Thursday, September 23, 2010

History in the Making

A few days late, but here's a short reprint on the Battle of Britain from Flight Journal's website, complete with Spitfire and Hurricane pictures. The current issue of Flight Journal is largely dedicated to the same event--70 years ago, now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Summer Black and Whites

1.) Experiments with the sunset and a quite lovely delphinium, back before the caterpillars ate it; 2.) An airplane engine from the Aerospace Museum of California; 3.) A bank or brae, or something at the UC Davis Arboretum; 4.) Marina Beach (to nobody's surprise); 5.) The UC Davis Arboretum again, with a swallow; 6.) A Cessna T-50 (ca. 1945), one of the Aerospace Museum's latest projects.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Off the Charts!

Tonight's link is another one of those rather astounding treasures that exists, surprisingly unremarked, as far as I can tell, in the depths of BBC Scotland . Bliadhna nan Òran, or "Year of the Song" (that is "year," singular, innit?) is very Gaelic-oriented. You can use the little tabs at the top of the page to translate some things (mostly the headlines) into English, but it won't go as far as admitting that Seumas Greumach is known, in some circles, as James Graham, and when it comes to lyrics, although they're supplied, the translations rely entirely on your own ingenuity. All the same, I think there is just enough English to let an American navigate about and acertain that there is a lot, and I do mean a lot of splendid singing to be had here! Some songs include videos of the singers, others are simply mp3's, but there is plenty here to keep you busy, if you have the slightest interest in Gaelic compositions, and rather immeasureable material for use, if you're trying to learn the language.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Close, But no Cigar

Watch, just watch. As soon as I put up this video, the one will finally surface that I've been hoping for ever since I started skimming YouTube for the latest records of Pleasanton. This is not last weekend's Pleasanton Highland Games, by several miles; this is Lucca Italy, as a matter of fact, the band is the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and the video is well over a year old. But it is a very catchy marching-band-and-pipes setting of "The 79th's Farewell to Gibralter," which is what the Marine Band (San Diego) and the LA Scots treated the crowds to at massed bands last weekend. The arrangement was much the same, except for the visuals--the Marines would start the tune in a block by themselves, marching in place, and when it came time for the pipe band to strike in, they would march up through the Marines until the block had doubled in size and consisted of alternating rows of pipers and brass or woodwind players. It was a most impressive sight, and a most contagious sound, as, I think, this video conveys very well.

P.S. As a matter of fact, yes this has been stuck in my head all week.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What I Call A Good Day

Well, it was cloudy when I woke up, and one would think this sufficient cause for thinking life was splendid, which I did. But then, through a series of events which mostly involved a smog check for the car, I left for work nearly forty minutes early, thinking to kill some time in the bookstore, and I happened to be driving around in this wonderful overcast weather with the window down. I thought, as I came up one of the side streets, "I hear bagpipes." And, almost as suddenly I thought, "Man, you have a one-track mind." But never in my life have I so clearly imagined the sound of--a piobaireachd, no less! A piobaireachd I didn't know. There was just no mistaking it. I turned the car and, to misquote Tolkien, "to my astonishment. . .and lasting delight," found a member of the Bushmills Irish Pipe Band (Grade III) playing, yes, indeed, a piobaireachd in less than a block of the shop! It was just a wee bit surreal. I mean, I would have thought the clouds and the wind were Paradise enow--when does one ever, ever, ever in the course of everyday life get all that and a piobaireachd too?