Thursday, 31 December 2009

I Have A Sadness Shield

I can't be the only one who read several reviews of Where The Wild Things Are saying that it wasn't so much a film for children as a film about childhood. Now, the people who wrote these reviews were not talking out of their arses, they were in fact going on the evidence of their own eyes, ears and other sensory apparatus. So I would be really interested to know what some of the very small children who saw it last night made of it. Apart from the baby sitting behind us, whose review consisted of crying for about twenty minutes.

Apparently director Spike Jonze said he wanted to capture the essence of being 9, for which he used handheld camera work, a Karen O soundtrack, and a lead actor who is 12. The end result is more of a poetic indie representation of what being 9 was like than the experience of anyone who has recently spoken to a 9 year old. I would say, though, that the changing your mind all the time, lacking in self awareness, emotional outburst stuff that young kids do was very well realised.

I have read a couple of comments from people who saw the film saying it was stagnant and dull. Whilst things happen in fits and starts and action-wise it's no Die Hard 4, it's based on a picture book of about three sentences, so really what do you expect? You could argue that there wasn't enough to make a full length movie I suppose, but that would be missing the point. The story is a character study, following Max's gradual realisation that different aspects of his personality are reflected by the monsters, and that his outbursts affect other people just like theirs affect him. Part of the fun of watching is trying to work out precisely what character trait each Wild Thing represents - some are more obvious than others.

Overall this is a beautiful film, definitely worth a watch. But in all likelihood you will be in a cinema with some young persons who will ask searching questions - by which I mean banal questions - all the way through, so if you can't cope with that then maybe wait for the DVD. FYI, it'll be things like, "he doesn't like it there does he?" and "when is he going to get home?" Hey, they're kids, they don't gotta be pithy in reality. Just in the imagination of nostalgic grown ups.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Bubble and Squeak

Apparently Facebook will deprecate profile boxes in late 2009/early 2010. I don’t know what that will entail. Perhaps the 'book is finally going to become sentient (come on, I can’t be the only one who appreciates the inevitability of this state of affairs) and any time you click on a profile box it will shout abuse at you. Or maybe slap you in the face with a caustic pop-up.

In other news, I managed to completely forget about Edinburgh’s torchlight procession last night, despite several quite large clues (it always happens on or around the 29th of December; my bus – which usually goes up and down the mound - was diverted; and there was an enormous fireworks display). Apparently though I was in the minority as it was record turn-out this year. Which is nice.

And finally, a penny dreadful. Of interest to fans of Victorians, steampunk or unusual names. It's set out like a blog so scroll to the bottom to read part one first.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Saturday, 26 December 2009


Christmas happened in Ayrshire this year. There was snow...

... scary pirahanas...

... and a fraudulent 125th Anniversary of St Johnstone FC DVD (apparently it's not really their 125th anniversary) featuring Captain Tact's dad as a talking head (he's the club historian) and THE MOST AMAZING SONG EVER, Song for St Johnstone, written by Jim Malcolm. This appears to be totally unavailable anywhere on the internet, but if it ever appears I will link you right up.

Gifts included a funky hat and an enormous hardback Absolute Sandman. Oh yeah.

As the first Christmas without parents or siblings it was a bit strange, but I swapped them for a terrified dog so y'know... something witty. It was nice anyway. And of course it finished with a world populated exclusively by John Simm, so all's well that ends well.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Tantaliping is a word my phone thinks is real

Last night I dreamed that the kids who use the library were playing basketball with a ball made out of blu-tack, as a man with a stump for an arm (which I knew he had lost through cancer) lay on the floor and talked to me about something so I couldn’t go and yell at them for ages.

Merry Christmas for tomorrow, everyone.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Joy to the World comes on the Christmas radio station we have on in the library.

14 year old girl : Could youse no play some Christmas songs??!

Meanwhile, this is a nativity happening down the road from my flat.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Om Nom Nom

Last night, Yul Brynner happened. For those of you who weren’t there when my mate invented it, this is breakfast for dinner (brinner, citation: Scrubs) at Christmas time, hence the ‘yule’ part.

This entailed more people than could feasibly fit in our living room coming round to squeeze into our living room, listening to festive choons such as the Official UK Christmas Number One, Killing in the Name, and eating an elephant’s weight in quality meat products and tatty scones. It was pretty epic.

Photos by Madame Bellamy.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Review

I went to see the penultimate performance of The Corstorphine Road Nativity in the Festival Theatre yesterday afternoon, and left my hat behind to boot. Although that wasn’t really indicative of anything other than my own retardidity.

