Friday, September 22, 2017

Podcasts

Over the past few years I've started listening to a lot of Podcasts.  I always liked listening to the radio although I didn't always find the broadcast shows to be very exciting.  Podcasts are homemade radio shows that you can download and listen to at a time that suits you.  They also often cover more offbeat or esoteric subjects that appeal to me.

Mostly I listen to real life mystery podcasts, American political podcasts (mainly ones about Trump), Twin Peaks related podcasts and comic book podcasts.  And the Private Eye podcasts.

One of the first mystery style I started to listen to was Thinking Sideways - in this podcast three presenters take turns to present a mystery every week and discuss various theories on what went on.  The first episode that I listened to was on the 'Glasgow effect'.

Another slightly more fantastical podcast that I enjoy is Astonishing Legends - this podcast goes into strange tales in a great degree of detail.  They exude an X-Files type vibe and they are often rather credulous but the production values are good and I enjoy the shows.

From a comic book point of view Fatman on Batman produced by Clerks director Kevin Smith as part of his Smodcast empire is a good starting point (if you like Batman).  The early episodes in the archive are great, often focusing on individual comic book writers or artists and Batman related stuff. More recently the podcast has developed into a general forum for discussion of sic-fi, superheroes and anything Smith wants to talk about.

The Stuff You Should Know network has several good podcasts including Stuff They Don't Want You To Know and Stuff to Blow Your Mind (both of which have a sort of counterculture vibe) as well as the more mainstream, flagship Stuff You Should Know series.  All of these are fairly interesting.

In terms of Trump bashing Trumpcast is fairly funny and a good place to start.  The Pod Save America team have more White House connections and often have serious guests on to interview although they are often pretty funny too.

No Such Thing As A Fish  was one of the first podcasts I listened to, a spin off from the BBC QI series, where strange facts are discussed in an amusing manner every week.  It's good for a smile every now and again.

There are many more podcasts to check out - a few more are below
Page 94 - The Private Eye Podcast
The 2000AD Progcast - some great 2000AD chat
The Politico Nerdcast
A Twin Peaks Podcast

Enjoy

Frank Quitely at Glasgow Kelvingrove

I visited the Frank Quitely exhibition at the Glasgow Kelvingrove Museum for the second time today.  I'd been lucky enough to be invited to the opening night a few months ago and I wanted to have a slower walk around the show when it was a bit quieter.  The show finishes on the 1st of October so a bonus Friday off work gave me the perfect opportunity to visit the show.

Quitely is the pen name for Scottish artist Vincent Deighan, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art who has ended up being one of the most admired comic book artists in the world.  He seems to have fallen into comic book art after trying to find work as a commercial artist in Glasgow in the late 1980s.  His first published work was in the first issue of Scottish underground comic/Viz rip off Electric Soup.  I actually bought that comic when it came out and I really liked his strip The Greens although the actual comic was quickly confiscated and disposed of by my dad.

The Greens was a parody of the Broons, a perennial Scottish comic strip favourite initially drawn by Dudley D Watkins for DC Thompson in Dundee.  Watkins also created Oor Wullie and Desperate Dan amongst others.  The exhibition showcases some of Quitely's early Green's art as well as original Watkins art from the 30's, 40's and 50's.  I was particularly impressed by the painted cover art from one of the first Broons annuals.

On this visit I made full use of the audiovisual parts of the exhibition.  There were interviews with Quitely as well as his most famous (and fellow Glaswegian) collaborators Grant Morrison and Mark Millar.  It was interesting to hear them talk about developing story lines, character design and art techniques.  Quitely also highlights his own artistic development, highlighting art from a rejected Lobo comic as well as the rejection letter from the DC editor that helped him to re-evaluate his artistic approach to comic book storytelling.

The exhibition highlights the working methods of a comic book artist, often starting with doodles and thumbnail sketches on a comic script then developing through progressively more polished drafts until the final coloured and polished art appears in the printed book.

