Christmas malarkey

Uncategorized — comelybankingcrisis @ 1:24 pm

I’d hate them to stop putting on Christmas markets, especially here in Edinburgh. They add such a pleasant atmosphere, a sense of occasion and anticipation. They fill up a whopping 6 winter weeks (that’s pretty much half of the winter) with outdoor options. And boy do we need things to brighten up those long dark evenings.

Cue the miserabilism

The trouble is,  I won’t end up going to one. Why? I don’t need any of the stuff. But don’t follow my example. Go! Enjoy! Let me know that other people are doing the festive thing. Let people film you while you’re at it. Because Christmas looks great on my TV screen.

(It’s still too early to rant about the jumpers.)

Woodland Hipsters…

Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — comelybankingcrisis @ 10:23 am

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.

30th Olympiad or year of digging up the past?

Uncategorized — comelybankingcrisis @ 9:33 am

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 remain to be uncovered in 2012?

Dear me

Uncategorized — Tags: , , — comelybankingcrisis @ 3:20 pm

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

FOMO: the Curse of the Edinburgh Fringe

My girlfriend recently told me about a conversation she had had with a friend during which they both agreed that they suffered from FOMO.   Learning about FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – was a liberating experience, especially learning that it was a shared condition.  And what a lifelong curse it’s been.

FOMO leads to budgetary problems, unnecessary student drinking and manys a night out that would probably have been best avoided, but you just had to be there in case something amazing happened.  That feeling you get when you ask your jittering self why you had coffee with those two boring oddballs when you’d already just had a cup.  FOMO did that.  I suppose suffering from FOMO is the opposite to being misanthropic, but it may make misanthropists of us all yet; FOMO earns you unwanted friends!

Anyway, if you’re a fellow FOMO sufferer, there’s nothing worse than the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to exacerbate the condition.  Hundreds, nay, THOUSANDS, of shows going on all around Edinburgh, crowds of revellers on the street, open air bars.  I could probably go to several shows a day for the entire festival and would still suffer from FOMO.  There is, to be frank, never enough time or money to see everything you need to see.

But, relief.  It’s over and I enjoyed it despite the psychosocial menace of it.  Thanks, Edinburgh Fringe for another good year and by all accounts a record-breaking one in terms of ticket sales.  Goodbye Fringe, hello again Edinburgh.

Here’s my final review from this year’s Fringe, first published, like the rest, on The Skinny’s website. A great Australian comic called Adam Vincent.  He gets three stars from me because although the show is good, it’s a bit too sleepy for the Fringe if you ask me.  But the show was very good and I would recommend it.

Adam Vincent @ Assembly

Adam Vincent’s masked, apparently slumbering, presence on the darkened stage as the audience enters lends a feeling of nervous anticipation to this intimate venue. He rouses and addresses the audience in a hushed voice: the subject is the half-life of the early morning wake-up and commute; the soporific tone is set.

Don’t be under any illusions: this is stand-up and Vincent has a story to tell, a hilariously uncomfortable account of being drawn into to a medical crisis on a plane, with interspersed gags and cutting criticisms of modern life.

Vincent is a great, likeable story-teller. His relaxed delivery and eye-to-eye engagement draws the audience in. He has fresh material and he avoids that tired image of injured masculinity so many male stand-up acts adopt, instead telling us dryly about his marriage and why he loves his wife.

As interesting as Vincent is, the audience reaction is somewhat sedated; the well-cultivated soporific atmosphere may just be too good at certain points in the show for a fatigued Fringe crowd. But Vincent should be commended for his fresh approach to stand-up and his excellent use of this small venue. This show has slow parts but by the end you’ll be glad you bought the ticket.

Lord of the Vuvuzelas

This little gem was published in guardian.com’s viral video chart today.  I hate to jump on the bandwagon, but I just find it too ridiculous and hilarious to ignore.  (And this is what we do with all things viral don’t you know.)  What a pity The Lord of the Rings trilogy wasn’t originally filmed in German; we might have had hundreds of such clips à la Downfall by now if it were.

Let’s put this into perspective

Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — comelybankingcrisis @ 8:21 pm

The Comely Banking Crisis has been a stressful working crisis for the last two weeks and as a result my blog has been hit by its first dry patch.  But there’s been plenty of election-related action to follow on every medium available so why would I spend time blogging when I could be playing with the BBC’s absorbing, interactive election map.  And more to the point, why would YOU be reading this? With all that excitment?

