Friday, 10 October 2014

Autumn Holiday 2014 -- First Full Day

Well, this is ridiculous: i'm naturally an early riser anyway, but today i woke even earlier than normal, at around 2:15. I love the early morning hours, though: so quiet and peaceful...

Anyway, i spent the first few hours listening, as is my wont, to KSHE and my friend the deejay Tommy T., whose program "The Rock Magazine" is one of my favourite radio shows. This morning Tommy devoted the hour to Paul McCartney (and Wings). McCartney is a performer who hasn't interested me since the eighties, but as Tommy featured mostly his seventies output, all was well. (This is Beatles Week on "The Rock Magazine." It will be a good week!)

I also caught up on the news (the Qbot, a nasty online banking Trojan, infects 500,000 systems; the St Louis Cardinals won last night, yay!) and then continued with a research project i've undertaken,into the life and times of 1950's pin-up queen Bettie Page. Her photographs, whilst pretty scandalous at the time, seem pretty innocent compared to some of the schtuff that's out there now, but i'm fascinated by her charm and almost angelic good looks. Here she is:

And i did pretty much nothing else for the rest of the morning, although i switched radio stations: to KROCK -- where my friend Wendy Boomer is the co-host of the morning show and is followed by my Facebook friend Courtney (with whom i exchanged some jollity via email this a.m., too).

Of course, i scrubbed Catieboo's litterbox -- the usual Tuesday morning ritual.

And then, after breakfast, a sausage samwidge, i started to watch the Nicolas Cage film "Lord Of War" and ... fell asleep. This was not a reflection on the film -- from what i saw (and what i remember) it looked damned good. But i couldn't keep my minces open, and i woke at around 6 p.m. After which it was just another quiet evening at home.

Life in the bus lane.... 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Holiday Diary, Autumn 2014

Quotation Of The Day ~ Billie Joe Armstrong: I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies /
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives / On holiday. (From "American Idiot.")

Right well, i am now on holiday for 8.5 days -- today being my half day off -- and it began in dismal fashion, with me leaving an hour late (because no one was scheduled to come in and take over for me). I'm not well pleased about that, it completely screwed up my lunch plans -- and i truly believe that the two-hour lunch is a pinnacle of Western culture. But that's the restaurant biz for you: i learned long ago that one cannot make plans for right after one's shift, leaving on time is not something you can reasonably expect to be able to do.

I'm not going anywhere, i'm trying (although not with much success as yet) to save the $$$ for the trip to St Louis next year), in fact my plans for the eight days are very vague at this point. There's a lot i want to do around the house; i may actually get some of it done. A new computer is definitely in the cards so some time will be spent configuring that. Beer will be drunk, music will be listened to, porn will be looked at, movies and reading will be caught up on, and many sentences will be ended with prepositions.

Two things i'm really looking forward to, though: finally being able to try Kelsey's weekend brunch, and listening to the Sunday Classics programme on KSHE radio. It's such a great programme, and as i've only had one Sunday off in two years ... I have the KSHE app on my phone and i try to listen when i'm slaving away on the Sabbath day but that's a long, long way from being ideal: not much volume and loads of peripheral noise -- it's slightly better than not at all, but only slightly.

Here's three more from my CD collection:

And the playlist:

Howard Jones - Best Of Howard Jones
10 c.c. - How Dare You!
Marillion - Clutching At Straws
Paul McCartney - Driving Rain
Chris Leslie - Origins
Marillion - Fugazi
Fairport Convention - Festival Bell
Van der Graaf Generator - World Record

Sunday, 21 September 2014

I Got Da Music In Me

Quotation of the day ~ Ludwig van Beethoven: Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.

 Nothing but music today, kids.

Here are some CD covers (the first one is a new acquisition)

And , of course, my playlist (because i know you care):

The Kinks - To The Bone
Genesis - Trespass
The Pretty Reckless -Going To Hell
Dave Swarbrick - English Fiddler
Dave Swarbrick & Simon Nicol - Another Fine Mess
Jethro Tull - Rock Island
Pink Floyd - Live At Pompeii
Thin Lizzy - Renegade
Van der Graaf Generator - Godbluff
Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden
Chicago - Chicago V
Big Wreck - Ghosts
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Isle Of Wight 1970
Marillion - Brave
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells III
The Yardbirds - Smokestack Lightning
Seether - Isolate And Medicate
Peter Hammill - X My Heart
Marillion - Brave Live 2013
Keith Emerson - Changing States
Peter Hammill - Enter K
The Tragically Hip - Now For Plan A
Free - Tons Of Sobs
Dead Can Dance - Spleen And Ideal
Wishbone Ash - The Best Of Wishbone Ash

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Born In The U.K., Eh?

