Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last of the NYC photos

Today's poor weather allowed some photo catching up to be done, these are a few of Ali's NYC shots, she manages to take the photos that I would have liked to have taken. This pigeon is looking at a procession of dumb tourists looking at it at the top of the Rockefeller Centre.

I can't quite remember seeing this view from our flight but I must have, I don't recall us being so high up either.
I first became aware of this building, the Chrysler Building that is, when it appeared on the cover of Electric Ladyland Part 1 many years ago. At the time (I was about 14) I thought it was a piece of artwork from Dan Dare or something and they'd just added it in for fun.
Not a sight you'll see in many places but these evangelical atheists were parked outside of the Warner Centre and in a good humour despite the heat, their basic message being the need to separate the state and the church in the US. Well good luck with that folks, I can't see either McCain or Obama buying into it this time around.

As wet as last August

Buy any of the above at the Club Shop if you will.

This weekend has been heavily football orientated, a visit to the hallowed turf of East End Park yesterday started it all. The crew cut home team struggled with an energetic Livingstone side and despite a late fight back went down 2 - 1. I also missed out the 50/50 draw by at least a thousand numbers and I wasn't even hungry enough for pie at half time. No doubt we'll return for more torture and pain later in the season. Perhaps I should've worn my lucky DAFC training top instead of a Sponge Bob T shirt.

Today was spent watching Joe's team cuff a Leven side 6 -1, the best part being Joe's fine, first ever (in a league game) hat trick, a playing event and milestone he really enjoyed passing. The rain however was unrelenting and of course my golf brolly was in the boot of the wrong car and I hadn't brought a jacket. Having said that putting up and taking down the goal posts and watching the game in the wet was actually quite exhilarating and I did sweat as per the doctor's orders.

When I got home I was so happy I put up a shelf all by myself, as it was in typical August style, far too wet to even contemplate gardening. The shelf has been on the list for about four months so I look on that as decent Karmic progress. The afternoon may well now be whistled away, sitting around hoping for inspiration and world peace and avoiding the media chatter about whatever happened at today's Old Firm encounter.

An iconic image that has nothing much to do with anything I wrote today.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hong Kong landings

Is it real or is it a simulator and does it really matter anyway? It's how you approach Hong Kong by all accounts.

List of splintered bits:

Dennis Wilson - "Only with you" from Holland and Pacific Blue, best lost love song of all time perhaps.
Aberdeen Angus sausages for breakfast.
Dinosaur eggs for a grandchild - to learn patience and the concept of time.
Driving a diesel Fiesta while the Cougar gets unbashed.
Fleet Foxes growing on me after a faltering start.
Bits of the TV series the Tudors are worth watching.
A steady stream of football related laundry.
Plans for extensive drum and guitar loops.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New small car (repeat)

Today I have new small car to play with and cherish, that is until my real car is returned to me from the vets. In many ways life is a steady cycle of repetition, car needs fixed, car gets fixed, car needs fixed, car gets replaced, car needs fixed and I am content to drive around in a bubble and a day dream (at some level) whilst focusing on the road, other users and fiddling with the radio.

In a mad fit of not worrying about the technical challenges I removed my new loop pedal from it's box today and tried it out. To my surprise it worked despite my skating over the 52 page instructions and focusing in only on the shortcuts menu. Soon the whole house was resonating to hammered on D chords and fiddly twiddles heavy with reverb. The illusion of being creative came and went and returned as I drifted through the hypnotic sounds. It is noodling of the most self indulgent type but I can deal with that - another steady cycle of repetition.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A fleet of foxes

I'm not bothered about always being months (or even years ) behind the rest of the world in discovering "new" music. There is so much stuff out there that I long ago gave up even bothering trying to stay in step, read the music press or bottom feed on whatever is currently cool at the moment. Every so often I just like to dabble with some thing I've not listened to and try to make sure it's not quite in the same rut as the last one, or at the very least it's a fresh rut on the same road.

The Fleet Foxes have now come to my crinkly attention, I heard Pat Nevin talk about them on some radio show and read a few snippets, then I picked up a sampler in an airport and the first track on it was "Mykonos" and it sounded great. I eventually bought the CD and got round to listening to it today. Does it disappoint? Well it's a yes, a no and a don't know. It's a classic in derivative planning and execution brought about by stealing elements of greatness from Love, CNSY and the Beach Boys, does that make it bad? Probably not, just disturbing in the way that sometimes everything seems set on repeat but repeat with a twist, I've heard it before but maybe not quite that way.

