Week from Monday 1st August 2016

HECTOR BERLIOZ is not really a composer that I've previously given much time of day, but I was smitten with his symphonic working of "ROMEO AND JULIET" at the PROMS. It's a huge fat choral symphony, with pioneering use of orchestral colours, that predates some of UNCLE GUSTAV's similar explorations by a good sixty years or so! As so much of his symphonic work was PROGRAMME MUSIC, I've figured that Hector Berlioz pretty much invented the CONCEPT ALBUM!

Wednesday... During today's 'lunchtime' WALKIES, I was watching SPITFIRES and MESSERSCHMITTS going about their business. What it's all in aid of, I have no idea... I wondered if they might be filming them for a movie, as they were generally being shadowed by another light aircraft (So it's not all ruddy CGI these days then?). I was also treated to a private flying display by a pair of KESTRELS (the birds, not the prototype V/STOL aeroplanes from the fifties) going about THEIR business over by the solar farm.

DREAM DIARY... Attending some sort of social function... I arrived at the person's flat on a motorcycle. I immediately announced I had to go home again because my t-shirt was stained and burned... Everyone at the 'do' seemed to know me, but I didn't recognise any of them... The party then transferred 'into town' (I don't know which one, but we were given directions "from Winchester"), so there was some further travelling on a hired double-decker bus... Through the trees I could see we were being followed by a man in some sort of 'steampunk' flying apparatus... Arriving in the town, I seemed to spend a lot of time waiting outside a theatre for something to happen...

This morning's WALKIES takes me to the pharmacy to collect a prescription and to stock up on toiletries. This morning's task, however, is to finish to my satisfaction the 'eyecandy' customisation of my laptop's LINUX MINT 18. I've once again ditched that big ugly MATEmenu in favour of a simpler, linear pop-up (or down?) menu of my choosing. I've settled on a nice unobtrusive wallpaper from the bundled collection. Just an abstract texture - I find that pictorial wallpapers can be a bit 'in your face' and I get bored with them a lot quicker. I've been further tweaking the Terminal's .bashrc and the Conky's .conkyrc files to make them 'my own'.

Meanwhile, I downloaded the latest XFCE flavour of Mint, as a lot of folks praise it for its customisability and the fact that it is a LOT less demanding on the peecee's resources, making it suitable for installing on an older (otherwise Windows-redundant) machine. I've got it running in a Virtual Box on my Windoze Peecee, and I like what I've seen so far. Well worth considering for a future PROJECT. But for now the laptop is staying MATE ("Settling in with my Mate Sarah...")

After yesterday's AVIATIONAL EXCITANCES, I find now myself sticking my head out of the window EVERY TIME an aeroplane goes over, just in case it's anything interesting! And as I live only a few hundred yards across the fields from the aerodrome, that takes a lot of time out of the day! Two of the SPITFIRES are still flying circuits this morning. No sign yet of their deadly enemies the MESSERSCHMITTS, although I did see the twin-engined light aircraft that had been 'shadowing' them yesterday.