Sometimes, i really do wonder who i am, where i belong. When i was a teenager (and younger), growing up in post-war England, i wanted more than anything to be American. We had rationing and although i can't really say i lacked for anything, except maybe chocolate (and i've never really developed a taste for it), Americans seemed so much more interesting, and so well-off. Of course, this impression came from television -- i still remember the ad for Nescafe, saying that it was "America's Favourite Coffee," although obviously at that age i didn't drink coffee. And one of the first television programmes i remember, was "I Love Lucy." And i wanted to live there. Somehow, though, i wound up in Canada.

The first American city i ever visited, was Buffalo, New York. No, really. And i remember that i was so proud and happy to have American food in my stomach and American dirt on my shoes.So i went to the States as often as i could -- tours up and down the east coast a couple of times, Boston once, Detroit twice (to see concerts by The Kinks and David Bowie) New York City many times -- i actually lived and worked there for a little while and in fact i still think of it as being my spiritual home, it's just so dynamic, so much energy, so much going on.

But then something happened. Actually, Margaret Atwood happened. I read a couple of her novels, which were delightful, but more than anything, her non-fiction book "Survival" -- a brilliant look at how Canada and the USA, sharing one vast land mass, developed very different cultures and how Canada's climate and topography influenced its national identity. I was fascinated, started to read more Canadian writers (Robertson Davies, Mordecai Richler, Marie-Clair Blais), became interested in Canadian history (the doomed Franklin expedition haunts me, and find it hilarious that the Canadian Civil War was basically a bar fight LOL) (The Battle Of Montgomery's Tavern.) I started a bachelor's degree program at York University called "Studies In Canadian Culture" and was enthused, threw myself into it. This country has nothing to feel inferior about (although feeling inferior is a national characteristic). It was a Canadian artist (whose name i forget, but he was one of the Group Of Seven) who first painted shadows on snow as being blue. Well, they are blue! But no one had ever depicted them that way before...

But then something else happened, in 1977 or thereabouts, and it was a pub, it was The Duke Of Kent. It was an English-styled that opened in my neighbourhood, and i there met such a great bunch of ex-pat Brits, and it was there that i started to recall my English heritage. Some of the people i met there were so great -- and i remain friends with a few of them to this day -- i began to re-embrace my Englishness, and i was proud of it.

Now, though, after many years of listening to British music almost exclusively, reading books by British writers almost exclusively, i have entered the autumn of my years and have reverted to my younger self in a way, and have begun to recall my earlier Americophilia.

A couple of years ago, i was complaining to my friend Dave that my morning radio station -- to which i had been a devoted listener for years -- had changed ownership or management or something and had gone into the toilet; it had become unlistenable. Dave, who lives in St Clair, Missouri, suggested i might like a station called KSHE from St Louis and i checked it out online and ... thereby Dave changed my life.

I have written previously about how much i feel attracted to St Louis, an attraction that was kick-started primarily by KSHE and solidified by my own research into the place  -- and here's something that will gratify my Anonymous commentator -- i am planning a trip for next year -- but here's something else. Through Dave, i have become friends, on Facebook, with quite a few people from the St Louis area, and they are a wonderful bunch! I'm really looking forward to meeting them and i'm starting to feel American again.... So. Full circle?

p.s., i'm posting this on September 11th, a day on which we are all of us, every one, Americans.

Saturday, 9 August 2014


I understand that my legions of fans -- or me, anyway (if i can be considered a legion) must be miffed at my lack of new posts, and i do have a new one in draft stage, but it's the 21st century's number one problem: lack of time.

