Eye Tests Have Changed A Lot Since I Was Wee.

It used to be that I’d dread getting my eyes tested. This was because I knew I couldn’t see properly and I knew that the optician would probably notice this and I’d have to wear stupid glasses for the rest of my life. It’s tough being 6.

To stop this from happening, I’d try to memorise as much of the eye chart as possible on my way in to the room because it was pinned up right by the door. It worked for a wee while but soon I was rumbled and that was me prescribed glasses.

I remember the optician saying “You have astigmatism. That means that one of your eyes is shaped like a rugby ball instead of a football, young man. Do you like football?”. I hated that guy. And then he said, “Wear these glasses when you’re at school and when you’re reading and you probably won’t even need them at all as an adult.”

I threw them in a hedge a few days later.

I need to wear glasses all the time now. I cannae see for shit and looking at the sky on an overcast day is torture even with tints.

I went for an eye test yesterday and was amazed at the technological advances even though it’s only been two years since I was last checked.

When they shone light into my eyes I saw blood going through my blood vessels in my eyes. I’d never seen that before. It was like tripping. I told the optician, “I wish I had a photo of what I can see right now.”

It was impossible to get a photo of what I was seeing, of course. However, I did get the two pictures they took of my eyeballs.

Here they are here >>>

NAVIS-Lite Print manager : NAVIS-SERVER

NAVIS-Lite Print manager : NAVIS-SERVER

Published in: on August 2, 2016 at 09:47  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The Soundtrack To My Life. 10/03/2016.

Hi folks.
Here’s a wee selection of some records I’ve enjoyed lately…

Birds With Broken Wings

Record: Birds With Broken Wings.
Year: 2015.
Artist: Ben Caplan.

Ben Caplan’s a madman. I saw him live a few months ago and that’s what he is. A madman. This is his second record, I think, and the only thing that’s wrong with it is that it only slightly catches how brilliantly aff his heid he truly is.

This song isn’t actually on ‘Birds With Broken Wings’ but it’s a fairly good example of what you can expect with Caplan..

Hell On Heels

Record: Hell On Heels.
Year: 2011.
Artist: Pistol Annies.

I heard about the Pistol Annies because Neil Young kept mentioning them in his ‘Waging Heavy Peace’ book. Pretty good group…


Record: Blackstar.
Year: 2016.
Artist: David Bowie.

I think Blackstar is a masterpiece. This is my favourite track from it…


Record: Weem.
Year: 2016.
Artist: De Rosa.

A great third record from a band fae mah el’ hametoon here. I call records like this my ‘Nighttime’ or ‘Sunday’ records. Sunday records are the best types of records.

Hymns and Gospel Favorites

Record: Hymns & Gospel Favorites.
Year: 2015?
Artist: Loretta Lynn.

Sometimes I think that ‘How Great Thou Art’ may just very well be my favourite hymn. I think it might be…

Singing Bones

Record: Singing Bones.
Year: 2003.
Artist: The Handsome Family.

Ooh! The Handsome Family! What a great name for a band! I was so taken with Season 1 of “True Detective” and its theme tune that I had to track the band down. I’ve been playing this record at home sometimes twice a day lately…

I Love You, Honeybear

Record: I Love You, Honeybear,
Year: 2015.
Artist: Father John Misty.

I have no idea how I heard about Father John Misty. Is that a guy’s name or the band’s name? Either way, I quite like him and them.

Post Pop Depression

Record: Post Pop Depression.
Year: 2016.
Artist: Iggy Pop.

This record of Iggy’s sounds fucking great! It’s just really well recorded. It sounds big and for me, it’s Iggy’s best one since 2009. I only just found out that ‘Gardenia’ is the first single from the record. Good choice! It’s my current favourite Post Pop Depression track…

The Hateful Eight (OST)

Record: The H8ful Eight (OST).
Year: 2015.
Artist: Ennio Morricone / Various Artists.
I understand they ended up breaking a really rare Martin guitar on the film set for real. Idiots.
I still haven’t seen the film so i dunno how it works with it yet but it sounds like the sound of that Martin being smashed to smithereens made the soundtrack. I like to put this record on LOUD as I’m in the kitchen doing the dishes…

You May Also Be Interested In…
* The Soundtrack To My Life. 07/03/2015.
* The Soundtrack To My Life. 09/04/2014.
* The Soundtrack To My Life. 14/02/2014.

That’s Me A Mountaineer Now.

That’s Me A Mountaineer Now.

It was Andrea’s idea really. “Let’s do some hillwalking!” she said.

I’d always fancied hillwalking for years but just never did it. …Which is a disgrace when I think about it since I’m 34 and Scottish, and I can get from city to wilderness in under an hour easily.

I have asthma and I was thinking about how I ONLY admit to having asthma only when it’s very obvious that I have it, and sitting on the train to Balloch, I was imagining being half dead from an asthma attack and having to be airlifted off a mountain hours later. Always be prepared for the worst! That’s my motto!

