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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Moose heads and table lamps, musthaves!

I did it! It took a while and a few wrong turns but I did it! Indeed, Great Uncle Hubert looks great on my wall, a fine head!

He’s so going to be tinseled and baubled up for Christmas. How could I not?! Yeah, it’s nearly crimble time again. The Edinburgh Christmas Market is up and running; a lot smaller than previous, which is no bad thing. I had a quick scoobies at it yesterday and can report that it’s nothing to write home about (yes, the irony is not lost on me). I hope no one makes a special trip to Edinburgh for it, there’s surely much better Christmas markets to visit. I used to treat myself to a drink and a snack on one wander each year just to get into the Christmas spirit but, like (call me Scrooge if you want) not at those prices, especially for Rekorderlig Swedish spring water with added apple flavours!

There is an ice rink in town this year, I think it’s at the west end of George Street, and there seems to be some fairground rides at the west end of West Princes Street Gardens. Haven’t been for a tootles at either, I shall report back when I do. I can report that Frites on Lothian Road do rather good chips! Yes, they probably prefer to call them french fries but I reckon they’re large enough to count as chips, good mayo too. I was heading for the cinema and realised I needed to eat but also needed to keep moving; I’ve passed it a million times but never stopped before, I couldn’t wait until I had popcorn, a good choice!

The film I was seeing? Venom: Let There Be Carnage for a second time, actually I reckon that I enjoyed it more on second viewing. I’ve also been back to see Last Night In Soho again, such a brilliant, brilliant fillm ❤

Talking about brilliant things, Fur finally made it back to Sneaky Pete’s, yay. This was a rescheduled date from March this year – oh, how confident folks were in summer ’20 of Covid being controlled by early ’21. Now at the back end of ’21, we can see bands again by masking up to enter venues and buy drinks at the bar ….. then removing them to bop and jostle about in a packed out box! I did notice the air-conditioning seemed to be rather better than pre-Covid, no bad thing, it still got very warm but not like before.

Fur last played Sneaky’s in September 2019, I actually just went because Logan’s Close were supporting, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by this band from Brighton. Reader, I was so blown away I bought the EP! The sound, the songs, the vocals, wow. You’re probably expecting me to give some description of them next, erm, sorry, fully formed sentences ain’t happening. Retro, jangly, disturbing, disquieting eeriness, wistful, euphoric; there’s a few words that come to my mind about Fur.

This time round they have a new album out, When You Walk Away, so natch, I had to buy one. White vinyl, no less! And all the lyrics on the inside sleeve, nice. I rarely buy records these days but it does feel so good to have these two spicing up my collection. Plenty in Sneaky’s were obviously already well acquainted with the new stuff, as Murray (vocals and guitar) was blown away by how many were singing along. Me, I just bobbed about, soaking it all up, a blissed out moose; I love Murray’s voice, and the new stuff is more of the same, no bad thing! And you’ve got to love a band who take table lamps and a rug on tour to add ambience to the stage, oh yeah.

The evening was too good to just head home after the gig, you know how it is! A few drinks later and the night ended in Whistlebinkies, a late night bar with live music just off the Royal Mile, and what do you know, Fur were there drinking with the Scat Rats (The Close weren’t support this time). Just had to get a couple of shots for the files…….

And on Logan’s Close, they’re having a big Christmas bash at the Voodoo Rooms with three support acts, including Julen Santamaria from Awkward Family Portraits. Now that’s how to get into the Christmas spirit!

Three movies and a couple of rats

As the evenings draw in, it can be too easy to accidentally cocoon oneself at home, so this week I’ve been catching up at the cinema again, three films seen so I’m already quids in for the month on my Unlimited card. This was the final week for Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch so I started with that on Tuesday evening……

The French Dispatch is a sumptuous, visually stunning film to wallow in, if you like Wes Anderson films, be warned this is a very, very Wes A film. As usual he has a large returning cast, does he write characters with people in mind, or think who he wants and writes for them? The French Dispatch is a magazine supplement produced in Ennui-sur-Blasé (a fictional town in France, Angoulême was used for the location shots) for an American newspaper; the film has a beginning, an ending and three feature articles in between, like I said, it’s very Wes. There’s a lot in there but personally I found that whilst it was sensory overload in many ways, it lacked something for me, the whole was less than the sum of the parts. Hmmm.

Next up was Venom: Let There Be Carnage and there was, indeed! Well, it is a Venom film so violence is part of the territory, accompanied by lots of fast quips and dark humour, of course. Again, a film to enjoy, but for me, not quite up to the first one. Tom Hardy is very watchable as always, and Woody Harrelson has a whale of a time! I was thinking back thirty years and more, to when he played Woody (the dopey bartender) in Cheers, who would ever thought that same guy would go on to do so much and win awards?! In Venom: Let There Be Carnage he plays locked up serial killer Cletus Kasady, who by managing to bite Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets a piece of the alien symbiote, which makes him even more psychotic and he becomes Carnage. I have a few niggles about plot holes and bits, but it is a very entertaining watch, just don’t think about it too much.

Then, last night I went to see Last Night In Soho, Edgar Wright’s latest film. Oo, he’s good. Great story, script, cinematography, atmosphere, soundtrack, and wow, the actors! Sixties iconic actors, Terence Stamp, Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham, former Dr Who Matt Smith and two of the best young female actors around, Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie (plus a number of other recognisable faces). This is a beautiful stylish film right from the first scene when modern day wannabe fashion designer Ellie (McKenzie) is dancing around, wearing a dress made from newspaper, to A World Without Love, in her room which is plastered with posters from the sixties. She’s soon heading to London and college; overwhelmed by student life (and a bitchy, shallow roommate), she moves into a room on Soho (oh, and we know she has some kind of spooky gift), and so it begins……

Everything is so brilliantly realised, the fashions, the clubs, Ellie sleep-watching Sandie’s world, slowly becoming most absorbed into it. The lightness at the start of the film gives way to the darkness, the seedy sordid side of the swinging sixties. Scenes like Sandie’s (Taylor-Joy) audition as she sings Downtown, and the dream dance sequence are mesmerising. I can’t actually say too much more that wouldn’t spoil the slow reveal of the film, oh, but Matt Smith as the sleazy charmer, Jack, is really excellent and quite unnervingly scary. There’s plenty to think about from watching this film, the attitudes and morals of the times, the victims. I think I need to see Last Night In Soho again, and seeing it a second time, knowing all the truths from the start could be quite fascinating.

This was Diana Rigg’s last film, in some ways a good film to finish with, a bookend to her start in The Avengers tv series as Emma Peel in a somewhat surreal swinging sixties. Rigg was also an early Bond girl (reader, she married him!), but filmwork didn’t entice her away from tv and theatre work, she was a very busy lady! Of course, many now know her as the magnificent Lady Olwen Tyrell from Game of Thrones, and some may remember that she appeared in Doctor Who during Matt Smith’s time in the tardis. I wonder if Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham shared any stories of their younger sixties selves with their young co-stars, bet they have some good ones!

No cinema tonight as The Scat Rats were playing Stramash, so still sticking with the sixties vibe! A number of Beatles covers amongst other songs from the sixties, and of course, a few of their own. Carl waxed lyrical about their old haunt, Babylon Cafe, which was sadly a victim of covid, before breaking into In The Morning. I’ve put a clip of this ode to a fried breakfast on my Facebook (that’s Bruce T Moose), the ending is a running joke of who can hold the note longest. Oo yeah, exciting, there was a brand spanking new song too!! It promises to be another cracker from the lads.

Crikey its late. Sweet dreams, mes amis!

Speak easy at the Voodoo Rooms

Yes, I was back in the Voodoo Rooms again this week (and I’ll be there next week for Black Cat Bone). Not the big room this time, but the Speakeasy on the first floor, a very intimate venue. I didn’t think I’d ever been in there before, certainly never for a gig but the more I dwell on it, I reckon I may have seen a Fringe show in it years ago. There is bar at the back of the room but, as it was roasting in there, I trotted upstairs for a pint of Caesar Augustus for a bit of a cool down (there are two large air conditioning units on the ceiling but they didn’t seem to be doing much). On one of the side walls is a large mirror, a really large mirror. For aesthetics? To the make the room seem much bigger? Maybe to help shortarses like myself to get a good view of the bands! As usual for a music gig there was a substantial number of giants attending; my jigging around was only half inspired by the beats, the other half by trying to catch glimpses of the bands. Then I realised I got a much better view if I watched through the mirror, result!

I actually knew next to nothing about the bands playing; absolutely nothing about the two supports and only pictures of the headline band on a page I follow on Facebook. The pictures were super cool, oozed style and screamed 60’s vibe – if the band sounded half as good as the pictures that would still be bloody good. The bands?

Apologies to The Poppermost for my lack of organisation to get there earlier and see them, whilst waiting to get served at the bar I heard that I’d really missed a treat! Damn! My excuse? Rain, buckets and buckets of it! My usual mode of transport, Shanks’ pony is averse to the stuff. I’d hoped it might peter out, but by the back of 8 o’clock I had to come up with a plan c (to see the rain without it touching me).

I missed the very start of Les Bof! but I don’t think by much. Their bio on Facebook just says “UK premier French 60’s Garage Rock band!” Well, this moose likes French 60’s garage rock apparently, never knew that before! I love their style and sound, yes, very sixties and that dirty, gritty sound like early Dr Feelgood and the Animals. For the first time in a while the lack of cigarette smoke fog seemed slightly odd, definitely one of those gigs where once upon a time you could have cut through the smog with a knife! The singer Laurent Mombel sure likes to shake a tambourine, and being French he looks cool doing it. I have later discovered that the rest of the band are Scottish (an easy assumption to make that they were all French), well I reckon they’ve picked up a Gallic ambience from Mombel over time. I’ll be watching out for Les Bof! in future.

And then, The Courettes, like wow, talk about the passion, baby! I’m in love! Flavia Couri is a rare and beautiful creature, stylish and sultry, strong with a sweet mischievous smile, and by’eck, can she rock a guitar! Guys wanna be with her, girls wanna be in her gang. Alongside Flavia is husband Martin Couri on drums, and that’s the whole band, nothing else needed. They’re touring to promote their new album Back In Mono with a cover pic that describes their music perfectly, no words required. I would have bought the album that evening, but end of the month, you know.

If I had to describe their sound, I’d say, think of The Ronettes, trash it up, fuzz the guitar and add a wee snarl to the voice. One song has a line, “Look out! Look out! Look out!” which is a very obvious nod to The Shangri-Las’ Leader of the Pack, a classic in my book! The Courettes also have a new single out from the album, R.I.N.G.O. and yes, it’s a tribute to Ringo Starr. Ah, just twigged, it’s images of a seedy old funfair, fumblings in the dark, à la That’ll Be The Day that their music evokes for me (Ringo Starr starred in it). So many Courettes’ songs would be perfect for film soundtracks, someone call Tarantino!

I hope it’s not too long before The Courettes ride back into town. I need more ❤

A marvel, a spy and a little bit of voodoo

I finally got round to seeing Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings on Wednesday night – the last evening showing of it at Cineworld. It’s only been showing for about, oo, five or six weeks! I actually knew nothing about it, hadn’t seen any adverts or previews, I hadn’t even noticed it was a Marvel film, yeah! How? I know! Just the poster and the title pulled me in and I’m so glad I went.

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is not a brilliant film, but it is really enjoyable (great fight scenes) and, as I had only just found out it’s part of the Marvel-verse, a tad befuddling when Trevor the Scouser turned up in it. If you’re now wondering who Trevor the Scouser is, you either haven’t seen all the Marvel films or you weren’t paying attention when you did. I recognised him straightaway and my brain was whirring trying to remember the details, thankfully he gave a long flashback exposition to fill all the blanks. There’s a number of long exposition speeches with accompanying flashback scenes in this film, possibly annoying to some; the lead-ups to them are a tad trite, but then I came to the conclusion that it was intended that way and went with it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, it is quite unusual these days to see a mainstream film without being aware of any of the plotline beforehand. I wish now I’d seen it earlier so I could have gone back and watched it again; and how good to see Michelle Yeoh on screen, such serenity! The actress playing Shang-Chi’s friend Katy was bugging me as she seemed familiar but, no, it wouldn’t come. Turns out it was her voice I knew, she played Sisu in Raya And The Last Dragon that I saw back in May, she is Awkwafina an American actor and rapper and I reckon she’d be a great laugh on a night out!

The following evening saw me back in the cinema for the latest Bond movie, No Time To Die. Well, its a Bond movie with all that entails – great villains played by class actors (Rami Malik and Christoph Waltz), beautiful ladies (I particularly liked Paloma played by Ana de Armas), the team back in Blighty (including of course Miss Moneypenny played by, the more beautiful than ever, Naomie Harris), a great theme song and musical score with an added bonus of We Have All The Time In The World woven through it. Oh, and a plotline that necessitates plenty of international travels, of course! I liked it, one of the better recent Bond movies for me, though I’m not sure about where the franchise will go next!?

Last night (yes! out three nights in a row!) I was in the Voodoo Rooms to see The Eclectic Electric Ukulele Blues Band, I was intrigued by the name and had to check them out. The fact that Willie Dug and the Cosmic Gents were the Support may have nudged my decision to go. Just as well the support were excellent, ’cause the EEUBB were rather uninspiring. Oh, the main guy had some fancy electric ukes but they were just an average pub blues band, nothing to write home about! If they didn’t have the word Ukulele in the name it would hardly have registered that two of the band were playing ukes, but I guess it helps intrigue the punters in, like it did me.

A lovely surprise bonus to the support band was one Carl Marah! Didn’t see that one coming! I hope he didn’t feel too comfy there, to lose a drummer or bass player is one thing but …….. Nah, he wouldn’t. But he would promise, and I quote, “a big ol’ bauble banger Xmas bonanza”, yay! A Logan’s Close Yuletide Special, can’t wait!

I shall leave you with pics (taken with my new phone, I’m sorry!) of The Scat Rats doing their thang…….

Move over Lionel Ritchie, it’s Bea Arthur’s Seat now!

Hello you, I’m ba-ack, the moose is in the hoose. All my travel bits have been sorted, cleaned and put away, time to play! And yay, tonight sees the Scat Rats back at Stramash. Oh yeah, I realised some time after I wrote the last post that I hadn’t mentioned seeing the Scat Rats before, how remiss of me. A few weeks ago I popped into Stramash on my way to the cinema as I had some time to kill, some band called the Scat Rats were playing. Well, blow me down, it was Carl Marah and Scott Rough from Logan’s Close! Needless to say, I never made it to the cinema that evening, it was well after nine when the lads finished their second set. Just the two of them on acoustic guitars playing mainly covers and a few of their own. Oo, they played Babe Station, love that song, gonna have to go back and check it out on the Limbic TV gig, has it altered since then?

I’ve been back since Wednesday evening, just before six. I know it was just before six because I made a brew, grabbed some digestives and put the telly on just in time for Richard Osman’s House of Games. What a lovely surprise and long time no see, Andy Hamilton is on it this week (he’s doing rather well). He’s a very clever and very funny man; he’s created, written and directed comedies on radio and tv, he acts, writes novels and is known for appearing on radio and tv game shows. Apparently he still appears on The News Quiz on Radio 4, I don’t bother with it any more, gave up on it a few years years ago. For me, the Simon Hoggart years were the best, when Andy was on it regularly with the likes of Linda Smith, Jeremy Hardy and Alan Coren (them were the days!).

Googling Andy Hamilton, I’ve discovered that he performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the 1970s going on to being a scriptwriter for tv comedies and radio. He’s been responsible for creating some great comedy – Drop the Dead Donkey in the 90s (essential viewing at the time), Outnumbered (out of the mouths of babies, nuff said), Old Harry’s Game on Radio 4 ( it did tail off in the later series) oh, and the wonderful film What We Did On Our Holiday. Bud and I saw him at the Fringe in 2009, he did one night at the Queen’s Hall, Andy Hamilton’s Hat of Doom. The review in my fringe diary reads “Good, sharp, but not really brilliant like we wanted. ☆☆☆☆”

If Andy wins tonight’s ROHOG he’s won the trophy for the week, he may well still win it if he comes second. I want him to win, he deserves it just for getting the answer Bea Arthur’s Seat in the Answer Smash round. Speaking of the Seat, I must go out and stretch my little legs.

Toodle pip!

Bags, uke, that’s me ready!

Just time for a quick catch up before I head off for a wee while, bags are packed, ukulele by the door so I won’t forget it. Yay, I did get to see Free Guy again! Still great on second watch. I also got to see the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, like wow, WOW!! Jennifer Hudson is sooo good. The film ended at the time when she recorded the live album Amazing Grace, the recording of which was filmed, a film I saw two years ago in the Filmhouse, sweet!

This week I luckily spotted that The Green Knight was on at the Filmhouse, a “last chance to see” Facebook post . It’s a re-telling of Gawain and the Green Knight, in this version Gawain is played by Dev Patel (the reason I wanted to see it, he’s getting better and better as he ages). Sumptuous and kinda arty, lots to enjoy, but I did feel it lacked a bit towards the end.

Stramash have very kindly released a lot of gig dates for October and November, so there’s Jed Potts, the Kennedy’s Project and Willie Dug to look forward to, and yay, the Scat Rats (aka Messrs Marah and Rough) will be back, and, double yay, not until after I’m back in toun. Ah, thinking of the Close, I recently went on a coastal meander and popped by Dunbar, look what I found, yay!

Just a jog away from Dunbar is Belhaven Bay, plenty sand, sea and surf. Oh yeah, the surf was up! A great place just to idle a while, shame I didn’t discover it midsummer, ah well. Beach Boys songs swam around in my head as I strolled across the sand; it struck me that it could well have been the Beach Boys sound that heavily influenced the Scat Rats if they’d spent more time on the beach…..

Toodle pip!

That turned out pretty damn fine!

Last night wasn’t a good Friday night, it was a great Friday night! Oh yeah, I finally got round to seeing Free Guy and I think I may have to go see it again on the big screen before it disappears, I ❤ Ryan Reynolds. There’s a lot that I love about this movie – RR, Jodie Comer, Channing Tatum, Taika Waititi, great choices of music for some of the big scenes (especially the scene using Mama Cass’s Make Your Own Kind of Music), it is sooo visually stunning, a wickedly funny, witty script and, for me, great ideas and layers all delivered with a weirdly gentle innocence and charm.

I didn’t actually know much at all about Free Guy but it’s got Ryan Reynolds in it so that’s enough for me. I had heard stuff but had forgotten the details, like that Jodie Comer is in it. When Molotov Girl first appeared she made me think of Danni Minogue, then when I saw Millie, oh yay, it’s Villanelle, ah, yes, when you need someone who can do accents! The opening sequence with all the “sunglasses guy” stuff was such fun, and Channing Tatum too! Something of the premise came back to me, Free City is an online open-world video game and Guy is a background character who somehow breaks from his programming, game world and real world interactions ensue …. As I’m not a gamer at all I floundered a little, er, NPC? A non-player character? Ah, a background character within the game, yeah, I don’t play these games at all.

So, Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller, living a regular life, doing the same things every day, happens to spot the girl of his dreams – not part of his daily routine, it triggers something and he starts being more than he should be, he does the unexpected, he takes a pair of sunglasses off a bank robber, wow, the sunglasses let him see things he didn’t know were there (bit of an unwitting Matrix blue pill moment there). What Guy doesn’t understand is that the glasses are showing him what a game player sees, with them on the NPC becomes a game player and he moves away more from his programming, which causes Millie and everyone in the real world to think he’s a player/hacker. Guy finds Molotov Girl but she tells him he must level up to above 100 if he wants to speak to her again and shows him how to click the side of the sunglasses to see his level. He doesn’t really understand it but he really wants to see her again, how to level up? Take guns and money, she tells him, but he’s a good guy, and so begins the ascent of Blue Shirt Guy.

No more plot for you, just that Guy helps Molotov Girl in his world to help Millie in the real world fight the bad guy Antwan, played deliciously by Taika Waititi. Guy’s fight to be free to do whatever he wanted made me think of Wreck-It Ralph (another great film imo). There’s plenty in this film that sparks thoughts about other films, oo, a fresh one, remember Chris Hemsworth’s dancing in Ghostbusters and Bad Times At The El Royale? Channing’s moves in this made me think of how good he was in the tap-dancing sequence in Hail, Caesar! We need a film with the two of them in a dance-off – Mr Waititi, if you’re not busy?!

Yes, I need to see it again, there’s also Respect to see this week before it finishes, possibly Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings too. Thursday sees the new Bond film oot, that looked pretty good on the trailer. Oh yeah, I saw a trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage too, really looking forward to that!

You may be thinking that was my Friday night done, oh no, I hoofed it quickly down to Stramash to catch Willie Dug and his band (not the Cosmic Gents as seen at the Voodoo Rooms a couple of weeks ago). This was Willie on guitar and vocals with a drummer and a guy on harmonica, nothing more needed to make sweet sounds! Willie Dug is one magnificent hound, oozing style and charisma, shades of a young Malcolm McDowell, especially when he stripped off his shirt and put on a faux leopard fur jacket that was lying on a barrel just in front of the stage.

The Stramash crowd were really up for dancing, the band delivered and then some. For me the best of the bunch were Come Together (I notice it’s become a popular one to cover since the lockdowns), Roadhouse Blues and the final, one more song, Not Fade Away, ah, a song with many fine memories for me. The minimalness of the band recalled Bluefinger for me, Not Fade Away was a fitting number to head out into the night air on. To paraphrase from Free Guy.….

I may not be real, but for a couple of hours there I felt pretty alive