21 December 2011

Over And Out! (Long Count) - Haab: 4 Kankin, Tzolkin: 4 Cib

Well, peeps - it seems about that time, to hang the keyboard up on "Blog Is Not...". Between Facebook, Twitter and the podcast, I just don't have the time to devote to a solo blog. This will be my final post here, but I'll leave it floating around in cyberspace, if anyone wants to check the archives.

I'd like to thank everyone who stopped by and read a post or two - but especially the regular readers...all three of you! (heh heh)

It's been a wild five years and six months - although I suppose the past five months don't count, 'cos I haven't posted anything. Thanks out to my pal Singing Bear for all his quality music reviews and intelligence and poetry. I couldn't have kept this blog alive for so long without him. Thanks also to Flaming Pixie for the support and humour over the years. To Mr. McGinnis...stay silent, bro - it's been a blast!

Gregorian year 2011 seemed a pretty wacky one. "Extreme weather", the return of people-power and economic fuck-ups - and that's just about half of it!

I wish I had a "Top Ten" list for music and films for this year - but to be honest, I didn't buy enough new albums and see enough films to compile one. I even missed the final Harry Potter film in the cinema - I know, for shame. I did watch The Inbetweeners film as a DVD rental - my short review is: Not as funny as the first two teevee series, but better than I thought it would be. You're welcome. We did rent loads of Tee Vee series and films, but I can't list them all. I liked the concepts found in Inception and Source Code, but I wouldn't call either a 'classic'. I watched Senna as well, despite being berated by Pixie for not knowing who he was (sorry F1 fans).

For music - I mainly bought re-issues (as per usual) and loads of vintage LPs from eBay. I found this site as well - which carries lots of rare psych and prog records! I purchased a copy of Dantalian's Chariot's Madman Running Through The Fields 7" single and a copy of the Gentle Giant The Power & The Glory LP from the site. I found the service excellent and they even sent me an e-mail, letting me know the G.G. LP has some background noise and chopped £10 off of the price. Very cool - I'd recommend them.

Pixie and I started listening to Marc Riley's BBC6 show, which is on Monday through Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Riley's hipped me to some cool new UK bands, like Dutch Uncles and Pete & The Pirates. I'm still listening to Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone as well, still on Sunday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. - but I've missed it occasionally when my yoga sessions over-run. Ah well, thankfully, it's on the iPlayer and the tracklists are always up, too. The only live show I saw the entire year was Wire (with support from Talk Normal). Kinda gutted that Bruce Gilbert left the ranks in 2008, but the other three still make a hell of a racket. Colin Newman read the lyrics off of his iPad, but so what - the guy is in his late 50s now. Talk Normal were o.k. - the drummer's pretty impressive, but the lyrics were drowned in the mix and sounded like a gutteral alien tongue.

Got a tiny bit of cul'cha in 2011 - saw the National Theatre production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, with Rebecca Hall, Simon Callow, Simon Paisley Day and the wonderful Amanda Drew, amongst others, in the cast. I saw it on a cold January evening and I enjoyed it, but some of the crits didn't like the pacing of the play, or a few of the performances. Pixie and I then saw the revival of Simon Gray's Butley, at the Duchess Theatre in London, in mid-July. This time the cast featured Dominic West, Amanda (again!), Paul McGann and Pennie Downey. Again, I enjoyed it quite a bit. West's characterisation was shouty, but possibly the role called for it. The people at the theatre were nice as well, and upgraded our seats, as the show that night hadn't sold out. We also attended an outdoor production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest, put on by the Oxford Shakespeare Company, in late August. It was held on the quad of one of the colleges, so very minimal set dressing. The performances were excellent, particularly the actor who played Algernon Moncrieff. A really enjoyable show that wasn't even dampened by a couple of light rainfalls.

I think that's about all - aside from the mundane details of life - which won't really interest any of you. Singing Bear and I are considering starting up another team blog...but it's only in the planning stages at the moment. In any case, take care of yourselves and make the most of Gregorian year 2012!!

