Week from Monday 1st June 2015

I've come up with what I think is a novel solution to the MUSIC PLAYER EMBEDDING quandary on the Our Old Space site. Quite a few music players don't work there - a lot of the embed codes contain verboten 'style' or 'class' tags which get overwritten by the profile editor, causing the whole thing to get ignored. But I find that the most recent YouTube codes DO work now... so I thought I'd see what could be made of THOSE instead! I changed the values of some of the embed codes (hidden away in the "ABOUT ME" section, just like we used to do on the proper myspace back in the day) and then apply some tasteful CSS to make the thing look reasonable. But it's another 'WORK IN PROGRESS' - for a start, the YouTube 'show full screen' button is fairly redundant in an 'audio only' situation, so it would be nice to hide that somehow...

Ah! The postman has been, bringing me something in a BURNING SHED bag! It's the new "STARLESS STARLIGHT" album, on which David Cross has sprinkled red-hot electric violin over Robert Fripp's guitar soundscapes... which in turn are based on the opening melody from "Starless". Yes, THAT one! Of course, online shopping being what it is, when I ordered the CD, I also took a shine to the new KSCOPE Records t-shirt, so I got me one those as well. Plus they've slipped in a Kscope promo compilation CD to boot...

JUNE, then. 'Flaming June', they call it. "The longest day's approachin'..." and all that. It's cold and wet and miserable. Flamin' June! Still... that's usually a signal to start compiling ROAD TAPES!

On 29th July, m!©r0$ofT launch WINDOWS 10 to the public, with offers of a FREE 'upgrade' to everyone who already has 'doze 7 or 8. If you look in the 'notifications' area in the bottom-right-hand corner of your screen, you'll see that a little Windows icon has appeared (and how ever much you try, it won't go away - hide it and it comes back the next morning!). It SOUNDS peachy, and looks like an exciting opportunity for all. BUT... there is no option that I can see to download an ISO file and do a CLEAN install... you have to let m!©r0$ofT install it OVER your existing operating system. You can't download it to try it out 'Live' or on a separate partition first, like you can with (T'DAAAAH!) Linux. Well, you can if you previously signed up for the m!©r0$ofT 'Insider' program, but not if you are a regular user. If you do click that 'upgrade' button and THEN decide you don't like it, you can roll back, apparently. But experience tells me that things usually get broken if you do that. And all you've done in the end is download 3GB(!) of stuff that you can't use and will then have to weed out of your system.

I LIKE MY WINDOWS 7. Now that I've installed it cleanly (only a few short weeks ago) and got everything exactly the way I want it, I LIKE how it works (tried and tested Windoze 'Classic'; backwards-compatible with most of my stuff). I LIKE how it looks ('glass' panels; a bit of texture; as opposed to those clunky, flat 'Legoland' graphics that subsequent versions of Windows have thrust upon us). I keep it nice and clean.

Windows 10 looks promising. It's a marked improvement over the wretched Windows 8. I'd be quite excited about it if I was using a W8-loaded laptop or tablet. But really I don't see it as any kind of IMPROVEMENT over W7 if I were to run it on a desktop PC. The upgrade wizard tells me that all my stuff SHOULD work with Windows 10... but then it's already working fine, thank you for asking! I've no wish to jeopardize that by stepping into the risky unknown. As for the 'NEW' features, they've copped a number of ideas from Ubuntu and Android which I've never found any use for, even on those platforms. I don't want a search feature that talks to me, nor do I have any means to talk to it. I hate those ubiquitous flippy tiles, I don't use Windows with any sort of touch screen. I wouldn't use the (reportedly buggy) new m!©r0$ofT internet browser (whatever they decide to call it in the end), because I'm a longtime 'Fox man and proud of it. I like to organize my own START menu, I don't want IT to try and organize ME. So in the event that I might install - sorry! 'upgrade' to Windows 10, I would probably spent a further couple of months disabling all the features I DON'T need, in a desperate attempt to get things back the way I DO want them. This is not just me being churlishly "GRUMPY OLD MAN, SET IN HIS WAYS" about it. It's an informed decision. I just spent a day and a half reading dozens of online reviews of Windows 10 and I wasn't sold, even though it's "FREE". I can understand other folks getting excited about it, but I don't need it myself. So thanks, but no thanks, m!©r0$ofT... after a few days of consideration, I've decided to cancel my option to "reserve" an upgrade and not bother after all.

