Thursday, 31 July 2008

Flower of Scotland

You can hum in the background if you want, but this is actually about the national flower, the thistle, seen here in front of the castle. If you were to take a couple of steps back, you would see this, unsurprising given that Alien Wally took both pictures on the same day. Indeed, nothing today met with the high standards required of pic of the day, and you're stuck with re-runs.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Go West

To South Queensferry, 20 minutes outside Edinburgh. Underneath the old rail bridge is an awesome pub (The Hawes Inn) which doesn't have this view from the windows, but if you step just outside the front door this is what you see.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Long Wait For Freedom

Mags has just informed MacNoodle that there are 16 sleeps left before access to "The Outside" becomes a reality. Alien Wally thinks this is all rather silly because, obviously, cats can't count.

Monday, 28 July 2008


A Scots word for the sea fog that creeps up the Forth and sometimes envelopes the city. If this word seems vaguely familiar to some of you, that's because its origins are Dutch. Alien Wally is not too sure how the leap was made from a Dutch word for hair to describing a meteorological phenomenon, but shall ask Mags after she has finished washing her hair with her new anti-frizz shampoo.

Tom Waits For No Man

But he did keep the audience waiting for half an hour. Nae bother. Heck, after 20 years, what’s an extra 30 minutes? Negligible, that’s what. Especially when the concert itself then proceeds to last a grand total of two and a half hours, which is probably about an hour longer than any other concert Alien Wally and Mags have ever been to.

Also unlike any other concert Alien Wally and Mags have ever been to, this was the first time they had ever seen an artist receive a standing ovation before he’d even sung a note. Mags had a brief moment of concern about this… what if Tom’s bourbon-addled brain got itself all confused and thought it was the end of the show rather than the beginning and he left the stage never to return?

Well, she needn’t have worried. Worrying is such a useless and silly activity to indulge in anyway. For one, Tom may have always wanted to be an old man, but he showed no sign of impending senility. Instead, he joined in the standing ovation with enthusiasm, egging the audience on to a resounding crescendo. For two, if reports are to be believed, Tom gave up drinking and smoking back when he married his wife in 1980, giving his brain 28 years of recovery time. During this time, instead of soaking up whisky, it seems that Tom’s brain has been soaking up random facts and trivia. Who knew that a Tom Waits concert could be educational as well as entertaining?!

And entertaining it was, as Tom stamped his feet vigorously in his “sandbox”, sending up clouds of dust with every beat. If it wasn’t for the opulent interior of the Playhouse, one could almost imagine that one was watching a wandering minstrel perform on a sawdust covered stage in a saloon in the old west. A wandering minstrel who got showered with glitter at the end of his performance.

Tom Waits’ voice really can’t be classified as beautiful in the usual sense of the word. And yet… it is. Alien Wally and Mags may be eating end-of-the-month-salticrax for the next year to pay for the tickets, but it was more than worth it for what is probably literally a once in a lifetime event. Alien Wally is to be congratulated for his fast keyboard/mouse combo actions that ensured not just tickets, but really good tickets, were obtained before they were all sold out 5 minutes after going on sale.

In conclusion... since from previous experience, Alien Wally and Mags now know that this question will come their way at some point, here is the pre-emptive answer to what to wear to a Tom Waits’ concert: Like Nick Cave, Tom Waits wears a suit on stage. That’s pretty much where the resemblance ends. One looks a bit like a sinister card-shark. The other looks like a hobo. Neither can be even remotely matched, so please don’t even try. If you must emulate something from Tom Waits’ wardrobe, the only permitted item is the hat. Just realise that you won’t be unique in this, as at least 50% of the audience is likely to have had the same great idea. Rather than trying to copy Tom Waits’ dress-sense, rather copy the principle behind it… express your soul in everything that you do, including the outfits that you wear. Even if said expression is “hobo”. You’ll be in good company.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Boldly Going

Where no Alien has been before, upstream from Dean Bridge along the Water of Leith. Pushing the envelope in the name of Pic of the Day, Alien Wally wheeled out his bicycle, and headed off on a completely new and uncharted cycling path, battling his way through clouds of midges and narrowly avoiding death with nasty, pointy teeth ("it is the rabbit!"), to bring you today's picture.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Festival 08

