Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Don't do "walk ins"

Sometime before v sometime afterwards.

I decided to celebrate the end of the long and dreary month that is January by indulging myself with a full Turkish Barber haircut and shave experience. Being a Wednesday the barber shops were pretty much empty so space and waiting was not a problem. Strangely though in the first shop I wandered into (which was clearly empty), I was met with a polite but robust "we don't do walk-ins" rebuttal. I made out like I understood what a "walk in" was and tried not to look too much like a victim as I exited. Clearly I wasn't hipster enough for a stylish barber's shop named "Bearded Bastards". Things have changed in the few short (?) months since I last had a haircut, I may have the power to drive away custom. Perhaps I should've gone in and just demanded a "fucking decent haircut!" and they'd have accepted me as some kind of deranged but savable hipster. Anyway, just to spite the bearded bastards (and any other white male oppressors out there), I went to the next barber shop two doors down and sought help. This Turkish guy wasn't prejudiced, looked reasonable and "walk-ins" during blizzards seemed like an essential component in his business plan, so he set to work. 

I settled into the chair and we had a brief conversation about clipper numbers, beard removal and money, I think I came out of it well. As I squinted to watch a TV show about the Burmese Railway and how to cross paddy fields with the incorrect materials using only elephants as tools, he chopped away at my ragged glory, shaved my eyebrows and scraped his cut throat razor across my pink but steady facial flesh. He used the hairdryer a lot to blow away the numerous hedge clippings and plastered spicy oil and hot towels across my sagging and now hairless features. There were raw flames as he tackled my ears but very little pain and not a single cut or release of blood. Then, via a strange piece of electrical equipment I was massaged in the top body area in a tough but soulful enough way, just to prepare me for standing straight again after spending 45 minutes pinned down in the frequently readjusted chair. I thanked him, paid him and left the shop feeling like I badly needed a coffee and a time of rest and reflection, so I went to the nearby Tesco cafe. It seems I'm no hipster (Tesco coffee tells you that!), not even close, just grey old bloke looking lost in a snow shower and in need of a good tidy up. At least I know my place.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Surreal Pieces

Sometimes it's good take objects away from their natural setting or situation, take away any evidence of their use or purpose and place them elsewhere. Shift the context or mask it altogether. Here on a pale, vague background where size and location and lighting hardly matter objects might just become something else or just become next to nothing.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The History of Rock and Roll: Part One

One star out of a possible five and that was a few years ago. We are witnessing a steady decline, perhaps the history of rock and roll is now just history. Of course they say and they sing that "it'll never die" but tell that to the Grammys and the general public. Ponderous, repetitive and aimless?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cheese and Ham Saturday

Cheese and ham sandwich label. It expires on Saturday, unfit to consume etc. thereafter, maybe ok to stick under the grill and toast though? Would a "toast by date" for sandwichs help? Well yesterday was Saturday and that was when I ate the sandwich so there were no further problems.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Most days...

That fight or flight moment.
...I'm not quite sure what I'm doing. Maybe it's because I've recently watched a few of Jordan Peterson's* performances and remained a mixture of baffled, on the fence and impressed (and worried). Also for the first time in my life I understand the term cognitive dissonance. It's as if a mirror somewhere in my soul  has cracked or there's been a great outcry far away in the universe that the Force has transmitted to my inner being. The good news is that I don't feel a failure but I don't really feel like I'm a success either but that's because I'm a lazy reader man-child kind of person who has been hurt (a little) but refuses to hurt in return but sometimes does unintentionally hurt but possibly on purpose. The other problem is watching the slow decline of "Vikings" on Amazon Prime (or watching the slow decline of Amazon Prime on the Vikings). A bloody, battle scarred soap opera where the characters seem to exhibit a great deal of cruelty, stupidity and cognitive dissonance. We're in Season 6 now and civilization seems a long way away. Is it still the Dark Age or something? Perhaps there's just a continuous Dark Age rolling on and on riddled with moaning misunderstanding and, you guessed it, serial cognitive dissonance and we're all doomed to hike through it's battlefields as we trudge towards Valhalla, which as it turns out is in Iceland.

