Call a psychologist: quick!


DAWSEY: You said yesterday when you were leaving that you were skeptical of a climate change report that the government had done. Can you just explain why you’re skeptical of that report?

TRUMP: One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including — just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with.

Widows: Movie Review.


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I love Steve McQueen movies.  I really do.

But he makes some strange decisions and isn’t 100% consistent.  This is one of his mis-steps.

Thankfully and rightfully (IMHO) 12 Years A Slave won best movie at the Oscars last time out but its predecessor, Shame, was an oddly unsettling cinematic experience.

His debut, Hunger, has been overlooked, again in my opinion – I think it’s a masterpiece and gave Michael Fassbender his launchpad.

So, now.  Film Four.  (By Film Four.)

It’s based on a fairly pulpy Lynda Le Plant TV series, but Mcqueen has reimagined it for the arthouse.

Some elements of it are great, not least Viola Davis in the lead role and the stunning cinematography.

But after that it starts to break down.

It’s a bit cryptic.  One of the baddies’ diction is so bad as to render whole scenes indecipherable, the resolution is confusing and it’s too long.

It’s a bit boring if truth be told.

Sorry Steve, mate.

 

Suspiria: Film review.


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I was thrilled to see the original of this movie by Dario Argento at Summerhall in Edinburgh during this year’s Fringe with the original score performed by Goblin, live on stage.

It was a great experience but, in my view, it’s an overhyped movie with little to recommend other than the astonishing score and the remarkable cinematography in its vivid, over-saturated colour.

The film itself is pretty unremarkable.,

But it was enough to tempt me into seeing the remake which is, in my view, much more remarkable.

It’s an incredibly odd follow on from director Luca Gaudanino’s “Call Me By Your Name’ – a touching and sentimental coming of age gay romance set in Italy and starring the incredible Timothy Chalomet.

This leaps genres like I’ve rarely seen a director do.

Gaudanino’s remake has none of the zing of the original, indeed the colour palette is quite muted.  It’s also dull throughout as a result of the endless rain (then snow).

It’s set in 1977 West Berlin with the Baader-Meinhoff (RAF) gang in full flow and providing a sinister backdrop to what is already a sinister movie.

Guadanino casts Dakota Johnson (50 Shades of Grey) and a malevolent Tilda Swinton brilliantly, but I also liked the performance of Mia Goth as Johnson’s best friend in a crazy dance school.

The award winning dance school that Johnson seeks and gains entrance too after a remarkable audition is actually a witches coven and Johnson appears to be the next sacrificial lamb to the God the witches worship.

But it’s not that straightforward.

It’s a long, slow, considered movie with an inevitable Sixth Act (yes it’s presented in six acts) denouement that’s a fantastic gore-fest.

The movie is getting mixed reviews and I understand that.  It’s really slow.  It’s arthouse not shock mall theatre.  If you want Halloween forget it.

But it’s great.

Really well directed and acted and Thom Yorke’s score is great although less intrusive than Goblin’s.

Recommended.

An absolute treasure in the heart of Scotland. The Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart.


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Travel writers go into paroxysms of joy when they stumble upon places that are unexpected because of their settings.  Open the Sunday Times every week and you’ll read about the top 20 hidden gems in food, hotels, spas, towns etc.

This is one of them.

Grandtully is a one horse town situated five miles from the A9 on the main road north from Perth to Inverness.  Previously its nearby fame came from the awesome Motogrill (Scotland’s greatest greasy spoon and a true competitor to Westmoreland for best service station).  But this is an altogether different proposition.

The hotel, with only eight rooms, has been transformed from a shabby hostel into a boutique residence that usually only the big cities offer, and even then this level of quality is not the norm.

This is a beautifully designed residence with many, many delightful designer touches and a dining room to match.

We ate today, in mid-November so somewhat off-season, and the dining was partaken in the superbly cool bar.  When I say cool I mean the decor because it was anything but cool with its glowing log fire set in the centre.  Cosy indeed.