Across the road from Alien Wally's workplace, the real work is nearing completion as Edinburgh gears up for festival time

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Inverleith Park

A view across Stockbridge and New Town to the Castle, taken as Alien Wally veered wildly through the park while cycling home today.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Alien Wally's Pic Of The Day

Welcome to Alien Wally's pic-of-the-day series. Having been at a loss for words since October 2007, he has decided to give up and resort to pictures. He aims to publish a picture every day, however in a weasel move designed to ease the burden of having to take a picture every day, he reserves the right to occasionally post older photos as the mood (or weather) takes him.

In fact, just to ensure this right is understood, he's going to start by posting a picture taken yesterday, today.

This was taken on Alien Wally's lunchtime stroll up Calton Hill, about 15 minutes from his office. For those doubters out there, that is blue sky you can see, and the image was not digitally manipulated. Contrast this with earlier pictures of Calton Hill, also taken during one of Alien Wally's lunchtime strolls.

Disclaimer: it is likely that Alien Wally's ability to string words together to go with the photos will deteriorate as this series progresses. But then, this is the "Pic Of The Day", not the "Pic And Blurb Of The Day".

Sunday, 20 July 2008

How May We Be Of Excellent Service To You Today?

Alien Wally and Mags are nothing if not helpful folk. They hadn’t realised quite how helpful they were, however, until they looked at the keyword analysis* of the stats for this blog and saw the range of queries with which they’d assisted people over the past few months.

[*search terms that people have typed into Google, which have led them to this blog]

What (Not) To Wear:
A common concern amongst some folks appears to center on “what should I wear to Nick Cave” and “what to wear for Mark Knopfler concerts”. Now, Alien Wally and Mags are a tad concerned that people are looking to an engineer and a woman who only owns five pairs of shoes and shops but twice a year for fashion advice, but they’re willing to rise to the challenge. Their considered advice: jeans. Well, Mark Knopfler was wearing them, and it would just be rude not to follow his style cues. Nick Cave, on the other hand, wasn’t wearing them. But then, he and The Bad Seeds should really be the only people in the room wearing suits.

Tide Timetables For Cramond:
As mentioned in the post on Cramond Island, the tide times on the ‘Net and at Cramond itself are not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Alien Wally and Mags advise going earlier and being prepared to leave later than the fuzzy logic of the printed times would have you believe. And, of course, remaining observant of what the water and other folks are doing. If you ignore others leaving the island in droves and the causeway steadily disappearing under the water and you get stuck on the island overnight… well, don’t come a’crying to us. Consider yourself warned.

How To Pronounce “Fionnphort”:
Finn-a-fort. Now you, too, can sound like a local.

Captain James Blunt:
Yes, Alien Wally and Mags love James Blunt’s music. But, this blog is probably not the best place to come if you’re looking for in-depth information on the erstwhile Captain. To the many folk who arrived at this blog looking for more than our little snippet of information on the concert we attended, we apologise for disappointing you. To the rest, we hope we have been of excellent service today and look forward to assisting you more in the future!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

True Love

Overheard in the Wally abode last weekend, while watching the TV broadcast of the Scouting For Girls set at T In The Park:

Mags (M): They’re doing the same song again.
Alien Wally (AW): No, they’re not! What song are you talking about?
M: The one they did a little while ago. I don’t know the words, but the chorus goes something like “na na na heartbeat!” It’s the same song… listen, here comes the chorus….

Band launches into a chorus completely different to “na na na heartbeat!”

Long pause as Mags assimilates this.

M: Well, it sounds the same. Different words, but it sounds the same.
AW: You know, it’s a good thing we’re not actually at T In The Park right now. You’d be singing “na na na heartbeat!” loudly, and there’d be an ever-widening circle around you as people back away slowly.
M: Ha!
AW: I’d be in your ever-widening circle, though. I wouldn’t abandon you. I’d have a video camera handy and I’d be taking a video for YouTube, but I’d so totally be in your ever-widening circle with you.