Friday, December 11, 2009

Theo Dorgan on West Cork

I was on a flight between Edinburgh and Dublin this week, and picked up the Aer Lingus in-flight magazine, Cara. Thumbing through it to while away the 45 minute flight, I came across an article on West Cork in Ireland - from where my wife comes.

It's actually more of an homage than an article - written by poet Theo Dorgan, it's an amazing hand-held walk through the emotions, magic, mystery, and enchantment of West Cork. Maybe I'm just getting more emotional in my old age, but I got a huge lump in my throat reading it. I love West Cork, and Dorgan's writing is really a perfected example of the type of writing I try and fail to do occasionally - evocative, heady emotional and slightly ambiguous journeys through subtle hyperbole.

[I'm reproducing the entire article here without the permission of Aer Lingus, Cara, or Theo Dorgan. As far as I'm aware I'm not infringing any copyright. Anyone concerned should feel free to contact me for removal]

It's an astounding piece of writing - more of this please, Aer Lingus.

West Cork really is amazing. Thank you Theo Dorgan.

- - -

WEST CORK IS a mountain fastness on the edge of the world, a land of secrets and dreams, of immemorial communities, standing stones, ruined monasteries, a deep-indented coastline washed by the long bulk and sprawl of the Atlantic. Small farms in hollows and valleys, prosperous knowing towns curled in on themselves and their mysteries, roads that jink and jive between high hedges, sudden dizzying views of mountains folded back as far as the eye can see.

Drive west from Cork through Bandon, that solid market town set among fields of grain, and small town by small town you are fed down to the sea at Bantry, the broad acres with their fine trees giving way to thin soil; pinched fields on the sides of hills; thick hedges where moments ago there were white painted fences. The colours brighten as you slide west and south, blues and reds on doors and windows, white gables, mauve of tall foxgloves, the flash of gorse in the high sun. You see the mountains in the distance, rank after rank, solid and blue and grey, and perhaps you get a sense that you are entering deeper and deeper into some half-remembered version of your life.

Or, leave Cork towards the northwest, along the rich valley of the River Lee. Beyond Macroom, you might start drifting north bit by bit until with a sudden instinctive resolution you pull the wheel to the left and feed yourself over Ráth an Ghaiscígh, the Rath of the Warrior, down through Tír na Spideoige, the Land of Sparrows, into Inchigeela and then Ballingeary, and you are solidly in the heartland again. On up the road to Gougane Barra, wellspring of the Lee, then down the long, winding road through sheep pastures and pine plantations, past the Hobbit-like buildings of Future Forests, a garden nursery, until you meet the easternmost inlet of Bantry Bay.

The sea again. The mountains again, this time shouldering you, leaning over you. Or you take the third way, south from Cork airport to the bustling, colourful harbour of Kinsale. A cosmopolitan town, studded with busy pubs and gourmet restaurants, the clash of halyards on masts in the harbour where yachts from all over the world are constantly making in, making out. You follow the Bandon river for a while, going left when you can, keeping to the swooping coastline; you make for Baltimore, perhaps, then Schull – the yellow gorse, the red fuschia beckoning you onward until Bantry.

Oh, but there are pathways into West Cork not laid down on maps. Maybe you’ll walk in, through Cúil Aodha, for instance, that hidden Gaeltacht the far side of Macroom. Maybe you’ll get the bus to drop you at Gougane Barra and hike up to the lake, where Finbarre’s stone church sits on its island, in a forest quiet. Or perhaps you’ll come in from the sea, spray-lashed, salt-crusted, working the helm and the sails, making in under the white beacon, Lot’s Wife, standing sentinel over Baltimore harbour.

You must understand this: West Cork is not just a territory on a map, a piece of real estate to be surveyed, traversed, absorbed and filed in your memories. This is a dangerous place for the unwary. I may have lost you already. We were coming down through the Land of Sparrows, remember? We stopped in Creedons for a pint and a sandwich? And you started thinking, I could feel the drift begin inside you, you started thinking ‘What if I didn’t go home? I could live here, in this steady quiet, I could find a small house under the ridge and be peaceful here.’ I heard the words stirring inside you, I saw the signs. Or, maybe, coming up from Schull we turned off for Mizen Head before Bantry and as we drove out and west through that high stony land you had a sudden illumination: you thought of your life and decided, with sudden clarity, I need to change. I saw it happening, saw you step out of the car and look around, the weight and beauty of that wild place settling inside you. You’re not the first, you won’t be the last. So many thousands have settled here in my lifetime, so many thousands who came with maps, plans, itineraries...

Ah, but you think you are made of sterner stuff than that? Perhaps you are. There are no flying columns ghosting through your ancestral memories, no Spanish fleets flying west from Kinsale, no ships of the French Revolution storm-beaten in Bantry Bay. Perhaps you are the sort of person who says, approving the wisdom, you can’t eat scenery. You notice the heavy traffic on the roads, you look for and find reassuring signs of normal life in the present day.

Let me bring you on west from Bantry through the storybook beauty of Glengariff, and west again through Adrigole, the minatory bare bulk of Hungry Hill shadowing us to the north. I land you down in Castletownbere, and you approve of the bustling busyness of the place, the fishing fleet, the ice plant, the trucks from France and Spain backing and filling in the busy harbour. And then I lead you quietly away down the pier to where the painter Sarah Walker has built herself a studio and gallery at the water’s edge. Did you linger there a little longer than you’d meant to? West again, the sun beginning to slant down towards the sea. I bring you to Dzogchen Beara, a Buddhist monastery in Beara, perched high on a cliff, and suddenly you are gazing out over an ocean without limits, you are gazing out into sunlit eternity. And now you get it. I see it in your eyes as the journey catches up with you. All those small fields, those dim sunken roads, the small hills and the sudden bulk of mountains, the dark world of the forestry, the bright, busy banter in shop and pub – vista by vista, moment by moment, unheard, unfelt, unnoticed, West Cork has been winding you into its spell, laying its enchantment deep inside you until now it owns your very breath.