So all i have for you is a playlist:

Atlanta Rhythm Section - Third Annual Pipe Dream
Rush - Power Windows
Genesis - Calling All Stations
Kate Bush - The Kick Inside
Jethro Tull - Original Masters
Ian Anderson - TAAB 2
Tolo Marton - Stage Exit
Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior
The Pretty Reckless - Going To Hell
Rory Gallagher - Defender
Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus
Jeff Beck - You Had It Coming
Chris Squire - Fish Out Of Water
The Kinks - Think Visual
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
Genesis - Three Sides Live
Florence & The Machine - Lungs
The Kinks - Sleepwalker
Rory Gallagher - Top Priority
King Crimson - Starless And Bible Black
Pink Floyd - The Wall Live
The Kinks - Misfits
Joan Osborne - Love And Hate
Rory Gallagher - Blueprint
Genesis - Foxtrot
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound
Marillion -
Steeleye Span - Time
Steeleye Span - Horkstow Grange
Steeleye Span - They Called Her Babylon
Steeleye Span - Bloody Men
Shirley Collins - Amaranth
Richard Thompson - Acoustic Classics
Mike Oldfield - Tr3s Lunas

Monday, 19 May 2014

Just (Just?) Music

Quotation of the day ~ P.G. Wodehouse: "I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled."

Ok, okay, or, if you prefer, ok-eh, it's been a while since i posted anything and that's because i was planning a post about my transition from Windows XP to Windows 7 but i haven't actually made it yet. I backed everything up to an external hard drive, this one, in fact:

but it's been tough scraping up the dosh for a new PC, i don't earn a lot of money -- which is fine with me, i don't normally need a lot, but a major expense like a new PC creates a definite strain on the fambly budget.

So, really, all i have today is the next installment of my CD collection (Jeff Beck section), and a playlist. So here ya go:

And the playlist?

Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick
Camel - Breathless
The Beatles - Beatles For Sale
The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night
King Crimson - Thrak
Steely Dan - Katy Lied
Steely Dan - The Royal Scam
Tolo Marton - Stage List
Paul Rodgers - Muddy Water Blues
Steely Dan - Gaucho
Jeff Beck - Jeff
Sandy Denny - Sandy
The Records - The Records
Mike Orlando - Sonic Stomp II (twice!)
Martyn Bennett - Bothy Culture
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Los Angeles, 1969-04-26 (shhh, a bootleg)
Van der Graaf Generator - World Record
Various Artists - The Black Keys And Friends
AC/DC - Black Ice
Jack Bruce - Silver Rails
Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick - Skin And Bone
Chris Foster - Outsiders
Runrig - In Search Of Angels
Rush - Vapor Trails
Virgil Donati - In This Life
Saga - House Of Cards
Jethro Tull - Roots To Branches
The Pretty Reckless - Going To Hell
Jethro Tull - A Passion Play
Van der Graaf Generator - Vital
John Miles - Stranger In The City

Friday, 18 April 2014

CD Collection, Part The Umpteenth

Quotation Of The Day ~ Douglas Adams: It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase "As pretty as an airport" appear.

Well, after the brutal personal honesty of my last post, readers of this blog (few and far between as they may be) now know more about me than most of the people i know in meatspace (as opposed to cyberspace, id est). And it was a tough one to write, i'm not usually that open. The tequila helped.

So this post will be pretty banal. I haven't added an installment to my CD collection for a bit, so here's the next five:

And just a relatively brief playlist for y'all:

The Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
Alan Stivell - A L'Olympia
Big Wreck - In Loving Memory Of...
Camel - Breathless
Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic

Happy Easter Bunnies!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Love Walks In

Quotation of the day ~ John Greenleaf Whittier: Of all sad words of tongue or pen, / The saddest are these: it might have been.

This is going to be a very self-indulgent post -- yes, even more so than usual. Blogging as catharsis, tcha.

Something has been preying on my mind of late, and i propose to blether about that; in another way, though, it's about a song, and how that song applies to my present situation. It's a thesis about "Love Walks In" by Van Halen and, oh, look, here's the song:

But, a bit of a preamble. I've always been lousy at relationships. I'm a nice guy but impossible to live with (just ask my cat). (But please don't ask my ex-wife!) I'm egocentric, unambitious, mildly autistic (Asperger's Syndrome) and basically a slob, and probably alcoholic, too. I have my demons, and i'm losing that battle. The longest relationship i've ever had lasted maybe two years. And the women have invariably left me -- i've never left one. I accept the blame each time, too. I don't know what i did, but it must have been my fault. Guilt is a major component in my psyche. Not exactly a prize catch, then, devilish good looks aside....