First impressions are of the bar which offers very good choices of craft beers. (Specifically Pilot brewery from Leith who have effected what almost amounts to a tap takeover.  If you like good beer you will like the Grandtully.)

The food comes in three forms.  Little bites like the gorgeous beetroot cured smoked salmon at £1 a portion and the orgasmic Black pudding and pork croquettes – we had three but wished we had had 30.  And a Highland Charcuterie plate for only £4.  Lovely.

We then tried their signature small plate of salt and spicy squid with a tangy fish sauce dip.  Magnificent.

Our mains were to die for.  My belly of lamb (a first for me) was both juicy and crispy, the monkfish with fennel and salsa verde was excellent and Amy’s Monkfish and cod curry was utterly delicious (£10!).

Desserts did not disappoint.  A lovely raspberry doughnut ( a wee bit heavy) with a superb raspberry sorbet, a superb chocolate Torte and a delicious walnut Choux pastry all hit the spot.

They have wine on tap – a Cotes du Rhone and an unfiltered Corsican white were both interesting and good value.

This is the real deal.  I expect to see Grandtully picking up awards galore in the years to come for both the hotel AND the restaurant.

And it’s affordable.

Get there before it gets unbookable.

 

 

 

 

A War of Two Halves by Paul Beeson and Tim Barrow, produced by This Is My Story and Nonsense Room: Theatre review


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I am celebrating the centenary of WWI’s Armistice Day with some ‘enthusiasm’.

Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Never Grow Old”  which premiered at The London Film Festival got the ball rolling to incredible effect a couple of weeks ago.  It is a must see.

And on Sunday I shall be attending a virtually sold out Far From Ypres at The Usher Hall in which my good pal Gary West will be taking to the stage as part of a celebrated ensemble.

Last night was the turn of theatre in a site-specific production held at Tynecastle Football Stadium.

As a lifelong Hibs fan attending a period drama that ‘celebrated’ Heart of Midlothian’s incredibly altruistic past had a degree of challenge.  It was clear that I was surrounded by a largely partizan audience.  But I’m bigger than that.  If these men could face ‘The Hun’ in the French trenches, I could pay my respect alongside my rivals.

And I’m very glad that I did.

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Paul Beeson and Tim Barrow’s play is a very fine thing indeed.  It was performed on the Fringe and has been timeously restaged in its original form for this monumental anniversary.

One of the potential problems this show faces is the way that some Hearts fans celebrate their team’s mass act of courage as a comparator.  No other team so unselfishly released their players from their contracts in such a way (13 players enlisted together to serve in McCrae’s Battalion, the 16th Royal Scots).

And that’s only part of the story.

Hearts were top of the league, having won 19 of their 21 games, when the mass exodus occurred.  They continued to play for the team, but on the back of strenuous army basic training that included long forced marches.  Their form inevitably slumped dramatically, through sheer exhaustion, and what should have been one of the greatest celebrations in Hearts’ history was dashed.

But what Beeson and Barrow have created is brilliant in this respect.  That achievement is duly noted but not at the expense of the competition.  It is far from vainglorious and largely avoids comparative narrative (indeed the contribution from other clubs is articulated clearly); rather it takes you into the souls of these young lads who fought for King and Country, sacrificing glory on the battlefields of Tyncastle, Ibrox, Celtic Park and Easter Road.

It’s beautifully acted throughout (although sadly no programme was made available so I have no idea who the cast was).

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A central character, one of the players and the narrator, leads us through the build up to the mass enlistment, glorying in Hearts’ impressive form.  This takes place in the new main stand to the sound of radio commentaries of the matches, before we traverse the stadium.  One scene is in the Home Players dressing room, another in the bar, several in the stands themselves before culminating in an achingly beautiful finale underneath the Gorgie Road stand in a makeshift bunker.  The final moments play out by the poignant War Memorial.

