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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On the fringe of St Valentine’s Day

Well I’ve had quite an interesting day, one that reminded me how cheerful and cheery life can be. I’m currently having my lounge decorated (I did strip it myself but the ceiling is quite high for a moose to do a decent job of papering and painting) and this morning I also had an electrician in to replace my old fuse box with a new flickswitch one; a decent chap, he observed that it must be busy in my neighbourhood during the Fringe, ahha a fellow fringer? Indeed, how nice to have an unexpected chat with another enthusiast.

The decorating is coming along nicely and though the telly had to come off the wall for it, I managed to reattach its table stand so each evening I’ve kept up with Babylon 5, just as well, it’s just got to the Whatever Happened to Babylon 4? bit, how great was that tonight? Ok, you’re probably wondering why I don’t just record it all then binge, well, I quite like the old-fashioned way of watching a programme when it’s on and looking forward to the next episode.

And on old-fashioned, I took myself off to the cinema late afternoon to see Early Man, the latest Nick Park creation, another quintessentially British feelgood, hurrah for the plucky underdog, movie. Yes, okay so it’s not on a par with the Wallace and Gromit films, but that’s a very steep peak to scale and they have the advantage of the Pedestal of Nostalgia. I did notice myself making the comparison in the first ten minutes but then, sometime later I realised I’d been well and truly sucked in by it’s humour; the characters all brilliantly voiced, including Hognob (by Nick Park!), a very dog-like wild boar; and a wonderfully daft storyline, but you think back to the Ealing Comedy plotlines, they didn’t much let commonsense stand in the way of a bit of fun! It’s not a film of great belly laughs, but you will chuckle, smile, nod in recognition, guffaw in surprise and leave with a warm, fussy glow – useful in these baltic temperatures just now.

Indeed, even mid afternoon in the bright sunlight it was a cold day. I had plenty of time so took a long detour to the cinema round the redeveloped canal basin area. I rather quite like what they’ve done there, which is not how I often feel about modern developments in Edinburgh!

Well, its now rather late and I am back in work tomorrow, so I’ll bid you good night and sweet dreams,

💘 Bruce x

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I ❤ Bab Pants

Yes, really, watching Babylon 5 again on the telly, still one of my favourite sci-fi shows. And that story arc! So looking forward to later in season 3 with Zathras and that mindf**k of a story arc of the fate of Babylon 4. I remember going round to a friend’s flat a few days after it first showed on tv, he was still in a dazed blown-away state from the sheer audacity of it. Who knew it would be picked up (pun intended) and shown on tv again?

Sad to say, a number of the top cast are no longer with us. The aforementioned Zathras, played (all of them) by Tim Choate died in 2004, aged only 49. Michael O’Hare, the original Babylon 5 Commander, Jeffrey Sinclair died in 2012. Security has lost Michael Garibaldi and Zack Allan, aka Jerry Doyle and Jeff Conway. Medical has lost Richard Biggs, who played Dr Steven Franklin, aged only 44. As the sane small voice of reason and conscience that was Vir Coto, Stephen Furst won many hearts again (I’d say Vir and Flounder weren’t that dissimilar, loveable, well-meaning, rabbits-in-headlights), sadly died last year. And, of course, Andreas Katsulus who blew me away as the magnificent G’Kar, died in 2006. Do they have Comic Cons in heaven?

Ah, G’Kar and Londo Mollari, the best double act in sci-fi, ever! It was like a Shakespearean epic between the pair, I’m really enjoying seeing those two again. Gotta admit, the Sheridan-Delenn romance really started to grate on me, watching it all on video some years ago I did fast forward at times! Bab Pants also had one of the best villains, Alfred Bester, played to the max by Walter Koenig, always a cheer when Bester turned up!

Ok, so I did watch Star Trek as a calf but it never really got me, never Trekified me. Babylon 5 wasn’t Star Trek, it was grubby, sarcastic, mean, humorous, personal agendas, and it had Ivanova!! Oh boy, she coulda taken on all the Trek women and come out on top! Finally a woman who wasn’t bland and dull, yes she showed her vulnerable side, but hey, don’t we all? And she had an accent, they all did, not the blandness of Trek voices. Oo, am I getting a bit ranty, perhaps?! Umm, at the time I did have some serious Trekky friends who could never quite agree that Bab Pants (or the also brilliant Farscape) could measure up to Star Trek – not even after that mindf**k Babylon 4 stunt!!

I do have a old SFX somewhere that has a Babylon 5 feature in it, there’s a picture of Ivanova that a dear friend of mine had signed by Claudia Christian for me. More on that later!

 

Paddington: The Fringe Show.

I just went back to see Paddington 2 for a second time, almost seven weeks after I first went to see it – I guess it’s a success, not many films stay on the big screen that long these days. Once back home I did that thing folk like to do these days, looked up the film on IMDb to see who’s done what where. But what! What! Tim Fitzhigham and Dan Antopolski were both in it and I missed them? Oh, and Cal McCrystal had a cameo besides being the Physical Comedy Consultant. FYI all Fringe favourites of mine.