Well, what am I to do with you? You have a life elsewhere, work, family, responsibilities. One last short journey, then, before you turn for home. A few miles more and we stop where the road curls round into a final vision for you. Below and to the left a bright-gold beach. Neat fields, long grasses, cows, horses, two cars stopped side by side, neighbours having a chat down there beneath us. You lift your eyes and you see the village of Allihies, its multicoloured houses piled in a bright pyramid on the far slope, under the mountain with its copper-mine chimneys, its glinting, water-bright ridge. The last of the sun gives an otherworldly light to the panorama before you, broad bands of red and orange and black to the left, the unkempt grasses a brilliant green below us, the far off houses bright with promises. Skellig on the horizon, appearing, disappearing on a whim.

I am taking you to my favourite pub in all the world, Jimmy’s. It might be a well of quiet this evening, or perhaps Ecky will be in, our German musician friend, long-settled here, or the poet O’Leary, or Mighty the raconteur. We could settle into conversation with Eily the postmistress, with the artists Charlie Tyrrell or Rachel Parry, the ceramicist Cormac Boydell. We might sit by ourselves, without speaking. I’ve brought you here so that you can settle yourself over a pint or three of Murphy’s stout, so that you can ease down and persuade yourself that after all it’s only a holiday, only a place you will have visited. How do I explain to you what you are already beginning to sense, that you may indeed go home, tomorrow, the day after, but now you will never leave West Cork?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dirty Projectors - "Stillness is the move", Chic in Dublin & chasing the dragon

It seems like a long time since I enthused about Chic's epic performance at Electric Picnic 09. Well it turns out - they are coming back.

Chic play Tripod, Dublin, Friday 28th May 2010. Tickets available as of this morning through monopolising rip-off service ticketmaster. Despite my concerns that following EP this gig would immediately sell out the second it went on sale at 9am, and harbouring reservations that I might negligently be swapping the righteous funk of Nile Rodgers for bacon and sausage, I still stopped on the way to work for 4 minutes to grab a breakfast roll. Thankfully the trotters of fate intervened, and shortly after 9 I was able to secure the priceless tickets.

Having found out a day or two before (thanks to the Rathcoole hubcap appropriation loyal), I had a day to engage in something of a philosophical dilemma. On one hand - the hand wringing itself with existential angst - when you have only experienced something one time, and the experience has been as near-perfect as the Chic happening of EP09, is the only way to respect and protect that perfect experience to avoid attempting to repeat it?

On the other hand - the hand of realism - if a band is that amazing, and you wouldn't go see them again - what would you ever willingly do twice?

Realism, hope, and the impossible dream won the argument. Come May 2010, I will be chasing the Chic dragon.

Which brings me in a sudden and unlinked way to something musical but very different indeed.

While perusing my favourite ex-colleagues music and technology based column, Riot Gear, I stumbled across a review of a band I'd never heard of, called Dirty Projectors. Intrigued, I did a little digging.

It seems like la projectors are a bit of an oddball art/vocal project from New York city - a guy called Dave Longstreth running the show, Brian Mcomber on drums, Nat Baldwin on bass, and three wonderfully gorgeous girls (Haley Dekle, Amber Coffman, and Angel Deradoorian) singing harmony vocals which are alternately entrancing, enticing, intriguing, and occasionally terrifying.

As all music reviewers know, the best and fairest way to describe acts is as a metaphorical artistic collision of totally unrelated other acts. (That's sarcasm, incase you weren't sure). So, in keeping with the tradition, Dirty Projectors strike me as an oddball collision of Bjork, The Corrs, and the Beta Band. Stick that one in your metaphorical pipe and smoke it.

So here's the official video for "Stillness Is The Move" - a video that added heavily to the Beta Band element in my imagined metaphorical smashup. In the vid they're up a hill, the main man is alternatively leading some sort of yak-type animal around, or standing on a rotating platform playing a vintage/ethnic stringed guitary sort of thing. I'd call it a zither, but I googled zither and confirmed it's not one. It still sounds a bit zithery though.

Anyway, while he's playing the non-zither or leading the possibly-a-yak around, the three girls are singing like good things - either dressed in a white wraparound thingy and bridesmaid type dresses (not necessarily a bad thing), or medical-coloured MC-hammer cut overalls. The possibly-a-yak pops it's head up about 70 seconds in like it's wondering what the hell is going on. I know how it feels. There's a kind of wolf thing that appears - in fact there's more than one, and ultimately the girls end up taking the wolves for a bit of a run in the MC-hammer overalls.

It's great. I have absolutely no idea what any of it means, but the more you listen and watch, the better it gets.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scotland in November

Glencoe is my favourite car journey on earth.

Last week I was able to make the journey for the first time in several years, on a crisp November day that blended blinding winter sunshine with thick blankets of fog.

It was an unusual route for me, not starting from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Instead it was north from Fife, cutting west at Perth on the Loch Earn road. Socked in fog all the way down the valley with nothing but the babbling stream for company, we finally emerged after St Fillans down the side of Loch Earn itself into the blazing sunshine.

Looking south across Loch Earn, with the late morning sun lighting up trailing wisps of fog.

Turning back the way we came, this is east down Loch Earn with St Fillans eclipsed, and a think finger of fog floating west over the loch.

Back in the car, and further on we’re back into the fog, and then north through Crianlarich with the amazing scenery hidden behind an impenetrable veil. A few miles on at Tyndrum, the perishingly cold car park at the obligatory Green Welly Stop is just starting to hint that there are hills around.

The edge of Tyndrum sees the weather break again, and up here it turns out to be freezing fog, with all the trees within eyesight encased in a dense layer of frost.

Plants closer to the ground have really been getting the treatment.

Free of the fog and making the turn for Glencoe, there’s time for one last look back at Tyndrum, sitting encased in the cold.

Here, nearly three hours in, the proper journey begins. Dragging up the endless hill from Tyndrum, you immediately feel tiny skirting the immense wall that is Beinn Dorain. Then it’s on to a crest, cruising past Loch Tulla, and the train line departs on a massive detour (it can’t make the grades to come) – clanking across the little bridge, a sweeping bend, and now we’re really clambering hard up the side of a slope, until we reach the viewpoint short of the top.

Jumping out here (seriously windy, but not as cold as it was), the view is epic back towards Beinn Dorain and the loch.

This view always reminds me that I had the motorbike through Glencoe once – I remember driving back towards Tyndrum, waiting forever to get past a long line of cars and carvans, and finally making it past the last of them on the hill further down from this viewpoint – sweeping around the bend at the bottom, and then charging out ahead of everyone, thudding across the bridge (lower left in the picture above), and whistling away across the moor alone. Still the three best minutes of my motorcycling life.