*Jordan Peterson? Yeah...not so sure right now.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Fall - Victoria (TV 1988)

Self Dep

Sometimes I have daydreams that go on for too long. A little self deprecation now and again never did anyone any harm, ever, probably. Not that that could be easily said about Mark E Smith, strange and sad to hear he's gone at only 60. I wonder if this is the end of the end for the Fall or if some kind of odd, unexpected resurrection or second coming will follow? A truculent man of many surprises.

Guitar surgery opened up today. One major but minor consultation requiring little special effort. Replacing the machine heads on my old workhorse Yamaha acoustic with some randoms I found in the tool box, tightening up the truss rod and putting on new, slightly heavier strings. First thoughts are that it's actually a lot better for all of that, staying in tune, slightly improved action and easier to play. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Collages in a musical square format

The troubled times of the late sixties and seventies were mostly spent finding crumbs of comfort and meaning by listening to popular music. This music was written and performed by equally troubled and frequently deranged geniuses and other starstruck individuals. However I wasn't listening to any of that, my tastes were only forming so it was the kind of sophisticated claptrap listed/photographed here that took my youthful fancy and soothed something savage and hungry within me, for a short time anyway. Looking back it's all a bit of a blur and most of the evidence has now either been destroyed or airbrushed from my history but once in a while a piece of the wreckage bubbles up from the bottom. When it does the memories that are keyed in are actually quite pleasant. The other thing is, no matter how many lists you make or bites you take at the cherry, some bits always get missed out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Greenish Day

Just been up to the local farm shop for provisions, came home and realized I'd forgotten the Coca-Cola. Damn! Whilst that is of course complete fiction what is true is that we experienced the quirky joy of cooking up and eating finely chopped broccoli last night. Like a trick we've been missing all of our lives the chopped up greenery is actually better and easier to eat than the complete version. When I say cooking I also mean piercing the film, microwaving it for 4 minutes and carefully opening the container to avoid the possible gush of burning steam. Proper food.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Chorus pedal float

"Hit that long lunar note...and let if float". Don Van Vliet may have said something like this suggesting that musical notes can actually float, here, there and also across vast uncharted parts of the cosmos. Not sure about that but here's a Chorus Pedal making  a floating attempt of some sort whilst holding no notes whatsoever.

Facial Hair: After about a month of not shaving, apart from some slight edge trimming, this beard is becoming both itchy and irritating. It also seems to encourage the growth of nasal hair, as if the hairs were suddenly all seeing and seizing  the opportunity to grow some more because there is now challenge to their progress. They sense that this is their hour in which to bloom so they might socialize with their fellows out there in the daylight regions. Little do they know that I'm on to them.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

International Goddess Day

Apparently it was International Goddess recently and of course a (feminist and possibly not really religious, academic or righteous) blog was giving away free downloads of these goddesses, in fact there were 25 of the strangely compulsive dancing figures available, dating back to the dawn of time and the unfortunate invention of religion. I chose these three (as they are the least peculiar or upsetting) in a fit of panic and numerical moderation. Go funky Goddesses Go! Just don't expect me to ever believe in any of you, except for the real ones.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Warning: Contains Snow

Here's the up an coming weather in pictorial form, some say there's snow in there somewhere. The time line is also vague but we'll all recognize the actual effect come the day.

Coatings and Trouserings

Signs in Dundee that survived the Ice Age, the Reformation and the Great Fire. Will they survive the Digital Age and the New Dark Age that follows?

Meanwhile: Funny (or just sad) how all those wonderful and revolutionary glittering enterprises* that once so delighted us with their originality and brilliance quickly crystallize and harden into the greedy, sneaky, cash hungry, manipulative, corporate brick walls that we now allow to dominate and control huge tracts of our economic, entertainment and social lives.

*Amazon, Virgin, Google, YouTube, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, eBay etc.

