The Comely Banking Crisis It's all about art, film, excitement, tedium and politics in Edinburgh

18Feb/130

Woodland Hipsters…

Woodland Creatures

A new bar has opened on Leith Walk called Woodland Creatures. I've been three times now (you know, I wanted to be one of the first to try it, to make myself look cool and everything, with the added bonus of a drink or two.)

I threw a quick review into Yelp and thought I'd share the same thoughts here...

This (and any other reviews to date) must be considered only first impressions because the place has just opened its doors and is not even serving food yet, which it will be very soon - they're still putting finishing touches on the kitchen.

For a bit of context, I've put my head in here twice to wander around and just have a look and I've spent one proper evening drinking.

I'm a fan

First impressions, I'm definitely a fan. Great drink selection, plenty of standing room and not an unreasonable proportion of floor space dedicated to seating, which is thoughtfully arranged within the space. I don't see a problem with the decor at all, I like it a lot actually. The main room is arguably lacking character a LITTLE when the place is quiet, in that it has just opened and, come on, give them a chance, but the same space works really well when busy - room to swing your elbows a bit. The blacks, browns and wood give the place an austere but warm atmosphere.

The smaller, brighter space to the right behind the bar area is the more challenging aesthetically, a kind of gallery space with funky seating from old cinemas and theatres. Ask yourself: do you really want this, weird but comfortable seats, art on the walls? YES!!

Hegemonic, shabby-chic competitors

In terms of the Leith Walk competitors: Victoria, as much as I do genuinely like it, now has a welcome antidote across the road. I absolutely don't buy the idea that V's should be a blueprint and standard for new bars in this area. Diversity is key. Woodland Creatures is a GREAT contribution to this diversity. I understand the 'hipstery' comments but honestly I don't care in the slightest; it comes with the territory, always, for a place like this (as it does across the road).

Besides hipster is word, not an actual thing. I don't believe in the existence of hipsters.

6Dec/120

The Secret Life of Jack B Yeats

So Jack B. Yeats, Irish modernist painter and brother of poet William Butler, apparently used to be a cartoonist for Punch magazine. His cartoons dealt with a variety of topics from the class system to the strangeness of new technology (better avoid Mashable then).

Tenniel CartoonAccording to a piece in the Irish Times, he sketched under the pseudonym 'W Bird', possibly in an attempt to avoid association with the aggressively anti-Irish cartoons of John Tenniel, who could be the one person more hated in Ireland than Oliver Cromwell, if only people knew his name! His political works, such as The Fenian Guy Fawkes (left) emblazon many an Irish person's school textbooks.

Ascribing this motivation to Yeats is interpretation of course. The truth is that none of Yeats' cartoons show a strong interest in Irish politics anyway. Those of us interested in branding these days might see it simply as a marketing exercise, keeping his artist's name separate and not muddied by this lesser habit. It's also worth noting that noms de plume were and are hardly rare.

But it's an interesting insight into this great artist nonetheless. His work, For the Road (pictured), can be viewed in the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.

For the Road by Jack B Yeats

21Nov/120

Excitement and Mystery on Mars!

"I know a secret."

"What is it?"

"Well I'm not telling you!"

Curiosity Rover has apparently made a dramatic discovery on mars, "one for the history books," geologist and principal investigator John Grotzinger said.

But we don't get to find out what it is until the American Geophysical Union meeting next month.

Planetary Scientist Peter Smith reckons it'll be organic material, as we all hope I suppose.

What do you think it is? A fossil? A new mineral (this would be boring)? A formation that looks uncannily like a human face?

The reportage in this Wired article is not unreasonable. For remaining questions, Shatner is here to help!

26Oct/120

Slow down and make the right choice

I was looking for a flat in Edinburgh once and a pushy estate agent said something along the lines of, "If you see a property you like, go for it immediately; it'll be off the market before you know it, and you won't get it if you wait."

I used to fall victim to this approach a lot. "Shit," I would think. "I'm gonna miss out!"

We all have to be alert to those opportunities that come only once or twice in our lives, and we must sometimes take spontaneous decisions, sometimes risky decisions.

But there's another kind of risk: waiting.

Waiting is scary. Waiting is risky. The worst thing about waiting, stalling, pausing, committing the crime of culpable hiatus, is the fear that this is the last such-and-such opportunity, or at least the best one that'll come along.

It's a personal decision, a judgement to be made mostly with the gut and to some extent with experience.

Right now, I'm waiting a little...

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23Oct/120

30th Olympiad or year of digging up the past?

It's not the end of 2012. This isn't one of those retrospectives, written to remind turkey-stuffed Yuletide revelers that there are such things as current affairs, carefully shaped to imply that these things only happen in the rest of the year.

It's just a thought for the day if you like; about, um, the hypothetical content of one of those retrospectives. If I were doing one. Which I'm not.

