Thursday, 30 April 2020

That Other Song


As I get older I seem to enjoy sleeping more , and I want to be in bed now. I thought as you aged you needed less sleep, maybe that's for people who aren't working any more. I'm always impressed by people who play advanced games (I have a few on my Wii and Quake II is about my limit for FPS) and binge watch TV series (although tonight I did two episodes of "Vikings"), I don't see me staying up all night to complete series three and then zap through the rest. I have managed, at a leisurely pace four series of "Black Sails" , three of "Lucifer" all of "Parks and Recreation" and "30 Rock" and working through "Devs" as well, but Morpheus beckons.

I've been searching for the Lockdown episode of "Parks and Recreation" which is being broadcast tonight but I'm not sure where to get it (It's on NBC which in the UK I don't have access to and I can supposedly get it through HULU and Amazon Prime , but that's a task for tomorrow.

I got another subscriber on my Youtube channel (88 now) but I think why subscribe to me, I'm hardly prolific ofn there.

So because I want to share another song tomorrow, the song that was ousted by "Ooh La La" by Run The Jewels was "House Music All Night Long" a suitable anthem for these days. I know this is an extremely short post but it is time for bed , but enjoy this. The song is "House Music All Night Long" by JARV IS (Jarvis Cocker) and it is remarkably uncatchily catchy . Made me think of a school friends (Jon Ashurst - "Trash") opinion on Steely Dan "The word's greatest most boring band".

April Shower


Yesterday got a phone call from my practice (Thornfield Medical Group) telling one of the drugs I am taking should stop if I get Coronavirus. Shows the excellent service I get from them and why I have been with them for twenty years. I am going to keep on taking it but know if I get hit with the Coronavirus to stop the tablet (Forxiga) .

I didn't think I would hit my monthly walking target and normally I have a few free days at the end of the month , but I need to walk 6K steps today to hit the target , so that's a target hit although May may be a different kettle of fish as it is getting a bit samey and that is something that I don't particularly like when I go on a walk.

The last few days have been decidedly dreich so April is ending with showers.

I'm into the Christopher Brookmyre book "Not The End Of The World" (an appropriate title for our current situation) put was put off because after the large print of "A Shadow on the Wall" by Jonathan Aycliffe this is small and densely printed and I don't like the font so it looked challenging , but there was an interesting prologue and there is a lot happening in it. For some reason his style reminds me of John Niven , well in the same universe as hom.

I've just finished series three of "Lucifer" on Amazon Prime , although the final two episodes (which were after the series finale) were entertaining but a little disjointed, so now it's either Netflix but I have rejoined "Vikings" and have four series of that to work though.

There are two records that have could my ear while working at home, I share the second tomorrow but today the almost wrong doom laden  piano motif driven rap of "Ooh La La" by Run The Jewels, an absolutely excellent record.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

When Did This Happen?


A couple of my last posts have alerted me to music because it was used in a TV series particularly "Come On Up To The House" by Tom Waits in "Orange is the New Black" and "Congregation" by Low in "Devs" . These are two recent examples but there are so many more and it seems to be that TV programs are one of the main ways of spreading music to the general public.

These days music means nothing to many people and even if they do listen it's a Spotify playlist where they skip to the next song after twenty seconds because they don't really listen. Mobile phone companies promote the speed of their network telling us you can download an album in seconds ... but it still takes forty minutes or so to listen to it.

There seems to be less music in adverts , or maybe it's me not watching live TV and therefore skipping advert sso missing the music, and when you get back to the sixties you heard music on the radio , Top of The Pops  or from friends or discos. I think there was a Cadbury's Fruit and Nut advert in the late sixties early seventies that used "Return of Django" by The Upsetters with Terry Gilliam inspired animation but I can't find the advert.

So that's where we're at and I thought I'd share before bed, and we will listen to "The Return of Django"

A Library ...


I've just finished "A Shadow On The Wall" by Jonathan Aycliffe which I wrote about in my last post here and like many of his books, you are just coming down from the relief of everything being resolved ... and then in the last line of the book you realise it might not be.

So I went looking for another book to read and decided on a Daniel Easterman and then noticed "Not The End of The World" by Christopher Brookmyre , which looks interesting and one that I had got from Barter Books in the old Railway Station in Alnwick. The book looks good and I can't remember reading it, again this is possibly my magpie mentality kicking in , buy or acquire and then forget about it.

