Practice Practice

Don't know how many times I've played Hotel California over the last couple of days. But I'm getting better at it - which I suppose is the point of practice.

So here's a link to it.... IT.

Hotel Calif

Currently considering what songs to learn in the new year. Anyway, now I'm off out for a couple of beers to bring in the new year. Should do a couple more blogs tomorrow. In the meantime though...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!



DSC_0183
CHEERS!
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Check Out Any Time You Like

Had a wee bit of a strum today playing Hotel California - such a fab song. When I played with a few mates back in the 1990s one of them had written out the lyrics for it, but we never got around to playing it. It predated Google and all that and I realised today that he'd got a few words wrong, which is quite off-putting when you're playing along. Anyway, got them sorted now. Shows how long it is since I've been into playing; handwritten lyrics as (mis)heard from the LP?

Decided to record my playing it. A minute and a half into it though I noticed Footy Focus was starting so had to pause the TV (I wasn't going to miss it with Liverpool being top of the league). It was quite funny so I've left it in the vid anyway. The end of the song is a bit nothing. But I'll re-record it at some point. The question now is whether I'll learn the song and play it at one of the Open Mics in 2019?

Anyway, should you like a laugh then my strum is here....

I do like the Eagles. I was lucky enough to see them in Moscow back in 2001 or so. Funnily enough they played their gig in two sets and opened the second set with Hotel California. Russians being Russians most of them missed it as they were beneath the stands still drinking. The gig ended with the Russian audience chanting 'Cal-if-forn-I-A, Cal-if-forn-I-A...'. They were gutted when they didn't come out to play it again. Still makes me laugh now.

I am currently reading 'VOX' by Christina Dalcher. Nice easy read and over half way through now so should finish it before New Year, which will mean I'll have read 34 books this year (according to my GoodReads records). A bit down on last year, but it is what it is. Need to make some plans for my reading next year and more importantly my writing. It's been a mixed year for writing for me. I got published just the once which is the least I've been published since I first was back in 2014. That said I was made up with this publication, with it being the third of the Infernal Clock anthologies: 'Deadcades'. I've been lucky enough to had stories in all three of them and they are all excellent, this year's though seems a cut above. Unless we're going to get to a situation where Infernal Clock get to Part 5 of a Trilogy, in a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy style, then I'm going to have to find some suitable places to submit stories for. And this must form a decent part of my planning. I've still got to find a home for the original story I wrote for the Infernal Clock: Calendark too.

The other positive was finishing NaNoWriMo for the second time. It was a bit chaotic this time, but I think I've learnt a lot from that which makes it worthwhile in itself. I need to go on and finish that in 2019 and then edit, re-edit etc if I think it is worth it. At the same time I've got to consider whether to finish and rewrite the NaNo from 2017.

As you can see I have some planning to do. Now I've finished strumming for the day - and writing a quick blog - then it IS planning time. Well as much as I can before watching the Liverpool v Arsenal game with a couple of mates and some ales.

No doubt will report back on here with writing and reading plans. It's kinda what the blog is for really.
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Books, Books, Books

Last week my lovely sis' asked me if there were any books that I wanted for Christmas and I gave a list of five:

Golden Atlas

'VOX' by Christina Dalcher
'The Golden Atlas' by Edward Brooke-Hitching
'On Writing' by Stephen King
'Milk of Paradise' by Lucy Inglis
'Norse Mythology' by Neil Gaiman

She told me at the weekend that she had got me one. Huzzah!

Then on the 23rd December Christina Dalcher tweeted out a link that the Kindle Version of VOX was available via Amazon for 99p. Flip an absolute bargain! But did I already have a copy neatly wrapped up ready for Christmas Day? I thought about it for a while then decided to take a risk. There was a one in five chance that the wrapped pressie was VOX so I risked buying it - hell it was only 99p.

Line In The Sand
Whilst I was there I found another interesting and highly rated book for the same price on the French and British carving up of the Middle East in the early 20th Century: 'A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle that Shaped The Middle East' by James Barr. It looked a boss read so I picked that up too. The two Kindle books were the first I'd bought for the device for quite a while - I've been very much second-hand book shopping most of this year.

And then came Christmas and the book from my sister... had I wasted that 99p? Nah, of course not. She'd got me the beautiful Golden Atlas. Fab!
VOX
So I've got two from that list of five and a bonus interesting book too. Well in.

