Masterchef 2008


What was wrong with the lugubriousness of Lloyd Grossman?




top TV – even though I’m an adman

How could I possibly support such a notion?

An ad campaign that says life is better without the ads.

I’ll tell you how…

Put together a hugely compelling idea, a brilliantly to the point proposition, fabulous direction and a song to kill for. (Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka.)

And this is what you get. Advertising at its best.

The irony is that it’s anti advertising. But, you know what? That ultimately is why it is genius and will win lots of advertising awards.


And you know what? I was able to repeat view it on our temporarily working Sky + (2 months now – a record!).


There will be blood


I had so been looking forward to this movie and had to bide my time to see it.

However, on a wet Monday afternoon in Glasgow my chance arrived.

PT Anderson is right up there among my favourite directors of all time with Magnolia in my top 5 films, ever! News of Daniel Day Lewis’ performance and his (as it turns out justified) favouritism for the Best Actor Oscar only added to my anticipation.

The film’s position as No. 23 EVER on IMDb’s review list (my filmic bible) meant it had to be a total classic.

So I’m afriad I have to beg to differ.

Whilst much of it amazes there is just too much indulgence in this movie. The first 20 minutes when, famously, not a word is uttered feels to me like film wank. It is overlong as well and I felt the cinematography failed to reach the top drawer; it’s simply too dark in places.

The theme of greed is interesting but it feels a bit derivative of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – the famous book of the 50’s – although I gather the inspiration was drawn from a little known novel called ‘Oil’. And there are rather too many moments where Daniel Plainview played, mostly magnificently, by Daniel Day Lewis, is symbolised as the Devil incarnate sheathed in shards of flame and plumes of smoke. OK PT, we get it…

The context in which this greed is acted out is Oil Boom America (the first third of the last century). It centres around an oil prospector’s run ins with an unnamed fundamentalist Christian outback church.

The parallels between Bush and Iraq are not difficult to see.

Whilst the congregation may be innocent worshippers, the relationship between the young pastor (Dano) and Plainview, is the real axis of the movie and it meets with mixed results. Partly because Dano’s performance is not 100% convincing. Close, but no cigar.

Indeed the denoument was, I thought, verging on the absurd.

Daniel Day Lewis’ descent into madness is well observed and he manages to avoid the excesses of Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York. However, having seen most of the big movies of the year his was probably the best male lead performance – although I felt Ellen Page in Juno and Javier Bardem in A Country For Old Men were better, purer, more believable constructs.

Which brings me to my final point. The Coen’s movie beats it hand down on every level except for the score, which is stunning.

Jonny Greenwood was responsible and this is the standout moment…


Verdict?  7/10.  (Still an A in old money, but I was expecting a straight 10)

The Hold Steady


This great band from Brooklyn NYC were in Glasgow last night playing at The Garage. Ian Dommett and I attended and were blown away by their passion, energy and sheer musicianship. An outstanding gig by a top notch band.

They even did Chips Ahoy justice. Boys and Girls in America, the first encore was peerless.

And Stuck Between Stations? Well, judge for yourselves.


The support were excellent too, look out for them. Good old Rock and roll. The Haze, from Maybole,

First single out next month. 

Professor Cary Fowler


You probably heard about this guy’s life work, setting up a seed store 150 metres into a mountain in Greenland on the news yesterday.

I think this is really a very important piece of scientific persistance and it smacks, to me at least, of Nobel Prize winning work.

The essence of his idea is that all of the world’s seeds are collected in one place; in theory, at least, the situation is immune from earthquake, nuclear war, global warming’s greatest extremes and power cuts.

One can never know the potential value of this, but it is hard to underestimate.

Good on you mate (and the Norwegian Govt).

It’s hard to take people with you to do what is the right thing.

recent listening

This is a bit different. A modern take on folk as a kind of folk supergroup. They could have called themselves Sky Ba’tat!


Led by Martin and Eliza Carthy and featuring Sheila Chandra, Benjamin Zephania, Paul Weller, Trans-Global Underground, Billy Bragg, The Copper Family and Tuung it maybe shouldn’t work, but it does.

However, even though it’s a new take on folk if you don’t like folk you won’t like this. If you’re ambivalent it might just swing it for you.

They are The Imagined Village. What’s most interesting is when they meld olde English Folk with ‘World Rythms’ so that the percussion can be really interesting and exciting, particularly on the song “Cold Haily Rainy Night.”


