Week from Monday 2nd May 2016

Yes, it's another of those pesky BANK HOLIDAYS. Some American Twitcorrespondents were shocked to discover that we the English have a national holiday that "celebrates" bankers. Well, when you put it like that... I suppose even bankers need a day off once in a while, to recover from all that pocketstuffing... The weather stayed fine throughout Sunday morning, so a CAR-BOOT SALE was visited. This time around, I decided to dig a little deeper into the boxes of VINYL. Typically, the record bins at car-booties (and in most CHARITY SHOPS) are full of tired old Music For Pleasure albums by Marty Robbins or Jim Reeves, Mrs Mills or Russ Conway, plus the occasional 1980s twelve-inch discomix. One gets weary just looking! But this morning, I did espy a hitherto undiscovered (by me, that is) CHICK COREA album, "Three Quartets" (tattyish cover, but fairly click-free vinyl) and a possibly original copy of JIMMY WEBB's "Words & Music" (very tatty cover, but the lyric sheet is intact; vinyl needs cleaning) in the 'Have It For A Quid' boxes. I also got PHIL COLLINS first solo album "Face Value", on CD for fifty pee. Which, as most experts would agree, is the ONLY solo Phil Collins anybody really needs.

There is also a bigger, better BANK HOLIDAY car-boot sale planned for this morning, but one glimpse out of the window tells me that there probably won't be such a good turnout the second time around, so I decide not to bother. Instead, I'm turning my attention to 'capturing' that CHICK COREA elpee for digital burnage. It is a rather fine album too - Really cool, acoustic, 'chamber' jazz, with a lineup featuring Chick Himself along with MICHAEL BRECKER, STEVE GADD and EDDIE GOMEZ - Worth a couple of quid of anyone's money(!)

This Bang Collar Day also provides an opportunity to catch up with a month's worth of SID SMITH's "Podcasts From The Yellow Room" in one concentrated sitting (or rather, horizontal loafing).

From the DGMLive GussetBook this week, here's a couple of contrasting viewpoints on the subject of Audience Behaviour. I would like to believe that the first comment is NOT meant seriously (merely a bit of harmless Fripp-baiting), but given the "SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT" that plagues all rock concerts these days, I'm beginning to wonder...
"Not only should photography and videoing be allowed at every King Crimson gig during the performance, but Fripp should be available after every concert, to do a selfie or two with every fan who wants one, and, perhaps, to go out for a drink (or five) with some of them. RF, after all, is only where he is thanks to us, and only to us, so I do think he owes us quite A LOT — it's about time he acknowledged this publicly..."

"If a band tells you they don't want you to take photographs, film their gig (etc.), please take it at face value. It is their expressed wish, based, in this case, on a long and distinguished career. If you don't like it, don't go to the gig. Since when did buying a concert ticket entitle anyone (regardless of what kind of tough life they think they may have had) to a free photo gallery and take-home personal recording? Show some respect and leave your cameras at home."
I was starting to get mighty sick of those nags that were popping up on the TWITTER homepage, begging for me to add my birthday to my profile information. Luckily, I keep a STYLISH script to deal with such nuisances, and now they've gone the way of the useless "MOMENTS" lightning bolt.

A second update to FIREFOX (46.0.1) in under a week... now it fails to recognise as valid the version of ADOBE FLASH that I had installed (the latest 'stable' release from Adobe's own download site, 21.0.0.213). Several attempts at reinstalling later, and it still tells me that it is 'OUT OF DATE'. So I took a gamble and acquired myself of the VERY latest 'beta' version. Now Foxy appears to agree with my choice. Seems the new 'Fox has jumped the gun a bit, expecting you to have a version of a plugin that isn't out there yet! Let's just hope that it is 'SAFE' now. OTHER SECURITY NEWS... We've been advised to change our G**GLE password[s] again, M!¢r0$ØfT has bombarded me with a load of updates to its DOT.NET Framework (that's probably because of that PAINT.NET programme that I installed, so that I could try out the NIK collection of Photoshop plugins) and the PDF reader FOXIT has just been updated as well.