Morrison and several of the other talking heads in the films talk about how good he is.  At one point, after starting to work on the X-Men comic at the start of the century, a lot of comic book fans were expressing their dislike for Quietly's art.  A concerned editor asked him if it was hurting his feelings.  Quitely, was impressive self knowledge as well as self confidence, said that he knew more about art than these fanboys and he knew he was good so he didn't care.  He was right.

I've met Quitely a few times over the years.  He's a nice bloke.  He's drawn sketches for me and he has signed my books.  He has produced many pages of beautiful comic book art and he has worked with some great writers.  He deserved this show at one of Glasgow's finest buildings as he is one of Glasgow's finest modern artists.

I'd love to visit it again but it's finishing pretty soon.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jackie Leven should have been more famous

Ian Rankin regularly references Jackie Leven in his books.  I never really know his music.  Rankin eventually recorded a CD with him and curated (I think) a free CD that came with a music magazine a while back.  That CD was my first exposure to the music of Jackie Leven, and it was pretty good.

More recently, a Leven shaped light bulb went off above my head.  I'm not entirely sure why but I decided to listen to some more of his stuff on youtube and some of it really clicked.  Tracks like 'My Spanish Dad' and 'The Sexual Loneliness of Jesus Christ' really say something to me. 'My Spanish Dad', in particular, pulls my heart strings and often brings a tear to my eye for personal reasons.

Leven was a great talent but he never became famous.  In the late 60s he started to make music, initially releasing an album under the name John St Field, on a Spanish record label in 1975.  He then fronted the new wave band Doll by Doll.  Sadly their music is not easily available in physical formats not.  He was badly assaulted in 1984, losing his voice and he was subsequently addicted to heroin for a while.  He collaborated with Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols in the band CBI in around 1988 before   leaving the public eye for a while.

He returned to music making publicly in 1994 and released more than 20 records before his death from cancer in 2011. He played folk with a contemporary feel, employing samples with his acoustic guitar.

There is a lot of music and I have certainly not heard much of it.  It is worth dipping a toe in.  The Rankin curated CD was called 'Heroes can come in any size' and came with The Word magazine.  It's also available in MP3 format from Amazon.

He should have been a household name.

Updates and maintenance of the blog

I've been doing a bit of updating of the blog, I was considering a new theme but I'm going to keep this one for now.

I did update the Cool Stuff section a bit click here to read the updated cool stuff page

Life is busy and I always have a lot going on but I do enjoy playing about with this blog at times.

RIP Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton had a good innings.  He has died at the age of 91 after recently appearing in Twin Peaks: The Return.  I remember him best from great films like Repo Man and Alien.

Listening to the tributes on BBC Radio 4 this morning I realise that he has appeared in many more great films.  Pretty in Pink is a great film but I don't remember Stanton in it.  I don't remember him in Godfather Part II but he was there.

By all accounts he was a great actor.

RIP.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Twin Peaks - The Return

The revival of Twin Peaks has been rather exciting for me.  I've gone to fairly extreme lengths to try and see it on a weekly basis and overall it has been pretty satisfying.  As a teenager I watched the original Twin Peaks as it was broadcast on BBC2.  It fascinated me back then.  I think I'd already seen a couple of Lynch films by then and I did my best to see a lot of his other work after that.

The original Twin Peaks finished on a cliff hanger, with Agent Cooper trapped in another detention while his evil doppelgänger, possessed by the evil BOB entity, smashing his head into a mirror.

The show finished and was followed by the Fire Walk With Me film that was a bit of a box office flop.  Last year Mark Frost released a great book called 'The Secret History of Twin Peaks' that added a lot of colour and richness to the Twin Peaks universe without giving away much about the new series.  The book served to whet my appetite for new Twin Peaks.  I was not disappointed.

