Tuesday, 25 November 2008
That was how it was until 6 months ago. In just that amount of length of time everything I knew and thought I knew was turned on its head. Then just over two weeks ago I came home and it no longer felt like, well, home. It was strange. It felt alien. It was no longer enough. It kind of took me by surprise.
There seems to be two types of Scots, those who can't wait to grow up and get away from it and those who never want to leave. I always belonged in the latter group. I never saw myself leaving here permanently. I wanted to have time to travel the world for sure, but I always saw myself coming back.
I'm no longer sure that I can say that's the case any more. In around 12 weeks I'll be leaving here and I'm not sure I'll be coming back on a permanent basis. And the strange thing is I don't even feel sad.
I have around 12 weeks of working and saving to do so that I can take enough money with me so that I won't end up a sponge for the following 3 months. That's the simple part. The tricky part is to convince Border Patrol and Homeland Security to let me in for those 3 months. It was hard enough to convince them to let me in for just 2 weeks the last time. I wasn't expecting the 25 minute interrogation - but then the Monty Python crew always did say no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, its just I really wasn't expecting it. I mean I wasn't even wearing a checked black and white tea towel on my head, or trying to get into Texas whilst sporting a Mexican style moustache above my lip. I may have said that I was a landscaper but I failed to see where I could hide a lawnmower in my luggage. I just wasn't expecting that level of paranoia for what was just an innocent 2 week holiday.
Next time I will be more prepared. I will have the same answers to the same questions. It just might not be so honest this time around. In that yes I am working now so that I can take enough money with me so that I'm not going to be a sponge and I will have enough money to go home again and buy another return ticket to renew my 3 month visitors visa. Next time around I really doubt that I can make enough money to do the same thing again, not in the space of a week or two's flying visit. I just don't see that being possible.
Why doesn't this scare me? It should. But I'm not. What the hell is wrong with me? I will need to find a way to work eventually. How I allay the suspicions of Border Patrol when I don't believe it myself I have no idea. Despite all this uncertainty I feel the journey I am now on is my road to home.
Which in itself is strange. 6 months ago I had no real ambition to settling in the USA. There were places in the States that I wanted to visit, fleetingly, at some point, but I had no intention of living in a country with so many lawyers, guns or psychiatrists. Neither of which to me seemed to be a healthy approach to dealing with your problems. Now, strangely, it feels like home. What the hell happened? What did she poison me with? Utah fry sauce may be famous but it wasn't so great that I should be missing the place. The love of, and for, a good woman does strange things to a man. I'm ready and at peace with my decision to give up the land that begat me and I'm looking forward to discovering Utah, & America, and becoming as familiar with it as I am with Scotland today. Now if only I could get a job photographing and writing about that journey of new discoveries. Och if only I had the ability to write.
Dougie MacLean: Caledonia
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Maybe it's her hair, long, radiant and black.
Maybe its the way she feigns hurt when I say she's such a white girl.
Maybe its those wide beautiful brown eyes that look just as good first thing in the morning as they do late at night.
It could be all these things but I think it's her smile.
Or her laugh when I say something stupid.
Maybe it's her smell, the lotion she wears.
Or how my hands smell like her cherry blossom after I couldn't resist touching her soft, soft skin.
Maybe its the way I can just be me and don't need to pretend to be anyone else.
Maybes its the way I love her just as she is and wouldn't want to change a thing.
Maybe its the way that by rights I think she should be out of my league and yet she makes me feel I deserve every minute of her.
You know it could be all these things but I think mostly it’s her smile.
Cause I love to see her smile back at me, when I know she is happy.
Maybe it's her touch, the feel of her hands when she puts her fingers in mine.
Maybe its the way I can forget about the outside world when I'm with her.
Yeth, I think its just the way that something as simple as her laugh can brighten the darkest hour.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
I don't know about you but sometimes I'm convinced my brain operates differently than other brains. It's sick and twisted and finds humour in subject matter that isn't really meant to be funny. It might well be an inbuilt coping mechanism but I'm not exactly sure. I find human behaviour interesting, especially behaviour that is a little different from the norm. Suicide is just such one of those interesting behavioural decisions.
Now generally day to day I don't think much about suicide, in truth would never have crossed my tiny mind had I not read two articles in a newspaper, one on the subject of suicide and the other on the state of feminism in today's world. This was all it took for my mind to go on a little journey to the dark side. For some reason after reading this paper my brain decided throughout the rest of the day to merge the two subjects together and go off in strange tangents like I'm sure only my brain can. You may think this sounds rather egotistical of me, but trust me you don't want a brain like mine. It's a little messed up in there.
For example at one stage I was thinking abut some of the raw statistics when I realised that as I was thinking that someone somewhere was contemplating ending it right there and then. The odds are pretty high that someone is thinking of doing the same now as you are reading this. Do you ever think of things like that? I do! Why? I don't know, but that's how my brain works.
Something else I thought about, and this is where the two separate subjects merged in my head, was the fact that if women want to be considered truly equal with men they have to commit suicide in greater numbers. Why? Well for some strange reason men aren't considered good multi-taskers but we are great at suicide? When guys decide enough is enough and its time to end it all they are generally successful at it. Women on the other hand not so much. Women are 3 times more likely to try to kill themselves but men are 4 times more likely to have the the word SUICIDE stamped on his chart by the coroner. That's a serious swing right there and its also something feminists never speak about when they advocate for an equal world. Maybe its tough being at the top?
Don't get me wrong I don't find suicide funny, I don't advocate it, but neither am I judgemental of those who do have suicidal thoughts. I don't much wonder about the reasons. I think I can understand it, life is hard sometimes, there could be many reasons for it and with the credit crunch maybe there are even more reasons now than there was a few years ago.