I've been looking forward to getting my hands on VOX as the premise looks right up my street and it has been getting some great reviews (some of more than 100 words). And of course there was a second reason to be keen on getting hold of this one: Christina kindly wrote the foreword to the Infernal Clock anthology: Deadcades - which this year has been the only book I've been published in - and very proudly at that. Hope to get it read next before the new year.
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Last Class Song Of The Day

This evening I've scheduled in the last of what I'll call the 'official' Class Song of the Day songs. I've been doing this since April of last year and have only accidentally missed a couple of days in that time. As said previously though it does take a little time and I have put pressure on myself to keep it going. Now that I've decided to finish it of as of December 31st then I won't have the time pressure to keep up with it.

FT1 DavidBowie Counting Crows1

That's not to say I won't tweet out songs from now on. It just means if I don't I won't feel I've messed it up if I miss a day, or a week, or if I repeat any songs. In fact I've actually carried on and buffered songs a week into the new year. And I now don't care that a few of these are repeats of earlier songs I've tweets out links to. Ha! Who cares? Not me. I've not added the hashtag #ClassSongOfTheDay to the songs for next year. The hashtag may or may not remain dormant. We shall see.

Anyways carry on loving music. Because there aren't many legal things much better than music out there.

Cracker Ryan Adams Bullet Warren Zevon
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Final Open Mic of the Year

Yesterday I went to my fourth Open Mic event at the Sanctuary Bar, Liverpool. It was the final one of the year.

There was a decent turnout and it was very enjoyable. There were six or seven guitarists performing as well as a fab poet and an author reading a couple of his stories out.

AJW-OpenMic

There were a couple of teething issues with a dodgy connection between the guitar and the PA and a severely struggling mic stand which was taped up and unadjustable. This meant I was a wee bit hunched up to get down to the hobbit level of the mic. I trust that at Xmas the Open Mic team will get a new mic stand. Er if they've been good.

I did a couple of songs I haven't performed before: 'Somewhere Down the Road' by Chuck Prophet and 'Couldn't Get Arrested' by Green on Red. In addition I did 'Better Be Home Soon' (Crowded House) and 'Van Diemen's Land' (U2).

John

Getting more relaxed playing which can only be a good thing.

New year I hope to start writing my own songs.

Dry IceOpen3Open2

I've uploaded a few of my practices of these songs on my YouTube Channel so I'll be able to chart my hopeful improvement as I get back into playing again.

Thanks must go to the Sanctuary Bar and the organisers of the Open Mic. It's a cool relaxed event and I'm glad to have found it. Roll on 2019.
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Last Eight Days

With Elton John being my last artist getting a whole week for himself on #ClassSongOfTheDay this week,I've gone and picked my artists for the last eight days of the year, but not the songs - incidentally it was supposed to be the week for Pixies then Lykke Li. The artists I have gone for are:

  • Decemberists
  • Jayhawks
  • Neil Young
  • Teenage Fanclub
  • Chuck Prophet
  • Warren Zevon
  • Ryan Adams
  • Frank Turner

Unsurprisingly it has come out largely as Americana and singer songwriters. A difficult pick with Bright Eyes, John Hiatt, Blue Aeroplanes, Felice Brothers, Thea Glimore, Adele and Iron & Wine all waiting in the wings.
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More Strumming

It's been good to get back to strumming the guitar again. I've had too many months and years not playing the thing. It's just been sat there. I should have continued with it. Anyway, I've found it again and I'm loving getting back to it. Looking at what I used to play back in the 1990s I've evidently forgotten a hell of a lot.

The main thing I need to work on in the short term is sorting some decent strumming out. I'm posting some of my practicing on YouTube hoping that it will serve to act as a baseline for me to move away from.

I've played three Open Mics in the last six weeks or so and aim to get to four shortly and next time I'm going to play some different songs as I am trying to expand my repertoire. I'm minded to give
'Somewhere Down The Road' by Chuck Prophet and 'Couldn't Get Arrested' by Green on Red a go. I can always throw in a couple that I have done previously. I've never played these before in public. So will be nice to see the song options improve if not the quality of my playing... yet.

I've put me wee attempt at
Somewhere Down the Road up. A class song, if not the way I play it ;-)

Somewhere

Once I can play better maybe I should do something about the sound and lighting and maybe I'll get some dancing troupe to distract any accidental viewers.
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#ClassBrexitStrategyOfTheDay

Brexit: My Two Euros Worth

It says something that I don't have a Category on my website to put Brexit or politics into. I've got plenty for reading, writing, music and travel. Let's face it politics is something that happens around us and to us rather than involves most of us most of the time - other than voting. And that's the way it should be. If politics is suddenly the be-all-and-end-all, or the major topic of conversation, then it tends to mean something is wrong. So here we are on both sides of the Atlantic - and the Channel too - in a wee bit of a mess because something appears to be broken which we thought wasn't - akin to starting your car which worked yesterday but you concede today when the engine blows that maybe you haven't been checking the oil as much as you should have.