Lynch is a pretty unique film maker.  His work, from Eraserhead on, is different.  He views the world in a different ways and he expresses himself differently.  In Twin Peak - The Return (TPTR from now on) he has been able to run riot with his creative urges.  The initial 2 hours of the series had little relevance to what had happened before although TPTR is a direct continuation of the original storyline.  Lynch will let scenes run for longer than many film makers would tolerate, creating new and different rhythms in his work.  His use of sound is creative and his solutions for replacing actors who are no longer available (for a variety of reasons) are novel to say the least.  One actor he has fallen out with has been replaced with a talking silver christmas tree and the character of Philip Jeffries, played in the Fire Walk With Me (FWWM) film by David Bowie, was portrayed by a giant talking kettle (with the approval of Bowie before he died).

Kyle Maclachlan, Agent Dale Cooper and alumnus of many Lynch works plays 3 characters in TPTR.  Agent Cooper appears only sparingly although the malevolent doppelgänger, Mr C is a more regular oppressive presence throughout the series.  Maclachlan also supplies comedy relief in the form of a third Cooper variant, Dougie E, thought the series.

Many of the original cast return and the cult status of Twin Peaks has ensured the presence of many talented actors as well as an excellent soundtrack with performances from Nine Inch Nails and Eddie Vedder amongst others.  Lynch himself appears as FBI director Gordon Cole supplying additional comedy.

TPTR made me laugh and cry.  It contains genuinely disturbing scenes as well as amazingly heartwarming moments.  Lynch does not take prisoners and he does not explain his work.  A lot is left open to interpretation and many questions are left unanswered.  Overall I was satisfied but greedily I want more.  The are endings, one good heroic ending and another bleak, potentially apocalyptic ending.  We may have seen the end of the Agent Cooper/Laura Palmer story but there is room for more tales from the Twin Peaks universe.  We would all like to know what has happened to Audrey.

I want to watch this again and see if my understanding changes.  I feel lucky to have seen this and I can't wait for Mark Frost's next Twin Peaks book 'The Final Dossier' which may answer some stuff.

Lynch and Frost have created a masterpiece that people will struggle to understand for years.  Some folk with think it is pretentious bullshit.  I'm not sure what it is but I enjoyed the ride.

For an interesting interpretation of the ending look at https://www.waggish.org/2017/twin-peaks-finale/

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A confederacy of dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I finally got round to reading A confederacy of dunces, finishing it yesterday, on my birthday, on a plane home from Italy.  It's a great book and it's easy to see why it won a posthumous Pulitzer prize for John Kennedy Toole.  It's also easy to see why the book is considered to be unfilmable.  The horror of Ignatius J Reilly would be difficult to capture in the flesh.

I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up the book.  For some reason I thought it was meant to be a story about a newspaperman but the actual story of an arrogant fat slob causing chaos in New Orleans was equally appealing.  Ignatius is a brilliant character, prefiguring both Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons and internet trolls by several decades.

It's a crazy ride with a constant feeling that the piss is being taken.  I'm glad I finally managed to read it and I would recommend glancing at it at some time.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A music course at East Kilbride Art Centre approximately 25 years ago

I was using Twitter this evening and said 'hi' to Davie Scott of the band The  Pearlfishers. He had tweeted a link about Brian Wilson and that brought back memories of a music production course that I attended about 25 years ago (roughly) that Davie taught in the East Kilbride art centre. I loved that course, I learnt a lot and even though I seldom make music nowadays it was a valuable experience.

At that time there was a small digital recording studio in the Art Centre and Davie recorded local bands like Gods Boyfriend. I was a music addict back then and I played in my juvenile punk band with some of my pals. My best friend from school and I signed up to the course to learn more about making music and it was great.

Davie had done some good stuff with the Pearlfishers as well as his earlier group (love and money I think  CORRECTION - hearts and minds!) and he was spreading the gospel of perfect pop to the grunge addled minds of EK. He was not the only person of interesting the course.  There was an older guy, a drummer, a contemporary of the Jesus and Mary Chain, who had apparently played in an early permutation of the Mary Chain and some band with the guy out of the Wildhearts and sadly suffered from mental health problems.  The bloke was a really nice guy with great stories but in retrospect some of his stories may have been delusions.  Back then I didn't know much about mental health problems and in the 25 years since then I've learned more through my various professional studies and personal contacts. I like to think that his story was true and he did play with the Mary Chain and that Never Understand was indeed about him trying to explain his psychotic episodes to William Reid.