What I wonder is where people find the time. It would be well down on my list of priorities. People are always wanting something from me, if it was something I was considering the bastards just wouldn't let me do it.
There a lot of myths about about suicide, the two most popular being that it is a sin and that it is selfish. Do you know how suicide became a sin? Moses didn't bring the word of God down a hill and say suicide is bad - don't do it. In fact for for centuries the most popular place to kill yourself was on church property. Why? In villages and towns everywhere church buildings tended to be the tallest building around for miles. It was convenient to do it in a church, especially if you knew when you jumped (or is it fall, I'm never quite sure?) you were less likely to survive with a rather painful broken leg. After a while the church got fed up with the cleaning bills. Any forensic investigator or episode of CIS will tell you that blood is very difficult to remove. Cleaning up blood is an expensive business. The solution to expensive cleaning bills – make suicide a sin. Overnight suicide rates in church grounds dropped.
As for selfish? Really? In these days of diminishing resources, rising food bills and consumerism that is raping and pillaging the planet maybe choosing to end it all is one of the few acts of selflessness we have left. I mean seriously if more people did it the price of oil would fall, food would easier to get by those remaining and the carbon footprint of the human population would be a little bit less too.
Another reason that it can't be a selfish thing to do is that its not exactly an easy pain free option to your problems. I don't know about you but I do know I couldn't do it. I wouldn't know where to begin. Shooting myself isn't an option because I don't own a gun and despite what the papers like to portray it isn't that easy to get a hold of one in this country. I wouldn't know where to go. I don't live in a country where guns are as easy to buy as a can of beer. Even if I did, I don't know how to shoot. I could just point and pull the trigger and hope for the best but sometimes when I'm doing something for the first time I mess up. Knowing my luck I would miss every vital organ and end up with a hole that I would have explain for the rest of my sorry life. Or worse wear a hat to cover it up – I look stupid in a hat.
I could try overdosing on the contents of the medicine box, but seeing as it can take me 3 hours to swallow one headache pill I'd probably mess up on that too and end of with nothing much worse than the runs. No, suicide is not an easy option, its hard.
You can't just jump off a bridge! It takes planning. A teenage girl in New York the other day fell 14 floors and survived. Knowing my luck I'd the exact same thing. Only I would feel even more suicidal because of the pain of the broken bones, but the broken bones would inhibit such an action.
It would be much easier to drink myself to death and in fact that is like a national past time in this country by a certain element of society especially amongst those who like to stay up until 3am on a Saturday night. But that's a long term approach, that takes dedication and I generally get bored of anything that requires that amount of commitment.
Tying myself to the rail tracks would probably be a waste of time because there is so much engineering works going on by Railtrack that Scotrail probably wouldn't be running any services on the line that day. I would probably have to go for a toilet break so as not to make a mess of my underwear and just at that moment a 26 truck coal train would roll past.
I suppose I could like others cut myself to see if I like the idea first but I'm kind of allergic to pain and quite frankly its kind of messy. Death by a thousand cuts just doesn't hold much appeal. Must be even harder for those who faint at the sight of blood.
There is always the old rope and chair trick but who nowadays owns rope? Sailors maybe. Tug-o-war hobbyists? I suppose you could go to B&Q and buy some, theres 10% off day on a Wednesday - you could get yourself a bargain just before you do the deed. Of course you could always put it on your credit card and not have to pay for it – that must a tempting idea to those who have more money worries than they can handle. A sort of sweet revenge on the visa company. But if you are going to jump off a chair with a rope around your neck you better hope you remember how you gained your knot making badge during your day in the scouts, otherwise thats going to be a long slow death or one painful visa bill when you have to pay for a rope at 20% interest that you have no use for.
Choosing to end it all and how is one thing but then there is the suicide note. In some ways I might find that even more difficult. I find this blog difficult enough at times and really, sorry to tell you this, but I don't care how people read this. But a suicide note has got to be much harder. I'm dyslexic, so sometimes I really struggle with my choice of words. Not a good thing to suffer from when it is your last opportunity to say a few words to your nearest and dearest in an uncaring world. What's more if you could express myself you possibly wouldn't be feeling suicidal in the first place. What do you write? Do you need to specify a date, or do you make the coroners day more interesting by allowing them to calculate the time from the state and growth of the maggots? Now that would be selfish! You are going to spoil someone's dinner, especially if the coroner is just new on the job.
Then there is how do you begin? To whom it may concern seems a little impersonal don't you think? Besides if you plan your death right you might time it so that those who made you want to do it are the ones to discover your body. Dear Mum and Dad? Can't help thinking that leaves out the wife and miserable brats who are going to survive you? See not so easy is it? How about?
Hope you are good! I am not good!
You are the ones who drove me to do this! I was doing just fine until you had to come and mess things up. I do hope that you happy now that I am dead.
Signed by the foul smelling rotting corpse in this room
PS Fuck you all. That insurance money you were relying on has a special no pay out on suicide policy. Kinda clever don't you think? That's why I took the time to write this note.
Ok so maybe suicide is a selfish act.
Now if you laughed at any of this welcome to the Laughing At Awful Things club. If you didn't? Thanks! Thanks for confirming my suspicion that my brain is a little messed up.
Monday, 16 June 2008
- I rarely get to go the cinema.
- I don't think most people care what I think, plenty of people can say it better than I could hope to.
- I'm not a critic, if I don't have something positive to say I would rather say nothing at all. I don't think its my place to criticise unless its something really atrociously bad - then its fair game!
- Besides - if I took movie reviewing seriously I might have to watch Sex In The City which holds no interest for me. Those two or three hours could be better spent elsewhere. And believe me I would watch that before I would watch some of the other crap out there.
