Week from Monday 1st September 2014

Move along, nothing to see here, yawn... Oh, sod it then! Let's be all ENGLISH and talk about the weather instead. This afternoon, the SUMMER has come back. We had our AUTUMN weather last week. It'll probably be snowing by Thursday and then all the daffodils and lambs will come out at the weekend... But for now the sun is shining through the window and I'm drifting away on a cloud of TRAVIS & FRIPP. As for the weather at LA VUELTA A ESPAÑA, it appears we've been lied to all these years. "THE RAIN IN SPAIN" definitely does NOT stay "MAINLY ON THE PLAIN". This week, following several scorching days in the heat of Andelucia, the riders found those fabled plains of La Mancha to be completely bone dry, albeit windy - it's only up in the hills they've had to worry about the wet roads!

DREAM DIARY... Shelfy accepts a building job in Kiev. For someone who's never been overseas before, that seems an interesting place to start! Meanwhile at the printers, we are trying to catch a rather bad-tempered black cat who has been brought into the shop for mousing purposes. I even tried to tempt him into the cage with a live mouse (apparently the mice are easier to catch than the cat!)... but to no avail...

I spent nearly an hour yesterday retuning the tellies to the updated channel listings.

We have dozens of stations that broadcast nothing but utter tripe. Some of them even exist merely for you to 'PLUS ONE' or 'CATCH UP' the tripe you 'missed' on OTHER channels... tripe that, for some reason, you couldn't watch in the first place, even if you wanted to, which, for the most part, you don't.

But hey! at least they're now in the RIGHT ORDER!

I hardly watch any TV during the week now (apart from "Countdown", repeats of "The Simpsons", or an occasional "Family Guy", plus my regular breakfast visit to LA VUELTA). I record any 'good' stuff (classy US drama, mostly) for the weekend, when I can give it the concentration it deserves. For those darkening midweek evenings, RADIO (or my own CD collection) HAS ALL THE BEST PICTURES.

Shock horror! Last night, I listened to a BBC orchestra playing a MAHLER symphony - AND I LIKED IT!! True, some bits of their "TITAN" still sounded 'wrong' to these jaded ears, with questionable choices made in the balance between the various sections of the orchestra. But given the resources of the 'Proms house band' (the BBC Symphony), conductor MARIN ALSOP coaxed a delightfully colourful and nuanced performance which didn't send me screaming for the off-switch, so that was a major achievement in itself! I came for the JOHN ADAMS and stayed for the MAHLER and I actually enjoyed the experience! Tonight's show is a no-brainer - SIR SIMON RATTLE is conducting BERLIN PHIL in some balletic STRAVINSKY and RACHMANINOV. What's not to like?

While in Southampton, I crossed "Abandoned Dancehall Dreams", the mellotrontastic new album by TIM BOWNESS, off my "WANTED" list. It's probably a little too early to start deciding on my "PICK O'THE YEAR" seedies just yet, but it'll be right up there, you mark my words.

Meanwhile, over on That DGM LIVE YouTube They Have Now... Who would have thought it? World-class percussion guru GAVIN HARRISON names THE SHAGGS drummer Helen Wiggin as one of his formative influences (he mistakenly said "Dorothy Wiggins", but you knew who he meant)... He then goes on to impersonate the polyrhythmic Wiggin style with hilarious accuracy.

Week from Monday 8th September 2014

I have some sort of tummy bug... RETCHING & WRETCHED! The worst of the explosive expulsions were on Sunday, but for now I'm taking it easy, staying off the spices and acids and surviving on porridge and rice. I feel better for it, but no fruit juice with my breakfast means I'll probably suffer from a Vitamin C deficiency instead! In spite of the fact that I would prefer NOT to venture too far from a lavatory today, it's off to Gozzy 'cos it's PRINTING TUESDAY!

I'M FEELING PRETTY PLEASED WITH MYSELF... After quite a few months, I finally solved the problem of COMODO ANTIVIRUS not providing 'out-of-the-box' real-time protection on modern versions of Linux. It's all to do with certain components of the program not being compatible with newer versions of the kernel and it missing certain drivers BLA BLA BLA BLA... perhaps I've been a bit dim until now, but suddenly it all makes sense... Long story short, you have to download a replacement driver from a third party, replace the one that came with the original installation, then run some scripts via your terminal to make it all stick. Very D.I.Y.! That's what we love about Linux! Not that you actually NEED real-time virus protection on Linux, of course. The on-tap facility to manually scan your DISKS'n'STICKS is really all you require. But it niggles me if I have something on MY pooter which is NOT QUITE THERE, and I WON'T LET IT LIE until I find a solution. The most POPULAR antivirus prog for Linux is "ClamAV", which I'd been using for several months. But I found its "ClamTK" graphical front-end to be badly designed and buggy, to the point where I wasn't sure if I trusted it anymore. Of all the ones I'd tried, COMODO is definitely the BEST antivirus program for Linux. It LOOKS professional and it's as custom-configurable as you'd expect - but you have to be prepared to put in a bit of CONSTRUCTION work of your own before you can 'MAKE IT GO' (and rid yourself of that BIG RED SHIELD on your interface)!