The other thing that’s heavily rotating on the car stereo is the soundtrack from Juno featuring a bunch of quirky off-beat stuff. “A bit kooky” would, I suppose, sum it up and no better demo of that is the Velvet Underground’s “I’m sticking with you” which is, for those of you that know it, is not typical Velvets.

In addition it features Dearest by Buddy Hololy which is really rather good and A Well Respected Man by The Kinks, thereafter you’re into Belle and Sebastian territory with a couple of contributions (Expectations and Piazza. New York Catcher). But the real backbone of the album is a bunch of college bands from the US that I’ve never heard of but would like to find out more, principally Kimya Dawson, but also Barry Louis Polisar, Antsy Pants and The Moldy Peaches.

Here’s some Kimya…


It’s all good fun, feelgood stuff.

Well worth a tenner.

The next big thing?

The Ting Tings. Mark my words, you saw it here first. (Well, if you’re over 40n taht is, they’ve been building a big fanbase of myspace for a while and have played Glastonbury and played Jools as you can see from this vid.)

It’s a really interesting and original act from Salford.


First single (proper) is out on March 3rd. This is it…


Calm it…

I am occasionally accused of being a bit OTT in my enthusiasm for things. I don’t really consider that a weakness. What’s wrong with as bit of enthusiasm?

However, this guy, Steve Ballman takes it to the nth degree. Thanks to Steve Douglas for pointing me in the right direction.



Eldon Tyrell


My blog has been infected by Eldon Tyrell wannabees. (See he’s at it again comments.)

One is an asswipe (although I must admit I hadn’t copped the Bladerunner reference at first and I was probably being bated, so maybe he’s actually a great wit).

The other is my pal, agent provocateur and known asswipe, Rob Morrice, feebly attempting to pass himself off as Mr T. For those of you who work for a living it’s probably too much to either keep up with or care about. For the rest of us (me) it’s rather amusing.

The question is; Do sheep have electric dreams?

one of life’s great treats


You know as well as I do that Ansell Adams is a great, really great, photographer. I suspect that the difference between you and I though is that, as of Saturday, I have seen his work in the flesh.

So what, you might say.

So everything I would retort.

Have you ever seen a real life Tission? A Boticelli? A Caravaggio? A Canaletto? Have you ever seen a reproduction of them? If you have you will understand how visceral the experience was of seeing the real thing is in the flesh. So imagine seeing not one but 150 Adams’ in the flesh.

Here, In Edinburgh, for only £4, with no more than 300 people in the gallery.

All of his most famous work is on display (until April). The first surprise is the size of the prints, few are larger than 10 x 8.

The second is the low lighting conditions. (Quite challenging, but these prints need to be protected.)

The third is how gobsmackingly brilliant the execution of these photos is. It’s one thing composing and capturing these brilliant shots, it’s another thing entirely developing and printing to this level of excellence. I actually cannot describe how breathtaking it is. The skies are often black, pitch black, against grey mountains and small pools of razor-sharp, piercing light.

One can concieve, just, how this can be achieved in Photoshop world, but in 1945? Honestly, the techical achievement is unreal. Almost literally.

As for the photos, what more can I possibly add to the huge body of slavvering adulation?


But, for the record, both Jeana and I had these shots as the highlights.


You simply would not comprehend how beautiful the effect of the moving water is in this image.


No, not ‘Half Dome’.

Your computer screen will not even remotely do this photo justice.

There is only one way. Get on a plane to Edinburgh.


PS. He is not perfect. A significant chunk of the exhibition features his experimental work on parchment coloured Kodak paper that, for me, killed his shots. The paper does not hold the contrast of his skies and they appear insipid compared to his silver Gelatin work.

Juno – oh yes!



I’ve just seen back to back breathtakingly good movies (No country for old men and this) and I’ve got “There will be blood” to come.  This is a vintage movie year, make no mistake. There will be no embarrasement like “Crash” in 2008’s Oscars (The Scottish remake is “Pish”)

It was really interesting that every award at the BAFTAs last week seemed justified and yet Atonement’s first award of the night was “Best Film”.

Made sense to me.

They say it’s all in the writing; and of course it is.  Of course it is – because that’s where the ideas lie.

Juno is quite extraordinarily written by this year’s original screenplay Oscar winner (if not I will eat my hat) Diablo Cody – great name by the way: well written.


