Sunday, 30 August 2020

Put The Radio On - #AnimalAugust #20

I sometimes find quiet a bit  for want of a word "not good" or worrying , and putting on the radio on (this morning 6Music) improves things no end. Similarly sometimes television can have a similar effect.

Yesterday I watch John Carpenter's "They Live" featuring Roddy Piper in the Kurt Russel role , and has been described as the best "B" Movie ever . The production values are minimal, but so was "Assault on Precinct 13" which contains on of , for me, the most shocking scenes ever. The thing was , watching the film, which was made in 1988 , I saw a lot of what is happening today , and while the film was aimed at the Reagan (and therefore Thatcher) regimes , it is even more relevant today. It's available for free on Youtube here at the moment.

Yesterday was also National Record Store Day but I completely ignored it , essentially because I sort of have enough records and don't need any more. To buy a record it has to be something special and barring coloured vinyl and picture discs there seems to be very little inventiveness in album cover production today. I may be wrong but I wish someone could show me an interesting album cover that is worth exploring while you listen.

The "Star Wars" John Williams and Jack White's  "Lazaretto" hologram editions are exceptions and they are both in my collection, so there is room to be inventive.

I was also thinking of all the record sellers that have disappeared . In Newcastle there was Hitsville UK , Volume and Spin , plus the national chains Our Price , MVC , Virgin (which briefly became Zavvi) and Boots and Woolworths sold records too.

Luckily in Newcastle we still have a lot of independent in Newcastle which you can see here

#AnimalAugust continues with "Boris The Spider" by The Who and I found a great claymation for it by GawainKnight , though possibly not for extreme arachnophobes.

Have a great Sunday

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Not Doing Things - #AnimalAugust #19

I think I've done enough posts fro #AnimalAugust , but while working from home I listened to "Classic Quadrophenia"which features, among others,  Alfie Boe as Jimmy. Then I decided to revisit "My Generation" , the album by The Who and towards the end of that is the excellent instrumental "The Ox" featuring Nicky Hopkins on piano and I thought that would be a perfect addition to the #AnimalAugust sequence.

I hadn't intended to write anything today , but , as I've said before this blog is a diary where I record things of interest to me , and I had forgotten about "The Ox" . It's by no means the only decent track on the album but is a definite stand out as you can hear on the video in this post. It features Keith Moon's manic drum work , showing how important drummers are in rock bands.

The Ox was the nickname of the Who's bass player John Entwistle , one of the finest ever rock bassists.

So this is going to be a very short post because it's juts a marker for "The Ox".

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Just Support Art - - #AnimalAugust #18

Working from has got me listening to CDs again. I did start listening digitally , and because my record player is downstairs , vinyl is not an option. I am listening to CDs that I have probablty never played but felt I needed in my collection, so I am slowly working my way through th eBruce Springsteen "Sound Stage" 15 Cds of radio broadcast , plus today there have been a couple of Yes albums and a couple bt Stomu Yamash'ta .

I usually start the day with a bit of 6Music and then drift into the CDs.

I bought a lot of my music because I felyt I should have it and should support the artist , so yesterday I was listening to "Coconut" by The Archie Bronson Outfit. I don't know what possessed me to buy the album , whether it was a recommendation or I had heard something , but it was a great listen, and I also feel good that The Archie Bronson Outfit will have gor a decent chunk of the CD sale rather than the 0.000001p they would have got if I had listened to it on Spotify.

Other art forms require our support as well , however we do it , by either buying the art , paying an entrance fee or donating , or ideally from taxes , so artists don't have to worry when they are next going to eat.

Art can take many forms and all of them need our support, however we can, so buy , support , go and watch. We need art.

Continuing with #AnimalAugust (I am surprised I hav posted 18 times this month already), I am going to go with the beautiful "Beeswing" by Richard Thompson , one of my favourite singers , songwriters and guitarist.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Just Do Art - - #AnimalAugust #17

Art takes many forms. I believe that for something to be art, it must have an effect , even if that effect is negative. One of the problems is that usually we expect art to be free . It's OK to be free at point of interaction as long as it is properly funded.

