Thursday, 29 January 2009

All those things I should be doing...

Sitting at a computer keyboard awaiting inspiration (for what, percisely?) not really being one of them.

It happens a lot. I sit down, check a few emails, do a few vaguely useful things: check transport timetables, read Tom Morton's blog, read Dave Gorman's blog, maybe check the online banking and then it grips me. The web-forgetfulness. There's maybe a name for it, Microsoft Amnesia V2.0? Norton Insecurity? Either way, I can never seem to remember all the things I wanted to find out about. As the aformentioned Mr. Gorman once said:

"My computer is attached to the Internet. The Internet contains everything in the whole wide world ever. I don't know about you, but I sometimes find everything in the whole wide world ever to be a bit distracting."

Then, almost without warning and - almost inevitably at around 3am - it all comes out in a flood. I wanted to: find Charlie Connelly's new book on GreenMetropolis, check out the chords for "Wall of Death", see what Mike Nesmith's up to, follow that link I spotted earlier to Neil Halstead's new website which then makes me want to see where Mojave 3 are now and that'll then mean I'll have to see where the other (forgotten) great and good are now too - Swiss Family Orbison, Eugene Kelly - and Jim (James) Grant too. He was on telly the other night. Is he gigging? What about the Outsider festival? Are any acts announced yet? Belladrum for that matter? And Twitter. Is is worth bothering about? Should I investigate further? How do I get all those widgets on my blog? The BookJetty one I used to have was good but not quite right and I don't know if I can remember my login details. Aargh. Do you see what happens?

I need a lie down. Then I can get someone to take a picture of me lying down and use it to have a go at Obamicon-ing myself.

Because clearly I need to do that.

To The Regiment!

"I wish I was there!"

It is, of course, the refrain from the brilliant BBC series "Early Doors."
Set in a northern boozer, Craig Cash and Phil Mealey created what the Mail on Sunday (!) called "as faultless a piece of situation comedy as you will ever find". High praise indeed.

I mention this only because the box set of series 1&2 has recently arrived in the post for the princely sum of eight quid from I can't wait to sit down with an episode or six and join the regulars for a pint.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Re-inauguration will NOT be televised...

Whoops! No cameras allowed please, we don't want to draw attention to the first black-Irish-American (Barack O'Bama) making a mistake in his first day in the job now, do we...

US President "re-takes oath of office" following a mistake...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

"That's the sound of the men, working on the chain (gang)"

That there's the radio two channel there. It's link number 1000 in Radcliffe and Maconie's Chain. 'Memphis Tennessee' by the great Chuck Berry. Suitably classic for the occasion. Definitely best enjoyed in the car on a street in Portree. Don't ask.

The Revolution WILL be Televised

The revolution WILL be televised (and blogged, podcast and goodness knows what else) Now, dubious Reservoir Dogs imagery aside (surely, surely the Daily Record isn't hinting at Mr. Black?) what has struck me most about the planet's most talked about news story is the uncanny similarity in speech - sound, inflection and rhythm - Mr. Obama's inauguration speech bore to the great Gil Scott Heron's Black Power anthem. I half expected him to say 'there will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay'. Radio Scotland really took the biscuit though with their reporter's insightful observation that 'it didn't feel like MY history being made, more like America's' don't say?

Sunday, 18 January 2009

i-Ponder and The Halt Bar

Having held out against it for so long, being stormbound and with a distinct lack of anything else constructive to do (that's not true, really, I'm just being a lazy sod...) I've been fiddling about with an i-Pod shuffle.

I didn't buy it, you understand, not really. It came free with three months' subscription to the wonderful Sofa Cinema service. Regardless, anyone who's had to listen to me bang on about the evils of MP3s will know that me even taking the little gizmo out of the box is on a musical par with old Uncle Bob's Judas moment.