This morning's powerwalkies takes me up the road to the POLLING STATION. We get to vote for new Councillors at the town and county levels of government, plus a new Police Commissioner. I will vote 'AS USUAL' for the Councillors, but as we have seen no literature telling us who the candidates for the TOP COP are, I don't have a clue who is most qualified for the post. The way the media works hereabouts, I'm probably better informed about the London Mayoral elections (where I don't have a vote) than I am about the LOCAL issues (where I do)!

I'm once again experimenting with eBOOK editing, learning how *.EPUB files are put together and what can be done to affect the outcome, when the 'finished' job is turned into a *.MOBI file for Kindle purposes (at which point, you can't edit them at all!).

But I'm quickly becoming convinced that nothing I've ever learnt about DESIGNING pages applies here. In fact, very little of what I've recently picked up regarding XML, CSS, XHTML, NCX or OEBPS, seems to have any bearing on what comes out of the other end, once KINDLE PREVIEWER has done its nonsense! It's discouraging, to say the least. Structurally, the 'finished' book is sound, with a proper working Table Of Contents and everything. But GOOD TYPOGRAPHY is never going to be Kindle's strong point.

Let's face it, anything that ISN'T purely 'prose' (i.e. plain continuous text only) inevitably looks CRAP when viewed on any eBOOK READER. Plain text is what they are for. If you want to do a 'technical' publication, involving inline illustrations, indexed headings and sub-headings, text emphasis, etc. etc... well, don't expect it to look TOO nice! Even the simplest FONT specifications seem to be ignored on some Readers!

IN SHORT, YOU CANNOT "DESIGN" AN E-BOOK! But I'm getting there... I've now got to the point where things look 'NOT TOO BAD' on Kindle. Certainly not GREAT, but 'not too bad'. I'm gradually finding out which CSS properties actually DO something and which ones get ignored by The Amazon Beast completely. For instance, 'widows' and 'orphans' are still a bit of a bugger! It's extremely TRIAL & ERROR, this malarkey. But of course, it's also purely academic. Any R&D will be for nought if the actual 'book' doesn't get written soon!

On Friday, I went down to Gosport to take care of some biz... then I hopped on A BUS TO NOWHERE. I eventually alighted at Hilsea Lido (or "VER'LOYDOOOW", to use the local vernacular) and decided to walk the length of Portsmouth's stagnant Harbour. This path has been given the amusing and historically questionable name "PILGRIMS' WAY" by the civic authorities hereabouts. I doubt that any actual pilgrims gazed in wonder upon so much prefabricated concrete, not to mention the piled-high shipping containers and redundant admiralty hardware. But it's a goodly yomp ne'ertheless and it's a good day for it.

Of course, I ended up at Gunwharf eventually, where today's "SHOULD I? SHOULDN'T I? WILL I? WON'T I?" purchase was the recent release by Nick Beggs' outfit THE MUTE GODS. I'd probably have bought it sooner, but HMV, for reasons best known to themselves, have racked it in the "METAL" section. That it ain't. You will hear MUCH 'EAVIER things in the "POP" department! Sure, it's 'THE MUSIC THAT CALLS ITSELF PROG', owing to the presence of these Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett alumni. 'Genessy' bits, 'Yessy' bits, 'Floydy' bits, tick, tick, tick... but there is also something of an 'EIGHTIES vibe about it. Imagine if Marillion had been fronted by Nik Kershaw instead of that big burly Scottish bloke.