Put simply it defines the dilemma of getting older and not really wiser, "heard it all before" versus the sheer joy and exuberance experienced when you hear something so fresh and original like you have never heard before. I hoped that such a moment would have come along with this CD and it didn't, maybe next time.
Just to add that the next thing on my list is Dennis Wilson's "Pacific Ocean Blue", a project that began in 1977 and is now just realising full cult status. At 33 tracks and booklet it's the best value ever on Amazon at £7.99, I'm quite looking forward to the journey - when I finally get a spare afternoon. I may save it up for the end of my alcohol holiday and crack a bottle of red from the couch and just zone out.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Today we took advantage of a break in the weather and spent some time converting the jungle that has sprouted during the monsoon season back into the more civilised parkland that was formerly there. Taking the doctor's advice to "exercise until you sweat" and applying it to gardening was relatively easy, I only had to look at the garden to start sweating. The three person team of Ali, Joe and me, though focused on different tasks gradually cleared great swathes of land, moved a few indigenous tribes and disturbed a variety of wild life, all in the name of Queen Victoria and the We Three Church of Scotland (Olivia was taking an extended shower). Now we can relax for at least 24 hours by which time it will all have grown back and returned to nature.
The morning was spent taking the cats to the vets for a jab and a weigh in, this involved catching them and depositing them in their baskets and heading into the centre of Edinburgh. It wasn't helped by us sleeping in and a general kind of weekend bewilderment falling on us, something that creeps up on you (me I mean) gradually and only seems to affect me at key moments - when there is something to be done that is.

In the evening, by chance we found the secret method for making the best chips in the world. In one sweet and simple move Ali overheated the oven (as usual), added a pre-cooked chicken (bought in Sainsbury's on the way back from Dr Cats) and then placed in said fiery furnace a tray of frozen oven chips. The results stunned us all, perfect hot chicken and the crunchiest, moistest, tastiest chips I've had in ages, all in about twenty minutes. The pain, stings and aches of gardening vanished in a blue haze of finger lickin' goodness.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

L.A. Breakfast

Perhaps I am obsessed with breakfast, perhaps that is because it is a meal I rarely bother with, so any breakfast consisting of more than lukewarm coffee is special. Perhaps I'm a bit sad and not so good at adhering to the breakfast taking advice that the wise eaters of the world expound. Start the day right etc etc. Anyway today I invented the L.A. Breakfast. A cunning plan to get the kids to eat some odds and ends left over in the fridge, also allowing me to avoid going out in the rain for fresh supplies. It was also served at about 1300 hrs so not really a breakfast at all but because I declared it's name with a fanfare and set it out on the table rather attractively they gobbled it up. In case you ever wish to create a similar masterpiece you'll need: Three Cumberland sausages (spicy), scrambled eggs, Heinz beans and toasted rolls (straight from the freezer), a touch of orange juice and a few garlic olives to complete the effect. The photo is of course nothing to do with today's express meal.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Alcohol holiday

From today I'm on an alcohol holiday for at least a month. No wine, no beer, no lager or whisky, I'm dry. The suggestion was made by my doctor, not because I have a problem but because he thought it may be a good way to restore my energy levels and give my system a little break. He also gave me, at this routine check a clean bill of health so that was rather nice to hear, the only downside was the advice to "exercise until you sweat". This maybe means doing a bit more than stuffing a duvet into a cover whilst the heating is on so I'll be pumping up the bike tyres and getting out the garden shovel, as soon as the rain stops.

Mr Cougar has suffered a nasty little bump thanks to a rather disrespectful Citroen C2 that sneaked up and landed a cheeky punch on his front wing while he was innocently parked outside our house. It's new wing and a bit of spraying next week in the local cat's hospital. I was too traumatized by the whole thing to discuss it much at the time, such are the tiny joys and large shocks of budget motoring.

Tomorrow the schools, the libraries, the community centres and various other things are closed whilst those employed there, in support roles, have a nice day out on strike. Naturally they want more than a 2.5% pay rise and who wouldn't when inflation sits at over 4 and six Muller Fruit Corners are £2.95 (or two 6 packs for a fiver). Bring the government down I say, I'm bored with these dull Labour twats and their stiff necks and sense of humour failures, let's have a return to Tory sleaze and Nationalist bullying and little more gay banter from the LibDems.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Every so often

Every so often we go on holiday and take photos, eat strange foods, have fun and get hot and tired. Then we get back home and do all the same things in a familiar location. So this weekend is the back to normal, laundry and recovery time before heading into the deep end (for me) on Monday morning and catching up on real life. As a reminder of life's cruel edge the cats (Smudge mostly I think) managed to dismember a poor wee bird in the kitchen, utility room and downstairs toilet this morning, the floors were covered in feathers and bird remains - not the best of starts to the day.
We both like heavy metal and before the New York trip it was tank bashing for an afternoon, here are some more views of us and two of the vehicles involved.
This six wheel Alvis Stalwart is easily the worst thing I've ever driven, brutal and unresponsive and unforgiving if you make a mistake however Ali is having a good go at keeping it in the right rut here while I hang on and act as observer. Thanks to Sheila for the pics.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In Edinburgh

The Joker: The most disturbing movie villain I've seen in a while and a great performance by the late HL in an entertaining film, not sure the man got it right with the 12A certification, particularly when we're trying to eradicate the UK's knife culture at the moment.
From a vendor in Central Park, a rather tasty ice cream snack (I had two, on separate days). It reminds me that I was looking for a Grateful Dead T shirt (easy to come by in the US you'd think, even ten years after) but the only ones I could find (in an MTV shop) were in very small sizes, how can that be? Have all the Deadheads shrunk like the tribal heads in Ripley's or are they just slowly fading away in a smoky haze?

