Friday, July 31, 2009


Keeping it simple today, just returned from Miami where the weather is hot and every so often coconuts fall from trees, even in car parks. My metabolism is slowly recovering from a series of IHOP breakfasts, Welch's Grape Juice, freeway madness, smoothies and chicken give-aways and no alcohol for a week. I'm still traumatised by the sight of iguanas running across the road in front of the car and the alligator eyes staring up from the swamp water, I need another Reece's peanut butter cup and some more sleep.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

40 years after

Despite being 14 at the time and not totally daft I recall being a bit unaware and unimpressed by the moon landings in 69. For some reason my little world did not stand still and I didn't stare into those grainy TV pics in wide eyed wonder. Seems I missed out on one of the biggest events in mankind's history thanks to indifference, rampant hormone activity and a spell in the Army Cadets (I was at summer camp at the exact time, learning to smoke, drink and throw up). I can't be the only one of my generation who was like this, afflicted by some virus of Scottish working class dunderheaded apathy and indifference? At least I've grown out it now (I think). Sorry Neil, Buzz and the poor bloke in the command module who had to whistle and read magazines, I finally get it.

Anything made by a firm called Pigtronix has to be good, not so keen on the $169 price tag however.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In a garden

The first crop is the deepest.

I suspect the blackcurrants took a sizable hit today, the smoothie revolution marches on. We're all so healthy and so regular. Thank you fertile soil of West Lothian.

Following a McFlurry sleigh ride a spot of slippery beach combing was attempted. The South Queensferry beach however was surprisingly clean and yielded nothing special. Meanwhile tourists stare at the bridges, eat chips, drink coffee and wine under huge umbrellas as the buses struggle to park and exit. On the High Street the Orroco Pier is growing like Swine Flu, gobbling up the shops next door as it's greedy footprint increases. Great location, good food, daft "local unfriendly" prices and no parking - the major Achilles heel in the project. You can however look out onto the bewildered over 50s staggering across the rocks and then there are beachcombers. It's a kind of life.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Unpredictable weather prevails

The Halo of the blessed ********** (you choose according to you're current belief system) has appeared on our cat blanket following a spell of quality time spent with and within Saint Ariston, creating an unlikely but compelling Turin Shroud effect. All would-be pilgrims should apply in writing (cheques or cash welcome) then form an orderly or disorderly queue if you wish to view the artifact. We don't care much about such trivial things as how you may make a line, the pilgrims can work that one out. The picture has been scrutinised by a panel of experts from the BBC (expenses pending) and the original blanket is now in special display case made from bulletproof glass. None of this is made up so bury your scepticism and unbelief. We do still respect your right to believe whatever futile twaddle you wish, it's just your equally blessed money we're after.

Perhaps not looking so attractive in this photo but none the less a landmark piece of smoothie making in the making. Home grown black currants, not home grown bananas and strawberries about to be mashed into smoothie oblivion by the kids. Turned out quite nice.

In the garden various things happened despite a weather rotation pattern that had us confused and frankly wet and muddy. We found the biggest toad so far (7* head to toe or toe'd) and a strange little red baby toad, or at least a smaller toad that was a shade of reddy pink. The first spuds were also harvested and formed a vital part of a make shift tea sourced from the garden, leftovers and the BP petrol station. Yum.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Devil's haircut

Devil’s haircut

In a desperate bid to spruce myself up I visited a barber I hadn’t visited before, one more local than usual also. Sometimes my search for a good barber takes me to the ends of the earth or Fife, whatever is easier. Today’s barber was in a strange, statistical shift male. He had a slightly worn down alcoholic look and charged twice the price for less conversation and a better cut. No holiday twittering and blethers about bairns in the nursery, no mindless patter as is the way of the glaecit girl school of haircutting. Anyway so severe and effective was his use of the electric clippers that I had to rush home to shower into every nook, non-nook and cranny, this was followed by a quick rub down with wire brush. Invigorating, scary and not what I’d planned for the day.