By the way, you CAN stop them nagging you about it by uninstalling Windows Update KB3035583. That's the one that contains all the "GWX" (Get Windows 10) stuff. But if you normally receive your Windows Updates AUTOMATICALLY at m!©r0$ofT's behest (rather than selecting them yourself MANUALLY for download, as I now do), then you will find that it keeps coming back the next day!

I bumped into Shelfy while down in Gozzy (twice in fact, once at the printers' and once in Asda's car park). He put in his request for ROAD TAPES for our imminent DELIVER-O-THON tour of olde Hampshire. I've now accumulated a stack of C90s, totalling about fifteen hours of music... which is a little excessive, seeing as we usually complete the task in about six! But it's nice to have a choice, I s'pose... (Note for younger readers:- 'TAPES' are what 'MUSIC' used to be stored on and listened to in cars, when it was still a real, tangible, precious commodity and not just something that you get for nothing via your phone and then discard once you get bored with it.)

This morning, I was going through the old diary archives for some fresh "ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY" nuggets, while at the same time I was compiling said ROAD TAPES. It was on the 13th JUNE 2006 that I went to Salisbury to hear ROBERT FRIPP play in the Cathedral. Okay, so I should probably have left it till NEXT week before I mentioned that. But spookily, I discovered that it was on that very same afternoon that I bought the CD of JOHN MARTYN's "Live At Leeds" which I just HAPPEN to be taping this morning (spoiler alert, Shelfy!)... it WAS on this day though (Sixth of the Sixth, 2009) that the GRYPHON reunion occurred at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. But it's too soon to celebrate that fact again 'cos I did THAT only a couple of weeks ago. Something else interesting happened on the 10th, but we'll come to that next Wednesday (another spoiler alert)...

Week from Monday 8th June 2015

Countin' and Collatin'... Oh! Thon... I managed to do MOST of it in one day. But the numbers fell short on one of the jobs, so I had to make a trip to the printers to run some more off... Finished the last box today, so now I'm planning some DAZE OUT for the DEVILRIES (I'm determined to 'do' the ISLE OF WIGHT again this year and this gives me a reason/excuse!)
10th JUNE 1988... 'twas on this day that THE RICHARD CRANIUM BAND performed at "Psycho", a revue staged by the Psychology faculty of Portsmouth Polytechnic (as it was then) at Park Building of that ilk. Norfolk's leading Mel Gibson look-alike, a unique comedic and musical presence on the Gridling Scene and a man who claimed to be the illegitimate son of The Singing Postman, ALDEBURGH "CRAB BOAT BOY" RATHBONE, put the whole thing together with his friend "Crazy" Dave. The show mostly consisted of songs and sketches full of references to the psychology syllabus and staff. Very IN-JOKEy, but it had its moments. It fell to Yours Mintilly to 'produce' the music (using the popular Fostex 4-Track technology of the day) and to try to coax the hall's archaic public address system into some sort of life. The music included songs from "The Jungle Book", reworded to suit the psychology theme, plus versions of "My Baby Just Cares For Me", "Like A Virgin", "Daydream Believer" and several others. A few days later, The Richard Cranium Band played at an 'open-mike' evening at The Railway Folk Club. But I've managed to wipe most of that hellish experience from my brain (I mean to say... Have you ever BEEN to an 'open-mike' evening at a folk club...? eurrggh... shudder... ghastly... Also, I think I might have badmouthed Richard Digance at one point... Still, it could have been a lot worse, there could have been morris dancers as well!)
Today presents an opportunity to 'skive off' and enjoy the sun while we have it... I'm taking a parcel to SOUTHSEA (still, to the best of my knowledge, pronounced "ZAYZEE"), then I shall have my run of the charity shops of that locale...

Of course, Sod's Law dictates that if one 'skives off', then the work will pile up while one is away. I returned to find a load of 'last minute' UNCLE WILLY-related tasks waiting for me. I had planned a nice relaxed afternoon watching the cycling (the CriTéRiuM du DAuphiNé, generally considered to be a sort of 'dress rehearsal' for the Tour de France), but in the event, I had my back to the screen for most of it! I had some old school HTML to write, for e-mail versions of some training course flyers - it's 'OLD SCHOOL' in the sense that using CSS to style the pages won't work for email purposes. You have to simplify things a great deal and mark-up every single element within the body of the page, using a very archaic version of HTML at that.

But NOW I can watch the cycling...