I was pleased to see that the ONLY event at the OLYMPIC GAMES that holds ANY interest for sportophobic me, the MEN'S CYCLING ROAD RACE, is taking place this Saturday. So I can get that out of the way early and then switch off from BBC-TV in its entirety for the next few weeks ('cos there's bugger-all else on!). Cycling News has published a TOUR DE FRANCE-style profile and map of the race (nearly said "stage" there!) on its website - Looks like it could be a fun afternoon! But every other sport might just as well not exist for me, as it has always been and ever more shall be so. Of those I have no opinion. I shall be keeping one eye on the results of other CYCLING events at the Olympics, to see how my 'favourites' are doing (none of them are British, by the way), but I don't see any appeal whatsoever in live TV pictures of riders repeatedly going round and round a velodrome against the clock. That's where the TWITTER data feeds come into their own! See you on the RED BUTTON channel!
THOUGHTS ON THE OLYMPICS ROAD RACE AS IT HAPPENS... never having had the opportunity to watch one of these things before!
Aren't the 'national' kits refreshingly colourful? Especially when they're not festooned with sponsors' logos! Takes a bit of getting used to, learning to recognise WHO'S WHO? But it's less 'uniform' than a professional race. The riders seem to wear whatever helmets and accessories they like, as long as the jerseys match!
Oh, but isn't the scenery fabulous? I see those Brazilian roads are still as variable in quality as I remember them!
Isn't cycle racing different when they don't have radios? Smaller teams make a difference too. They get away with a lot more naughty car-hanging and sticky-bottle work than they would do in a Tour. The support mechanism is not nearly as professional as some might be used to. They have to wait a long time for the team cars, which are all the same colour, white but for the little national flag stickers on the back.
Those cobbled sections separate the men from the boys and the (clearly too small for purpose) Rio2016 official brand drinks bottles from their holders!
You have to admire the fact that they kept a six-man breakaway group intact for so long, but they were doomed once they got to the final circuit o'climbs. Nice to see Jarlenson Pantano giving it a go again!
With all the doping controversy during the run-up to the Olympics, it was slightly suspicious that a Russian rider was out front for so much of the race.
The stunning view of the city from atop Vista Chineza and the Jardim Botanico brought it all flooding back!
I can't help noticing that the TV commentary is a lot more low key than we're used to, with long gaps where nothing at all is being said (which is refreshing!). And where are all the on-screen graphics and stats?
The attrition rate is a wee bit higher than a Grand Tour stage (whittled down to fifty-odd riders, with a hundred kilometres or more still to go, and less than forty left, once the big climbs came).
It's a L--O--N--G day's racing, at least one-and-a-half times the distance and with more varying degrees of difficulty than yer average Tour stage. In fact, it is almost like someone has said "How can we take ALL of the different kinds of Tour stage and cram 'em into a one-day race?" Kudos to whoever designed the course!
Quite honestly, I care very little about the result in the end. Enough that it was a solid six hours or more of non-stop entertainment! (Greg van Avermaet won it.)
Week from Monday 7th August 2016

Of course I did... the following day, I found myself watching a huge chunk of the much-reduced Ladies' race as well (just for the 'scenery'!) albeit with the commentary turned off and a soundtrack of my own choosing (something drummy!) Watching all these nice pictures of Brazil on the telly has made me even more unashamedly nostalgic than usual, and I've been digging out the cassettes of MÚSICA POPULAR BRASILEIRA that I bought on my travels, with the view to compiling some old favourites onto CD-R.

This week MIGHT have provided a good opportunity for a rebel-rousing record-browsing trip to BRIGHTON... except there are NO trains going east from here, due to the railway unions disagreeing about who gets to press the button that allows the doors to open on passenger trains (You couldn't make this stuff up, could you?)

GO SPARTACUS!!! He's not had a great season so far, but this was what he was building up to! FABIAN CANCELLARA ended his riding career on a high, by winning the Individual Time Trial at OS JOGOS OLÍMPICOS. I'd be very surprised if he isn't still involved in the Trek organisation in some sort of management capacity once he retires.

I've started work on another RESPONSIVE WEBSITE, but I doing it at my own pace and away from any third person pressure. It's a BIGGY. There's a heck of a lot of pre-existing CONTENT to find places for. I think you know who I'm talking about. 'Modern' website design (like much else) tends to cater for those with a short attention span, rather than folks who like to READ about the subject in hand, so a lot of the responsive templates I've looked at are just single page affairs. No room for complex navigation. I'm taking a MODULAR approach, treating each section as a self-contained page, and then finding a way of connecting them all together... Might not work in the end, but it's fun trying.

I've installed the MOZILLA LIGHT internet browser on this here peecee... FIREFOX itself is fine and dandy and has everything that I'd ever want from a browser. I am, it has to be said, A LONG-TIME FOXES FAN. Tried the rest... stuck with the best! But with the arrival of version FORTY-EIGHT, I can't help noticing that Firefox has been getting slower and slower each time they add more and more bells and whistles. Which is especially tiresome when you are constantly testing new webpages offline. I need a 'default' browser that doesn't have to sit there and think about it for too long!