The script apparently has a bit of an autobiographical streak to it but who cares really because this script hums, zings, kerpows, shocks, amazes.

It is the best written movie I can remember.   I don’t buy that old school Casablanca was genius approach – because I think the writing was wooden – hence the acting.

The Coen’s movie from last week (which is brilliantly directed and acted) is largely lifted from McCarthy’s novel, so that maybe doesn’t compete as a “script”.

Juno, the film and the character, is ascerbic in the extreme, but that is where the film’s second great quality kicks in – Ellen Page.

In the hands of a lesser actress this would have turned into a vitriolic, acidic, bitchlike performance.  Instead it is funny, charming and endearing.  She too has a chance of an Oscar (I’ve not seen Julie Christie, so can’t comment, and as much as I loved Keira Knightley’s Atonement performance I do believe this is superior.)

This film is much funnier than I expected and when I say funny I don’t just mean “funny”, I mean “Dad, shut up you’re the loudest person in the cinema.” funny. (Said Tom.)  In a completely different way it is as funny as Borat.

And that’s funny.

I laughed out loud 20 times.  That makes good value for money in my book.

But it is also poignant, beautiful, well observed and has the kick-assest soundtrack you could ever conjure up from the fey fraternity, led by the likes of Belle and Sebastian who feature twice.  I will (sadly) buy the soundtrack (as will Kenneth Fowler).

Sorry to be so unoriginal but it really is another 9 out of 10 movie.

It really is.

Sense check

A friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous,  has noted the enhanced activity on my blog today and has made the following observation…

“I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but your blog’s gone all pish and is suddenly full of luvvies talking crap that only makes sense to members of the coterie.


Do a review of an obscure record to scare them off…”

So…anyone heard the new Adele Album; 19 which I am listening to a lot just now?



Just remember; don’t go chasing pavements.

Whatever that means.

He’s at it again


My old sparring partner, and later boss, Rob Morrice has shared his views on how Scottish advertising can evolve in The Drum, England.

As an ex employee of Halls it is my duty to share this with you and invite comment.

So, here goes.

“I think in order to sort Scotland out what you should do is find all the people who have any connection with that old, famous agency Hall Advertising and put them out to grass. Scotland needs younger people and new ideas. Too many people in Scotland are still trying to emulate the glory days of the 80s and 90s. The work Scotland is producing has not changed. The big agencies are just paying lip service to new disciplines and have not really embraced areas such a digital and direct marketing.”

It is a classic Morrice rant – which was a reminder of another question. Why has he been so quiet of late?

“I simply wanted to prove I could keep my gob shut.”

Rob is, of course, entitled to his opinion but this seems rather a sweeping statement.

If we put all the people who have any connection to Halls out to grass we’d have to say bye bye to 60 Watt (Sorry Pete), The Leith Agency (Gerry you couldn’t cut the mustard mate, or you Les), me (but I’m not so much an agency as a cottage industry), The Scottish Government (Roger Goldie is an exHalls boy), Tayburn Advertising (Jon Stevenson), Will Atkinson and Jim Downie, The Union (Andrew Lindsay was a senior art director at Halls asnd Mark Reid a planner), The Union Leeds (Clive Goldstien) TMP (where Guy Gumm is now Creative Director), Feather Brooksbank (Sorry Stuart(s) you’re old hat mate), Golley Slater (Ian Scott started out at Halls), Scotinform (Janet Sylvester and Sheena Muncie), Story (you’re history, thanks to Mike Donoghue), Hush (Jeez, they’ve not even started yet but Gary Smith did the wrong thing by setting up Hall Direct), Mighty Small (Well that seems an appropriate name now doesn’t it Adrian).

You get my point.

There will be many I’ve missed.


Anyway.  The whole sorry episode is revealed in far greater depth in The Drum Scotland tomorrow (Friday).

Check it out. And comment on their website too!

Now, that’s what I call a headline…

Real Madrid track Hibernian’s Steven Fletcher

By Steve Wilson

Last Updated: 12:43pm GMT 11/02/2008

Real Madrid have been watching the progress of Hibernian striker Steven Fletcher with a view to making a £4 million bid for the 20-year-old at the end of the season.


(From Today’s Telegraph).

