Hinterland by NVA review


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Tonight I was privileged to be in attendance at the opening event in Scotland’s Festival of Architecture.

Hinterland is a site-specific piece to end all site-specific pieces in that the site is essentially the star of the show.

It’s a 50 year old modernist Catholic seminary (St Peter’s) in the Kilmahew Estate in Cardross near Helenburgh – not the most accessible of venues and a 7 hour round trip to gain access to the totally sold out proceedings.

But it was worth every minute of the journey because this is a spectacular ruin despite its youth.

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It’s widely regarded as a modernist building of global significance and yet only had a life span of 13 years before being abandoned in the wake of the falling off of seminarian numbers and possibly the fact that it was an intolerable living place in the winter.

In the following 37 years the elements (and a succession of extremely talented graffiti artists) have both ravaged and enhanced its brutal concrete beauty.

What remains is an almost wholly concrete bunker with a rain filled chapel filling the centre of the space with all four sides open totally exposed to Scotland’s weather.

We were treated to NVA’s conceptual piece that was built around a massive thurible swinging majestically in the rain sodden chapel spewing out incense, whilst a trumpet player and The St Salvators Chapel Choir from the University of St Andrews emoted a beautiful, sacred music inspired, tonal piece by composer Rory Boyle. This was complemented by a spectacular, but nonetheless subtle, interior and exterior lighting show.

The combination of canvas, sound and light was a unique and deeply compelling performance that I’ll never see the likes of again.

NVA are famous for these pieces having previously lit the Old Man of Storr and for their spectacular Speed of Light show on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh in a recent Edinburgh Festival, plus other locations.

Bravo. Five stars.

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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.

Penguin Cafe. A matter of Life


The reviews for this album have mostly been a little patronising and mildly dismissive as if it is some form of PCO lite offering.

I beg to differ.

I am, almost literally, a lifelong PCO fan and have every track they ever recorded, from the experimental Zopf days on the Obscure record label right through their “heydays’ of the 1980’s when their unique musical sound appeared on every second commercial or BBC/C4 soundtrack (most notably I have to say in the Independent’s launch advertising campaign).  So Simon Jeffes’ death in 1987 hit me like a hammer blow.  Ten years later his son, Arthur, began the slow but steady cryogenic rebirth, or perhaps more accurately the creation of a clone with ideas of its own.  This has culminated in the release of this instant classic album, a matter of life, which is, to all intent and purpose, PCO’s 5th studio album.

It has more piano than PCO but other than that it’s broadly the same thing, and certainly cut from the same cloth.

Track 2 (Landau) feature Jeffes and Kathry Tickell on her trademark Northumbrian pipes and its delicious.  Harry Piers, another piano only track was played at Jeffes Sr’s memorial concert and it bears every trademark PCO motif you could ever imagine which is what makes it both a great epitaph for Simon Jeffes but perhaps also a catharsis for Arthur.

The Fox and the Leopard is a carbon copy of a previous PCO song but for me the absolute standout is the minor key classic, From a Blue Temple.

In Penguin Cafe’s second album I’d expect the music to be slightly less of a tribute and to explore more of their own ideas, maybe more of a development from From a Blue Temple; and given that members of Suede and Gorillaz make up the 10 strong ensemble I’m pretty sure there will be new areas aplenty to explore.

For now though, this is a welcome and delightful discovery that I will treasure and hopefully wear out the grooves as much as its four forebears.

I’m a sucker for gadgets


I love my ipod, my ipad, my Bose sound system, the garden speakers, my camera thumbpiece add on, apps, spotify…you name it.

But nothing has impressed me as much as this little pearl from The Pampered Chef. It was a gift from my brother and sister in law at Christmas but it’s a game changer.

I could mash potatoes for a living with this.

But look at it.

It’s just a one-piece bit of pre-moulded black plastic and yet, and yet…

It is seductive.

It is 100% ergonomic.

It scythes through vegetables as if they did not exist.