So i pretty much gave up on relationships altogether and i've been on my own ever since my last catastrophic failure 22 years ago, and fine with it. Alone but never lonely, it's the only way to be. Until about six years ago, that is, when someone extraordinarily attractive, intelligent and funny (and i shan't name her) swam into my ken. And that's where the song comes in.

Sammy Hagar, in his introduction to the video, says that it's about aliens. Well, maybe. But thanks to the magic of deconstructionism, i may interpret it any way i wish, and i prefer to think that it's about thoughts and feelings that are alien to someone, i.e., me, arriving out of nowhere and flattening you. Me.

Let's look at a few of the lyrics. The first two lines are:  Contact is all it takes / To change your life to lose your place in time. Well, yes, that happened, as i said, about six years ago. I was attracted to her almost immediately and i do believe it was mutual and i lost my place in time, my equilibrium, my sense of my own age (which is: far too old to be having these feelings). I'd been gliding along peacefully alone and all of a sudden, KERFLOOEY! (to use a technical term), i found myself inordinately and dangerously attracted to a woman.

Contact. Asleep or awake coming around you may wake up to find Questions deep within your eyes,now more than ever, you realize.Yes, i would wake up thinking about this woman. I DO wake up thinking about her. And recalling fondly how beautiful her eyes are.

And then you sense a change Nothing feels the same All your dreams are strange, love comes walkin' in
Well, yes, that's it, exactly! Something changed, everything felt different. And my dreams -- well, everyone's dreams are strange, but suddenly i was having a different kind of dream, dreams of another me, a me for whom a relationship with a woman might be a possibility.... (Sexual fantasies aren't in it at all although she is extremely callipygous!) I think that the strangest things about the dreams is that they are NOT erotic -- you may not believe this, but at my age i've pretty much exhausted  eroticism, i've done everything, what attracts and appeals to me now is someone to BE with (with my slippers on and a beer nearby). The sexiest part of a woman is her brain.

Some kind of alien
Waits for the opening
. That's a reference to the open Ports in my brain. I didn't think i had any any more. The firewall let me down there!

Then simply pulls a string 
Love comes walking in.
Another world, some other time
You lay your sanity on the line
Familiar faces familiar sights
Reach back remember with all your might
Ohh and there she stands in a silken gown
Silver lights shining down.

I've never seen her in a silken gown, although i would love to. She'd look like Galadriel. But what are those silver lights? Stars shining down onto her, maybe, that weren't visible until she swept the clouds away? Or is it her aura, her positivity, shining down onto me from her...?

Love comes walkin' in

Sleep and dream that's all I crave. Sleep? I've heard of it....

I travel far across the Milky Way. Milky Way is a reference to her skin, her complexion, i do believe. Not that i've ever travelled far across it, although i've touched it, and liked it. So soft, so warm....

To my master I've become a slave. My master? My puppet master, dangling my brain cells on a string like a marionette
Til we meet again some other day
Where silence speaks as loud as war
earth returns to what it was before
. Yes, well, she'll be going off soon, to begin her life, and i don't honestly expect i'll ever see her again. Life returns to what it was before.

She could save my life, if i thought it were worth saving. And this is the problem. Malcolm Lowry wrote something along the lines of, he knew that salvation lay in love; his tragedy was his failure of desire for that upward path -- well, that, and the fact that she's 'way too young for me.

Note: this entire post is now null and void: i've been reading Sammy Hagar's autobiography, "Red" (a great read, btw) and he writes about the song and says that it's not really about aliens at all but about alien concepts walking in and taking you by surprise. Well, duh! to me! But i'm gonna post it anyway.

Here, have a playlist:

Joe Bonamassa - You And Me
Mike Oldfield - Man On The Rocks
Rory Gallagher - Defender
Jack Bruce & Robin Trower - Seven Moons
Peter Hammill - Fool's Mate
Shirley Collins And The Albion Country Band - No Roses
Fairport Convention - Tipplers' Tales
Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli - Souvenirs
Paul Rodgers - Electric
Roxy Music - Viva!
Alan Stivell - The Best Of Alan Stivell
Marillion - Fugazi
Simon Nicol - Before Your Time
Steely Dan - Aja
Pyewackett - Pyewackett
Thin Lizzy - Dedication: The Very Best Of Thin Lizzy
Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
Saga - 20/20
Runrig - The Big Wheel
Bluehorses - Thirteen Fires

Sunday, 2 March 2014


Quotation Of The Day ~ Cormac McCarthy: I got what I needed instead of what I wanted and that's just about the best kind of luck you can have.

