2011. In hindsight.


2011. That was the year that was.

2011 was rather less fraught than 2010.  I didn’t work to such ridiculous extremes, and the year end saw my portfolio change quite considerably compared to 12 months ago.  Three big new clients at year end were Maidsafe, Vets2 and Front Page Design, all autumnal starters and all brilliant to work with.  My STV contract finally came to an end after three years but its been great and I am very grateful to them for all the work.

Some old troopers still stand by me; 60 Watt, Paligap, The Usability Lab, Corporation Pop, Ampersand and LA Media, with occassional work from a small number of others.

To you all; slainte and have a great 2012.

If my golf was bad in 2010 it beggared belief in 2011.  I gave up my membership at Dundas Park and clearly that did not have a galvanising effect on my game.  I was shit awful on both trips of the year and even my winter game has been poor.

We didn’t go away as a family in 2011, for a variety of reasons but I had the holiday (maybe an exaggeration to call it that) of a lifetime in June when Ria and I went to Glastonbury.  To say it was memorable would be something of an understatement.  There is one abiding memory of it, I have to say…the bogs.

Not good. And this was on day 1

But there were other memorable sights and moments, like this…

Not good. Day 4.

And this…

All good. Day 4.

Which brings me onto my musical highlights of the year.

My best of CD which you can have if you like included these tracks…

In a good year for music my song of the year, without question, was Video Games by Lana Del Rey.

My albums of the year were;

Bad as Me by Tom Waits (overall my favourite record)

Let England Shake by PJ Harvey

You and I by The Pierces

The English Riviera by Metronomy

A creature I don’t know by Laura Marling

50 Words for Snow by Kate Bush

Hotel Shampoo by Gruff Rhyss

Build a Rocket Boys by Elbow who also performed the gig of the year at Glastonbury (closely followed by King Creosote at The Liquid Rooms)

A different Kind of Love by Bombay Bicycle Club

21 by Adele

I did a lot of cinema in 2011…

Here’s what I thought of what I saw in my IMDB profile…

Two ten out of tens and a few nines show that it was also a good year for movies.  In retrospect I plump for three as my best of the year

Senna

A Separation and

Drive.

On TV This is England 2008 moved me to tears and was by far the year’s greatest offering.  I liked Top Boy too.

I didn’t read a great deal this year but have really enjoyed

The Brothers Sisters by Patrick DeWitt.

The Childrens Hospital by Chris Adrtian.

And Filthy English, The How, Why When and What of Everyday Swearing by Pete Silverton.

But the best read of the year by far was…The Guardian which I grow deeper in love with.

This was a big year of theatre for me.  I reckon I saw at least 20 different productions but easily the stand out was Dance Marathon in which Jeana and I and Chris and Liam danced our asses off for five hours before I was told I was relentless by the Producer.  We also had amazing nights at The Kings for James Cordon in One Man, Two Guvnors and The Lyceum for both Dunsinane and Age of Arousal.

This year was sadly marked by way too much illness among our friends for me to want to dwell on but Matt, David and Jenny I am thinking of you now.

Also, we lost James King, Joyce Cambell and Fiona Pirie from FCT and Rachel Appolinari at the outrageous age of 19.  RIP all of you. xxx

All of the family have blossomed in the past year, thank God, and long may it continue.  In particular Amy has shown an almost exponential growth in confidence and skills in many different areas.

2012 is University year for Tom and Ria should they both choose to go down that path.

And so, to 2012.  It’s the year I turn 50, Amy 21, Tom and Ria 18 and I aim, with Pete the Meat, to lose at least 50 pounds each before we turn 50 in May. We are raising money to do so and you’ll soon hear of our plans.

Thanks for being my reader once again in 2011.  My year end Technorati rating was an all time high closing in on a top 1% of all the blogs in the world rating.

16,000th out of 1.2 million.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo


For the second time in as many years Hollywood has come out to face up to the competition from outstanding Swedish cinema with remakes that, at the time of announcement, seemed indecently hasty.

Cashing in, one might conject?  Maybe so, as the movies in question, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Let me in” could both be accused of copying the Swedish originals quite closely.

So, Boxing Day in the UK saw the much anticipated Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, stateside version, hit our screens and boy does the US cinema industry once again show that it can hold its own against European art house with some ease.

The original (Swedish) movie, which was adapted from a mega hit novel by Steigg Larson, was outstanding.

This reviewer gave it an IMDB score of 9.0.  So how does this compare?