A sad incident was when my mum gave two sets of impressive Encyclopedias which our family had had for years , to my younger (disowned by me) brother , saying she didn't want any books in the house because she didn't like them. My girls would have loved and used those books, but  sometimes things don't happen as you would want them to. I used them for schoolwork and research although now we generally have the internet which is brilliant if used properly.

I was then thinking , that because of my imperfect memory, I probably don't have to buy another book ever, there are some which I had forgotten about and many that I  remember which I want to revisit, I'm thinking "The Adversary" series by F Paul Wilson , six books starting with "The Keep" and finishing with "Nightworld" , plus various William Hope Hodgson , and these are all books I have.

Although there are bookcases round the house , effectively this is a small personal library, and the do look good but book are there to be read or referred to , but I often see people's books and big libraries and think "Have these books been read, or are they just there for show?" , and I know not all of mine have been read and I have slightly shifted my perspective to discover what I already know that I have.

I think everywhere should have physical books although I now put the bigger tomes on my Kindle as it's easier to read them that way , essentially five hundred pages or less , physical book , over that Kindle. There is a complete HP Lovecraft collection on Kindle for 75p here although for some reason individual books are more expensive.

Going off on a tangent I'm going to share a live take of the beautiful "Book of Love" by Stephen Merritt , but here's the Magnetic Fields take and a Peter Gabriel take from "Scratch My Back" which is stunning.


Saturday, 25 April 2020

A Shadow on the Wall .....


I reread books I like, mainly because my memory is fairly rubbish,but many years ago I picked up a book, I think from a library clearance, a large print version of "A Shadow on the Wall" by Jonathan Aycliffe (one of the pen names of Denis MacEoin, and other is Daniel Easterman) , and he is probably my favourite authors in the Goth / Supernatural genre. The think is I am reading this and it has become obvious I have never read the book, even though it's been in my possession for probably ten years.

I've just looked on Amazon and there a few more of his books that I was unaware of, so my reading is probably sorted for the rest of the year.

I still think "The Matrix" is the most frightening book of this genre I have ever read , and along with "The Vanishment" and "Naomi's Room" are brilliant reads, "The Lost" is a slightly comic take on the genre but still well worth a read.

As Daniel Easterman the novels are more political / religion based but still absorbing and worth your time.

Back to "A Shadow on the Wall" , I am past page 200 (there are 264 pages) and I still haven't a clue what is going to to happen, and the main protagonist doesn't know what he is going to do either as people disappear , fall ill, and die as he tries to keep his new family safe. It is up there with is best.

A small aside is that Denis MacEoin apparently visits the Oxfam shop in Jesmond where I briefly helped after I left EE while I was at Geek Talent and before my present employment.

This week I have been listening to my fave Goth band Dead Eyes Opened and delighted they are back from the grave with a new song "To The Devil" which is available as a free download from their Bandcamp area and the video is above. Hope to get to see them again soon.


Friday, 24 April 2020

New Old Things


I was going to write that I was slightly sad or disappointed in something that happened, but then thought , no it's just the opposite , you have found another great thing that you were unaware of. I was watching "Orange Is The New Black" "40 Oz. of Furlough" (I think) , the episode where Piper goes to her grandma's funeral and her brother hijacks  the occasion for his wedding , and song was playing which I thought sounded beautiful but also the voice was Tom Waits.

There's a great line in the song (probably a lot more than this)

"Come Down Off The Cross, We Can Use The Wood"

While I have the album "Mule Variations" the song had not stuck with me, but it is a really wonderful song with some great lyrics.

And the point is , though "Orange Is The New Black" is not exactly essential viewing for me, it throws up some brilliant moments and is absorbing and every so often there;s an absolute gem like this.

The same is true for anything that is slightly out of your normal, try it , you may not like it but you may discover (or rediscover) something totally brilliant like this. Listen to the Tom Waits song and watch the "Orange is The New Black" scene, you may discover something new too.


Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Conference Pears


I've generally avoided Conference Pears because their skin looked ropey and the pears generally seem hard, and I'm not a fan of teeth breaking hard fruit but I got a mixed fruit and veg box as part of a delivery from the Grainger Market Delivery Service and the huge box contained, among other things Conference Pears.. So I tried them , and , surprising they are excellent and have made a new convert.

Juicy , sweet and firm , and so good that I got more today from a local shop. Very true you can't judge a book (or a record) by it's cover although a good cover can be tempting and in the case fruit looks can be deceiving , although once you have tasted it , you are happy to go back.