Week from Monday 9th May 2016

Today, we are supposed to witness a RARE ASTRONOMICAL PHENOMENON, as wee little MERCURY will transit across the sun. I have my piece of smoked trout - sorry! - glass at the ready. But whenever RARE ASTRONOMICAL PHENOMENA pass over us, the chances are that our 'VERY BRITISH PROBLEM', the weather, gets in the way. I've lost track of how many COMETS and METEOR SHOWERS, or ECLIPSES (LUNAR, and/or SOLAR, for the use of,) I've missed in my lifetime because of grotty overcasty cloudinesses and 'light pollution'! I've never even witnessed a decent Solstice sunrise, as far as I can recall. Hopefully, there might be a gap in the clouds between now and teatime... but if you want the best view, then tune into NASA TV or one of the many university observatory sites.

The dreaded monthly surge of WINDOZE UPDATES happened again today. I chose the ones that applied to me, and then went for my WALKIES while they downloaded. (I did the perimeter of 'The Field'. The little bit of rain we had earlier has made it muddy again, quite a contrast to the baked earth of last week's continued dry spell.) Only this time, my ploy of "WALK AWAY AND IGNORE THEM" didn't work. Perhaps I wasn't gone long enough, but the downloads were still stuck on ZERO when I returned. I've subsequently had enough (further) time for a bath and a cup of tea, while waiting for it to announce that it wants to do a restart to complete the process!

I'm listening to a naughty recording of the recent Brighton Dome show by the Yes tribute band called YES. Howe and White excepted, I can nowadays only think of them as a bunch of clever soundalikes, attempting excerpts from a once great band's back catalogue in note-for-note fashion. Which is the very definition of a tribute band.

Except that the more I hear of this, the more I think they're not EVEN a very good tribute band! The vocals are pretty dire and the timekeeping is a tad shambolic at times. Sad to hear. Why am I listening to AN APPROXIMATION OF YES play a couple of their classic albums in a most unsatisfying manner, when I have the originals on CD just over there? And now I see that the "PROG" community are wetting themselves with excitement at the prospect that ANDERSON, WAKEMAN and RUBIN are getting a new band together to churn out all the hits. Get over it. They've had their day. Don't expect me to cough up fifty quid for a ticket, based on the slim hope that a favourite band from the seventies will have somehow recaptured all of their erstwhile magic. Won't happen, can't happen... LIVE WITH THE MEMORIES!

Truth be told, I haven't heard Yes play A WHOLLY SATISFYING SET in over forty years... Forty-one years ago this week, in fact, when they played three nights at Southampton Gaumont. All thriller, no filler, a set refreshingly free of BORING BITS. No interminable solo 'features', no extended acoustic sets, they merely played everything from the superb "Relayer" album, interspersed with 'THE EPICS' and a couple of 'hits' as an encore (plus a supporting act who were worth seeing in their own right, namely my schooldays favourites GRYPHON). I have never seen or heard a YES SHOW as good as this since. Never will now.

By way of contrast, I'm now listening to one of a series of live recordings made by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI a couple of years ago (there for all to hear on their YouTube channel), in which they too played their classic LPs in their entirety... and it's ruddy fantastic! Now THAT's the way to grow old[er] [dis]gracefully! ALMOST restored my faith in elderly progsters, I can tell you!

I think I mentioned this before, but "THE DAILY SHOW" is just not very good since JON STEWART retired from the programme. This afternoon, I watched a live-taped interview he did recently with DAVID AXELROD at the University of Chicago, in which he discusses the state of politics and the satire thereof, and was reminded of just what the show has been missing. Well worth seventy minutes of anybody's YouTube time!