Davie Scott himself is a man with a deep love and understanding of music and he was able to clearly explain this to the class. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was his hero and he taught us about various production techniques, arrangements and the rivalry between Wilson and the Beatles. I remember one session when Davie went through God Only Knows from Pet Sounds chord by chord, explaining harmonies, melodies, lyrics and arrangements, presenting to us a great argument that Wilson had created the perfect pop song. He may be right although 'Wouldn't it be nice' is a bit more catchy.

Music has been important in my life. It is not all of my life but it has been a major theme and a source of pleasure. I've played my guitar a few times this week for the first time in ages, just for fun. I always mean to write and record some songs  again but real life and its associated pressures always gets in the way.  I have a lot of passions, my girlfriend, music, comic books, neurology, art. I'm a lucky man.  I'm lucky to have had such a rich life so far.

East Kilbride was special at times. I remember playing concerts in the Arts Centre, seeing the great Alex Chilton of  Big Star play there and seeing my pals play there. My teenage life was at times electric and colourful and it is nice o remembered the good bits.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

things that happened that I would not have expected 20 years ago

The world is a strange place and you can't predict the future.  I've been about for a while now and I realise that a lot of unexpected things have happened.

Some of the oddest things - in no real order
Preacher being made into a TV show
Ant Man being a live action film
Guardians of the Galaxy being a live action film
7 Star Wars films being made in the last 20 years
Twin Peaks returning to TV after 25 years
Mogwai going from playing the Key Youth Centre in East Kilbride to playing the Hydro in Glasgow
Rangers Football Club going into administration
Woolworths and Safeways no longer being on the high street in Scotland
Netflix and youtube
Every song ever being available instantly on the internet
Me doing the job I'm doing and living the life I'm living

The world in a strange and brilliant place at times

Conor Oberst at the ABC in Glasgow 2017

This was the third time that I had seen Conor Oberst live.  I never managed to see Bright Eyes but I've seen him play solo shows and with Desperadicos.  I was slightly late to the Bright Eyes game, only really getting into their stuff in 2004 when I was living in Coventry but Oberst has soundtracked much of my life over the past 13 years.  I rate him fairly highly.

This is the third gig that I attended with my girlfriend/significant other/better half this month and it was possibly a harder sell as Oberst is not a big name.  I managed to get her to the show, overcoming her doubts, and by the second song she turned round and said 'this is amazing'.  She was right.

Oberst is a talented guy.  He writes great songs and he plays several instruments.  He sings like a dream and he does an excellent Bob Dylan impersonation.  He seems to have fun on stage.  He delivered an amazing apology for Donald Trump (combined with some Trump family history).  Beyond Conor himself the rest of the band was great too.

The set included 8 Bright Eyes songs including a duet on Lua with Adrianne Lenker, singer from support band Big Thief.  Another 8 of the songs were from the Ruminations/Salutations set that has come out over the past year.  The more recent stuff is amongst his strongest material in recent years.

Basically, this was a great show.  I want to hear more new music and see him play again at some point in the near future.  Oberst should be much more successful and famous.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Pixies at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

I started listening to the Pixies in 1991 or 1992 around the time that they broke up.  I initially heard Doolittle on tape, borrowed from the library in East Kilbride.  A neighbour gave me a copy of Trompe Le Monde and I bought a second hand copy of Surfer Rosa, looking for Big Black style Albini kicks.

They didn't click with me immediately.  I got the REM and Velvets references on 'Here comes your man' but it took a while to fall in love with them. Eventually I got there.

I first saw them live in 2004 at T in the Park and since then I've seen them in the SECC and at Primavera in Barcelona.  Generally they deliver and I was keen to see them again at the Kelvingrove Bandstand which is a great venue and usually ned free.  Sadly there was a bit of a ned problem last night which is often an issue in Glasgow.  Drunken twats are like scabies in Glasgow and I encountered one last night.

