Sunday, October 19, 2008

Seekers of Rich Deposits,

Conor Oberst’s self-titled album is making for pleasant listening right now. I’ve always been a big fan of the Bright Eyes franchise and I understand they’re much more popular in USA than in Scotland, they’ve even had No. 1 singles.

This project doesn’t really differ from Bright Eyes much in sound: folk-pop (often jaunty), multi-instrumental, duets here and there, killer lyrics strewn throughout.

Here are some of my favourite things about the album, Conor Oberst:

‘Red rocket blaze over Cape Canaveral’ and ‘Victory is sweet, even deep in the cheap seats’ during Cape Canaveral, a simple, subtle ditty – I like space travel, although I’ve never been due to a lack of cash, hence I sit in the cheap seats.

Get-Well-Cards could have been sung by Bob Dylan, I can imagine Bob singing, ‘Right there, that’s the postman sleeping in the sand.’ It’s a relative thumper of a chorus by Conor’s standard and infrequent use of them.

Summing up the hopelessness and helplessness of life in Danny Callahan, the child cancer patient, and trying to teach us how to appreciate what we can.

I’m not sure about segueing Danny Callahan into I Don’t Want to Die (in the Hospital), I suppose it makes a bit of sense. I love the jaunty piano bass line of this one, the whispered ‘slow, sad song’ and obviously, the chorus.

He says, ‘there’s nothing that the road cannot heal’, in Moab, but I’m not sure. I admit that I it is a treat to listen to this CD in the car, but fuel can be expensive and combustion leads to harmful emissions. There’s a few lovely lyrics in this one, particularly about the scale of affection.

Souled Out is the single, we trust his judgement by now. A clever pun on souled/sold out and getting into heaven, they’re there. I’m not bothered about getting into heaven, I think I’m busy that day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Twisting and Shouting Policers of Degenerates

A tough week has just passed; I’ve been nearly ill right through, a sore throat and odd headaches were the symptoms. I’ve never had headaches like these: the pains were just at the back of both ears and I experienced a sensation that can be likened to my head being squashed. Sleeping is a difficult task too, I was unfortunate enough to listen to the presidential debate on Radio 5Live one night, John McCain annoyed me so much that I had to turn over. Sleeping is also difficult when juvenile football team managers bombard my cell phone with misplaced messages and calls; an upside of this nuisance was that I was awake for the Grand Prix and it was one of the best ever. When will Johnny Racer learn that he can’t go ramming people off the track? I fear he will have to kill someone before he realises the consequences of his “style”. I ran rings around people during the two football kickabouts on Tuesday, it makes my claims of illness more than a little fraudulent. I can play football when I feel below par, it aids my recovery, as do apples – they are better for headaches than paracetamol.

I’ve had the iPod out this week. I heard a bit of My Latest Novel on late night radio and I decided that they were all I wanted to listen to the next day. They’ve completed their new album, Deaths and Entrances, I am bouncing off the walls with anticipation or I would be if I didn’t have this Ebola virus thing that’s giving me the sore throat.

Everyone has a perception of me, it’s usually negative; at times, I like playing with this, I have done so many occasions this week. I’m seen as stern, quiet, dismissive, and as being pessimistic to the extent of being a negative person, that may be what I am, but I do like exaggerating this image to wind people up. I don’t often attend ‘things’ as it was so elegantly termed by one of my fellow group members, but I decided to make an appearance at the department’s Quiz Night with Cheese and Wine. The quiz was rotten; the questions were either too easy (which Apollo mission landed on the moon first?), too picky (name the year that Lonnie Donegan released Cumberland Gap – as if…I wish they liked music that much, there was too much naming of years of other less important stuff) or too stewdenty (naming Ikea furniture). I was in charge of writing the answers down, and despite being a former British quiz champion, I contributed little to our team’s eventual near success, this was due to the fact that there were no questions about flags. Alcohol had become too influential for one of our team members and I ran away, literally, before the results of the quiz were announced; I couldn’t handle hearing another of his stories for the umpteenth time.

