Week from Monday 2nd June 2014

I spent the weekend catching up with a few quality TV detective shows (several of which have reached their "season finale", as the whole of television will now switch over to various sporting events and reality shows for the duration of the summer. YOU GET THE TV YOU DESERVE). I also started compiling some ROAD TAPES, as the DAY O' DEVILRIES draws ever closer - and THE LOOOONGEST DAZE APPROACHIN'! ("Wibdoo wibdoo cha cha cha! Ack'puh-dulco rum baba!")

I've been putting together some "NAVIGATION CHARTS" for the devilries, cross-referencing G**GLE MAPS with the RAC ROUTE PLANNER. A futile exercise really, as I should have realised, after twenty-odd years, that I CAN'T plan these things. WE WILL GET LOST. It's part of the 'fun'. However, there IS a distinction to be made between a situation involving accidentally taking a wrong turn somewhere, then trying to find our way back again to try over (FUN) and one of driving up and down the same bit of road repeatedly, because we're looking for some "exclusive" locale that doesn't deign to appear on any friggin' map (NOT FUN). Any preparation I CAN make, to ensure we have a ROUGH inkling where we're going, is the least I can do... While I'm doing this, I'm streaming a MAGMA concert from last month (Splendid stuff it is too. I'm glad to say they're still just as "SCARY-YET-STRANGELY-UPLIFTING" as they ever were... ooh, I hope they do the one about the saveloy)

This week, just across the fields at Daedalus aerodrome, they're commemorating the anniversary of the D-DAY landings. Whenever I peep through the blinds, there's another WW2-vintage aeroplane flying past (mainly striped DAKOTAS and a curious little rarity, the BEECHCRAFT C-45 EXPEDITOR).

I went for a bus ride to Southampton... and on the way, I thought I'd get off at Woolston to "WALK THE ROUTE", so that I know where we will be delivering a parcel in a few days' time. Needless to say, I took in a few CHARITY SHOPS while I was there... and I slipped into town to buy the new MATT BERRY album "Music For Insomniacs" (Let's see if it works for me!)

Week from Monday 9th June 2014

DREAM DIARY... "Always drags his radio around with him, never bites his car, drinks Lager Rossinis..."

Today has been set aside for the BIG COLLATE-O-THON. I'm currently in the middle of another Powerpoint project, but I've told Uncle Willy that I'm "otherwise spoken for" today... continuous soundtrack courtesy of FOCUS... I appear to be short of box lids as usual...

Down to Gosport for a long-overdue HAIRCUT (and to collect some more boxes!)... FIREFOX 30 has arrived for Windoze today. With any luck, they'll have fixed the recurring problem that it doesn't shut down properly when you close it (If you go back to reopen Foxy a little later, you are informed that "Firefox is already running" - You have to terminate its 'process' via Windoze's CTRL-ALT-DELETE routine before you can open a new one). The Linux version hasn't got here yet, but I suspect it'll be just as sluggish as v29 currently is on Linux, so I'll hold on to my Chromium for a while...

Ah, no wait! Spoke too soon... I find myself in "OH SHIT! START AGAIN!!!" mode on m'Linux laptop. I broke Maté's back yet again, while trying out PlayOnLinux (another variety of WINE, the front-end for running old apps via a 'virtual' Windoze installation). Note to self: LEAVE IT ALONE! Linux and Windoze will NOT mix, whatever anyone tells you!

I attempted three times to reinstall my Debian edition, but a knock-on effect was that the GRUB loader was also broken. No Can Boot. Rescue Disks were no help. Stuck in a hole. Only way out is to wipe the slate clean entirely. I've now installed the brand new LINUX MINT 17 instead (still using the Maté version; still on 64-bit; business as usual really; LTS until 2020 or thereabouts... should do for a while!)...

Putting all my stuff back "AS WAS" today (FRIDAY 13th!)... but I see that there's no longer a Chromium to be had on the repositories (well, there is, but it appears it's also the name of a shootygame). I'm certainly not using the latest COMMERCIAL version of Chrome - it's all "ANYTHING YOU LIKE AS LONG AS IT'S G**GLE" and full of 'adverts'. Even extensions like Adblock Plus and Click & Clean have to be installed via [logging into] the G**gleplay Store now. No thanks. Ah but... FIREFOX 30 has hit the Linux repositories, and they DO appear to have fixed the problems I was having with the previous version, so I'll be giving that a go again. It's still pretty slow to launch, but at least I know where I am with the 'Fox (I can never stay mad at 'em for long...)