"Man who dances with penguins will learn more than man who opens windows..."

Although I won't ever get the opportunity to see it for myself, I'm just as excited as the next man about the long-awaited KING CRIMSON tour finally getting underway in upstate Noo Yawk... I've been following the daily clips and teasers on the YouTube channel; reading the natter on the DGM forums; buying my own copy of the tour souvenir (like previous tours, it comes in the form of a DVD-sized box containing the 'programme' booklet and some music on CD); sneaking a peak at SETLIST.FM to find out what they're playing; reading all the interviews and cover stories... It's great to know that Robert is no longer hiding in the darkness behind his gear somewhere off to the side of the stage. He has announced to candid cameraphone that "these are people with whom I am HAPPY to share the spotlight" - which raises the question of whether he was UNHAPPY to be seen with certain other individuals during all those intervening years? Just wondering...

In my role as a TOP MODEL, today I'm off to Gosport for a long overdue HAIRCUT... I'm expecting a couple of deliveries from the BURNING SHED concern this weekend. I wonder which one will arrive first?

Week from Monday 15th September 2014

LA VUELTA A ESPAÑA has rolled to an end. This is the final morning this year I will awaken to that familiar piece of flamencoesque library music, as I enjoy the 'highlights' of the pro-cycling over my cereals... from hereon it's back to TOTAL SPORTING AGNOSTICISM. Until next summer, SPORT OF ANY KIND will be once again be DENIED. My living space, worldview and topic of conversation shall be blissfully free of it.

I found the famous NASA picture of the TRIFFID NEBULA (yes, the one on the cover of "ISLANDS"!) online, in the form of an unfeasibly-high-definition JPEG... so that has formed the basis of a new desktop theme for m'Linux Laptop, incorporating some (but definitely not all) of the EYE CANDY features I'd explored previously on LMDE (when I was fiddling about with something to go with a certain OTHER Crimson cover): the 'silver' lettering on the Conky; the shiny red panel fill; the ZonColor red theme, now with proper matching Mint-X icons instead of those horrible Ubuntu/Gnome/GTK ones; the customised menu array replacing the standard MintMenu, which is near impossible to 'theme' satisfyingly...

Today I'm teaching myself about the rudimental ins'n'outs of eBOOK PUBLISHING. But I found time to send CC a little piano piece I had knocking around, to see if it inspires a recititititive or two. Both of us are having a craze for SOLO PIANO MUSIC this week: she for ERIK SATIE and the Spanish composer FEDERICO MOMPOU; me for LUKAS FOSS, as well as BILL EVANS and other jazz tinklers. My own piece is an unused, untitled MIDIditty from the "TIPPETTING & JARRETTING" collection, which had yet to find a home.

This morning, I'm watching the KEYNOTE chat that Prof. BRIAN COX gave at IBC over the weekend... meanwhile, not very far outside my window, there's a THUNDERSTORM a-ragin'. Seems everytime he mentions anything about "THE BIG BANG", there IS one!

CC posted a recording of herself singing "ON THE GOOD SHIP LOLLIPOP". I couldn't think of what to do with the whole thing, but some some carefully chosen and sampled vocal phrases lent themselves to a cute four-minute pop banality. The whole thing took less than an hour to do from start to finish. I used the corniest of preset dance rhythms and set the whole thing on a four-square 120 BPM grid. Totally unimaginative, too bloody easy... yet it's already been "liked" and shared by more people (in the least amount of time) than anything I've done before on SoundCloud! There's a message there somewhere...

Week from Monday 22nd September 2014

A mad rush delivery to the printers on Monday (instead of my customary Tuesday)... which leaves Tuesday fairly free to spend time listening to some crackling (in every sense of the word) KING CRIMSON bootlegs and 'DO THE SOCIAL': Perusing the latest "VEXT" postings and visiting numerous other points of the blogosphere (exchanging comments thereupon); Scanning the forums (fora?) and discussion pages, nerdiness, music or whatever; Catching up on m'weekly podcasts and "followings". These are all things I usually do LATER in the week... Wednesday promises a trip to the DENTIST...