Justin Edwards and Richard Ayoade were also in it, didn’t miss them, well it would be hard not to spot Richard Ayoade, who, incidentally, was being directed by Paul King (director of both Paddington films) in Garth Marenghi’s Netherhead the first time I saw him at the Fringe many years ago! One last tentative Fringe connection Tom Conti, well, I’ve seen him in town in August – up to see Nina?

In fact the first evening I saw Paddington 2, I saw Justin Edwards twice as he also had a part in The Death of Stalin (oh yes, two films in one evening with a trip to Nando’s sandwiched between them, well, I do have an unlimited viewings card). At the Fringe Justin Edwards had a magnificent creation the children’s entertainer Jeremy Lion, possibly one of my Desert Island Fringe Shows! More on him another time.

It is great when I see folk who I’ve seen in small, sweaty venues on the big screen, guess it reflects how long I’ve been fringing. Both Paddington films are excellent, having all the elements in the right proportions to make cinematic classics, and they came from a guy who first directed at the Fringe. What an inspiration! Crikey, I’ll be singing Circle Of Life next!

Next film I’ll go see may well be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Martin McDonagh, who also wrote the bloodiest play I’ve ever seen, or will probably ever see again, at the Fringe,  The Lieutenant Of Inishmore. See another Fringe connection!

 

 

On the fringe of 2018

2018-01-02 22.21.19.jpg20180101_125146.jpg2018-01-01 22.50.59.jpgSo here we are in a new year, another Fringe to look forward to. Who will return? Who will come up for the first time? Will Barry Ferns return to do a This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Ritchie show? Speaking of Arthur’s Seat, besides popping up to the top in August, it is a popular tradition on New Year’s Day to climb to the summit to celebrate the New Year – often with a tot of whisky or slug of champagne, after all it is thirsty work getting up there!

Once the breath has been caught, noses blown, a toast imbibed and the view thoroughly admired, it’s time for the photographic evidence that you were there. “Excuse me, but would you mind taking a photo of us?” is the question of the day in so many different accents from around the world, for a damp hilltop it’s very cosmopolitan! I take it many hoteliers or Trip Advisor must mention it as the number one thing to do on the 1st – at least it’s free!

We even had reasonable weather for most of the day this year, though it was very muddy underfoot, almost as slip slidy as ice. While going up gets quite arduous near the top, coming back down over slippery rocks and mud is a rather scarier for those of us with a touch of vertigo. A sturdy stick does help steady the nerves, or another tot of whisky!

So hopefully you’ll get to see a photo of yours truly at the top, another looking up at the hordes from lower down and the third looking over Edinburgh with a clear view of the Castle. Do let me know if they haven’t appeared. Cheers, m’dears!

 

 

On the Fringe of Christmas

Oh dear, I haven’t put anything on for a while, I do hope Mr Claus doesn’t warrant lapsed blogging as bad. As (hopefully) you will see I have been busy making my own christmas cake. Yes, it is all my own work, cake, almond paste and icing. When I was a young calf the christmas cake and pudding were made in October. The pudding mixture was made in the morning so that we could all have a stir of it and make a wish before noon – I have no recollection of any rhyme or reason for this tradition but we always did it so. But it was the christmas cake mixture we all loved eating, in fact I’m surprised we didn’t end up with a small cake considering how much tasting we did before it even made it into the cake tin from the mixing bowl!

And now I make the family christmas cake for the annual gathering, following my mother’s recipe, of course. Ours is not one of those dark, dry, cramped full of dried fruit affairs, no, it’s not too much darker than yours truly in colour with a nice ratio of fruit to cake and baked just enough. The almond paste is messy to make but I could never use shop-bought! Besides, the unused egg whites go to making the icing. I’m not into this fondant malarkey, good old fashioned icing is my thing. Okay, so my thing isn’t pristine smooth cakes, but it’s depicting windblown snow, that’s my excuse!

Tomorrow I head down to deepest, darkest Yorkshire, laden down with presents, cake and games to play.

Wishing you one and all, a very Merry Christmas  x

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(Yay! The picture looks to be here in my preview, hope you can admire my handiwork too!)

 

 

On the fringe of the Close

That would be Logan’s Close, a rather good band from Dunbar near Edinburgh, who play Sixties-style music. Indeed I would be so bold as to say they are on the fringe of success. Tonight they played at The Caves in Edinburgh to launch their new single Girl (with a B-side of Work, a B-side? On a cd? aww bless ’em).

Sometimes Facebook does throw good things your way, case in point these lads’ previous single Listen To Your Mother (check out the Official Video on YouTube, no I haven’t put a link up, I’m not sure how, I’m only a moose), since I saw it I’ve seen them a few times in Edinburgh. The first time was in Sneaky Pete’s in the Cowgate, a much changed pub from when I used to prolong a night’s drinking by ending up there, way way back in the 80’s.