Anyway the film. Mongol is a gorgeous piece of photography and is well worth watching for that alone. The landscape of the Mongolian and Kazakhstan is truly stunning and the film makes the most of this backdrop to create what is a beautiful film. The acting isn't bad either. I'm not entirely sure I buy the story that the reason for Temudjin conquering and uniting the warring Mongolian tribes was due to him falling in love with a girl at the age of 9. It makes a nice story but from what I've read of the history of Genghis Khan it probably came about more due to a combination of circumstances, luck, opportunity, and no small amount of ambition rather than love of a good woman who he met as a prepubescent boy.
Besides there is supposedly 16 million men in the world today who according to geneticists can trace their origin to one man in Mongolia who was alive around the aggressive foreign policy of Genghis Khans rein. Now call me a cynic if you want but the thought that Temudjin would unite the tribes of Mongolia through the love of a good woman and then spread his love around so seems a little unlikely. Of course geneticists can't say for sure that Genghis Khan was the man in question but he probably had more opportunity than most seeing as he was top boss so to speak and probably had more opportunity than most under him.
Anyway the plot may not ring true, but it is a nice story nonetheless it just goes to show that its not only Hollywood that can rewrite history to suit the creative process - the Russian film industry can do the same. Perhaps wisely the film Mongol only addresses 34 years of Temudjin's early political life and steers clear of the story of raping, pillaging and concubines. That's not to say its all sweetness and light, there are a few bloody scenes but it was a violent time in the history of Mongolia so a little blood spillage is to be expected. However even the battle scenes were handled quite artistically.
If you don't mind watching a film with subtitles you could do far worse things with 2 hours of your time. There is a nice moment in the film where Temedjin is speaking to his young daughter and teaching her the word for meat and justifies this word as the reason for Mongolian being the most beautiful language in the world. A nice scene in itself and probably the writers justification to its Russian/German backers that for sake of authenticity it had to be acted in Mongolian, a language that few of its intended audience would understand.
Go watch it, and if you don't like it I'll let you throw popcorn in my direction. Honest I won't duck.
Sunday, 1 June 2008
Sometimes getting home from work at 6:30am when the sun is already up and most everyone else are only just contemplating rising out of bed gets old. But on a gorgeous summer's day with blue skies and fantastic light its best not to waste it by going to bed, far better to go for a long walk - especially if you have a camera and 6 day old 30mm 1.4 in your bag. Can I just say I love this lens, I may only have used it ta couple of times and still getting used to it but damn its a lot of fun, so much so it was 4 hours before I got home and that was after a 12 hour shift. I really need to get out more.
I'm convinced that this lens (with its very nice bokeh - thats the blurred out of focus background) in hands better than mine could make just about anything beautiful but it would be nice if someone made a lens that can make me feel comfortable in front of the camera that didn't involve an expensive and painful make-over, but now I'm just being silly.
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
I also like to travel, I don't do as much of that as I wish I could - if I had my way I would be a lazy bugger who wouldn't do any work and would travel the world by balloon and land, whereever the wind had taken me, whenever I was running out of gas, but I can't do that that blasted thing called work gets in the way and so when I get time I read the stories of other people that way my mind gets to travel even though my passport hasn't been exotically stamped.
It seems everybody today has access to a camera - whether it be a digital compact, a fancy slr or a camera phone - every picture tells a story, and we all live in interesting places, maybe not to ourselves but to others and so I thought why not create a new blog. A co-operative blog if you like, a blog called something like Our World (title undecided - come up with a better title if you like) where people from around the world in exotic and not so exotic locations come together and share picture stories of subjects that interest them. The chosen subject could be anything - I personally might be tempted to do a photo story on Scottish church buildings, not because I'm particularly religious - I'm not, religion and religionists tend to get in the way of me being religious but despite this for some reason I do have a weird thing for churches. I like the fact that every village or town in Scotland has a solid stone church building at its heart and each building though in some ways similar to the church(es) in the previous village or town is also in some ways architecturally unique. For some reason those church buildings to me speak about the Scottish landscape as much as the rolling green fields and purple heathered mountains and golden eagles.
I might even do a picture story with trees, another thing I have a fondness for, for no apparent reason other than maybe I'm an old hippy at heart, or maybe its my landscaping background or maybe its because I'd rather be a free loving bonobo than a mean old traffic warden (remember that blog?).
Now those are stupid random things and I could possibly come up with more interesting things to share than those two ideas I came up with off the cuff, well I hope I can but nonetheless it would be a very boring blog if it was all about me. To be an interesting blog it needs diversity. It needs people with interesting things to say, and show, to take part. And that means YOU. Yes YOU who is reading this now, don't think I can't see you looking I can, it needs You to take part too. The finest tapestry takes patience to sow and the ability to wait for each thread to support a bigger picture. The more people who take part the more diverse it will be. So come on, join in and sign up, add you name to the comments here and if you go outside take you camera with you and if you see something worth sharing take a few snaps and tell your story. Its not the quality of the camera that matters, noone will judge your camera work its the story behind the pictures that matters and if they have are self proclaimed art critics out there, they will have to be careful with what they say because they won't be the one deciding if their comment gets published or not. So come on, sign up and share something about your world. Or are you just going to lurk and play chicken?
Monday, 5 May 2008
I can't be sure, seeing as I wasn't there when the first person got the myth under way but I have a feeling it went something like this -after a particular humiliating game in the history of Scottish sporting achievements (or lack of) a few whiskies were drunk, sorrows drowned before someone stood up at the back of the publican house and said with much slurring "Och a ken we'll never win the World Cup, but see us, we're great we are, we know how to have a good time, we know how to have a party. We might not be able to play a game of fitba but we're the friendliest people in the world we are." This was heard by someone who worked at the old Scottish Tourist Board sometime before it was renamed Visit Scotland who thought 'Ooh I can use that and get myself a nice bonus from the chairman and use the money to see some Spanish sun for two weeks.'