I always say that to produce art you just have to call it art. That may sound frivolous but you could call an empty coffee cp art if you present it in the right way.

Also with art once the artist has created the piece then when someone sees it then there is an audience.

Funding can be you paying for art , through taxes or through an entrance fee , but artists have to be able to live if they are to produce at.  I keep trying to do things but for some reason don't have the discipline to produce a finished product. I remember as a teenager joining a band on Tuesday for a gig on Saturday then writing and rehearsing and doing the gig , I really need to get that fire back, although it's best when you are doing it with someone else where you can bounce ideas.

I have incredible admiration for people who do thing solo. The inspiration for this post comes from my friend Hildy Harland who , despite the lockdown destroying all her scheduled work is still producing and sharing he art online.

#AnimalAugust will be "Journey of The Sorcerer" by The Eagles adopted as the theme for The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, and really all artists are sorcerers  because they create something where there was nothing , whether it be a paining , a dance , a song or a story.

Apologies if this has been an incoherent ramble , but we need to look out for our artists or else we will just have corporate  advertising.

Also if you don't like the art you see , do something yourself.... at the moment I'm just limited to this although there is the odd short story and poem in my many posts.

Uniform - #AnimalAugust #16

The sky is a uniform grey and it's raining and drizzling a perfect situation for the word "dreich" , not exactly great walking weather or inspirational and certainly not summery.

With the weather being so awful I was wondering if I could hit my 11K steps without actually leaving the house. I know people have done it, but basically the house is about ten steps from side to side, so going from one side to the other and back 550 times would actually do it but I could see that tedium would  hit me very quickly. Of course there is up and down stairs and the rest of the house to use but it's a lot of repetition, which I am not really up for.

Yesterday during a work meeting the sound went off, and I assumed that there was a problem with the person speaking then realised my TV , that provides the sound, and switched it self off which it does after four hours. After several months I found the setting to stop it from switching itself off, but this means I now have to remember to switch it off when I've finished with it.

On my #MusicWhileYouWork Instagram sequence which I started when working from home I am now listening to the Bruce Springsteen "Soundstage" 15CD box , which is still available for around £20 , and while it's a radio broadcast quality , it is still excellent. I'm on CD2 so a long way to go and after this I have a 4CD David Bowie set (The Collaborator) to enjoy.

Still on "Venus on the Halfshell" and though it's dated tongue in cheek , I am still enjoying it, and it is packed full of ideas and observations that are very relevant today.

Over the last week I have binge watched (for me) lots of TV coming to the finale of "Veep" , one and a half series of "Bosch" , which is very good and his apartment and view is worth watching the program for.

"Shortly After Take Off" by BC Camplight has just been played by Chris Hawkins on 6Music, followed by "96 Tears" by ? & The Mysterians which put me in mind of Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs who had a hit with "Wooly Bully" which will do for today's #AnimalAugust .

I'm just wondering whether to have a September sequence based on fruit , but will have to think of a hashtag for that.

Friday, 21 August 2020

Oops, I Did It Again - #AnimalAugust #15

Although my Tivo is 80% full and there are a few series I am watching on streaming services (Netflix and Amazon Prime) I decided to pick up on Bosch (partly because of Hieronymus Bosch) , and am already for episodes into the first of six series featuring Elliot Gould look alike Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch as the main protagonist in another crime solving series which is rather enjoyable.

Also the new series of Lucifer has started and I am still working through The Boys and The Umbrella Academy, so I am not going short of anything anytime soon.

We do live in an amazing age for visual entertainment, I have watched quite a few series in the last few months so I know that half a dozen series is no bar to me watching something, it's a joureny you don't think about because you are just there to enjoy the ride.

So I am writing this quite late (for me) , so it's quite a short post.

For #AnimalAugust I'm going to go with "Cuckoo" by Lissie from the album "Catching A Tiger" which I played and really enjoyed yesterday. I've always loved her singing and material, and I also enjoyed her album of covers, so if you haven't heard her , take a listen , you may like.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Sun Back - #AnimalAugust #14

Last night there was another Windows update , but this was a five minute one so I'm OK with that. Just wish that they were all that easy.

