Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Not much La La left

Every year we try to catch up on popular culture and tune into whatever's hot in the awards and Oscars shortlists. We always fail miserably to a) see them all and b) fully connect, but it's almost fun making some half hearted effort to get there. Films, unlike pop music haven't veered off into another unrecognizable place. Funny that. Maybe it's still to happen. So we saw La La Land, a non-digitally filmed spectacular with dance scenes reminiscent of many a Cliff Richard movie punctuating a bitter-sweet story line. At any moment I expected Una Stubbs to prance across the screen followed by some jokey and clumsy posturing from the Shadows, stranded in Greece without their guitars.

Anyway I liked the colour and the feel, slightly grainy and full of references to some so called golden age that like all the others never really happened. The glossy friendliness and apple pie niceness of the USA seems very far away now, not much La La left. Unfortunately or as you might expect there's nothing in here that gets even close to Fred and Ginger at their best or touches Gene Kelly's almost frightening, madly grinning artistry, despite all the critics comparisons. The tunes were not so hot either, lacking the killer hooks necessary, strangely I did come away happily ear-wormed by A Flock of Seagulls "I Ran". I found Mr Gosling a bit too broody and unlikeable and surprisingly wooden but Emma Stone can move and act, she's the real deal, full of expression and very watchable. What I think hardly matters, I'm sure it'll win a few prizes come the day and the $$$s are in the bank.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Forming an orderly queue

Dissecting guitars for a kind of living is kind of fun, once you clean the dust, fag ash and crap away. Slicing them apart, removing the wiry innards to see what makes them hum or buzz or make no sound at all. To see the various deviant versions of switches and pots and layouts. Some components (Korean and Japanese) are solid and rugged and well made, Chinese variants are relatively cheap and feeble ( a last resort) but all parts are pretty much interchangeable, with a little persuasion and a file. Above is a chopped Korean Squire with and Ibanez neck and, once complete, a nice feel and tone, hopefully.  In the shop any day now.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sprouting Groot

A madly sprouting Groot, green and energetic, ready for anything that the galaxy may throw at him. Water twice a day for best results, prefers a sunny spot if possible.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Winter garden

As the weather has been made up mostly of cold but better weather I did a spot of mid-winter gardening. Peeking into the compost bin, re-potting the Christmas tree and repairing various bird feeders destroyed by over excited rampant squirrels. Dodging creepy crawlies was also high on the agenda. Then the ritual gathering of the logs takes place followed by observing cats eat grass and then (cats not me) peeing on shrubs. Next, time to top up the rat poison and of course measure the trampoline so that a new set of safety cushions can be ready and in place for the new season.  Then the shed roof, which remarkably still is in it's proper place, was also checked, no damage was reported. Whilst scrutinizing the lawn I rearranged some mystery pebbles, those that appear in clumps, long distances away from actual sources of known pebbles. A puzzle wrapped in an enigma. A bit like pheasant's shit. What do they actually eat that results in such a strange blue/grey sticky substance being spread all across their stolen habitat? Then time to "moss watch", that's watching moss appear in strange and inaccessible places, generally deposited by starlings hell bent on clearing moss from the roof to make nests, or stew or something else. Anyway great clumps land everywhere, at random and if left unattended...slowly turn brown and brittle, like humans.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Life and death in Australia

Not sure what I was doing or looking for but I came across these images of the gallows at Melbourne Gaol. In what's best described as a fairly spurious link I thought about my old (40+years gone) dad who'd worked as a carpenter in Australian jails at some point between 1946 and 1950. I recall him talking about some of the convicts awaiting execution, he said they were mostly "young lads" who looked like they didn't quite know why they were there. He'd have been in his late twenties at the time, battered and broken after five years serving in the navy during WWII. Well it's another world and a long time ago but these pictures, which may not be anything much to do with my dad's working history, gave me a brief insight into his past and amplified that awkward and barren list of missing things I'll never quite know about him.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Life's long struggle

