Highlight of Glastonbury 2008?


OK, so this is a video, not their live performance at Glasto.  But the song and performance was my favourite moment of the weekend. It’s lovely, isn’t it.

Funnily enough.  Amy and I saw them at Meadowbank a couple of years ago supporting Snow Patrol.

We christened them Elbore.

Just shows, you have to keep an open mind to everything.

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spain win euro 2008 in spite of being perennial underachievers. Will they lose that tag forever?


So, the perennial underachievers who perennially underachieve didn’t perennially underachieve in a competition that perennial underachievers rarely achieve in. But as perennial underachievers against the strongest of final perennal achievers they achieved a great deal for perennial underachievers. In fact they achieved the ultimate achievement for underachievers; they achieved.

What are our perennially underachieving commentators gonna say about the perennial underachievers at the next tournament when as ex-perennial underachievers they can no longer be described as perennial underachievers?

If they win it, they might become perennial achievers but, of course, if they fail they will, once again, regain the perennial underachievers tag; principally because they’ll have entered the tournament as the most likely to achieve and have then underachieved.

It was a great game, a great tournament and, throughout, the perennial underachievers deserved to achieve.

Thank the lord that they did.

If, for no other reason than my sanity.

Glastonbury 2008


I called the kids into the living room to watch Amy Winehouse’s performance. Not as a matter to laugh about but to see what the horrors of drugs does to people.

Her presence at Glastonbury may have been in the face of medical advice given that she ‘allegedly’ is suffering from Emphysema but it was apparent to all that the drugs have taken hold.

It was very sad.

Not only did she fidget uncontrollably with her clothing throughout but she also appeared to punch somebody in the audience having been physically helped from the stage to get nearer her ‘fans’,

A third album will be a miracle. I have to say I very much doubt we will ever encounter it.

Jay Zee was an interesting choice as Saturday night headliner and, for me, only really worked in parts.

My favourite moment (apart from Hot Chip dueting with Wiley) was Ethiopiques on the World Stage.

My mate Jon Stevenson is there. At least he won’t get foot rot this year.

Oh, and the 30 seconds of Massive attack that I saw looked good.

22 dreams by Paul Weller


I have an ambivalent attitude to Paul Weller.

I don’t know why, because you could fill several CD’s with his highly enjoyable ‘best of’… However, I think he blows a bit hot and cold for me; maybe it’s just because he’s had such a phenomenal output in volume terms (even this album has a collosal 21 tracks).

Wildwood was classy.

I liked some, but not much, of Style Council, I liked some, but not all, of The Jam.

So, this stunning album, (I was prompted to buy it on the back of seeing him live on TV a couple of times, but more significantly by the outstanding single, ‘Have you made up your mind.“) has really taken me by surprise.

It’s massively varied, although it has a strong rock backbone to it.

It’s not a life-changing record but it is a very, very good one by a man who has had more iterations than a highly iterative thing.  Like a website for example.

Try it.  You might like it.

Here’s the stunning single I referred to.

]

The Road by Cormac Mccarthy


Where does one begin in reviewing a novel of this importance?

Well, first let’s reflect on its critical merit.  It won the Pulitzer Prize last year.  I have a great affection for both this and the Booker Prize as I believe they award great, and readable, books.  I had a trawl through the Pulitzer archives to see what it came up with.  Have a look yourself.  You might be surprised as to what has and hasn’t won.

For me I’d read the following winners;

The Road 2007

Middlesex 2003

The Shipping News 1994

A thousand Acres of Sky 1992

To Kill a Mockingbird 1961

The Grapes of Wrath 1940

(Jeana had also read The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields that won in 1995.)

With the exception of A Thousand Acres of Sky I would put every one down as a stonewall classic.  (For the record I think Jane Smiley’s Horse Heaven is a far more interesting read than 1,000 Acres.)

Anyway, returning to The Road in particular, Tom Gatti of The Times says on the jacket “It will knock the breath from your lungs.” and I cannot disagree.

