Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wolves of Fife

An old legend has it that once, on the pilgrimage route between Cramond Island and Oakley a poor beggar sat begging at the ferry landing at La Punto de Cromby on the the dark and gloomy northern side of the river. Everyday he was there, holding out a rusty tin cup in the cold salt air begging for alms from the passing pilgrims and passengers. One day an arrogant  rich young man travelling on the holy way passed and cursed the beggar casually throwing some dirty seeds from the bottom of his pocket into the empty cup. The beggar responded by blessing the man with the words, "You fail the Deil and I with your disrespect, the Wolves of Fife shall stretch your neck!" Angry at the retort the rich man had the beggar flailed alive at the root of the ferry pier. Some say that as the beggar breathed his last the howl of a lone grey wolf was heard from across the barley field as a new moon rose. The rich man continued on his journey eventually making it to the Priory of Oakley where he spent a troubled night. Next day the beggar was buried in the common plot but his few belongings were scattered to the four winds. In the process the seed the rich man had cursed him with  fell onto the stony ground that formed the base of the pilgrim's road.

The rich man completed his pilgrimage but found no lasting peace. On his return journey back to Cramond, miles out in the Forth the the ferry struck the Beamer Rock in thick unseasonal fog and sank with the loss of all. A few days later the rich man's body was washed ashore and on a some chilly morning devoured by a pack of hungry wolves near to Dalgety Bay. So now, at the spot where the beggar died some say those cursed seeds still take hold once in every 35 years (the age the beggar was when he was killed) and bloom there on the cold stones somehow, from the beggar's spilled and still warm blood. They rise up, defiant through the rocks and ruins, a testimony and tribute to a poor Fife beggar and in warning and remembrance  of the quick and unjust anger of a rich man - and in the nearby woods, the great grey ghost of an old Scottish wolf still cries alone and prowls unseen in the June half light. Well some say that kind of thing anyway.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Amazon Cloud Player exists

Name the bonkers film then...
It's handy reading the Independent some days. I found out that as of today (probably but maybe yesterday) Amazon Cloud Player automatically accesses all the music you've ever bought on Amazon and dumps it into Cloud Player, even if it was CDs or Vinyl and more importantly even if it was someone else's birthday or Christmas present. I came home to find my cloud has 377 songs in it - including some Take That mind you and some that I quite like. Now can I get this all on my phone?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Don't be alarmed

This summer we'll visit the actual studios where some of this hot action was filmed.
Today the confusing and politically correct bin collection rota switches, well tomorrow actually but the bins go out tonight in order to annoy local barking dogs and neighbours. Just as well, having wondered what he strange noise outside was (and routinely checking all our electronic devices) I went out to place the blue and black bins by the kerb. There I found my car in full alarm mode, hence the strange and unfamiliar  loud beeping ten minutes before and a WTF moment. Clearly some reprobate squirrel or weasel has tried to break in and steal my precious Joni Mitchell, Mozart and Gin Blossoms cassettes and extra strong mints, that's the problem with having an eclectic taste in music and mints and parking your car in a deep and dark forest.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Teeth falling out

Typical everyday scene on the nearby Fife Coastal Path.
Apropos of nothing: Not so good but surprisingly painless when an ex-tooth (a filling I suppose) just fragments and falls out for no reason other than you munched the final piece of Sainsbury's Rocky Road. Then it becomes lost in the digestive system and is pretty much unreachable without keyhole surgery. It's the Fife-time equivalent of a pork bullet for a Muslim. The sweet ironic hit of a sugar and chemicals mix and then the dull ragged feeling of something not quite right in the back end of your mouth sending you to dental hell for however long it takes to get an appointment. Actually all was fine until I probed it with a sterile cocktail stick. The moral of the story is, leave the last bit for someone more needy that yourself or God (who let's face it has not much else to do these days apart from keeping NM alive) will take out some terrible revenge.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scotland the lost

Need to look a little harder maybe?
Having been charged £7 for enjoying a 26 minute parking slot in the "Drop Off" Zone at Edinburgh Airport I've been pondering the merits of private transport v public transport v staying at home and watching the world go by on GoogleTube.  Naturally I've concluded that I must from time to time venture outdoors and move from A to B and even as far as C if need be. Costs and charges have to be sucked up and gotten over but it doesn't stop me from thinking FFS. 

