Week from Monday 2nd February 2015

This week, the playlist on STEVEN WILSON's website consists ENTIRELY of Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream albums. I've naturally had a 'craze' for The Tangs as well... although my own playlist is a LITTLE more varied, on account of ALL THAT JAZZ I picked up in Brighton. My own CURRENT PERMANENT FIXTURE on the jukebox is "POLYTOWN" by David Torn, Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio. Just me listing the personnel involved gives you a clear idea of what THAT sounds like!

I've been tinkering with REBECCA THE LAPTOP's 'styling' again today. No drastic changes, just a little refinement, mainly concerning the icons on the panel bar. I've figured out how to restore the "START MENU" icon (apologies for having to resort to WINDOWS nomenclature here!) to the proper LINUX MINT-branded one - it had been automatically replaced with a round blue icon to match the Malys-UniBlue scheme, but I didn't think that it 'goes' with my overall concept. I found some monochromatic icons to launch the apps in the bottom right-hand corner, which no longer stick out on the panel QUITE so much like the proverbial sore thumb. I also re-added a DATE & TIME indicator to CONKY, although it's no longer the 'FEATURE' that I'd made it previously.

THE SNOW IS HERE... We all knew it was coming, but everyone still acts all surprised when it does. I have to venture out to GOZZY this morning (because it's Tuesday and I have 'DEVILRIES' to do). It's just loose and powdery at the moment, so it's easy to shift... in fact, I would call this nothing more than a heavy 'frost', as it settles overnight and then it has completely vanished once the sun peeps over the houses.

Tickets for that extremely rare thing, a real life KING CRIMSON British Tour, finally go on sale this Friday at 0900 hours. Knowing from past experience what a kerfuffle it is to actually BUY tickets in this day and age, I'm not holding my breath or crossing any fingers. They'll probably be sold out by 0905 hours. But I will be 'HAVING A GO', needless to say... (and yes, I agree with the comments on the DGM Gussetbook - that cycloptic, Magritte-ripoff, tour poster IS pretty crappy!)

THURSDAY is spent at "AUNTIE SANDIE'S EMPORIUM OF HAIR", where I allow the ladies to experiment on me. Now that my hair has grown out a little, they have a lot more to play with...

Hoorah! Kalloo Kallay Yip Yip Loredo!!! WE HAVE KING CRIMSON TICKETS!!! Or on paper we do. They are paid for and will be in the post, so at least that's something... Brighton Dome, Circle, a couple of rows back from the balcony... equals ONE HAPPY BUNNY (or maybe two, 'cos Shelfy's coming too)...

However, SOD'S LAW dictates that should two nice things happen to me in one day, I will inevitably experience a third, shittier one. Just before teatime we experienced a very brief 'OFF-THEN-ON-AGAIN' powercut. Long story short, this morning I don't have a working WINDOZE peecee. No Can Booty Uppy. I gritted my teeth and open up the box to see if it's something that can be easily fixed... but I fear the worst (one fried motherboard). I've even tried changing the fuse in the plug in the vain hope that THAT'S ALL IT NEEDED, but there's not a dickybird of current flowing through the beast's circuits. There is the shuddering possibility that I will have to build a new peecee. And THAT'S a project that will have to wait for ANOTHER much LATER time.

Meanwhile, I can still do 'THINGS LIKE THIS' on the laptop, but it feels kinda strange at the moment, a whole different ergonomic experience. But hey! I plugged in the printer and that works, as does the mouse... and I find that I can even connect a second monitor if I want to. Gawd bless ya, LINUX MINT! Really, it's a matter of finding new ways of working (using non-M!¢r0$ØfT-dependent software) and, possibly, never needing to darken the doors of Windows ever again. Now that WOULD be nice!