After the deluge that night the sun looks to have returned and it's a beautiful morning. This has continued so far and is looking to be a nice day after the greyness earlier in the week.

While I didn't feel liek doing any walking, that has picked up so I'm back on target for my steps.

I'm enjoying "Venus On The Halfshell" although Mr Farmer takes every opportunity to drop in a single entendre . On slightly unusual thing , is , I know it's a 1970s copy, but the pages are on quite thick paper, and I keep thinking that I've turned multiple pages, but I am re enjoying the book.

I also keep dipping into "Small Dreams of a Scorpion" with Milligan veering from funny / absurd  to serious and thought provoking.

TV wise I am on the final series of Veep and despite everyone being particularly awful (like the American Republicans and the UK Tory Party) it is very funny and incredibly well written and acted. Sometimes you see actors being particularly obnoxious , but generally that shows them just to be excellent actors.

Once I've finished that I do have "Silicon Valley" to be getting on with , which also has it's share of obnoxious characters.

For #AnimalAugust I can share "Five Years Time" by Noah and the Whale , a particular favourite of mine in it's almost flung together feel.

Have a brilliant Thursday.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Bloody Windows - #AnimalAugust #13

Last night I was ready for bed, checked a couple of things on the computer, and when I went to shut down there was another update available. As usual I Ok's it and it started staying on 0% and telling me to not swith my machine off, then severak restarts and loads of times staying on the same level. You never have a clue how long these things take and the various indicators never tell you how long it's going to be.

Eddie Izzard nails the situation in his Computers and Terms and Conditions stand up routine which you can watch here. This happens time and time again. Also recently Microsoft applications stopped giving you a time line and replacing them with a blue spinning circle and you haven't a clue what is happening.

#AnimalAugust is going to be "The Bonny Black Hare" by Fairport Convention , the thing is it's a traditional folk song , and it's not really about a rabbit related mammal, but the title will do for the sequence.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

PAYTV - #AnimalAugust #12

I've been binge watching TV again , this time "The Rook" on Virgin . When I first started watching it was on Virgin's UHD channel , but when I hit episode three it said I had to upgrade to continue. Needless to say I didn't though apparently it's STARZ production , though "Ash vs The Evil Dead" was included in the package.

Amazon Prime is similar , you pay for the Prime package , and you see some programs advertised and when you select you have to take out another subscription to another provider. It's like charity and lottery adverts, there are more and more spring up and if it keeps on like this we may have to go back to buying DVDs.

I also get annoyed that pay channels carry advertisements on th elive feeds, I don't mind advertisements on say All 4 as I see that as my price of admission, same with all commercial channels.

I am grateful for the plethora and cornucopia and good television programs available, this is from someone who grew up with a choice of two TV channels. Also when you watch recorded items you can fast forward through adverts , and when you watch Sky or Amazon Prime Streams you have no adverts so to speak (possibly some short ones) .

To be quite honest I do watch very little live TV which means , apart from All 4 and other commercial streamers I am not usually troubled by adverts so generally things are good , although you do get some very good adverts.

So what should we go for #AnimalAugust ? Well "Toad" by Cream is playing , essentially a Ginger Baker drum solo bookended by a solid simple heavy riff , the live version has a bit more guitar work in it , but Ginger Baker's drumming is the star here.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Don't Walk, Boogie - #AnimalAugust #11

I had gone to bed , my body is tired but my mind is not , so I 've got up and decided just to post something on the blog , in the hope that my mind will decide that sleep is a good idea as well as my body. When I got up I could hear running water, always a worry , but a tap had not been switched off in the shower room, so that was OK.

For the last two days I haven't felt like walking anywhere, but still done 6K steps a day and for the month I am still ahead of the mark, but I have just not felt like walking. Maybe I am just too used to walking round my area and want somewhere different. On Saturday I did go down Denton Burn  and got some good photographs and am toying with walking down to the Tyne , although it's then a long uphill walk back, but it would do me good , and if the weater is OK I may get some good photographs.

