The MacBitseach

I am The MacBitseach of Clan MacBitseach. (MacBitseach is Irish Gaelic for son of a bitch.)
This blog is about wearing, making, and some of the social aspects of kilts. I started wearing and making kilts in 2003.
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, email me at

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Location: Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Chieftains play

Saturday night I saw the Chieftains at the Surrey Fusion Festival. I would have gone just to say I'd seen them but, having seen some TV shows about The Chieftains, I knew I'd have a good time.
When I arrived after an hour's bus ride, The Halifax Wharf Rats were playing. They play at every Kilts Night but on the outdoor stage, they seemed to be even better than normal.
I grabbed some chicken and rice from the Phillipino tent, (it is a multicultural festival), which was very tasty.
I found it odd that at a concert for the most famous Celtic band in the world, (Paddy Maloney started The Chieftains 47 years ago), I was the only person I saw, outside of performers, wearing a kilt. (And received all the kilt flirts for the evening! Not two, or a few, or several, but ALL the flirts!)

The Chieftains show was amazing! It had all the appeal of Riverdance with the feel of a ceileigh. Aside from the Chieftains, (musical mastery, humour, and it looked like they were actually enjoying themselves), there was some great stepdancing, and some kids from a dance school doing Irish dancing who must surely remember the night for the rest of their lives.
There wasn't one part of the show that wasn't highly entertaining.
Near the start of the show, Paddy Maloney kicked a cameraman off the stage for blocking the view of the crowd. He asked him nicely the first two times, then got up and told him, "Get off the stage!"
John Lennon kicked Red Robinson off the stage when they played here in 1964. "Get off the fucking stage!"
16,000 people cheered when Chuck Berry stopped the show to let a young girl dance in the aisle when he played here in the eighties. "I said, let her dance!" (A security guard was making her sit down.)
Must be something in the water.

I didn't get to see The Beatles, but I saw Chuck Berry and B.B. King. And now I've seen The Chieftains. Three great performers with a lot of history.
I can remember each concert very clearly and they were three of the best concerts I've seen ... but The Chieftains put on the most entertaining show.
Somehow, The Chieftains made the concert personal. I'm trying to think of a way to describe what it felt like.
It was like a 12 year old, for the first time not being sent to bed on a Friday evening at his normal bedtime. He is sitting in a corner of the kitchen, drinking a root beer, watching the ceileigh, wide eyed, amazed at the talent, simultaneously feeling himself a spectator and part of it all.
And knowing that as much as he is enjoying the show, the real joy is is felt by the players.
The Chieftains didn't perform. They played. Like kids play ... just for fun. And it rubbed off on all the artists. And the audience.
A good band makes you want to hear them play. The Chieftains make you want to play.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Enjoying what I (don't) see

Ever since I was a kid, I liked to take things apart and figure out how they worked. Still do.
While I don't take people apart, it's still fun to try and figure them out and people watching is a must for any writer.
Sometimes though, it's enough just to watch, enjoy, and not wonder.

I'm walking home from the grocery store, wearing a restored wool MacDonald kilt.
(I know ... but if I don't say what I was wearing, I'll get emails wanting to know!)
It's dark and I'm about to cross at a sidestreet when I hear a car slowing to turn in front of me. There's two guys in the front seats and two people in the back.
I stop and wave the car ahead of me and I hear a woman's voice from the dark inside of the back seat. I can't tell you anything more about her than she was a woman. No looks, age, or anything else was revealed to me.
"Woohoo! Sexy kilt!" she yelled.
Then from the front, one of the guys said, "Shut up, slut," in a manner of fact tone that meant he was to be obeyed.
A bare half a second later came a resounding SLAP, followed by the guy, "Fuck!" That hurt!"
I'm guessing she got him on the ear, judging by his position when I saw him and ... well the sound of an ear slap is a little different that a face slap. Less flesh over the bone? Maybe the cartilage in the ear?
Then the car was down the road and I heard no more, other than the muffled voices of what I assumed would be a bad night for both of them.
Stuff like that ... a people watcher's dream.
It's good to be alive.

The other day, Raph and I were shopping for camouflage fabric at a huge fabric store. We searched the place 5 times as we picked up other stuff here and there. Finally, I asked a clerk where to find camouflage in the store. She led us to a table in the middle of the store, where it was sitting just below eye level!
That camouflage stuff is amazing!
We picked up some Cadpat AR (Arid Region/desert) and a very cool limited run of Cadpat in blues and black.
The line forms right over there.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A single thought

As a writer, I often hear things that I question, things that most people would shrug off as inconsequential. I thought of one of those things while walking with Raphael to his place from the Highland Games.
I was once told that I shouldn't wear my denim jacket with my kilt because it reflected badly on other kilt wearers, whom I was representing.
At the time, I probably said something like, "I'm not representing anyone but myself!"
I was telling Raphael this story as we walked and I thought of the answer I wish I'd had back then.
"I'm not trying to tarnish the reputation of kilt wearers. I'm trying to raise the reputation of denim jacket wearers!"
There have been swings in the kilted communities. At first kilts were a 'movement'. Wearing a kilt made you part of the movement for men's fashion freedom.
My response was, "When I have a movement, I don't want a bunch of guys around. Just some paper."
The trend lately has been to wear kilts according to a newer set of rules that tell you how to accessorize properly for each occasion.
I follow my own guidelines for kilted wear and they change with the function I will be attending. I did much the same before I started wearing kilts.
My motto from the start has been, "Kilts are garments, not costumes!" While there are certainly times where 'proper' kilt etiquette must be observed, that same etiquette doesn't apply in everyday wear. I've seen guys in Prince Charlie jackets and bow ties show up to the pub for Kilts Night. Sometimes they've been to a formal function. Other times they just felt that a kilt should be worn formally, or not at all.
To each his own.
I often wonder why people think they can tell another how poorly they're dressed while kilted, when those people are inevitably wearing brown shoes with a black suit, or the dreaded socks and sandals. (Socks and sandals are fine with me. I don't understand the fuss!)
Kilts started out as everyday wear for the Scottish Highlanders. After too much history to list here, kilts have become overly romanticised to the point where you can get into trouble just for wearing one. I know a fair bit about the history of kilts and the Scots and Irish, including some of the widely believed myths that some are willing to fight about.
Kilts are popular in the movies at the moment. Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Ewan MacGregor, Sean Connery, and Samual Jackson have all somewhat recently been in kilts in movies orin the public eye.
For whatever social reasons, people think a thing is suitable to wear if a celebrity wears it first. Many fashion fads have started with celebrities. (Remember all those bras without shirts in the pubs? Thank you Madonna!)
Kilts are not widespread enough to be called a fad but interest is slowly and steadily growing. People of all cultures and races are starting to wear kilts, because they are comfortable and a lot of women like men in kilts. Personally, I think a lot of guys would wear spiked underwear inside out if so many women thought it was sexy, but I'll stick with the comfort of kilts.
So here I am, representing myself, an creative, odd man in a kilt, pushing fifty, making kilts, telling sometimes unpopular truths, with a humourously skewed way of looking at the world, wearing what I please, (and doing as I please.)
Is it any wonder I am amazed to find myself single?

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