I WILL have to find a way of rescuing the data off the 'old' machine though, because there's a few years' worth of work stored thereupon, not to mention a LOT of ongoing music projects. Best case, short-term scenario, I'll have to buy another portable harddrive to transfer all of the gubbins to (and avail the services of someone else's PC on which to carry out said task)...
IT WAS EXACTLY THIRTY YEARS AGO TO THE DAY (6th February 1985) that, FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY, Clashing Two house band JUMP performed their (ahem!) 'rock opera' "DIRTYSODRAPHENIA" live at The Salutation, deep in the heart of Portsmouth. Mr RABBITHOLE SAM was the MC, and Merv played our hero DIRK THRUST, in a series of sketches that were supposed to link together the songs (as performed by the definitively Loud trio of Farmers that were Mervyn Purviss, Loxley Mendoza and Leon Hayman). Most of the audience looked on in bafflement. On a return booking a few weeks later (They got a return booking after THAT?!), the landlord of the pub requested that they forget the theatrical stuff and just stick to music!
"What's up? Haven't you ever seen a pink cow on a trampoline before?"

Week from Monday 9th February 2015

I TRIED, oh! I really tried... But I simply can't go COLD TURKEY from my dependence on WINDOWS. I've concluded that no OPEN SOURCE (Linux) apps will cut it as professional GRAPHIC DESIGN software. It's good, but it's not good enough. I am able to open up CorelDraw files and PDFs for editing, but anything involving big bitmaps slows everything down to a crawl. I haven't even scratched the surface as to what Linux can do for my music projects, but I'm already beginning to miss my 'STUDIO'. Let's face it, I never intended this laptop to be my main 'workstation'. So I will have to bite the bullet, pay out to NOVATECH for a new 'bare bones' system and build a whole new PEECEE to run all my stuff. Knowing from experience how time-consuming an exercise this is, it was something I was hoping to avoid, but here we go...

Of course, the fact that my internet connection is truly CRAPPY today, only adds to the stress and anxiety levels when doing stuff like this. It's on and off more times than... Oh! I can't even be bothered to think up a witty simile anymore... A ray of sunshine is that my 'STUFF' is safe! With a bit of judicious lead-swapping during the night, I managed to copy the contents of my "WORK" drive onto another portable device. And that includes the 'new' CC:PP album and some "HOT TICKLES" waiting to be turned into a compilation CD. Phew!

My brief contribution to the DGM Gussetbook this week included a reference to the "WHERE IS BEATLES BAND" letters of SAMUEL K AMPONG. This is a bit of an 'in-joke' that will be COMPLETELY lost on the many Americans who frequent the site. I hope that a few English-speaking readers MIGHT just remember what the hell I am talking about and "GET IT". Let me explain. Way back in its 1970s heyday, the NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS (NME) would regularly feature a spoof letter on its correspondence page, usually headed "WHERE IS BEATLES BAND". It took the form of a broken-English missive bemoaning the lack of coverage of the (by-then-long-defunct) popular beat combo. The letter was always signed "Samuel K Ampong, Ghana", but was almost certainly a piece of mischief from the typewriters of Charles Shaar Murray or Danny Baker. This week, there appeared on the DGM forum a gloriously inpenetratable piece of broken-English prose, praising the Crimsos and all-things Frippy - "at this time I do not think there’s another guitarist, but do panning in the music world and I still think king crimson is the best there is, logically their leader Mr. Robert Fripp, what I say I say to heart, that’s good..." - which put me in mind of the Samuel K Ampong style. I wrote a short note entitled "WHERE IS CRIMSON BAND" in which I claimed my five pounds for uncovering the identity of the correspondent. Very naughty, I realise, if not borderline-racist... but they posted it anyway. Maybe Sid or David didn't get the reference either?

Well, it's taken me a whole week of ON-AND-OFFERY, but I'm finally back to 'normal' as regards my PERSONAL COMPUTER requirements. I'm back at 'WORK' anyway. The 'new' peecee is slightly limited in its scope, compared to what I'd been used to (only 32-bit graphics; very basic soundcard performance), which means I've had to make one or two compromises. But I find that what I can't do on the desktop PC, I CAN do on the laptop (and vice-versa). The 'workstation' is loaded with all my 'GRAPHIC DESIGN' stuff now and all is running smoothly again. But I'm having to learn "NEW WAYS OF DOING THINGS" with my MUSIC projects. I find that I can still use my favourite WAV-editor, conversion/ripping tools and CD burner as before. But what I can't do is use this machine to record and capture audio in the first place. Oh, and MIDI is right out of the question, for the time being. Not to worry, because I've been teaching the Mintlumplaptop a few new tricks, things that I'd never really expected to use it for... Linux Mint already has AUDACITY, I just needed to configure it (and PULSE AUDIO) to do my bidding. Oh! it's fun to learn... I encountered a few horrid screeches of feedback along the way, and one of those "who is de king of de jahngle?" moments, when I realised that I'd been recording my audio via the built-in MICROPHONE instead of through the internal connection (instead of a nice clean transcription of the audio stream, I could hear myself tapping and singing along in the background on the test recording!)