I did notice a certain hostile friction today at the super duper  "Drop Off" Zone as the sweating parking attendants tried with little success to shepherd unruly cars and anxious passengers into their idea of parked order. Even on a serene Sunday afternoon voices were raised, windows rolled down, horns blared, gestures were gestured and pedestrians loaded with luggage struggled to connect with expected vehicles...I just thought one more little thought, "welcome to Scotland, we really think we know our shit here but..."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Unfortunate mouse

This unfortunate mouse seems to have met a sticky end and, for some inexplicable reason, was deposited somewhat disrespectfully on top of the cowling of the electronic cat flap (yes we have two of them, that's cats and cat flaps). Naturally the cats are the prime suspects but nothing can be proved as all the evidence is pretty much circumstantial. I scooped him up and after saying a few interfaith type blessings gave him an appropriate woodland funeral. The post internment function went well despite the short time I had for preparation and planning. The catering was of a high standard with the sausage rolls and salad bucket in particular both deserving a special mention. Many thanks to Bambi's mum, the two naughty fox cubs, the robin, the woodpecker and a family of disturbingly inbred rabbits who also attended. I then played a slowed down and shortened version of "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That" on a rather distorted guitar and so ended the proceedings in what I considered to be a sweet and uplifting spiritual moment. The official version is here...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cigarettes of the future

Yes that's right. It's the ultimate fate of the automobile that's yet to come. The love affair will die, spiralling away into oblivion. There will be a slow dawning, a gradual realisation that these washing machines on wheels are a thing of the past. We will no longer worship their stylistic subtlety, their speed and comfort or their extravagance and expense. They will  become extinct and so will petrol stations and forecourts and garages. Our world will no longer have these things,  but it will happen gradually. Firstly the fuel prices will be hiked up by wars and the SNP, then the roads will be too busy and angry, the infrastructure will break down as the routes and surfaces become unrepairable. At the same time virtual travel via the internet and other unreal means will become quick, commonplace and affordable and so we'll just stop...we'll stop exploring completely, we'll settle. Well I suppose other than the odd ride on some uncouth piece of public transport should we need to visit to see somebody or do something. Meanwhile the super rich will fly free in streamlined helicopters and humming private jets, high above out of reach and at improper speeds in five star comfort. Our only course of action will of course be to systematically take them out with our hand held rocket launchers as they streak across our grey'll become one of the brave new Olympic socialist sports by 2044. Having said all that I may just stick with the old Volvo for as long as I can afford it's stalwart protection and clunky comforts and where else can you listen to music in peace and occasional tranquility?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Washing the house down

I eventually got around to watching Part 2 of the Eagles' history. That wasn't so good. All serious pronouncements, justification and money troubles (too much money that is) mixed up with not a lot of good music, the 70s was their era really. It was hard to stay with it but it seemed like it was some important part of modern history, how not to behave when you're successful. I don't think anybody has cracked that one yet. The low key thrill of being unsuccessful, obscure, undiscovered and possibly overlooked may have some advantages for those wishing to retain their sanity and self respect.

After a while and some beer and sausages I went outside and washed down the house with a high pressure hose. It was a soothing and cathartic experience to remove all the bird shit, spider webs and debris from the white walls and made my evening. Then I applied varnish to guitars and spoke to cats about cat related matters, they ignored me for most of the conversation. Perhaps I'm rusty or they may have heard it all before. I should get out there and practice more often.

Friday, June 14, 2013

When blogging - make the pictures large

Joni time and goin' back to Canada: Whilst bumbling around and ironing I watched two fascinating and contrasting documentaries this week. One was a conventional face to face interview between Joni Mitchell and a Canadian journalist. Joni now nearly 70 is chiseled, old, defiant, alarmingly lucid and self aware, violently self critical, clever and bright. She sits in some fortress Californian home, her own paintings on the wall, random guitars and glinting frames everywhere. She is a strange kind of wispy golden woman. Unattractively she chain smoked through the chat and always returned to her formative years in Canada to pin the blame and find the proof for her lifetime’s motives and actions. She was a talking lyric book, a feast of tangled memories and names and things that are to her still important and relevant - trying to make some sense of a life. A sign of ageing I’ve often seen, reliance on and recounting the past to make a more measured explanation of the long road here. She can no longer sing, she paints and holds court (with a spark or two) and lives the kind of life you’d imagine. She talks about the greats of song writing, the modern masters, artists and poets but nothing really sticks. She never liked poetry…I know what she means.  She struggles just to be in some place and to stop That’s what a lifetime of travel gets you, itchy feet and sore legs, aching backs and a stubborn inability to stop keeping up the illusion. I wont ever meet her, that’s probably a good thing. She's like some kind of weird spiritual mother but one best come all those absurdities and the good/bad ideas.