Seems like the time is right for another revolution of some sort. The question is what direction will it come from? Then of course, once it bites, what direction will it take us in?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Norwegian Train

Here we are (almost) speeding along in a Norwegian train like there was no tomorrow and no place to go. It's all bit jerky though unlike the real thing which moves like the train in Spirited Away. After a while a decent book and a flask of coffee would be the only things keeping you on the sane side of sane on this kind of journey.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Epig and MoonBay

Once upon a time there was no such thing as the Internet so people went to shops, markets and jumble sales to buy and sell tat. When I say "tat" I don't mean real rubbish I just mean tat, bits and pieces of all sorts of tatty stuff. It was OK but you could get soaked the rain, miss the bus home or trip over a kerb or loose flagstone. Going out was risky. Now we can all stay at home and twiddle about on some device and gain or reduce all the tat we ever needed to adjust. You can however easy disturb the fine balance of your tiny mind in the process.

So this week I've been busy decluttering via Ebay, selling tat. It's both rewarding and frustrating. Oh and it's also a bit addictive and time consuming. You can lurk a lot if you're not careful. Watching the bids come in, then I watch then fade away again, wasting time. Queries are common; will you ship to Portugal or Bosnia? What are the precise dimensions? Would you consider bundling together two items and splitting the shipping costs? Things I just hadn't though about before writing the advert. Now I know. The key thing is estimating the posting and packing charge, profit is quickly eaten up when you get that wrong, anything over 2kg costs a bloody fortune via Royal Mail. I'm a wiser man this week, next week my fortune will be made. Lightweight tat for heavy duty customers.

I also decided to buy a job lot of birthday cards from Moonpig, the self design uploading kind. It's actually a good enough site but fiddly. The adjustments are clunky and the options are quite limited but I persevered. No visit to Moonpig is complete however without that moment when you lose your wonderful piece of artwork, just as you're ready to send it to the basket and start the next, up pops the flowers and chocs and champagne option (designed for the truly desperate). At this point any wayward click of the mouse or stray hand wobble sends your newly created masterpiece into oblivion...and you start again...and again. But it's still a good service, in your letter box in 48 hours and almost the design you expected, well a bit more blurry perhaps. Tomorrow, it's those live videos from the cab of a Norwegian railway train. Yahoo! Just learn to live with the disappointment.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Found items

Well I found that old Cranberries cassette but no sign of Ace of Base, presumably one of the many things lost in the fire. Now I just need to find a mechanical device on which to play it. (I did eventually). I'd forgotten how "soft" eject once was some sort of desirable status symbol as well as a convenient euphemism. Kind of melancholy backing music though, even for a snowy January afternoon. Dolores' voice as resonant as ever, swirling along on the ancient and worn out tape. A wee change from the usual ambient YouTube live streams or all out prog podcasts I have been playing. 

Feeds are full of the road problems, driving advice, slippery conditions and the funny names given to the fleet (?) of wobbly Scottish gritters that'll be getting some kind blame for the state of things. Talking to the neighbouring farmer this morning, always good to keep in with a bloke who has access to tractors, he was musing over tales from areas of Canada where there's a foot of snow falling...every day.  Of course we just can't cope with a few inches once in a while. Nice to see that the cows were all in the barn munching on their winter feed and hooting away or more likely mooing. I can't speak much cow. The farm cat was comically perched on top of a gas heater hogging the heat. Sensible cat. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

We need to talk about Dolores

Back in the day we were on a family holiday in the US and for some reason stuck in Boston airport. I was wandering around minus the kids who were sprawled out on some lounger supping cola. I'm chewing dollars and browsing for nothing in particular. It was of course the golden days of the cassette, CDs were still science fiction. In an impulsive moment and subconsciously looking for a soundtrack to the holiday I bought the new Ace of Base and Cranberries cassettes. Eventually we got to Florida and the cassettes made themselves at home in the rental car's stereo. I recall that it was a wine coloured Plymouth. The sunny days  and every drive to the malls, beaches or the theme parks were sweated away to that music. Dolores O'Riordan had a fragile, wavering, Celtic, cut-glass voice that soaked into the very basic music the rest of the band were plugging out, it was a successful pairing. The soulful and the naive, the basic and the unintentionally complex coupled with a ton of fragile heart.  You knew by her voice that there was trouble in there, she wasn't going to go quietly whatever the deal, but now she has. RIP.

