Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
Albert Schweitzer
Houdini Box
I went to see local band The Houdini Box playing at the weekend. They have some excellent songs - written by singer Lynsey Hutchinson - and all the band members add their own stamp to the music. I reckon the song 'Cold Reading' could, with the right exposure, be a commercial hit. It's amazing how much good music and how many talented people there are out there. If you happen to be in Edinburgh The Houdini Box will be playing in a tent at the Meadows Festival at 3pm this Saturday.

Norman Lamont, who plays bass for the Houdinis, has a post about George Galloway on his blog. One thing about the Scots is that they never let anyone get too big for their boots. George may be the toast of Liberal America following his coruscating performance at the Senate Hearing, and the word is that he's now being offered several million barrels of dollars to go on the 'Lecture Circuit' over there, but during an interview about football on Radio Scotland's 'Off the Ball' he was teased mercilessly about his alleged oil wealth. Here are a couple of examples (courtesy of Norman):

George Galloway: When I was growing up in Dundee it was a Celtic area and the Celtic bus used to stop outside our house ...
Off The Ball: Was that to refuel?


OTB: Speaking of sausages, do you have any links with Iraq?
(note: in Scotland strings of sausages are 'links')

Monday, May 30, 2005

great portraits #10

Vincent Van Gogh,Portrait of Joseph Roulin, Arles 1889

It would be possible to choose a dozen great portraits by Van Gogh - including several of the self-portraits - but I especially like the series he painted of the local postman at Arles Joseph Roulin. Roulin was a great friend to the struggling and troubled painter, and surely deserved to be immortalised in this way. Van Gogh, in his self-imposed exile in the South of France was often lonely, and the postman bringing news from his friends and family elsewhere would have been an important figure in his life, but Roulin was an interesting character in his own right and Van Gogh invests these portraits with warmth, intelligence and a sort of melancholy nobility. In each of the portraits the prominence of the word 'Postes' on the hat seems to somehow anchor these painterly flights of fancy in the real world. In fact the entire Roulin family welcomed Van Gogh into their lives, and he painted them all, from the baby girl with staring, black olive eyes to the extravagantly bearded father. Joseph Roulin died in 1902, about the time his old friend's genius was finally beginning to be recognised by the art world.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

We try to rejoice whenever there is an obstacle, and we try to regard that as something that makes us smile. Each particular setback creates a further smile. We keep on going in that way, and we never give up or give in to any obstacles ... For instance, I myself had a lot of hard times getting out of my country and being sick. And all sorts of things still happen to me personally. Although everybody is trying to be extremely helpful to me; nonetheless obstacles happen to me all the time. But I don't regard those obstacles as a sign of anything at all; I keep on going, myself ... You always have ups and downs. It is like riding on a roller coaster: the more you go down and the more you go up, the more you smile each time. You smile, rather than just holding your breath and thinking that you should enjoy yourself because you paid for it, or thinking that since it was your choice, you're supposed to enjoy it.
Chogyam Trungpa, from the 'Hinayana-Mahayana Transcripts', 1982

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Baiser - unknown photographer, France

kisses are a better fate than wisdom
ee cummings
News from Romania and elsewhere
Romanian police arrested a female mobile phone thief whose knickers started to ring when they dialled the stolen phone. A Romanian traffic policeman who fined a driver for 'having a face like a moron' was demoted to a desk job in a remote village. A face moisturiser made out of semen has been launched in Mexico. A 5-year-old Shropshire boy thought he'd found a toy in his box of Golden Puffs, but it was a live two foot long corn snake. A Polish tourist whose car broke down was dragged down a busy motorway in Thuringia at 100 mph by a motorist who kindly offered to tow him to the next service station. Scientists have developed a system which enables people to stroke chickens over the internet. A new computer virus reported in Romania deletes only gipsy music files. An American couple have created a scented candle based on biblical accounts of what Jesus smelled like. Visitors to Hamburg parks are being warned to watch out for exploding toads. Police in India arrested a holy man who forced a woman to strip naked and broke coconuts on her head. A Ukrainian woman was arrested after she tried to smuggle two bears on board a plane by claiming they were dogs, and a Chinese man pretended to be a hunchback in order to smuggle his pet turtle onto a flight. Police in Italy have uncovered a secret racecourse with grandstands, a car park and 80 racehorses. A shop in Cornwall has called in a vicar to get rid of a ghost which keeps rearranging a pair of brown shoes on display in the window. Ukrainian firemen fled in panic from a blazing building after one of them grabbed a hosepipe that turned out to be a ten foot python.

