30 March 2010

10 Years In The Blogosphere

10 Hamal - Year 1389

That's right - I've been blogging for 10 years now, pretty much non-stop. Back in 2000, I had never heard of 'blogs'. A few of my old high school friends that I had kept in touch with throughout the 1990s were more clued-in to cyber-stuff than I was. They started up a weblog where we could stay in touch and post about topics that interested ourselves. They invited me to join in January or February, but I wasn't sure about the blogging thing and delayed for a little while. I finally joined up in March 2000--mainly just commenting on what the others had posted.

The page they created was called Triptych Cryptic and it's still going, albeit with only C-Dog and Bone Daddy at the helm. I think there were seven of us posting there at T.C.'s peak. I really enjoyed being there for a while--it was our own little corner of t'internet. Most of us started up our own solo blogs as well. It was C-Dog who encouraged me to 'start a blog about prog-rock'..and so, in September 2000, with his help, I came up with 21st Century Schizoid Man, dedicated to all things music and most things prog-rock. C-Dog and I scanned in some great album covers and he pasted them together to make a groovy backdrop. He also put together a great banner and added both into the blog template. It looked brill, until he was moving and packed up his PC. I didn't have a copy of the jpegs and they disappeared. I joked for a while that it was the big, bad record companies keeping a striving prog-geek under their collective thumb, but no, it was much more mundane than that.

I kept "Schizoid Man" going for four years, while also posting at "Triptych..". When I moved to England in 2004--I found I had less time to post and to be honest, I was starting to grow a bit tired of "Schizoid Man"s format, even though I had changed the template a couple of times. Over at T.C., there were some personality clashes, which seem inevitable in any group effort (bands, casts of films and plays, etc.) and it soured the mood a bit. I decided to stop "Schizoid Man" in May 2004 and I left the T.C. fold shortly after. I whittled down the "Schizoid Man" posts to roughly 50 and let it float around in the aether. You can still find it, if you're looking for it. Not to be confused with a newer blog by another 'Merican ex-pat, who seems to be of a conservative, right-wing slant and enjoys writing screeds about Obama's health-care plan. I suppose Crimso fans appear in all stripes. Hey-ho. I also changed my nom d'internet from "Mo" (short for 'Molasses', my T.C. nick-name) to Sly Stoner, an hommage to psychedelic soul genius Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart...and also 'cos Bone Daddy said I had a sly sense of humour.

I thought about stopping blogging altogether, but I still liked the idea of a group blog. With that in mind, I invited Pixie, my mate Singing Bear and a few others I met during my time at the Flaming Lips BBS. Only Pixie and Bear signed on for definite and Pond Of Tunes was born! I initially wanted to name it Ocean Of Sound, after David Toop's book about ambient music, but I found another blog had already used that title. P.O.T. lasted for about two years and it was a lot of fun--the highlight being our spamming a spam-bot called 'Vicky', who kept leaving irritating comments about real estate. We found her site and counter-spammed. That was hilarious...she even started up an 'anti-Pond of Tunes' blog. The ultimate flattery. Our collective interest began to wane and I ended up deleting P.O.T. early in 2006, while Bear started up his own blog.

Once again, I thought about packing it in, but I thought I'd have another go at a group blog and so "Blog Is Not.." was created, with Pixie supplying the excellent title (referencing Andy Votel's Folk Is Not A Four-Letter Word collection), as well as my new-new handle, The Purple Gooroo. Bear was back on board and I invited my brother, the illustrious Aloicious P. McGinnis, who then joined up and has yet to post. I think of him as a 'silent partner'. We started up in June 2006 and we're still here....well, with a few changes. Bear decided to strike out on his own pretty much permanently in 2008 and he's had a series of blogs, the latest being the great Grown Up Backwards. This blog has essentially become a one-critter operation..so in ten years I've sorta come full circle. I reckon I'll continue for another two years, 'till 2012, then call it a day...as I've got the podcast to do. Facebook and Twitter eat up a lot of my time now as well. One never knows, though--I may change my mind and keep on bloggin'.

19 March 2010

Acid Spooks En Francais

3 Rabi`ath-Thani - Year 1431

I saw this story linked to at Facebook the other day. It's being reported by several newspapers, most notably by the Torygraph...er, I mean Telegraph, in the UK. Back in 1951, the residents of a French village started going really loopy. A few critters died and some were confined to institutions. The big mystery over the years has been why the folks of Pont-Saint-Esprit suddenly experienced nightmarish hallucinations and began to behave in highly 'unorthodox' ways.