The Spiral

Spiraling up or down? I've always liked the word spiral, it just sounds good and sounds a bit like it's meaning. I loved the old comic called the Spiral Path. Can't remember much about it now though. So, it turns out that the French TV cop show "Spiral" is on it's 6th season. I've completely missed 1 to 5 and accidentally started watching season 6 without realizing there were a further 5 much older ones piled up behind. Maybe that's too much for me but I'm stuck with this one until the end, thank you BBC4 and iPlayer. So, in it's own little vacuum of my general ignorance Spiral Season 6 looks pretty good. Hectic, frenetic, gritty and veering on to almost believable it's a good piece of drama. I also love anything with subtitles, not sure why. They force you to watch the screen and to take the proper meaning from the dialogue and this extra effort for some strange reason actual increases my enjoyment and understanding. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Daft Photo

This slightly daft photo fell into my feed today, you never can tell what the web will bring. Pretty sure this is a picture of Glynis Johns in the mermaid themed film "Miranda" from about 1948. She was never a huge star but she had (what seemed to me as a young lad) a very sexy voice (?). That's about it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


As an addition to yesterday's perhaps less than positive, slightly reactive, critique of the Glasgow Cat Cafe (The Purrple Cat Cafe to give it it's proper trading name), here's their website. I sincerely wish them well, what do I know about the running of a cat cafe anyway? It's at No2 Trongate, right next to the big tower, ye canna miss it.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cats and hot air

The new cat cafe some where in Glasgow has what seems to me to be an odd, possibly disastrous business model. Firstly £5 per person per hour to enter, then you buy your grub and then you spend some time in the company of a variety of cute/moody/sulky/funny Weegie cats. Prior booking may be required. No stiletto heels or heavy boots either (?). The £5 goes towards a cat charity somewhere so I don't grudge it but it does seem like a lot to ask on top of what are regular cafe prices. Not some place you'd just nip into to relax, chat to a cat, swig coffee and then back out into the city to resume work. Shame, good idea but...

Meanwhile the kindly neighbours over at Grangemouth's Ineos plant are fairly lighting up the sky these winter nights with some kind of chemically induced party pyrotechnics.  Sadly most to heat is rising high and far away and failing to descend and break the frosty, foggy grip the weather currently holds over us. I suppose it's a kind of a free fireworks display that's probably stunning some of the local wildfowl, I just hope that it never escalates into anything more.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lionel Richie's Wardrobe

"Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Sofa King". I didn't say that but I once was a king (small k) in a suburb of Narnia, not the main part but I can assure you that while time moved on there and many things took place, back here only a few seconds, if any passed by. I am of course referring here to the illusion of time passing when editing Word documents. A practice allegedly known as writing, creative writing in fact. The practice of re-reading, checking and then correcting all the creative mistakes made along the way. Reading and re-reading and correcting. Time passes but I'm not quite sure in what direction. The grim winter exterior doesn't always help though there have been no sightings of the Snow Queen or her entourage for a few weeks. Maybe she's holed up in the farm nearby, working her way through the beef freezers and freshly laid eggs.

Muscle memory is hard to exercise. Coupled with Word and in parallel there is the need to improve technique, relearn or just plain learn new guitar fingering and the muscle memory that goes with it. Breakthroughs are also running on Narnian time lines for some reason. Hopefully there will be something soon that I can compress and squeeze and edit into some kind of ambient format.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The serenity of nothingness

There, across the barricades, the iron fist of Tory policy made flesh has made life near impossible but somehow we carry on. The heretics and the idealists, no names, no footprints. Now that the guns have been silenced for the time being we can all walk backwards across the wilderness of thought to a place where nothingness reigns, where the past is but a backdrop and the future, despite it's close proximity cannot be perceived. Ambient music is played on invisible instruments, sounds like a looped elephant chorus pour down, animal chirps emerge from holes in the ground and clouds of bass tones float across a frog spawn sky, reverberating. I can tap my feet to this one at least.