MEANWHILE IN SWEDEN... Sigh! Why do I do this every year? The horror... Ah! but I tell myself it's a public service, in the name of reportage. I endure this ordure so that you don't have to! That's right, the EUROVISION SONG CONTEST has crawled around again. This year it is in Stockholm, which is easier for foreigners to pronounce than "MÄHLMURRRRRRRR". The audience seems to consist entirely of blond blokes with beards. I prefer to call it the "EUROPIDGIN" contest, as that tends to be what language they sing in these days! The vast majority of eurotwaddle would probably be far more palatable if they only chose to sing in their own language, instead of a broken version of mine. Sometimes, someone will break the mould and do something different and, I suppose, I still retain the hope that at least one or two performances might unexpectedly display a modicum of musical originality or taste. Ah! Who am I kidding? It's just a bit of fun, as long as you don't expect anything of MUSICAL VALUE. There was certainly very little of that in the first round...
TUESDAY'S SEMI-FINAL ROUND... The broadcast kicks off with a performance of last year's winner, to remind ourselves how the hell we got here. I'm still unclear on this point, myself. It is instantly forgettable as a song, and it has the added chill factor of having singing kids on it. The British and Swedish hosts for the show are each extremely embarrassing (yet incapable of being embarrassed, which is a requirement of the job).
FINLAND start the ball rolling with a shrill, screechy, air-punchy 'power anthem' and it is universally awful. Failed to qualify.
GREECE Looked promising: the obligatory 'big drumming', a touch of ethnicity in the form of a Cretan lyra... but the "english" words were stupid, and they ruined whatever merit it did have with a crappy rappy bit at the end. Failed to qualify.
MOLDOVA A diva-led leaden ballad (something about "reaching for the stars", yawn) which was instantly forgettable, except for the cakky dance routines featuring a bloke dressed as an astronaut. Failed to qualify.
HUNGARY This had a goodish tune and a handclappy chorus, not to mention yet another example of 'big drumming' (this time of the Kodo variety). There was also a bit featuring some massed whistling, would you believe? The song had lots of different changes during the course of its three minutes, which at least demonstrates that they weren't afraid to (ad)venture outside the box. Not too bad.
CROATIA Something about lighthouses. This had a pretty fair 'Balkan' tune. I'd like to have heard it in a non-"english" version. The ridiculous, heavy-constructed costumery was just a deliberate distraction.
NETHERLANDS The Dutch do seem to enjoy a bit of cod-country, don't they? This sounded identical to something by The Eagles, but the lyrics didn't match, neither did the boy-band posing.
ARMENIA The staging was impressively over-the-top, but that was just to take your mind off the fact that the song itself was a screechy mess of powerpop cliché.
SAN MARINO This was refreshing. It looked and sounded exactly like Leonard Cohen, during that time when he went a bit 'disco'. Failed to qualify.
RUSSIA Very clever staging, what with the video back projection and all, but again, that was just a distraction from the song itself, which was a complete snooze.
CZECH REPUBLIC I thought this one was not half bad. She has a fine voice (for a change, not too melismatic and shrill, which is clearly the fashion of the day) and the tune is good. But the lyrics were rubbish and there was an ill-advised key modulation towards the end.
CYPRUS Rawk and indeed rawl! The band Minus One are usually a rock covers act, so they certainly have all the standard metal posing off to a tee. They (try to) look like Judas Priest, but here sound altogether more lightweight. At least it was a bit different.
AUSTRIA Strangely (but most welcome), they sing in French. It's quite pleasant without the words getting in the way! Good orchestration, with some nice strummy lutey bits. Probably the best of tonight's bad bunch.
ESTONIA An earnest young man with a baritone voice drones away inconsequentially. Rubbish song. Its only redeeming feature is that one of the songwriters has the splendid name of STIG RASTA. Failed to qualify.
AZERBAIJAN A stereotypical eurobanger that ends up going nowhere. The chorus is anticlimactically piss-poor.
MONTENEGRO This one reminds me of Hootie and the Blowfish, for some reason. There's a couple of good guitar riffs in there, but the vocals are tedious (so THAT's the reason!?) Failed to qualify.
ICELAND Unmistakably Scandinavian, a sort of techno-goth mashup á la Loreen. Catchy enough, but the lyrics are once again dire. Failed to qualify.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA They are singing in their own language, hooray! The vocal melody isn't much to write home about, but there are some tasteful 'Balkan' fills from the electric cello. Then they go and ruin it all by throwing in a stupid rappy shouty bit. Failed to qualify.
MALTA "I can't get enough of your love, 'cos I feel like I'm walking on water..." Oh, please shut up.