Yes, I've tried all the "OTHER INTERNET BROWSERS [which] ARE AVAILABLE". I don't like the fact that GOOGLE CHROME remembers all of your browsing history. You have to flush it out manually (I have to do this daily on My Little Android). There doesn't appear to be a 'PRIVATE' option, allowing it to either not store any pages at all, or automatically clear the cache when you close down. The latest OPERA is nice, but it feels just as bloated as Firefox does now and is less intuitive, because of its 'refreshingly different' way of doing things. I used to like SAFARI a lot, but the Apple concern no longer 'supports' the Windoze version, making it an unsafe option. A lot of folks are singing the praises of VIVALDI, but I didn't like it that much. It feels just like Chrome to me, only with a trendy 'flat' adaptive colour scheme. MIDORI doesn't want to work on my Windoze AT ALL. It crashes every time. M!¢r0$ØfT's appalling INTERNET EXPLODER isn't even worth considering - I'd have to be REALLY desperate to resort to THAT! Even M!¢r0$ØfT themselves have lost interest in it now and introduced something called EDGE. But if it is any improvement on IE (which I somehow doubt), it is only available for that naughty Windoze 10...

And so to MOZILLA LIGHT. To be honest, at first, I couldn't actually see what they've left out. It looks exactly the same as the regular Fox. A cursory glance at 'THAT INTERNET THEY HAVE NOW' for details, reveals that they have indeed removed the DEVELOPER TOOLS section, which I do use on occasion. I shall hold onto the other Firefox just in case I need to use it... along with the SPELLCHECKER (which I always disable), SYNC (which I've never used in my life), the ACCESSIBILITY options (I have all my limbs and eyesight), all of the pre-installed media plugins (most of which get switched off for 'security' reasons) and a bunch of other tech stuff under the bonnet that nobody needs to know about and which were probably the main reason for it slowing down in the first place (WebGL? WebTRC? Webm? Opus? Don't ask me what any of THAT means!). Somehow, magically, Light is MUCH MUCH quicker to open. And that's good enough for me! (Hmm, I wonder if there's a LINUX version?) The only thing I couldn't fathom out is why the developer has chosen a capital 'U' as an icon. As a Mahlerian, I'd like to believe it stands for "URLICHT" (which means "primal light" or, more appropriately, "ORIGINAL LIGHT")?

Week from Monday 15th August 2016

This Sunday, I took in the BIG CAR-BOOT SALE on the school field. There was quite a big turnout, so it involved a goodly couple of hours of walking and standing, squatting and browsing in the hot morning sun. I was knackered by the end of it, but I succeeded in finding some surprisingly avantgarde one-pound musical items hidden among the valueless boxes of Mantovanis, Kaempferts, Biebers, Lasts, Timberlakes, Conways, Whitmans, Reeveses, Stepses, Minogues, O'Connors and O'Donnells.
THIS GUY GETS IT... "By the way, don't you think it's about time they changed the band name to Yessongs? It's not Yes, but it's their songs. Not one original member is in this band. Sure Steve Howe was there for all the important stuff, but he's not an original member. Geoff Downes was in the band before, but he's not an original member. Squire is dead. Anderson is gone. And Alan White is also not an original member. At this show he wasn't even there and his replacement kept making mistakes. This is a covers band and it's time they acknowledged it..." (Heywood@SugarMegs)
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES... I've thought long and hard about going to Southampton to see GRYPHON again tonight, but my heart's not in it. Having seen them several times previously AT THEIR VERY BEST, the last time they played at The Talking Heads I came away slightly disappointed. By their own standards, the gig was simply 'OKAY'. Musically, it was splendid enough, with all the krumhorny kwerks I'd come to expect. It just didn't have any sense of OCCASION for me, what with them STILL having no new material to promote and all. They played pretty much the same set of tunes that they had at their wonderful 'Reunion' show, six years earlier. The idea that they might now be routinely playing the DWINDLING NOSTALGIA CIRCUIT (like certain other bands from that golden age) is not an appealing one. Aside from the fact that GIG ATTENDANCE of any sort no longer has the attraction for me that it once did, I get no thrill from seeing an ALL-TIME FAVOURITE BAND playing in a PUB! (Footnote: I heard that they were "terrific" at CROPREDY over the weekend. Of that I have no doubt, but this was from someone who had never seen them before. I remember my first time too!)

