Thursday, March 30, 2006

Slicers of the Comstockery Cake,

I had to make a relatively long road journey today for the first time in a while. I'm not a fan of driving generally, I detest really short car journeys. I have to make daily 15 minute car journeys to Kirkcaldy, the linoleum capital of the world, to travel by train to the city - this duration of journey is about manageable. Longer car journeys everyday would be an ordeal, I used to make 45 minute journeys to work in Grangemouth, this was tolerable only because I was travelling at quieter times but occasionally, this could be hideous. In summary, driving is not a great deal of fun in these situations however, making the occasional long journey can be enjoyable. I always grab a few CDs that I have bought but never got round to lishening to or older ones I might have forgotten about and I can review them inflight. Long journey's are often a chance to have some thinking time and also to drive fast and not waddle around town under 30mph.
I don't have what the kids on the street call a "vehicle of enhanced specification" or really like driving but I love my car. I worry about its health although I do very little in the way of caring for it other than maintain water, oil and air levels.
I chose to take Delays' new album with me and "Making Dens" by Mystery Jets. I get irked by CDs that, when I can play them in the car, have sound effects that resemble the car breaking down, which was the case for "Making Dens". I don't drive a banger, it's not an old car and so far it hasn't failed but such noises make me panic, the only disturbing noises my car usually makes are the groans from the engine when I drive in too high a gear - a habit I have from my last car where I could drive in 5th gear from as low a speed as 25mph, and as I try to be an economical driver, that's what I did . These scary sounds are in loads of tracks, there's one effect in "Virginia Plain" by Roxy Music that always starts me worrying, even though I know it's due. I'm not a Roxy Music fan but that song made it onto one of my mix CDs, which are all lovingly named "Classic Cuts" - Volume 4 is the only one not to receive critical acclaim. The Mystery Jets album is fantastic, it's quite a quandary, the singles don't really represent the rest of the album. Their singles are quirky but the album is what some would pigeon-hole as "prog rock", I don't know what that really means but I think I might just be a big "prog rock" fan. To appease the pigeon-holers, I will declare Delays' record an excellent "pop" album and the bushes in the picture, "gorse".
How many road accidents each year are caused by sneezing? Apart from the harm that every other road user can inflict upon me, causing an accident by sneezing is my biggest road fear. The sensation of a forthcoming sneeze makes me desperately hope that I will sneeze before I have to do something important. A sneeze could temporarily blind or incapacitate me as I am braking at a junction, I might run out into the main road or into another car, or the sneeze could occur on a tight bend and I might fly off the road. I believe the Alternative Land Use Party are pledging to reduce the percentage of sneezing occurring while motoring to under 5% by 2020 should they sweep to power. The leader, in a David Cameron-stylee, gave no indication how this would be achieved when questioned.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Replenishers of the Obstreperous Convolution,

I think Spring has arrived. My diagnosis was made yesterday when I stumbled across that smell that trees and plants seem to emit during the growing season. I can't quantify the annual emission pattern of biota but from my smell memory, it happens on summer mornings and seems to be enhanced by the presence of moisture. The moisture was not a refreshing dew but that commonly associated with rain. I really like this summer morning smell, I do not like the smell of Irn-Bru. A game of football (pictured) has no distinctive scent, it's important to concentrate on the ball and the sense of smell is not essential to on-field success
Now that has been clarified, I shall lament the end of Grandaddy. I first noticed Grandaddy at the time of "Now It's On", this epitomises the reason why they must now split. The album that track comes from is their penultimate full-length album Sumday, I had never noticed them before. I soon purchased their back-catalogue, it's littered with so many clever lyrics and they have the ability to convey a multitude of moods. I can't believe they've never enjoyed the kind of airplay that so many lesser artists thrive from. I'm not going to say Grandaddy are better than The Beatles, I don't know enough about them (my views on music from the past is probably best saved for another episode), however, upon hearing Grandaddy's cover of "Revolution", I was left feeling puzzled. Undoubtedly, it was worth lishening to, it was a great track but it didn't feel absolutely right. It's a cover version that is blatantly a cover version, I came to that conclusion not from prior knowledge of "Revolution" but because the lyrics weren't as good as anything Jason Lytle would write.
It's sad to see them split because they can't earn a living from the band any more. I look through my record collection and think who will be next. At least, they've made a host of brilliant albums before parting. I would imagine Jason Lytle's solo projects will be of a similar class.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Slaves to the Velcro Isostasy,