Of course, I tend to judge these things on ARTISTIC MERIT, based on what I think I know about "MUSIC", which is entirely MISSING THE POINT! Year after year, I have demonstrated that I am useless at predicting how the voting will go. Things that I think are (at least) HALF DECENT will, more often than not, fail in spectacular fashion. The problem is, I'm not easily distracted by the SHOW BIZ aspect (again, 'missing the point'!). If any songs stand out for me at all (a big 'if'), it is usually those which SOUND like they have had some actual creative thought put into them - however misguided that might be in this context! But songs like that don't win Eurovision. A WINNING song is one that has been generated by a skilled panel of Anglo-Swedish robots, crafted to fit perfectly the standard mould set down by the PREVIOUS years' winners.
THURSDAY'S SEMI-FINAL ROUND... The opening number tonight is actually, genuinely funny, a wittily self-deprecating routine featuring the unembarrassable Swedish hosts...
LATVIA The 'eighties-throwback Fairlight-y synthy percussion track is quite nice, but the 'heartfelt' vocal performance shows that he hasn't got a clue what drivel he is singing.
POLAND I thought the lyrics on the last one were drivel. I spoke too soon. This one is driveller! Luckily. his accent is so impenetrable anyway, that the only way you know they are drivel is by reading the subtitles.
SWITZERLAND I couldn't understand a word of this one either, which is interesting, as the singer is Canadian! And why does she keep bending over as if she's having a crap? Failed to qualify.
ISRAEL A camp git with one of those twatty back-to-front haircuts and a fucking awful voice. The song is a dirge, but this is apparently one of the 'favourites'. Shows what I know! I also don't get what the bloke rolling around in the cartwheelly thing has to do with anything.
BELARUS Everyone had been talking about this one beforehand, on account of the naked man singing to some wolves. It turned out he was only there in CGI anyway. There was no naked man on stage. Or wolves. Otherwise, this is mad stuff, not a bad song, if truth be told, with loads of different 'bits' and fantastic video FX. Failed to qualify.
SERBIA This is truly horrible, everything I hate about 'modern' singing in a nutshell. It's teeth-on-edge stuff, with a vocalist who is hamming it up far more than the lyrics merit, and it too has an ill-advised modulation at the end.
IRELAND Well, it's no "My Lovely Horse", I'll tell you that. The lead singer used to be in Westlife or summat, and I expect that's just what it sounds like (How would I know?). There's a full electric band on stage, but I don't know what they contribute. Failed to qualify.
FYR MACEDONIA Blimey! she's a belter, this one! At least it's in her own language. A big operatic ballad, unfortunately the chorus reminds me of "Karma Chameleon". Failed to qualify.
LITHUANIA DejaVu all over again! Another earnest young chap with half a haircut spouting gibberish. Apparently, he wants us all to know that he's "been wading for this nard..."
AUSTRALIA Yes. Australia. In Europe. Hmm. Think on't. So there should be no excuses for singing in broken English here then? Can a heart actually "beat to the sound of silence"? Screechy rubbish.
SLOVENIA This one has a touch of the Loreens about it too. Distinctive yodelly chorus and there's a nice synth patch in there that sounds like a sort of electric-sitar-cum-banjo. Failed to qualify.
BULGARIA Not in the least bit 'Bulgarian' sounding, sadly. Personally I hate it, but it is EXACTLY the sort of thing likely to win.
DENMARK It's a boy band, doing boy band stuff... "Take my hand and never let go, let's be soldiers of love for life..." Twaddle. Failed to qualify.
UKRAINE This is quite avant-garde in a Kate Bush meets Diamanda Galas sort of way. It's called "1944" and it is in no way a song about invading Russians, no sirree. I quite like it. It's probably too weird for these purposes, but there's no accounting for eurovotes.
NORWAY At this point in the proceedings, all these female-led power anthems are starting to blur into one another. This one at least has a peculiar change of time-signature whenever it hits the chorus. "I'll be your icebreaker" indeed. Failed to qualify.
GEORGIA I've quite enjoyed some previous Georgian entries, but this isn't one of them. It's a grungy indy-rock shoegazing sort of affair. I know people like this sort of thing normally, but is it 'Eurovision'? They also feature that mirrored camera trick that you'd thought had gone out of fashion after "The Song Remains The Same".
ALBANIA Melisma overkill, aaaarrrggghh! There might be an actual tune in there somewhere, but I doubt it. Not if the words are anything to go by. Failed to qualify.
BELGIUM Dare they so blatantly revive the Chic "Good Times" riff after all this time? Apparently they dare'st. Otherwise, this is just yer standard chirpy manufactured X-Talent shite.
Heat Two was even more 'CAR-CRASH TV' than the first then. Who'da thunk it possible? There probably wasn't anything this year that I would voluntarily seek out to hear again. Maybe the weirder UKRAINE or CROATIA songs, but only if they did versions in their own languages.