I just though I'd mention this, because the Grainger Market Delivery service is supporting local businesses and providing excellent produce, it's worth visiting if you are in the Newcastle area.

So it's late on a school night, what should we go with , I was thinking something relevant and the the song from Alex Garland's "Devs" came to mind which I thought was "Conference" but is actually "Congregation" by Low. Another case of me getting things completely wrong, but the series is good and so is the song and so is the stuff from Grainger Market , so all i sgood in the end.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Killing Time


I play "Words With Friends" since EA Games destroyed Scrabble on Facebook. The main killer for these is the adverts but it does sometime come in handy when you are not reading or working or waiting for a process to finish, but a game came up and was described as a "time killer". I can't remember what the game was , but there were a load of numbers on the screen.

It seems that one game is promoting other games to take up your time. I know people who are addicted to certain games and can understand how that happens. They draw you in and then start asking for money to get you a bit further on. I suppose it's an exercise in market creation but I'll play when I can for free.

I really don't want to kill time but I do enjo games that exercise your mind.

I never wish it was Friday.

Every day I find something to be positive about, something to aim for , something to make you feel good.

Today I have done my lowest daily step total this month, but due an active couple of days I am still ahead of the pace.

I've not written a blog post since Friday and I suppose part of that is essentially being tied to the house, although we still can talk to others via many communication channels , although today I feel I have been extremely quiet.

Working at home today I listened to "Concerts" by Henry Cow and "Casablanca Moon / Desperate Straights" by Slapp Happy both are excellent and saw me through the day , with the Henry Cow being a little more challenging. The Slapp Happy album is more song based (how pretentious does that sound) although very Brechtian in it's delivery and execution.

So obviously it's got to be something from the Slapp Happy album that I will share with you,  I found a live take of  "The Drum" which is fragilely beautifully wonderful. The album is well worth investigating.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Music While You Work ... at the touch of a button


One of the things about working from home is that I was listening to 6Music a lot , and my inherent laziness means that unless a CD is with reaching distance I don't play it , but I have an app on my Kindle Fire called BubbleUPnP that wirelessly links to my digital collection (which Alexa can't / won't do , in fact it won't even play the music I have bought from Amazon , every time I ask it says I have to use Spotify which I won't on principle) so I've linked my Kindle Fire up to some Altec-Lansing speakers and now can play music at several touches of buttons and screens (I love how so many things are sold "at the touch of a button"). Here's an example on my Instagram channel.

I've discovered that my digital collection is missing several of my Captain Beefheart album so I need to excavate them from the box that they are in to add them , specifically "Clear Spot" and "The Spotlight Kid". "Trout Mask Replica" and "Unconditionally Guaranteed" are on there but there are a lot that need ripping from the CDs I have.

I am torn between sharing "Grow Fins" from "The Spotlight Kid" (with it's four / five note riff and incendiary harp sound) and "Orange Claw Hammer" from "Trout Mask Replica" (which was an unaccompanied sea shanty style , but I have one with musical backing, which I will share at some point but I found one with Frank Zappa on guitar) so I can't decide so will go with both , this Friday morning.




Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Turn The Page


I am tired and wasn't going to write anything , but think I should write something, so may as well do it now and then maybe have  along walk tomorrow morning before work.

I finished "Behold The Man" by Michael Moorcock and it is short , but , in my opinion well done, stopping at a good point to make you wonder and think about the Bible and the nature of history and truth.

I'm am doing another revisit "A Shadow On The Wall" by Jonathan Aycliffe , a local writer who apparently frequently visits the Oxfam shop where I spent some time when I left EE and joined up briefly with Geek Talent before my present post.

Thanks to the lockdown I seem to be watching more TV but not getting as much walking done as  I would like, though I have discovered another excellent Post Office to despatch my Discogs sales. I seriously don't think I will hit 340K this month, though I am slightly ahead of my target at the moment , but the problem with walking is that it takes time, maybe I should attempt to run, but feel I am too fat and unfit to take up running, but walking is surely a decent second.

So really a piece of music to see me to bed, and what should that be, for some reason te song "Valerie" by The Zutons  came to mind , a great song ruined by Mark Ronson's Stars on 45 arrangement of it for Amy Winehouse, so you can hear the original and the best. I can't listen to the AMy Winehouse version , she was far better with her own stuff , and sadly lost talent.