Back in the car and beyond the viewpoint, the top of the hill takes you on to Rannoch Moor. No matter how many times I come over that rise, it is always like landing on the moon – one of the most desolate, bleak and awe-inspiring places I know.

A few miles across the moor and Buachaille Etive Mòr rears up - a heaving cone of rock marking the start of Glencoe proper.

The road skates around Buachaille Etive Mòr, and into the glen.

Glencoe itself is the most monstrous sweeping glen with the road taking cars like toys through it, hemmed in by mountains that become closer and more claustrophobic the further you head west. It’s a daunting and imposing place.

As you come to the most narrow section (the actual pass of Glencoe), you tread carefully down the hairpins and then you are out, easing down across the valley floor to the Atlantic and on to the shore of Loch Leven. Here’s Loch Leven as the sun comes up on a beautiful November morning, the mountains of Glencoe simmering in the clouds.

Often, we stop here – but this time it's pastures further west on our mind, so on we went. A few miles further on, the Corran Ferry plies endlessly forwards and backwards, bridging Loch Linnhe for those that want to head to Ardnamurchan.

If you ever get the chance, you do want to head to the empty and mighty spaces of Ardnamurchan. Here’s the Corran lighthouse at sunset, with the mountains of Ardnamurchan behind.

Past Fort William and the brooding hulk of Ben Nevis, the Road to the Isles begins properly, darting west to Glenfinnan at the ridiculously scenic head of Loch Sheil.

Further on, you move up and over hills again, passing Loch Eilt – which was so still on our mid-day return trip, it was like polished glass.

A few miles further on, we’re finally descending out of the hills for the last time to the sea again, where rough and wild rocky countryside meet several miles of the most amazing tiny silver sandy beaches, and the small islands of Eigg and Rùm peeking out of the rain offshore offset the brooding cloud-shrouded presence in the distance of the Cuillin on Skye.

And here, finally, is where my new favourite hotel is.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Certain adverts from your youth stick with you - and none stuck with me more than this one.

Notwithstanding the fact that Tennents is drinkable but pretty ropey lager, years later, this ad still sums up pretty much how I feel every time I'm in London - and as the guy walks out on Princes Street under the castle, it sums up pretty much how I feel every time I get back to Scotland.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Aslan - "Jealous Guy"

Aslan have been around for ages in Dublin - something of an Irish institution. Apparently they were on the brink of breaking America with one of their best albums, and pretty much on the eve of the tour the entire band self-destructed, including lead singer Christy Dignam zipping off into something of a heroin habit.

Now, I went to see them a year or two back in Dublin at the mighty Vicar Street (one of my favourite venues in the world as it happens) - and what an experience it was - they're an absolutely brilliant live band. As I've opined before on here, I think in live music the difference between great and not-great is often the believability of the folks up on stage doing it. You can be technically brilliant, note perfect, but still look like you're up there either giving a music masterclass, or just going through the motions. But it's different when you have people who are absolutely, utterly believable, who really appear to be living the music. Dignam has as they say been around the block ("we never sold out" as he pointed out to the crowd - I can't imagine who he's referring to!), and whether that adds to the authenticity factor is an argument all of it's own.

What I can say is that you can feel the difference when someone who is that convicted by their music steps on stage. They aren't singing the track - they are singing to you.

Here's one from this year - a cover of Jealous Guy by John Lennon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Freefall and denial in the Irish Housing Market

The Irish housing market (and the ongoing attendant commentary) is pretty interesting.

I purchased a house with my better half (deciding that we couldn't wait forever) early in 2006. As luck would have it, that turned out to be very shortly before the peak of a historically insane price bubble, which is now in the process of bursting in an extended and messy fashion. They say the secret of comedy is in the timing.

Since 2006 or 2007, there's been an ongoing fall in the value of houses here, but recently there's been intermittent talk of green shoots of recovery, a bottoming out, a slowing down in the rate of descent (you always know you're in trouble when things getting worse at a slower rate is presented as an improvement), the start of a recovery etc etc.

For some reason connected no doubt to my interest in economic trends, statistics, truth, and a desire to view life-changing financial crisis through the prism of small, cute coloured Excel graphs, I started tracking the asking prices in our immediate neighbourhood in September 2006, about 6 months after we purchased.

Since then, every month (or thereabouts), I tap in the asking price for every house in about a half-mile radius that is on the market. While this doesn't give an accurate picture of prices achieved, it's a good guide to the trend. You can also make a reasonable assumption that when prices are falling, the achieved prices are below the asking price, and the opposite when prices are rising - in other words, the achieved price most likely drags the asking price around kicking and screaming behind it.

So based on the figures I have for my own area of Dublin (old settled low-density ex-council estate close to the town centre, for those seeking Irish context), from Sept 2006 to October 2009, here is what has happened.

Asking prices stalled in summer-autumn 2006, and remained static until Feb 07, when I recorded the first fall in my area. (My guess: achieved sale prices stalled somewhere around summer 06, and started to fall back prior to that Christmas.)

Between Feb 07 and May 08 asking prices fell slowly and steadily, shedding around 8.6% from the peak during this 15-month period (averaging a 0.7% drop per month).

Something went seriously to hell in spring 08, because around May prices started falling off a cliff. In the 17 months from May 08 to Oct 09, asking prices dropped 31% from the May 08 figure (averaging a 2.5% loss every month).

So where are we now?

Well my figures from the official asking prices (which come from a variety of estate agents) say this: we are currently in a situation as of Oct 09 where asking prices are 39% off their late 06 peak. So the next time you hear a news item telling you that house prices might fall by up to 40%, it's worth remembering that in reality, they already have. Not only that, there's nothing in the figures I've collected in my area to even hint that there's a floor in sight - the asking prices this month have fallen as much as any other month in the last 12.

Apart from the rash of unemployment in Ireland, a major reason for the continued express-elevator treatment house prices are undergoing, is the fact that the banks have abused their position as lenders, speculated wildly in markets and products in which they had no understanding of the risks, and now we the public are supposed to be paying through our taxes to keep them afloat.