The pixies played a great 31 song set, starting with 'where is my mind?' and including 'wintering', 'caribou', 'nimrod's son', 'broken face', 'wave of mutilation', 'here comes your man', 'gouge away', 'planet of sound' and 'debaser'. They also played a bunch of new stuff I didn't recognise.  They were tight and the new bass player did well.  We also bumped into a bunch of pals which was nice.

Sadly our personal space was invaded by a drunken twat who thinks it is ok to be verbally aggressive to women.  Another concert goer was wearing a 'rudimentary peni' t-shirt and on reflection, I feel that it should be gifted to that drunken idiot as a warning to the general public.  After some razor sharp with and repartee, we left the venue during the last song to avoid me getting my ass kicked by the aforementioned intoxicated misogynist.  We listened to the encore of 'into the white' from the car feeling sorry for anyone who needs to interact with that dude on a regular basis.

The pixies were good and assholes are, sadly, everywhere.  Even at pixies concerts.  If wankers could fly we would never see the sky.

Minimum alcohol pricing may well make Scotland a better place.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Brian Wilson at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

When I saw that Brian Wilson was playing an outdoor concert in Kelvingrove Park I decided to buy tickets.  They were a bit pricey at £67 each (including fees) but he is a legend and he is one of the last musicians from his era that still play.  The Kelvingrove Auditorium is a great venue and it's unusual to attend any sort of outdoor concert in Glasgow.

I felt a bit sorry for Wilson.  He's an old man, in his mid 70s, and he has had problems with his health for 50 years.  It's a shame he still needs the money from playing concerts and I do hope that he enjoys the live performances.  His band is great and includes fellow original Beach Boy, Al Jardine, as will as well as his son, Matt Jardine.  Jardine Jr has an amazing voice and did a lot of the tricky harmonies in the songs.

Generally Brian would sing the first verse of a song and then the rest of the band would step in and take over with Brian just adding a bit of keyboard and occasional vocals.  The 12 piece band take a wall of sound approach to the classic songs and the arrangements are great.

We got two sets and a six song encore.  The first set included California Girls, I Get Around and In My Room as well as about 16 other Beach Boys classics.  After a short break they came back and played all of Pet Sounds before the final encore which included Good Vibrations, Surfing USA, Barbara Ann and Love & Mercy.  Wilson seemed re-energised for both Pet Sounds and the encore.

His voice is shot now, he sounds a bit like Dylan and he looks tired but he wrote these fucking amazing pop songs and I feel lucky to have seen him and a competent band knock these tracks out in a Glasgow park.  We went home smiling and singing Beach Boys songs.  I don't know if Wilson will ever play in Glasgow again but I'm glad I splashed out for the tickets.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fond memories

After the funeral of a friend we all sat about remembering him.  It had been years since I had seen him but some heartwarming stories were told.  One of these stories involved him altering the lyrics to various classic rock songs to include the words 'your maw'.  On one occasion, when we were all on a bus home after a wedding he altered the lyrics to 'Rock n roll' by Led Zeppelin.

He led a singalong using the alternative lyrics 'been a long time since I shagged your maw'.

In a lot of ways it was perfect.

RIP

Sunday, June 11, 2017

UK politics

What a mess.  I've spent most of the weekend laughing at the hung parliament that Theresa May created.  Political arrogance has resulted in egg on her face and much less of a mandate for the 'hard Brexit' nonsense she was demanding.

May is now trying to run a minority government with the DUP after spending a lot of time talking about the alleged 'terrorist links' of Jeremy Corbyn.  The hypocrisy is blatant.  Tories will do anything to stay in power and because of that they will soon betray May and replace her with their next new hope.

Unfortunately we are stuck in the Brexit process.  A sensible government would try to delay or cancel the process but I fear that the Tory party under May is not sensible.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

art classes

learned how to paint over a photo in art class today.  much politically motivated fun ensued




Monday, May 15, 2017

the death of a friend

I heard about the death of a friend today.  He was too young, much younger than my dad, a couple of years older than me.  He went to my school and hung about with my group of friends.  I haven't seen him for some time and I can't remember the last time I saw him.  We used to go swimming together and we used to go to the job centre together.

