Cool Taxidermy
Posted on Nov 23rd, 2010 by Alan @ 4:09 pm

If money was no object, I’d buy all 3 of these:

Brewdog’s “The End Of History”

A £500 bottle of beer served by it’s own furry wee waiter!

The Piglet Bank

An actual piggy bank!

Wild Grey Squirrel On A Vespa Scooter

It does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a wild grey squirrel on a vespa. You, know, a scooter? Grrrrnnn-grrrrrnnn-grrrrnnnnn?
Also available: Wild Grey Squirrel Playing a Piano, Wild Grey Squirrel On A Horse, Wild Moles Cheating at Cards, and much much more!

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Music To Run To
Posted on Nov 16th, 2010 by Alan @ 11:55 pm

I’ve got a wee bit obsessed with running recently… I’ve been an occasional runner for a few years, since being press-ganged into doing a leg of the Edinburgh Relay Marathon with my brother and a couple of buddies, but decided to step things up a notch a couple of months ago (as a way of battling the waistline if I’m honest). I set myself the goal of running a half marathon sometime in the first half of next year, and then decided to do it as a fundraiser for Homeless World Cup – I’d like to go across to Paris in August to help out with the event, and they ask volunteers to raise enough money to pay for players to get there.

I couldn’t do this without the help of Runkeeper, an iPhone app that tracks your progress, and has recently introduced training programmes into their offer. I signed up for a half marathon challenge, and have to run 3 times a week to keep up with the programme – just now the emphasis is on increasing distance and endurance, rather than speed, and a couple of days ago I ran further than I’ve ever done before (my limit had been 10km). So it seems to be working!

While I run I have to listen to music, even though I’ve started to really enjoy running it’s just too boring to do it in silence. I stopped listening to my usual choice of music (progressive rock, post progressive and post rock, mainly) in favour of mashups a while back – they’re generally more upbeat, allow you to get a rhythm going in your stride, and there’s the element of surprise (I’ve downloaded over 1000 mashups over the years, so you never know what’s coming next). But I think I’ve found the ultimate running track… I went to see a band called Hidden Orchestra a few weeks back, I’ve no idea what genre anybody else would put them in but I think of it as “big beat jazz”. Their live show has two drummers, a violinist/keyboard player, and a bass guitar/keyboard player. Loads of samples in there too, making it a HUGE noise. The bass guitar/keyboard player is a guy called Joe Acheson, who seems to be the creative force in the band (they were previously called The Joe Acheson Quartet), and he put together a mixtape on the Paris DJs website showcasing a few tracks from the debut Hidden Orchestra album, along with a really interesting selection of other music. It’s got a mashup feel to it – I particularly love the sections that use tracks from Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album – and I listened to this for the first time while running the Winter Warmer 10k race (twice round the volcano before lunch!) in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago. It was the perfect soundtrack to the run. Listen to it here, and get hold of the Hidden Orchestra album here. If you’ve got any taste in music at all you will definitely not be disappointed!

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This blog is intended as a way to spread the word about music I really like, and encourage others to support artists who are making great music. "Try before you buy", if you like. If you hear something you like here, go and buy it - I'll post links to online shops where you can buy each track I blog about.

If you're reading this and you are the artist, or their record company, and you don't want a track I've posted to be available to hear in this way just email me and let me know - I will be more than happy to take the file down straight away. I've heard of other bloggers getting threatened with letters from lawyers, and there is absolutely no need to waste your money on that with me!