…Except it isn’t even! Because I NEVER prepare for the worst!
Andrea asked if I had my medication with me and I said “Yip! I’m not a fool, my dear!”, and then I looked out of the train window and watched the scenery roll by as I thought about the growing distance between me and my medication. Which was on my bookcase. Which was in my hoose. Miles away.

There was a strange smell on the train from Glesga to Balloch. I couldn’t put my finger quite on what it was. I said to Andrea, “Whit dae ye suppose that is?”
She nailed it.
“Piss. It’s piss, Al.”
And that’s exactly what it was. And I already knew what it was before I pretended to not know and ask. I just didn’t know how else to bring it up.
It was from an auld woman sitting across the aisle from us and she was soaked! We heard her muttering, “…ah dunno WHARE ah’mur!,,,”, and that’s when the, thank fuck, ticket guy came over and saw to it that she was alright.
Which, she wisnae.

I spilt my peanut M&M’s all over the train floor. 95p they cost me. The bag was tiny. Cannea believe I bought them.
…Lesson learned there. Eat the M&M’s BEFORE the train comes.

This was probably the best day I could choose to give up smoking cigarettes.

So that was us in Balloch and from there we took a bus to Drymen, which is pronounced ‘Dri-Min’ and not ‘Dry-Men’. From Drymen we were supposed to take another bus to Balmaha (Which isn’t pronounced as, Balma-HAHA!’) but the road was closed to traffic so we just hoofted it. It was roughly a five mile walk but the weather was perfect and we took our time. Whenever I go anywhere with Andrea, it takes twice as long because she wants to stop any time we see puddles.
She’s always taking great photographs of puddles…


So we walked and walked and then there it was! Conic Hill. Looked more like Conic Mountain tae me.


Nobody seems impressed when I tell them I did Conic Hill. I don’t think it’s considered very difficult or dangerous at all but when I saw it, I secretly thought, “I’m never making this”. That’s what living life as a shut-in does for you.

So, that was us. Up we went.

Balmaha 014 copys

You start Conic Hill by walking through a trail through a forest. My imagination always, always gets the better of me and right as I was about to come out with quotes from “Predator”, Andrea stopped me with, “What. The. Fuck. Is…”

And before I could say, “If it bleeds, we can kill it!”, I saw the lone sheep she was staring at. It was about 30 feet above us just hanging about at a weird angle on the hill in the forest. It was weird to see.
‘Fuck was it daein’…


…there, up Conic Hill, we went higher and as you get higher, the forest disappears and it starts to feel like you’re doing some actual climbing. It was about this time that I filled our empty water bottles from a trickling stream and really felt proud to be Scottish. Ridiculous when here was me being taken up my first hill by a Canadian. Haha!
As we climbed further I just kept thinking how I’d been a fool for all those years I’d spent smoking cigarettes. But at the same time, I was glad that I was having no trouble going up this hill. “We’re not fucked yet, Al!”, I told myself.

Balmaha 031 copys

…Looking back at Andrea behind me and later, when she took over me, she was beautiful…

Balmaha 096 copys

Later, I realised we were near the summit, which is how we mountaineers refer to the top.

It started to get a bit fucking windy for my liking but at this stage, I just wanted to get to that top.

Andrea went ahead with her camera and watching her jump around right beside the sheer drop to the left started to make me worry for her. Fuck.

That’s what vertigo is to me. An amplified sense of doubt. And that’s how it starts with me.

I never used to get vertigo. I work at heights and daft angles in the job I do. It never ever bothered me until a bad experience I once had at the top of the Rockefeller building in New York during very windy conditions. But that’s a whole other story for another day.

There’s a bit just before the tip of Conic Mountain where you have to do a bit of scrambling. Which means that you have to watch what you’re doing, and that was fine with me but I forgot about the wind.

Long story short, I made it.

IMG_2751 copy

Balmaha 036 copys

I got up there, shouted “YAAAAAAAAAAASS!!!”. I’d made it. WE’D made it!

Balmaha 053 copys

After we made it, I made us make our way right back doon.

The funny thing was that when we got to the top, we ran into a German family! 2 parents and two kids. The kids looked to be about 8. We steadied those kids and they grabbed us as we were going up and they were coming down! That was really mad. Because it’s dead funny to meet people way up a mountain. You pass them and they say “Hello!”, and you say, “Hello, yersel!”. It’s a weird setting to meet folk. It’s great!

That was us. I gave Andrea a big kiss at the top.

iphone winter 628

I used to think: “What’s the point in climbing up a hill? I’ll only have to come down”. But now I feel differently about that. I loved it. Why kick a football up a pitch only to have to go get it and kick it back the way, right? You can’t knock it unless you do it.

But I was glad when it was time to get the fuck down from there.

I got cockier the further down we got. A third of the way down, I was all, “Glad I did that!”. Two thirds of the way down, I was swaggering, giving it all, “Yep! The Hulls ur definitely in mah blood, oe’r here!”.

As we were coming down, some people were coming up, and they had all the best of gear on. The waterproofs, the crampons, the poles etc… and they asked me if it was a rough climb to the top.
I wanted to say, “Aye, if yeese are amateurs!”. What a dick.