I'm expecting another of those last-minute Powerpointin' sessions today (or maybe tomorrow?). This weekend, Uncle Willy is giving a talk about how they measure SCREEN BRIGHTNESS when designing cinema venues. Fascinating stuff, but you will not be too surprised to learn that the presentation itself has not been written yet.

Week from Monday 16th June 2014

THE RECORDED DEVILRIES... We sang along with the hits and larfed as we imagined what it would be like if Prince Far-I was a railway station announcer... We took a number of wrong turnings, but we didn't care... As usual, we swore at rich people for having deliberately evasive addresses... I won Shelfy over with my selection of Louisiana swamp music and country versions of Cure songs... and we did the whole of Hampshire for fifty quid, in under seven hours (sticking FAIRLY close to the plan but not quite)...

Off to the doctor this morning to get sphygmomanometered.

I'm preparing both "PPvXT" albums to go on that YouTube. I figure they might as well go there and at least be heard by SOMEONE, rather than stay on Bandcamp where they have gone unnoticed for several years! Of course, I hadn't actually listened to these masterworks MYSELF in about four years, so I was pleasantly surprised. No! I'd go as far as to say, I WAS BLOODY IMPRESSED HOW GOOD THEY BOTH ARE! These two albums, although nominally a collaboration between the PEDANTIC PEDESTRIAN and the 'anonymous' stuffed toys known as the CHRISTMAS TREES, are a summation of my entire "musical" career. I don't remember playing some of the parts (or how some of the sound treatments were achieved), but I certainly recognise 'me' when I hear 'me'. I DO have some sort of a "STYLE" of my own. I also recognise everyone I've ever played with, popping up at various points in the proceedings. It's my "LUMPY GRAVY", it's my "FAUST TAPES"... I feel a 'proper' blog coming on...

DREAM DIARY... I imagined an epic version of the JGB classic "Egnarts Chases Tina (Jimmy Wit Dada)", performed in the style of Peter Hammill/Van Der Graaf Generator. But, as is usually the case when I 'dream music', I'd forgotten the fine details when I awoke.

Week from Monday 23rd June 2014

I'm now deep slap-bang in the heart of HAY FEVER season... eyes itchy and/or sore by turns... sinus bungage... sneezing fits and rivulets of nostril... and of course THE FUNNY EARS. Because the 'season' started particularly early this year (due to the trouble we had in early April with desert winds mingling with EuroPollution to form clouds of lethal dust irritants), I appear to have built up a resistance to the antihistamines. They no longer have any lasting effect whatsoever. Although I'm thinking that the current cocktail of medication IS having an interesting effect on my dreamworld and the lucidity thereof...

DREAM DIARY... Further backstage adventures... A friend of mine is an accomplished operatic singer. Various gifts are delivered for her at the stage door... harmless flowers at first, but gradually the presents become more sinister, culminating in an attractive throw-pillow that turns out to be infested with brightly coloured bugs and fleas. We try a number of methods to rid the building of infestation, including hoses, various aerosol products used as 'flamethrowers' and, finally, liberal use of fire extinguisher foam directed at a pile of furniture in the middle of the stage...

Phew! what a scorcher... I ventured down to Gozzy to pay a large printing bill (that's cleaned ME out until the buggers pay ME!). I found a WETTON/DOWNES album in a charity shop for a quid - it's pleasant enough POMP-POP for a sunny afternoon (recognisibly of an ASIA-nesque bent, as one might expect). Asda's is doing swift business, probably due to the considerable appeal of the air-conditioning.