We all know that life is a long struggle eventually ended by death, and so is guitar building. This one, known as Raven II has been tricky to the point of difficult to the point of bloody awkward. It's been apart, shimmed, filled, soldered, adjusted, screwed, re-screwed and checked umpteen times. Suddenly today, without any warning it all worked, electrics, notation, action, screws and fasteners all in place and guess what? It's a pretty good guitar to play. It's an instrument of contradictions and challenges and probably not to everyone's taste. The body is a patchy pyrograph mash up of bird and beast, a road-worn pleasing mess of colour and neutral wood and oil, the scratch plate a strange mixture of black and purple plastic and Viking dragons, the neck is just about perfect and pristine with a dragon tail motif in acrylic paint. It'll be up for sale as soon as I can get a decent photo job done.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Diploma in Star Wars

Just as I'm completing my (life long learning) course in the ways of the Force and the history of the Star Wars universe at the Open University of Life, along comes another tale to confuse followers and haters alike. I've been diligently studying YouTube clips, seeking out Easter Eggs, mapping plots and characters across a range of films, games, books and cartoon series only to find that, like any other universe, this one never ends and worse than that, it's now on a collision course with our own tiny universe. We are about to be invaded by more Disney clones, Imperial subterfuge and black magic from the dawn of time, or maybe it's all already happened and I failed to notice. My thesis may take longer than I thought. So what came first, the last Jedi, the first Jedi or the egg?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Howl's slow moving guitar shop

Another shot of Clint the cat observing the antics of a new visiting puppy on the floor below the staircase. The encounter (the first of many no doubt) seemed to go well with no unsavoury behaviour from either beast. 

Now that the "Slow Moving Guitar Shop" I recently set up on Etsy has actually started to move i.e. generating sales (something I never really expected) I need to think about my sales and manufacturing strategy. At the moment the "one of a kind" aspect of the shop seems to be a key part of the early success along with prices. I guess I always new that the more expensive guitars would be tricky to sell, for all the obvious reasons of choice and competition. So to what extent do I try to adjust this or do I let things just follow a natural course? The other matter for consideration is selling internationally. This much more costly in terms of shipping, customs and insurance but I'm faced with the problem (or opportunity) of knowing that many of the shop's hits are now coming from the USA and I'm not selling there at present.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happy Place

Cat with radar eyes. 
Puppy assaults hedgehog doorstop.
Groot returns to greet the Spring.
Following on from the unbridled infuriation that I've felt towards Trump and the UK Government over the past few months I've decided to declare this blog space a No Trump / No May location. After today's unavoidable name check for these two (and their like) I'm moving into a determined sort of happy place where political mentions will be few and far between. I'm not taking any drugs either. The current level of angst and protest (quite rightly generated) somehow needs not to consume so much of my waking hours. I don't mind a little anger and disturbance and I realise how important these are and of course things are pretty fucked up, I just don't want the political problems that are looming to encroach on every part of what I do all the time.  Let's see how long I can cope with this before I crack.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The very powerful

Not a huge Doctor fan but this reads well enough. Tweeted by a few as it was Tom Baker's birthday yesterday. So like many non-Americans I felt compelled to watch Trump's inauguration as it happened, a start to a season of car crash events and garbled rhetoric  I've no doubt. What I saw left me disturbed; a flaccid, puffed up man, barely able to offer a credible argument for anything baying at a crowd who looked, for the most part unimpressed and grim faced. Money buys a lot but not everything i.e. good sense, taste, tolerance and kindness. This guy will be a handful. 

Of course God figured big time, Jews, Catholics, Baptists and all sorts of leaders standing there alongside their new leader speaking as if they and their God(s) might actually influence the next four years. Sad, we won't hear much about about God's guidance during Trump's reign of terror. It was a bankrupt and a chilling affair, cold and damp as the January rain showering down on Donald and his puppet family. I hope he's happy now, not many are and I'm pretty sure any Gods that happened to tune in wouldn't be either. Then and yesterday...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Difficult day

It's not happened yet but whatever it is that happens in the USA today, it's going to be a tricky one to get through. I hope that it's reasonably peaceful and does not escalate into some inflammatory embarrassment or worse a tragedy of any kind. Leaving it there I think.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thank you Mr AA Man

These guys are good (well they were good for me). A really prompt response to my home start request, about fifteen minutes. Quick electronic diagnosis, a check of all the affected components, a fix (recharging up the battery), a battery test, some good advice, no hard sell, no new parts needed and so back on the road. Vroom - Ker-ching!