Anyway, like I say this is just a quick one before I go and play some guitar and read a book, before going to watch the Liverpool match with a pint and a couple of mates... get it? Music, books, beer, mates and football: that's the kind of stuff we want to be enjoying and talking about. Not the nonsense in Parliament, Brussels and beyond.

But these guys and gals on all sides of the House are fucking it up for us and it's doing my bloody nut in.

My points (and I won't expand on them at this time because my coffee is getting cold and my
Takamine is saying 'play me') on the whole horrible debacle are thus:

1. We should never have had a vote on it.
2. But when we did surely the majority required should have been something more sensible, like a two thirds for something so important.
3. That said the vote was made and - unfortunately, in my view - the UK voted to leave and so we should.
4. Scotland did not vote to stay any more than Liverpool or London did. And every time I hear someone from the SNP saying 'their' vote is getting ignored it makes my blood boil. The vote was for the UK as a whole. I voted to remain, Liverpool voted to remain, but the
UK voted leave and that's that. QED.
5. These guys and gals in Parliament are playing internal power games as if they were playing the fiddle while Rome burns. The myriad of different thoughts on what the Brexit that people voted for is a complete nonsense. There was not a
type of Brexit that people voted for. People just voted to leave. That's it. Did any of these politicians see the ballot paper?
6. It is as clear as the clearest day through the clearest glasses with the clearest hindsight that it is going to be impossible to satisfy everyone. Indeed due to the nature of the issue everyone will have to give ground and ultimately there will need to be an agreement that no one in the UK is happy with. Well that's surely just the nature of the beast. 48% of "The People" will be pissed off, whilst the other 52% can be divided into say ten or more camps. Okay, so maybe we can satisfy 5% of "The People" then.
7. The Second Referendum: How the hell is that going to solve anything. The 48% will hope they suddenly get to 50.00001% and then everything will return to 2016 and all will be well in the world? I don't see that as right at all. What if we make it best of three? Or maybe get Barnier and May to play stone, paper, scissors and televise it. It would be nice to think that one day we'll get a Government that governs. The problem with asking the people is that the wrong results happen (see 8. below).
8. Maybe give each of the Strictly dancers a Brexit strategy and we get the BBC viewers to phone in and vote for the one they want (not that they ever actually vote for the best of course - it's all about the journey).
9. And don't even get me started on the 'Six Tests' the first one saying "we must be no worse off from where we were..." may as well say we want to have our cake and eat it and the cake better be a nice one too. And then the other five tests include a magically refilling pint glass, unlimited cheese and a perpetual motion machine. The impossible list is something from a children's book:
"Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum I smell the chaos of a referendum". How do people actually go on the TV or radio and spout that shit without cracking up?
10. The politicians have got us into this mess by holding the vote and not preparing for the result. Whether they didn't expect it is neither here nor there. The leave campaign was inept of course, but surely in a two horse race you've got to be ready to consider that maybe the horse you're backing may not win. They are now lost and squabbling in a pitch black maze, whilst occasionally dropping hand-grenades and swinging swords (or maces) about. In the meantime the general public watches in awe at the incompetence and stupidity of it all. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't go in there carrying the purse of the nation and future aspirations for all who sail with her.
11. At least they'll have sorted the immigration issue. Before too long Europe will be worried about boats coming the other way across the channel. Okay, maybe not France, Spain or Romania perhaps.

Anyway, my coffee is now cold and needs topping up: for some reason I can't seem to drink my coffee and still have coffee. I blame Brussels for that.

Enough of this nonsense. I'll try not to comment on politics again.

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TV and Time Creation

So I fixed my TV earlier in the week by disconnecting the buttons that work it (yeah, who'd have thunk it?) and what did I do last night? I only went and watched the Strictly Final and Michael Bloody McIntyre. I mean WTF!? If ever there was evidence that my remote control wasn't working that would normally be it. But no, I saw through most of the former and all of the latter with only two bottles of Wild Bill's IPA from Aldi to keep me company: Living the Dream on a Saturday night. To be fair I did actually quite enjoy them - but, in my defence, I was also quite knackered. With respect to the winner, I do like Stacey Dooley for what she does on the telly box, but I thought (assuming we weren't basing it purely on actual dancing - when clearly the American Pussycat should have won) then Faye deserved it. Anyway, congrats to Grimsby and all that.