Anyway, to finish this spate of election related blogging, now that the sorry affair is over, I’m kicking back and putting things into perspective.  Pleased by the current winds of change?  Fancy a younger, handsomer PM?  Let’s not get carried away by such indulgences and contemplate who’s running the UK now.  And by the way, did you see that smile on the Queen’s face?  A Tory at last!

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

Give us a change Nick!

Wow!  So the Guardian is in total, enthusiastic editorial support of the Liberal Democrats and on Friday told us that they would vote that way if only newspapers had a vote.  A little conceited, if you ask me, as surely newspapers account for thousands of votes, but I know what they mean.  Just a bit of artistic license to tell us how they’re officially set for next Thursday’s general election.  Well, the Comely Banking Crisis has received voting papers, and along these lines, I thought I’d write a brief, open letter to the Lib Dem’s great and mighty leader, the one and only Nick Clegg:

Dear Nick Clegg,

This week is election week.  I’m sure you’re very busy running around the country scraping up those last few votes you can beg, borrow or steal – and let’s face it, out of our first three UK ‘presidential’ candidates ever, you’re the one who needs to do the most work.

However, I hope that in the midst of the final tumultuous week on the campaign trail, somewhere between rallying exhausted supporters and eventually having your photo taken at the polling booth on the big day, you might find a minute or two to contemplate the following (Bad Religion songs are, in fact, very short and so eminently suitable for the listening to during a quick breather on the campaign bus):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em8QkRALN_A

Yours, etc,

The Comely Banking Crisis

This week is payday week, thank Christ!

Image: British Museum

Eek, it’s been a five-weekend pay month!  Holidays have to be booked, passports have to be renewed (I’d rather gouge my own eyes out), work has to be done, and above all we’ve had a fairly beautiful weekend in Edinburgh.  Okay, Sunday wasn’t amazing all day, but generally there was plenty to draw one towards a beer garden.  Despite this, one persevered with cans of Tennents in the flat with the window open.  But we needn’t despair, Wednesday (like, right at the beginning of Wednesday, like Tuesday at midnight), one’s misery will end.

But it hasn’t been misery, really, just a touch of end-of-the-month frugality to soften the hedonism of the first couple of thirds.  Here are a few things I enjoyed.

1. Walking around outside.  You can’t beat it.  It’s free, normally healthy, and pretty in this city.

2. While doing same, popped into Leo’s Beanery on Howe Street for a gorgeous cup of coffee (one of a couple of indulgences which flew in the face the emergency budget).  I fully intend to comprehensively review this place as I think it’s a hidden gem.

3. Doctor Who, The Time of Angels.  The new series of the Doctor has been a little touch and go if you ask me – it’s teething.  This might well have been my favourite episode so far.  You can’t fault those weeping angels.  They were bound to bring them back.  They’re like the Borg of Doctor Who.  Awesome, intimidating villians who are seemingly indestructible.  If you’re not a fan, these are statues who only remain statues as long as they’re being watched; at all other times they’re totally murderous and absolutely moving around.  So basically they turn to stone when you look at them.  But they never tell you what material they’re made of otherwise.  It could be paper for all we know!  But an original take on a familiar form, which is a strong feature.  Looking forward to seeing where that goes.  Here’s a clip from the last series:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5MogCPRxlg&feature=related

4. Yojimbo.  I’m going through a mini Akira Kurosawa movie season at home with no strict order to it.  Ran was recently watched and enjoyed.   Samurai King Lear works.  Yojimbo?  Many people would say this is a masterpiece and subject it to careful criticism and analysis.  For now, I’d rather just say I enjoyed it.  I have to admit I fell asleep a few times trying to watch it last week, but that was entirely the week I had rather than the film.  Finished it this weekend.  Happy to recommend it.  It’s a good, short, snappy film with a great soundtrack.  I had been wondering what film to start my Kurosawa season with and Ran happened accidentally.  Yojimbo would have been a better kick-off.