I recently downloaded an app for my phone called Moves

My doctor once told me that, in spite of my relatively unhealthy lifestyle (drinking, smoking, generally avoiding fresh fruit and veggies, living alone, etc.) (well, there's that damned pest of a cat, too) (<wink>) i'm in pretty good shape for my advanced age thanks to the fact that i walk a lot. I like walking!

Anyway, Moves uses the GPS to track my every step and i was interested in seeing how far i actually did walk in a day. Admittedly, at this time of year, and with the weather being the way it has been -- snow upon snow upon more snow and, let's be honest, it's also been fucking freezing -- i haven't been strolling the streets and avenues of my fair town as much as i might do on, say, a sunny day in May. (In fact, i hate walking atm, slithering and sliding all over the place, clambering over churned-up ice and that's been covered with layers of snow, it's too much like work....)

So, according to Moves, over the past two weeks, and excluding the time i spend at work wandering around aimlessly (i turn my 'phone off when i'm at the shop), i've walked an average of 2.5 kilometres a day. Not much, really, but then the weather has been in large part to blame. I come home with my face frozen, i don't want to go out and have it frozen again.  And, this winter, i have fallen more often than ever before -- sometimes tripping over objects hidden underneath the snow, but mostly in attempts to clamber over snow mountains that have been deposited in my path by the ploughs (or, for the benefit of my American readers, "plows"). Fortunately no harm done, except for a torn pair of trousers.... No broken bones or bloodshed.

Another thing about Moves, though, is that it tags my locations. (Damn that GPS, that eye in the sky!) And it's staggering, what a limited orbit i have had lately! For example, in the past two weeks, it tells me that i've been to Kelsey's seven times, to the bank twice, to Video + Books twice, to the beer store three times, the liquor store once, to Bentley's once, to Quiznos twice, to the grocery store four times, to Fanfare Books once and Joe's Variety three times and ... that's it. Those are the only places i've been to in two weeks, other than home and work.

What a sad old fart i have become.... I'll be less of one, though, as soon as the summer arrives. If it ever does.... (I'll be a happier old fart LOL.)

Caveat: Moves uses up a lot of battery. Even though, as i said, my phone is off all day at work, i still have to charge it every night.

Here's the playlist:

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Greatest Hits
Simon Nicol - Consonant Please Carol
Marillion - Sounds That Can't Be Made
Spiers & Boden - Tunes
Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes
Jeff Lynne - Into The Light
John Fogerty - Blue Moon Swamp
Joe Satriani -- Unstoppable Momentum
Stone The Crows - Teenage Licks
Ofra Haza - Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival
The Beatles - Help!
The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children
The Beatles - Beatles For Sale
The Vaughan Brothers - Family Style
The Beatles - Rubber Soul
Camel - I Can See Your House From Here
Colin James - 25 Live
Camel - A Live Record
Jack Bruce - Songs For A Tailor
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Live Alive

And the next selections from my CD collection:

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Adventures In Modern Drinking

Quotation of the day ~ George Jones: Maybe some folks are alcoholics and others are just voluntary drunks. Maybe some folks drink due to body chemistry and others due to their lazy characters. Maybe some have drinking problems, while others have problems enough to drink.
As anyone who knows me will tell you, and as i've probably mentioned here ad nauseam, i am very fond of my beer. I'm also very fond of pubs, they're (quite possibly) my natural habitat, but i don't go to pubs to drink. No, really. If i just wanted to drink, i could do it at home and save a lot of money. I like the atmosphere and, as i spent a part of my childhood in England, living above a pub, they're in my blood somehow. (Same as, when i lived in Toronto, i lived upstairs from a pizza parlour. Starting at around 10 a.m., the aroma of pepperoni & cheese would waft up and imbue my studio, and, to this day, i have a Pavlovian reaction at the very thought of pizza.)

My favourite pub where i live now, is Kelsey's. Easy walking distance from both home and my work. There are one or two other places i drop into occasionally, but i've been going to Kelsey's on average maybe twice or thrice a week ever since it opened and it's my home away from home. Really. I feel that comfortable there.

I know you're curious as to why, and i'll tell you one reason. It's because i have friends who work there, i like everyone who works there, and some of the waitresses, i am far more fond of than i should be, at my age. (I'm honestly not a dirty old man but if i were 35 years younger....) Kelsey's -- as a good pub should be -- is a large part of my social life.