In a word.  Admirably.

Indeed the US version actually communicates the story slightly more clearly than the Swedish adaptation (and that’s not a comment about subtitles).

The fact is, David Fincher is on fire and he has once again crafted a thriller that sits proudly alongside Se7en.

The film opens with a thundering, and truly awesome, cover of Led Zepellin’s Immigrant Song by Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose (the Social Network) – there’s a nice touch early in the movie when Lisbeth’s go to man for forgeries appears wearing a NIN T shirt – and the opening credits, again like se7en are worthy of an Oscar in their own right.  Brilliantly mixing oil and flame (a theme that bookends the movie) they set the scene to perfection.

Black.  Black as you can get.

You’ll probably know the plot if you’re reading this so I won’t go into it; it’s a complex and interwoven tale of historical murder and modern day defamation mixing religion, Nazism and extreme sexual torture, but it’s all handled with a restraint that makes it all the more shocking in a directorial masterclass by Fincher.  With the exception of the brutally bad Benjamin Button, Fincher is building a body of work (including The Social Network, Fight Club, Zodiac The Panic Room and Se7en) that makes him the current king of the thriller and one of the best and most reliable directors in Hollywood.

Daniel Craig is very good in this but Rooney Mara blows him away with a performance every bit as good as Roomi Rapace’s in the Swedish version.

This is a languid, but often shocking, storytelling experience.  It’s a great movie.  Sure, it’s only really a pseudo cop film but it’s got everything that anyone loves about great film making could hope to see in a luxuriant 156 minutes.

Magic. 9/10

I think we did the right thing bailing from the golf this morning


80 mile an hour wind gusts with the prevailing windspeed around 30mph.

The group that went out in front of us at Lundin Links on Fife’s southern coast lasted one and a half holes, lost one of their trolleys which blew onto the beach and one of the players had already also lost three balls.

We had a bacon roll, a cup of tea and headed home.

Common sense prevailing over the prevailing winds.

 

The inconsistency of justice…


How come the “Big Guy” in this video is vilified in many circles for stepping in and sorting out a situation and risks losing his job when all he has done is sort out a wee nyaff that delighted the onlookers..

But this old lady, who stepped in and sorted out a situation becomes a  national treasure when all she has done is sort out a bunch of wee nyaffs that delighted the onlookers.

For the record I think the “Big Man” did everyone on that train a favour and should be lauded.

The Scotfail guard summed the company up quite nicely.

The Computer Love Tour in 1981


This was the tour I was referring to me in my previous post.

I don’t think I can begin to get across how exciting this was.  Seeing Kraftwerk.  Even then they were well beyond legendary status.

It literally blew my mind.

There’s a song on that album called pocket calculator and they played the song live ON POCKET CALCULATORS.

Not so unthinkable now but it was 30 years ago.

Anyway the biggest thrill of all for me was when the passed these pocket calculators out into the front row f the audience and I got to play one for bout 1 second.

In fact…

This is it…

It’s all gone quiet at our place.


Jeana sleeping.  Tom and Amy at work.  Family not arrived yet.  Has given me a chance to check out some tunes.  Fell upon this old video of Das Model by Kraftwerk and was taken by exactly how creepy Ralf, Florien et al look.  Was this a “look”,  a “technique” or just how they were?

They don’t look real but it’s too early for a CGI pisstake of themselves.

Thoughts?

The audience is absurd by the way, you couldn’t begin to imagine in 1980 that this audience would be the one seeing the future of danvce music being played out in front of their very eyes.

I saw them live not long after, front row of the Edinburgh Playhouse for the Computer love tour.

Still one of the greatest ever musical experiences.

New Lana Del Rey single and album out soon


Jesus.  I thought Video Games was singularly the best song of 2011.  Lana Del Rey has put a marker down for best of 2012 already.

Born to Die is astonishing.  Gobsmacking.

And the video (which you can only see on her website here) takes your breath away with the outrageousness of its styling.

Look at these screen grabs to get an idea…

Actually, I was mistaken.  It’s on Youtube.

