July 2012

The ancient Pictish Aberlemno Stone

It’s been a couple of months since my last State of the Savage post. No, I didn’t forget, I’ve just adjusted the frequency of this series to every other month. Maybe you noticed that for the last couple of months Traveling Savage has been getting two new posts per week instead of three. There’s a good reason for these changes. As I mentioned in the last State of the Savage,


Like actually getting up at 6:30 and stumbling into my dark den to pound out thousands of words a day. Well, that’s a good day.

It’s not uncommon for me to snooze the alarm five or six times before shuffling downstairs to stare dumbly at the dewy grass while the morning sun thaws my sleep-addled brain (why am I getting up so early, boss?). I make some coffee and a green smoothie and maybe it’s 7:30 or 8 before I actually start writing. I might stare at the glowing rectangle of my Macbook Pro, hands in my lap, for 30, 45, 60 minutes and curse myself for using Self Control to lock myself out of the internet.

The point, however, is that I’m writing. A book. And I’ve been following this schedule for the past two and a half weeks. Read more...

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Balvenie Castle stands hunched and worn like an old clansman in a faded tartan. The Speyside spring has been unseasonably cold, and here in the twilight outside Dufftown fat raindrops lance down from clouds trying to make snow. The festivities at Glenfiddich Distillery would soon begin, so my father and I kill time in an empty lot as the windshield wipers click back and forth, clearing away rain like the fog of memory. For almost a thousand years this castle, once called Mortlach, has withstood the rain. I stand with the car door open and shield my camera; it doesn’t take much imagination to see the ghosts.

Castles like Mortlach hail from another world. Our bodies replace themselves every seven years, but Mortlach’s bones may never disappear. All the better.

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Trackpacking: Eluveitie

by Keith Savage · 5 comments

Eluveitie on Stage

If there was ever a Trackpacking post to shed light on the farthest reaches of my curious musical interests, this is the one. According to my iTunes stats, less than 0.008% of my library is comprised of heavy metal music. Sarah can withstand somewhere south of three seconds of the stuff, and I just don’t often find myself alone and eager to headbang. Metal always strikes me as severe, sterile, and bereft of one particular musical characteristic I value above all others: melody. And then there’s all the shouting, horns, and severed heads.

I sound like a baby boomer, I know…

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The discordant choir of the Royal Mile crowd fades as I slant down Fishmonger’s Close. Back entrances open into mysterious buildings off the wide alley. At the bottom, Edinburgh’s lowest point: The Cowgate. Only the strongest rays of the early evening sun filter down here where the air is still and stale as the spilled beer and vomit from last night’s release. Engine noise roars off the bottom of the high, arched bridge, on which the good citizens of Edinburgh traverse above. I look the other way, toward Grassmarket, and lock stares with a giant. A forty-foot tall hooded boy sits cross-legged dressed all in white. Contrast.

The passing centuries’ darkest demons bared themselves in the depths of Edinburgh’s Cowgate. The filthy morass of livestock milling outside the castle walls gave way to the slums, disease, and bodysnatchers of yesteryear.

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The Water of Leith at Leith

Smell that salty sea air? Nothing marries with the maritime better than a pint or a dram in a seadog’s shanty. What better place to continue my series of Savage Pub Crawls than in Leith, Edinburgh’s seaside aspect? Leith wasn’t always part of the city of Edinburgh – it was a distinct village until 1920 – and it retains a unique feel to this day. I don’t know if this was a lawless place full of bawdy sailors and freebooting pirates, but I can imagine it so.

Leith is undergoing a process of rejuvenation that has landed it some of the finest restaurants and condos in all of Edinburgh. As you would expect, there are also plenty of bars littering Leith’s winding streets, though more than a few are a bit seedy.

That’s where I come in.

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