Stick that in your pipe Mr Romanov…

No country for old men


Although Josh Brolin, playing Llewelyn Moss, is ostensibly the star of the Cormac McCarthy story, his faultless performance is overshadowed by that of Javier Bardem – the “hood” Anton Chigurh. Bardem’s performance is unquestionably the stuff of Oscars and every time he hits the screen the effect is electrifing. Seemingly inhuman (other than the time he spares the life of an old petrol station owner on the toss of a coin) he radiates evilness.

Set in Texas and on the Mexican border in 1980 the tale verges at times on the preposterous as a tangled web involving trailer trash opportunist, Moss, stumbles upon$2 million dollars as the result of a shoot out between rival Mexican gangs at the handover of a truck load of drugs. Instead of handing it into the police like any good boy would do he decides to keep it and there then follows an elaborate chase to get the money back, led by Bardem , The Mexican’s hired hand. It is much complicated by the simultaneous tracking of Moss by, but the other Mexican gang, a Private detective/hitman, Woody Harrelson, and a “whatever” Police Sherrif, the world and police force-weary Tommy Lee Jones who is nearing his retirement.

In the middle of it all sits the vulnerable and utterly convincing wife of Moss played beautifully by Kelly MacDonald. What a repertoire she has – her range is astonishing and she is quickly becoming one of Scotland’s greatest actresses ever.


The title is in some aways a parody. It’s difficult to reach old age in this racket and the deaths clock up on a regular basis. but also it represents the central theme of the movie which rotates around Thornton’s imminent retirement and the memory of his father, also a copper, who died young (in his 40’s).

It is a movie about death and has strong ethical and moral undertones. Although he has little screen time it is Thornton who is, in reality, the central protagonist as it is he who bookends the action with his reflections on life and its meaning.

The action is pretty grizzly but rarely gratuitous, as the Coen’s have chosen to direct it lightly – no great, epic cinematography – but great cinematography nonetheless, no music AT ALL – it’s almost a Hollywood Dogme film and that adds greatly to its impact.

Heavy-handed direction, big scores, florid cinematography; all would have turned the prepostrousness of the tale into a prepostrous movie. As it is, it succeeds effortlessly in being the movie the great mafia directors (Coppola, Mann, Scorsese) would die for. In the hands of Tarantino the film might have become a parody of the book.

The Coen Brothers are very, very good filmmakers. This is a very, very good Coen Brothers film.

9 out of 10.


Quel disastre

Are any of you aware of Scrabulous?

It is probably the single best feature of Facebook. Basically it is online Scrabble and, in various degrees, it has engrossed the Gorman family. Most of all, Jeana.

She called me to the computer an hour ago and bemoaned the fact that although she had played some good words her online (random) competitor was kicking her derrière.

“Look at this” she said. “It’s not fair.”

The aforementioned competitor was clocking up big numbers. If truth be told I didn’t pay too much attention to the detail of the words but sniggered a little at the score. Half an hour later she ventured “Is She French?”

“What are you talking about?” I queried

“Well, I’ve just realised that her words are all French and she seems to be playing with the French dictionary switched on.”

Jeana had managed to play six, (Je suis desolee, six) rounds of what she thought was an English Scrabble game in French, without noticing.

What’s all the more amazing is that she had already scored 111 points. (Actually, that’s better than she usually does when she plays in English.)

Doh! (Je suis desolee, Doh!)

And if you doubt me, here is the proof.

Now, guess which words Jeana played. I’ll give you a clue cuirais and cabanon and observais and vengea and henne are not hers.


Spring has sprung

Some people might think we know that spring has sprung because the snowdrops are flowering,



Daffodils are beginning to pop their heads out of the ground and flower,


But I think it’s when you can get your washing back out on the line in the garden.


And, as my father-in-law, Peter Gorman, used to say “There’s nothing better than watching your washing blowing in God’s good wind.”.


1576 Advertising RIP


On the 1st of September 1994 David Reid, Adrian Jeffery and myself put the last touch of paint onto the basement wall of our basement home in Tweeddale Court on Edinburgh’s prestigious Royal Mile (we always used Royal Mile in our address because it sounded better than High Street, which was the official postal address). I stood there, resplendent in green and white Y Fronts (I always painted in my Y fronts because it was easier to clean your skin than your trousers) and took a deep breath. This was it. It wasnt a dream or an adventure anymore. It was our livelihood.

At 9.23 the phone rang. Our only client, Spectacles, who one day become 20 20 Opticians.