Devil’s spreadsheet

Prior to the haircut my day had already been shipwrecked thanks to a complete bastard of a spreadsheet that I was working on at work (where else to you do spreadsheets?). Every time I saved it, the diminutive and simple file exploded into a 10 MB monster with jaws that I couldn’t email or adjust. It seemed someone had buried some packet of Trojan data time bombs, razor blades and pocket sized anvils in there. It got so bad my teeth began to itch, I ate a banana sideways, stuffed a whole chocolate mallow in my mouth and observed the hairs on my neck sticking up like newly formed boils. That provoked an immediate downing of the tools and a visit to the barbers, not the one above but another. There was a huge queue and being an optimist I joined it and began to read the Sun and a copy of the local rag. Then after nothing had happened to said queue for 20 Martian minutes gave up, jumped back in the car and visited the bloke with the electric clippers, somewhere in another county altogether.

Devil's pussy

When I got home the cats were lying all over the bedroom assuming those sleeping positions that make them appear twice their normal size. Clint looks blank but serious, Missie on the other hand stares at you disdainfully and seems to say “you’re a feckin’ eejit!” in some bizarre Irish cat accent that makes you worry about suffering from an “all Irish cats are after me” paranoia type of syndrome. It all changes when they’re hungry and they mew like babies wanting milk and rub their little heads on your ankles. Bless them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last Episode

The last episode of Flight of the Conchords was aired last night, it may of course have been shown before, how would I know? I’ve grown into liking this dumb, childish and ruthlessly inventive show but it ended with a whimper rather than a bang, unlike the real Concorde. I like the way it tips into the surreal every few minutes: At a band meeting Murray is showing Brett and Germaine a script he has written for a musical based on their exploits in New York, it’s his last desperate bid for fame and fortune now they have been evicted from their apartment. The script is really just a record of what they’ve done albeit it lapses into the Star Wars story line from time to time. When Brett criticises the idea and makes a remark Murray points to the script, at the part that is now completely up to date “See, I had already written what you just said!” pointing to a scribbled line in the yellow journal. Not sure any of it made any kind of sense or made me want to visit New Zealand though.

Things that you cant get anymore:

HH 100 watt Combo Amp.
Aztec chocolate bar
BMW 316 Touring Lux
Action Comics
Rhubarb and custard
School dinner dumplings and chips
Bus tickets on a roll
Black and white film and instamatic cameras
Tom and Jerry cartoons
Embassy Regal
Piper Export
The test card
Space flights on TV
Yoghurts with a lump of chocolate at the bottom.
Loon pants
Flexible tickets on British Airways
Sinclair Spectrums
Penny Dainties
Flight of the Conchords

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Everything you do... do a step at a time. Some days you feel strong, fully formed and vital, you step further and you accomplish more, on other days a few small moves forward are all you can manage, occasionally you stay still and hear only heartbeat and breathing, once in while you will step backwards and a friend will come up close and to your rescue."

So says Finias T Moonbeam from the novel, part unofficial dictionary and self help masterpiece, "Shaking hands with the bear only to discover the bear actually has very sharp claws". You may not have guessed but we are working on yet another CD, which seems odd even to me when we've only just (quietly launched) "Intermittent Stimuli" onto CDBaby (the users bit of the site is down right now), we are the masters of understatement, the lowering of profiles and self-harming via the indescriminate use of garden tools but we are busy.

For tea it was left over fish pie, the fifth portion of simple salad in four days, a dressing I'm beginning to get bored with and a selection of soft fruits purchased locally and also gathered from local gardens, supplemented by creme fraiche. Yesterday's promised rain came unevenly enough to ensure the grandkids were able to riot peacefully in the garden whilst the adults drank wine, talked about serious matters and splashed water around from handy orange buckets.

The pop festival season on all channels TV related, continues to both dismay and irritate (apart from Elbow at T in the Pish), the grinning and self-serving presenters are awful and watching 80000 people jumping around in a field isn't really entertainment, particularly when most of them seem to work for the BBC.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blackcurrant way

For some reason we had a chicken salad for breakfast today and then another one at tea time. Keeps things in food preperation simple I suppose, freeing us up for more manual labour in the wilderness. In between the salads I accidentally smashed two bottles of wine, moved a bonfire and rebuilt it, cut the grass, fixed the fence and generally pottered and drank beer in the sun. Meanwhile Ali tackled the hedge, many times. The hedge, a sizable beast finally capitulated and is now smaller than it was prior to the first chicken salad. The blackcurrants, featured in the photo were left untouched, their day of reckoning dawns tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Act of God