I also may track down some more interesting old buildings to visit, we are virtually sited on Hadrian's Wall and I have still never been to Segedunum which may be a trek worth doing one weekend. Vindolanda is a bit further west and definitely not walking distance but here's a video I did soundtracked buy Alex Harvey's take on WH Auden's "Roman Wall Blues"

The "Don't Walk, Boogie" title is nicked from a k-Tel disco pop album from te seventies or eighties. The albums were groove crammed so sound quality was not too impressive.

For the #AnimalAugust  sequence , given the Romanesque bits of this post I thought I would go for an Eagle song and that could have been something by The Eagles, "Fly Like An Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band , but thought I would go the "Day of the Eagle" by Robin Trower , ex Procol Harum , but a very impressive metal guitarist fronting his own band after he left. I do have a 4CD set of his stuff and think it may be due another run out.

Right that's probably enough so I will try and hit the sack once more tonight.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Timefolder - #AnimalAugust #10

I've had an idea for a short story or even a book called "Timefolder" , obviously I can't say any more as the concept is fairly nebulous and cloudy and I do need some time to flesh it out. Whether this will happen or it will just be forgotten about , I don't know , and given my  previous track record it will probably just be left.

We are well into August and today's weather is as grey as ever. I have been trying to set up a subdomain to no effect (ie using the proper channels nothing actually works).

This is a very short insubstantial post and had a few things I wanted to say but like many times before everything has trained from my mind, leaving me with very little to share with you.

The thing is I think my posts average about 250 words and even though I feel there is absolutely nothing in this post this has hit that word count so it's not like my early posts which were about a sentence long, but also I suppose there is a lot of word fluff in this that is waffle to expand the post.

I have finished "The End of The F**king World" this week , which I found rather good if challenging and you do laugh but sometimes feel you shouldn't because of what has happened. You can watch for free on All 4 . I keep getting adverts to subscribe and go advert free , but I am fine if adverts are the price I pay to watch the series.

I actually pay Virgin to watch Sky and Sky carry adverts even though I am paying to watch them anyway.

For #AnimalAugust I've gone for a Christmas record from Alan White and Chris Squire when they were with Yes , "Run With The Fox" , possibly a bit trte but I've always liked it . I'm surprised it doesn't seem to be available for digital download but is on the Yesyears boxed set which is available art a reasonable price through Amazon.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

With The Possible Exception of Being Garth Crooks - #AnimalAugust #9

Every time I wash a sieve the Half Man Half Biscuit song "Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes"  from "Look Dad, No Tunes" comes to mind:

"There is surely nothing worse than washing sieves

There is surely nothing worse than washing sieves

With the possible exception

Of being Garth Crooks

There is surely nothing worse than washing sieves"

Possibly very true but what Garth Crooks has done to incur Nigel Blackwell's ire , I haven't a clue.

Today is very hot and clammy but foggy. I went to Morrison's but wearing the mask can feel a bit claustrophobic , but we are in a different world now until a vaccine is found for COVID-19 . The mask is annoying the alternative is frightening.

Talking of claustrophobia , which I suffer from slightly, that is the feeling that I am getting in "The Lost" by Jonathan Aycliffe , being trapped but frightened of what might happen, ironically I'm enjoying it , and saw parallels in "The Revenant" in the cold, snow , and forest settings , although one is in North America and the other is in Romania. Leonardo Dicaprio's fight with the cear is stunning, and Tom Hardy play s a great villain.

Keeping with Half Man Half Biscuit for #AnimalAugust we will go with "King of Rome" which is about a pigeon , and one of their covers but not officially available digitally. Here is a list of their covers. Luckily for everyone it is on Youtube and you can listen to it on this post.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Be Prepared - #AnimalAugust #8

This weekend has been mostly vegetarian / vegan and I do find that good vegan food is generally more palatable that most animal carcass based food. But I am not a vegan , not even a vegetarian, but do enjoy fish and sometimes chicken. The vegan stuff is generally a lot lighter on the stomach and always goes down well, and you never have to wonder what's actually in a vegan meal.