As a result of the fact that the banks and financial houses are sitting on a carelessly stacked wobbling deck of completely opaque financial products, nobody knows where all the debt is. It's sort of like playing pass the parcel where everyone has a parcel, and a few of the parcels have booby-trapped bombs inside - except nobody playing the game thought to check before starting. The music has stopped, everyone has been left holding a package, and nobody wants to open theirs. Everyone wants to pass their package on, but nobody wants to take anybody else's. Endless stalemate - and the dissipation of trust that results means that the banks are not lending anything, to anybody.

In short, the banks totally irresponsible game of pass-the-parcel in the hope of astronomical profits has led them into a cul-de-sac where they are terrified to loan to anyone - they may need all the cash they can possibly lay their hands on when they are finally forced to take their grubby little grabbing hands and open their little parcels.

Without banks prepared to loan, there can be no mortgage approvals. Without mortgage approvals, the only way is down.

Minus 39 percent, and falling...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Carl Craig - At Les

There have been many good electronic records, but I'm not sure that anyone has ever written one greater than Carl Craig's Detroitian masterpiece "At Les".

I've lost count of how many times I've listened to this tune, and it still never fails to blow me away. A grumbling breathy 5th counterpointing the sighing chords, the most subtle of lower notes here and there, a tough pinned down synth eventually riveting the beats in to place to prepare for the shuffling quasi-acoustic breakbeats, electronic china cymbals heralding the arrival of a buried kick drum - and that haunting wind motif falling, falling, falling...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Timewriter - Flicking Pages

Something about the Friday tune is becoming a bit too structured for me - the output here is supposed to be slow and random, and having a weekly predictable post on the same day every week seems to fly in the face of both slowness and randomness in the output stakes.

But then I heard the latest mix from Mick Chillage, and this track stood out so heavily that I couldn't let it go. The Timewriter, who I'd never heard of before - seems to have a fairly impressive career in spitting out tracks and releases, and after hearing this track on Mr Chillage's mix, it shouldn't come as any suprise to find Mr Writer with top friends on Myspace including David Alvarado. It's that sort of sensuous super-deep powerful sound.

Anyway here's the track. A little introduction, and then the most mindblowingly powerful deep block chords, ultimately backed up with some vocal wisdom being intoned. I'm not that mad a fan of the listen-to-me vocal stuff, although I do make exceptions - and this is one of them. I can't help but think that Kevin Saunderson discovered something special when he stuck those solid drone basses over thudding house beats - particularly thudding, mid-tempo, strident house beats. (Strident house is in fact a term I've coined in my own head, in a vain attempt to capture some of what it is that makes Orde Meikle's DJing so special).

In any case, this is the destructive groove of E-Dancer Saunderson combined with the oceans-deep atmospherics of Alvarado at his best. Deep, powerful, emotional late-night material.

5am moment anyone?

As we begin to grow older - life is not the same...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Maurizio - M4 (M)

Friday, and another epic slab from the Basic Channel vaults. This time, it's the ultra minimal M4, part of a chain of M-numbered releases on the suitably titled BC-offshoot label, 'M'.

It's another one that I couldn't really get my head around at first, but the more you listen, the more amazing this record becomes. The two wobbling and chugging main synth sounds come and go in washes of delay and filtering, twisting in and out of each other in an endless dance that initially seems like a one bar loop, but slowly reveals itself to be a constantly contorting reimaging of itself.

A crisp offbeat hihat and a backbeat clap provide the upper drumbeats. The clap in itself you could be studying all day - it has a perplexing ambience going on - not only does it sound like it's a little way back from you, but it's got this strange feeling that it's round a corner or something, although it's actually panned dead centre. It's almost like there's an obstruction directly in front of you, and the clap is coming from just behind that. How did he manage that?

As for the kick drum, it effortlessly outclasses any rivals. An unremarkable thud (or so it seems) is articulated by a deep tuned bass note, and the combination of the two together makes the entire beat push and pull and give and take.

The end result, is an incredibly powerful, hypnotic work in minimalism. And if you think it's good over headphones, you need to try it over a big club system.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

All under control?

One thing I've been trying to work out for a good long time, is how to track all the little tasks I have at work. User Interface is a huge issue for me (maybe I should have made that my line of work), so bear with me.

I find computers painfully slow to use - there's generally just too much clutter between you and what you're trying to do, and (for me) anything that slows down the process just makes it frustrating, which generally ends up in poorer results. So one thing I've been looking for is a kind of task-organiser.

The problem is, I want to have my cake and eat it - effectively, I want several things. I want to be able to have a sort of top-level overview of the tasks I have on, where everything is very clean and very simple. And I want to be able to change and reorder the tasks at will, without 'editing' the tasks in a computer, changing a value field, or anything. Effectively, I want to be able to physically change the order they appear in, just by dragging and dropping.

If that was all it was, and I was less worried about interface, then my ideal thing to use would be the old-school air traffic control strips system - an actual physical 'to do' list. These strips seem to me like the ultimate quick and dirty, always-visible, immediately-resortable list system, and whatever bright ideas I have, I keep coming back to thinking about some physical variant on this system.

However, it would be great if I could somehow harness the power of the computer (seeing as I have to use the infernal things all day anyway), and make it a bit more powerful and flexible. In other words, could I have a top-level list in a flight-strip format, that was draggable and droppable in any order I wanted, but also let me 'explode' a task, to show a much more complex table of tasks beneath?

One program that I am perpetually in love with, is Filemaker Pro. Not being technically a database programmer, this is probably the greatest software aid to everything that I do at work. I keep customer lists on it, personal contact lists, a stock database system for spare parts (that shows stuff like monthly run rates, estimated time in weeks to part number depletion at current rates of consumption), all sorts of stuff. FMP is really databases for dummies, and anyone with the slightest computer competence can learn the basics on it really fast. Plus, it's extremely visual, and extraordinarily fast to use, two of my big bugbears. The problem with it is, despite the fact it's visual, I can't just drag and drop records around the screen willy-nilly (as you could with physical flight progress strips). I still need to predetermine the layout, and then stick with that when I'm using it. I can change the layout whenever I want, but I don't want to have to redesign the layout, just to drag some tasks around the screen - so it's missing that final top-level near-freeform physical interaction that I'm looking for - in the version that I currently have, at least.

So I went on a search about a month ago, to see if anyone else has solved this problem. I found a few things.