12 July 2011

It's Reality, But Not As We Know It

21 Asadha - Year 1933

Here's a blog I discovered through a Facebook friend. If you dig crop circles and alternate-reality topics, I'd suggest having a look here:

Psychedelic Adventure


03 June 2011

Been a while....

3 Pepper - Year 44 p.r.S.P.

Well, well, well...that was a longer break than I originally intended. I'm the 'Rip Van Winkle' of blogging, I suppose.

What's been happening? World-wise, too much! Let's see...apparently a 'royal wedding' took place...everyone went "ooh" and "ahh" and dug out their Union flags and the BBC turned into "The Wedding Channel" for the day. Oh yeah, and the police arrested possible demonstrators for "pre-crime". That's right - it was like a shit version of Minority Report. Ah well, the young'uns got hitched and we're all the better for it....or something.

Osama bin Laden....remember that guy? You do? Cool, well, get this...he wasn't hiding in caves on the Afghan/Pakistan border at all. Yep, turns out he was living in Pakistan, right near a military compound. Who'd a thunk it?? So the U.S special forces saddled up and popped a cap in his ass...or that's what we were told, anyway. Alternate theories sprung up like weeds in an abandoned garden...he really died in 2002, the guy they got wasn't bin Laden..and on and on. While it's tempting to believe those theories as "The Truth" (tm), or even Barack's version--I remain agnostic as possible. With gubberment activities even more shrouded than in the late 1960s/early 1970s, who can honestly say what went down. All I know is, that now there'll be closure to the Sept. 11th attacks....AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Right...

The civil war in Libya continues on, as nutjob Gaddafi refuses to step down. Like any power-hungry jackal, he thinks it's somehow his right to torture and kill the people he 'leads'. NATO stepped in a couple of months ago and have been bombing the shit out of Tripoli and other Gaddafi strongholds...but the guy's still there. Wily as a cockroach and with as much personality, ol' Muammar has gathered his willing 'human shields' around him and is thumbing his nose at "The West" and the Arab League. Now there's talk of a ground offensive. Hmmm...seems risky to me - but hey, when there's oil to be had...well, what's another fuckload of civilian deaths matter, eh boys? Meanwhile, the arms industry is licking it's slimy chops, ready to dish out it's death machinery to anyone and everyone in the conflict. Scruples, we hardly knew ye...

Bankers remain the scourge of mostly everyone, 'cept maybe other bankers. These lads like to work hard, so y'know, they like to play hard, too. I don't know about you - but I'm so tired of these scumbags and their bailouts and scandals and their being coddled, I'm having visions of them hanging by their balls from lamp-posts. No, really. Please, please, please someone come up with alternate currencies, so these callous dickheads will be out of jobs and will have to do something useful for a change, like re-pave roads, or plant trees, or look after the elderly. I hope people finally wake up, shut the Federal Reserve and the Bank Of England and end the madness! Kudos to the chamber-maids who pressed charges on their attackers...right on, sisters!

Personal-wise, I've gone whole-hog ('scuse the phrase) and went full vegetarian. I watched the Earthlings documentary and was so sickened by what I saw, that I couldn't continue to eat animal flesh with a clear conscience. If I may say, I've been considering going veggie for some time now and "Earthlings" helped me decide. It's going well, though I keep forgetting to take vitamins in the morning, but I don't feel run-down or anything. If anything, I feel better for not eating meat. I hope I can keep going and not succumb to the temptation to eat animal flesh...it's better for me and it's better for the animals. My pal Toby Philpott made an astute observation that anyone who eats meat and doesn't kill the animal themselves can be considered a scavenger, picking carrion from a corpse like a vulture.