An old friend from school, now a resident of Kirkintulloch, out in the wild west, paid me a visit on Friday. I regret that I could not make a great deal of time for him, but he was kind enough to come visit me at work during my lunch break. Actually, I was more selfish than that, I was anxious about time and went for a sandwich in town beforehand, and then when he arrived I did Lunch 2, this time at Morrisons supermarket. Two bacon rolls and two coffees made their way to Table 24, but I was only to consume one coffee. I wish we had more time, we barely caught up; I complained about the quiz, John McCain, Celtic and Rangers. I had to rush back to the teaching labs for what was a disaster; hardly any of my flock finished their experiments on time, I can only hurry them along so much. They all come from different chemistry backgrounds: some secondary schools will have given them experience of carrying out experiments, some will have never been in a laboratory, some will have had summer jobs and work placements. I hope after a couple of weeks we can really start roaring along together.

Saturday has been a hotbed of election fever. Labour have made bold statements in Methilhill, many of the gardens in Main Street have placards for our man, Lindsay Roy. The local SNP lot have taken aversion to this and have been out in force today, they arrive in MPVs and hit squads fall out, we’ve taken to posting a Labour sticker in our window, an unprecedented step for us. In a few weeks time, we’ll be scraping it off with anything and everything.

‘Have you tried soaking it?’
‘In vinegar?’
‘Where’s that spatula?’
‘I need it to flip the bacon.’
‘That Lindsay Roy.’

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pragmatists Recounting Visions of the Things to be,

The Glenrothes by-election approaches. The SNP have littered our doorstep since the death of John MacDougall, it wouldn’t surprise me if their candidate, council leader, Peter Grant, has to order more blue bin pick-ups for his cause – unfortunately, I can only hope the majority people of Fife are conscientious enough to recycle, because I know my neighbour does care and loves nothing more than wrestling everything into a black bin every two weeks.

Only since the announcement of the by-election date, have Labour decided to post a single leaflet through our door and knock our door once. I sent the lad away happy. Labour couldn’t have chosen a man from a better background: school rector, Lindsay Roy. He’s not a career politician, he’s someone who is currently employed in a job where he is entrenched in the problems that Fife people deal with and is faced with their symptoms on a daily basis. I’d like to think he can rattle a few cages.

A vote for the SNP is a vote for the Westminster Tories. There is no magical number of Westminster MPs the SNP have to attain before they can trigger independence manoeuvres. They have few policies with which I agree and I know too closely the reality of their betrayal of students. With their populist moves, I really fear that who ever eventually takes over from them in Holyrood will be left with crippling debts – hardly the basis for the creation of an independent nation.

Everyone faces tough times in wake of the global financial situation, there’s no point in blaming Gordon Brown; there are people in this country with greater power than him to alleviate strain on our lives, for instance, the energy company bosses who capitalise on our 21st century ways. Everything returns to equilibrium eventually, I see the situation reaching a stage where people decide they will truly economise (they’ll pay £6 to see Mumford and Sons rather than £20 to see The Charlatans), they will only buy essentials – food, basic clothing, heating and make only strictly unavoidable journeys. The manufacturers of the non-essential stuff will be the bodies to suffer, they will economise and be forced to shut down; the energy requirements of the country might be decreased, then the energy companies will be forced to make moves to keep the country moving. The government might be the body who should enforce proper conduct by the energy companies, but there may be legal difficulties in doing so. I know I am simplifying the issue by referring only to energy suppliers when the situation stretches far wider and involves many sectors and many nations. If Yes, Minister taught us nothing else, and we should know this from our daily experience at face-to-face values with public service workers, there are too many unscrupulous people between the Prime Minister and the pupil, the commuter, the patient, the voter who don’t do their jobs properly and act selfishly.

The Glenrothes by-election will be close, prospective voters on Scotland Today were split between Labour and SNP except for one rather dapper gentleman who defied his appearance to bellow, “If there was a communist candidate, I’d vote for him.” I’ll be voting for Labour, not for Alex Salmond or David Cameron.
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