Firstly, I found RIPT. This is basically a digital scrapbook, and it really does answer the very top-level of my problem - being able to engage in freeform dragging around of notes, and organising things in that way. Unfortunately, it's not cut out for the other end of my organisational problems - that is, expanding much beyond a 'heading' on the scrap of paper, and there's no way to link records, because all you're collecting is scraps of text or pictures. So good on the top-level UI, but no guts underneath it all - effectively, RIPT is the 'missing piece' for me in Filemaker, but there's no way to marry them together.

So... next - a little app called Goal Enforcer. I wasn't so keen on the name - it sounds a little bit domineering for my liking, but I tried it anyway. Goal Enforcer is more of a "linked bubbles" type of task manager, and while it is visual (you put your tasks in bubbles), it's a bit to rigid for my liking. Plus, you have to have links between bubbles (what if I just want to have a free floating bubble I drag around some place?), and even worse - it's very much deadline-oriented. I don't need my deadlines enforced, I just need to be able to see what is going on thanks.

So, on to the last of my current search - the Brain. (You wouldn't be the first to suggest that this is the software I've always needed). The Brain is more of a kind of loose relationship-based idea management software, where you generate bubbles of sorts (like goal-enforcer), that are then linked to other bubbles. The nice thing about the Brain is that the links can be in multiple directions, there's no obligation to have deadlines (woohoo!), and even nicer, there's a kind of visual 'radar' function which allows you to see only on the next couple of levels up and down from where you are. This means as you click on bubbles to take you further into a task as it's broken up, the stuff back up at the top level disappears from the screen. So you only see the stuff around the level you are on - either top level tasks when you're up at the top, or stuff 'inside' a task when you delve in. It's a neat way of doing it, and it looks very much like it is based on the old Visual Thesaurus, which had an even nicer UI.

Overall, the Brain is the best top-level "task manager" program I've come by so far. However it's got drawbacks too. For one thing, despite the really friendly UI, you lose all that power that you get from a database engine like Filemaker when you want to really get inside a task. Secondly, you can't have free-floating ideas, like the air traffic control strips. What if I just want to rip out a bubble and put it to the side for a day - in sight, but not in a list? What if I want a bubble that's not linked to anything, but just hanging around?

In other words, I've yet to find the solution for organising that I need. But someone out there, surely, has done something which marries powerful organised database functions to a chaotic, freeform drag-and-drop UI. That's possible. Isn't it?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Lisbon 2

Ok I'm stumped.

For those that don't know, today is the second referendum on the proposal that Ireland sign up to the Lisbon Treaty, which is a European wide treaty. It's worth mentioning at this point that it's an absolute and utter disgrace that a second referendum be held on the same treaty, with the same question to the population only 1 year after the Irish were asked the first time. There was a valid referendum, to which a valid answer was given on a high turnout - to be ignoring that outcome and asking the Irish people to vote again is only a tiny step above outright fixing of the first vote on the scale of democratic abuses.

Deep breath, calm down. Ok.

Those that are for the treaty say it will safeguard jobs and workers rights, stop human trafficking in the EU, rescue Ireland from recession, and generally hold off the threat of Europe hating us at any point soon. Those against it say it will increase military spending, break trade barriers, lower worker rights and protections, and generally mean the end of all good life as we know it.

I find it hard to trust either side to be honest (although I'd without a doubt come down on the 'No' side if I had the choice to make).

The greatest conundrum I have with Lisbon is this: Michael O'Leary (head of Ryanair), has reportedly spent half a million Euros supporting the "Yes" side. Now, Michael O'Leary wouldn't spend one of George Galloway's thin dimes on a life jacket if one of his planes was going down in the Irish Sea and he thought he had a chance of swimming to shore for free. What does this mean? It means that when O'Leary is prepared to blow half a million Euros on what is seemingly a political event, something very very big is up.

I can't figure it out - what is there hidden in this treaty, that makes O'Leary so desperate to see it go through?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nuyorican Soul - "It's Alright, I Feel It"

Back in 1997 peerless NYC production and DJing duo Kenny "dope" Gonzales and "Little" Luis Vega (aka Masters at Work - also responsible for the epic Sensational Beats) put together a project with the best musicians they could lay hands on.

Nuyorican Soul the album is amazing from start to finish, but one of the standout tracks (and a massively popular dancefloor track to this day), is "It's alright, I feel it". In truth, if you want to hear it in the best possible context, you have to listen to the album, where it's preceded by another amazing track: "Black gold of the sun". The genius in this part of the album is that there is no gap between these two tracks, but a continuous segue - the brooding slow shuffling groove of Black gold of the sun sort of dissolves in a pool of piano tones from which emerges the euphoric chords of "It's alright, I feel it". The best bit is, the chords are exactly the same in both tracks - it's almost like two completely twists on the same track. It's almost the same track, except it's definitely not. Both tunes are incredible, but that junction between the two songs is a rarity in modern music, and it's one of Masters at Work's finest moments.

I can't embed it (why not? Universal Music Group says so!). But I can link to the official youtube upload.

So here is the second track in that magical sequence, in it's glorious euphoria. Get up and shake it.

It's alright - I feel it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chic - "Good Times"

Happy Friday.

6 days later, and it feels like they came off stage 5 minutes ago. I can't remember any gig that ever had this impact on me.

If you're not sure why, read the last post. Otherwise, just play the tune - the answers are all the same.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chic, Billy Brag, and Electric Picnic 2009

Last Friday was the first one in a while with no Friday tune – the reason being that I was out of town, visiting Electric Picnic in County Laois. If there was a weblink for County Laois, I'd link it - but Laois isn't that sort of place.

I haven’t been to a festival for years – in fact I haven’t stayed as a punter overnight at a festival ever (only when I’ve been working) so it was interesting to see it from the other side.

The EP forums show a mixture of reviews, from great reviews of bands to dodgy reviews of the sound on some stages, and some concerns that there were less random art happenings going on than recent years, prices of food were high, the bad weather was dealt with too little and too late, and security was arbitrary and didn’t seem knowledgeable. Some of these things, EP may have to look at for next year – particularly some unsavoury crowd elements who people seemed to think were a bit more in evidence this year than last year. The beauty of the festival is that it’s not like rival festy Oxygen - it's more chilled, more arty, appears less commercially inclined, and has a friendlier crowd - they need to work hard to keep it that way. Reducing the capacity slightly, and turning the lineup slightly more non-mainstream might be a couple of subtle ways they can influence the crowd that are attracted.