I’m sure, for many, this is an intensely moving experience. I found it highly dramatic and sympathetically presented.

There is no tub-thumping in this play.  There is a great deal of humour and the sound design and violin accompaniment by the sole female cast member is excellent and highly redolent of the time.

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Hearts, Hearts, Glorious Hearts features subtly (#HHGH) and is appropriate, without dropping the show’s standards..

The performances are roundly laudable, especially the leads but the ensemble do their part with merit.

This is another must see reflection on the Great War.  It has wonderful provenance, it’s superbly written and directed in what is both a stirring but challenging location.

Highly recommended.  But you’ll have to move quick if you want a ticket.

PS. The Last Days of Making featuring the Tiger Lilies at Leith Theatre (from Saturday) also looks pretty special.

1971. Never a Dull Moment. Rock’s Golden Year by David Hepworth: Book Review.


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David Hepworth has researched a thoroughly entertaining and rapid-fire read in this paean to 1971.  The title is accurately describes its content which is a cultural contextualisation of why, in his and presumably many others’, view, in 1971, from a musical point of view you’d never had it so good and, as it transpires in Hepworth’s mind, never did again.

He makes a strong case.

It’s fundamentally a pivot year in musical history. Both rock and roll and pop have established themselves and ‘buying records’ is now a common practice.  Indeed it has replaced going to the cinema which is facing the low point in its history as TV and music have replaced the big screen in young people’s affections.

Furthermore the shift has begun to swing from 45’s (singles) to 33’s (LP’s), those beautiful 12″ platters that we thought had been consigned to history until Generation X discovered them to cover cracks in their bedroom walls.

This is a new dawn for music and it’s the year when many genres are emerging or evolving into more mature manifestations of their sixties’ inspiration.

The list of seminal 1971 records is not to be sniffed at (not all of these make Hepworth’s list).  I’ve picked out my own favourites in bold but there is so much to choose from. It’s an embarrassment of riches:

  • Janis Joplin’s Pearl
  • Tapestry by Carole King
  • The Yes Album
  • Tago Mago by Can
  • Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  • Tanz Der Lemminge by Amon Düll II
  • LA Woman and Other Voices by The Doors
  • War by War
  • Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
  • The Stones also released their first ever compilation (a new thing at the time) this year
  • Maybe Tomorrow by The Jackson 5
  • Bryter Later by Nick Drake
  • Thin Lizzy by Thin Lizzy
  • Carpenters
  • Relics and Meddle by Pink Floyd
  • Every Picture Tells a Story by Rod Stewart
  • Ram  – Paul (and Linda) McCartneys’ first solo album
  • Marvin Gaye’s astonishing What’s Going On
  • Man in Black by Johnny Cash
  • Home Made by The Osmonds (the first real ‘boy band’ unless you consider the Jacksons as such – certainly the beginning of teen pop.)
  • Joni Mitchell’s seminal Blue
  • Surrender by Diana Ross
  • Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by The Moody Blues
  • Fireball by Deep Purple
  • Shaft Soundtrack by Isaac Hayes
  • Who’s Next – The Who’s best record
  • Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys mark II
  • Aretha’s Greatest Hits
  • Electric Warrior by T Rex
  • Judee Sill by Judee Sill
  • Trafalgar by Bee Gees
  • Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens
  • Hawkwind’s In Search of Space
  • American Pie by Don Mclean
  • Fog on the Tyne by Lindisfarne
  • Reflection by Pentangle
  • Tupelo Honey by Van the Man
  • Zep 4
  • Nursery Cryme by Genesis
  • There’s a riot going’ on by Sly and the Family Stone
  • Muskel Hillbillies by The Kinks
  • Two Earth Wind and Fire albums
  • People Like Us by The Mamas and the Papas – pre-Ham sandwich?
  • Pictures at an Exhibition by ELP (their second of the year)
  • Nazareth
  • Islands by King Crimson
  • The Concert for Bangladesh (live) by George Harrison and friends – the precursor to Live Aid etc
  • The Electric Light Orchestra
  • Wild Life by Wings
  • America

And… on December 17th the greatest recording of all time.  Hunky Dory by David Bowie.