I find myself settting my alarm for 3.30am on a SUNDAY MORNING... no, I haven't joined some religious sect or anything! At 0400 our time (it's still 8.00pm yesterday to them...) STEVEN WILSON's show at The Wiltern, Los Angeles CA is being broadcast in its entirety on the interwebs. So I'm up before dawn, firing up the laptop, plugging in the Apple earbuds and wallowing in the full audio-visual spectacle (well, as 'full' as a mere flash-player screen will allow). Ruddy marvelous. Now, is it just me? or is stunt-guitarist Dave Kilminster really Charlie Brooker in a long wig...?

Week from Monday 15th June 2015

Went for an early walk into town:- Got some petrol money for tomorrow's DELIVER-O-THON; Treated myself to a new clipboard from the pound shop and stocked up on deodorants; Dropped off a repeat prescription form at the 'health' centre and made my next appointment to see a doctor (not the same one as last time though - I've already outlived that one!)... Then I finished off the task of preserving Sunday morning's StevenWiltern concert as a 2CD pack for all eternity.

THE DELIVER-O-THON... yes, we got lost, on several occasions, seeing parts of at least two more counties than we should have. But we soldiered on, fueled by our shared love of GOOD MUSIC and hatred of ostentatious RICH B*****DS. This morning, I have one of my legendary alcohol-free hangovers and a left arm which is several shades pinker than the other.

'80s MUSIC IS BRILLIANT! It's official. Steven Wilson says so. And the tape of '80s music that I compiled for yesterday's journey proved to be such a hit that it was a distraction... and probably the main reason for our going 'OFF THE MAP'. I think I'll do another volume in time for our trip to Brighton in September!

DREAM DIARY... Someone has emptied out all of my desk drawers and replaced the contents with fishing equipment...

Week from Monday 22nd June 2015

Well, that's half the year gone already. It's all downhill from hereon. The LONGEST DAZE approached... and passed. According to a long established tradition, it's pissing with rain and there's no actual sunrise to speak of.

Well, it's taken me over twenty years... but I now sort of 'GET' the music of the eclectic Oxford glumsters RADIOHEAD. Their appeal had always alluded me until now. I really couldn't see what all the fuss was about. I'd always (mistakenly) bundled them in with U2 and Coldplay and all those other purveyors of air-punching stadium tedium who flourished in the nineties and noughties. Not for the likes of me, then. But I was listening to some old radio sessions of theirs and, suddenly, I found that their music made a lot of sense! I liked the way they took the pop song format and turned it inside-out in some very interesting and experimental ways. It could be argued that they were only playing around with ideas and textures that Brian Eno, or certain Krautrock bands, had already explored in previous decades (maybe that's why I liked it THIS time around?), but I'd be happy to investigate further... I can feel a trawl of the charity shops coming on!

Goodish news! Ticketmaster have now upgraded their status for the KING CRIMSON soirée at the Brighton Dome to "Tickets are now being processed". That's one step closer to "... are being dispatched" followed by "...are in my sweaty palm". STOP PRESS... THEY'RE HEEEEEEERE!

WEDNESDAY... Can I get a wednes? This morning, I have to toddle off for an appointment with a GP (Yet another new one! And with a new doctor comes further blood tests and the like...). Then I might do some of that 'trawling of the charity shops' of which I spake, for an hour or two. Lots of aimless walking for the heck of it.

In a CRIMSON mood then... so a new STICK MEN album download is a welcome thing indeed! I paid my eight euros to Markus Reuter's Iapetus concern via their Bandcamp page and here it is. It's a live recording of one of the shows the chaps played in Japan last April, with DAVID CROSS as a guest member. There's ANOTHER show coming out NEXT week!

Week from Monday 29th June 2015

Today, I am beholden to the NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE. Te Deum. This morning, I am filling in an HC1 form, in order to get an HC2 certificate. This afternoon, I was supposed to go see the nurse about a BP monitor, but now I've been postponed until Thursday.