Besides, all I can listen to at the moment is 'MÚSICA POPULAR BRASILEIRA', despite having bought half-a-dozen other "new" albums over the last few days...

LA VUELTA A ESPAÑA kicks off on Saturday... ¡OLÉ! ¡ARRIBA! ¡Underlay underlay! and all that. Once again, however, ITV4 doesn't consider any pro-cycling that isn't the Tour De France to be broadly popular enough to carry LIVE. That privilege appears to be reserved for an all-important DARTS MATCH instead! Consequently, the 'highlights' of the opening day's TEAM TIME TRIAL aren't going to be on telly until late evening (NO SPOILERS PLEASE, twitfolks!)

Of course, the worse thing about this "HIGHLIGHTS ONLY" telly coverage lark is that you don't ever get the whole picture. The TREK-SEGAFREDO chaps came in a respectable 7th place in the Team Time Trial, only fifty seconds down and way ahead of race favourite ALBERTO CONTADOR's Tinkoff team. But you would ONLY know that from reading the results tables, because nobody even bothered to point a camera at them for the whole hour's programme! Didn't see them leave the gate, didn't see them finish...

Week from Monday 22nd August 2016

It's as if they saw me coming... Stuart Maconie is on holiday, so this week's "FREAK ZONE" was hosted by DJ Gilles Peterson. He chose to fill the slot with nearly two hours of left-field 'MÚSICA POPULAR BRASILEIRA'. I listened to whole thing twice. Quirky bliss-out! It strikes me that even some of the cheesiest, most commercial Brazilian music seems to have a rhythmic complexity and a tonal palette that puts most of that MUSIC WHICH CALLS ITSELF 'PROG' to shame! (Note to self: MUST try to find a physical copy of HERMETO PASCOAL's "Slaves Mass" album. Now THAT'S progressive...)

The printers are on holiday this week, so I can concentrate on the project to RESPONSIVIZE Uncle Willy's website. It's gradually coming together, but I'm still weighing up options for the site navigation and, ultimately, the problem of cramming such a sprawling great website into a mobile phone screen!

It's been a hot and sticky week, so I've fitted in a few 'country' walks while I can... as well as a Thursday afternoon bus trip to the LAND OF ZANY ZEBRAS. I mainly went (a) for the thrill of the journey, and (b) to purchase MIROSLAV VITOUS' "Music of Weather Report" album, recently released on ECM and featured on a recent(?) 'SIDCAST'. And (c) to look at zebras. Needless to say, there were other 'impulse buys' along the way. And some zebras. Hard to believe, but I found a MILES DAVIS disc that I didn't have. Plus, this being multicultural Southampton, one can often find discarded items of 'WORLD MUSIC' in the racks of various charity shops... Items which baffle the volunteer staff as to their category and provenance and so end up in the NINETY-NINE-PEE-OR-LESS clear-out bins. Items such as a MARIZA live album that has been mistakenly filed under 'classical' because of the Portuguese word "concerto" on the cover... or a ridiculously tacky looking and hastily thrown together MILTON NASCIMENTO compilation that turns out to have some really good tracks from the 'eighties on it... or a GLOBESTYLE album by 'gypsy sax and clarinet king' FERUS MUSTAFOV and his Macedonian Wedding Band, complete with sleevenotes by KIM BURTON (alias Kemo "Kem Kem" Mustapha), produced by HIJAZ of that ilk, and featuring some mighty "Accordions That Shook The World" action. NINETY-NINE-PEE, I tells ya... And some zebras.