An act of god or a quirk of nature? The image of the Virgin Mary appears on a fallen tree in a Limerick churchyard in Eire. People travel miles to queue up and spend a few moments staring into the gnarled stump to see if within the faint and curving bark rings the familiar construction of an image - an embedded cartoon icon created by man and not god, might be seen. “It gives us hope in these troubled times” says a local shopkeeper. Small frames, flowers and rosary beads are placed at the base of the wooden cairn and the faithful cross themselves and bow as they feel the touch of something they see as supernatural. It would be easy to adopt a truly mocking tone when discussing this kind of event and the almost primitive reverential behaviours that it produces. Having seen Mary suddenly appear on burnt toast, in muffins, in animal fur patterns and on the side of caves in moss and water stains it is remarkable that people never seem to get tired or cynical when yet another image appears.

It is hope, hope of a weird and unsubstantial kind (?) and one that ultimately leads only to a search for more snippets and glimpses of a similar type. No one will get into heaven or out of hell thanks to seeing these images, nobody will be healed or filled, there will be no still small voice or burning bush guidance. They just get the lottery ticket or scratch card fix that lasts a few moments perhaps at best stretching into days, that keeps a far away bright light shining in the cold, that holds the edges of your attention in place and distracts from the mundane, the dreary and the ordinary. The fragile hope of a delicate touch and the shimmering shadow of something tangible reaching back into the ordinary from the great and unknown golden age.

There are a million religions and million views, a million believers and million heretics - all at war with one another and the world either with words, the media or bullets as they proclaim and defend things that are at best vague and open to wide and ruthless interpretation. A disproportionate amount of human time and energy is spent in highlighting differences and celebrating questionable mythologies which ravage like cancer and then distort life in it‘s most secret and personal places. We struggle when we need not, we differ on trivia when we could agree over so much but if, whatever you believe, the finger of some unnamed Old Testament God, the maker of Abraham and Jacob did inscribe the hopelessly romanticized image of a misunderstood woman into an Irish tree - who in what religious place should really be surprised? Whatever gets you through your life…

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Another day another barcode

I didn't really want it and I don't really need and it costs a whopping $20 but it gets you digital distribution rights across (selected areas, subject to terms and conditions) the planet and in the current climate it'll have paid for itself by 2015. I love the music business, just a little more than I love politics and religion.

The kind lady next door gave us a huge bowl of strawberries, it took me an hour clean them and it'll take Ali and I a week to eat them. I feel some smoothie recipes and cocktail variations coming on.

The homepage on Wikipedia had a bizarre little tale to tell today...some things you never knew.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Blatant product placement

We went to Transformers II last night, fun, stupid, noisy, overlong and entertaining of course and chock full of Gung Ho cliches, stereotypes and what clearly is a desperate attempt to revive the failing fortunes of GM by funking up various Chevrolets as robots in disguise. It makes you just want to rush down to your local GM dealer, do the scrappage thing and drive away in new Corsa - maybe not.

Apart from the taser gag in the Smithsonian Institute incident the best laugh is when the Jordanian Army are called in to help the beleaguered American troops pinned down in a daft firefight. The Jordanians duly arrive in two helicopters, crash right away and the Americans pinch their radios and equipment. As they are doing this whilst laying waste to a chunk of Egypt it's hard not to see it as simple reflection of recent US foreign policy, was it all intentional? Ho Hum.

The land that weedkiller forgot

A visit from the bush whackers has laid bare the remains of some pagan temple or other, probably dating back to at least the early fifties. In other words the pre-rock n' roll ages. We're still taking stock over the possible implications and value of this find and quite naturally planning to keep the horde of golden trinkets that was also discovered. As a safety measure a local priest has been called in to carry out a brief exorcism just in case there is also a Native American burial ground lurking. The police were however less forthcoming, clearly wishing to establish some facts, but there is a chance that some white caravans and a lot of yellow and black tape may be needed at some point. I'm keeping busy watering the hanging baskets, obliterating the carved runes and curses and rearranging the iron age alter into a more practical barbecue.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Potato crop detail

Despite my best efforts to strim them back the potatoes still flourish.