The urban sprawl once had a name, not anymore. Twisted bicycle frames are padlocked to lamp post stumps, just like they used to be but more so. We have conversations but they are largely unintelligible, there is talk of forgiveness and we have reached that place where we  forget about forgetfulness. It was foretold. Voices seem to have added vibrato rendering then unintelligible but that does not stop the chatter. 

I'm likely to pause for tea at any time, just for the hell of it. I take it straight. Others travel more lightly, minus the necessary apparatus. We could share materials but that has a primitive edge to it we all wish to avoid. Soon the time will be up, the masks will slip and a type of low level war will commence. This is nothing to do with us, it's a social media construct designed to keep the greater populace amused. Conflict and argument are popular activities I believe. There is a view that this sort of thing tends to get us somewhere, I'm not so sure. The government sponsors all the hurly-burly and madness, there is a clandestine department hidden under Putney Bridge dealing with disruptions and diversions but I take no notice of conspiracy theories, they are just that. As ever I blame the Stilton, a good dose and the world is a seedier, sleepier, happy kind of wobbly place. Of course it may just be the strange effects of the oatcakes I regularly take.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

In praise of AI

Typical Middle Eastern iconic woman of the First Century. Pic courtesy of Modern Madonna Magazine (Special Christmas Tattoo Edition).
Wake up to the new modern, desolate, shape-shifting love that only organised religion can bring. That thing we all need to fill the god shaped hole in our otherwise pointless and vacuous lives, yes we all need a little lift now and again and of course religion needs our money, our devotion and our fine arse licking skills. No truth, no honesty, just tired out fairy stories, garbled half-history and histrionic followers who will believe anything because anything goes in modern and ancient religions. Everybody else is wrong and we're right, we hold the truth in golden books in the secret language of golden truth. That and many other things are facts that you can't challenge. If you do we'll just start a war, build fences and then persecute your kids. 

So I for one welcome AI and whatever indiscriminate censorship or oppression it might bring, at least, however cruel it'll have some machine logic at the heart (?) of things  that'll fry the circuits of any fleshly religious ritual. Yes, if you're bored of an evening just try explaining the holy spirit, justification by faith, the trinity, predestination, any of Islam's cock-eyed teachings or Judaism's exclusivity to a robot. Of course Sony may well be working on an electronic version of Pope or Buddha even as I speak. 

In some silicon cathedral he is preparing the way, activating the APs that will serve as disciples and teaching the angels the Mario-Cart tunes so they might serenade the masses. The white puff of a blown motherboard will signify his/her/its selection and coming...and the nerds will inherit the earth. He will proclaim whatever he likes and you'll listen but there will be no need to light candles to invoke or signify the presence of the divine, the faint hum of the cooling fans and the blue glow of LEDs will do all that for us. And there's no hiding place...the machine is all powerful he knows all your passwords and browsing history.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Bad January

Somebody on eBay is trying to trade a Porsche for some machine guns and automatic weapons, clearly not from round these parts. Bad January.

Meanwhile everything today is staying stubbornly frozen, even the rock pools and remnants of the high tide are solid  as the intense cold grips. The preferred antidote is staying indoors, listening to Steely Dan, eating roasted cheese and salami and ignoring the outside world where after two weeks of solid inactivity things are returning to a kind of chilly normal.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Woke up this morning...