Sometimes some stuff can seem a bit bland but that's why vegan cooks are more inventive in their meal preparation, so vegan meals tend to bevery morish.

Just thinking of the next post number that I will mark and it will be 2345 , which will probably happen in September at the current rate of writing .

This morning I have started my #MusicWhileYouWork with a Go Go Midgets EP and "The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads" by Lift To Experience , which twenty years on is still an awesome experience to listen to, and that is their only release that I am aware of although Josh T Pearson released a solo album and several EPs.

I am currently working through "From The Beginning" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer which , like the curate's egg, is good in parts , th einterview wit Aaron Copeland over their take on "Fanfare For The Common Man" is illuminating , as their version is a six minute jam bookended by the actual "Fanfare For The Common Man".

The Jonathan Aycliffe novel "The Lost" which I had regarded as almost comic has taken a much darker turn in the second half, with and ever increasing body count, which although I have read it before I had forgotten about. The book is excellent and half way through I am looking forward to find out what lies in store in the Carpathian monthains.

For #AnimalAugust we shall go with a live take of "The Dog, The Dog , He's At It Again" although it's not really about a dog , but it's an excellent song by Caravan.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Bingeing - #AnimalAugust #7

I never thought I could say I binge watched anything , but recently I have polished off "The IT Crowd" and am nearly though "The End of the F**king World" , also finishing "What We Di In The Shadows" as well. If the episodes are under thirty minutes then it is quite easy to watch a few episodes at a time. Oh I forgot "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation" as well thanks to the Sky Comedy Channel and I am  working my way through "Veep" and "Silicon Valley".

I've also completed "Brassic" , "Tales From The Loop", "Vikings" and the first series of "Miracle Workers" , so this would all imply I've been binge watching.

I am also working my way though my CD collection (mainly the box sets) while I am working from home, and while most of this is revisiting, it does allow me to choose my listening. I do pepper it with a little 6Music as it's always good to hear new stuff.

Also this is the seventh post this month so I'm almost binge writing , although I have had some months where I have averaged almost two posts a day. I hadn't intended to write this as I want to go to bed, but it's hot and I've now written this, so happy to share.

For #AnimalAugust I am going to share "Caterpillar" by The Cure.

Sleep well. Work tomorrow.

Dreamworks - #AnimalAugust #6

Would this morning from a weird dream sequence. I was in an open plan office with my boss and team and someone started playing loud music but I was on a call . My boss suggested we move to an office (my normal response would be to tell whoever was making the noise to quieten down) , then I wanted a shower but couldn't because there was some guy in the shower bed (that is a bed that you had to sleep in before having a shower) so I couldn't and thought I will have to go home. The dream made no sense at all, although probably influenced by the fact that I listen to a lot of music while I am working from home. One of the things about the dream was to keep on going to get things done which I do normally anyway , but really it's Sunday afternoon , and the dream is almost completely gone from my memory.

This morning I tried to share an article on Facebook , but know I would probably be banned because it would not share the link without the Guardian image. The article is here and the image is not pornographic or offensive but Facebook's algorithms are dodgy to say the least. Her Instagram posts are here. The article's headline is :

"Instagram ‘censorship’ of black model's photo reignites claims of race bias #IwanttoseeNyome outcry after social media platform repeatedly removes pictures of Nyome Nicholas-Williams"

Now if this were a topless white man , nothing would be said.

TV is still providing a lot to watch though I have just finished "The IT Crowd" on All 4 and thought it was great , love the room with all the seventies technology like the 8-Track Sphere and the Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore Pet and the Altair 8000 (wasn't that a planet in "Forbidden Planet" ?

So to keep #AnimalAugust, on track I'm going with  "I Love My Dog" by Yusuf Islam as part of a live "greatest hits medley"  ,  when he originally released it he was Cat Stevens , and his is one of the box sets on my #MusicWhileYouWork list ("On The Road To Find Out") while I am working from home.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Homework - #AnimalAugust #5

This week has been another working from home. Using Microsoft Teams means that you can contact people when they are at work so it's not a problem and you don't feel isolated.

