I know what you are thinking, which is “Where on earth did Max find the images associated with this blog?” Well, I just used the generative AI called DALL-E, feeding it with “bagpipes shaped like an octopus in plaid pants” as a prompt. (If you want to learn more about generative AI, may I be so bold as to point you in the direction of my column The End of the Beginning of the End of Civilization as We Know It?)

The reason for my interest in the bagpipes-octupus combo is that I was just reading the July/August issue of the Reader’s Digest when I ran across a small nugget—penned by Josh Shaffer in the News and Observer, Raleigh, NC—that brought a sardonic smile to my face.

Bagpipes shaped like an octopus in plaid pants (Click image to see a larger version — Source: DALL-E)

In this piece, Josh spake as follows: “The bagpipe occupies a strange rung on the musical ladder: shaped like an octopus in plaid pants, sounding to some like a goose with its foot caught in an escalator, and played during history’s most lopsided battles—by the losing side.”

This caused me to recollect something told to me by my father, who was in the 15th Reconnaissance Regiment in the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division in WWII (I have a book about them called Scottish Lion on Patrol: 15th Scottish Reconnaissance Regiment on my bookshelf).

Dad said that the pipers would play all through the night before a battle. He followed this up by commenting that he couldn’t say what effect this had on the Germans, but that after spending the night listening to the bagpipes he was ready to fight anyone.

When most people hear the word “bagpipes” they (a) flinch and (b) visualize the Scottish version. Knowing the Scots, it certainly seems to make sense that they would be the ones who originally looked at a dead goat, dog, sheep, or cow and said to themselves: “I bet we could make an awesome musical instrument out of that!”

As fate would have it, however, they weren’t alone. As I mentioned in an earlier blog (see Can’t Afford Bagpipes? All Is Not Lost!), in addition to the Great Highland (Scottish) bagpipes, the Uilleann (Irish) bagpipes, and the Northumbrian (English) bagpipes, there are myriad other offerings spanning the globe, including instruments from Jordan, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Macedonia, Serbia, India, Lithuania… the list goes on.

I’m almost ashamed to say that I have a little secret. I’m sorely tempted to dip my toes in the bagpipe waters with an electronic version (it’s only the fact that I’m an impoverished content creator that’s holding me back).

Consider, for example, a Second Generation Fagerstrom Techno Chanter. If I had one of these little scamps, it would accompany me everywhere. Since this bodacious beauty employs earphones (not included), it would be perfect to play at home while my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) watches the latest and greatest incarnation of Pride and Prejudice on TV (I must admit that I did enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).

The use of earphones also makes this an ideal instrument for commuters to play on buses, trains, planes, etc. Of course, you can also plug it into an amplifier if you wish to share your joy with the rest of the world.

As I mentioned in another blog (see Finally, I Can Learn the Bagpipes), there are some who say, “A gentleman is someone who can play the bagpipes… but doesn’t!” Harsh, but fair. In that blog, I also recounted my “go-to” bagpipes joke (it’s always good to have one up your sleeve in case of an emergency):

There’s a Scotsman called Jock who is part of a bagpipe marching band. Every Saturday afternoon, the band marches through the town center playing their bagpipes. After they’ve finished, they all retire to the pub for a few well-earned beers.

On one such occasion, following the march, Jock is sitting at the bar quaffing his pint when the color drains from his face. He leaps to his feet and races out of the bar shouting, “Oh my God, I left my car unlocked and my bagpipes are on the back seat.”

A few minutes later, he returns a broken man. He got there too late because passersby already filled his car with unwanted sets of bagpipes.

Try to control your mirth. It’s much better if (1) I’m telling it live and (2) you’ve already drunk a lot of beer. How about you? Do you have any bagpipes-related jokes, nuggets of knowledge, or tidbits of trivia you’d care to share with the rest of us.