This post-apocalyptic novel is fearsome, chilling and very scary indeed.  Honestly, it’s like watching a superior horror film, so visceral, taught and fast flowing is his writing.  My other favourite post-apocalyptic book is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood which is also very frightening, but has a less foreboding sense of inevitability about it.

As is his wont McCarthy brings God in a fair amount.  Fair enough when you’re one of the few remaining souls on earth.  But he does so with a lightness of touch that is utterly in keeping with the narrative.

In the hands of the right director and cinematographer – ah, Mr and Mr Coen, do step forward please – this would make a multi-Oscar winning movie because his plotting and imagery is so breathtaking.  Like No Country for Old Men he paints a visual tableaux throughout the book that is screenplay-like.  But the depth and quality of his language is what raises him above most living writers.

Compare him to one of my favourite oft-filmed writers, Ian McEwan, and you can see why McEwan is accused of writing for show (many accused him of this in On Chesil Beach).  McCarthy never does this.  Everything is stripped down and considered.  Every last word.

He has a habit of concluding conversations between the son and father when big decisions are being mnade between them with two words.

Okay?  Okay!

Of course, without the punctuation.

I thought this simple device said much more than you could ever imagine the repetition of two duplicated unpunctuated words ever could.

The device demonstrates trust – deep, deep trust – love, commitment, understanding, conviction, resolve  and determination.

How does he do that by simply writing…

Okay.

Okay.

Because he is a genius.  That is how.

The relationship between the main protagonists, the father and son, is heartbreakingly close, loving, tender and harrowing.  On more than one occassion I was close to tears.  Their fear is palpable as the events unfold.

No preaching.  No heavy handed political metaphor. Although many believe that this is one of the most important environmental statements ever made and I am inclined to agree with that because it so clearly demonstrates what life without a functioning planetary ecosystem might be like.  I tell you what, you wouldn’t like it.

It’s just a wonderful story about the human condition.  Draw from it your own conclusions.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Far and away my book of this or almost any year.

There is no question that this is required reading for the human race.

PS.  Just in case you think I’m being overly enthusiastic I’ll put in a word of warning.  A friend of mine said it was “a bit boring.”  I quite honestly can’t comprehend why he thought that, but he did so hey, I’ve warned you.

But, if you buy this book on the back of my review and you find it a bit boring, I’ll pay for it for you.

PPS Since writing the above I note that a film adaptation of the novel is currently in production. It is directed by John Hillcoat and written by Joe Penhall. The film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the Man and the Boy, respectively. Production has taken place in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Oregon.

Who’s the big guy?



Originally uploaded by digitalagency’s.

Ha! This is a shot of me at last night’s SMA meeting. I am the Chairman of The SMA as you might know, and it was a brilliant debate about digital marketing featuring Mike Coulter, John Campbell, Eliza Dashwood, Stewart Kirkpatrick and Scott Howard.

I just sat intently with my arms folded. As you can see.

Check out the sunburned fizog.  I’d just played golf at Archerfield that afternoon.

Big Brother


I’ve tried not to watch this.  Really I have, and I’ve mostly succeeded, but tonight I watched in horror as the disarmly camp gay guy from Edinburgh was thrown out of the house for gobbing in the face of Mohammed.

Not nice.  No, not nice at all.

See ya.  Wouldnae wannae be ya.

Jonathon Ross faux pas.


JR thinks he is above everything. But you knew that.

But even he looked embarrassed last night when he interviewed Charlotte Church.

She told him that she had sung in numerous languages and then demonstrated by singing an extract from a song in Japanes.

Wossy asked her what it meant.

She didn’t know.

So JR opined that it might mean “I am a Welsh slapper.”

Nice.

Classy.

His face fell immediately of course and he offered an apology.

I hope Gavin Henson twats him right in the kisser next time he sees him. Cheeky sod.

Bad news


The BBC news tonight was full of nasty stuff.  But surely the worst was about the pub owners in Sheffield who starved their three year old daughter to death in the upstairs room of their pub.

She gets 12 years.  He gets 5.  (Can anybody explain why they didn’t each get the same sentence by the way?)

For torturing an infant to death you get 12 years, reduced to six presumably for good behaviour?

That’s not right is it?