In other news the slow moving guitar shop I began on Etsy is slowly picking up, as you might expect. Thanks to all the likers and supporters. New products coming soon. Actually the "Slow Moving Guitar Shop" is maybe a better name than whatever name the shop currently has. Hmm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pac-Man Cheesecake

Tips to enhance meal times, adding value and conversational meaning to ordinary foods and boosting your arty factor quotient: Number 1 in a short series. The simple addition of a single well placed raspberry turns any mundane cheesecake into a colourful tribute to that well loved computer game hero from the distant past (?), Pac-Man.
As per our regular early morning wake up ritual the cat decides that we will not be doing any typing for a short while.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What cats want

Cat's require attention, most of the time but only on their own terms. They will also ignore you and hide, refuse to be friendly and will be repulsed by any contact, but will invariably plant themselves all over you if you intend to work, relax, eat, read or attempt to live any kind of independent life.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Calm down it's just a TV show

Too clever for their own good: Somebody rightly described last night's Sherlock as being what "talented people making shit TV" looks like. Yes, the writers are just a little bit too clever for their own good and maybe, in the case of this series have stretched any abstract or emotional premises that they thought they had some latitude with just a little too far. It may simply be that they really had just run out of ideas and decided to try to make an episode that paid homage to The Prisoner ( a TV series of the 60s). Puzzles and conundrums and mayhem, keep the audience guessing at all costs when all meaning is lost. The idea of rebooting dead characters doesn't help either, that's simply code for "why did we kill them in the first place?" Now we need their mystical gravitas to patch up scene after scene in order to seduce the dumb and needy viewer. It's gone now, along with the magic that the earlier episodes managed to generate. That's the curse of populist TV, not knowing quite when to stop, particularly when it's a cash cow.

Wow, another picture that in years to come will make Mr Gove as comfortable as taking tea with Hitler would. Two buffoons of the first order building a thumb bridge across the Atlantic. Makes you proud to be British. FFS.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Here's some art we prepared earlier.

Alien Snowman

It must be about 39 years since I watched the first Alien film, that's too long to really remember much. I saw the Director's Cut version (whatever that means last night) and caught up with myself having traveled back in time. The future then was a cold, push button world that has now been surpassed and replaced by screen interfaces, apps and implants and a lot less flashing lights, just not much interstellar travel or proper alien encounters so far. A bit disappointing really, the visionaries did their bit, played their part, wrote the scripts, described the jet-packs, robots and worm holes in great detail only to discover that economic and political reality couldn't keep up and deliver. Then everything became distorted through the corrupting lens of social media. No direction, no up or down, no time, only metrics and randomised advertising and strangely targeted messages. So now we live in a virtual video game fantasy where everybody pretends they're having a proper unscripted adventure. Sat Nav trips to supermarkets and drive-thru fast food outlets are our WW3 battles and our most testing human encounters, at least until the real thing comes along. We buy cars that set us free to explore the wild tarmac places, dressed like gangsters or mountaineers depending on the kind of music we like or reality show we watch. Then when the snow comes we hide out in our cocoons, stay in the warm and revisit past places with confused and critical eyes trying to make some sense out of it all.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

See no evil

Please note that these photos are unrelated to the text below and are for test purposes only.

Not many people know that similar photographs taken in different places will have a different file size.  This is due to the Doppler Effect and the variations in gravitational pull experienced at different Latitudes (not Longitudes however). The camera needs more or less memory according to your location as there is no standard light pattern/weight or gravity level at any particular point on the earth's surface. Tesla was the first to realise this but unfortunately took the secret and the explanatory equation to his grave. You can test this theory simply by taking photographs across a range of a few miles and comparing the (unedited) file sizes of each image. I rest my case.