I then went all dark and watched the latest two episodes of
Sinner (Season 1) on BBC4. An interesting crime in a fucked up little American town with a fucked up police detective investigating the crime. It's hard to think of any detectives on the box that aren't at least a wee bitted messed up in one way or another. I assume at detective interviews if you claim you have a calm and stable life with no messy backstory, or a closet full of weird shit, you don't get to the second round of interviews. In this one he's got a messed up marriage and spends most his none investigating time getting beaten up by an ex (who he now pays to do it) in a severe masochistic relationship. Still, I'm sure he'll uncover the crime and all the baddies in the end; as long as he doesn't get accidentally suffocated first in a bizarre sexual encounter. Now that's an ending... and all the criminals lived happily ever after in the ultimate sliding doors moment.

In other news, I announced I'd probably stop
Class Song of the Day at the end of this year (frighteningly just 15 days away) and one of my (okay probably my only) regular clicker and listener has said 'I won't miss it...'. Now that is a damning indictment if ever I've read one. I suppose if not doing it gives me another 26 hours a year to do something and it does for others too, then I have magically created at least 6 working days of time out of nothing. So sometimes stopping something can be a job well done then. Huzzah!

Talking of time creation... watching that much TV in a night can't be a good thing. But I was tuckered out and moving not a jot was the way to go. Won't be watching too much TV today other than the Liverpool v Man Utd match (and if we win MOTD).
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Class Song of the Day

In April last year I came up with the idea of Class Song of the Day, where I would post on Twitter each day a song I rather liked - in theory for others to listen to too. And I've been doing that ever since.

Partly it was to avoid a habit of not posting a song for ages then inundating my poor Twitter followers with loads of songs and bands in a flurry of some Friday evening or other. Such Tweet barrages are hard to stomach when you receive them. As often as not you'd ignore a sudden influx from one source - well I do at any rate. So a regular timed, once a day effort, kinda made sense.

Anyway I am of a mind to end it now at the end of this year. I've not run out of bands or songs and whilst it doesn't take that much time its regularity is something that requires me to keep on top of once a week or so with respect to the website and a maximum of once every ten days to put the Tweets into Buffer. In truth it probably takes about half an hour a week or so. But ultimately whilst I've enjoyed curating this music - whether it is to people who haven't heard it before or have (or reintroducing the music to me) - there are not many people listening to it and it won't really be missed. Maybe it is only half an hour, but I could use that half an hour for writing a blog or even - god forbid - stories. Or maybe applying for jobs. Or baking cakes.

Well, not the latter.

Half an hour a week is 26 hours a year - or three working days - to do writing (or baking or eating cake).

At the end of the day (or week) I've only got my No.1 music follower Sal as a regular visitor and clicker who may miss it. Maybe I'll just DM some band names or links to her instead. ;-)


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Samsung TV Fix

I reported a few weeks ago my TV had started going a bit random on me. It would turn itself over to other sources, cycling through TV/PC/HDMI input 1/HDMI input 2 etc very frustrating. In actual fact it has been relatively well behaved and only doing it occasionally for a while. But when you're watching something and it suddenly goes off and you can't get it back on it is more than frustrating.

The Remote had stopped working completely - apart from the On/Off button - and the buttons on the side of the TV were not useful (I could turn on the Menu, but could not select anything from it).

I had looked through pages and pages of issues for Troubleshooting on the net looking for possible issues and fixes and was fearing it was a board/capacitor issue which would end up being either messy or expensive or both. These days it is often as cheap to buy a new TV (or any electrical good) rather than get something fixed.

But today I was lucky enough to find the right page for me; it doesn't help with the Samsung TV naming standards - my TV is snappy titled: LE32B450C4W. Rolls of the tongue that one doesn't it? It's a few years old okay, but my last TV lasted longer and when I started looking into the Samsung issue it is all over the net - but complicated by the naming thing in terms of which problems are common to groups of 'similar' TVs (how can you tell if LE32B..... is similar to LF54Cxxx.... etc? No chance.)

The page I found today was on cnet.com and the specific answer is from 'Kimberley3g' near the bottom of the link. If you've got a similar problem take a look at it. In summary though the issue, which seems widespread, is with the button array at the side of the TV. And the fix... disconnect the little bastards.

TV1

So basically all you need is a screwdriver or two, half an hour and some confidence. I found the screws were easy enough to take out. It was a bit fiddly disconnecting the cables - I tried at both ends. In the end I disconnected the connector on the button board (the other end is on the Infrared board (see pics). The buttons are on the bottom left of the TV (looking from the back) and the connections are to the IR board at the very bottom of the same corner.