It was initially thought that the local baker had unwittingly baked some ergot-infected wheat into bread, which was consumed by the locals. The villagers would then have been victims of ergot poisoning, or St. Anthony's Fire--a very not-pleasant combination of hallucinations and convulsions. In extreme cases, gangrene in the limbs develops and death can occur.

New evidence has allegedly come to light now, whereby it's being claimed that there's documentation to show that CIA agents, working in conjunction with some scientists at the Sandoz Laboratories (where LSD was first synthesized), conspired with a few French 'plants' to essentially dose the population with LSD and observe the results. What swell critters, eh?

It definitely seems plausible, given the agency's track record with other experiments of a similar nature. What amazes me is how long it took for the original files to be made public. I suppose it shows a sliver of progress that the Iran-Contra affair was exposed after only a few years of being in operation. Same old CIA. Robert Anton Wilson once quipped that if the gubberment were really fighting a 'war on terror', they would carpet-bomb Langley, Virginia. But of course, like the 'Drug War', it's only a war on some terrorists (mostly brown ones, with funny names, who don't worship the X-tian 'God').

Now, if I lived in a paranoid reality-tunnel most of the time - I'd ask why the Pont-Saint-Esprit story is surfacing now. I'd think that maybe it's another scare-story about psychedelics, to try and put the kibosh on any legitimate research. The Beckley Foundation is starting a research project on LSD and I suspect that M.A.P.S. will be soon, too. Ah well, hopefully humans have learned more and got a bit smarter since psychedelics were demonised by the mainstream press in the 1960s. I say hopefully....

Here's a great little film showing LSD experiments with British soldiers in the early 1960s:

08 March 2010

R.I.P. Mark Linkous

Jour du Octid 8 - Mois du Ventose - Annee de la Republique 218

05 March 2010

Save 6Music!

14 Esfand - Year 1388

The BBC's director general Mark Thompson has announced cuts to the programming line-up, mainly that 6Music and the Asian Network will be axed and cease broadcasting by the end of 2011. I had got used to some decent stuff being on the radio, especially Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone--the only show I listen to regularly. There's other good stuff, too. Marc Riley, former Fall guitarist and part of the awesome Mark and Lard duo, has his own show, as do Adam and Joe, the two guys who created the hilarious 90s comedy telly programme.

Sure, there's other stuff that's not so great - I rarely listen to Lauren Laverne's programme, or Dave Pearce's Dance Anthems show (which is on right after the 'Freak Zone'). Shaun Keaveny's morning spot can be funny at times, but I don't listen to him much either. Despite that, though - at least it's an attempt to spotlight some non-mainstream stuff from a major corporation. If 6Music does go under, I suspect the 'Freak Zone' or Marc Riley won't be transferred to BBC2 or any of the other remaining stations.

There's already been a massive backlash and plenty of grass-roots protests, including a Facebook group and lots of articles and 'sleb' input. David Bowie and Charlie Brooker have both issued statements criticising the proposed cuts. I signed a petition which will be sent to the BBC Trust and to Thompson. Sign it if you can - or find another website with a petition. Pixie found one and posted her view. She was rankled by the BBC referring to 6Music as a 'pop station'. Heh heh.

I hope the Beeb reverses it's decision and keeps 6Music going..or failing that, someone else snaps it up to keep it alive. Please don't leave us with Radio 1 and 2. Chris Evans seems just alright to me, but he does my head in after a while. Don't even get me started on Chris Moyles...

01 March 2010

New Kaleidophonic Stroboscope episode!

10 Phalguna - Year 1931

I completed the latest K.S. show about two weeks ago. It's been live for over a week now - so go check it out, if you haven't already. It's my tribute to the cold season, which will be fading away soon. You can listen to the episode here.

Oh yeah, The 'Stroboscope also got a mention in the newest Shindig! magazine!! Thanks to my mates over at Sonic Tonic, who were interviewed by Richard Jones about S.T. in a sidebar column. Thorax The Thurd and Silent Monkey named the K.S. as an influence. How cool is that? Cheers, lads!

If you haven't caught any of the 'Sonic Tonic' episodes yet - seriously, get over there and have a listen. Those guys mix the choons up like nobody's business and their banter is far more entertaining than mine. Another great podcast mentioned in the same article is Harold's Attic Radio, which I've linked to at the Stroboscope's page. The latest 'Harold's.." has a fine selection of soul, soundtrack stuff, rock & dance. Those boys have a top-notch collection at their disposal.

That should keep you busy for a little while - and go buy a copy of "Shindig!", too!