LA VUELTA A ESPAÑA hasn't been particularly thrilling to watch so far, the occasional bollard collision aside. It's still only the first week and the leader boards are still mainly populated by the teams that won the opening day's Time Trial (You remember? The Time Trial that didn't appear to have the TREK-SEGAFREDO team in it?). FABIO FELLINE has nearly always been present at the finish, contesting whatever bunch sprints they manage to squeeze in between the mountain stages, but he does so while being unrecognised by the commentators. The man they're calling "a Trek rider" was second in the GREEN JERSEY competition for a couple of days, but it seems the points classification in this year's Vuelta is determined by who can avoid getting caught up in final kilometre pile-ups.

In the last few days, we've said goodbye to vibes maestro BOBBY HUTCHERSON, who played on my all-time favourite jazz album (Eric Dolphy's "Out To Lunch"), space-whispering Gongmother GILLI SMYTH, him off the telly TREVOR "The Wevver" DAVIES and the man at the controls of just about EVERY great jazz album of the 'fifties and 'sixties, Hackensack NJ's very own RUDY VAN GELDER... Here comes another of those pesky Bank Holidays... Thunder storms expected.

Week from Monday 29th August 2016

'kolladeemundee, I did some walking around 'the farm'... and caught up with some more of the BBC PROMS that I have stockpiled on the digibox, particularly DANIEL BARENBOIM conducting the West-Eastern (or is it East-Western?) Divan Orchestra in some scrummy great chunks of WAGNER. Further to my previous "NOTE TO SELF", I eventually decided that I would purchase HERMETO PASCOAL's "Slaves Mass" in the form of a digital download from a certain well-known Musical Content Provider and make my OWN 'physical' copy of the album... so that's what I'm doing between now and the seven o'clock VUELTA highlights, today being the last big mountain stage before tomorrow's 'rest' day.

MORE CATCHING UP O' THE PROMS, and in no particular chronological order (because that's not very often how I get to hear them!)... The HALLÉ ORCH having a not-too-bad crack at Uncle Gustav's meisterwerk "DAS LIED VON DER ERDE", as well as some BERLIOZ and a nice new piece by COLIN MATTHEWS... The mixed bag that was the QUINCY JONES tribute Prom, with the METROPOLE ORKEST and various 'guests' (RICHARD BONA: you're a brilliant bass player, but please don't sing!)... MARIN ALLSOP conducting the SAO PAULO SYMPHONY for a couple of concerts in one night... which brings us to KAMASI WASHINGTON... Hmm! Don't necessarily believe the hype. I found it pleasant enough to listen to, but I don't think he's the "saviour of jazz" he's being made out to be (or maybe as good as HE thinks he is? A triple CD debut album, anyone?). I loved his skronking way with a tenor saxophone, but his merits as an orchestral arranger are questionable. It's all a bit too "SmoothJazzFM" for my tastes. The strings are extremely saccharine, to say the least, and rather derivative of certain film composers. That's probably why he's so popular with General Population - let's be thankful, at least he's not KENNY G! After listening to this for an hour or so, I figured out what REALLY got on my wick were the "la la la dooby dooby doo" vocal choruses. He might think they have a 'gospel' flavour, but they reminded me of the easy-listening stylings of charity shop filler BERT KAEMPFERT... Still to come, SIR SIMON RATTLE conducting the BERLIN PHIL in some more MAHLER and BOULEZ. That'll be good!

Hold everything, because the BURNING SHED man has been! A new KING CRIMSON multi-disc set, the snappily entitled "RADICAL ACTION TO UNSEAT THE HOLD OF MONKEY MIND" (don't ask me!?!) has just landed on the doormat. Good things come in ugly packages...

I've just witnessed a new episode of ITV's 'satirical' puppet show "NEWZOIDS". It is a remarkable television achievement. A creative team consisting of dozens of writers, puppeteers and voiceover 'talent' failed to come up with a single original joke for an entire show. "SPITTING IMAGE" it most assuredly is not. I sat po'faced (or rather, gaping in befuddlement) through the whole thing. It's clearly the hottest thing to hit topical comedy since "THE NEWS HUDDLINES"...