As time goes by


The anniversary of my dad’s death looms large and as a mark of respect my mum and dad’s dear friend Sylvia Morrison cooked up a plan some time ago that came to fruition tonight.

She and her husband Gagy used to have the occassional snifter with my mum and dad in the Theatre Royal Bar of an afternoon. Next to the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre, it features a host of Playhouse performers’ signed and framed photos.

Sylvia felt my dad, as a ‘Local Hero’, should take his place for immortality, among the greats. And so plans were set in place to gain him a berth on the walls.

My pal, Jim Downie, beautifully designed a tribute to him and whilst this photo can never do it credit it might give you a wee taster to have a look yourself.

On the night over 100 people showed for a fantastic get togetherof family, friends and FCT.

It was magic.

We toasted Pego with an oggy, oggy oggy.

Oy, oy oy.

Yah beauty

A nice plus was that his picture replaced Burt Bacharach’s so, by way of an apology to Burt I think we need to enjoy some of his wonderousness.

For me, his collaboration with Elvis Costello is peerless.

Here’s a wee bit…

On the way home we collectively had our first ever Deep Fried Mars Bar.  Ria loved it.  The rest of us were less dismissive than we should have been.

Not a typical day


OK, so I did do some work this morning. Hard work at that.

Then I met me old mucker David for lunch at 99 Hanover St. Quite good food but nothing to particularly write blogs about.

After that the adventure began.

We set out to ‘do’ the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

First up a series of shorts called Idle Hands.

Idle fucking film making more like. The guy who set it up virtually apologised about the fact that the screenings may, or may not, have a theme.

Anyway the depression started with an Israeli 26 minute film about an old guy who’d been fired from a print factory and couldn’t deal with it so kept going back to work. Well acted and totally fucking miserable. Shred of Hope it was called.

Aye, we had a shred of hope that things might get more interesting. (Being as they couldn’t get any more worthy.)

Next up.

Hero.

An Australian 18 minuter about the most depressing fucker you’ve ever come across in your life. Brilliantly acted but ended in deep confusion and, of course, depression.

Then the piece de resistance a Turkish ‘thing’. I mean you couldn’t call it entertainment; or art. It was just total pish, luckily only 14 minutes long, and called ‘the slope’. Aye the slippery fucking slope. It consisted of a chronically badly filmed travelogue of a Turkish guy walking slowly up a slope to his work as a hospital porter, working, then going back home down the bleeding slope.

And the worst of it was the guys who made it had come along and were sitting right behind us.

Well, the applause at the end of the screening was deaf. (Note the lack of the suffix -enning.)

The film grading, editing, cinematography, music, direction and script were utterly rank.

It was, however, saved by being only 14 minutes long.

Despite this I had to wake David up twice.

The final instalment of total and utter depression was a French farce about a guy working as a pizza delivery man but having delusions of sitting in boardrooms. Frankly, you don’t wanna know any more. We gave it till half time.

We walked.

After that it got worse. We switched from The Filmhouse to Cineworld to see a piece of boring shit from Sweden called “the King of Ping Pong.”. (Correction; pretentious, tedious, boring shit.)

It’s about being a kid, fat, hating yopur parents, confusion and stuff.

Take my advice,

Don’t.

Ping Pong?

Nah, Pish posh.

Queensferry High – School of ambition


We went to see Amy in the Senior School’s show tonight, having seen Ria in the Lower School’s excellent ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ last week. The older pupils write, direct, choreograph and costume their own shows, three in all, one by each house.

Inevitably it’s hard to know where us dads should look at times with all that dancing about in skimpy dresses.

And that’s just the boys…

Anyway. It was excellent entertainment and a credit to the heidy; Mr Birch and his drama department.

I am constantly amazed by the standard of teaching at Queensferry High. The performances and turn out tonight showed just how amazingly the school has integrated itself into our community. Something to be really proud of.

Oh, and both Amy and Ria were brilliant.

Joan as Policewoman’s new cracker


On the subject of female singer songwriters…here’s another one.