“Oh Hi John ” I said ” I expect you’re phoning to set up a meeting…”

“No, I’m phoning to fire you.”

I’d never even met him. He was a complete twat as this, and future history (if there is such a thing) went on to prove.

We’d now gone from a prospective income of £12,000 pa to zip; nada; fuck all.

Eight days later Jeana gave birth to our second and third child (the third conception and pregnancy was not some form of record – we had twins).

We were right in the shit then.

Better get some business.

As luck, some would say talent, would have it though we did get some business (Holywood Bowl) and some more (The Blood Transfusion Service) and some more (Smiths Menswear) and some more (Sinclairs Criminal Lawyers) so that by Christmas we had our first six commercials on air. We made a handsome profit in year one and paid off our personal debts. We never drew down the start up capital and things just went from good to better.

One year, I can’t remember exactly when, we had nine nominations at the Scottish Ad Awards and every single one of them won a Gold, meaning that we tied with The Lieth Agency as the top award winners. They were lucky to escape with a tie because we were better.

At times we were cocky bastards. At times we weren’t. (I can’t remember when though.)

But gradually we got bigger and bigger. We won multi-million pound accounts that sucked the energy and, to be honest, the creativity out of us. We became like the establishment that we felt so superior about.

I got bored.

I left in 2003.

But, you know what, those times were, on the whole, the best. I made my bravest, and most foolish, clientesque decisions.

Picture the scene. David and Adrian, having been briefed by me to write a series of commercial virals selling 1576, present me with five scripts with a man dressed up as a six foot penis trying to perform office and day-to-day functions in the guise of a rubbish marketing director (most obscene of all was the penis going for a piss) and I said

“Fabulous, hilarious, it will really stand out!”

It did.

Not for good reasons.

Ruth’s Bar, the Friday night swalley, was a hoot – because it was a “free” night out with your mates – and believe me, 1576 were my mates. Every last bloody one of them.

I loved, really loved, the people I worked with. We all cried when I left. Many of us cried last night too (I’m sure) when we learned that cocky, creative, amazing, get it up ya, 1576 was no more.

A very sad day and my heart goes out to David and all the team that were there at the end.

In an ironic, but wonderful, postscript one of the undoubted heroes of 1576, Mimi, gave birth to a baby girl, her first, yesterday afternoon, almost to the second that 1576 shut its doors for the last time.

Life’s an odd thing is it not?


1/9/94 – 7/2/08

Total world domination


Here’s a fact.


The difference in ranking terms between world golf number one,  Tiger Woods, and number two, Phil Mickelson, is GREATER than the difference between Phil Mickelson and the World number 1,000.


That is why Tiger Woods is a god.  It just so happens he is decent, honest, truthful, faithful and, dare I say it, handsome.

Tiger is closer this year than ever in the past to concievably winning the Grand Slam of Majors.  I suspect he will slip up somewhere and have to settle for three, startiong with The Masters in April.  And his performance in The Buick last week, on the course that hosts the US Open, suggests that is in the bag too.  He’s only played two tournaments thus far in 2008.  The result?  Two wins.

The scale of that achievement was demonstrated vividly last night when J B Holmes picked up his second ever career win (unusual in most golfers to achieve even two). His reaction said it all.


On the other hand, two wins in two weeks, one in Europe, one in the US, says that even Tiger is perhaps under-represented by his world ranking.



Originally uploaded by mark gorman.

I took this picture 18 days before he died. On June 30th 2007. At a barbecue at our house. It turns out it was the last thing he ever ate. I know it’s a rather melancholy photograph but it was a moment of repose amongst a lot of smiling and laughing. I’ve converted it in Photoshop to add to its melancholy air which might seem a little morbid to some of you but, you know what, I think it’s beautiful and I’m very fond of it. There’s more, happier, pictures of my dad on my Fluickr site which you can find here

the advertising barometer

It just goes to show how attitudes change as these old ads demonstrate.

Fags feature large in the inappropriateness of the past like this one for superbrand Tipalet…


or this for Marlboro…


Social marketing has always been “in your face” but this one for hooker avoidment is brilliant and the casting of an Ameriocan Belle du Jour quite striking.I wonder if “the axis” is refering to the axis of evil.


Speaking of the Axis Ive saved the for last.  This ad for Pakistan International Airlines leaves you thinking…