Friday, May 27, 2005

window shopping
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The ratio of literacy to illiteracy is unchanged, only nowadays the illiterates can read.
Alberto Moravia

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Photoblog of the Day
A Walk Through Durham Township, Pennsylvania
Some of these photographs by Kathleen Connally are remarkably beautiful.
reeds in a river
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.
shuffle anyone? (as recommended by 'The Lazy Blogger')

Johnny Cash ~ Sea of Heartbreak
The Ramones ~ Do You Wanna Dance?
Neko Case ~ Furnace Room Lullaby
Spiritualized ~ Ladies & Gentlemen We are Floating in Space
Tim Keegan & the Homer Lounge ~ Save Me from Happiness
Laurie Anderson ~ O Superman
The Platters ~ The Great Pretender
David Bowie ~ Sorrow
Leonard Cohen ~ Closing Time
The Raveonettes ~ Uncertain Times

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

... words had caricatured their thoughts. And, by God, words could do that, right enough. Look and touch and feel should suffice to allow you to walk wordless all your days.
Jessie Kesson, from 'Glitter of Mica'

Monday, May 23, 2005

lily in a bucket
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Paint the truth and let them chatter.
Edouard Manet

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I was driving on the motorway the other day listening to the radio. I couldn't get good reception on a classical station so I was flicking through the other ones when a song caught my attention. It was 'This' by Brian Eno, a track from his new album. I love Eno's earlier 'vocal' albums, especially 'Before and After Science' and 'Another Green World'. I think the new one might be a worthy successor, but it's been a long wait ...

'Another Day On Earth is a collection of new Eno songs, "the first one I've done like that for a very long time...twenty five years or so". Eno's song-writing, his typically concise analysis of the problems that most song-writers face, and the methods he employs to solve these problems reveal the unique nature of his approach to this particular art: "Song-writing is now actually the most difficult challenge in music. It's very easy to make music now but lyrics are really the last very hard problem in music. What I think lyrics have to do is engage a certain part of your brain in a sort of search activity so your brain wants to say 'here are some provocative clues as to what this song might be about'. They don't have to be explicit... in fact for me they certainly shouldn't be explicit".'

Friday, May 20, 2005

Rabindranath Tagore
You are the evening cloud floating in the sky of my dreams. I paint you and fashion you ever with my love longings. You are my own, my own, Dweller in my endless dreams!

Your feet are rosy-red with the glow of my heart’s desire,
Gleaner of my sunset songs! Your lips are bitter-sweet with the taste of my wine of pain. You are my own, my own, Dweller in my lonesome dreams!

With the shadow of my passion have I darkened your eyes, Haunter
of the depth of my gaze! I have caught you and wrapt you, my love, in the net of my music. You are my own, my own, Dweller in my deathless dreams!

Rabindranath Tagore's own translation of verse 30 of The Gardener. Pablo Neruda controversially paraphrased or plagiarised this verse as 'In my sky at Twilight' (below), without initially acknowledging the debt to the original. Personally I don't think that's important, because Neruda was such a fine poet in his own right.
In my sky at Twilight
In my sky at twilight you are a cloud
and your form and colour are the way I love them.
You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips
and in your life my infinite dreams live.

The lamp of my soul dyes your feet.
My sour wine is sweeter on your lips,
oh reaper of my evening song,
how solitary dreams believe you to be mine!

You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's
wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice.
Huntress of the depths of my eyes, your plunder
stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water.

You are taken in the net of my music, my love,
and my nets of music are wide as the sky.
My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning.
In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begins.

Pablo Neruda

Download a PDF of Pablo Neruda's poems (400Kb)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Beech trees in Spring
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

Lou Reed reads in the Reid Hall, Edinburgh, 16 May 2005
Even in his walk to the podium you can see the strange combination of vulnerability and belligerence that characterises Lou Reed's artistic persona. He looks quite youthful for a man in his sixties, and when he clears his throat and speaks it sounds as if he's been shovelling gravel down his throat. He grimaces at the microphone and wrestles it into a more satisfactory position before starting. 'I'm in Scotland to perform some songs at a Burns Festival', he drawls, 'Burns was a great Scottish poet and I decided it would be interesting to read some Edgar Allen Poe as a way of letting you hear a great American poet.' Scattered applause.

The smallish hall is packed out; testament to his legendary status. People would probably turn up just to have a look at him, which is just as well because he doesn't do much other than read from his own lyrics and passages from Poe. You wish he would conjure up a guitar and sing something from his back catalogue of songs, but over the years Lou has been at pains to present himself as much as an intellectual and a serious poet as a mere songwriter. Lou probably isn't sure - as Norman Mailer might say - whether he's a 'beatnik' or a 'hipster' these days, but in truth he's probably a bit of both. There's no doubt, however, that when he started out as a singer it was his cool, laconic, 'hip' style of delivery that gave those classic Velvet Underground songs their edge. The late Sterling Morrison, whose magical guitar work graces the Velvets' albums, described the young Lou Reed as one of the great rock and roll singers, and bemoaned the fact that he no longer was. It's true. Lou talks his way through much of his solo material, rather than singing it, and the songs often sound flat and lugubrious compared to the early work which fizzed with energy and assurance, and a surprising tenderness too at times.