The premise of the show is a school nativity where the little kiddlywinks are played by adults. Hilarity ensues, along with some sad bits when you read between the lines of what the kids are saying and get a glimpse into their lives - there’s some stuff they haven’t quite got a handle on yet. S’a good dramatic device, that.

The rivalry between the girls over who should be Mary (it should be the prettiest one, and Jenny Bennett isn’t the prettiest, I am) was well realised, as was the world-weary attitude of the kid who’s grown up on a farm and therefore knows how childbirth works. When she explained about the pancake of blood and the play-centre that come out as well as the bairn, a woman a few rows behind us just about killed herself laughing. How embarrassing for her.

But yes, it was all very fun, and the cast list ran like a veritable “who’s that again?” of Scottish acting talent, featuring Julie Wilson Nimmo (Miss Hoolie in Balamory), Sara Crowe (who did those adverts for philly cheese in the mid-nineties - she's the blonde), Gordon Kennedy (Absolutely, and more recently the BBC Robin Hood where they all have impossible hair – he was Little John), Shabana Bakhsh (Waterloo Road), Jane McCarry (Still Game), and none other than that ginger manny out of Taggart, Sir Colin McCredie aka DC Stuart ‘the gay one’ Fraser. NB, he is not a sir, except unofficially because he is the crème de la crème of Scottish telly. The best person in it, however, was the aforementioned farm kid, played by Gail Watson, who I think I saw in Sunshine on Leith at the start of the year.

One negative point, in my opinion, was the overlong scene where they all got changed and played the parents talking about the play afterwards. It seemed a bit haphazard and didn’t really add much – they could easily have cut it down to their song, which was quite nicely done and explained some of the kids’ misunderstandings from the first half. But overall, very nicely done. Keep an eye out in case they do it again next Christmas.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Make Me A Ham Sandwich! And A Spanish Omlette!

These are my 2am purchases from the petrol station last night.

We may've decided after work that it would be a great idea to drink 5 bottles of wine and 2 bottles of sherry on empty stomachs, before heading to the pub for some tasty ale.

For the record, I don't even smoke. Well, not usually.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Monday, 14 December 2009

Why Is Everyone Talking About Joe? Who Is Joe And What Has He Done?

And verily, Geordie Joe did win the X-Factor as everyone predicted, up against Olly ‘there’s totally room for another sub-Robbie pop star in the charts’ Murs and Stacey ‘the love child of Frank Spencer and Roland Rat’ Solomon. It has been suggested in some quarters that the whole thing was fixed. But nobody really cares.

This is the first year I’ve watched beyond auditions, and what an incredible journey through mediocrity it has been. It has also served as a constant reminder that the minds of the great British public – or at the very least those who exercise the right to vote – are a strange and terrifying thing. Seriously, Jamie Afro? Not big and not clever.

So now young Joseph is to be the proud owner of a shiny Christmas number one, a cover of The Climb by Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, no less. Whilst I can enjoy this musical lobotomy in a spirit of festive cheer as much as the next person, I am firmly wedged behind the campaign to get Killing in the Name by Rage Against The Machine there instead. Obviously it won’t have any effect on the finances of Cowell, who is already incomprehensibly rich, and it won’t have any effect on Joe, who has a bright future in musical theatre ahead of him (not in a euphemistic way). But Killing.. holds a special place in my 15 year old nu-metal loving heart, and let's be honest, it would be a bit good to have it on those Christmas number one countdowns presented by Noddy Holder.

However, before you go on a downloading spree, take note! Apparently you need to spend a minimum of 50p on your MP3 for it to be counted in the Top 40, so do NOT be fooled by the sneaky 29p version on Amazon. Presumably it was planted by evil X-Factor henchmen. That Dermot O'Leary will do anything for the money.

On the other hand, if you don't like your festive tracks quite so political, why not help out London-based band The Mistletones, who exist solely for the noble purpose of gaining a Christmas number one? Or alternatively, there's this guy. So many choices, and a genuinely limited time frame in which to make yours.

Good luck.

'Why Are You Apologising For Bleeding?' And Other Salient Points

I just saw New Moon, against my better judgement and the counsel of my elders ("that's three hours of your life you will never get back," my boss informed me darkly when I mentioned this was included in what I intended to do with my weekend off.).

When you go into a cinema expecting absolutely nothing, and have spent the trailers wondering whether in fact this was a terrible idea and how feasible it would be to bail, it’s quite hard for things to get worse. And fortunately, New Moon is more of the same old shite that Twilight was, but much funnier.

