalle Essen last week. It's pretty much the same set-list as London (with certain exceptions - see below **), but a few thousand miles further into the tour, there appears to be a lot more SPIRIT in the performance. It sounded like it was a cracking night for all concerned! This time around, I even found new things to enjoy about "Dinosaur", "Sleepless" and "One Time" (although "Frame By Frame" and "Three Of A Perfect Pair" STILL have nothing fresh to offer these jaded ears).

** "Soup" and "Breathless" have replaced "Firebird" and "Vrooom" in the Stick Men segment; "Young Lions" is back into the Power Trio set, but that leaves no time for the "Elephant Talk" encore; the duet version of "Matte Kudasai" is now established in the middle of the set, but the solo "In The Court..." has been dumped (I've now heard recordings of this number from other dates on the tour. It was really nothing to write home about after all!)

On the subject of Markus' INTRODUCTORY SOUNDSCAPES... when I reviewed the London show on m'blogspot (and I use the term "reviewed" in its loosest sense), I suggested that, although Markus had previously produced extraordinary things with eight strings and a laptop, on these occasions his job was "to keep it reined in and give us a little 'Fripp-Lite' before the drummers come on...". But listening to the selection of "TCP OPENING SCAPES" that have now appeared on Markus' Soundcloud page, I can hear that this was not ALWAYS the case. True, one or two of the 'scapes are still mainly functional and maybe a little TAMED, but at some shows, when the mood was right, he took the opportunity to REALLY GET OUT THERE!

I've given up on the bold experiment that is YOUVIEW "catch-up" TV. The free box provided by my internet provider, the TalkTalk concern, strikes me as a very INEFFICIENT way to watch telly! Simply put, Mozilla Firefox is much better at streaming telly than is the dedicated set-top box. Each of the TV companies uses completely different software to stream their content, and I've found that my own PeeCee copes with the disparities (and the vagaries of the broadband connection) a lot better than the box does. But the real clincher is the fact that "ON DEMAND" TV isn't necessarily there when YOU 'demand' it. Increasingly of late, I've found that the programmes that I want to watch (say, the morning after they are broadcast) are NOT available via the YouView box, even when they ARE available on the TV companies' own websites. Not to mention all of the films and oldies that aren't even 'saved' on the various players (and don't get me started on the compulsory ADVERTS!)... You'd think that, nowadays, they'd tell you in the listings magazines which programmes WILL be available 'on demand' and when, so that you'd know in advance. But the service doesn't work to a fixed pattern. I think, in conclusion, I prefer to do my OWN selecting and 'saving' rather than leave it to chance. No, I'm better off with a DIGITAL TV RECORDER after all. I will get mine back just as soon as The Folks Downstairs have finished with it.

DREAM DIARY... An entire flock of sheep is accidentally wiped out during the filming of a new Monty Python movie...