That said, I had a great time. Great music, good sound if you stood in half-sensible places, lots of different stuff going on (like the tent with the Hookah on the right - I didn't get a Hookah, but we did grab some Brandy Chais later on Sunday when the relentlessness started to tell), and what I thought was reasonably priced food etc. I would also say that the €3 deposit on the plastic beer glasses was a brilliant judgment – I didn’t see one left around all weekend, so loud applause on that front.

Another great thing is being with an Irish crowd, particularly at a 'boutique' festival like this - it's very, very friendly even when it's massive. Generally, it's just lots of people having a great time.

To the music, and first up was Lykke Li. I’d never seen her before, and she was wearing some weird black thingy that didn’t really stick out in a dark tent with a dark background, but… she was really good live. Fascinating tunes (she’s a bit nuts), loads of energy, and really interesting. She’s got a mad haunting voice. I’d go see her again in a second.

Then we caught a bit of Seasick Steve on the main stage. The main stage didn’t work quite as well as the tents – the atmosphere wasn’t contained and amplified in the same way, which may have been something to do with the weather not being amazing, but he’s got mad energy and is a lot of fun.

Next up were Rodrigo y Gabriela, a duo from Mexico City with amazing acoustic guitar skills. They had the tent up and rocking, although for some reason I couldn’t quite put my finger on, it didn’t feel quite right. I think it’s that they would have been much better in a smaller venue – there was a weird mismatch between the music and the size of the tent, and it didn’t ever sit quite right, despite the fact that they were great.

Last act I grabbed on Friday night was Orbital, who somehow I’ve managed to avoid seeing live for the last 10-15 years. A properly seminal duo from the fledgling UK house scene of the late 80s and early 90s, they backdropped broken jackhammer machine beats with surprisingly melodic weaving synthlines, and it was this accessible sound that helped them to propel house and techno into the consciousness of the public at large. They were good, very slick, and played all the big tunes. My only problem with them now is that they are living off a back catalogue from a decade ago. It’s already a bit nostalgic for a music act - they need to write some new tunes, or they will turn into a touring glass museum case. And they should write some new tunes, because they do the live electronics thing more engagingly than nearly anyone else when they are on it. Here’s vintage Orbital – booked as the first ‘dance’ act ever to headline at Glastonbury in 1994, they shredded the place. Amazing times - this is "Chime"...

Apart from that, I saw a tiny bit of Madness on the main stage, who were doing the Madness thing – you’d probably have to be down the front for it really to work. Or perhaps better weather would have yielded a more Madness-friendly atmosphere...

Practically my only must-see of the weekend was Billy Brag, and I managed to see his entire set. He was as usual, direct (just him and a guitar), soulful, and of course had a little bit of politics sprinkled about, including a couple of digs at the second Irish vote on the European Lisbon treaty that’s upcoming, a vote of confidence on Obama’s ability to deliver universal health care, and loads of other stuff. And as usual, he was absolutely brilliant – I just never get tired of seeing him and listening to him.

Here’s Billy playing at SXSW, with a nearly completely rewritten version of “Great Leap Forwards” for the US audience. He lasts on the original for about one verse, and then suddenly he’s off into military spending, universal healthcare, double standards in democratic participation and media complicity. Mostly without missing a beat on the guitar either.

Billy Brag is a legend, and he's a knowledgeable and an active one at that. An inspiration.

Saving the best till last – playing inside a huge tent on Saturday evening, were Chic.

There’s not much I can find to say about this – they were one of the most amazing bands I’ve ever seen. Masses of people on stage, phenomenal singers, great drums and bass, horns, seriously funky guitar, and I’ve nearly never heard a band sounding so tight and rehearsed – they had it nailed.

And the back catalogue – to die for. Chic were famous for their hits “Le Freak” and my personal favourite “Good Times”, (which in it’s later sampled format helped the Sugarhill Gang drag hip-hop off the block and launch it kicking and screaming into the stratosphere with the outrageous sampling lift that was “Rappers Delight”). But aside from music that Chic actually recorded, they also produced the Sister Sledge album “We are family”, Diana Ross’ “Diana” (featuring the stunning ‘Upside Down’), David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” (could they write basslines or what?!), Duran Duran, Madonna. On and on it goes.

And they played half of these in the tent. We are family, Upside Down, Let’s Dance, Le Freak, Good Times, just insane. They were instrumental in disco, one of their tracks helped put hip-hop where it is, and together with Bootsy, Kraftwerk, Roland and Yamaha, they are partially responsible for birthing house and techno. It’s long past time for Chic to get some serious recognition.

So seeing as a nice person already has it up on youtube, here (while it lasts) is a recording from inside the tent. The camera mic clearly isn’t up to the bass, but you get the picture.

And dance we did. We all did. Come back Chic…

Friday, August 28, 2009

Schatrax - "Aliena's Journey"

There's an interesting conversation going on over at Little Detroit at the moment, regarding the benefits or otherwise of faceless or anonymous artists, something which has long happened in dance music.

I'm not sure how I feel about it - on the one hand, some labels (and it's difficult not to think of the peerless Underground Resistance and related labels when talking about this) have made some astonishing music working behind anonymous artist monikers.

But often some of the greatest music has been written by people not even working behind artist aliases, but behind label aliases, with not even a hint of which or how many artists were involved.

One of my favourite of these labels was Schatrax, which (as well as being one of the coolest sounding label names ever) over the mid-90s issued 10 separate releases, all simply labelled with the Schatrax logo, and with tracknames scratched into the runout groove. I stumbled into one of the releases at the late vinyl section of Fopp on Byres Road, Glasgow back when Lars lka Funk D'Void was doing the ordering. I was instantly hooked on the Schatrax sound, and I think it's one of only three or four labels I ever deliberately collected every release on.

With loping synthetic drums, immensely warm but lonesome synth textures, and a big sense of techno soul, Schatrax was probably one of my favourite labels of all time.

Here, from the final release of the original 10, is "Aliena's Journey".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Glenn Underground - "Beyond"

Another one from the Chicago Relief/Cajual stable - this one from the more housey Cajual side. It's a lot happier than the tracks I normally play (it's got a trumpet tune of sorts!), but there's just no arguing with how good it is. I do find it a bit scary that this was released in 1995 - it seems odd that tracks this vital should be nearly 15 years old, but I guess time stands still for noone.