Joe time and the long journey out of Eden: Then it was “the History of the Eagles” Part 1. I’ve not seen Part 2 yet but Part 1 was traumatic enough. Nobody was ever happy for too long in that band and strops, fights and bad moods coloured a lot of their history. Then along came loose cannon Joe Walsh in the mid seventies, a clown and a buffoon and another alpha male genius in the mix. I forget Joe Walsh periodically, maybe deliberately but of all the good guitar players out there he really had an effect on me. I recall the first gold top Antoria Les Paul and the James Gang’s Greatest Hits. It must’ve been 1973 and I was for a short time trying to learn to play almost properly. Something in Walsh’s playing, sound and phrasing on his James Gang stuff really went in deep. The arpeggio, the slide and echo, the bounce he got into his riffs, his harmonics and the busy filler pieces - or guitar field as Joni Mitchell calls it…more guitar field, more barnstorm. Maybe Walsh just had a simpler style than Page or Clapton, maybe they were too speedy and too far out of reach. Walsh was concrete and space, he stopped a lot and unplayed parts. He was also a crashing and untidy player, in and out of funk and classic bolero moments, unpredictable. So his career took a new and a lucrative path in the Eagles where he beefed up their sound but then he really sank in that corporate sludge of big band ego and he never did recapture whatever patchy magic was in the three James Gang albums or the Smoker You Drink. That’s what big bands do when they implode. We’ll see what he makes of things in Part 2 if I ever get a big enough pile of ironing to get round to watching it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Get down from that cross, we could use the wood

Of course this means something.
Timber lizard in hibernation. 
Guitar headstocks that require sanding and varnishing and sanding and varnishing and so on.
When phones, cameras, all the electronic preachy shit we have and even simple file transfers let you down, (as they always will) it's good that you can rely on wood just to be...wooden. There's hardly a more pleasingly reliable material, easily worked (?), come by, burned, polished and ultimately turned into useful / useless objects - heat in extremis if you are desperate. Round here we specialise in the useless variety and have spent a number of years producing a great many useless but pleasing to us objects. Does that then make these things useful? Probably. Valuable? Not really. Wood working, design, injury, fatigue, repetition and the long practiced art of self deprecation, somehow they were all meant for each other and go hand in glove like a duvet, a kitten, cult membership and an atomic bomb.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New album

Those clever Goldfrapp electro twins may well have come up with a new album of music, songs and sounds. Father's Day gift anyone? Click here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tweet of the day

As a fan and a critic of all things to do with road signs I'm now on the look out for the sign(s) referred to below in a possible Tweet of the (other) Day. Truth is I seldom leave the confines of Fife these days, the borders and boundaries being something of a blur and so I've not had an opportunity to catch up on this new strident and historically correct sign language. Need to get out more and broaden my horizons but what with the guitar, driftwood and sculpture workshop taking off, currys to make, dishes to do and cats to entrap it's all too difficult right now.

Just passed a sign saying 'You Are Entering the Kingdom of Fife'. One of the world's great road signs.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The waterfall of eternal Zen

It was so sunny today that we lived in the garden. We ate pasta, trifle and olives, drank wine, water and pear lemonade and then jammed on various guitars drums and voices. It was a very fine day. Then at 1815 along came the clouds and that was that but the happy memories  remain and the waterfall will again start and stop and flow at the bidding of the sun another day. Sometimes everything is just the way it should be and the universe just moves to the tapping of your foot, the whistling of the birds  and the buzzing of a rare and lazy bee.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The significance of the trivial... easy to say but more difficult to define. It's possibly untrue, unless you can somehow add all the trivial up till it reaches some point of significance, like a blog or a Twitter feed might do.  Like bad or accidental science, chaos forming up into creativity or just random constructions in twigs and Lego or bits of forgotten guitars banged back together in the hope that they/it might produce a decent tune.

A lukewarm cup of coffee.
Appreciating a Ford Focus.
A pen runs out.
An airport ticket is changed with no fuss.
A sunny day.
Falling asleep while travelling.
Waking up in a strange room.
Two over fried eggs eaten with brown sauce.
Cats jumping in a playful fight.
Reeling up a garden hose.
A battery runs out.
Messages on an answering machine.
Planning a trip.
Three items received in the post all hidden in different places around the garden.
The washing machine set to the wrong temperature.
Thinking of things but not doing them.
A charitable donation.
A spilled drink.
Looking out of a window.
A hot bus.
People out walking dogs and children.
Dirty laundry.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Samsung v Apple

If Samsung and Apple iPhoto were a married couple they'd be throwing china cups and pints of milk at one another, then storming out in a huge huff, then coming back in and slapping the other on the back of the head, swearing and pouting and then either setting fire to the wardrobe or slashing the seats in the BMW 5 series estate. Whatever way these guys are just incompatible and I'm getting a little tired of their childish behaviour. So here are some unedited photos of questionable cowboy guitar projects that are currently underway round these parts. Over and out Samsung.

Monday, June 03, 2013

The sword swallower's cat

There are only sixty genuine sword swallowers in the world. Here's one I saw at the Taste of Grampian  food fare and sword swallowing extravaganza in Inverurie. He's also Scotland's only practicing SS performer apparently. Long live the eccentric and scary world of street theatre I say. N.B. this guy also eats fire, juggles knives and does the old bed of nails routine - all whilst telling quirky jokes. He didn't have his cat with him on the day.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

If albums were books

More lazy blogging (due to unseasonal seasonal weather and being busy entertaining numerous guests). This site is rather good if you like to see rehashed classic (?) albums re-imagined as books.