R-Pattz, as we surely all gleaned from the adverts, loves Bella so much that he dumps her and flees the country, thinking she’ll be safer that way – not least cuz his brother keeps trying to eat her at all their family gatherings. Awkward.

You might think she’d notice something amiss after he bursts into tears at the prospect of giving her a birthday kiss, but apparently she sees this as normal behaviour. Maybe it is for vampires, I dunno. Anyhoo, a most excellent emo montage ensues, as she sits in the same chair for three months with the camera panning around her as the seasons change outside. One imagines this was the most succinct way they could find of covering an estimated third of Meyer’s book… Correct me if you know this to be wrong (e.g. you know it to be more like half).

Out of the narrative necessity of a blockbusting film including more than a pouty girl sitting in a chair for two hours, Bella then discovers that whenever she puts herself in danger, R-Pattz appears as a floating head giving helpful advice like "aw no, don’t do that." So naturally she decides to take up biking - the most dangerous of all the sports - in order to see the floating head of Edward Cullen more often. To do this she must enlist the mechanical aid of her childhood friend Jacob – the now buffity buff buff Taylor Lautner you’ve seen on the posters. He’s put on five stone of pure muscle, one of which is just on his neck. Naturally the film makers want to show this off at any cost, and one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in a film is when she wangs her head off a rock and he rips off his t-shirt to wipe the blood from her tender face. It’s not gratuitous nudity, incidentally, there is simply NO OTHER WAY TO STEM THE BLEEDING.

My other favourite part is when R-Pattz thinks Bella is dead (echoing a tenuous Romeo and Juliet theme that runs throughout), and crushes his mobile phone in sheer grief before heading off out to annoy the king of the vampires into killing him. It was fucking heart wrenching – there was not a dry eye in the house. By which I mean we were not the only ones killing ourselves laughing.

So, in summary: buff werewolves (so buff, in fact, that one of my companion’s contact lenses popped out in apparent protest at said buffness) show up mopey vampires (God knows I'm not immune to the charms of the skinny white man but you do not want to be looking at the torso of R-Pattz after all the wolf tiemz, he looks like an extra from Trainspotting), but very little actually happens. For hours.

Kind of what you'd expect, really.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Work In Progress

This is a blanky. I have been making it for some time now. But double beds are pretty big, and I work full time, so it isn't finished. S'quite cosy though.

Friday, 11 December 2009

TFI Fridyah

Bored of Christmas already? Well bore no longer, because as of now (if not even earlier) you can buy a metric crapload of creme eggs from Margiotta's on Northumberland Street and set yourself up for Easter instead! You may be able to get them from other branches too, but I'm not about to spend my afternoon off checking. Do it yourself if you're that bothered.

In other news, Edinburgh is very foggy today.

Gull 1: S'affy foggy the day, int'it Archie?

Gull 2: Shut up.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Free Gig

At a loose end tonight?

(That's Thursday 10th December 2009, people who are reading this tomorrow.)

Concerned that the monotony of your own company may finally tip you over the edge?

Text MILL57K to 82500, or go here, where you will get FREE tickets to see Homework and Kid Canaveral at Caberet Voltaire.

Drink some booze, have a dance, and become part of the delicious indie sandwich you have always dreamed of. Fantastic.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Apparently recent graduates can't get decent jobs. Duh.

I'm a recent graduate. Here are the highlights of my day today in my job that I was 'lucky' to get in this economic climate. (For this I am paid minimum wage.)

8 year old comes in swearing its tits off and winding up other kids. It is asked to go outside for ten minutes to calm down. It refuses and throws a wobbly, which includes:
- pulling most books off the shelves in non fiction, general fiction and some of the kids section
- setting spinners going so books fly off in every direction
- crawling under the tables where adult PCs are and annoying service users
- stealing book trolley and running round the library with it
- punching a ten year old girl in the face
- kicking various kids and staff
- once it has finally been removed from the building, kicking the front door till it smashes the glass - then it continues to kick in an effort to get the glass to fall out of the frame.

Emergency contact for kid does not appear, so we end up getting polis out.

This excitement makes all the other childs very hyper, and nobody will settle to anything for the rest of the afternoon.

- Teenagers steal team leader's keys and hide them in a hedge
- Seven year old (with whom we have a history - he isn't allowed in) appears, chucks draughts around, runs about building, jumps on table, kicks anyone who gets near him, incites other kids to general sofa dive-bombing and annoying-ness
- All refuse to leave, despite being threatened by their 'supervisor' (mum's useless mate, who has inadvertently become some kind of pied piper figure, followed round by malnourished children refusing to go home)

As Captain Tact said, would it really matter if any of these people died?

It certainly can make a person wonder why they wracked up 4 years worth of SAAS debt. My one and only reason for going to uni was that I wasn't getting anywhere with journalism in the year after school. I'm still not.

Yesterday's plan stands.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A Blog Post

Today I had probably the nicest rejection I've ever had, for that job I mentioned a few posts back.

It said things like, "I know you'll be disappointed," which has never been acknowledged in my experience and is very true - this afternoon a child threw a can of irn bru at my head and I am a little disappointed that for the forseeable future that will continue to be part of my daily life.

I am also disappointed that it's going to be a while before I can put all the time and energy I would like into quirky features like A Week In The Life of Greyfriars Bobby or On the Trail of Mr Uibe; or highlight the problems faced by the Moredun Community Centre, or publicise any of the new music, art and poetry I keep coming across every day along with the backing of a national paper rather than on a small blog.

However, that doesn't mean I'm going to take a strop and stop blogging Edinburgh-centric articles. And I take comfort from phrases like, "we would encourage you to stay in touch" and "as the Guardian local blog project moves on, I'm hopeful there could be ways we could work together in the future." So, I'll be following the project with interest and may yet be actively involved, p'raps on a voluntary basis. Better experience than nothing, after all.

I do think, though, that I need to look at getting a job that will allow me to focus more on comics and writing, and less on social work issues that I am not professionally or emotionally equipped to deal with. So I guess that is the plan for now.


I'm not saying Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure is a bad show. What's not to love about a small geordie swimming across things he shouldn't swim across, then crying about it afterwards? It's just that when the title flashes up on STV without the trailer, it sounds... well, crap. Unless you're a massive Robson fan, I suppose. But somehow hearing his name doesn't have the same connotations as Bear Grylls, or that other chap who fannies about in the wilderness whose name I have temporarily mislaid.

An aquatic adventure I would not hesitate to recommend, on the other hand, is Shark Swarm. There are sharks, and boy do they swarm. Thank you, Sky 3.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


People claim ownership of strange things.

Mind you, if this was entered for the Turner Prize under a title like Immutable Reflections on Onirism (Tippex on a Bin in C Major) it'd probably win.

When I Am 64

I went to a Neighbourhood Partnership meeting today. It was themed around older people's services, on account of 99.9% of the population of the South of Edinburgh being over 65. They migrate there because it's higher up and they are afraid of climate change. Or something.

Anyway, there I met an eighty year old woman who was supremely chirpy - chirpier than I find it physically possible to be now even when I'm in a great mood, so I doubt I'll be there by 80 - and another older person who was phenomenally pissed off with the fact that despite her 54 years in a local community centre and her MBE, her organisation keeps being roundly ignored by everyone (including all the speechifiers at the meeting). I'm more likely to be her in the future, bar the MBE, not least because one of her defining features was the tableful of knitting she was attempting to sell to raise funds for her project. A particular highlight was a truly awful salmon-coloured cushion cover with lace trim. Sadly I didn't have a camera on me, but rest assured I'll be firing off hundreds of those bad boys when I retire.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

We Fear Change

I have discovered why people are so pissed off about the tram works on Princes Street.

It's not because it's ugly and loud, or because the diversions slow everything down, or because all the fencing and scaffold make you feel very claustrophobic when attempting to get to any shops at all. No, people prefer Princes Street open so that they can THROW THEMSELVES IN THE PATH OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC, for no reason at all. Seriously. Stand there for a minute or two and you will be able to observe men, women and children staring glaikitly at the oncoming 33, 29, 47, 3A and a rank of taxis, think about it for half a second, go 'nah, sod it,' and leap onto the road.

Personally I have no idea what the bus routes are supposed to be, on account of everything having been going down George Street for at least a year, so now that everything is back to 'normal' I am somewhat screwed commute-wise. And to add insult to injury, the Evening News reported today that there are no plans to close Princes Street to public transport again till they put in the overhead lines, which is like a year away. So presumably I'll get used to that, and then it'll change again. Ridiculous.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Happy December

It is properly cold likes. Just check out this frosty bus shelter if you think I'm lying, which I am not.

Other than that, a free stuff to do in Edinburgh is occurring near you tonight (if you consider Hanover Street to be near, or merely just accessible).

It is an indie club night of sorts held downstairs in Jekyll and Hyde, where you will be dazzled by the mad DJing skillz of Marcus Forealius (who has been on that Eggheads programme) and DJ Very Friendly (who hasn't). Free food, free music, free entry - what's not to check out at least this one time and see what you reckon? Make yours a Club Sandwich from 8-12. You might enjoy yourself.