I learned of news that Russians are launching several UFO schools; the schools will teach people how to see UFOs, how to react upon spotting UFOs and how to deal with meeting extraterrestrial beings. Flamin' Norah! These are skills that should be ingrained in all humans, a person shouldn't have to be schooled.
Today is the second anniversary of the end of the Biggest Show. I remember getting back from yooni early that Friday to get the radio on and prepare for the final show from the world's greatest radio partnership. Usually when the radio's on, I do something else simultaneously; stude, housework chores, etc. but that day I sat and gave the radio my undivided attention. The demise of the Biggest Show had been announced months before but it was still quite a surreal experience. It started with the end of the hairy-toed one's show where she chose to dedicate "Superstar" by Jamelia to them, I was appalled but I guess it was the best Parsnip would allow. The DJs rendition of the Stere-off-oniks' "Have a Nice Day" was cringeworthy too. The show was brilliant, with no playlist restrictions, Mark and Lard dished out the best selection of music that Wunefem had probably ever played in it's daytime history. As I was really only a fan of the Biggest Show in its 1-3pm incarnation, I had never heard the likes of "Facts of Life" by Black Box Recorder, "Crystal Lake" by Grandaddy and "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" by Belle and Sebastian before, so they were still giving me new bands and songs to get hold of right until the end. Belle & Sebastian are now my favourite band ever and that day kicked it off. Every silver lining has a cloud. All the old characters were there, there was a multitude of respected guests, it was a fantastic show and it was ended perfectly with "Crazy Nights", the half catchphrase and the obligatory launching of the emergency continuity track (meant or accidental, it was the work of genius).
Now, we have Rocket Science and Mint at the weekends on 6music with Marc Riley, where he combines the "Lard" role with that of a proper DJ and it's great lishening. Mark Radcliffe hosts his programmes on weeknight Radio Double One, he's a class apart as a DJ but sometimes his guests and the bylaws of Radio Double One hamper the show however his shows are really good and when everything just clicks perfectly (guests, music and not having to play too duff a selection of playlist tracks) they can be sublimely brilliant. There are many people who gave up lishening to Mark and Marc when they left Wunefem, I can't understand this, while the magic of the Biggest Show and the shows before will never truly exist with both of them apart, I think it fortunate that the public are still able to hear two of radio's few legends in whatever form their shows might take and importantly, still on the BBC.
The photo features a feral pigeon.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Curators of the Muesli Museum,

I like rain. I do not like getting wet but rain has always been one of my favourite weather phenomena. I like being undercover while it rains outside, it's somehow satisfying, this satisfaction emanates from my intense pride in the evolution of the human race and our ability to provide shelter for ourselves. This last sentiment lacks truth, perhaps I would be more proud if the human race had stayed in the caves and learned to adapt to lives with bats. Watching rain is hypnotic and calming, it brings on pensive and reflective moods. The chill rain brings to the air is refreshing. I inevitably open the windows when it rains so I can listen to its pitter-patter (that is an example of onomatopoeia) should I not be carrying out more important musicology. Many people moan about rain but it doesn't really rain so frequently in Fifecestershire but it would be an ordeal to cope with hosepipe bans and rationing like some areas of southern England or the extreme droughts experienced in many areas of the world. Magpies aren't seen so frequently in Fifecestershire either, it is very rare to see magpies anywhere east of Dunfermline, they aren't so keen on travelling along the A92.
Today, it rained. I also ventured to Kirkcaldy High Street to get some Mother's Day gift and get some passport-type photos of myself. Unfortunately, I end up buying more things that I would like and forget about the intended gifts. I bought a book "Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth", hopefully, it'll be great. I also bought some Woolworths weeds, some other books and some chocolates for the pathetic commercial celebration, mothers are always appreciated but the same applies for Mother's Day as does Christmas - one-off gestures solve nothing. I can be blunt, but not James Blunt, however I may sing better, but haven't tried, although I can safely predict that my versions would probably sound more like the William Shatner versions. My passport photos were a disaster, 3 out of 4 cut of the top of my head as I could not lower the seat any more and it did not go low enough, this is disappointing as I am clearly within the 95th percentile. Passport photos always make people look as though they are criminals, my case was not helped as I had chosen to wear the jumper that makes me look like a baddie from a James Bond filum today.
In the muso spot, today's Rocket Science featured a brilliant archive session from Bright Eyes. It always amazes me how I really like the sound of something, buy it, listen to it for a while and then go looking for the next thing. Upon hearing the same artist again after a while, I then get blown away all over again, Bright Eyes had that effect on me today and Simple Kid did so last week. I also lishened to The Kooks' album "Inside the Inside Out" for the first time; it's been out for a while, I had thought of them as just another unoriginal indie band, but new single "Naive" has converted me, it's really catchy, a truly great song is one which I can never be bored of, and given its abundance of airplay, it has so far stood the test. I shouldn't have doubted The Kooks. It was one of the albums Iain Banks recommended on his slot on Rocket Science, he seems to be a brilliant musicologist and I can't say I've ever been disappointed when I've bought one of the albums he's praised.
The accompanying picture shows some people on a mound of earth.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Generators of the Reggae Miseries,