Imagine a Swedish Masseuse spending  a quality five minutes with you…

That. Would. Be. Like. The. Pampered. Chef. Potato. Masher. In. Action.

Ecstacy.

So Black Swan’s a Ballet film for chicks, right? Wrong.


And by the way, is this not the best film poster in years?

Black Swan is the most visceral cinematic experience I’ve had since maybe Raging Bull.  So, it’s about ballet?  So what.  Ballet is merely the structure on which this tragedy about mental breakdown, maybe schizophrenia is played out.

Using the metaphor of black and white (the swans) to portray, good and evil, right and wrong, strength and weakness director Darren Aranofski paints a picture of what’s going on in the head of Natalie Portman as she gradually falls apart under the pressure of preparing to dance Swan Lake; with a backdrop of a doubtful choreographer, an ambitious understudy, a jealous mother and a fallen Prima ballerina; all exerting pressure of one sort or another on the poor little virgin that is Portman.

Portman delivers a tour de force (Oscar certainty) performance as she wrestles with the devils in her mind and tries to prove all the doubters wrong.  It’s a remarkable performance in so many ways, so vulnerable (which could just have been fey) and yet so strong.  Surely the Academy can look no further.

But the real star of the show – notwithstanding powerhouse performances from Barbara Hershey (wonderful as the mother), Winona Ryder in a Mommie Dearest descent into her own madness, Vincent Cassel (as the unforgiving choreographer and philanderer) and Mila Kunis as the threat from the Corps de Ballet – is director Darren Aronofsky.  My God, another huge contender for Academy recognition.  His direction of Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler was eye opening, but this moves him onto yet another level.  He is garnering a reputation for bringing mental instability to the screen in a way that is eye opening and shocking.

And that’s another thing about this move, it’s a quite thrilling shockfest.  There’s a bunch of “gotcha” moments that have you ducking for cover (quite a few shreiks were let out in our relatively small audience) as he makes the most of the ability to confuse and wrongfoot his audience.

And then there’s the sex.  I’ll not go into detail here, but it is a central motif of the film (starting from the premise that Portman is a 24 year old virgin) and is certainly worthy of debate, but I don’t want to spoil it for you here.

All I’ll say is that sitting next to my 16 year old daughter as it played out made for a degree of discomfort!

All in all this is a truly outstanding piece of film-making.  In Darren Aronofsky we have one of America’s next great directors really cementing his claims for greatness and Natalie Portman never has, and never will, have a part this great again.

Go see.

Do NOT wait for the DVD, it will not be the same.

What is it about Colin Calderwood?


After defeat to Motherwell yesterday this very odd man said…

“There are aspects of the game I enjoyed. Problems are there to be solved so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

On Tuesday night after Hibs went out to a team two leagues below the odd bod Calderwood commented…

“We had so many good opportunities, the goalkeeper’s had a number of good saves, we’ve had efforts cleared from the line and I think they defended their goal excellently.

He has so far won 2 out of 15 games.

Being, at best, an armchair fan I have not seen him in action but I am told he stands impassively, hands in pockets, barely involving himself in games and certainly not leaping about like the madman Yogi Hughes had become.

It all just seems like he’s going through the motions.

Remarkably he claims to be “really enjoying it” at Easter Road.

Inevitably, the fans’ ire tends to turn to the manager or the Chairman in these sorts of situation.  And Rod Petrie’s extended honeymoon is certainly looking to be over at this moment in time.

The sale of Stokes and Bamba appears to be hitting home now and our lack of action in the transfer market is becoming notable.  I’m a great admirer of what Petrie has acheived at Easter Road but it feels like he has made an extraordinarily bad appointment in Colin Calderwood and his earlier reputation for canniness is in danger of becoming one for penny pinching (for which I am told he has a strong internal reputation.)

Lastly, of course, there’s the team itself; some say it is a shadow of its former self, one of the worst to have played for Hibs in many years (if not ever), but I saw Zemamma, Miller, Riordan, Wotherspoon, Murray, Stack and McBride (all in the squad yesterday) play Dundee Utd on 3rd October 2009 and destroy them before drawing 1 -1.