He had a problem with drugs and I guess that ultimately led to his death.  He started using bad drugs when he was young and even though he tried to get off the drugs many times he always slipped back. He fell in with other people I don't know and sadly he eventually died.  I'm waiting to hear more about how he died but it doesn't matter too much.  He was too young and it should not have happened.

I feel sorry for his parents and for some of my other friends who were closer to him and had known him since he was younger.  I feel sorry for him too.  His heart was in the right place.

RIP

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

things we have lost

I lost a lot when I lost my dad.  I guess one the biggest thing I've lost now is the possibility of shared experiences with him.  I've lost the possibility of talking to him about stuff that I know he would have liked.  Not big stuff, just small stuff that would have entertained him briefly.

His last few months were slow and he couldn't do what he wanted to do.  He missed out on a lot of things that he would have enjoyed, even in that short time.  It was immeasurably sad.  What happened to my dad could happen to anybody.

I guess a good thing to do is stay healthy and live life as much as you can.

Jerusalem by Alan Moore

I've just finished listening to the audiobook of Jerusalem by Alan Moore and I'm a bit blown away.  I chose to listen to the audiobook because of the sheer size of the book.  The hardback is 1200 pages long and I think the word count is more than a quarter of a million.  The audiobook is 60 hours long but at least I could listen to it on the train, in the bath and while I was doing housework.  The audiobook narration also helped me get through some of the more challenging sections such as the bit about the daughter of James Joyce.

I will read bits of the book again.  I will dip in and out.  I really want someone to write a book about this book and I look forward to character guides and websites becoming available on the internet.  What a ride!

I wonder if Jerusalem is a reworking of Big Numbers, his abandoned collaboration with Bill Sienkiewicz.  That work was to be set in Northampton and the plot was intended to rotate around the building of a new shopping centre.  Even if the two works were not destined to tell similar stories I am sad that we don't have the complete Big Numbers to compare with Jerusalem.  I will need to dig out my old copies and have a look.

I was also reminded of Voice of the Fire.  This is not unreasonable as both books mythologise Northampton and are written by Alan Moore.

Moore deals with life, death, existence and time.  The book is funny and full of supernatural elements.  There are moments of horror and you worry about what fate will hold for the characters.  The narrative is also complicated by multiple viewpoints and multiple identities for some characters.  A few diagrams and annotations would add a lot to this book and I feel that multiple re-reading will pay off (although a kindle copy will probably be much more portable).

This book could be Moore's best work.  It's a different beast to Watchmen.  At times he appears to have thrown everything into the mix, possibly even the kitchen sink.  At one point the KLF even appear, burning a million pounds.

Much of the book is thinly veiled autobiography.  Alma Warren is a cypher for Moore, sharing the same year of birth, the same eye problems and much of the same style and characteristics of Moore.  Her brother Mick shares a name and a year of birth with Moore's younger sibling.  Melinda Debbie, artist and partner of Alan Moore is a character in the book.  I believe that other parallels with the reality of Alan Moore's family history in Northampton exist.

Should you read this book?  If you have the time and patience, yes.  It is rewarding.  I got a lot from it.  It resounded with me emotionally and it cheered me up a bit shortly after the death of my dad.  I wish he could have read it.  The audiobook is a good way to tackle the book.  People will pick this apart for years.  I know I will.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A sunny day in Glasgow

We've had some cold weather this week and as you may imagine it has been a tough week as we held my fathers funeral a few days ago.  I'm still a bit tired but getting on about as well as expected.  After snow just a few days ago it is very pleasant today with sun in Glasgow.  I didn't need a jacket when I was out earlier.