Like all myths it could have died before it took hold and was believed but this myth was helped to survive by reporters from Scotland Today running off to Glasgow Airport on a slow news day and shoving a microphone under the noses of American Tourists and asking the question "Well what did you think of Scotland then?" The unsuspecting tourist suffering a little from stage fright and eager just to get home by this stage had to think up something quick - "Scatland?".... (spelling deliberate).... "well it rained a lot but the people were friendly enough, even if I didn't know what they were saying and there was that day I walked into the pub toilet when they were shooting Trainspotting and Robert Carlyle beat me up, but I think he was only acting...." Scotland Today being the professional news show that it is ended the transmission at "Scatland? .... well it rained a lot but the people were friendly.." and so the myth grew and took hold.
I have deliberately used the word myth not because I'm too lazy to use a thesaurus, I do have other words in my vocabulary, but because I am a cynical bugger and don't much go in for the 'Wha's like us?' attitude of some Scots. I tend to think that one nationality is as good and as bad as one another. On a bad day we can all can all throw rocks and missiles at one another and on a good day can all hug and kiss one another - especially after a few whiskies have been drunk by one and all. I also think as far as Scotland is concerned its a lot of crap to be honest.
Let's face it, if we were really that friendly wouldn't we have a much easier to understand accent? Would the BBC have felt the need to use subtitles when showing the Scottish film Ratcatcher on the national televison network a couple of year ago if we as a people had learned to slow down when talking to the uninitiated ear?
And what about our place names? Our place names aren't all that friendly to the visitor either. Many people find it difficult to pronounce Scottish place names. At one point this probably had a purpose, for hundreds of years the only visitors likely to come calling were marauding English and Viking armies so in the days before GPS it was probably a good way to identify whether a stranger was friend or foe if they could or could not pronounce the name of the place they were asking directions for. Today though marauding armies have more sense that to come to Scotland, they get as far as Hadrian's wall, conveniently built by the Romans, and head south for somewhere drier.
Despite this though, we haven't renamed our place names to be more accommodating to the visitor. I'm Scottish and even I have had some trouble getting from one place to another. For years I lived just 5 miles from my great aunt who lived in Milngavie but at the age of 8 if I had wanted to visit her on my own and were to go asking the oh so friendly Scottish staff (don't make me laugh) at the bus station information desk the number of the bus to Milngavie they wouldn't have been able to answer me for laughing. Because at that age I didn't pronounce it in the correct manner, I pronounced it as I saw it written down and broke it into easy to say pieces Mil-in-gav-eh only the correct pronunciation is in fact Mill-guy. How you get Millguy from Milngavie to this day I have no idea, is it any wonder that Blogger as a little red line under it?
You may well think that the correct pronounciation matters not but there are a surprisingly large number of ill prepared tourists who begin their Scottish holiday in Milngavie before walking in their khaki shorts, in the rain, along the West Highland Way. We may not be able to do much about the rain or our most terrifying beast - the dreaded midge - but we could surely, if we were a friendly bunch of people, make it easier for the visitor to get from one place to another by making them easier to say. It's not only Milngavie that's difficult to say - apparently Edinburgh our capital city isn't that easy either nor are our much visited Lochs or just a few miles from the English border the town of Kirkcudbright, which is not pronounced Kirk-cud-bright but more like kir-could-bree. And then there is the charming remote little town on the West coast of Scotland where I worked for 3 months of last year but could not tell anyone because I could not say - Ardrishaig.
Pfft, Scots? Friendly? Aye to a point maybe. Just don't ask us to change our place names.
Thursday, 1 May 2008
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Stupid thing to do for two reasons, the other person I was trying so desperately to confront could have had a knife or worse a syringe but more importantly I struggled to get out of bed in the morning and walking from A - B causes discomfort. Yet here I was suddenly trying to run after someone without a plan of what I was going to do if I caught them. I'm sure they would have been really scared if I said something like "Ooh you lil ******! Ow! You made me run after you, you ****! Ow! My back hurts, now your face is going to hurt - but wait, let me just get my posture back....OWW! That's better - kinda."
Something tells me he wouldn't have been suitably distressed, it may just as well he was always 10 steps ahead of me and got out the garden before I could catch up with him. I never even really got a good enough look to identify him. I did see a girl, well I say girl but as the police would prefer to say, and did so often, 'female' around 25 years of age, run across the garden in the same direction, after I had given up the chase. It was a second or two of seeing this 'female' before my mind went from 'what the hell is a woman doing running in the garden?' to 'oh hell, she's with him, and was the lookout.' At least, even though I was too slow in my reactions to give chase, I did get a decent look at her. Which then meant I spent much of the morning looking through a scrapbook this morning. It was a little disconcerting thumbing through a book of mugshots - there was that little bit of doubt that I might identify the wrong one but apparently I got the right one that the Police suspected all along. Phew! That was a relief I can tell you. My guilt was instantly dissipated. Why I felt guilt I cannot say, I was, presumedly, thumbing through a book of people who had all done something legally wrong and all guilty of something.
Perhaps I would have done society as a whole a favour by changing my story (slightly) to "Officer I remember now, I don't know why I didn't remember this important detail before - excitement perhaps, but there was 12 of them, girls in the garden that is, females I mean. All of them of similar appearance and here you are - one, two, three." Pointing at the corresponding pictures of course."Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve." But I didn't do it, I couldn't - even if I had thought of it. In the end I was around 90% sure I had the right one but still the nagging doubt of 'what if?' at least until I saw the knowing nodding exchanges between the two policemen in the room.