What is known of your potential member of parliament? The Alternative Land Use Party is yet to launch any manifesto and as such any support for the party is currently misguided, however, that may be about to change. The Alternative Land Use Party was formed after the leader designate voted for a particular candidate in his local council elections and that candidate came last with 60 votes.
Statisticians could probably say that the chances of 59 other people voting for this particular candidate by randomly crossing the box next to their name by mistake aren't too low. The disillusioned voter decided that he would one day run in the election and win (or at least get more than 60 votes) and so the Alternative Land Use Party came into existence. Not only did the leader vow to run in the election, he vowed the campaign slogan would be "That Pigeon Went For Me". Apparently, this originated because the leader was one day mixing with the gentry on the local shopping plaza and a pigeon swooped at him but he ducked. Members of the public, the electorate, were astounded by the athleticism and agility demonstrated. Indeed, the nation would be a better place if the public always demonstrated the type of courage and skill, the leader demonstrated in order to come through his ordeal.
What are the Alternative Land Use Party thinking in this current political climate? Of great significance in Scotland is the introduction of the smoking ban for all public places on March 27. This is indeed a welcome move by the government, however, it does not go far enough. The Alternative Land Use Party propose a ban on smoking while driving. If drivers are rightly judged unable to fully concentrate on the road while using a mobile phone or eating, surely this must apply to drivers who smoke behind the wheel. Opening a packet, with that awkward sellophane wrapper, extracting a nicotine stalk and lighting it must be a trial. Moving the thing to breathe in the ghastly smoke and constantly flicking of ash surely incapacitates at least one hand - a hand that should be used on gear changes, signalling, control of lights and wipers. Smokers are a danger to themselves and others on the roads. Banning smoking behind the wheel would get rid of the awful sight of idiots flicking their cigarette butts out the window to tarnish the environment.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Curmudgeons of the Grassiest Knolls,

Why would I have a "blog"? My reply would be "I could use it for political activism if nothing else.", however, I won't launch the umpteenth corner of the axis of evil from here just yet.

It's the start of another week and for musicologists like myself, it represents another batch of new gear that can be acquired from the record stores. This week, I don't intend purchasing anything, I have an unfortunate addiction to comma-packed discs, I find it nearly impossible to emerge from a decent record store (of the commercial chains, I can only recommend Fopp) without a purchase. Last week, I went along to Cockburn Street in Edinburgh armed with cash looking to buy "Der Dang Der Dang" by the Archie Bronson Outfit but the release date given on the website I had sought advice from was wrong and so I should have continued on my way however I was sorely tempted to put the money towards about 4 different albums, however I wrestled with my mind and only came away with "Choose a Bright Morning" by Jeniferever from that store.