So... it's been an 'UP AND DOWN' sort of week, really... At least I got through Friday the 13th relatively unscathed...

Week from Monday 16th February 2015

THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK... Demolish my old bed (which is falling apart anyway!), then build a new one... Before I can do that, I'm sorting out all the stuff that is stored underneath it. I have to be brutally unsentimental about chucking out some of the mankier examples of my accumulated T-shirt 'collection'...

This is also the week when I kick off this year's ANNUAL-CHARITY-BIKE-RIDE-O-DUPLICATE-A-COLLATE-N-ENVELOPE-STUFFING-O-DELIVER-O-THON tasks. I'm currently getting my 'sheets' together, ready for an influx of fresh instructions and revisions, and I expect to be standing over a hot Risograph machine sometime next week.

This afternoon, I watched Kubrick's "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY" for the first time in... well, this century, anyway... It's still a transcendental cinematic experience, but I did find myself nitpicking some of the plot details this time around. A flawed masterpiece.

Week from Monday 23rd February 2015
I've just been digging through 'the back pages' looking for some fresh "ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY" nuggets... but it appears that nothing exciting EVER happens at this time of year. February was traditionally a quiet month for gigs, even 'back in the day'... Ah! Wait... hang on! On the twenty-third of February in 1977, I saw the CHAPMAN-WHITNEY STREETWALKERS at Portsmouth Guildhall, that was a good'n...
Well, the WEATHER WIDGET tells me that SUNRISE is officially before seven now, but you wouldn't know it (not that you EVER see anything that could be described as a 'sunrise' around here). It's bucketing down with rain and the sky is still as black as... a very black thing indeed. It's now gone nine and I still need a light on to see the keyboard.

I'm back in action making new music on the peecee now. Most of my old 'TOYS' work okay on the new box and I'm up to my old tricks. Not much of the newest music lends itself to a CC:PP album, unfortunately... although I did graft a poetic recital onto the end of one PIANO+PERCUSSION piece (It's mad! It's jazzywazzy! But YOU won't like it, Shelfy, it's got lots of cymbals on it!). A line from CC's poem provided the title for the piece itself ("THE PULSE OF DEAD SECONDS"). I was then able to manipulate the MIDI data from the piano parts and turn it into yet another slow soundscape - a thirty-minute long, drifting-in-an-ARVO-PART-sort-of-way, 'chamber music' thing which has been given the (stick a pin in the dictionary) title of "RHODAMINE". It's much too big as it is for the SOUNDCLOUD, but I've subsequently done a four-minute edit of it which gets the idea across.

Orf to Gozzy this morning to [window]shop for cheap envelopes...

I've now heard the first twelve-and-a-half minutes of STEVEN WILSON's new album, via the SAYNDCLAYD... and I have to say that first impressions are... PHWOOORGGGH!!! I shall be first in line at HMV next week when it comes out...

Today I spent - nay! WASTED a ridiculous amount of time trying to set myself up to print ADDRESS LABELS for the Collate-a-bikeride-ah-you-know-the-rest-a-thon. The old Avery Labels programme that I HAD been using previously no longer recognised my existing templates. I then downloaded the new Avery "design" programme only to find that it was a horrible bloated 'modern' thing which, in terms of its day-to-day usefulness, is CRAP. It failed to adhere to even the most basic word processor functions and kept ignoring line breaks when printing. A bit of a hindrance when you're trying to typeset addresses (WHAT-YOU-SEE-IS-DEFINITELY-NOT-WHAT-YOU-GET!). I found some templates which allow one to set up labels in the loathed M!¢r0$ØfT WORD, but I wasn't going to go THERE! In the end, I taught myself how to do it all over again using LIBREOFFICE. Eu amo o LibreOffice!