Anyway to my point, the above was just a long winded precursor inserted for a sense of place - nothing more. A neighbours suggestion after taking an interest in the activity caused by the arrival and dispersal of the police vans was that they should "lock up him and throw away the key." Personally I find this saying to be rather stupid and a counter productive approach. How far can you throw a key? I couldn't throw one very far, but then I'm injured, perhaps you with a better back might throw it further. But I suspect not much further. Even the best trained object throwers probably wouldn't throw a key a reasonably suitable distance. Steve Backley an ex Olympic silver medallist, eternal loser to a Czech (I think) whose name escapes me) with many years of experience could only throw a javelin 90 odd metres. As impressive as 90 metres may sound, my suspicion is that a javelin is a little more aerodynamic than a key and would take to being thrown further distances. A key being thrown by an expert with the perfect technique might throw it 40 metres away, maybe, failing a convenient passing hurricane, it would land 50 metres away on a good day. Now what's the point in locking someone up if his friend can so easily find the key and release him again? Someone really needs to rethink that saying.
Throwing a key into a key manufacturers workshop with hundreds of thousands of similar, but suitably different, keys lying on the floor might be a better idea. That way the friend might get bored and give up trying different keys in the lock or just take enough time to release the guilty and therefore give them time to rethink their ways. This may be unlikely too, but hey I'm an optimist, just a very cynical one.
Friday, 25 April 2008
That's not to say I haven't taken any pictures with the camera before now, I have, but mostly just to see if it was working as it should. My main reason for buying the camera was because I wanted a DSLR and it was cheap. The image quality of the sensor is good, on a par with the mid range cameras but feature wise its poor - it doesn't really have any, so it wasn't a camera I would have paid the full initial asking price for. Its not that I need features but I like value for money - just call me McScrooge. What I didn't realise when I bought the camera was that it was in fact two cameras in one. A normal every day colour camera, and, with the simple removal of the dust filter, an infra-red camera. Normally with most digital cameras in the market today if you want to shoot infra-red you have to have the camera altered permanently, at a cost, to shoot in only infra-red.
The Sigma SD14 which I bought, has a removable dust protector that also doubles as an infra-red light blocker that can removed and replaced easily as you so wish. Well of course, I who used to at the age of 3 take radios apart to see how they worked had to check out this happy accidental discovery for myself.
Here are the results.
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
You know how it works, I share some music that I deem worth listening to, some songs are new, some are old, some are classics, some are strange ones that you will never hear on the radio any time soon - it's mixed, its very eclectic, chances are you won't like everything on the list, but you should hopefully like some of it. The idea is you join in with a list of your own or maybe just seek out some of the songs and are turned on to a new listening experience. See something on the list that you like 'and want to know other similar songs by the same artist of genre? Feel free to ask.
So without further ado let's start
Last time I did a It's On Repeat I was given a dressing down for being prejudiced against Canadian music which of course is not the case I just umm didn't have anything Canadian on my list. This time I'll put that right after all I don't want to upset a nation of 30 million plus that has altogether too much land and armed forces that buy second hand submarines that have a tendency to self combust. Wait what has that got to do with music? Nothing. Anyway here's my token Canadian band Bedouin Soundclash, they don't sound much like Celine Dion (phew!), the song St Andrews. No it has nothing to do with Scotland's patron saint but it is a catchy tune nonetheless and well worth its place in the list and not because its placement may have have appeased a nation.
Song number two Just A Boy by Australia's brother and sister duo Angus & Julia Stone is a beautiful song that eloquently expresses some of those early feelings when you discover that you have fallen in love.
Ida Maria. Newish Swedish songstress (does that make sense?) with attitude could be the next big thing so see her in a small venue near you for a pocketful of change while you can and enjoy Oh My God. Its got all the ingredients to be a classic at the summer festivals. Well I think so anyway, but I know nothing. I will however be going to King Tuts on the 1st of June (if I can get the day off work) just for this song, its that good! Anyone want to join me?
Che Fu & Aaradhna are from New Zealand and the song Spin One is a nice song for those who love music but can't adequately express it with words. That will be me then.
J. Holiday & Nina Sky - Bed is a song that's right up there Dresden Doll's Coin Operated Boy that you probably won't want to be listening to on your mp3 player on the subway in case you find yourself singing along. Let's just say you might get more than a few strange looks but its a great song though.
I've been seriously sleep deprived over the past few weeks and I'm not a caffine drinker so on occasions I've had to resort to songs that have a rejuvenating effect just to get me through the work day. Bob Sinclar's - Rock This Party was that song on occasion.
And now a classic Gloria by the Rolling Stones. A classic for a reason.
I've had my token Canadian band, now my token representation from Scotland. Keep On Breathing by The Delgados I love this song, almost as much as I love Emma Pollock's voice. Sadly The Delgados are no more but Emma is singing solo now so its not a total loss.
Considering I have only ever spent three weeks in New Zealand I have way too much music from that small country, you'd think I'd spent the whole time just listening to music but I did eat too - honest. Anyway Savage is another Kiwi R&B artist and Swing is a real floor filler.
Whoops! Just realised I have two Scottish bands on the list. Me bad! But I defy you not to join in the chorus in Biffy Clyro's Who's Got A Match, you can try not to but like trying not to like your lips after eating a sugary do nut it can't be done.
Now time for another classic this time by Nina Simone. I Put A Spell On You.
Take Me Back To Your House With a song title like that you may think it of a similar subject matter to J. Holiday's already mentioned song, you'd be wrong, this is one you can sing along to when in public. Not always the case with Basement Jaxx.
Something a little quieter Bright Eyes - First Day Of My life Can you tell I'm getting tired of typing? Time to let the music do the talking.