I heard the song, "From Across the Sea" on 6music's MINT programme and immediately sought the single however I then decided to wait upon the album. I can't describe music in technical terms, I've never lifted an instrument. I like the term "soundscape" - a word defined as "An atmosphere or environment created by or with sound". I feel this word is designed for artists like Sigur Ros. It's odd how my musical tastes change and develop, a year ago, I would never have given any attention to massively instrumental sounds with an Icelandic lad singing occasionally in a made-up language called "Horselandish", that changed when I noticed a Sigur Ros video on MTV2 and the music seemed to fit the beautiful scenery and poignant moments that unfolded perfectly. Now, this type of sound makes up a large proportion of my listening, although these artists aren't overly similar, just recently I've been listening to 65daysofstatic, Mogwai, Stereolab, Sebastian Tellier, William Orbit and Mew. Anyway, Jeniferever seem to be another group who can create sweeping soundscapes, that I like at least.
I almost bought the Ghostigital album on the strength of Mark E Smith's brilliant appearance on the song "Not Clean" about the North Sea cod crisis; "we can be quite reasonable about this, just give us the f*$ck(*g cod" and "We don't want haddock, we don't want haddock and chips, we want cod", I hope to get that song in some way or another but I decided against the album for my bank balance and I also vaguely remember MINT's Rob Hughes saying the rest of the album isn't so great.
I also bought Guillemots imported mini-album "Up on the Cliff" when I went hunting for that Archie Bronson thing in the independent record shop next door, I can't really comment on it as a whole because "Trains to Brazil" just gets repeated over and over again by me. It's a fantastic tune, so uplifting even though its subject matter is so grave.
I did intend to use this blog to review some music and radio at times, but it looks like I've told a "cat story", in short, I went and bought a couple of CDs last Monday. As I said before, I won't be buying any this week, I've been furnished with the new Delays and Buzzcocks albums courtesy of my triumph in the "So Who's on my T-shirt Today, Then?" competition on 6music's Rocket Science, I look forward to listening to these this week to make up for my lack of spending and deciding if they're worth owt, that's the fun of musicology. The accompanying picture is that of a Concorde wing.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Historians of the Age of Curtains,

I come to inform thee of stuff. Well, I say inform, I really mean say tell you things, I say tell, I really mean babble nonsense. In addition to the following message, I have published a photograph for the readers to admire, it features the base of Meall Gorm, a mountain that nearly might be a corbett but surely is at least a graham, this summit was conquered on a fateful day last year by an intrepid adventurer of limited faith ("there's no way we can conquer Craig Leachach (the taller mountain nearby) today, I've only brought 6 sandwiches, 2 packets of crisps, 3 bottles of lucozade, 2 litres of water and 4 bars of chocolate, we'll have to do this hill instead because the storm is approaching"), an adventurer of intermediate capabilities and a mountaineer with experiences of many past summits but at the time, of limited stamina.

Did you ever doubt a star? Upon looking at the night sky on a clear night for long enough, aeroplanes and helicopters may fly over, "shooting stars" may be visible (meteors the size of buses hit the upper atmosphere and burn up all the time, they say) and there are an array of stars in their constellations to gaze upon. Sometimes, a star will stand out for one reason or another - it may be brighter or more coloured or seem to emit weird plumes of light - and sooner or later, it no longer becomes a star but a UFO. It's still a star, hopefully, but its existence is more sinister in the mind of the observer. Occasionally, binoculars might be sought in order to clarify the situation, sometimes it is possible to see that the entity is one of the many satellites that orbit this planet - the panels on these bodies can sometimes be visible even with non-too-fancy binoculars. The UFO status can then be downgraded.
I saw an entity this evening which appeared to be a star, but it was very colourful, mostly green. It appeared to be shooting jets of light relatively long distances. I'd like to understand all phenomena that cause stars to appear like this and know if they are indeed stars. They could be planets, perhaps I should check which planets are currently visible in the Scottish skies.
Fife seems to have had a fine share of paranormal stories. Hardly ever a month goes by without a "big cat" story in the local paper, the latest one told of two big cats having been spotted by pupils on the school playing fields during the school day. The local paper also loves to commemorate the anniversary of the sightings of spacecraft and aliens in Kennoway which occurred in 1996 (, but apparently there is evidence to suggest it was a hoax.
All I can say of my own personal experiences is that I once saw a weather balloon explode.
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