Tonight was top notch if a tad on the cold side for a while, but a great bar for real ale with Caesar Augustus as an option. The Caves are rather better now than when they first opened as a Fringe venue some years ago with moisture dripping off the ceiling! The support band were pretty good, a shame more folk didn’t turn up earlier for them, but as soon as Logan’s Close came on the joint started to really swing. The Close have a lovely easy chemistry between them, especially Scott and Carl on rhythm and lead guitars and shared lead vocals. As David Lynch would say, the eye of this duck is in the right place, this band is perfection to me. They transport the soul, or mine anyway.

Well, I have some red wine somewhere and I’m in the mood for more music …..

 

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Inconceivable!

Nah, it’s not really that inconceivable that I haven’t posted for a month, not if you know me – life, huh; but what is inconceivable is the sheer brilliance of The Princess Bride on the big screen, oh I’ve watched it many times, but tonight I saw it in my local cinema for it’s 30th anniversary outing. Wow! Awesome!

It was almost sold out, you could feel the love in the air, the anticipation of favourite lines, THAT sword fight! Memories of first renting the video from Blockbuster so many years ago, Peter Cook exclaiming “Mah-widge!”, the Albino rasping, “You are in the Pit of Despair” to then clear his throat and say it again, oh how we howled with laughter realising it was Mel Smith, but none of us guessed Billy Crystal, though now he doesn’t look that different from Miracle Max. Whatever happened to Fred Savage? (loved The Wonder Years) and the wonderful Peter Falk, perfect as the Grandfather.

This was an “all round to mine for lasagne with plenty of wine” film, my lasagne was rather a hit. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was another that we discovered in the video store, both became cult classics. I do remember a chum who was a fencing coach waxing lyrical about the swordfight (then he would always go on to the sword fight on ice in one of the Musketeer films – the Michael York et al ones) pointing out what made it so brilliant, usually rewinding it to watch again.

There’s wit and humour, derring-do and pathos, drama and slapstick, and one of my favourite lines ever….

“Hallo, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”

💛

 

McNeil & Pamphilon: which ones were they?

Ones who gave out badges at the end of their show, yay! I do like a show that has free badges at the end. That was in the Pleasance Dome in 2011, the show was McNeil & Pamphilon: Which One Are You?, which besides sketches had them looking at their differences and how fans have their favourite of the two (I was definitely a Pamphilon). These two are very funny and play off each other brilliantly, they’re so relaxed and endearing it felt like watching two pals bantering in the pub, keeping everyone else thoroughly entertained and happy just to listen.

Okay at times they seem disturbingly close, like when McNeil had to touch Pamphilon’s balls – it’s there in my old Fringe diary, followed by “(rubber glove and lube)”?! McNeil also drew the short straw in the fashion stakes, Pamphilon looks cool in anything, but McNeil can make the same clothes look crap, demonstrated to make the point (oh, it was well made) by borrowing a hoody from an audience member. Old diaries are fun, apparently the School Rabbit Sketch was VERY sick and funny, I’m sure it was, wish I had one of those memories that can actually recall details! I gave them four stars.

We saw them again in 2012, this time in the Baby Grand at the Pleasance Courtyard, a small, hot room, so, much like most venues then. Threading through the show was Pamphilon’s body-swapping machine and the joke that he fancied McNeil’s mum. Another four stars given.

2013 was the first time they brought Go 8-Bit to the Fringe, and more badges! Yay! Despite never having been much of a videogamer, I thoroughly enjoyed it seeing the enthusiasm and competitiveness it brought out! And the horror of some of the forfeits the lads, as team leaders, had to endure, well Pamphilon mainly. Forfeits like downing three shots of cheap vodka, eating a jar of chillies, getting dead-armed by all the winning team. All good fun, and worth five stars!

Oo, 2014 it went hi-tech, instead of, please switch off your mobile, it was, switch it on, go to the website and vote for who you think will win each video game. Umm, I didn’t bother, ok, so more like I was still getting used to my first android phone and didn’t really know what to do. Just as well, turned out that one lucky person who voted would then be randomly picked to play in the next game, aargh, like seriously, no way could I have done that! Hmmm, back down to four stars!? I did note that the forfeits weren’t as cruel as the previous year’s, was that a reason to lose a star?

As luck would have it, flicking through tv channels on 5th September 2016, I settled on a show on Dave hosted by Dara O’Briain, he’s usually a safe bet. Then, oo, isn’t that Steve McNeil, and there’s Sam Pamphilon, blimey Charlie, Go 8-Bit’s made it on to the telly! Nice one. Hang on, why is it Dara’s? No, it’s not yours Dara, it’s Sam and Neil’s, give it back! That was literally my thought process over the time it was on. Hey ho, maybe Dave wanted a bigger name to be able to entice viewers in. There’s been two series shown so far and another coming up next year. Well worth a watch, with a few beers, natch. It’s still great to see how competitive and focused some comedians can be, yeah right, Calman, it’s just a game!

Shame they don’t do the really cruel forfeits  😆