I like to think that i drink in a mature, responsible and "sober" (if that word applies) manner, though (except on Christmas Eve!). In public, anyway.  My usual routine is, have two pints (never fewer, rarely more), look at email, Facebook & Twitter on my phone, and then spend the rest of the hour or so reading my book (and occasionally flirting outrageously with the waitresses). And, let me tell you: every single server at Kelsey's is an attractive female, some of them i would even class as beautiful. Well, i DID say i don't go there to drink!

OK, that was rather a lengthy preamble, covering territory i've most likely covered before on these pages. On to the adventure.

On Friday, i dropped in, Jill had my pint before me in a record-setting ten seconds (she'd seen me coming) and i relaxed, did the Facebook / Twitter thing, and started to read my book (Ian Rankin's "Fleshmarket Close" if you're interested).

The only other people at the bar were a couple, a fairly loud woman and her very mousy male companion, but i paid them no heed and concentrated on my book. But then Jilly sent me a Facebook message saying "oh, dear." I thought (and hoped) at first that she was about to profess undying love, you know, like saying "oh, dear" after some world-obliterating sex, (i think it's okay for me to say that, she knows how fond of her i am) but then realised that she was dismayed about the stentorian female.

There was an argument over something (probably trivial). She started to yell at her "date," and he left, but heck, i wasn't paying too much attention, huge fan of Ian Rankin that i am, but apparently she was in a state of high dudgeon. A woman scorned and all that schtuff. Still and all, though, she was sitting relatively quietly. I'm not sure of the exact chronology, but i think that it was about this time that she ordered a couple of meals to take out. And slipped a salt cellar into her purse.... (And i told Jill so, via Facebook.)

But then she turned her attention on me, the only other person at the bar, alas.... "What are YOU looking at?" she called at me across the bar. I said (in my best Robert deNiro manner) "You talkin' to me?" I was looking at my book, in fact i even showed it to her. "It's called a book, see?" i said. "You can't be reading, you're not really reading, you're a liar." "Thank you very much," i replied, refusing to rise to the challenge. "Why are you pretending to read?" -- and she was literally yelling at this point.  "Well, you're right, i'm not reading now, you're interrupting me."

"You can't be reading," she repeated, with a certain lack of imagination, "not with the Muzak and the tv on. You look stupid!"

Again, i thanked her for her insight. She repeated her opinion on my appearance, more loudly this time,  and again, i thanked her for her view and admitted that she was 100% correct, i was only pretending to read. And, agreed that yes, i do look stupid -- but at my age i try to avoid mirrors and so i was grateful for that assessment. Maybe she was right!

Now, Kelsey's people stepped in. Michelle (manager) insisted that she leave. The customer screamed (literally) "FUCK OFF" (or words to that effect), "today would have been my son's 25th birthday, but he committed suicide!!!! AND NONE OF YOU LOT CARES!!!" Meanwhile, Jen was calling the police.

(Now, all right, if her son's suicide was a fact, it's a tragedy. No parent should have to bury their child. But none of us knew this woman, which, in light of her behaviour, made sympathy difficult. We've all -- every one of us -- lost someone we love. We don't all go doolally at the pub....)

After another brief bout of swearing and shouting, she left, damning us all to hell. Calm descended -- and her take-out dinners appeared from the kitchen, LOL. And then two police officers arrived, one to get the details of the incident, the other to return the salt cellar -- and the pepper shaker and the two plates she had also stuffed into her purse. I didn't notice her doing that -- i must have been too busy "pretending" to read Ian Rankin.

And then i left -- my daily quota of two pints having been taken and my excitement quota for the day (for the month, in fact!) having been more than reached. And Michelle & Jilly paid for one of my beers and gave me the two dinners that this harridan had ordered but left without -- and without paying for -- which i thought was very nice of them, quite unnecessary but much appreciated. That kind of gesture reinforces my loyalty to the place. (The food was good, too -- steak and wings -- Kelsey's food is excellent, although re-heating it four hours later doesn't show it off at its best.)

Now, in all fairness, i don't know for sure that this person was "under the influence." They told me that she hadn't been there all that long (although who knows what she'd been into before her arrival). She may have been a borderline sociopath, maybe mildly schozophrenic, who knows? But she was certainly out of control, and that was what was so disturbing.