And now for a song you might not be familiar with if you aren't a weirdo like me that listens to music in a foreign language. Jacques Brel - Amsterdam
Something for those who like to tap their toes - Gomez - Machismo
I don't know how many people Akon has worked with over the years but he must be or close to being the hardest working R & B artists around and here's another one Shaggy & Akon - What's Love
Sometimes the choices on my music list sound like someone preparing for a wedding - something old, something borrowed, something blue' - something old - Desmond Dekker & The Specials - Take It Easy
We all have our slightly embarrassing musical likes and one of mine left over from my mother's influence is Neil Diamond. I can't help it, she played Hot August Night one too many times when I was growing up. It was a few years before I redeemed myself by picking up Guns N Roses Appetite For Destruction. Anyway the Neil Diamond Song on the list is Hell Yeah. Man, I'm glad I'm not catholic, confession is not good for the soul.
Time to end this list on a positive cheery note. Finley Quaye - This Is How I feel. Ahh! Thats better!
Friday, 14 March 2008
Personally I didn't see the point. The smaller dealers more than likely just became bigger players overnight.
However the raids did have me questioning something. That being how come after all the years that parents, teachers and politicians have told us that drugs are bad, wrong and whatever else that drugs are still a blight on society.
Thanks to the help of next doors cute 4 year old kid I came up with a theory. As with most my theories there is probably no real truth to it but I'll share with you anyway because that's just the kind of guy I am. I've decided, after a lot of thought (about 2 minutes worth) that its all the parents fault. Even those good parents who tell their kids to just say "no". Especially those good parents if they are the type that like to read to their kids in their formulative years. Why? Well those parents who may tell their kids of the dangers of drugs during the years of 8 - 18 probably screwed it up during the years of 0 - 7. Confused messages during two different periods in a child's development.
The confusion begins with nursery rhymes. They seem harmless enough at first but think about it. Snow White & the seven dwarfs. At a young age I questioned the origins of the names of those seven dwarfs. I'm not sure I can remember them all but I'll try - Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful (almost forgot him), Doc, Grumpy, and Happy. Not normal names I'm sure you agree, in fact a little bit bizarre but when you put them into context with Snow White you may well think in the right frame of mind (weird like me) that Snow White may well be a dealer. The confusion for the child doesn't end there. What about Hansel & Gretal and the gingerbread house? Alice In Wonderland? Peter Pan? Look deep enough and drugs are everywhere in kids stories. Or is it just me....
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
The following was one reaction to today's budget,
"I don't think it was a very child friendly budget, I mean in one hand I got more child benefit but it was all taken away again in the rise in duty of fuel, cigarettes and alcohol."
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Usually after the police have captured a serial killer or gun totting, knife wielding lunatic journalists will descend on his neighbours and interview them to find out what kind of guy he was - as if it makes any difference. Often the neighbours might say "Well he was always really quiet, kept himself to himself mostly, never heard a peep from him, seemed like such a nice guy". There is then usually someone within earshot who will say "Aye, but it's the quiet ones you have to watch". This is a stupid thing to say and needs to be completely rethought. For one thing quiet people may get offended with such a statement - and you don't want that.
But really in all honesty it needs rethought because its not always true. For example I'm a quiet person by nature and despite my weird tendency in this blog to focus on the negative I am a fairly positive thinking person. I focus on the negative here because it amuses me, not because I believe the crap that I say. I don't need to be watched and really by doing so you'd be wasting your valuable time.
Now if on Sunday I bought a paper, sat in the corner table of my local cafe and enjoyed my lunch without saying a word to anyone and some other person grabbed a knife and shouted at the top of his lungs "I'll kill the next fucker who gets served before me" in that situation I really feel I wouldn't be the right person to watch. Of course that's only my opinion. Any person who watched too many documentaries about quiet serial killers may think differently.
But really despite my weird tendencies I am harmless. Infinitely more harmless than anyone who grabs a knife due to being the recipient of lousy minimum wage service.
As statements go its a dangerous presumption to believe, it might get someone killed. Hitler wasn't exactly quiet in public, he was loud and forceful and by all accounts a bit of a nutter. Personally though I wouldn't even presume that all the noisy ones need to be watched. People deal with things differently, after letting loose the guy above might well feel better for getting his displeasure off his chest. Not every noisy person is going to turn into a Hitler, and not every quiet one needs to be watched. In fact it might only piss some of them off.
Monday, 25 February 2008
I've come to the conclusion that it can be narrowed down to one thing - language. The fastest developing countries of our time all share one thing in common - they do not speak the English language as their primary language. Therefore they have an advantage.
Once upon a time the English language was a powerful tool. It is after all a language of four hundred thousand words. Well that's the figure that someone told me once. Personally I tend to be cynical when people mention figures. People lie and exaggerate all the time, especially when they don't know the facts. I was especially cynical in the case of the four hundred thousand for more than a few reasons. Its a nice round number for one. I'm also the sort of person that doesn't take anything as fact until it has been proven without any doubt. My brain is such that you could give me a book with the recipe for an atomic bomb and I won't fully 100% believe that that is what it is. That wouldn't be meant as an insult to the author, I would be open minded about it but at the same time I would need to build said atomic bomb and accidentally blow somewhere up that I had no intention of visiting in the future - the moon perhaps.