There must have been some VERY strange voting going on, even by Eurovision standards. Curiously, not one of the Scandinavian countries has qualified this year (except for SWEDEN themselves, of course, and they don't HAVE to compete for a place). That'll make the 'LET'S JUST VOTE FOR OUR NEIGHBOURS' part of the show a little more interesting. I haven't heard enough of the "BIG FIVE" nations' entries to form an opinion yet - UK, GERMANY, FRANCE, SPAIN and ITALY automatically qualify, on account of their coughing up the most money to put this stupidity on air. I'll get to hear those on Sunday afternoon, when I do the "remote-flicking-whizz-through-the-recording" thing. No, I don't stay up and sit through the whole spectacle in real time! What DO you take me for?

The meejer had singled out these as possible winners (or at least as novelty talking points):- BELARUS' 'naked man with wolves' act (which didn't qualify); ISRAEL's tragically camp fashion-victim bloke, whose song was a right old dirge (yet inexplicably considered a 'favourite'); AUSTRIA's not-bad-and-at-least-it's-not-in-broken-pidgin song (it's in French instead, which might work against it in the 'political' voting). Some have even suggested that the whole Eurovision thing might end up in AUSTRALIA next year! We shall see.
SWEDEN I don't know if this even qualifies as a "song", as the weedy fellow (looking a bit like a young Rick Astley) pretty much talks his way through the whole thing. There is very little 'tune' to sprechgesang of.
ITALY It's mostly in Italian, which of course is the nicest language to listen to anything in. Sadly, it's a veritable NON-SONG and is instantly forgettable.
GERMANY They went absolutely bonkers with the staging and the costumery, but the song goes nowhere fast. Besides, I think I've already heard this one, haven't I...?
FRANCE This one has verses in français and a chorus in mock-english, which is a bit of a compromise for the French! But it is nonsense in both languages.
SPAIN Yet another, another, shrieky female power anthem... Same vocal gymnastics, same drumbox programming from a mid-nineties Faithless twelve-incher, same ol', same ol'...
UNITED KINGDOM Sorry, but it can't just be me, can it? This really isn't very good, is it?
Right, well, I've heard all the songs now, and I've already forgotten them. There follows a 'spectacular' interval show, featuring international megastar JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE doing his thing. It looks and sounds just like a Eurovision entry. No better, no worse, just worryingly similar in all its production value. So THIS then is probably what they aspire to...? I only know Justin Timberlake is "FAMOUS" for two reasons:- (a) he helped fuck up MySpace once and for all, and (b) I see an awful lot of his unwanted products cluttering up the shelves in charity shops.

I shall SKIP STRAIGHT TO THE VOTING, which is the only interesting part of the whole stupid affair, AS ENNY FULE KNO. This year they've changed the system to make it EVEN MORE interesting, so that first we get the verdicts from the regional JURIES, then we hear a separate count for the public VOTES. I suppose that will make it less likely anyone will get "NUL POINTS" anymore. On the jury vote, AUSTRALIA have already forged ahead, surely not based on how memorable the song was.