A busy few days have passed, no real time for this blogging nonsense or creative (or destructive) writing, the garden must be done on those days when the weather holds, we plough the fields and scatter and from time to time stagger. Over the next few days I'll post the pics of the great and unexpected archaeological discovery we've made at the foot of our garden: the base of a Roman villa? The floor of some iron Age fort? The privy of William Wallace and his good lady sad eyed Sadie MacMuck frae the lowlands? Possibly one, possibly all.

Sunday's family breakfast mostly consisted of conversations exploring the way that smoothies are labeled and how, despite the mix of fruit and the relative blend ratio used the soft and humble strawberry always rises to the top. In a straight fight between fruit it seems that the strawberry would always win, even when squaring up to hardy bananas, chiseled and firm apples and the rolling bulk of an out of control watermelon. So much for the theory of evolution and the survival of the squashiest.

Moving on swiftly tonight, new 18 track CD coming together (more German made tracks to do separately) , the maze that is the US visa system has been explored (nice touch having to download 76 pages of baloney before you fill in a single form) and I made some kind of pasta bake for the bairn's tea tomorrow. Whoosh.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Appetite suppressant

Appetite suppressants - a few useful tips and hints:

Strangely enough taking time to do things, that works.
Thinking about Micheal Jackson.
A brisk walk.
Pritt sticking bits of paper to other bits of paper.
Good quality sleep.
Shredded wheat.
Facebook quizzes.
Staring into space - both near and far, not inner.
Observing the antics of cats.
Doing a spot of hand washing (not to be confused with ritualistic handwashing).
Green bananas.
Cleaning out the loo.
Think about the third world.
Removing fluff from behind radiators.
Driving long distances whilst listening to music.

Of course none of this matters, middle aged spread and a certain physical elasticity is nothing to be either afraid or ashamed about so I'll have some sausages, eventually.

Muddy puddles.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Milky Way

Another piece of weird science has led me into making a rare discovery about the powers and properties of the ubiquitous Milky Way. I now know that like real milk (as hinted in the name) in a chocolate Milky Way can actually turn sour on you and in so doing develop a rather unpleasant taste. I found this out by leaving a double version in my bag for a fortnight and unthinkingly subjecting it to extremes of heat in various cars, airports, offices and hotel rooms - not much cold has been involved due to some current glitch with the seasons. On rediscovering it today I ate it (both bits), it was awful but in the interests of pushing the boundaries of food science and fixing hunger I persisted. No noticeable after effects, just a strange urge to write more drivel about Milky Ways. The circle is squared.

To whom it may concern: "Thank you for those 11.7 minutes of your insignificant life and the 6 page views, your IP address is in the cosmos and your ignorant comments are always welcome in my dustbin."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Facebook Quiz

Sometimes you just succumb to things slowly, by osmosis you are taken over only to find yourself in some new and strange place, a different and possibly unrecognised person with a head full of trivial answers and questions. Such is the numbing power of that modern day hazard and phenomenon known as the Facebook Quiz. This in time generates it's own syndrome, Facebook Quiz Syndrome or FQS, a mind gobbling state that is hard to get out of but easy to get into.

It all starts of simply enough as you sample "How well do you know the 60s?", "Which Disney Princess are you?", "How much of an Elvis fan are you?" or "You know you're from Dunfermline when...". Then the screw turns and it all gets pointed and personal: "Which philosopher are you most like?", "How clinically depressed are you?", "What signs tell you that you're in denial about living out of a laundry basket?" and "When did you last check out the back of the freezer for something worth eating?"

The next stage is the worst (or best): "How well do you really know me?", "How good are your memories of the traumatic events of your/my childhood?", "What do you know about the things that no one else could possibly know because they are made up but I'm asking about them anyway?", "What are the many ways that I could blackmail you if I chose to?", and my favourite, "What I know about the places in Kenya I claim to have visited despite the fact that I've never been further south than Berwick upon Tweed?" You've got to embrace the progress before it embraces you with it's unforgiving stranglehold. Next quiz, "How much (if any) of your blogging is actually for real and what has that to do with my golfing handicap?"