XXX Olympiad

2012, Olympics in London, we know, expensive and brilliant, but hasn't it also been quite the year of digging up the (mostly dirty) past in the UK?

I'm thinking Jimmy Saville, the BBC and now the NHS, News International, Hacking, Leveson, and Hillsborough. Even Andy Murray, in his most successful year yet, had his accomplishments foreshadowed, rooted, and understood in the context of his distant predecessor Bunny Austin (not after the successes, before them; remember?). Now we're talking about an inquiry into the police's handling of the miners' strike in 1984. It already has a name: the Orgreave Inquiry.

It's particularly our critical revisiting of the culture of bygone show-business that's bothering me. Don't get me wrong: we should be doing it. But with the daily emergence of new victims, new accusations, proofs and heresay, I can't help dreading the fall from grace of an as yet unknown childhood hero.

Who's it going to be? What horrors remains to be uncovered in 2012?

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22Oct/120

Notes on an Identity Crisis

It's a perennial problem isn't it? Naming yourself after a place. It's always going to have constraints. And without the re-branding and strategic marketing gumption of the Bay City Rollers or the Village Voice, things can easily end badly.

Now I'm not, as you might think, having a jab at the Leither. Oh no; I'm having a jab at a Leither: me!

Yep. Moved to Leith. Don't live in Comely Bank any more. Haven't lived in Comely Bank for more than a year. I also work in Leith. So there you are: destiny? No. Aspiration, maybe. Love of the Shore plays its part.

Incidentally, there are not many people panicking about banking crises these days either. But you always knew mine was often (if not all of the time) figurative, right?

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17Nov/110

Welcome and Guest Blogging

Hi there! This is just a quick post to say hello and welcome to any friend who may have popped over from Blackwatertown today. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I've guest blogged about boats, horses, family and Pavarotti on the great Blackwatertown. Go over and have a look, if not for my humble offering then for the host of other guest writers, not to mention Paul, the main blogger and editor.

Take care!

K

18Jun/111

Dear me

Dear, dear, dear, dear me.

Killian, what is going on here? Not good enough, not good enough! Fallow might be a good idea in agriculture, but in blogging it's plain lazy.

I never thought I would write this, but it has come to the point when I don't even want to log into my blogging account for fear of becoming truely mindful of how long it's been since my last post and how many readers have rightfully fecked off.

Commitment is what I need. Perseverence, descipline, application.

As many a middle-of-the-road blogger would ask, what do you think?

Sing me out Deep Pruple!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8FtqOzZwIg

21Mar/112

The things filling my bandwidth

This blog has taken quite the hit recently. Its author recently logged in and was more than a little shocked to realise that there were no posts at all uploaded during February. That has been the result of two things. The first is that I currently have two jobs, one of which is copy-writing. So basically, I more or less blog for the better part of my living now, hence reluctance to also do it as a hobby. I suppose I must get used to the new configuration of my work/life balance and find a space in there to do what I love.

The second reason is I've been seeing a lot less art, reading a lot less, and watching a lot more of this type of thing:

24Jan/111

New Art: Clusterbomb @ Patriothall Gallery, Stockbridge

This is my review of Clusterbomb at Patriothall Gallery WASPS for The Skinny. 3 Stars!

Notwithstanding the occasional guidebook erroneously, and rather hilariously, describing Stockbridge as ‘bohemian’, it’s probably fair to say that the area’s art scene is bland and commercially focused. That’s why this independent exhibition of drawings and paintings by Edinburgh College of Art graduates should be particularly welcomed.

The unifying concern – ‘the excessive clustering of imagery’ – is simple and there is no burdening the visitor with spoon-fed textual reflection. This decision has worked out well for Clusterbomb: many of the paintings are so replete with lively symbolism and tackle such thoroughly contemporary referents, from kebabs to Lego, that formal explanation is unnecessary.

Emergent themes are food supply, violence, fear and waste culture. Matt Swan’s Anonymous Dorito Henchman with a Green Cape showcases the inventive mix of fast food, vanity and pure fantasy that makes up his bizarre and intriguing work. Jamie Kinroy tackles the stress and breakdown of social life in the face of consumerist capitalism, and in the likes of Hard Times 2 his use of colour and logo echoes multinational corporations.

Bobby Nixon’s Black Paintings convey the growing sense of fear in the contemporary urban environment, again referencing the logos and junk food that are staples in the big city. John Brown’s playful deconstruction of bodily parts in Twitland complements the more serious contributions.

Contrasting with all this detritus and dysfunction is Alex Gibbs’ lonely Suburban Living, With Trees, whose clinical, manipulated landscape still hints that we are looking at the other side of the same coin of human agency.

There is more that can be done here in terms of refining the concept and honing the various responses, but this is nevertheless a good, low-budget exhibition from promising new artists. Clusterbomb’s inventiveness and critical engagement with contemporary themes is admirable and the show is certainly worth seeing.