It's okay. The i-Pod I mean, not the Dylan thing. Some people will never get over that one...The wee MP3 machine though, whilst aesthetically pleasing in its minimalist styling and sleek brushed steel casing is hardly earth shattering. Now, I appreciate that as the leader of the pack, Apple were pushing the boundaries with this whole digital music thing and that with a plethora of other devices available at prices ranging from a couple of quid to a couple of hundred, the simplicity of the Shuffle is, in some senses, going to render it a tad nondescript.

Given that any digital music player is basically doing the same job (if you give or take the odd lcd screen/data storage facility/web-broswing capability) I suppose my expectations of the Apple machine hinged around the i-Tunes facility. No doubt many millions of words and blog posts have addressed this topic but I'll throw in my tuppence worth anyway.

I'm disappointed.

Although it's hard to be objective since I'm already familiar (though I wouldn't go so far as to say comforatble) with Windows Media Player, I expected i-Tunes to be, I don't know, slicker. It didn't feel particularly intuitive and I'm annoyed by the length of time it takes to "sync" the contents of the library to the player. I know that's just my own impatience, but still.

On the plus side, though, one of the few CDs I did have kicking about today was The Kevin McDermott Orchestra's seminal Mother Nature's Kitchen. I decided to 'import' it into i-Tunes (that's one of the good things, never liked the idea of 'ripping' music). Having just plugged the wee beastie into the speakers I have to concede that, bizarrely, the sound is (was?) so clear that for the first time in the 19years since owning the album I was able to make out the wee bit of chat at the start of the title track..."as per the Halt Jimbo...let him start and we'll just jam away..."

This has had the twin effects of both delighting me and making me incredibly jealous: as a one-time Saturday afternoon live-music regular in the aforementioned hostelry I'm somewhat gutted to have missed the boys in action!

Now, I'm not claiming that the i-Pod has any mystical sound improving qualities but it certainly did a great job on the nostalgia inducing front, which is never a bad thing. Pint of Beamish Red and a packet of bacon fries you say? Don't mind if I do...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Is this bothering you? the great Columbo used to say.

Politics, eh? Best avoided I generally find - people only get upset. Political correctness (either too much or not enough thereof) also tends to upset folks. I couldn't, however, let this go.

Regardless of what one thinks of the controversy caused by Prince Harry at the weekend (and I'd hazard a guess at opinions ranging from "misguided" to "downright stupid" it strikes me as somewhat ludicrous that the media have now decided to pounce upon his father, Prince Charles, for calling a longstanding Indian friend "Sooty".

Clearly for the media it's not good enough for the man in question, Kolin Dhillon, to insist that HRH is a man of "zero prejudice" or to assert that "I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends who I am sure universally use the name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt." Nope, troublemakers like the BBC's royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell - of whom Charles once memorably said "These bloody people. I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is" - seem to think it's okay to pose the question on the BBC's 10 O'clock news "in spite of the fact that the man in question (Dillon) seems not to have a problem with the nickname, does this in fact hark back to a more sinister, racist age?"

No, Nicholas, it doesn't. The only issue here is the relationship between Prince Charles and his friend. If they are mutually happy with the way they communicate then that's all that matters. What anyone else thinks is irrelevant and for all I care they could be calling one another all the names under the sun and what I, or anyone else for that matter, have no right to do is to get upset by something that doesn't concern me.

Charles was right - I can't bear that man...he's so awful, he really is.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

If only everything in life was as reliable as...

PLAY.COM Having ordered a Christmas gift from the lovely offshore folks at Play, it arrived sometime after the big day. Bummer. I called them to see about making a return, 30 seconds on the phone later a returns code email has been sent to my inbox and we're ready to go.

Customer service doesn't have to be difficult. Take note Royal Bank of Scotland Home Insurance! (there's a saga and a half there...more later when I've stopped twitching at the thought of it all!)

Friday, 2 January 2009

Coffee? Don't mind if I do...

Ah, a winter warmer at the Lochaber rural complex farm shop. Just what the doctor ordered.

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Driving in a winter wonderland..'serious frost in Lochaber.