Sunday, 12 April 2020

Ishtar X


It's a lockdown Easter Weekend. Easter Sunday is one of the two days a year that everything is shut, so most retail staff actually get a rest.  Easter has been linked with Ishtar and Eostre (see this article) and a lot of Christian festivals have been appropriated from non Christian festivals but it's something that doesn't trouble me too much I'm hardly the most religious person in the world and when Christians and Pagan start arguing about things like this they come out as bad as each other.

Coincidentally this weekend I started rereading "Behold The Man" by Michael Moorcock , which is basically about a conflicted time traveller who goes back in time (28 AD) and , well , you can guess what happens. This book is an award winning novel and clocks in at 124 pages (definitely not unusual for Moorcock) and is possibly one of the reasons I though that "The Stand"  by Stephen King could have been told in 300 pages rather than the thousand in the version that I read (I believe there was an extended version as well). Stephen King is an author I never got into, although I like him as a person and love most of the TV and film adaptations of his work (I feel the same about Terry Pratchett)

So I am enjoying "Behold The Man" but will finish it fairly rapidly, and then need to choose a next book to read, so am open to any suggestions but have a huge pile of "worth revisiting" books.

The post title is an obvious wordplay on "Easter Eggs" rather than anything meaningful, so we will go with "Easter" by Marillion which was a great post Fish song, a band that sort of mirrored Genesis, but are still producing some excellent music and never fell into the mainstream pop like Genesis , with the odd exception did.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Keep Me In Your Heart


I've been wanting to post this for a while , essentially to share the wonderful Warren Zevon song "Keep Me In Your Heart For A While" which he recorded shortly after he was diagnosed with inoperable pleural mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lung), and it was released just two weeks before his death on September 7, 2003. It is a truly beautiful song and has been covered by many people including Jorge Calderon on the "Enjoy Every Sandwich" tribute album, and a recent cover by Alfie Boe, a classical based singer but impressive taking the lead in the orchestral "Quadrophenia" and fitting right into the alt-folk / country for his take which I discovered below.

I have a lot of close friend who have lost parents , partners and children and if they read this I hope this will warm their hearts. All three takes are beautiful. I lost my mum thirty years ago and due to my (unscientific and non religious beliefs) I have dealt with that, but loss affects everyone in their own way.

I really don't know what else to say on this, it is a great song , by a great artist and no doubt we will see more covers in time , but here is the youtube search if you want to discover more versions of this wonderful song.





Thursday, 9 April 2020

Je M'Ennuie


No, I'm not bored ( je m'ennuie is French for I'm Bored in case you were wondering what I am on about)  but I think others might be in this COVID-19 Lockdown. On my Discogs store I sell a CD maybe once every two weeks but this week it's more than one a day. I think people are getting bored and browsing Discogs and buying CDs , a sort of online retail therapy. It's good that people actually buy music as opposed to getting a Spotify subscription, alth I suppose buying from me doesn't really benefit the artist, but it is helping people get through the Lockdown.

In my last post I said how good "Crocodiles" by Melt Yourself Down was , and they had a great conversation with me on twitter although  Melt Yourself Down is a great name for a song and reminds me of "Melt The Guns" by XTC , but Crocodiles is a great name for a band. Anyway I am gonna be pursuing their music much wither but the sax riff on "Crocodiles" is something else, it could almost be classic Van Der Graaf Generator (unusually for a rock band they had no bass and no guitar in their early incarnations but still managed some of the most impressive music you will hear).

So I'm going to share "I'm Bored" by The Bonzo Dog Band , because I am sure that is hitting a lot of people at the moment, but a litle good music can definitely dispel the ennui and we drift into lockdown Easter, and on Amazon I've just seen a Cheese Easter Egg!!


Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Good


The weather is nice and I think things are improving with the lack of vehicles and planes travelling. Wildlife is more prevalent and things look good. I would like a lot of things to stay like this.

I don't particularly like working from home as the days are much longer and I end up eating while working , something I generally don't do in the office, but I listen to a lot more music and that is another good thing.

There are some people who are only happy when they are miserable and have something to complain about, but you can always find something wrong , look for the things that are right. I was tempted to use the Smiths "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" which I once had as my ringtone for a good friend Lee when I was at EE , a great character and great at pretending he was grumpy. He definitely wasn't.