At a time when the world is oozing with dramatic news stories that really need telling, our friends at the BBC have had a weather panic attack and are reporting fifty shades of bollocks about the current "Yellow" warning. A tree blew over near Norwich and there are actual photographs showing almost a 1cm of snow in various supermarket car parks as if it posed some major hazard. Also some houses might get flooded. So it goes on... God knows how they'll cope come the first wave of nuclear attacks or when the civil war (that's the polite UK version) starts up proper. Adverse weather that is a possibility isn't really news, it's weather, can we not just let it happen. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Internal politics

Struggling through the blizzards and general winter bleakness I actually made it to a bus stop just as the bus was about to arrive and stop. Getting on a bus is quite an adventure for me and also a bargain as I get free travel due to my condition. Usually I go for seat on my own by the window. Today was no exception and I enjoyed uninterrupted views of the 9.30 blizzard for the entire journey. I noticed that despite reports on Top Gear (on Dave) cars with fat tyres and cars with thin tyres didn't seem to be at all bothered by the snow, the regular potholes had however broken a few of them. They died where they lay. In a bid to maintain my current level of fitness I got off a stop early and trudged around for a while. Then I collected the car, bought pizza and a large loaf and headed home. Once there I poisoned a few rats in a controlled experiment, fed the squirrels in a less controlled experiment and then fed the birds in an completely uncontrolled experiment. The sofa beckoned so I watched an adaption of the Cod War sagas taken from an Icelandic perspective and then began to photograph the fireplace in a 17th Century style (as above). Next.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Windy Day

One those days that began badly with the dustbin full of recycling (yogurt pots and beer cans mostly) being blown over along with others from the nearby houses. That recycling material is way too light for the winter months. We'll have to start recycling proper heavy duty waste to maintain a little bin stability. Then whilst en route to the Forth Bridge the crackling news bulletin told of war and waste and a Curries International HGV defying safety and good sense and ending itself on the bridge in the wee small hours. Teams of vigilantes were roaming the fields looking to lynch or de-friend the hapless driver or at the very least a company representative, sadly no one could be found as the queues of traffic grew into something just a little worse than normal. 

Scotland was stuck and we prayed to a jealous Hebrew God to at least let a single carriageway open but the great minds of Amey Highways who can't stop a fucking lorry from getting on the bridge had no chance in these conditions. The wind was having none of it anyway and continued to blow, trapping people on buses and in cars (?) for hours, forcing them to drain their phone batteries by whining on Twitter about Trump's golden shower party and also to delete photos to create memory space to take photos of friendly road rage incidents. But in Scotland in January we fully expect some shit to happen and so were not really disappointed, and there's still at least 20 days to go and the promise of a Yellow Weather Warning for tomorrow. Time to hide under the duvet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Reasonably delivered

Yesterday morning came with an orangey sunrise.
"For sale, baby shoes, never worn". So goes the famous six word short story by Hemingway, or so I believe. Today's version: "For sale, mobility scooter, your price". Turns out that if you are ever selling a mobility scooter you need to brace yourself for the sad tale that the prospective buyer will bring and then add into the bargaining process like some financial hand grenade. Inevitable really and though I was well prepared the reality of the moment was stronger and more intense than I had expected. You can call me weak or naive, it doesn't really matter, a deal was struck and I was not disappointed. All in all I'm just a sucker for a good twisted sob story, if  reasonably delivered. After all, I made this one up and Roman Polanski isn't even interested in filming it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Soon to be a world leader

Sleepwalking into the ring. I was going to make some unfunny Trump comment here but what's the point so let's not get bogged down in modern life, there has to be a bright side...