Also I have many dictionaries of my own but I've never taken the time to count the words in them. I have better things to do with my life, like the all important task of scratching my bum when its itchy. Quite frankly I don't know anyone who has counted the words in a dictionary but I do know a lot of people who have scratched their bum. But back to the four hundred thousand words before I drift any further. I'm a cynical bastard. I believe people exaggerate and usually by a great number, even when they don't intend to. Lets say that in this case they exaggerated by a third that still leaves the English language with around three hundred thousand words. That's a lot of words. Very impressive you might say. In the right hands it can still be a powerful language, and just in case you are wondering I am not that person. Come on, how many times have I went off topic in this one post? I, like most people, am not a great executer of the potential of this once great language. I'm lazy. I use a minuscule amount of the words available to me. I''d be surprised if I know 5000 words, at a push I may know 10000 words. I really don't know the amount, and I don't care. I do know its only a small fraction of what I could learn and I use even that small amount lazily. I use them in ways that I have heard others use them. I use the same phrases. I don't always know what they mean but I regurgitate them anyway. Just because they are there. It's easier than coming up with something fresh and new and its so much easier that saying something in my own words. Most people I know are like this. Truth be told I might even be worse than most people, if I had to develop a language of my own I would probably resort to grunting, making up words would be too much like hard work.
Again I'm drifting, I have no doubt that at one point the English language was a powerful tool. It was an enabler. With the right voice it gave a nation the belief that they could fight the invasion of a hostile force on the beaches, even though at the time that nation had little more to fight them with than tin openers which weren't fit for purpose for which they were designed seeing as most of the tins destined for the country were at the time sinking in the mid Atlantic. The English language can also make you believe that a man can 'float like a butterfly' even though your eyes are saying that that same man is getting pummelled in the ropes by two very big fists. There is no doubting the power of the English language in the right voice.
Even today it has the potential to be powerful but the potential has been hampered somewhat for most us. Phrases hold its power back. People who are less familiar with the language aren't held back in the same way by what it has become.
China, India and Brazil are all fast developing nations and as a result much of the people of these fine countries will be familiar with the English language but not to such an extent that they say things like "Its the best thing since sliced bread". I mean to say 200 plus years of industrialisation thats the best thing we can come up with?
Countries such as China have ambition. They want progress. They are forward looking countries. They don't measure the greatness of something to an insignificant moment. Why do we? How did that phrase come about anyway? What's so great about sliced bread anyway, I'm sure we could have coped had a cutting machine not been invented. But where would global warming be without the wheel? OK maybe that's a bad example.
Friday, 15 February 2008
Anyway, I was kind of hoping that this album might push the band into a greater audience that I think their music deserves. I'm not sure its going to do that. A couple of songs are are good but I'm not sure the rest are strong enough. Maybe they just need more of a listen. I have however already played Gilt Complex way too much for one day and am staying playing it even now, when I should be concentrating on finishing of drawing this plan in front of me but no I keep turning round to the computer to hit back one more time.
Homer moment? - there's a couple actually. I'm not a big single buyer, but I should have bought the Gilt Complex single when it was available back in October. Not for that song but for what was on the b-side. On there Sons & Daughters did a cover version of one of my favourite songs of the late 80s / early 90s - Adamski's 'Killer'. I loved that version, I'm sure I would have loved the version as sung by Adele.
I might also have heard Adele singing along to that track had I carried through with the plans I made last year. I had intended then to go to this year's South X South West festival in Austin, Texas, I then cancelled those plans when I decided that a new job was needed and didn't think it would make a good impression to any potential employer if I had plans to go off on holiday for a week in March. Guess what - still no new job, many pointless interviews, still dong the same back breaking work - and to top it all off now I know that Sons & Daughters are going to be at the SXSW. D'oh! Ah well - wasn't to be.
Anyway I'm going to break from tradition - I never put YouTube videos on the blog because it tends to slow down those blogger pages - at least it does to my sloth of a computer - however some times I break even my own rules. This if I share the link right - not guaranteed - should be Sons & Daughters performing Gilt Complex. Now is Adele not Hot? Some guys are boob guys, some guys are leg guys, I apparently seem to be all about the eyes. She definitely has a 60s feel to her in this video and pulls it off rather well I feel.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
I just don’t get it. I don’t understand how it became this big thing that it did. Ok I understand that when I go abroad to certain counties its best to buy bottled water if I don’t want to end up with a major case of diarrhoea when I am travelling. That much I get. But how bottled water became this huge phenomenon in Britain in the past 15 years totally escapes me. To me bottled water is a con.
You get two types of bottle water
And yet bottled water, by many different companies, takes up shelf upon shelf upon shelf on the supermarket. I’m sorry but these people really are gullible, yes mum you too. Water is water; it tastes remarkably like, well, water. How did we get into a situation where so many companies existed selling us something that we took for granted?
As far as I’m concerned Still water might as well come out of the tap. Sparkling costs more than still, as it has bubbles (carbon dioxide) in it. Despite paying more you actually get less water for your money. We breathe out carbon dioxide for free, the world has too much carbon dioxide it’s why we have global warming. Perhaps they should be paying us to drink it as a means of fighting global warming. I don’t know the effect that 5 billion people drinking water with carbon dioxide in it would have on the planet, could be positive, could be negative who knows, any scientists out there?
Seriously though, the BS that comes with bottled water is ridiculous. This water has been 150 million years in the making. It has survived 2 ice ages and was sourced from a hidden spring just yesterday, this spring formed after a glacier in the Alps melted over 50,000 years. For best before date see cap. April 30th 2006.
The first time the Coca Cola Company tried to sell water in the UK they had the cheek to use the same water that Londoners got from the tap, and yes they tried to sell it to the good folk of London too. Unsuprisingly after a few months there was outrage and Coca Cola had to withdraw from the UK bottled water market. However after a few years absence they are back maybe they have learned their lesson and discovered themselves a hidden spring, who knows?