There is now seen to be a major disparity between how the 'experts' vote and how the 'popular' vote is cast, a Boaty McBoatface situation if every I saw one. For example, the 'song' from POLAND is quite awful and was rightfully in last place after the national juries had made their decision. The public however gave it more points than AUSTRALIA. The most votes from the public went to RUSSIA (surely they must have been voting for the CGI effects rather than the song?), which pushed them into third place. So, after the final count, the UKRAINE entry "1944" (which you may recall I quite liked, but thought FAR too avant-garde for mass euroconsumption) is actually the winner!

It's an extraordinary way of doing things, but it does seem to indicate that the public vote recognises MUSIC OF DISTINCTION better than does the old 'jury of experts' system. Well I never! I generally approach this thing as being not about 'MUSIC', but rather as an exercise in social-anthropology and/or statistical analysis... but it is refreshing that, for once, the winning song also turned out to be something that I didn't find TOO painful to listen to!

Incidentally, in the UK, the most votes went to POLAND (a telling reflection of voting demographics?) and, unaccountably, LITHUANIA's dreadful song about "wading for the nard". The UNITED KINGDOM's own entry was somewhere down the lower end of the table (as usual), once the population of Europe had spoken.
Jamala's Eurovision-winning entry for Ukraine wasn't a song, it was a woman dressed as Morticia Addams screaming. The wee Aussie lassie was robbed. via Metro.co.uk
Week from Monday 16th May 2016

Early morning, I had to go for a nice friendly chat with my doctor. As far as my 'skin problems' are concerned, the nice weather has probably done its bit at providing me with some much needed Vitamin D. As for my ongoing battles with neurological dysfunction and social anxiety, leading to hypertension and subsequent side effects, probably more to follow...

I'm making a start on the artworks for the "GOD ON A PUSHBIKE PROJECT" (© Shelfy 2013), but it seems like I'm a long way from taking anything to the printers JUST yet. The weather has turned nasty today, probably to remind me that I have some TROLLEY PUSHING to do in the morning, delivering boxes of headed notepaper to our friendly neighbourhood insurance consultants. I'm catching up with a couple more SIDCASTS while I wait for a gap in the clouds.

And yet... the weather was really sunny again on Thursday, making my TROLLEY-PUSHING ACTIVITY as easy as... well, pushing a trolley, really. I even went to the seaside afterwards (took a stroll to, and around, LEE-ON-THE-SOLENT, on the way home).

I'm putting together a USB stick "TOOL KIT" for tomorrow, as one of the HAIR PEOPLE has a newish WINDOZE 10 (yikes!) laptop that is infected with ADWARE POP-UPS and lord knows what else. That means AdwCLEANER, Malwarebytes' JUNKWARE REMOVAL TOOL (both of which will run 'live' from the stick), plus MALWAREBYTES ANTI-MALWARE itself to install, and a couple of other things on standby, on the slim chance that all that doesn't work!

Week from Monday 23rd May 2016

I successfully cleaned the HAIRY LAPTOP of all infections, to the satisfaction of all. Of course, it's WINDOZE X, so who knows how long that will last? Back to the "GOD ON A PUSHBIKE PROJECT" and this morning I'm cross-referencing lists of addresses...

Twitterchum "MISTER QUARTET" released a whole bundle of stuff via his Bandcamp site, including some electronically-manipulated STRING QUARTET pieces and some GUITAR SOUNDSCAPES (unmistakably 'F****ertronic' in their influence - Don't mention the 'F-WORD'!). I found some of the latter to be delightful for improvising piano over. Of course, once I'd been noodling for a few hours and mucked about with the resulting MIDI data, one or two of my own improvs evolved into some decidedly NON-PIANO things of an 'ETHNOLOGICAL FORGERY' nature... I suppose that's ME all over. Some of it works, some of it doesn't, most of it could do with further editing. I've sent him a discful.