...Oh yes. Our children are now well and truly sucked into an unsustainable and disappointing future thanks to the advent of the smart-phone a mere ten years since it's introduction. It's really odd how progress like this is completely unchecked, ungoverned and very much in the control (at the marketing end) by large corporations. What no one can control or predict easily is quite where this is all taking us. The digital world is not really being built, in all it's various levels, to any single, thought through and agreed design. Chaos Theory in action.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Winter Garden Textures

Yesterday was almost pleasant, although it's a damp, cold and typically grey January day. For some reason the colours and the wood and stone in the garden all seemed peacefully attractive and interesting and worth stopping for and looking at and simply capturing and placing here. 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Rogue One and a Free Strap?

 Three sets, size 9, reputable make, free strap, what could possibly go wrong?

We're probably amongst the last people here in the Grease Belt of Central Scotland to watch this Disneyfied blockbuster. It felt that way last night in an oddly crowded cinema where battle commenced in an fiery mix of Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket, all nonstop shrapnel and near misses set in a troubled place in space. This is of course the film that fits in between all the other films in the traditional non-linear creation pattern of Star Wars as it seeks to answer the questions that only the Geeks ever asked and the general public didn't seem to care about. Well now we all know how the cartoon like plans of the Death Star came to be in the possession of the Rebels (unruly bunch really, portrayed as being a bit like the Labour Party) and so the whole Star Wars franchise makes more sense. If only the Empire didn't design everything with those huge, unlocked USB type portals so readily available on every corner, they really need a security expert badly. Talk about joined up communications?

Along the way digitized dead actors populated the screen in a video game-like twist, notably Peter Cushing and a young Carrie Fisher. There may have been more lurking like ghosts earning eerie fees for their family inheritances. In the end after a lengthy "beach" battle at the Empire's own Cape Canaveral, everybody on the Imperial planet base dies, good and bad alike as the Death Star wipes them out. This left me wondering quite how the true story could ever have been told, of course that fails to take into account the ways of the Force which now seems to work for you by some kind of repetition or rote style of deployment. I must try it the next time I'm under duress. It could be that Donald Trump (a secret Sith?) is already using this method via Twitter, though he's too dumb to realise it. 

I guess I enjoyed it and there's a few good roller coaster or thrill rides in there so it'll have a life certainly for the rest of mine. Good to see the old X-Wing's getting another outing with the usual dog-fights. I almost expected some kid to stand up amid the burning palms, shake his fist and yell "X-Wing Fighter, Cadillac of the Sky!" It will happen one day. So some say that it's the best Star Wars film yet (though it leans heavily on the original for it's tone and the stolen references) and they may well be right; 9/10.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Out of date...

...but in the frying pan. That post holiday problem, the exploration of the nether regions of the fridge and associated cupboards and tins for unused food that may still be considered safely edible. So the good times have all gone and all we have left to gnaw upon are the ship's biscuits, film wrapped leftovers of uncertain origin and slimy packets of carefully chosen but never consumed meats and cheeses. Like some stranded Martian colony down to it's final set of supplies we try to calculate what kind of food combinations might work for a cook up, and it's all to be done against the clock as if in competition. Everything with food is time critical except when you're buying it. Now the day of reckoning has arrived at long last, no room to dodge the issue and eat favourites. So some is prepared along with complimentary products and eaten, tasting strangely good and some is dumped and some...the crumbly but mouldy bread products, feeds the local birds and bees.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Silvery Tay

Breakfast Bait: Jolly's Hotel in Broughty Ferry does a large Scottish breakfast for £4.95. It's feckin' enormous with two of every thing (except for the beans and a tomato). It was so big I, hungry as I was,  couldn't finish it and needed an emergency 40 winks on my return to Fife hours afterward. I can't understand how this phenomenon hasn't featured in some tragic but lightly humorous Bob Servant story as yet.

Click Bait: OK, I did laugh at the "Real Housewives of ISIS", but just a little, mainly the eight foot chain (how come ISIS are not metric yet?). Watching it was a bit like playing Cards Against Humanity (which I have not put into inverted commas) in that conflicted/funny way you feel when you're being just a little too naughty and others are watching.

Some kind of trick of the light.