Week from Monday 30th June 2014

GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL once again came and went this weekend... As usual, there was very little on the broadcast schedule to make me 'WISH I WAS THERE' or, for the most part, to lure me away from my favourite weekend tellyfodder of old detective stories and re-runs of Chuck Lorre sitcoms. But I did watch two bands, both led by FAMOUS LEAD SINGERS. These artists demonstrated two very different approaches to ACTING YOUR AGE or GROWING OLD [DIS]GRACEFULLY in this business we call Show...
APPROACH #1... Resist every temptation and financial enticement to 'REFORM THE BAND'. Instead, gather a bunch of old mates and likeminded individuals who are happy to explore music in ALL its wonderful and diverse forms. Inject new life into your old songs, treating them as jumping-off points for some inspired spontaneity. Above all, as my old art college lecturer used to say, "HAVE FUN WITH THE RUDDY THING!". This approach will not please EVERY casual punter who has come to 'HEAR THE HITS', nor will it necessarily win you many NEW fans, but you certainly won't be bored doing it...
APPROACH #2... Pander to the "Play Something We Know" nostalgia tour circuit. Cut out the middle man and become your OWN tribute band! Hire some highly-skilled young whippersnappers to play all the old hits, EXACTLY the way they sounded on the records, right down to the last solo. You have a ready audience of folks who like 'music' (merely as an occasional lifestyle accessory), rather than MUSIC (a deeply immersive spiritual experience). These people will say "Oooh, it sounds just like the CD!" and believe that is a GOOD thing. They will contentedly hum your tunes as they wait for their taxi home. Job done.
The first approach is that taken by ROBERT PLANT and the SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS. They were full of surprises, STRANGE [and] SENSATION[al] from start to finish. The book labelled 'ZEP' was dipped into, sure... but that wasn't the whole point. These guys (Justin Adams, Juldeh Camara, Skin Tyson and all that Bristol psychedelic gang...) EXPLORE music. They RESPECT music. They ENJOY what music can offer. It showed on stage and it was infectious. Sorry, all you saddos still banging on about lucrative "Will They?/Won't They?" Led Zeppelin reunions, but THIS is where it's at now! All power to Percy for following his own artistically rewarding path...

The second approach is the one favoured by BRYAN FERRY and his band. They give the audience exactly what they expect. They are a Roxy Music tribute act and they are extremely good at it. But they merely play the notes, leaving little, if anything, to chance and injecting nothing new of themselves into the music at all. Even the amusingly off-the-cuff solo spots at the end of "Remake/Remodel" were reproduced note-for-note (I found myself wondering what the OTHER Brian would say about all this). Furthermore, they all looked BORED on stage... and I was bored listening to it.

This is the fundamental difference between 'MUSIC' and 'SHOW BUSINESS'. I know which I prefer. (By the way, I have similar misgivings about old comedy groups getting back together and doing the O²)

Talking about SHOW BUSINESS... The TOUR DE FRANCE kicks off proper on Saturday... but as the race starts here in Little Britain this year, the media are MILKING IT for all it's worth! So this year we get (shudder!) an OPENING CEREMONY... an embarrassing attempt to 'ITV-up' the whole shenanegans, complete with lots of dreadful song and dance segments, a contrived 'Yorkshire' theme running through everything and the teams rolling out onto the stage one at a time to be 'interviewed' in condescending fashion by the presenters (SPORTSMEN SHOULDN'T TALK). At least 40% of the two-hour airtime was taken up with adverts. It looked and sounded like ruddy "X Factor". I understand that people paid upwards of £45 for tickets to sit in the Leeds arena to watch this. Of which I shall make no further comment. ITV4 will be broadcasting every second of Saturday's stage LIVE, something they don't do for any of the stages in France itself (More often than not, we have to make do with a one-hour 'highlights' show at seven o'clock in the evening).

Some other folks in the LINUX MINT COMMUNITY have been trying out my CONKY for themselves, which is nice. One chap reports that he is having problems with the fonts becoming 'randomized' when his laptop battery gets low. I suspect this might be another CINNAMON 'thing', which I haven't encountered myself because I'm using MATÉ... or possibly it could be something specific to the machine he's using and its peculiar power management set-up. But just to reassure myself that it's NOT my fault, I'm letting my own laptop's battery run out of spunk, to see if I can reproduce the same symptoms here. Besides, I'd be rather interested to learn what sort of battery life I get out of the beast (the brochure said "up to" five hours, but that probably means when running Windoze 8). It'll be the first time since I 'built' it that I've watched the Conky's battery indicator change colour until it gets down to FLASHING RED.