I'm trying to put all the "GOD ON A PUSHBIKE" stuff to bed, so that I can relax for the FULL duration of the BANG COLLAR DAZE weekend. With any luck, it will all go to the printers' on Tuesday... "Best laid plans of Meisenmann" and all that. I went for my morning walk in the 'countryside' (down Ranvilles Lane and back up Peak Lane) and now I'm catching up with some of my friends' various PODCASTS.

Week from Monday 30th May 2016

Another 'WEEKEND-WITH-AN-EXTRA-DAY-IN-IT', which I believe is now the official, non-secular title for such things... Naturally, as weather permitted, I took in a CAR BOOT SALE. There was quite a big turnout this Sunday, a GOODLY FIELDFUL, so lots to look at (at least) and much walking about. I came away with another 10,000 MANIACS album (I've recently been rediscovering these '80s favourites) and CD 'upgrades' for a couple of HAWKWIND albums. And a pair of sore feet. This has been an ornithologically interesting weekend. During this week[end]'s WALKIES, I've espied a thrush, a jay walking, a wren a-warbling, a skylark larking about, not to mention the now ubiquitous buzzards and kestrels and a blackbird singing in pretty much every tree, occasionally with robin accompaniment.

Printin' labels, spody-ody, printin' labels... Shreddin' sheets of paper with other people's addresses on, spoody-aye-doo...

IN THE POST THIS MORNING... I've now purchased the third and final album by ISOTOPE, "Deep End", via the CHERRY RED concern. I was already quite familiar with the first two albums, and I've gleaned nice new, SID-ANNOTATED CDs of them in recent months. But the third one had eluded me for all these years, until I heard some tracks on a recent SIDCAST. Learning that it was produced by BRAND X bigwig ROBIN LUMLEY was a major selling point! Despite the ever-shifting line-up, it's just as strong as the earlier albums, a fine work indeed.

Meanwhile, on MISTER QUARTET's podcast, I learnt of the CD availability of the albums by '80s electropop funkateers FASHIØN. Unfortunately, it turns out that "TWILIGHT OF IDOLS" is currently out of stock, but "FABRIQUE" (inexplicably re-branded "THE HEIGHT OF FASHIØN") is present and correct in this morning's jiffybag. It's a bit of a cheap'n'cheerful repackaging job - No sleeve notes to speak of and some of the band portraits are of the wrong line-up entirely! - but the music still sounds ruddy terrific. I'm also going to hold on to my treasured 'SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-PLAY CASSETTE' versions, for all those alternative 12" dub mixes and wotnot... Oh dear! I can feel another '80s CRAZE coming on!

I awoke to find myself pleasantly surprised that I'd been re-tweeted by ROGER STEEN, the former guitarist with San Francisco's finest THE TUBES. I'd tweeted that yesterday (31st May) marked the anniversary of seeing the band at the Brighton Centre in 1979. In fact, that was the second of three times we saw The Tubes in under a twelvemonth (Knebworth, Brighton, then Portsmouth, where they had previously been banned by the city fathers). I would go out on a limb and state outright that The Tubes put on THE BEST LIVE SHOWS I've ever witnessed, even to this day.

HOORAY! I'M ON THE RADIO! "Cloudland Blue Eclectic Selection 2016 Vol 22", to give it its full title, includes one of my reimaginings of CLOUDLAND BLUE QUARTET's music... 'THE ONE WITH THE MELLOTRON' based on his 'Schneewitchen' guitarscape "HOT IRON SHOES". My own working title for the tune is currently just "Cloudland Pedestrian #7", but we shall see how that pans out. The disc I sent him contains several tracks in unedited form, but I'm now cutting some of them down to a more palatable length (as well as coming up with even more stuff!) and trying to arrange them in a running order that FLOWS as an 'album'. As Yet Untitled.