Had a holiday in the Lake District last month and I had a great time! Wonderful scenery and lots and lots to do. We stayed in Ambleside, a lovely village on the shore of Lake Windermere. From there, we journeyed around that bit of the District. We climbed Catbells, a large-ish fell which has a spectacular view of Derwent Water. We also visited Beatrix Potter's cottage, called Hill Top, which is near Sawrey and checked out a couple of stone circles, too. One was located on a farm which is very out-of-the-way. It's called Swinside and it's worth visiting, if you can brave the long-ish walk to get to it and the cows usually huddled around the track that leads to the circle. The other circle is Castlerigg and it's pretty amazing - it's set in a field which appears to be walled-in by the surrounding fields. The circle may be smaller that you've expecting, but the setting more than makes up for that. A trip to the Pencil Museum in Keswick was in order and it was far more interesting than I thought it would be. They've got the world's largest coloured pencil there (it's a yellow one, in case you were wondering) and a fascinating look at how pencils were developed over the years. Amongst the sight-seeing, I got to sneak in a bit of vinyl-hunting in charity shops - with the Oxfam in Keswick proving to have the best stash. I bought a copy of the UK first-press of Chicago's second album on LP, along with Steely Dan's The Royal Scam and another one I can't recall at the moment. I found some other goodies at a few other charity shops. Good times - must make another trip up there!

Update: I've nearly finished this post - the solstice has come and gone. It's summertime, not that you'd know it. There have been a couple of scorching days here, thanks to a band of warm air making it's way from Spain and Portugal. We acutally had to get the fan out one night!

17 February 2011

New Kaleidophonic Stroboscope episode!

28 Magha - Year 1932

That's right! February's show is now live and running!

Check it out here - it's quite good, even if it's me saying it.

That is all.

10 February 2011

Obligatory Monthly Post #14

6 Rabi al-Awwal - Year 1432

Mid-February...how have you all been? What's happening in teh blogosphere? I've been up to my usual - wage-slavery, listening to music, reading, occasionally going to the gym (very occasionally at the moment).

I did go to that London at the end of January to see Twelfth Night (the Shakespeare play, not the 1980s neo-prog band). The National Theatre has a production on in the Cottesloe Auditorium until 3rd March. The entire run sold out before public tickets went on sale, due to Sir Peter Hall directing his fourth version of the play and Simon Callow being in the cast. I was able to get tickets through Amanda Drew, who plays 'Olivia' in this production. I headed to the Big Smoke in early afternoon--after stopping by the open market in Oxford. A bloke had a table full of LPs and I couldn't resist. I ended up buying an upgrade of my copy of The Moody Blues' In Search Of The Lost Chord album. Once I was in London, I headed to Soho to check out a couple of record shops, Reckless Records and Sister Ray. Both had so much great stuff, that it was really tough to make a decision. The time passed and I really had to get heading to the theatre (with a bite to eat on the way). I bought a battered original pressing of Cream's Disraeli Gears LP (it plays alright, actually!), a near-mint copy of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells (3rd pressing), a decent copy of Kate Bush's Never For Ever, Alan Parsons Project's I Robot and Steve Hillage's Motivation Radio at Reckless. I bought a re-issue LP of Van Der Graaf Generator's debut, The Aerosol Grey Machine and the Carlos Santana/John McLaughlin early 70s collab., Love Devotion Surrender, at Sister Ray.

A short tube journey later, I wolfed down a margharita pizza at the Azzuro restaurant near to the National. By the time I'd finished - there was about an hour to the start of the play. Finty Williams, Judi Dench's daughter and part of the cast, met a couple of her friends in the lobby, near where I was sitting, and they all jumped around excitedly for a few moments. That was entertaining. The play started at around 7:30 p.m. and I quite enjoyed it. Some of the crits have panned the pacing of the play and a few of the performances, but I had no such problem. I thought it was quite good, though not having a previous viewing to compare it with maybe leaves me ignorant. No matter, I enjoyed it and my first time at The National. A while later and I was back on the coach to Oxford. Good times!

It looks as if things are afoot in the Middle East and North Africa! The Egyptian people, after 30 years of living under a tyrant's rule, booted out Hosni Mubarak after days and days of activism and protest. It seems amazing to me, and I'm not sure why that kind of thing doesn't happen in the UK and why it didn't happen in the U.S. during eight years of George W. Idiot! The military have taken over in Egypt and I hope the people don't allow a junta of generals to go for permanent rule - keep the pressure on 'em, please! Now it looks like Algeria may be following suit and there have been rumblings about Syria, too. Hmmm...what's going on? There have been reports about C.I.A. involvement in these pro-democracy movements. I'd like to hope that the U.S. secret goons don't have their hands in the protests, but they've been known to stage all sorts of things in the past. Still, it beats The Smirking Chimp's and Tony 'Bliar's strategy of invasion and occupy for 90 billion years. These certainly are interesting days to be on this backward, superstitious planet. A co-worker leant me his copy of Joe Sacco's Palestine. If you haven't read it - it's 'comics-journalism' - the stories are very real, but presented in graphic-novel form. It certainly educated me on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I highly recommend it, if you can get a copy.

