In rotation

Not much to say these days (i.e., too freakin’ busy to think!), but here are a few songs in rotation, in case anyone’s interested:

  1. “Intervention” – Arcade Fire (in fact, the whole damn Neon Bible CD is brill)
  2. “Herculean” – The Good, The Bad and The Queen
  3. “Sea Legs” – The Shins
  4. “Muzzle of Bees” – Wilco
  5. “My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)” – The Ramones (Annabel absolutely loves the movie School of Rock and this great song is in it, which prompted me to look it out)

Always like to hear what other people are listening to, so feel free to fire away.


People who say, “I don’t watch a lot of TV, but did you see last night’s episode of . . .” are invariably in a state of denial. The truth is they watch as much TV as they possibly can. They love TV, but they hate admitting it.

I admit it: I really like “American Idol.” Sure, it’s full of treacly tunes and the whole thing is one giant money-making engine that started with “Pop Idol” in the UK and now is in just about every country with electricity on earth. You can hate it, but you have to admit that the talent is at times awesome. Everyone who has performed on a stage in front of a crowd – and just about every one of you have – knows just how hard it is to deliver a tune to the very best of your ability. And these people do it in front of a gazillion viewers. They have my and my six-year-old daughter’s unconditional admiration. (By the way, my money is on Gina to win it all.)

The judging system is what got me thinking. The panel of three judges provides additional drama with their camped-up bickering and disputes. They (and I’m sure an army of other judges we never see) decide who gets to “go to Hollywood” for the final rounds. Shortly thereafter, the judges give way to audience voting, and it’s the audience that decides who stays, goes, and wins (although we never do see an audited third-party report of all those calls, do we?).

The three judges, though, offer their commentary and expert opinion after each performance, presumably to give the voting audience some guidance. This could work very well in certain piping, drumming or pipe band competitions. Choose the same panel of accredited judges, allow them to tell the audience what they thought of each performance. But then let the audience vote for the winners at the end of the event. It works well for a bazillion people watching “American Idol,” and there’s no reason it couldn’t work well for what we do.

St. Groundskeeper Willie Day

What a strange occasion is St. Patrick’s Day. Everybody loves the Irish and wants to be Irish for one day a year. Being Irish obviously means having a stinkin’ good time, listening to music, and toasting absent friends. In the US and Canada the night is always a money-maker for pipe bands and pipers, who are employed across the continent to provide Celtic music in a loud way.

Scotland just doesn’t seem to have the same thing. St. Andrew’s Day both in and outside of Scotland is celebrated mainly by the snobby country dancing set and St. Andrew’s “Societies” that cater to the upper-crust. The Toronto St. Andrew’s Society requires people buying tickets to their annual hoity-toity dance at the swishy Royal York hotel to take country dancing lessons before they can attend. What fun.

Burns Night is good, and any country that produced a poet that speaks to the world at large can’t be bad. Burns celebrated the common man and wine, women and song, so one would think that the night would be every bit as raucous as St. Patrick’s, but, sadly, it’s not so. It’s never caught on in a big way. (Picture Scots celebrating “Mark Twain Day” or “Robert Frost Night” to get the gist of what I mean.)

There’s the recently conjured “Tartan Day,” but it’s contrived. It just doesn’t have the same zippity-zing as being Irish for a day. Most people like tartan cloth – nice colours and all that, and every year at least one fashion pundit announces that “tartan is in” this spring/fall/winter. But I just don’t know how many people want to pretend that they’re Scottish.

Then again, every non-Scot seems to like to have a try at putting on a Scottish accent. But usually it’s in an angry, sweary brogue. TV commercials have always been rife with uppity Scotsmen going nuts over a spilled pint or wasting money. Groundskeeper Willie is a caricature of the stereotypical Scot in the eyes of North Americans. And who wants to be that, even for a day?