This was a huge tune down at the Sub Club in Glasgow back in the day, and it really fits that small special place perfectly. Deep as you like, with synths (sounds like FM to me) that alternatively circle and break in to huge stabbing breaks, hanging string lines, a great portamento synth lead line, and what can only be described as a bumping house beat. It's amazing for lifting an atmosphere anywhere - club, bar, party - and if you can stay up long enough in any location, then this track somehow perfectly bottles that sensation of dancing into a new day while the rest of the world is asleep. A perfect sunrise record.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beyond reasonable doubt in Scotland

Today, the Scottish Justice Secretary announced that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man jailed for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was to be released “on compassionate grounds”. After serving years in jails in Scotland al-Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, will fly home to die.

Who coordinates how public discourse is shifted? The news of his release happened only today, but already it is well established by the media that we are not to discuss whether he committed the crime in the first place, and we are not to discuss whether he should have been imprisoned. We are not to discuss the huge holes in the evidence, and we are not to discuss the fact that even a cursory reading of the judges verdict would have led you to believe that this man should never have been convicted.

The only question we are apparently supposed to discuss is: should this dying man have been released “on compassionate grounds”?

To assess how reliable the conviction was, it’s instructive to go back over excerpts from the transcript of the original trial verdict.

One of the key factors in the conviction of al-Megrahi was his identification by a Maltese shopkeeper called Tony Gauci. Gauci gave evidence that al-Megrahi purchased clothing from his shop, later allegedly found in close proximity to bomb components from flight 103. From the trial verdict (with my emphasis):
A major factor in the case against the first accused is the identification evidence of Mr Gauci. For the reasons we have already given, we accept the reliability of Mr Gauci on this matter, while recognising that this is not an unequivocal identification
In other words, the judges acknowledge the crucial importance of the identification by Tony Gauci (a Maltese Shopkeeper) of the accused, and then go on to say that while it is not an “unequivocal” identification, the judges accept its reliability. And why do they accept its reliability? From earlier in the judgement, they explain the sequence of events (edited here) with Mr Gauci that leads to them judging this identification as reliable:

Gauci is first interviewed by police on 1st September 1989, where he describes the gentleman he sold clothes to as 6 feet tall or greater, with a big chest and a large head. On 13th September. Gauci clarifies the man’s age as “about 50”. On 14th September, Gauci is shown 19 photographs, and he indicates that one of the photographs (which was not al-Megrahi) is of a man who appears “similar” to the man who purchased the clothes, but is too young. On 26th September, Gauci is shown 24 more photographs, and he indicates that the man he sold the clothes to is not present, but that one man in the photographs has the same shape of face and style of hair, and three other photographs are of men of the correct age. On 6th December, Gauci is shown another selection of photographs, and does not identify anyone from them. Some time around the end of 1989 or the beginning of 1990, Gauci’s brother shows him a newspaper article about the Lockerbie disaster, which contains the word “bomber” across a photograph of the wreckage of Pan Am 103. In the article are also images of two men – one of which was also marked with the word “bomber”. Gauci thought that one of the photographs showed the man who had purchased the clothes from his shop – the man he identified in the paper was Abo Talb. On 10th September 1990 (a year after the first interviews), Gauci is again shown 39 photographs, and does not identify anyone from these pictures – stating that he has never seen a photograph of the man who bought the clothing. On 15th February 1991 (a year and a half after the initial interviews), Gauci is shown 12 photographs, and says none of them are of the correct age. When asked by police to look carefully and allow for age difference, he pointed out one of the photographs, saying the face was “similar to the man who bought the clothing”. He also said “It’s been a long time now, and I can only say that this photograph 8 resembles the man who bought the clothing, but it is younger”. The policeman concerned (DCI Bell) later gave evidence that the person in photograph 8 was al-Megrahi.

So this is the eyewitness that is “reliable” in the opinion of the judges – an eyewitness who after at least 6 separate interviews and identification sessions, and being shown over 94 photographs over a period of 17 months, is only able to say that a single face is “similar”, and “resembles” a man who bought clothing in his shop. On this account, the entire case hangs.

So how were the judges able to take this “reliable” account, and plug it in to a watertight prosecution case?

From the judgement again (with my emphasis):
From his [Gauci’s] evidence it could be inferred that the first accused was the person who bought the clothing which surrounded the explosive device. We have already accepted that the date of purchase of the clothing was 7 December 1988, and on that day the first accused arrived in Malta where he stayed until 9 December. He was staying at the Holiday Inn, Sliema, which is close to Mary’s House. If he was the purchaser of this miscellaneous collection of garments, it is not difficult to infer that he must have been aware of the purpose for which they were being bought. We accept the evidence that he was a member of the JSO, occupying posts of fairly high rank. One of these posts was head of airline security, from which it could be inferred that he would be aware at least in general terms of the nature of security precautions at airports from or to which LAA operated… It is possible to infer that this visit under a false name the night before the explosive device was planted at Luqa, followed by his departure for Tripoli the following morning at or about the time the device must have been planted, was a visit connected with the planting of the device.
In other words, al-Megrahi could be the person that purchased the clothing. And he was staying in Malta, close to the clothes shop. And if he bought the clothes that ended up in the bomb, he probably knew about the bomb. He might know about general security arrangements at “airports”. It’s possible his visit to Malta was connected with the planting of the device [bomb].

Do the words “beyond reasonable doubt” keep ringing in the ears of anyone except me?

A matter of perspective

I've a habit of keeping half an eye on the NHC site from June to November. I don't know why - there's something fascinating about the genesis of hurricanes, and the way they track across the oceans, rising and falling in strength, appearing, disappearing, occasionally reforming, and so on.

Anyway I was checking out Hurricane Bill this morning (a juicy cat. 4 hurricane), which having crossed the Atlantic westwards as a depression from Cape Verde (actually part of a tropical wave, but let's not be picky), is currently veering North-Westwards in front of the Leeward Isles, and looks like it's going to spin offshore right up the East Coast of the US. Incidentally, this track is ideal for spewing out high-quality swell on to the East Coast of the States - and what made me laugh this morning was the difference in the take on this depending on where you read about it.

The NHC's latest bulletin (my italics) warns:
Anyway, what made me laugh was a trip over to Magic Seaweed to check out how the forecast for Europe is shaping up. And so how did MSW herald the potential arrival of the "extremely dangerous surf" and "life-threatening rip currents"?