Balmaha 021 copyS

I was just proud because I’d never done anything like this before and I’m even more surprised how fine I felt given the years of abuse that I’ve put my body through.

I was as proud as punch and speaking of punch, I’m grateful to Andrea for not punching fuck out of me up there. It would’ve been the perfect spot to do that.

You’ll have to forgive me if you’re a hillwalker. It was my first hill and I KNOW I wasn’t wearing sensible clothes!

I bought a bike a few days ago and I won’t do another hill again in jeans and a jumper.

Thanks Andrea.
If DiCaprio can’t commit to “The Revenant 2”, I could probably fill in.

Instead Of A Christmas Day.

Hi pals.

If you and I are Twitter pals, you’ve no doubt been sick of me going on and on, for months, about the Christmas song I wrote and was trying to put together. It’s called ‘Instead Of A Christmas Day’.

It’s been a bit of a struggle. Learning to use software, recording the tracks, accidentally wiping the tracks, starting from scratch etc…

Bad news is that I didn’t quite get it finished in time for Christmas like I wanted. Good news is that you can still hear an all over the place/working demo version right here >>>

Probably the BEST news is that I now have a whole YEAR to re-record a better and more organised version of it now!

Best wishes for 2016! x

You May Also Be Interested In…
* From Pencil To Paper To Pen To Pen To Photoshop To Poster
* A Dead Giveaway

The Evolution Of ‘Where Everybody Knows Your Name’: The Theme From “Cheers”.

I’m a sucker for demos. I like to hear a great song come together. Who the Hell wants to hear dozens of static filled demo recordings and then sit through 58 takes of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’? Me. That’s who.

I love that stuff and today we’re gonna take a look at a song which is even better than ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, The Theme From “Cheers”. Or as it was originally titled, ‘My Kind Of People’. But let’s go back to before even then.

Cheers Single

From Wikipedia…

By 1981, New York songwriter Gary Portnoy had already written songs for the likes of Air Supply (“I’ll Never Get Enough”) and Dolly Parton (“Say Goodnight”). One night in the summer of that same year, his friend Judy Hart happened to be seated next to a Broadway producer at dinner. Upon finding out that Hart was working for a music publisher, he asked her if she could recommend someone to compose the score for a new musical he was producing. On a whim, Hart, who had never written a song, approached Portnoy, who had never written for the theater and, together, they set out to compose the words and music for the musical named Preppies.

In the spring of 1982, Judy (now using her full married name) Hart Angelo sent a tape of Preppies’ opening number, “People Like Us”, to a friend in California, who then passed it on to television producers Glen and Les Charles. Upon hearing it they each felt that, with a lyric re-write, “People Like Us” would be the perfect theme song for their upcoming NBC sitcom Cheers. Upon learning that “People Like Us” was legally bound to the musical Preppies, the Charles Brothers asked Portnoy and Hart Angelo to take a shot at composing a theme specifically for Cheers. The song that resulted, “My Kind of People”, was somewhat of a reworked version of “People Like Us”. It was subsequently rejected.

Portnoy and Hart Angelo then wrote and submitted two more potential themes for Cheers. One of them, entitled “Another Day” contained a lyric line “There are times when it’s fun to take the long way home” that greatly appealed to the Charles brothers. But, overall, the song missed the mark and was passed on. The fourth song began with a catchy intro followed by simple, alternating chords on a piano. The opening verse lines, both musically and lyrically, were something of a lament. The verse then transitioned into a soaring refrain that seemed to capture the essence of why people might want to go to a place like “Cheers” — a place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. The two songwriters recorded a simple piano/voice demo of the new song for the Cheers producers. Upon hearing it, the Charles Brothers gave it their stamp of approval and, once Portnoy and Hart Angelo had complied with a request for a few lyric changes intended to broaden the song’s appeal to a more general audience, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” was officially designated the “Theme From Cheers”. The original verse:

‘Singing the blues when the Red Sox lose,
it’s a crisis in your life.
On the run ’cause all your girlfriends
wanna be your wife.
And the laundry ticket’s in the wash.’

Was changed to:

‘Making your way in the world today
takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries
sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?’

After several months of mulling over possible outside singers, the producers eventually asked Gary Portnoy to record the vocal for the opening credits of their new series. (The chorus of the song is six of Portnoy’s vocals that he recorded one on top of the other to create the “group sound” of the hook.) It was also decided to maintain the simple feel of the New York demo in the TV version by keeping the number of instruments to a minimum. The final Cheers Theme was recorded on August 13, 1982 at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, California.

I’d read that Wikipedia article before and I’d always wanted to hear the original songs and demos but could never find them. YouTube’s a great thing. Here’s the evolution of the song…

Cheers Opener

You May Also Be Interested In…
* The Exact Opposite Of Happy Days
* Ralph Macchio: “Wax On, Fuck Off.”

Published in: on September 27, 2015 at 16:33  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,
%d bloggers like this: