Bruce the Phantom Moose

There’s nowhere quite as good as Greyfriars Cemetery for a few Hallowe’en shenanigans. There are more pics on my Facebook page, that’s Bruce T. Moose (and no the T doesn’t stand for what you might think it does).

Happy Hallowe’en  👻👻🎃

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Peek-a-boo!

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That looks spookier than me.

 

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Rather fetching, if I do say so myself

First blog post

So Hi anyone looking at this. Never done anything like this before but have been musing on doing a fringe blog for, oo, the last four years. So finally I’m taking the plunge! The first fringe show I saw was way back in 1985, The Bald Prima Donna at Buster Browns on Thursday 22nd August for £2. That Prima Donna keeps coming back every year, still bald as a coot. So if you fancy a stroll along the byways and alley ways of my Fringe experiences, feel free to drop in.

Like I said, I’m new to this so there’s gonna be plenty mistakes (though at least my typing seems ok for a moose) as I’m not really up with this modern technology stuff. So wish me luck and do check in again!

Bruce

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A Poster Is Not The Show

See what I did there? I’ve heard it said that the songs in Mary Poppins Returns aren’t memorable – poppycock! Ok, so I don’t remember the words much but I often find myself humming them, even whistling them on occasion (when did whistling tunes go out of style?)  Anyways, the song A Cover Is Not The Book has been making Jeremy Lion, a bygone Fringe performer, pop into my head. Why? Because I judged and made presumptions about Mr Lion from the poster.

And here it is in all it’s glory!

2019-02-18 23.11.30Nothing about this poster appealed to me, not even the Perrier Best Newcomer bit – we hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye Pez and I about what funny actually is. This was 2003, the year of God Inc. the only show Bud and I had ever walked out of at that point, and not just because it was running an hour late!! The show we caught after God Inc was thankfully also running late, but it really wasn’t up to much and hadn’t been worth our mad dash to catch it. We’d also had the pain of watching April in Paris (see A Cautionary Tale), I was in no mood to waste more money on a dubious poster!

2019-02-18-23.23.15The following year Mr Lion returned with a new show; The Guardian described it as “Play School meets Hellraiser”. Actually on that description I’m surprised we didn’t give it a punt!

Looking at the posters again now, they are perfect for the show they were advertising; all the colours and tones have an old-fashioned, yester year feel. It’s the 50s and 60s and Butlins again (I do have vague memories of Butlins holidays as a young calf!) He’s the children’s entertainer who wants to be anything but that, but he keeps going with what he thinks is entertaining (and educational) with the aid of the odd drink or two or three or ……

So when he returned yet again in 2005 with Jeremy Lion – What’s the Time, Mr Lion? Bud and I decided we should give him a go, after all, three years in he must be doing something right! Even then we bought tickets for 241 Monday, 18:25 in Pleasance Beyond (by’eck I’ve seen an awful lot of shows in that hut over the years,  worth a post of its own at some point). OMG!!! One of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen to this day! So good we saw it twice, both immediately having agreed that we had to see the show on the last day to check if he was still alive!! Surely no-one could drink that copiously through an entire month and live to tell the tale?! We debated long into the evenings how much may not have been actual alcohol but decided he really was drinking that much, wow. We drank plenty ourselves at the time but even we would have been under the table against old Lion! And the belching – he could have done a masterclass, such was his talent. It wasn’t just about the drinking and the belching though, it was a brilliantly conceived, written and performed show. Total Fringe. We both felt thoroughly miffed with ourselves that we’d poo-pooed his previous shows.

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Did he come back again? He reappeared in 2010 moving over to the other Pleasance presence the Dome. It had taken five years to have sobered up and now be looking back fondly thinking what fun to do it again. Mind in those five years he’d got older, could the liver take such punishment again? He now had the very enchanting Lucy Porter as a wife and a child on the way (she was at show we went to, looking very pregnant). Ah, she’s married to Justin Edwards, Jeremy’s alter-ego, I’m not sure there’d be many takers to be Mrs Lion. He’d obviously taken time to reflect on life, the world, the times, and so his final Fringe show was Jeremy Lion Goes Green, an environmentally-aware show, which as usual with Lion went awry with arguments with his pianist, daft props and, of course, drinking. We did murmur to each other that he wasn’t drinking as much, until, to quote from my Fringe diary “Finding bottles of Malibu in his bit of the desert was the start of the end and the finale was a marvellous rendition of Ten Green Bottles that he decided should be ten empty bottles to recycle – so he drank a lot of them.” I notice I said “a lot” rather than “the lot”, well, the mother of his child was looking on 😆

 

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That was quick!

Crikey, turn your back for a minute and January runs out on you! Mind it’s not a month that inspires me to do anything but soak in hot baths and read books, though not at the same time sadly. Maybe I should rig up some Heath Robinson type contraption to hold a book and turn the pages upon command, hmmm.

Early in the new year I finally finished Game of Thrones as so far written, so come on Mr Martin, stop sidelining it and finish the next book! Then after all that fighting, treachery, sex and dragons, I had a change and picked up Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, yep, very different indeed, and rather absorbing. I did figure out the twisty bit sometime before it was revealed but that’s okay as it was her relationship with workmate Raymond that kept me reading.

Just one thing kept coming to mind, that readers would think, well with a traumatic back story like that, who’s surprised by how she became, she has our sympathy; even while I was laughing at her behaviour, it was with a slight sense of compassionate guilt. Now a character without a dramatic family history, without any sad sympathy vote, the character who is usually a side example of uselessness to show how well our heroine/hero is doing, tell me about them; show me a witty, exasperated, no-schmaltz story about that guy, make me root for them. There’s plenty of loneliness and isolation that just is.

Then from Ms Oliphant to Jack Parlabane, Chris Brookmyre’s crime reporter. I finally got round to reading Black Widow; its been sitting in my bookcase since I bought it at The Caves back in 2016, yes, I had him sign it for me! Mr Brookmyre is very entertaining to listen to, if you like his books then I would heartily recommend catching him at a book event if you can. It was a good read but I did find myself working out his twists (I have read plenty of his books). Mind, he is pretty good at putting in red herrings and side stories to muddy the waters. I was sure from before halfway I knew the “who” and partially “what” with a very slight “it may possibly be her instead”, then he takes another turning and makes the slight into “oo it’s her, the bitch!” Wrong! My first instinct was correct and how. Reckon I’d make a great side-kick to Parlabane! Rugged reporter and his crime-solving moose 😊

Toodle pip!

 

On the fringe of the light fantastic

As a young moose I loved Mary Poppins, I wanted her to take me on magical trips and dancing with penguins. A few evenings ago I fell in love with her all over again, what a gal! I for one thoroughly enjoyed Mary Poppins Returns, so much so, I intend to return to see it again before it leaves town. It’s  a snuggily warm blanket, so whimsical and quaintly British, with lots of little nods to the original, especially in the music with a few notes here and there from the earlier songs. All the cast were terrific, Emily Blunt is spot on as Poppins and Lin Manuel Miranda, well, I may have a bit of a crush on his smile!

And blimey Charlie – David Warner, Angela Lansbury and ol’ Dick too! Who says there’s no parts for old folks? And these are seriously old folk, I did the usual pastime of coming home from the cinema and spending the next hour or so on IMDB and the like checking out just how old they were, etc, and found out some rather interesting facts (well I thought so).

Most Interesting Fact I discovered, Beautiful Briny was actually originally intended for Mary Poppins but was cut, later to be used in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (another old favourite of mine). Angela Lansbury, of course, played the wonderful Eglantine Price; so great to see her again. She’s older that Dick Van Dyke by two months, a fine pair of nonagenarians!

How pleased was I to see David Warner playing Admiral Boom! On IMDB he’s listed as having 223 acting roles, okay so not all classics, but hey, there’s Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, The Omen, Time Bandits, Tron, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, and all manner of one-off appearances in tv shows. My college pals and I would always let out a cheer whenever he was spotted on screen, dunno how that started,  just one of those things!

And then there’s Binnacle, Admiral Boom’s man, he looked kind of familiar but I couldn’t place him. Apparently it’s one Jim Norton, first seen in The Face of Fu Manchu back in 1965 (a classic!). I spotted he was in an episode of The Adventures of Black Beauty (who remembers that from the 70s? Personally I preferred Follyfoot) in a long steady list of jobs that went Stateside in the 80s with L.A.Law, Cheers, Frasier, Star Trek Next Gen and even four episodes of Babylon 5! Ah, finally I found it, why he looked familiar – Father Ted’s Bishop Brennan! Of course!

Who’ll be the actors from today who’ll still be popping up in forty, fifty years time? Will this year’s crop of Fringers produce any future stalwarts of our screens?

Toodle pip!

 

Hello 2019!

On New Years Day I made my traditional trek up Arthur’s Seat to welcome in the year. This year along with my hip flask of Laphroaig, I took a slice of my rather damn fine Christmas cake, a reward for reaching the top and sugar rush to get me back down! It maybe somewhat tiring going up, but it’s trickier getting down again (well it is for me, I’m much more sure-footed ascending but descending I go so gingerly and worry about slipping).

Twas a beautiful sunny morning and rather breezy at the top, thankfully not as windy as when I did my practice run two days earlier, I almost took off in the wind a couple of times! So many different languages and accents can be heard at the summit, most heard is “Could you take a photo of me/us?” I do like to oblige when asked.

From there I scrambled down from the peak and explored the other areas around the top, finally heading back down via a path I’ve never used before and probably never will again. It took bloody ages to negotiate the slip slidy mud and steep parts. By the time I was back down to the road the annual triathlon was in full swing with cyclists whizzing past, it was a while before I had a chance to leg it over to the pavement.

I really should go up Arthur’s Seat more often, there’s so many paths to follow and such beauty to behold. I used to wander around the park much more in the past, ah yes, New Year Resolution – must walk in the park more often.

Toodle pip!

Time to go to home

It’s very late, tomorrow I head down to darkest Yorkshire for Christmas. Finally all packed up, did take a break to find out about Grindelwald’s crimes, he’s a bit of a wrong’un, ain’t he? I would love to have a niffler, rather reminds me of a platypus, methinks – without all the coarse language  (I do know a platypus, swears like a trooper, so he does).

Anyhoo, just thought I’d show you this year’s cake. Oh, and if you’re concerned about the penguin, don’t be. He’s not having bad thoughts, he just does it to freak people out.

Toodle pip! Merry Crimble!

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Strictly elephants and zombies!

Oops, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Christmas will soon be upon us but before it comes the Strictly Come Dancing Final, and absolutely no one is surprised by the final line-up; Joe, Faye, Ashley and Stacey. Who’ll be the first one out? My elephant friend confidently predicts Ashley, who? why?

My good friend FB likes to watch Strictly, he’s a lovely soul, says how things are but most folk don’t even acknowledge his presence, he is after all an elephant in the room. And FB? It stands for Fan Base, without one a celebrity can only do so much, especially once in the Final when the judges can no longer save a contestant on merit. If Ashley, even with high judges scores, can’t get enough public votes to be kept out of the bottom two, then how will she fair when it’s strictly down to a popularity vote?!

Mind, a week’s a long time in social media and it might just be long enough for the anti-Ashley mob to get up enough noses to generate an anti-anti-Ashley mob! They’ll vote for her in the Final just to annoy the anti-Ashleyers! Then there’s also the “journey” voters, who’s journey are they most moved by, Stacey’s or Joe’s? Faye stumbles at that hurdle, as like Ashley she’s seen as having previous dance experience. Also, let’s not forget that Joe has millions of followers on social media, have they been voting? Will they vote on Saturday?

My personal favourite is Stacey, and she is dancing with Kevin, another favourite of mine. They may sneak in a win being well-loved by many – and surely Kevin has to win sometime!?

So what about zombies? Well, my second favourite film from this year’s EIFF has been in cinemas this week, Anna And The Apocalypse, saw it three times 😊 (the benefit of having an unlimited card to my local multiplex). Everything about it is brilliant, certainly a new christmas must for me! I may turn evangelical next yesterday – the DVD will be a great present for friends, hell yeah, the ones who missed it this week do NEED to see it.

Time to go,

Nightly night,

Don’t let Zombie Santa bite…..

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Some Lillies are Tigers that bite

Last night I headed down Leith to the recently re-opened Leith Theatre to see a performance of The Last Days of Mankind by Karl Kraus featuring the The Tiger Lillies. No, didn’t know anything about it, but the poster suggested a hard-hitting, provocative piece of theatre about man and war, and The Tiger Lillies! Oh yay! If they were providing the music, then definitely hard-hitting, plenty of sarcasm and black humour and no shying away from man’s vileness and depravity. It’s been just over five years since I saw The Tiger Lillies at the Fringe, way too long…….

The first time I saw them was 2004, performing Punch and Judy at what was called Pod Deco, this was an odd pop-up venue in the much-loved but sadly closed-down Odeon cinema on Clerk Street (I saw many films there, it was a proper old cinema). This was no family-friendly puppet show – the big clue being the blurb in the programme, “A lurid operetta, with supporting cast of shadows, glove puppets and rubber blow-up dolls. Step into the dirty, chaotic and violent world of Punch”. Yeah, violence and blow-up dolls, but still some idiots brought children along, only to leave before the second song was over! My friend who’d introduced me to the TLs told that when he’d seen them the year before at St Stephen’s the singer warned a mother with two children, she waved him off only to skunk out during the first number!

Punch and Judy was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard before, grotesque, heart-searing, beautiful, depraved. I came out needing a good shower to cleanse my soul – this reaction became my benchmark for a good TLs show. To paraphrase Eric Olthwaite, their humour is black, very black, even the white bits are black. Not for everyone, given the lyrics, but the music itself is sublime; a trio of very talented musicians who will spell-bound you and Martyn’s voice will stay with you forever.

Described as “an avant-punk Brechtian cabaret trio” the Spiegeltent was the perfect venue in 2005. We felt transported to another era, just without the thick cigarette smoke that would have been there. They returned to the Spiegeltent in 2008 with their 7 Deadly Sins. Loved, loved, loved this show, a brilliant set of songs, a burlesque dancer and a puppeteer/clarinetist with little angel wings who seriously looked like Timothy Claypole (a character from a long-ago children’s tv show).

The next two years the TLs were in the Pleasance Beyond, a soulless, functional, modern theatre with no ambiance at all. The performances were great but after the sleazy atmosphere of the Spiegeltent, well, it wasn’t the same overwhelming devineness, they were a band on a stage.

It was 2013 before they returned to the Fringe, playing at the Underbelly’s Cowbarn (aka Reid Concert Hall). A much better venue for them, I seem to the remember the lighting being really good, especially the uplighting on the bass player’s face, fair gave me the willies it did! Another great show with the usual crowd around their CD stall afterwards, they are quite prolific doing all sorts of musical projects, so there will always be new CDs to procure. Sadly I haven’t seen them at the Fringe since, so when they put a picture on Facebook with the comment Watch out Edinburgh, ooo.

So I got me a cabaret table seat in an old slightly dilapidated theatre, even walking in the ambience was right, a piano was centre front in amongst the cabaret tables, percussion at the right wing, bass in front of the left wing; liking it. Two gents with paled faces sat at desks on either side of the raised piano. The Tiger Lillies walked on to their instruments and played…

What a theatrical performance! Everything just outstanding!! The Last Days of Mankind was written in the early twentieth century, satirically charting the war and it’s effects on humanity as the author saw it in Austria; the collapse of civilisation in Europe at the time. Apparently the original play has over 200 scenes, almost 500 characters and an estimated 10 day running time! This new adaptation had a cast around 30 (from all around Europe), 35 scenes and a running time of about 3 hours, phew!

The whole theatre was the stage, with scenes emerging from the sides, the back of the central aisle, even the balcony! Pictures and film clips were projected on to the backdrop and curtain of a sparse stage. Martyn moved between the piano and stage to serenade us with his sarcastic dark wit (his accordian was a thing of beauty, always fancied learning to play one). It was a breath-taking, thought-provoking, mesmerising evening. My cabaret table seat was great, sometimes being right next to the action, but I am quite tempted to go back before it finishes to see it again from the balcony! After all, god knows when the Tiger Lillies will come back to town.

Toodle pip!