Occasionally dipping into the GLASTONBURY highlights on the telly, I only enjoyed one solitary act throughout the whole weekend. But I was disappointed that there wasn't more of it (especially given the screen time spent on those whom I would consider to be 'lesser' acts. But hey! what do I know from pop music?)... GEORGE CLINTON brought "THE MOTHERSHIP RETURNS" revue to these shores, an enormous band including veterans of Parliament and Funkadelic and the Family Stone and many more besides. Both the telly and radio (BBC2 and 6MUSIC respectively) broadcast one longish medley of old Parliament chestnuts. A fine old racket indeed, semi-organised chaos held together with a beefy backbeat. There were dozens of people swapping about on stage, with ridiculous hats aplenty... oh! and a cute backing singer with a tail. More footage will appear on the Beeb's web pages later today, hopefully the whole thing...
I'm having a quick whizz through what's there already... THE POP GROUP are most disappointing; far too tame these days, no longer capable of frightening the children and animals as they were in their heyday... STEEL PULSE are back on true rootsy form though; After their ill-considered 'crossover' years, they're back to being a proper top-flight reggae act, with forty years' growth of dreadlocks to prove it! (I taped the set the old-fashioned way, because I know where this'll mainly get listened to!) I've also bookmarked a couple of other bands who played on the West Holts Stage [formally the Jazz-World Stage]:- the KASAI ALL-STARS, a pan-tribal collective via Kinshasa, and the CUMBIA ALL-STARS, "An eight-piece band of legendary players doing for Peruvian cumbia what the Buena Vista Social Club did for Cuban son music..." it says here.
So Farewell Then CHRIS SQUIRE, whose Rickenbacker-profundo stylings soundtracked my 'seventies and beyond...

I've downloaded the ISO for the latest LINUX MINT (17.2 RAFAELA) and made an installation/backup disk. But I'll wait until next week, when I'll be able to do a bit of the old $ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to bring the laptop up to speed, rather than do a completely fresh install as I might have done in the past. It probably says a lot about me that I now prefer (and trust) this approach on Linux, but when m!©r0$ofT offer to do the same for Windows, I politely refuse! It must be a 'control' issue...

Today, I got the second STICK MEN + DAVID CROSS "MIDORI" album (the first Tokyo show) which, in many ways, is even better than the first volume (which was the second show). Confused? You won't be! There's even more '[CR]IMPROV' this time around, which is fine by me!

I always get my hopes up whenever my TV digibox announces that 'new services have been added'. But that doesn't usually last long. More often than not, I find that they've used up yet another HD slot on some shitty shopping channel or other ...like we need any more of those! Who actually watches entire programmes of that crap anyway? Enough to require them to be in high-definition!?! I weep for humankind, I really do. I invariably hit the yellow button and delete such rubbish from the channel guide as soon as it arrives. Stop wasting my technology!

On Thursday 2nd July 2015, ladies and gentlemen, I posted my first ever TWEET. Oh lawdy! Look out, twenty-first century, there's no stopping me now! I'm helping to set up a TWITTER account for UNCLE WILLY'S CONCERN and, once I'd tinkered with the graphics to my satisfaction, I HAD A GO MYSELF. I probably don't need to tell you that brevity is not my strong suit... but I'm hooked! There's enough here to keep me interested. I've already beaten the time I spent on F***B**K by twelve hours. That's got to be a good sign, hasn't it?

On second thoughts, I'm going to do a clean install of LINUX MINT 'RAFAELA' after all. I think that, at this stage, the laptop could do with a bit of a de-bloat anyway... and I recall the problem I had with my third-party 'eye candy' PPAs getting in the way, when I upgraded from 17 to 17.1 using the Update Manager. Better safe than sorry. However, the weekend has been set aside for some SERIOUS vegging out in front of the telly (Aujourd'hui je suis en regardant LE TOUR DE FRANCE, qui commence à Utrecht). So I won't be able to do the whole 'START-FROM-SCRATCH-&-LOAD-IT-ALL-UP-AGAIN' routine in one sitting this time around. IT'S A PROJECT! I'm taking notes and taking my time.
3rd JULY 2000 - Now that I have some tickets for this year's historic KING CRIMSON UK tour safely in my sweaty mitt, I remind myself that it was on this very day in the year 2000 that a King Crimson of any sort LAST played in the United Kingdom, at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Quoth those on the DGM guestbook:-
"Struggling with sound problems on the night, it takes a little while for the team to warm up. The first improvisation of the evening has a tentative feel where the band individually dip their toes in the water from time to time but don’t quite push the boat out... has its fair share of thrills and spills with Fripp and Gunn’s unison work being especially noteworthy..."
"...The new music is a heady mixture of steamhammer rhythms, howling mutant funk and passages of seething noise, though in live performance they introduce some welcome light and shade... Trey Gunn plays bass touch guitar like an octopus tormented by fleas... Overall, Crimson 2000 are brainy, brawny and only slightly ludicrous..."
"If I had to describe this in a single sentence I would say it sounds like Steve Reich meets Igor Stravinsky with 10,000 watts behind them... Shepherd's Bush Empire sounds like Heaven and Hell unleashed. In places the music is incredibly barbaric and then suddenly it is achingly beautiful - but not for long, we are quickly plunged back into the sound of fire and brimstone..."