He reads well, with passion and drama, slowly and deliberately, now and then tossing an aside to the audience - 'wow what an incredible line', 'that's very difficult to sing because there are no spaces between the words to breathe in', and so on. But song lyrics rarely work when spoken as poetry - although they must have poetry in them, and poems don't often work as songs either, unless they're either ballads or 'free-form'. Maybe 'Sister Ray', 'The Black Angel's Death Song' or the 'Murder Mystery' would work as spoken pieces, but he doesn't read any of these. He reads from the lyrics to his recent album 'The Raven' - his own lyrical homage to Poe - and Poe's own work, and a few other songs of his own, finishing up with 'Small Town' from 'Songs for Drella', and 'Candy Says'. He thanks us for coming and departs, leaving me, at least, wishing he had brought a guitar along.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I couldn't resist a shuffle ...

Cowboy Junkies ~ Anniversary Song
Van Morrison ~ Tupelo Honey
Pink Floyd ~ Interstellar Overdrive (live)
Talking Heads ~ Thankyou for Sending Me an Angel
Beck ~ Lost Cause
Bukka White ~ East St Louis Blues
Peter Gabriel ~ Kiss That Frog
Lambchop ~ Is a Woman
Paul Westerberg ~ Let's Not Belong Together
Bedford Falls ~ My Old Friend the Blues

Come for a Cause!
"Most of us engage in self-pleasure, but there is so little support for doing so that it can become a source of distress. This is exactly why National Masturbation Month is needed; people need to understand that self-stimulation is common, pleasurable, healthful, and nothing to worry about."

National Masturbation Month! What next? World Dildo Day?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content ... it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble and from babble to confusion.
René Daumal, from the foreword to 'A Night of Serious Drinking', 1938

Monday, May 16, 2005

ferns on wall
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I'm off for the weekend. See you all later.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A mon seul désir - The Lady and the Unicorn-  Tapestry, c1500, Flanders

The Unicorn and the White Doe
Unicorn with bursting heart
Breath of love has drawn:
On his desolate crags apart,
At rumour of dawn,

Has blared aloud his pride
This long age mute,
Lurched his horn from side to side,
Lunged with his foot.

`Like a storm of sand I run
Breaking the desert's boundaries,
I go in hiding from the sun
In thick shade of trees.

`Straight was the track I took
Across the plains, but here with briar
And mire the tangled alleys crook,
Baulking desire.

`O there, what glinted white?
(A bough still shakes.)
What was it darted from my sight
Through the forest brakes?

`Where are you fled from me?
I pursue, you fade;
I run, you hide from me
In the dark glade.

Towering high the trees grow,
The grass grows thick.
Where you are I do not know,
You run so quick.'

Robert Graves
Lou Reed
I've just discovered that I've won two tickets to see Lou Reed reading from his book of lyrics in a small venue at the University next Monday. Question is, should I wear leather or ostrich feathers?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


In the golden age, when gods and goddesses loved, desire followed upon a look, and enjoyment upon desire.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I promised i would stop doing these shuffles. So this is absolutely the last one.

PJ Harvey ~ This Wicked Tongue
Steve Earle ~ Valentine's Day
Buck Ritchie ~ The Slave
Kevin Ayers ~ May I
Bob Dylan ~ It's All Over Now Baby Blue
Morphine ~ Hanging on a Curtain
Lou Reed ~ Walk on the Wild Side
U2 ~ Stuck in a Moment
Blanche ~ Another Lost Summer
Brian Eno ~ But If

A prize for anyone who has heard Buck Ritchie's 'The Slave' - one of the weirdest things ever recorded, which I'd mercifully forgotten about until today.
Nothing is poison and everything is poison; the difference is in the dose.

Monday, May 09, 2005

apple blossom
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.
No Quasimodos Please
"The Beautiful People Network is an elite online members' club, which introduces beautiful people to truly beautiful people. It is a meeting place which is reserved for people, who because of their attractive appearance ... blah blah blah ..."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Remember Fly Guy?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

ringed plover

Ringed Plover by a Water's Edge
They sprint eight feet and -
stop. Like that. They
sprintayard (like that) and
They have no acceleration
and no brakes.
Top speed's their only one.

They're alive - put life
through a burning-glass, they're
its focus - but they share
the world of delicate clockwork.

In spasmodic
Indian file
they parallel the parallel ripples.