Feet don’t fail me now
Take me to the finish line
All my heart, it breaks every step that I take
But I’m hoping that the gates,
They’ll tell me that you’re mine
Walking through the city streets
Is it by mistake or design?
I feel so alone on a Friday night
Can you make it feel like home, if I tell you you’re mine
It’s like I told you honey

Don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry
Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough
I don’t know why
Keep making me laugh,
Let’s go get high
The road is long, we carry on
Try to have fun in the meantime

Come and take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane
Choose your last words
This is the last time
Cause you and I, we were born to die

Lost but now I am found
I can see but once I was blind
I was so confused as a little child
Tried to take what I could get
Scared that I couldn’t find
All the answers, honey

Don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry
Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough
I don’t know why
Keep making me laugh,
Let’s go get high
The road is long, we carry on
Try to have fun in the meantime

Come and take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane
Choose your last words,
This is the last time
Cause you and I
We were born to die
We were born to die
We were born to die

Come and take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane

Don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry
Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough
I don’t know why
Keep making me laugh,
Let’s go get high
The road is long, we carry on
Try to have fun in the meantime

Come and take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane
Choose your last words
This is the last time
Cause You and I
We were born to die
We were born to die

One for the anoraks


My 50’s and 60’s obsessed pal, Matt Armstrong, sent me this wonderful link to an instruction on how to play the most famous guitar chord in musical history.  It’s part of a conversation with Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive.

It’s a 12 string F chord with a G on top and on the bottom, plus a C next to the G then add a D on the bass guitar and a Dsus4 (with a G note) on the Rhythm guitar.

This is what you get…

Matt then had a pretty good bash at it himself.  See what you think…

Of course, there is another very famous musical chord.  It’s the opening chord from Wagners Tristan und Isolde Overture and it’s called the Tristan chord.  It’s made up of the notes F, B, D♯ and G♯, and featured heavily in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia earlier this year.  It goes like this…

It’s truly magnificent…

So, there you have it.

Let’s vote…

Never heard this stunning song until this afternoon.


It’s written by John Pryne and has beautiful lyrics.  really sad.

We had an apartment in the city,
Me and Loretta liked living there.
Well, it’d been years since the kids had grown,
A life of their own left us alone.
John and Linda live in Omaha,
And Joe is somewhere on the road.
We lost Davy in the Korean war,
And I still don’t know what for, don’t matter anymore.

Chorus:
Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”

Me and Loretta, we don’t talk much more,
She sits and stares through the back door screen.
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen.
Someday I’ll go and call up Rudy,
We worked together at the factory.
But what could I say if asks “What’s new?”
“Nothing, what’s with you? Nothing much to do.”

Repeat Chorus:

So if you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare
As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello.”

Off to the SEX party.


I have a lot of clients and this year seems to have been the year of the party.  I did two on the same day,  a week past Friday,  following one the day before that.  I did one each last Thursday and Friday and I have two more.  One today and one tomorrow night.

Today is the big one.  The SEX party.

Everyone has a great time at it, getting very relaxed, slipping into more comfortable gear, unwinding with much pre-prandial chat before diving deep into platefuls of turkey et al in the Shore Restaurant.

Yes, the SEX (Self Employed Xmas) party has it all.

Wish me luck.

Cross cultural religious stuff happened today that was really interesting.


I played drums, as I most usually do at mass in South Queensferry.  I’m not so anal about my religion that I HAVE to be there every Sunday, but I try.

Anyway, some good rhythms.

Then I headed up to St Giles Cathedral, on the Royal Mile, to see a friend of mine sing in the choir.  If you know anything about Scottish history you’ll know that that’s not a Catholic worship place but it is very Christian.

I loved it and can recommend Sunday Service there at 11.30.

An extraordinary choir and an amazing location, set off by this stunning angel…

And a great organ…

Black Mirror, 15 million merits


I reviewed episode one of Black Mirror with some gusto last week, so I was surprised to read AA Gill’s absolute trashing of it in the Sunday Times.

Personally I think AA Gill just needs to get a penis envy extraction.

He did, however, make the memorable observation that the plot was as flaccid as a prostate ward; so not all bad.  Anyway AA, you can stick your review close to your very own presumably normal sized prostate because it rocked.  And so, onto week two, which he will no doubt have hated as much as week one (of three).

Again I loved it.

In this, a dystopian world (Aldous Huxleyesque) written by Charlie Brooker and his wife Konnie Huq, is the setting for a brilliant satire on X Factor/Britain’s Got Talent in which the pretty girl from Downton Abbey (never seen it) becomes the object of affection of a male drone.

He selflessly gives up his worldly goods (15 million merits) to enter her into a nightmare future vision of X Factor only to see her wow the judges for her looks, not her voice and become a porn star on a sister channel.

It’s wickedly funny without being laugh out loud and is yet another step on Charlie Brooker’s career ladder of greatness.