There’s 14 albums in bold there, more than one a month. (And I was only 9 year’s old at the time so I have had to discover every one of them retrospectively).

My Sweet Lord by George Harrison was the top selling single of the year, Imagine by John Lennon was runner up and Maggie May by Rod Stewart got the bronze. (Brown Sugar was fifth).

By any reckoning that’s a powerhouse of music with the emergence of AOR, Prog and heavy metal.  A golden year for folk. Seminal soul records (Shaft and What’s Going on in particular.) And the emergence of ‘Krautrock’ (Can and Amon Düll were contemporaries of Kraftwerk) which was to, in turn, influence the last 30 years’ dance music.

Hepworth tells this story month-by-month, cleverly cross-referencing collaborators, rock histories and using back stories to spice up the drug addled goings on of The Who, The Stones, Clapton and many more.

He drops in other cultural references, from cinema primarily, and peppers it with the politics of the time.

It’s an authoritative read with several eyebrow raising moments.

For real music lovers (like me) I’d go as far as to say it’s essential reading.  Hepworth’s style has its faults but I’ll forgive those for the quality of his research.  I’m not surprised it won 2016’s music book of the year in eight different newspapers.

Highly recommended (for music lovers.)

Footnote.

I don’t actually agree that it’s the greatest year of all time, but that doesn’t really matter.

I think 1979 saw a similar confluence of happenings.  (If you want evidence of that check out NME’s 1979 albums of the year.  It’s jaw dropping – London Calling only made number 8!)

  • The emergence of the new and highly influential post punk movement – Talking Heads Fear of music won NME”s coveted album of the year, PIL’s Metal Box was #2 and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasure’s taking the bronze)
  • But with ‘Punk’ also maturing in its own right
  • The end of disco but still at creative high – 3 of the Top ten singles were disco (Gloria Gaynor, The Jackson 5 and Sheila B. Devotion)
  • Coventry Ska
  • Bowie still there
  • The emergence of electronica – Human League made the list with Reproduction

What do YOU think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Leith’s Never Easy


This is brilliant. a good man.

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It’s easier to leave than be left behind, leaving was never my proud, leaving Leith never easy, I saw the light fading out.

With apologies to Michael Stipe and REM.

After 10 years it’s time for pastures new.  In my life I’ve made some bad choices but conversely made some great choices.  Phoning Claire, my wife, after a drunken night in Dunfermline in 1992 was the best choice I ever made.  Still daft about you after all these years.  2 kids.  Sol and Romi who light my life up in a way unimaginable and watching them grow into two intelligent and happy children gives me so much pleasure.  Following Hearts on some days brutal and in others stellar, not always the bridesmaids anymore.

I joined Mediacom in the winter of 2008.  Romi was 2 months old and Sol 3 and a 1/2.  I thought I would give it a few…

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My word of the day: Bowdlerisation.


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n.bowdlerisationthe act of deleting or modifying all passages considered to be indecent.

I have written about this before but I had no idea it had a term.  So thanks to Terena Bell in today’s Guardian for this almost life changing insight..

Bowdlerisation is when f*ck*ng w**** newspapers, for example, use *’s to bleep our letters from words like c*nt so that they are apparently less offensive.

But we all know what a c*nt is.

A c*nt is Don*ld Tr*mp and apparently there’s a trend for people to bowdlerise his name in exactly the way I just did.

I fucking love that.

No I REALLY l*ve that.

The Guardian never bowdlerises.  But hilariously The S*n and The M**l do it constantly.

That’s because both newspapers are c*nts.

So I’m a happy boy.

Fuck you Don*ld Tr*mp.