At that point the table looked like this…

A month later it looked even better…

And even by mid January Hibs (with this team) were in touch with the top, so my contention is not that it is the players themselves that are poor but the way in which they are applying themselves.

It feels to me that there is a cancer somewhere in Easter Road that is permeating the team and turning good players into bad.  Yogi lost them, and Calderwood has never had them bar one freak night against Rangers.

It needs sorted, and quick.

Pego’s millions


Oh dear sweet Jesus we've still got 22,000 hits to endure...

You might notice that as the millionth hit approaches (as it surely will) I’ve moved my blog stats up to a more convenient position for the viewing public.

In fact, if you look left right now, you’ll be able to see exactly what the state of the nation is as you read.

In real time.

Things have slowed a touch though I must admit.

Maybe I’ve not been trying hard enough, but I have to say the £850 you’ve invested so far makes me very happy (and I’m sure the people at the hospice are cheezin’ too).  Well, some of them.

I have to say, we cheezed a lot when we were there as a family. Because death sometimes brings out the funniest things.

So, I’d like to recount a blog post from right at the start of Gibberish.  It was a conversation I overheard between my Dad’s brother (Uncle Christopher) and my Mum.

And it went something like this…

“If I had some eggs, we could have ham and eggs; if I had some ham.” my Uncle Christopher declared this afternoon.

Wise words.

But my mother violently disagreed with this because she retorted…

“If we had some eggs we could have eggs and ham; if we had some ham.”

Not sure about that.

In fact it’s total bollocks – because what she really meant to say, and did, was…

“If we had ham, we could have ham and eggs; if we had eggs.”

You know what…

…I don’t give a monkey’s uncle!

This was my favourite memory of the seven or so very intense days we spent at St Columba’s.

I’m sure everyone is the same, in that in the face of death they find some moments of humour.

Well, I hope so.

If you’ve lost someone to cancer or had a truly life affirming (even in the face of death) experience at this or any other hospice maybe you’ll pledge a tenner.

Who knows, you might even win a £100. 

Here’s where you enter.

Pego’s millions. The end of the first week


Thank you to everyone who has donated to Pego’s Millions.  After only a week you have donated a whopping £766 to St Columba’s Hospice. (My target is £1,000 but originally it was £500 so let’s see if we can power our way through that milestone this week).

The good news is that my site stats only grew by 5% last week so there’s still probably (at this rate) about 37 days until my millionth hit which remains at or around 21st December.

So, if you want another guess (and remember it’s all going to a good cause) plus the chance to win £100 and a bottle of Tesco’s finest bubbly you’re more than welcome to have another go.

Just visit this site and it’ll work it all out for you.  (Actually it won’t, you’ll need your wits about you but if you become unstuck just send me an email with your guess or stick it into the comments box on this post.)

It’s £10 a pop and all you have to do is estimate at what time and on what date markgorman.wordpress.com will register its millionth hit.

Imagine the excitement as the deadline approaches.

It’ll be just like that scene in The Soccial Network, for those of you that have seen it.

Pego’s millions. Day 2. 966,203 views.


Your generosity continues almost unabated.

My target of £500 was breached this afternoon and we now stand at £523.56 which ain’t bad going in 48 hours.

But the new target of £1,000 now looks like quite a long way away, so please spread the word and if you haven’t yet donated your £10 to have a pop and guess when gibberish will cross the million viewer Rubicon then please have a go here.

Pego’s Millions. Day 1.


OK.  It’s not even 24 hours since I launched my Pego’s Millions idea and the response has been phenomenal.

We’re at £327 online and £10 off line already, so I’ve raised the target to £1,000.

Please circulate the idea amongst your friends.

Here’s the link again

just so as you know today’s numbers are 10% up on the average with 6 hours to go.  So 21st December might be a bit late if this continues.

And you can guess as often as you like.