Samsung Buttons

Anyway, got it disconnected. Screwed the back and base back on and plugged all the connections back in (satellite, playstation, audio) and crossed my fingers.

Turned the TV on and hey presto! The Remote Control was miraculously working again for the first time for a month or so. The lack of information on the Samsung website and Forums on what is a known issue is very frustrating. I'm pretty sure I won't buy a Samsung TV again (this issue has carried on through to much more recent TVs).

Fingers crossed it continues to work - I suspect it will. I don't know Kimberley but I'll be raising a glass to her tomorrow.

Huzzah!




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Return to Reading

Played some guitar tonight, which was nice as I still don't do it enough. But the other thing I did which I haven't done much lately is read a bit. November was a wash out for reading with NaNoWriMo and dealing with VSS365 (together with long work days), so it was nice to get back to it. Picked up a couple of good second hand books yesterday with Doris Lessing 'The Good Terrorist' and Patrick Hamilton 'Hangover Square' good stuff to look forward to. In the meantime I've started one I got on loan the other day from Liverpool Central Library - a 'SF Masterworks": 'City' by Clifford Simak. My hope is to read this and at least one or two other books, that would get me up to 33 or 34 books for the year - against my aim of 40 books again this year. Just been the year it has. It is what it is.

Been a good year again of course - any reading is good. Lots of SF and a few classics. A few books on writing too. Just a couple of Terry Pratchett's - the sad thing is I'm running out of ones to read of his. Will undoubtedly do a fuller reading review at the start of 2019 - and think about my aims for next year.


Books18-3
Books18-2
Books18-1
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CSOTD2

CSOTD

All the November excitement of VSS365 and NaNo has to some extent passed. It seems an age ago (er it is 4 days since my stint at the helm of VSS365 came to an end). But my other scheduled daily Tweet is still very much alive, that is: Class Song Of The Day. This evening I've updated the CSOTD (Year 2) webpage and the next ten days of songs are Buffered.

This weeks songs are from the living folk legend that is Steve Earle. Enjoy.

SEARLE

Can't believe there are only three artists to come after him before Christmas. The year, the year is disappearing right down the plug hole. That said I've got the next six artists lined up as far as the end of January. Should be a breeze to get the full Year 2 sorted. Not sure what/if I'll continue into Year 3 with if. We shall see when we get there in the middle of April.

Since April I've been selecting an artist that I like, putting them up for the week and choosing a song each day for them. It's been a cracking group of artists. Let's face it if I was a DJ it'd be bloody great - I'd like it anyway.

CSOTD2ARTISTS


The CSOTD Tweet get's sent out each morning at 8am (UK).
#ClassSongOfTheDay
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Prompting the Prompts

It seems a wee bit sad to me to have finished the month of November as it means I've now finished doing the prompts for #VSS365. It really has been fun.

If you look back at the initial prompts I presented them with fewer words of my own and largely with the 'from Planet Zevon' introduction. This morphed more into stories of the fabled quiet and distant States of Zevonia and Zevonistan. I quite enjoyed the idea of these as the month went on - I've never mentioned sprouts so much (and, yes, I like them). The States certainly weren't on the horizon when I first chose the words or started writing the scheduled Tweets out.

I hope you've enjoyed getting involved and that my rambling Tweets didn't wind you up too much.

VSS365 ALL

I'm not sure how many of you guessed, if any, but ALL the prompts were beer related with them either from pub names in Liverpool and its environs, local breweries, or were names of varieties of hops. So the full list of prompts for November with their - none Planet Zevon/Zevonia/Zevonistan - origins, is as follows:

VARIETIES OF HOPS:

AURORA
CALYPSO
CASCADE
CRYSTAL
ENDEAVOR
LIBERTY



PUBS (LIVERPOOL AND ENVIRONS)

TAP and BOTTLES
The DISPENSARY
Baltic FLEET
SANCTUARY Bar
The FLY in the Loaf
Hard Times and MISERY
PEN Factory
TRAP and HATCH
GLOBE
Caernarfon CASTLE
The CAVERN
The HOLE in the Wall
CRAFT (could be a Brewery too)
The CROWN
LION
TAVERN
PILGRIM


LOCAL BREWERIES:

NEPTUNE
CHAPTER
PEERLESS
ORGANIC

TOP ROPE

Come on! It was predictable.

I Know Things copy
Good luck to @TheWritingKind and to you all.Cheers!
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