5. 500 Days of Summer.  The Comely Banking Crisis does Lovefilm and this one was on the Icy Penguin’s list, with the former, Yojimbo, being on mine.  We’re still digesting it but I think we both enjoyed it.  We were both frustrated by the female character, but that’s kind-of the point of the film.  A sort-of romantic comedy with a twist.   It thinks it’s Amelie a little bit, without all the magic or Paris.  Los Angeles is the setting and one of the things I enjoyed was the fact that the the male lead character is an architecture graduate who discusses LA and its architecture regularly.  This led me to think about another film set there, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, a better film actually, also portraying a brief-ish relationship and very much referencing its Californian backdrop.

But aside from these small mercies, we wait for the money!

My Own Private Michael Sheen Season

I love Michael Sheen.  I can’t get enough of the man.  His little face, his brilliant acting, that cheeky grin that can say ‘I’m a champion’ one moment and ‘I’m in misery’ the next.  The man is a chameleon, a vessel for weird and wonderful Britons of the last hundred years.  His deployment in so many iconic roles recently has been inspired.  A truly great British actor.

So it follows that I should host my own Michael Sheen Season!  I’d like to call this my Sheen Season but that could be confusing (not that I’d begrudge anyone a Charlie or Martin season).  I have to admit this wasn’t planned very carefully.  It’s rather been an organic exploration testifying to the addictive property of the actor’s presence and work – you just want to go back for more.

Front/Nixon

Most recently for us it’s been Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon.  This has been one of those big films that everyone cool says is great – a bit like Good Night and Good Luck – critically accclaimed, intelligent, big.  It always takes me a while to get round to watching these.  Maybe it’s War and Peace syndrome except on a small scale with movies: a big committment for a Friday night!  Anyhow, we watched it and loved it.

Sheen was great as hedonistic David Frost.  We felt that Frank Langella’s Nixon was something of a caricature, but maybe this role demanded a bit of overplaying.  Nixon has been caricatured so many times since his presidency that it’s the caricature that everyone remembers anyway.  It was the right choice, because we forgot about Langella quickly and focused on his Nixon instead.  A great, entertaining film that gives you just enough information on the background so that you can learn and enjoy.  And Sheen?  Perfect!  The role doesn’t stretch him hugely, but that’s the role.

Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa

Before Frost/Nixon it was Fantabulosa.  Aired by BBC4 (I missed it and rented the DVD – worth it!) this drama depicting the adult life of Kenneth Williams is stunning.  The writing felt just a little slow and clumsey at the very beginning, but the story unravels fantastically and manages to be dark, tense, uncomfortable and funny, like the man.  Playing both the young man and ageing Williams, Sheen is camp, delerious, mentally and physically ill, and miserable.  This finished on BBC iPlayer but it’s all over youtube.  Here’s one of my favourite sections (it’s worth waiting until around 5 minutes in to see the brilliant, hideously awkward ‘love’ scene – be warned, not one for the kids).  In my opinion this is Sheen at his very best:

The Deal; The Queen

Sheen has played Tony Blair twice.  I would summarise these as Nasty Ambitious Blair in the 2003 TV drama The Deal and Great Guy Blair in The Queen.  He’s best known for the latter, but I prefer the Nasty Blair of The Deal because its focus is on Blair himself and it’s a more thorough exploration of the man.  And he’s portrayed as a nasty git!  In any case, Sheen gets quite the accolade from me for doing two different Blairs, each one great.

The Blair character promises a lot more screen time.  We’re still waiting for War Criminal Blair, but I suspect that can only be done once the outcome of the current Iraq Inquiry is known and Blair is retired and we have a little distance from it.  Perhaps Pierce Brosnan’s ex-Prime-Minister in Polanski’s The Ghost will take us part of the way there.  I haven’t seen it but I don’t think a character played by Brosnan who merely alludes to a Blair-type figure is a sufficient third part of this trilogy.  There’s a great movie in the Blair story yet.

Wilde

And last but not least in my Season, we must revisit Wilde (1997).  Sheen in a love scene with Stephen Fry as Oscar Wilde?  Must be done!  Ealier roles such as this promised just what we have now:  a fantastic, developed actor with a great CV, screen presence and versatility.  And tonnes of potential yet.  Look at him there, snogging Fry! (Again, NOT for the kids!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4mTcelHf5s&feature=related

Anyone have any other recommendations?  I still haven’t seen The Damned United due to my football-schmutball attitude, but I must get over that!

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