Thursday, 28 February 2008

It's The Quiet Ones You Have To Watch

That's another phrase I don't understand. How often do you hear it? You hear it quite often don't you.
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

Stupid Things We Say - Well One Of Them Anyway

Have you ever wondered why China, India, Brazil and the like are developing at such a pace that Western countries can't seem to match? I know I have. It's the stupid things like that keep me awake at 4 in the morning.
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

D'oh! - I feel Like I'm Having A Homer Moment

Finally got round to buying the new Sons & Daughters album today - 4 weeks after it came out. I've been a big Sons & Daughters fan for years ever since I saw them live years ago. in the Glasgow School of Art. They are a band that have a lot of energy in their songs and live performance, not unlike Jack White of the White Stripes or the Raconteurs. It might also help that Adele is probably one of the hottest front women alive right now, up there with Lovefoxx of CSS - and she doesn't even wear strange looking jumpsuits either.

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

My Gripes About Modern Life – Part 2

Bottled Water!

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

  • Still

  • Sparkling

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.

Its On Repeat # 5

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)