Back in Edinburgh today was spent wandering the streets with my kids and one grandson. No Cherry Garcia's on offer in Princess Street Gardens although there were some funky cones (we stuck with 99s). The street performers were out in force taking advantage of the first dry afternoon in a while, the usual tumblers and magicians and craft stalls abounded. I did like one guy I saw playing a modified dustbin lid that sounded like a pocket steel band, nice mellow and ambient sound - but folks why are you selling your CDs for £10 or £12 pounds? Get real, drop the prices to a fiver and you will do business, this is Scotland and the digital age has arrived and we all know what you could get for less money at any given car boot sale - you can see I'm not thinking like a tourist at all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

French Toast

A hand painted sign from NYC, art for advertising's sake and none the worse for that.
On holiday I sat back and did not eat any French Toast whilst others did and clearly enjoyed the experience, I may have dipped out. So today after a seasonal visit to the doctors, the Coop and the pharmacy I returned home and decided to make some toast for myself. The results surprised even me and I think I now know the three big secrets of how to make the perfect French Toast. First is, use a lot of milk and eggs and let the bread soak it up, next is to use the right bread (a high quality loaf i.e. Marks and Sparks soft, thick cut white) and finally use a really hot frying pan with only a small amount of oil. There you go.

Rain. I propose that we here in Scotland start a programme of "rain tourism" and encourage visitors from dry and under developed places to come here and stand on our street corners, under our dripping trees, walk across our wet grass and into our puddles or stare blankly out of rain stained windows. This charitable act will allow them to gain a full rain experience that will see them through their own droughts and irritating dry spells and appreciate the downside and damage done by our temperate climate.

Monday, August 11, 2008


This tedious (for some) sequence of New York photos will probably run on for a few days. I think the best way to describe my current status would be "recovering", New York is an exhilarating and exhausting place, it seems that in a week we had (or at least I had) about six months of normal Central Scotland experiences crammed in, as a result I'm tired. Just to recap however here are a few favourites from the past week.

A lady singing an operatic warning from a luggage trolley in Newark Airport.
Frankenstein dancing to a Chilean piper's music in the street.
Kids doing hip-hop acrobatics in Central Park.
Four brilliant guitar shops in one street - more original Les Pauls and pre-CBS Strats than I've ever seen.
Two fried eggs, three pancakes, syrup and two sausages at the Galaxy Diner.
The audience cheering and clapping through "Dark Night" in a cinema on 42nd Street.
Extended helicopter flight over the city.
The Naked Cowboy of Times Sq.
Cinnamon Pretzels dipped in caramel.
Dali in MoMA (despite the crowds).
Rock and roll on the Beast boat.
Buying Mr Cougar an ioniser.
Sleep (when it came).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back from NYC

We got back from New York this morning, tired but happy after a week long visit. I thought I'd try to beat the jet-lag and post holiday laundry blues by sorting out the many snaps taken with phone and camera (groan!) so at least I made a start, a few are plonked here with as little planning as possible . The average temperature last week in in NYC was 88 degrees and it hardly let up at all so I am still recovering. The odd shady breakfast, cool beer or juice and numerous breaks in cafes and malls with air-con were the only respite from the noise and the heat but none of that can spoil time spent in New York. Above is a "room-service" breakfast for two that the four of us ate (and had leftovers from), it probably was the smallest breakfast of the week.
The view from the deck of "the Beast" a powerboat driven by two mad New Yorkers with a liking for playing Led Zep and The Village People very loudly, abusing members of the public and non-locals and squirting their passengers with water jets. At this point we're drifting with the engine off, just by the Statue of Liberty and are pretty wet but happy.
The Hudson River and New Jersey from the remains of Pier 63 or somewhere. The idea that day was to find a water taxi station, four hours later we found it but it was down by Pier 17 about five miles away.
Central Park from the "Top of the Rock", arguably one of the best city views available (unless you happen to use a helicopter which we did later) and the least frantic and busy place from which to look out over the rooftops.

Friday, August 01, 2008

It may be summer

Sometimes you go to very pleasant places then you come back, perhaps leaving those who are there behind, but the experience still stays with you.
You take a little time out, reflect, think or maybe you don't think at all because what good does that much thinking do? I'm not sure that the previous statement is a proper question but I can reflect upon that some other time. At the moment last weekend still feels like a break and a holiday.
Wind fall where no wind can blow, apricots that rattle their freshness, pears that hang on for grim death, grapes that need a few more days of dry heat and sunshine, raspberries that are just right, gooseberries that are sharp and tart but strangely sweet afterwards, strawberries that are all gone by now.

I need to add in a link on the left to Emma's new worldly wide explorations (along with the mysterious Mr K aka Kevin):