I haven't ridden a bus for two weeks although surprising I have kept almost on target with my step count. With this weather that is very easy to do while working my way through "Monkey Island" by the J Geils Band , which is a very listenable album.

One song that has caught my ear on 6Music is "Crocodile" by Melt Yourself Down with it's insistent driving saxophone motif, and I kept hearing and didn't even know who the band were, well now I do, and so do you.

As I post this I noticed my boxed set "The Smith Complete" is priced at £1200 on Amazon , who the hell would pay that much for a CD box?

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Coincidentally Coronavirus


I had no plans to post again today but still reading and enjoying  "What If" by Randall Munroe  and the latest question was "Could we eliminate the common cold if we stayed apart" . The common cold is a rhinovirus , that is it attacks the nose and throat and goes on to analyse that the basic concept probably would work but there are many other things that need to be taken into account and I was struck by the obvious correlation with the current COVID-19 that we are in at the moment.

Although they are different they are both virus based and a lot of the ways of combating them are based on stopping them from spreading, as all sensible people realise that prevention is far better than cure, unfortunately it is difficult to deal with the "stupid" segment who just ignore guidelines of what action to take.

I have been put in the "stupid" section because I go out for a walk or two each day. If I lived in flats or narrow streets and there were a lot of people around I would probably stay in , and maybe walk round the garden or garage. I live in Fenham  and the streets and footpaths are very wide (though it doesn't stop some couples from managing to take up the whole width of the footpath, almost playing Coronavirus Chicken, which forces me in to the road as traffic is a lot sparser but doesn't happen often)

So because I never planned to write this it's fairly short so my choice of music, so I reckon "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats is fine as it could be a description of the footpath scenario I described above.

Something Negative


It's into Sunday morning and one of the things this Social Distancing / Isolation is doing is (at weekends) allowing me to stay up very late knowing that I don't have to get up tomorrow morning. While I see people out , I don't see any gatherings and I am wondering if the cramped aisles of local shops (and supermarkets) may have to change. Certain people certainly know how to block your way.

I am now reading "What If" by Randall Munroe and it is quite interesting trying to seriously and scientifically answer some completely absurd questions. Randall Munroe is responsible for XKCD "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language". What does XKCD stand for (I think it looks like a Roman Numeral but the K knocks it out ("K" in European metrics is a thousand but "M" is a Roman thousand) but this is what it says on the site:

What does XKCD stand for? 

It's not actually an acronym. It's just a word with no phonetic pronunciation -- a treasured and carefully-guarded point in the space of four-character strings.

So follow the link to find out more and read the book to enjoy some absurdities , there is a section about lightning and tonight watching the final "Righteous Gemstones" episode Baby Billy got struck by lightning and forgave his brother in law and meeting his dead sister, so there's a coincidence.

So I only said something negative because the last post was something positive, so maybe we should get something dark and gothic to play out with, maybe "Bring on the Dancing Girls" (available as a free download from Bandcamp by clicking on the title) by Dead Eyes Opened who impressed my as a support band at the Cluny a few years back.


Saturday, 4 April 2020

Something Positive


Obviously everything I post will be influenced at least in some part by the COVID-19 scenario. There are some positives to be taken from this, although it is still a frightening situation.

I can almost walk across the road at will , traffic is a lot sparser. There are still people out and on my walks I have said hello to a lot more new people than I normally would , a lady this morning explained (at a distance) about the impressive stick she had in her hands.

Animals, in theory , may be a problem because unless they are on a leash they will always investigate new people, I've had both cats and dogs approach me over the last few days.

There has been good weather and bad weather this week, but not so bad that I can't get out, although I am wanting to go a little further afield although I have plenty of green areas to walk through so hopefully I won't get too bored.

I am one of the lucky ones, I can work from home , but although it's fine when you are working singly,  I find screen sharing a little trying.

This really one of those posts where I have nothing to say, although it is my first post in April and last April I did 50 posts, so that's a definite no go this year.

Today I actually listened to some CDs (Dead Eyes Opened, The Yachts and Ethiopiques - Ethiopian jazz , which is very disconcerting) because my speakers take a feed from the TV screen that is my new monitor and when  I use it for my work monitor it's not really an option to play music on it. So we can go with "Tezeta (Nostalgia)" by Mulatu Astatke which I think I may have shared before after discussing with Nadine Shah , The music just seems a little off/strange making it very compelling listening, I could listen to this all night , although we are just past midnight here.