First there was HEARTBLEED, now there's SHELLSHOCK... Although we're told that "Linux can't get viruses", there do appear to be OTHER ways in which a really determined malicious person can attack operating sytems that AREN'T made by M!¢R0$oFt. Yes, that includes YOU, MacPeople! Someone has found a security hole in BASH ('Born Again SHell' - the thing that runs when you use the Command Line Interface). It's a vulnerability that has probably always been there, but it's become a potential hazard by the fact that someone has now drawn attention to it! The Linux distros are providing patches to fix the holes. If I understand this correctly, there shouldn't be TOO much for the average home user to worry about, providing you use a Long-Term Support version of YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM OF CHOICE and you do the "apt-get update" thing on a daily basis. There's also a simple script you can run to see if you're vulnerable or not. But then that wouldn't make for a very good "SHOCK HORROR PROBE" story with which to frighten readers, would it? One periodical contrived an article about how 'they' can TAKE CONTROL of your interconnected world by gaining access to your lightbulbs (I kid you not. I mean I MAY have misconstrued, but I doubt it. The article came complete with a picture of a broken lightbulb to hammer home its point!).

AUTUMN is officially upon us. Let it be a matter of public record that, this week, I closed my bedroom window for the first time since April. (Mind you, it's got warm again now...)

Now let me see... THIRTY YEARS AGO this weekend, a bunch of us went to the Hammersmith Odeon* to see and hear FRANK ZAPPA relating the story of "Roland In The Whore House" and other tales of Road Folklore, accompanied by one of his best ever bands... FORTY YEARS AGO this week, we saw the mellotrontastic second-division prog team GREENSLADE at the Portsmouth Guildhall. Fabulous times. Fabulous affordable times.

(*Of course, in those days, it WAS still correctly known as the Hammersmith Odeon - or the 'HAMMY-O' to all us seasoned rockers - and not the Hammersmith Super-Vodaphone-O2-Rama-Lama-Brought-To-You-By-Snickers Apollo, or whatever they call it this week. The Portsmouth Guildhall is still named the Guildhall, but then I don't think they've had any decent bands play there for years.)

Week from Monday 29th September 2014

Actually, now that I come to consult my 'LISTS' (Yes. That's right. I make lists.), I see that these have been a magical few days for gig-going over the years. Must have some kind of deep cosmic significance to do with the planets aligning at this time of year or summat (No, it doesn't. It's a coincidence... Ed.). No really. Check out this lot:-
28th September
1978 - A once-in-a-lifetime double bill of BRAND X and PETER HAMMILL at the Brighton Dome. A mere forty-eight hours later, there was also a rather good reggae bash at the Poly, featuring BLACK SLATE and 90°INCLUSIVE.
29th September
1985 - We helped stage the "Aid For Africa" concert at Ferneham Hall, featuring our very own TV BY TEARS plus a host of other local bands, and starring the legendary woodcreature WILD WILLY BARRETT.
30th September
1974 - The aforementioned GREENSLADE gig at the Portsmouth Guildhall.
1977 - PETER GABRIEL, his teddy bear and a number of bald fellows in tabards, live in concert at the Southampton Gaumont.
2002 - A progtastic evening at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with that startlingly good ur-Crimson, the 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID BAND, Canterbury's late lamented Mr Bad Hair Day KEVIN AYERS, and ambient loopist STEVE LAWSON.
Of course, who the hell wants to go to ROCK CONCERTS these days? Once you've mortgaged your soul for the price of a ticket PLUS the extortionate 'booking fee'; enjoyed the dubious pleasure of standing in line, while you get frisked for water bottles that you're not 'allowed' to take into the venue (then they can sell you one of their own for nearly a fiver); sat in an acoustically questionable hangar-like building (or, at the other extreme, a too-small-for-purpose pub/club-type venue), surrounded by loudly-conversing twats scanning the show through their friggin' CELLPHONES instead of using their own eyes and ears... and that's when they're not pushing past you at regular intervals, as they make trips to the bar DURING THE SHOW, instead of LISTENING TO THE F***ING MUSIC!!! Inconsiderate, antisocial, trolling rudeness is now accepted as THE NORM everywhere you go. They've ruined it for all of us. So no, I don't "GET OUT MUCH" anymore. It's no longer much FUN, is it?

On Monday, I took my footpump with me to the printers. I have some TROLLEY-PUSHIN' to do, delivering some boxes of freshly printed leaflets to a client on the High Street. I know from experience that this task is a bit of a hard slog on soft tyres! On Tuesday, I have to make the return trip so that I can get paid for them.

CC read some of this diarybloggity and wrote "I had no idea you liked KING CRIMSON...". Well I never. But it turns out she was confusing them with KING MISSILE!!! I only realised this when she mentioned that the one song she knew by King Crimson was "Detachable Penis". Oh how we laughed. The standard practice when friends say that they've never heard (of) King Crimson is to connect them with YouTube for a version of "STARLESS" (the 1974 Paris TV version is a safe bet). I think that one song is a good twelve-minute summary of everything that the band stands for (or in certain cases, SITS DOWN for!). But, as we purchasers of boxsets know, one song is never enough once you're hooked...