The second album by Joan as Policewoman will not go down well if you don’t like jazz. So don’t even go there. It isn’t an outright Jazz album, but it certainly leans in that general direction. She comes from a great musical stock having first come to my attention as one of Antony and the Johnston’s band members. And is currently supporting Rufus Wainwright who puts in an appearance on the new album. She was Jeff Buckley’s bird you know.

Her debut, ‘Real Life’ last year firmly put her on the map in her own right

The new one, ‘To survive’ is an absolute peach. Languid, free-flowing and lush with unconventional song structures. It’s not all verse-chorus and makes for a very easy listening experience

Great with a good book and a glass of red wine.

Try this for size – from Real life.

]

Aimee Mann returns to form


I’ve been getting a kicking from Fowlup for my dissing of The Fleet Foxes new and rather good, but not at all great album. And he hasn’t had the bottle to purchase the new Aimee Mann disc without the prior benefit of my outpourings. However, because he is sulking about my review of the FF’s (no, not the Foos) I suspect he will, in turn, seek to take an opposing line with my views on this.

I predict he will say “Ah, Gorman’s off on one of his female singer songwriter” things again. How dull.

Well, perhaps, but the fact is Aimee Mann has returned dramatically to form after the disappointment of The Forgotten Arm.

Her seventh, yes seventh, album “@#x%x*! Smilers” (despite a desperately bad title and sleeve) is a peach from the very first bars of the opener, Freeway. It’s a lush, subtle, melodic, brilliantly arranged mood piece that sits as a companion with with Batchelor No 2 her previous finest hour

Perhaps it’s her most mature work to date. And that wouldn’t be a surprise given that she’s been round the block a few times now.

I was fortunate enough to visit Victoria and Karl in Peterheed last week and amongst other things I played Karl a copy of this album and his view was that he thought he hated Aimee Mann but thought this was great.

It’s excellent stuff.

Don’t listen to Kenneth.

Listen to this…

]

OOOH a wee celebrity comment


Imagine my surprise when I saw that David Icke had decided to comment on one of my posts. The content blasts the unconfirmed banning of Holocaust teachings in British schools. You’ll find his comment at the end of the stream on this post.

He applauds the ultra right wing comments of previous contributor and fellow Holocaust denier – Dishpan from Namibia.

His views on alien abduction and the likes are pretty well known.

So, make your own mind up…

(Of course, it might be an elaborate hoax at Ickey’s expense. But that’s the problem when you nail your colours to a hugely unpopular mast isn’t it.)

recent listening – Fleet Foxes


I’ve been under some peer pressure to love this album.  Both K and K have slavvered over it and it comes with an 88 rating on Metacritic.com.  Essentially it is the cognescenti’s album of the year so far.  Add the fact that it is on the sublime Bella Union Record label and it can’t fail.  Can it?

Yes, actually it can.

It’s a wee bit Midlakey (Even Mrs G spotted that) and a big bit My Morning Jacket.

The trouble is, despite its beautiful angst and moody reflectiveness, taught playing and good melodies something just isn’t clicking.  Is it trying too hard I wonder?  Is the lead singer’s oft falsetto voice too irritating?  Is the overuse of echo by the production team trying to make it too ‘important’?

I think it’s the latter.

It suffers from kinda pompous production.  Rather than making it a cosy, fireside, modern-day folk record it turns it into some sort of bombastic minimalism. (I know, that’s paradoxical but it’s true.)

The production, for me, sucks.

It’s a good enough record.

But album of the year?

No way Jose.

A weekend of justification in Euro 2008


Well, I’m quite glad I backed the Russians to win Euro 2008 at 22/1.  They’ve been spectacular in their last two matches and Arshavin has been the revelation of the tournament.  Here’s hoping there’s more to come from him.  It was a splendid game and a great performance all round (51 shots on goal) and was what footie should all be about.

Then there was the Italians.

Utter cynicism.

Toni finished the tournament without even looking like scoring.

A terrible game ‘dominated’ by Spain but ruined by Italy.  Oh how we cheered when they lost on penalties.  But it begs the question; are the Spanish good enough to win the tournament?  I don’t think so.

In terms of my predictions; well I thought Russia and Germany would be in the semis, and they are; and that Italy would beat Spain in the other quarter final.  Well, I got the teams right but not the result.