This week has also allowed me to listen to a lot of CDs including some that are for sale on Discogs because I don't really play them all that much , although ironically my sale pile is the closest CD group to my CD player. The reason for this is that generally  I am finding 6Music a bit samey , although the DJ banter makes you feel you are with somebody and you do hear new music which is a great reason for listening to the radio.

The Cds I went through include "The Raven" by Lou Reed and the first Stone Roses album, plus a Fotheringay box set  (I am fairly eclectic which you know if you follow this blog, but that's only half a dozen people). Also for the #AnimalAugust we will go for a live take of "The Raven" by Lou Reed based on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe.

On the book front I have finished "Everville" and while it is an excellent book it left a lot of unanswered threads, possibly ripe for a third book of the series. I am now rereading "The Lost" by Jonathan Aycliffe which is a bit lighter than his normal stuff with some wry black humour similar to the recent BBC take on "Dracula".

The weather is good so enjoy your Saturday.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Wicker Tree - #AnimalAugust #4

A few years back I picked up blu ray copies of "The Wicker Man" and "The Wicker Tree" Robin Hardy films separated by nearly forty years. "The Wicker Man" is a masterpiece and does not need and never needed a follow up, but generally the people who watch  "The Wicker Tree" will be fans of "The Wicker Man" and as such extreme disappoint may be the best that you can experience.

The film was made in 2011 and lots of things hark back to the seventies, some of the acting is very two dimensional, and the storyline (two born again US Christian hicks sent as missionaries to pagan Scotland and ending up as targets for the pagans) is very shallow , though there are some good one liners and digs at Bible Thumpers , Graham McTavish as Sir Lachlan Morrison is excellent as the Christopher Lee / Lord Summerisle figure.

Also the landscape shots and scenery is top notch, even the ruined castle is very impressive.

The problem is that if "The Wicker Man" is this season's Liverpool , the "The Wicker Tree" is this season's Wycombe Wanderers , in their own sphere absolutely fine , but you try and compare and latter is bound to come a cropper.

The film is short , maybe 100 minutes but is probably far more watchable that Nicholas Cage's  "The Wicker Man" remake. and I wouldn't put you off it. I was apprehensive when I saw the IMDB ratings but those fears were , in my opinion, unfounded.

So what #AnimalAugust song should I share with you , it's still a bit reptilian , as the first thing that came to mind is "The Snake" by The Pink Fairies from the "Never, Never Land" album , but this is a 2014 live recording from The 100 Club , where I went to see Ben Waters.

Enjoy the Pink Fairies and give The Wicker Tree a visit.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

The Midgard Serpent #AnimalAugust #3

Still another sixty pages to go in "Everville" and still have no real clue about the Uad Uroboros, the monsters of the book. The Uroboros part is based on Ouroboros , the self sunstaining perpetual worm or snake that surronds the world based on the Midgard Serpent Jörmungandr from Norse mythology.

While thoroughly enjoying the book , I am still confused as to why I bought this and never actually read it, it will definitely be revisited, and I know one of the characters Harry D'Amour maybe just from "The Scarlet Gospels" or "The Great and Secret Show" , so it is slightly surprising.

It is a very grey Tuesday but the rain has stopped and I have been listening to a couple of CD boxes today. One was the first five Alice Cooper albums and this just confirmed that they didn't really take off until "Love It To Death" with some impressive songs with one of their best (and creepiest) "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" sseguing with with frightening but originally funny synchronicity into Rolf Harris' "Sun Arise" . The Cooper song refers to a child stalker and well you know what I mean. The album is still excellent.

"Killer" is even better , but not of the albums hit forty minutes so that was a great morning's listening.

I am now listening to the "Zang Tumb Tuum" box set which is 3CDs and a DVD , and while there is some good stuff on there, I liked the Alice Cooper albums better.

In keeping with #AnimalAugust (and the Midgard Serpent) I am going with the excellent Northern Soul song "The Snake" by Al Wilson , a truly great record that always grabs your attention when it comes on the radio.