All right, all right, as adventures go, this isn't quite up there with The Odyssey, but emotions were running high for me and my friends, and that doesn't happen -- to me, anyway -- all that often. So there.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

When The Solution Exacerbates

I first worked with computers back in the 80's, back in the DOS days (no Internet then, folks!), and felt completely at home with them from the very beginning, but i left the business and wound up (for my sins) in the hospitality industry, and didn't buy my first home computer until Windows 95 -- by which point my computer training was 100% out of date.

When i bought my PC, no one at the shop bothered to mention to me the importance of installing anti-virus software, and so i didn't install any. What did i know? Computer virus? Whassat?

So i gleefully started surfing the Internet -- the usual guy stuff, music and porn -- and sho 'nuff, my shiny new computer was infected within a month.  I had to take it back to the shop to have the virus removed, and that's when they told me about anti-virus software, grrr.

Ever since, i have been cautious to the point of paranoia about computer security.

Today, my anti-virus program, Avast, told me i needed to update, so of course i clicked "yes"automatically. But then i realised that the update would also install Google Chrome as my default browser and i neither need or want Chrome (i already have three browsers and don't like Google anything these days) and so tried to hit the "back" button. It didn't work. So i hit "cancel" instead, and that's when the problems began.

My computer went into a seemingly endless series of re-boots.

I eventually solved the problem by booting into Safe Mode and uninstalling Avast and tried to move on to a different AV program: AVG.

It took a long time: i spent most of this morning downloading, scanning, re-booting, uninstalling, having downloads fail, scanning some more, re-downloading and it was worth it -- i now have AVG installed. I've used them before, i forget why i dumped them, possibly because (as i remembered when i ran my first scan a couple of hours ago) an AVG scan slows my system down to a crawl. (System is clean, btw.) But i also remember my friend Troy (who runs OnSite Technology and who knows more about computers than anyone i've ever met) telling me that Avast was the best; i must ask him about this the next time i see him.

I'll be seeing him pretty soon, too -- i need a new computer. This old machine, which works extremely well (most of the time) is still running Windows XP, which is under its death sentence (scheduled to be executed just three months from now) and, for obvious reasons, i'll no longer be able to use it.

Here's the playlist, cos i know you care (sigh):

Van der Graaf Generator - Godbluff
The Sutherland Brothers And Quiver - Lifeboat
Renaissance - Scheherazade And Other Stories
Cozy Powell - The Best Of Cozy Powell
Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire (soundtrack)
The Byrds - Free Flyte
James Taylor - JT
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - The Return Of The Manticore
The Soft Machine - 3rd
Jimi Hendrix - Blues
Genesis - Abacab
Wishbone Ash - New Jersey 1974 (bootleg)
Original Soundtrack - "The Cowboy Way"
Incubus - A Crow Left Of The Murder
Steeleye Span - Wintersmith
Quintessence - In Blissful Company
The Albion Band - Rise Up Like The Sun
Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes
Jimi Hendrix - Live At The Fillmore East
Fish - A Feast Of Consequences

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Year-End Wrap-Up -- Literary Schtuff

Quotation of the day: Cormac McCarthy ~ Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?

Right, well, the final episode in our year-end wrap-up: books. Here's the list of every book i read in 2013, in chronological order. As i wrote earlier, i keep track.

Dan Gookin – Android Phones For Dummies
Rod Stewart – Rod: The Autobiography
Stieg Larsson – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Played With Fire
Ian Rankin –  Watchman
Ian Rankin – The Flood
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
Martin Amis – Lionel Asbo: State Of England
Ian McEwan – Sweet Tooth
Astrid Lindgren – Pippi Longstocking
Julian Barnes – Levels Of Life
Ian Rankin – Let It Bleed
Astrid Lindgren – Pippi Goes On Board
Ian Rankin – Black And Blue
Astrid Lindgren – Pippi In The South Seas
Ian Rankin – The Hanging Garden
Ian Rankin – Dead Souls
Laurie Lee – Cider With Rosie
Ben Elton – Meltdown
Ian Rankin – Set In Darkness
Daniel Quinn – Ishmael: An Adventure Of The Mind and Spirit
Craig Cabell – Ian Rankin And Inspector Rebus
Ian McEwan – The Child In Time
Daniel Quinn – My Ishmael: A Sequel
Daniel Quinn – Providence: The Story Of A Fifty-Year Vision Quest
Erik Larson – In The Garden Of Beasts
Andreea RadÅ­can – The Other Side Of The Medal
Erik Larson – The Devil In The White City
Daniel Quinn – The Holy
David Lodge – Deaf Sentence
Erik Larson – Thunderstruck
Ian Rankin – The Falls
Ian Rankin – Resurrection Men
Ray Davies – Americana: The Kinks, The Riff, The Road: The Story           
Ian Rankin – The Saints Of The Shadow Bible
Martin Cruz Smith – Havana Bay
Martin Cruz Smith - Tatiana