I bought my mum lunch in a posh local hotel.  She's been spending some time in the garden and she's trying to catch up on sleep.  She's looking better.  Looking after a loved one as they die is hard.  I'm glad I'm close to home.  I started this blog when I lived in England over a decade ago and I made a clear decision to return to Scotland to be closer to my parents.  I'm glad I made that decision now.

Adult life involves a lot of responsibilities and balancing things.  Some people just walk through life avoiding things but that doesn't always work.  Duty is important and if your parents have been good to you, you should be good to them.  My mum needs space for her own grief but it is important to be nearby if she needs me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

putting together bits of a life

I'm thinking a lot about my dads life now.  He did a lot of stuff.  He worked hard in some areas and he achieved a lot.  I have learned more about him over the past couple of weeks and some things about my mother too.  I wish he was still here and I had a chance to ask him some questions.  None of these questions would have been life changing but it would have been good to have talked more.

We often don't talk enough in life.  It's often down to personality.  Sometimes people can talk too much and share too much.  Like most things you want to get somewhere in between.

There are many viewpoints on a life.  Many people have different opinions on how things have been and on how events happened.  In truth we are all unreliable narrators thinking we are movie stars when we are really just bit part players in the world.  We pick our own truths.  That's probably OK when you are remembering your dad but maybe a bit less OK if you are the president of the USA.

We've done most of what we need to do to prepare for the funeral.  Hopefully we will give him a good send off.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

reflections

My dad won prizes for art and poetry at school but he never did anything with it.  He was offered a place at a prestigious training institution in England but he didn't take it.  He had potential that was at one time almost unlimited and with the years all those possible bright pathways narrowed down to the one that was his life.

That in itself is not a bad thing.  He had a good life.  He travelled a lot.  He saw much of the world.  He spoke 4 languages.  He was able to spend time reading.  He had a son and a wife and a house and careers.  He achieved a lot of good stuff.  I think he helped people too.

We all make mistakes in life and none of us are perfect.  We can all, always reflect and we often realise that we could have been better or done things differently.  We should not regret though.  If you must regret something, it is better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done.  The space between thought and expression can last a lifetime.  I'm mixing the wisdom of the Butthole Surfers with Lou Reed but both are true.

I miss my dad.  He wasn't perfect but he was my dad.  He had some gifts and some talents.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trainspotting 2

I went to see the new Trainspotting film today.  I remember seeing the original film in the cinema when it came out.  I had read the book as well.  I've attempted to read some of the various sequels and prequels to the book but the film Transpotting 2 is really its own beast.

It didn't really capture the adrenaline buzz of the original film but it still had something to say.  It's a film about growing older, regrets, death and family.  Given the death of my father earlier this week some of those themes really hit home with me.  He liked watching DVDs and I think he would have liked to see this film.

I'm glad I saw this in the cinema although I'm not sure I'll rush to see it again.  Great soundtrack from Young Fathers amongst others.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

death

My dad died a few days ago.  He had been sick for a while.  He had suffered while he was sick so in a way his death was a release but it's still sad.  I wish I could have made him better or got him out of hospital or somehow fixed him but all of that was impossible.

His health care was varied.  Some health care professionals were good and kind.  Some were ignorant, dismissive and borderline cruel.  I would not want to be admitted to the initial ward he was on.

I got time with my dad in the last 6 months.  I was able to talk to him a bit and say some things to him.  I didn't manage to say absolutely everything I would have like to say but I probably said the most important stuff.  I would have liked my dad to have been around for longer.  I'd have liked him to see me buy a house with my partner, I'd have liked him to see me get married and I'd have liked him to be a grandfather.  Sadly those things will be missed by my father.

My dad gave me a lot in life.  He gave me a great early childhood in many ways and I had many opportunities that other children do not get.  He encouraged me to learn and read and seeded many lifelong interests in me.  He protected me and my mother.  He was not perfect but nobody is.  I will miss him.

RIP

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Drawing

I used to draw a lot when I was a kid.  I guess this was because I was an only child and I didn't always have much to do where I grew up.  I was also a massive comic book fan so I drew my own comic books as a kid.  I was never any good but I did it a lot.  It was always something enjoyed but I knew I did not have the ability to make a career out of it.  I always fancied myself more as a writer but life eventually got in the way and I put my dreams away in a box and got a real job.