Friday, August 14, 2009

Percy Grainger - "Irish Tune from County Derry"

This is a departure, but it's a deserving one.

Back in school, we had a couple of regional bands, and one of the tunes we played was Percy Grainger's masterpiece "Irish Tune from County Derry", known world wide as "Danny Boy".

Here's a rendition by the Illiana Wind Ensemble in Illinois that's very similar to the wind orchestra version that we did. After running through about 20 youtube versions, I chose this one for several reasons. Firstly, it doesn't involve strings, and I think strings strangely take away from this piece. Secondly, the balancing of the instruments is really nice on this version - some of the others are bit brash. It's not quite as buttery smooth as I remember us playing it, but that might be rose tinted spectacles, or it might be down to us having the most astounding conductor who gave me (and hopefully everyone else) a sense of grasping for perfection in a way that nobody else ever has.

Or it might be the phrasing - and for that, this is the best performance of it that I can find by a mile. I remember our conductor actually instructing us that he wanted us all to take a sniff at the end of the long phrases, and really put that silent gap in on the first beat of the bar. I think he actually started us sniffing out loud, then told us to do it silently later - and you can really feel that gap here, like a chunk of silence driven right through the heart of the music. It makes it special.

And finally, the whole piece has great shape. It's one of the recurring themes I keep coming back to across all genres of music - is there shape? Is it going anywhere? Well this does, and it does it subtly, gently, despairingly and hopefully.

Here it is - four breathtakingly emotional minutes of an orchestra pleading with you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Green shoots, turkeys, and endless deleveraging

Back to the talk of “green shoots” in the economy – this is getting talked up a bit both in the US and Europe at the moment, and it’s worth taking a look at how valid it might be.

Counterpunch and many of the writers on it have really been hitting the nail on the head the last couple weeks – start with Dave Lindorff, who explains that the collapse in house prices in the US has destroyed the equity that consumers were able to borrow against. In effect, much of the economic activity in the US in the last decade was spending done with borrowed money – money borrowed against houses on the understanding that the price rises would stick, and money borrowed on credit cards on the understanding that jobs could be used to pay off the balance down the road. Now that jobs are being shed indiscriminately, and the real estate market is shelled, how can real spending-driven economic activity recover?
Where is the consumer spending supposed to come from that used to represent a whopping 70% of economic activity in a United States that long ago stopped making things? The answer is: nowhere.
Lindorff also refers to the fact that consumers simply could not borrow if they wanted to – the banks are not lending. Do they know something they don’t want to tell us? Lindorff again (my bold):
That’s why card companies like American Express and many Visa and MasterCard issuers, instead of just charging a late charge when card-holders miss a monthly payment deadline as in the past, are now just jacking up the interest rate they charge, --in American Express’s case to 28% or over 2% a month! That’s not the action of a bank that is expecting to get repaid by a valued customer—it’s the extortionate action of a usurer that wants to extract as much money as possible from a borrower that it expects to have go bust.
The ever reliable Mike Whitney also talks eloquently about the Federal Reserve in the US pumping money in to banks with the full knowledge that this will likely result in stock market speculation, driving the recent rally in the States. This means that the run up in the stockmarket stateside is not based on any fundamentals (employment, housing market, spending by joe public) whatsoever, but is simply the government funnelling money to financial institutions knowing that it will likely end up in the stockmarket, inflating values against the fundamentals – a game that can have only one conclusion. To add to that, Whitney highlights another problem that has been bubbling under for some time now – that is the trouble that the US is starting to experience in getting foreign governments and central banks to participate in the auctions of US dollar bonds. This (auctioning off US government bonds) is how the US has been funding its astonishing national debt for some time now, but unfortunately it does require confidence on the part of foreign governments and investors that the dollar won’t collapse, rendering the bonds they have purchased near-worthless.

As the fundamentals of the US economy get in to worse and worse shape, the likelihood of a dollar collapse gets closer and closer. Foreign governments would prefer not to have a sudden dollar collapse – they (China particularly) have so much money tied up in the US that a sudden collapse would be catastrophic for them also, so there is an element of chicken and egg. However, while nobody wants to be the one to cause the panic and run for the exits first, people (similar to the end of a large sporting event) are starting to put their things in their pockets and silently slip on their coats, hoping that nobody notices and they can be out of the door before they get trampled in the stampede and lose everything. The day of reckoning comes ever closer.

Finally, Whitney talks here about the roots of the destruction of the US economy – something that should have resonance in every other economy with over-extended consumers, rising unemployment and a housing market crash (here’s looking at you Iceland, Ireland, the UK, Spain, Eastern Europe, who knows where else):
A careful reading of the FRBSF's Economic Letter shows why the economy will not bounce back. It's mathematically impossible. We've reached peak credit; consumers have to deleverage and patch their balance sheets. Household wealth has slipped $14 trillion since the crisis began. Home equity has dropped to 41 per cent (a new low) and joblessness is on the rise. By 2011, Deutsche Bank AG predicts that 48 per cent of all homeowners with a mortgage will be underwater. As the equity position of homeowners deteriorates, banks will further tighten credit and foreclosures will mushroom.
In other words, the borrow-to-spend game relied upon the public having confidence that they would have the money from a job to pay back the borrowings, and that they would remain in a position of strength to pay back their mortgage in a house rising in value. There is now no confidence, for many people there are no jobs, and for many there is nothing but a vast collapse in house prices.

It’s going to take a very long time for the public to start to pay off the debts that they have personally accumulated, and until that time, it seems unlikely that they will be willing to stimulate the economy by spending unnecessarily. The game is up.

On a related tip, there’s a slightly heavy but quite interesting article here by hotshot of the month Nassim Nicholas Taleb, exploring the limits of statistics as a tool and parts of life where statistics are used with disastrous results. It’s particularly interesting because he talks at length about banks using statistics methods to analyse risk, without really understanding the statistics or the risks.

Here’s his somewhat hilarious metaphor for a turkey using statistical methods incorrectly to analyse it’s own risk:
A Turkey is fed for a 1000 days—every days confirms to its statistical department that the human race cares about its welfare "with increased statistical significance".

On the 1001st day, the turkey has a surprise.
Which begs the question - if we are the turkeys, is day 1001 in our past - or is it still to come?