I happen to like water, its one of life’s little essentials but in Scotland there is really no real need to buy it in bottled form. The Scottish forefathers of Victorian times noticed the need for good clean drinking water for our cities. They also saw that Scotland had a plentiful source of water (it rains a lot), and mountains with good hard rock and many lochs (Scottish word for lake) within these mountain areas. In some of those lochs they had the foresight to build reservoirs. The hard rock results in nice soft water. The landscape of Loch Arklet that feeds Glasgow with much of its drinking water matches that of any hidden alpine spring, the water is so pure you can see the surrounding landscape reflecting back in the loch. I have pictures on my other blog as proof. The water is then cleaned further, just in case of any impurities, before it ever comes out of the tap. It tastes just as good as any of the bottled water so why pay for clean tap water and then go and buy bottled water? I just don’t see the point.
But then again I'm not a hypochondriac. Have you noticed that people these days are worried about everything. People don't even trust the local water supply. That amuses me. I admit I can be a bit perverted. I love that people think things are falling apart so much that people can't trust water. I love chaos and disorder. I love the fact that people are idiots. I love the fact that there are people out there whose job it is is to supply us with fresh clean water and there are other people out there who don't trust them to do a good enough job and so go out and buy water in a plastic bottle.
I know, I know, I haven't finished the end of year list yet but maybe this can keep you quiet until I find the time.
This is a playlist for when I want to listen to something a little different from what's on the radio.
Asobi Seksu – Strawberries (USA)
Augie March - There Is No Such Place (Australia)
Betchadupa – My Army Of Birds & Gulls(New Zealand)
Bongo Maffin – Amadlozi (South Africa)
Brenda Fassie – Nomakanjani (South Africa)
The Brunettes – Her Hairagami Set (New Zealand)
Camille – Ta Douleur (France)
Che Fu – Fade Away (New Zealand)
Cheikh Lo – Sante Yalla (Senegal)
Daddy Yankee – Rompe (Puerto Rico)
Emiliana Torrini – White Rabbit (Iceland)
Emma Pollock – If Silence Means That Much To You (Scotland)
Fat Freddy's Drop – Seconds (New Zealand)
Femi Kuti – I Wanna Be Free (South Africa)
Fly My Pretties – Singing In My Soul (New Zealand)
Gogol Bordello – When The Trickster Starts A-Poking (USA)
Gotye – The Only Way (Australia)
Jo Mango – My Lung (Scotland)
La Sonora Dinamita – Escandalo (Columbia)
Little Birdy – BeautifulTo Me (Australia)
Outlandish – I Only Ask Of God (Denmark)
Roddy Frame - Western Skies (Scotland)
Rodrigo y Gabriella – Diablo Rojo (Mexico)
Zazie – Je Suis Un Homme (France)
Zucchero – Pacco Berbacco (Italy)
Thursday, 31 January 2008
And so it was the case when I bought my new camera. First model in the store had a fault - I never even got to take it home. Had to wait until the manager phoned round other stores to see if there was another one available and then another few days to get my hands on it. Don't they know I'm an impatient sod?
You'd think this would be the end of it, the universe would be corrected, the world would be safe. Nuh uh. Within a few days of finally getting my hands on the camera my monitor decided after 8 years it was time to say good bye sweet world with a quiet but final 'pphfft' sound.
Well I had next to no money seeing as I had just paid for Christmas and bought myself a camera when I had my years tax bill to pay at the end of the month. So I got myself a not so new monitor on gumtree. That lasted 3 days. See what I mean?
Anyway after 2 weeks, or so, I'm back. Shh, don't tell the universe.
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
But suddenly it struck me there is a business opportunity out there for a restaurant called the The Mouth Full marketed at the gay market.
Come on! It''s clever. It's honest. It goes right to the heart of why many men, not just homosexuals, use restaurants. OK so Mary Whitehouse would probably be offended but its not like she would have to eat there if she didn't want to.
Now who just reported this blog for offensive content? I can't blame Mary, she's dead (I think).
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
I probably wouldn't have bought a camera at all at this stage had there not been a special offer. I managed to get a Sigma Sd14 for £499 plus £200 cashback. Not bad considering it was less than 10 months ago that it hit the market at £1099. Personally I would never have paid that kind of money for it. Its a good camera that is capable of great images but it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of cameras in that price range. That in itself doesn't bother me, I quite like the freaks of nature. Maybe because I'm an oddball myself.
It will however mean a whole lot of learning until I get used to the damn thing but at £299, with a free lens to boot, I think I can put up with that. Then I'm afraid you can expect images to accompany my posts which as usual will have nothing to do with the subject matter. Sorry about that! Tis the price you pay for coming here, well that and my long winded rambling.
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
After getting out of bed this morning when I convinced myself that the migraine was going to continue with the torture I decided to have some breakfast - which is unusual for me, I'm usually the rise, shower, get-dressed, run-out-of-the-door type of guy.
So having decided I had time for breakfast it was thought simplicity was best because at this point my concentration wasn't exactly at its best, so my hand went into the cereal cupboard. I wasn't much caring what I pulled out, my eyes were firmly focused on that point inside my forehead where the pain was emitting from. I picked up a box and shook it to make sure that there was something in it, poured some of the contents into a bowl before adding some milk.
It was then I realised my mistake. I should have taken more care. As soon as the milk hit the contents of the bowl I heard Snap, Crackle & Pop fight it out over who could be the loudest and be the first to make me throw the bowl to a nearby wall.
You know its not going to be a good day when even your breakfast takes a great deal of pleasure in bullying you. Have a nice day!
I should have chosen the Special K. Which brings me to another point - what does the K stand for? It's probably something stupid that I should know but in all honesty I haven't given it much thought. And why is it so special, it can't be due to its amazing properties of being able to allow you to wear red swimsuits after consumption of a few bowls because if I'm honest, and I usually am, I don't think that would be a good look for me.
Whoops! Almost forgot. Happy New Year!
I know I'm late, but tis my way.