A lot of these i read for the second or third time -- in particular Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, which, now that i've finally read them all, i'm going through again, in the order he wrote them (and it's fascinating to see how he develops as a writer). Apart from his new novella, "The Lie Factory," which i've listened to on CD (as read by actor Aidan Quinn) but which, in analogue form, is somewhere in my "to-read" pile.

My greatest discovery of the year in non-fiction was Erik Larson. His "In The Garden Of Beasts" gets the nod as best of the year (although "The Devil In The White City" came pretty close!). Larson's forte is linking historical events in hitherto unthought-of ways. "In The Garden Of Beasts" is the story of the American ambassador to Berlin in the 1930s. All around him, he sees signs that Germany is gearing up for war and evidence of Nazi brutality, and sends increasingly-frantic signals back to Washington, but is by and large ignored. Meanwhile, his daughter is having an affair with a high-ranking Nazi officer....

Rod Stewart's autobiography could have been a contender. It started well, lots of laugh-out-loud moments as he wrote about his early days, but then, much like his musical relevance it disintegrated half way through as his drug consumption, his materialistic leanings and his philandering overtook him. Loved the first half, though.

In fiction, it has to be Stieg Larsson, and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." A friend recommended the film version way back in 2012 and i became a devoted -- nay, obsessed -- fan of both Larsson and his amazing creation Lisbeth Salander (which i've written about here many times).

And that's it, folks, the end of the year-end wrap ups -- unless you're interested in my favourite pubs (Kelsey's wins again), my favourite pizza (Domino's for the nth year running), my favourite sub (Quiznos, of course!).

Here's the recent playlist (just a short one again):

The Electric Light Orchestra - Out Of The Blue
Bonnie Raitt - Silver Lining
Saga - Images At Twilight
Radiohead - Kid A
Peter Hammill - Sitting Targets

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Radio, 2013 = K-SHE 95

Quotation Of The Day ~ Margaret Atwood: I particularly like Twitter, because it's short and can be very funny and informative. It's a litle bit like having your own radio program.

My year-end wrap-up wouldn't be the same if i didn't mention the three radio stations that i listened to the most in 2013.

I can't live without the radio in the mornings, and as i've written previously (ad nauseam, probbly), last December the station i had listened to loyally for a couple of years, nosedived and became just another crap station -- all of my favourite deejays either left or were let go and the music, which had once been brilliant, became just the same old schtuff one hears everywhere else but worse.

Mostly, i listened (online, of course!) to K-SHE from St Louis -- a friend who lives in St Clair Missouri (40 miles west of St Louis) told me about it in December and i was hooked the moment they played a Rory Gallagher song! And one of their deejays and i are now friends on Facebook -- we natter about music almost daily. And in fact i've developed a fascination with the city of St Louis, as i've written elsewhere, thanks to K-SHE.

The station i listened to the second most often in 2014 was K-Rock from Kingston, Ontario. Well, it's an excellent rock music station, but the reason i started listening to it is that my old chum Wendy Boomer is co-host of the morning show and she's great.

The other station i stream occasionally is Boom. They play 70's / 80's / 90's and a lot of schtuff i love but also a lot of more technodisco nonsense that i could quite happily live without. The selling point here is that another old pal, Vanessa Murphy, works there part-time. Usually the morning show on the weekends. She's terrific, but it would be unusual for me to listen to the station if she wasn't on-air.

Oh, there are other stations i listen to once in a while, New Zealand's Hauraki for instance, but these are the ones that do it for me more than any others.

Here's the latest from the CD collection:

and a (very) brief playlist (i've been busy, what can i tell ya?):

Jethro Tull - A Passion Play
Fairport Convention - Liege & Lief
John Tams - Unity
Joe Satriani - Unstoppable Momentum
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound