Saturday, 24 July 2010

Museum of Childhood

Have you ever visited the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood? It's on the Royal Mile, and free to wander round. It's also quite interactive - there are lots of things for kids to do including dressing up, lego and guessing what's the thing in the box. Multi-sensory-tastic.

Having said that, the core achievement of the place is actually to highlight the fact that childhood in the olden days was utterly terrifying. And now I shall show you for why, through the medium of photographic records.

Here you can observe that as a rich young person of yore, one of the must have toys was apparently a mad-eyed dog with real hair that will gradually fall out in chunks as the years go by. So what if it looks a bit like it might be able to exercise some kind of mind control? The constant headaches and horrible nightmares are worth it so long as you're cool.

Meanwhile as a poor child you'd be more likely to get an old shoe kitted out in a dress made from old hankies. You can't see it too well here but this thing has one of the saddest little faces you ever saw (which appears to be made from masking tape, although I'm fairly sure that cannot be the case. Will go back some time to check...)

If you were an EU child from outwith the UK back in the day, you might own a doll who has clearly seen something terrifying.

It could even have been this Mexican ghost doll.

Or the sinister decapitated pixie head pencil top thingy. See how it loftily sizes you up as it decides what will be the slowest and most painful way for you to be despatched.

And then for kids at the shows, there was Alf the satanic carousel horse. Would you allow a small child to ride on this thing? Maybe if you wanted rid of it for some reason I suppose. But small childs rarely leave behind a large inheritance, or even a will, so why would you want to do that? Ya weirdo.

I do think though, that one too many rides on Alf might unlock some pretty serious voodoo, after which you might end up looking a bit like this:
Food for thought, innit.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Next Top Model

Next Top Model eh. That's banter.

I have a friend who, though perfectly lovely in all other respects, is addicted to it. She watches the UK, US and Australian versions for hours at a time whilst I sit there and struggle to get past the palpable insanity of Tyra Banks.

It's one thing to take your job seriously – in many ways, that's commendable. And obviously Banks is a model, so her extreme narcissism and constant “well that’s not what I would have done for the picture” is par for the course. But there's actually something about the way she looks at people that I find genuinely disturbing. It’s the sort of look that makes you think she might be sneaking into their rooms at night, sticking a straw in them and sucking up the tasty model juices. (Naturally the point of this would be to ensure she remains forever young.)

The models themselves are exactly as you would expect - bitchy, scheming, desperate for success and a little bit vacant. There was one in the American version who kept making full fat cakes and pretending they were diet ones, which she then fed to all the others, who never thought to question her maniacal laughter or the fact she never had any herself. Before seeing that I would have been inclined to attribute their behaviour to hunger - I know how pissy I get when I haven't eaten for a couple of months. But now I can only assume there’s a model gene that just makes you a horrible person.

To be honest, I haven't worked out what the appeal of this show is. I don’t think I’d watch it voluntarily. This is unusual for me – I generally have a very high tolerance for this type of crap and often actively enjoy it. The problem might be that Next Top Model isn’t quite car-crashy enough. It’s a bunch of skinny girls who mostly seem to know what they’re getting themselves into, competing for the job of having their photo taken. Which is shit really – you can just get a digital camera and tripod and do it yourself without having a crazy lady tell you that you pout wrong.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Tonight's The Night

This evening, I watched John Barrowman don a fake beard and some glasses in order to surprise a photographer (and latter day saint - although not in the Mormon way) whose family wanted her to finally have the chance to sing live on national TV with Dionne Warwick. It's a dream that has eluded most of us, to be fair, so the audience seemed comparatively empathetic.

Barrowman's only other tools were a tortoise and a cardigan, yet he totally nailed it. She didn't know it was him or anything. Truly, he is a master of characterization. Although he didn't dress up to surprise the young lad whose sister watched his secret videos of himself dancing and sent them in; or the seventy year old woman who everyone in the village agrees is very nice.

Presumably you can have too much of a good thing, even on pap like Tonight's The Night.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Moving With The Times

After somewhere in the region of 6-8 months of umm-ing and ahh-ing, I have purchased an iPhone 3Gs. This is on the grounds that if I want to be a proper social-media node, I need to have the capacity to read and upload breaking news as I sees it.

The main thing that swayed me was the newest deal from 3, and the offer of financial aid as a birthday gift from my lovely parents.

So I phoned o2 for the PAC code as I wanted to keep my current number, and spoke to a chap who was phenomenally pissed off with me for picking the cheaper deal.

"I can't give you any direct comparisons," he seethed, "but like, there is a reason why they're cheaper, you know? Like with us you get UK only call centres, better coverage..."

That's as may be, but you're offering half the amount of data, 400 fewer minutes, and charging £60 more for the handset...

"All I would say to you is just phone up their customer service and just compare the difference between us."

"OK," I said truthfully, given I was going to call them anyway in order to give them the PAC code.

"And you've got 14 days to opt out, which is something," he closed darkly.

Next I phoned Winston in India. Well, he had an Indian accent, he might have been in Livingston for all I know. The call took longer to get through than the one to 02, as if trying to prove angry o2 man's point. But when I got through dear old Winston was ever so nice and polite. He asked me how I was not once, but twice. And he claims my number will be transferred by Tuesday.

The ball is in your court, Winston. Use it wisely, lest angry o2 man get the last, bitter laugh.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Vampires and Werewolves 3 - Vampwolf With A Vengeance

[Scene: Jacob and Edward arguing, as per usual]

Bella: Enough! I am sick of you two fighting. From now on I am Switzerland.

Bella voiceover: Edward didn't like that.

Well of course not. Who does like it when their girlfriend comes out as a small European country made of clocks and chocolate. In front of their rival, no less. It's just embarrassing.

Anyway, Twilight 3, or Eclipse as it is also known to some die-hard fans, is a bit of a disappointment. Not because I was expecting anything in particular, but because it actually had a believable punt at being a proper film.

Yes, there was lots of gratuitous exposure of Taylor Lautner, at which someone gave an audible gasp sending the entire audience into hysterics. And the vampires are getting more unconvincingly vampirey as the series goes along, as if nobody has told them that much makeup is bad for the skin. And the message it send out to young women is morally dubious in the extreme.

But it wasn't wall to wall hilarity a la New Moon, or amusingly awful like Twilight. Worryingly it had something approaching a plot, several hints that were suspiciously close to character development, and a couple of apparently deliberate comic moments. The rest of it was a bit mawkish and trite, but neither in an hilariously OTT way nor a manner so slow paced and cloying as to be unwatchable.

Something verging on an average film is not what I signed up for, frankly, so they had better sort it out in time for the next one. (Which I am told they are splitting into two parts. That JK Rowling's got a lot to answer for... OK, they'd better sort it out in time for the next two.) I will not stay the course for the mesmerizing sheen of their shiny shiny teeth alone! I want at least one tortured, cliche-ridden monologue from R-Patz and I demand some terrible acting from somewhere - Kristen Stewart seems like the most obvious choice given her character is the most two dimensional creation since Mickey Mouse.

Taylor Lautner, meanwhile, should carry on as is. He has easily the best lines in this film, and possesses the makings of some kind of accidental comic genius. Is he self-aware? Don't care. Keep up the good work.

PS See Charlie Brooker or The R-Patz Factz for a less disillusioned take on the franchise.

Magnum Opus

Finally, it is here, the film you have all been waiting for.

Filming commenced way back in 2006, when comment was free and children were innocent. I finally remembered it in conjunction with having a spare day today, so I shoved it all together in a rough running order. The Youtube upload failed at 97% after taking 3 hours, so I joined Vimeo, and now, at 1.45 in the morning, it is here for you.

I would recommend watching the proper video before or after, as only then will you appreciate our amazing attention to detail.

I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)

I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) from Ali George on Vimeo.

Monday, 12 July 2010


Ages ago I asked you to identify where this picture was taken. The winner of the competition was Laura, and this is her fabulous prize - it's only a video of some squirrels! 'Mazing. Although according to Captain Tact's dad, if you've any moral conscience you're supposed to kill the grey ones on sight...

In other news I took a load of pictures of flowers, and joined flickr for want of something to do with them. My page is here.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Kid Canaveral Album Launch

Last week I was one of the lucky ones who got to the launch of Kid Canaveral's debut album, Shouting At Wildlife - you may remember I reviewed that (in a manner of speaking) here.

The show was held in the Roxy, was very well attended, and was the sweatiest gig I've ever been to (and I am including punk gigs in the Barrowlands here). I went in with the intention of interviewing excited punters about their experience to make a totally sweet video, but by the end of it all everyone was melted and partially deaf due to the awesome power of RAWK inflicted by the PA system. So what I have instead is a recording of album opener 'Good Morning', which is of dubious sound quality and not entirely live as my camera was playing silly buggers and cut off the beginning.


Thursday, 8 July 2010



I am not going to backdate to fill in the gaps since last week on the grounds that I have actually been blogging, just not here.

You can see some of this on my other blog here, and some more on The Edinburgh Reporter mainsite / their new blog. I've also been doing this site for work, and wrote this article on the libraries blog which was in turn referenced on the Guardian Edinburgh beatblog here.

And hopefully soon I will also be able to link you to a blog I am going to do on The Skinny.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Promoted: Secretary to Bride

The above is the title of a bills and moon by an Orstralian author called Jennie Adams.

Is it me, or is that a really skewed perception of promotion?

As a general rule I'm quite fond of collecting outrageous M&B titles, like The Millionaire's Inexperienced Love Slave or A Thoroughly Compromised Lady. These are just silly. We all know such books are light and frothy and not meant to be taken seriously.

But I have to say the likes of Promoted: Secretary to Bride, and His Virgin Acquisition, make me slightly uncomfortable. They're just not far enough removed from the view that women should aspire to be in relationships where men control their lives. Which is vile.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. But I can't help thinking that as "the self-confessed owner of an over-active imagination," Adams should try coming up with something a bit more original than "one day if I'm very lucky and very well behaved, a man might see fit to marry me."