Bills need to be paid and I have expensive tastes.

Recently I saw an advert for a course on creating digital comics at a local college and I decided to give it a whirl.  It's on the night when my partner has her yoga class so it gets me out of the house and it doesn't interfere with joint plans.  I had the first class this week and it was great fun.  I still enjoy drawing, just for my own pleasure and I don't mind if anyone else is interested.

The class was an interesting mix.  There are young kids, still at school, who seem to be into manga and pinky stuff as well as older blokes, some in their mid 40s, who are comic book nerds just like me.  The class is run by a bloke who has an art school degree and used to play drums in a sort of Godflesh style metal band.

We did stuff on basic drawing techniques as well as an exercise where we had to create a comic against the clock.  It was fun.

I'm looking forward to next week.  I'm not going to be Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko or anyone like that but I will have fun.  And hopefully draw some angry and bitter comic strips.....

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Best stuff of 2016

2016 was a big year for many many reasons.  I know I'm a bit late but I'm going to list some of the stuff I loved most last year.

In no particular order (even though I've numbered them)

1 - Iceland - I'd never been to Iceland before.  It's an amazing place.  Reykjavik is an amazing city, the buildings are brilliant, the sky over Iceland is amazing, the landscape is amazing, the Blue Lagoon is brilliant.  I just loved it.  It's ridiculously expensive, especially now that the UK is a banana  republic and the pound is worth fuck all but I really want to go back.  I was half thinking about moving there.

2 - Star Wars films - The Force Awakens was an emotional moment for me at the end of 2015 and Rogue One was just as good this Christmas.  My obsessions at the age of 40 are the same as my obsessions at the age of 4.  It's sad but at least I'm consistent.

3 - Tenerife - for a long time I hated the sun but now I like the sun again.  Also whales.  Like Iceland. Mount Teide, another volcanic landscape, is amazing.

4 - Blackstar by David Bowie.  Bowie released one of his best records just before he died.  A great bit of music that is worth listening to.

5 - Ocean Beach by the Red House Painters.  I had never really listened to them and I picked up this record.  Great.

6 - getting paid and not working crazy hours

There was more good stuff too.  Also bad stuff but I'm going with the PMA today

This blog is now 12 years old

I started writing this blog in Coventry in 2005.  I am now writing it in Glasgow in 2017.  I am older and the world has changed in some ways.  It's always difficult to say if things are better or worse.  Back then we had terrorism in London and a government that was doing things I don't like.  Right now we still have a government doing things I don't like.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In 12 years I have managed to do a lot of stuff.  In 1999 or 2000 I decided that I wanted to do some stuff and now I have almost done everything on that list.  I do not see myself as career orientated but I have managed to get myself where I want to be.  Beyond that, I have found a great partner and I've been with her for a couple of years now.  I hope that we will achieve a lot of other stuff together in the future.

I was talking with my partner last night.  We both wish we were 25 physically but we both enjoy the stuff that maturity brings you.  Experience helps you deal with life.  Life does get better in a lot of ways when you get older, if you are lucky.  As always I see myself as lucky.

Sometimes one contemplates the future.  We look at our parents and we see what has happened to our parents and we are scared.  We don't want the same stuff to happen to us but we know it might.  It is important to remember that our parents are a lot older than us and that our futures, if we are lucky, may not be written in our genes.  I don't think I would ever want to know my future.  If a blood test could predict my future I would not want that blood test.  There can be a freedom in not knowing the future.

Now that I'm older I like the sun more.  I crave daylight and sun.  I crave green places and the outdoors.  I like watching the sea.  Sometimes I even like rain.  In Scotland we never get much sun.  I am lucky that I have been able to see so much of the world.  I hope that stupid politicians do not stop the younger generations from seeing as much of the world as I have.

Next week I'm going to see some sun.  If I'm lucky I might even see some whales.