When they stop
they, suddenly, are

Norman MacCaig

Friday, May 06, 2005

Love in a Life
Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her,
Next time, herself! -not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew, -
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.
Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune -
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest, -who cares?
But 'tis twilight, you see, -with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

Robert Browning

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

The little park down the road is carpeted in fallen cherry blossom. When the wind blows it's like being caught in a pink and white snowstorm.
I just love these photographs by Joseph Schulz.
Found via Conscientious.
beer, blood and manure
I'm often amused or bemused by some of the more bizarre lines I find in Thoreau's Journal and Pepys' Diary. Take these recent examples:
"R.W.E. tells me he does not like Haynes as well as I do. I tell him that he makes better manure than most men." Thoreau
"Lay long talking with my wife, then Mr. Holliard came to me and let me blood, about sixteen ounces, I being exceedingly full of blood and very good." Pepys
Of course, James Joyce's Ulysses is even stranger. Here's Bloom watching a barmaid pulling a pint of beer, or something:
"On the smooth jutting beerpull laid Lydia hand, lightly, plumply, leave it to my hands. All lost in pity for croppy. Fro, to: to, fro: over the polished knob (she knows his eyes, my eyes, her eyes) her thumb and finger passed in pity: passed, reposed and, gently touching, then slid so smoothly, slowly down, a cool firm white enamel baton protruding through their sliding ring."

check them all out on the links to the right >
one more shuffle
Blur ~ Tender
Laura Cantrell ~ Where the Roses Bloom
Razorlight ~ Stumble and Fall
Kate Rusby ~ Underneath the Stars
Bedhead ~ Forgetting
The Kinks ~ Waterloo Sunset
Deus ~ The Ideal Crash
The Coral ~ Dreaming of You
Buddy Holly ~ Rave On
Jonathan Richman ~ When Harpo Played his Harp

I excluded classical music from this one. It's the best selection so far, because I like all of these songs. Ok, I'll stop doing them now.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

great portraits #9

Pope Innocent X by Diego Velázquez, c1650

They call the new Pope 'God's Rottweiler' but by the look of it Pope Innocent X, immortalised around 1650 by Diego Velázquez, was the original. When the Pontiff saw the portrait he said, 'troppo vero'-- 'too truthful'. Study his facial expression - said by a contemporary to be like that of a 'cunning lawyer' - in more detail here. He really looks alive, and that's what makes this such a compelling portrait. That, and Velázquez's incomparable technique. The fact that the artist was honest (and perhaps courageous) enough to show such a powerful man in this less than flattering light speaks volumes too.

"The Pope appears as a terrifying figure with those irascible eyes, the choleric pinkness of his face, the letter that chillingly communicates that he is a man of secular, as well as spiritual, authority reading dispatches and conducting affairs. There is suave confidence in his unexpectedly feminine hand with the ring, waiting to show mercy to the repentant, kneeling sinner. All of this tells us in no uncertain terms just what this man is. Yet he is looking with perhaps a barely restrained impatience, and waiting as Velázquez does his work ..."
Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, April 5 2003
No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not.
HL Mencken
today's shuffle ...
Simon & Garfunkel ~ El Condor Pasa
REM ~ Most Beautiful
John Cale & Mike Heron ~ Please
Tim Hardin ~ Hang Onto a Dream
Rolling Stones ~ Ruby Tuesday
Brahms ~ Ballade #2 in D, Glenn Gould, piano
Bo Carter ~ Corrina Corrina
Eels ~ Lone Wolf
Radiohead ~ Vegetable
Shearwater ~ Little Locket

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

Gean trees (wild cherry) in blossom near the Water of Leith, Edinburgh

Monday, May 02, 2005

I hardly ever do these things but I quite like this one, which I've noticed on a few blogs, most recently the excellent Such Stuff. The idea is to shuffle your digital music files and blog the first sequence of 10. So, from a couple of thousand mp3s on my hard disk I ended up with:

Elvis Costello & the Attractions ~ Pump It Up
Patti Smith ~ Cash
Franz Ferdinand ~ Michael
Tom Waits ~ Rain Dogs
Hank Williams ~ Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
JS Bach ~ Gigue from Partita #1 ~ Rosalyn Tureck, piano
Ivor Cutler ~ I Ate a Lady's Bun
Velvet Underground ~ Waiting for the Man
Incredible String Band ~ Air
Gavin Bryars ~ Incipit Vita Nova, for Alto and String Trio

It's strange that Hank Williams, JS Bach, The Velvet Underground, and The Incredible String Band are all in there. With so many others to choose from it seems odd that these four all-time favourites should pop up. I don't have many mp3s by them because I usually listen to the orginal CDs. I did another shuffle immediately afterwards and not one of them featured. The Ivor Cutler song refers to a bun in a lady's hair, in case you were wondering.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.
what's your favourite word?