I honestly think Russia can do it.  My bank manager hopes so to.

Roooaar


I predicted in January that Tiger Woods would win three of the four majors this year.

I thought the US Open and The Masters were certainties but I was, in a way, pleasantly surprised when Trevor Immelman proved me wrong by being the only person to beat Tiger in The Masters.

So for Tiger to then to go off from Augusta for an invasive knee operation made my prediction look pretty unlikely, given that the US Open was only some 8 weeks later.

Despite the fact that he had not played golf between the two Majors he was still sent off favourite last weekend.

The fact that he won it was remarkable enough.  But that he had to play an extra 19 holes (and birdie the 18th on both his 4th and 5th rounds just to stay in the tournament) sets him up as one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen.

And let’s not be coy about this.  He is an athlete.

And a very brave man.  He was in agony throughout this tournament and yet still went on to win his 14th Major; three years ahead of Niclaus.

Oh, it’s exciting, so exciting, watching history being set (in slow motion).

The perfect Father’s Day.


I had a delightful Father’s day spent mostly with Jeana as our three children were working (Amy), sleeping over (Ria) and not talking to me (Tom).

So, we went and met an old pal, Steven Tait, who was back in Scotland for a few days from Australia en-route to the Cannes Ad festival.

We had a really nice time spending a few hours in the wonderful Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

Followed by a trip to a Wood Festival full of hippies that was actually good fun.

Then to the Mother-in-laws for a wee nip.

Finally, home to open my Father’s Day pressie from the kids.

A chrome and black fire pit.  What self respecting dad would not have one of those to go with his barbie?

Sat in the garden for hours reading, looking at the sky, listening to music and football and generally chilling out with, at times, the kids.

Lovely.

The meaning of death


“It’s a mess, ain’t it sherrif.”

“If it aint it’ll do till a mess gets here.”

I have just finished No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. If ever a movie was a shrine to a book, this is it. The film is sublime. The book is sublimer.

I have not been a McCarthy fan previously, despite having read both The Crossing and All the Pretty Horses. I found both of them a bit one-paced (a slow one at that) if the truth be told and somehow, for me at least, unengaging.

This, however, is a very different kettle of words.

80% of the book is a rip-roaring bloodfest interweaving the stories of Chigurh; the Mexicano Mammon that is as close to satan on earth as could be imagined, Moss; the ill-informed prey who chances upon untold riches which frankly are his death sentence from chapter one, and Sherrif Bell; the real hero of the book.

His story, as it gradually unfolds is deeply moving and the real guts of the story. Bell, the narrator, is an honest man with a deeply fucked up psyche, having been made a very reluctant war hero for something that, in his mind, represented an act of cowardice. As he nears retirement much of the substance of the book rotates around his guilt, his dissapointment in how the world has turned out, and his very deep love for his younger wife Lorretta.

It is their relationship that is actually at the heart of what is really a love story. She holds his life together as he tries to understand what on earth the ghost that is Chigurh could possibly be about.

This a very though-provoking book. It’s main theme; destiny and whether or not such a thing really does exist is summed up in Chigurh’s favourite trick, to kill or pass over (as the angels of god did in the old testament) being decided on the flick of a coin.

It’s a deeply religious exploration but there’s little I’ve read that touches on the spirituality of it given that the body count (particularly well realised in the movie) easily gets in the way of its point.

But that point is hammered home very clearly in the last 20% of the book.

McCarthy’s writing, and his way of capturing the vernacular is hugely evocative. I’ve read many books in the Scots vernacular (Welch, Warner, Kelman, Gray, Donovan, Smith) but perhaps the unfamiliarity of McCarthy’s Texan chat is what makes it so affecting. And particularly in Bell’s plot-driven dialogue and his reminiscences it creates a softness that is in stark relief to the bloodbath that it narrates

A wonderful book

I am straight into The Road on Mr Fowler’s recommendation.

monumental


I’ve been catching up on old Jools Holland Shows and I’ve only a few left before I am in real time.  Imagine my delight then to fall upon this – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds playing probably the best song I’ve heard this year (perhaps The Rip by Portishead excluded).