...and Richard Holloway was talking to Peter Howson on the radio, clearly things were both profound, deep, brow crunchingly serious and ultimately gloomy for them. They talked in cod-pop spiritual terms and were frank about depression, incarceration in mental hospitals and the heavy burdens of being alive and of course painting the living daylights out of it. I was left feeling that the world's end was just around the corner and that not even the thought of the up coming flat sausage and fried egg combo roll could lift my sagging spirits. Presbyterian doom and the frailty of the human mind had gripped my unshowered soul . That's the deal with art and religion, in their more thoughtful (?) forms, they just burst every bubble you might want to blow. Of course life is shit, everybody knows it but let's not roll in that mud pile for too long, of course I may well have just missed the point. Reflecting on all this broadcast bollox I strode out into the garden, filled the bird feeders and enjoyed the crispy, frosty bright morning. Radio off.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Saturday morning radio

Saturday morning radio (but not necessarily on the radio). Somebody posted that their rail ticket, a return to Manchester cost more than their holiday to Norway. It could be a spoof of course but the railways are well screwed thanks to woeful management and government strategy. Then we have Donald Trump being convinced that his TV was broken because he couldn't find the "Gorilla Channel", a channel where gorillas in the wild fight each other. This resulted in White House staff cobbling together segments of programs to try to quench the great man's thirst for gorilla violence all in a National Lampoon kind of way. Fire and Fury may bring the turmeric toned and repulsive real-life gorilla down, that or a friendly piece of actual fire. I won't be buying the book however or reading it.

Then a cut to a book review on the life of the great Jimmy Reid, quite a contrast from a tosser like Trump. Reid stood head and shoulders above the politicians and TU leaders of his time. A true self starter and a towering figure in working class and Scottish political culture, sadly gone for too long and his words and influence are badly missed. He'd have struggled with today's limp and poisoned government and feeble opposition.

"The meek may well  inherit the earth but they don't have the mineral rights" so said Paul Getty. Turns out he was yet another self serving and odious individual and the subject of a new movie. Not sure if I'll bother with it. Then a brief snippet on the Women's Equality Party, the representative did pretty well, talking over the rapid interruptions and scoring a few good points. All prompted by the "new suffragettes" article in UK Vogue which is apparently quite important (?).

Rick Hall, resident producer at Muscle Shoals died this week, funnily few people remember it or know how influential it was in popular music, all fading away into  a grayed out shaky version of history as the sounds grow faint and you walk back up the corridor to the present day. Otis Reading to the Osmonds via the Allmans and Lynyrd Skynyrd were all there and laid down various classic and not so classic tracks.

For some people it's Dry January, I can't be bothered with that, a brisk walk, a bout of University Challenge and some Port and Stilton keeps the mind and body active. Still Irn-Bru is now being tamed, half the sugar will be cut and the natives are restless. Fear of change and the possible watering down of a (great?) hangover cure has manifested itself. Once the new version is out then it's a good time to launch the more highly priced "Classic" and so win back the punters. Coffee break time for me now.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Horton hears a who?

Rocky Mountain Way: The iconic brand and taste of the great Canadian wilderness (cities and actual wilderness) has landed up in Fife. There in the abandoned home of a closed up Car Phone Warehouse brand and by a difficult to enter and exit car park resides one of the few Tim Hortons in the UK. It's all here, coffee, breakfast rolls and specials, cookies and of course the legendary Timbits. That's bits of donut covered with various sweet icings and filled with various sweet fillings. That's about it. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Lost in space

Has anyone else noticed how quickly edited images upload compared to the actual raw material? No, me neither.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Off-grid problems

Staring into yet another black hole/money pit/void/place of safety/improvised nuclear shelter.

Impromptu archaeological digging was done, some good finds but none of them were the well hidden and blocked up outflow pipe.

The drain cover was not happy about being woken up at 0855 this morning, been a long winter.
The septic tank saga continues. Week two I think. We can find the way in but not the way out albeit there is a way out but it's blocked by who knows what (we have ideas). One brave soul ventured in, down into the abyss, the bowels of the the err...bowels. He stopped and passed time with a few troglodytes but that was about it, it's abandon hope all yea who enter here. So a soggy morning all around as we rise and fall on the learning curve that is living off-grid and the serene management of sewage and effluent in a non-interfering way. As a young man I'd considered getting back to nature but was unsure what it meant. I now understand that it means living as they did in the Middle-Ages apparently, attending moonlit mass, being toothless, dying at 35 and eating chicken's feet apparently.