I've finshed the February edition of The Kaleidophonic Stroboscope. I'll add a link in a new post. It's the usual round-up of tunes and the "Vinyl Vault" LP selection is Kate Bush's The Kick Inside. Intrigued? Of course you are!

Other than that....hmmm, well, I've decided to sell off some of my music collection. I'm not sure what to sell yet - but we're running out of space and I've gotta clear room for new tunage. I've also decided to start putting my CDs into those "CD wallet" cases, which will make them more portable and free up space in the spare room. Not sure why I hadn't prior to this.......must've just wanted to keep the jewel cases intact.

That's about all for this post - I shall be back soon with more! Adios!

16 December 2010

Seasonal Greetings - Winter 2010

3 December, 2010 (Julian calendar)

The solstice is nearly here...and oh yeah, that holiday with the jolly fat man is next week, too. As per the past decade (or even longer)--this Gregorian calendar year has slipped by, leaving me in a whirlwind of thought and memories of holidays (vacations), birthdays and change. Two weeks remain of 2010 and I'm not even sure how to sum it all up.

I suppose I could go and have a look at my posts for the previous months and base a round-up of the time on that. I could do an off-the-cuff 'review', as it were, as well. I just don't know.

Change seems to be happening quite quickly now, almost in accordance with Robert Anton Wilson's "Jumping Jesus" theory of time and the acceleration of knowledge. On a more personal level, I changed jobs in the summer. What I do now isn't all that dis-similar to my previous gig...but it has been a change nonetheless. I actually welcomed it, as I was starting to become very bored at my last one.

Meanwhile, there's been massive protets (and some rioting) in London and other large cities over the gubberment's plan to charge students higher university fees. The Liberal Democrats, who pledged not to raise fees before the election - suddenly did an about-face and are declaring the fees 'necessary'. Typical politician behaviour, really. I can't believe how blatant they were about it, though. Bald-faced liars! I hope the protests continue.

We lost a few greats lately, too. Peter Christopherson, of Coil and Throbbing Gristle, passed away a few weeks ago. His partner in Coil (and in life), Jhonn Balance, died a few years ago--so both halves of Coil have now left the planet. 'Sleazy', as he was known, was also part of the very influential Hipgnosis design collective. Leslie Nielsen, the Canadian comic actor, also passed on. His performance in Airplane! and the early 1980s TV series Police Squad! were enough to cement his legend, but a couple of the Naked Gun films had some laughs (though they did seem to get progressively weaker as they went along - like a lot of film series). Finally, just last week, we lost the good Captain Beefheart (or Don Van Vliet, if you prefer).

The man responsible for the original 'must-have-weird-album-in-your-collection', Trout Mask Replica, has left the planet. One of the most original performers to come from the late-60's L.A. scene--Beefheart combined the blues, psychedelia, jazz and Dada into a fusion that would become a blueprint for many an outsider weirdo's band (Robyn Hitchcock and Julian Cope come to mind). He was also a talented painter and gave up a largely indifferent music 'industry' in the early 80s to concentrate solely on his art. Farewell to one of the few U.S. national treasures left.

Hey! The U.K. is now covered in snow - for those who like to live in a greeting-card world of having a 'white X-Mas'. It's the most snow I've seen since moving here almost seven years ago. Looks like we really are in for a cooooooold one.

I've not got much else to say - thanks to everyone who's read this over the past year and everyone I've interacted with, too. The M.L.A. meet-up in July was a blast, as was the boating holiday in June. Cheers to Singing Bear for his continued support and I wish him a better 2011, he really deserves it. A shout-out to my Facebook pals and fellow bloggers, too.

Happy Holidays, All and all the best to you for the next (Gregorian) revolution around the sun!