Just dwell on this won’t you.

Look at the passion of every single member of this immense band.  And try to work out thier average age.  I’ll give you a clue.  Cave is 50 and for my money he looks one of the youngest.  The boy on Rock and Roll violin is sublime.

Later in this particular show I stumbled upon this.

My mate Iain Hawk has been raving about Glasvegas for months in a visionary sort of way. This demonstrates why – thier own song; Geraldine.  One thing I really like about them is the way they’ve inverted the usual rock and roll cliches.

The drummer’s a burd.  And bloody good at it too, despite the lack of a bass drum (Yes, I know… White Stripes…)

[Youtube=<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/NcBVhZKZqfg&hl=en”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/NcBVhZKZqfg&hl=en&#8221; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>]

The Derby


I watched the BBC preview on Friday night and was convinced enough by Clair Boulding’s view (and actually my own) to back New Approach.  He won at five to one.

Despite being boxed in; which makes me think he is worth further interest.

The Holocaust


I wrote a post several months ago that I admit was niaive.

It was a bit of a rant about a malicious rumour, and it transpires it was no more than that, claiming that The Holocaust was no longer going to be taught/discussed in the British school history curriculum because of pressure from Muslims.

That particular post has generated a lot of comment.  But the only one that really incenses me is the one that I received this afternoon from a Namibian Holocaust denial promulgator.

Rather than let the pathetic ramblings of the ultra right languish in the back alleys of old posts of mine  I thought I should present it to you, unedited, to make your own minds up.

WordPress is a brilliant thing because it allows free speech for all.  And so I’d like to share with you what some people actually, genuinely believe.  For the record, this is the image that the Namibian ‘dishpan’ refers to as a fake.

My good sir / madam,

Those photos don’t imply any gassings or random acts of violence as shown in portraits of varios wannabe artists. The pile of bodies? Come on, even a first-grader could tell you (after being terribly shocked that you showed him the picture) that those people could have died from anything. Maybe they died of Typhus like the people in the diary of Anne Frank? Go look it up: no one there died of poisonous gasses. And how do we know that Hitler wanted to KILL Jews? There are no papers stating this except the so-called Ramsi (or however it’s spellt) Protocols, and any German (after reading through them) would know that they are badly-done fakes. After the war the Americans (who didn’t win, btw, the Russians did) had access to all the German typewriters, letterheads, stamps and everything needed to make fakes.
And how the hell do you think they got rid of so many bodies in one day? No, burning bodies in a pit doesn’t work. The human body is made up of (I can’t remember exactly now) about 70% water, which makes us really bad burners. A cremation expert could tell you that it takes around two hours to burn one body at a searing temperature. (this takes a LOT of ‘coke’ fuel – much more fuel per day than the camps had imported) And even then the major bones aren’t gone, they have to be crushed in a machine. So if they had to burn thousands of bodies per day, they’d have to have the biggest crematories ever built and the most coke fuel ever used for cremation in a single day – both of which they didn’t have. (The crematories were in the camps for the people who died natural deaths or were victims of war)

So please, sir / madam, know your f-ing facts before you go denouncing Germans. I am a proud Namibian, with Afrikaans and German heritage, spreading the good word about Hitler.
He wasn’t evil. It is not something I believe, it is something I have enough evidence of to believe.

– “Dishpan”

Euro 2008


OK.

Here’s my predictions.

Group A won by Portugal with Switzerland runners up.

Group B Germany then Croatia -Ooh the Group of 39, out go Poland and Austria.

Group C Italy then France – Ooh the Group of Death – out go the Dutch.

Group D Russia then Spain.

Portugal Beat Croatia in the first QF.

Germany beat Switzerland

Italy beat Spain (nae luck again eh Spain)

Russia beat France – OOh there’s a brave one.

In the semis…

Portugal beat Germany – thanks to a Deco/Ronaldo masterclass.

Russia beat Italy – complacency creeps in.

And then Russia beat the Portugese in the final.

Simple.

I wonder when we’ll get the first mention of 1966 arf arf.