We need to talk about Seann

Yes I’m going to go on about Strictly again! This Couple’s Choice thingy is interesting, not something Strictly needs, just another show dance, ok so that zoot-suited dance was more than just a show dance, like awesome, man. Danny J-J didn’t disappoint with his jive as his score of 37 testified and how great was Alfonso Ribeiro!? He impressed me that he’d done some homework on everyone’s previous dances so to see how each had progressed, see, a lot smarter than he looks, and his Bruno impression was fun. Alfie should come over more!

Hallowe’en is a great week on Strictly, hair, make-up and wardrobe really go to town. Kate and Aljaz looked stunning as ice statues, shame their dancing did match the same standard but it was the rumba; Lauren looked fab as an evil queen and really channelled her inner Disney villianess for her paso doble; and Stacey made a cool Dr Who, her outfit was fab-u-lous, those cullottes – so stylish, Jodie Whitaker’s probably on to wardrobe now dropping hints! Kevin’s choreography made for a daring tango that they pulled off with aplomb.

Some of the tunes and singing left something to be desired, but I seriously loved their 90 second take on Screamin Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You, sleazy, sparse and soulful. I’m assuming giving that piece to Seann and Katya was no amusing accident, come on, we weren’t all born yesterday! But if you’re gonna go, that’s the music to go with, and then for an encore their final dance picked up from the middle of Bat Out Of Hell, “If I’m gonna be damned you know I wanna be damned, dancing thru the night with you…” I’d say that was a clear two fingers up to the “outraged and disgusted” mob. Good for you, mate!

So yes, we need to talk about Seann (or at least I intend to). The last few weeks I’ve delved into the Facebook Strictly page and my, the self-righteous, vitriolic, plain downright nastiness of some posters took my breath away! Seann Walsh could have had no idea of the world he was stepping into and how OTT the media and zealous fans can be. So he’s doing pretty well as a comedian, he will have had some dealings with press and publicity but never anything on this scale, and acting like a baying pack of hounds out for blood – his!

He isn’t the first to have a drunken snog with someone he shouldn’t and he sure won’t be the last. As for all the comments of how cocky and smug he is, really? I didn’t see any of that enough to slam him for it, we can all come across as smug or cocky in a moment or two, but really, he’s just a fallible bloke. Let’s not judge him for unwisely (and under the influence of alcohol) giving into the temptation of kissing a beautiful, passionate woman with whom he’d been up close and physical, after all, he’s a comedian not an actor who’s day job is to turn passion and emotions on and off as necessary – let’s face the professionals who should be able to deal with it better often don’t, let’s see, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise….

But Bruce, he left his poor long-suffering girlfriend on her own on her birthday, what a selfish prick! Err, she mentioned that in the same statement she claimed she didn’t want to come across as a victim, but hey, she knew the mob won’t notice the contradiction there! They’d been together five years, she must have known what he was like, warts and all, but she chose to put with his foibles as he put up with hers (everybody has foibles!) This strong independent young woman was sitting at home alone on her birthday – notice that she never mentioned whether they had arranged anything or that he was expected to be there. Woman, we’re not mind-readers, your birthday, why hadn’t you called the shots? Why weren’t you out or in with friends? The fact that she never mentioned that he missed anything that had been planned speaks volumes, she should have made it clearer she wanted him home straight after practice. Again, five years, long enough to know him.

At the end of the day, Seann was never going to get to the final anyway, better dancers than him will fall by the wayside. He gave it a shot, he learned many lessons along the way, he made a stupid mistake, but he’ll always have that Matrix Paso Doble!

 

Damned statistics!!

Pardon me for not blogging recently and now I’m back just to have a rant! I have this particular rant every year around this time, every year? I hear you ask, yes indeed, let me tell you all about it, you might want to make yourself a cup of tea first…….

Ready? Then I’ll begin. Edinburgh Fringe 2018 put a post on Facebook to announce another record breaking year with ticket sales up 5% on last year. But Brucie, surely that’s good, isn’t it? Ah, but, dear friends, that statistic doesn’t really mean much on it’s own. The next statistic was just laughable, that ticket sales were up “a whooping 52% on the 2009 figures”, I should bloody hope so considering how much bigger the Fringe is now!

They also attached an article from The Scotsman about the latest statistics from the International, Book and Fringe Festivals, which was a bit more illuminating as it pointed out that in 2017 there were 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows compared with 56,796 performances of 3,548 shows this year. Hmmm, so that 5% increase in ticket sales isn’t a big deal considering the increase in tickets on sale, was it even enough for audience percentages to remain the same?

Oo, I was going to mention that the Pleasance audience figures were up this year, but on reading and re-reading and re-re-reading that part of the article again I rather think that bit is somewhat ambiguous (at least I don’t think it’s very clear). I think they are up, but not as much as I thought on first reading. Hurrah for the spokesman for Space UK, he said attendances were up 11% and they had a 20% increase in sold out performances. At least that does mean more bums on seats.

See, that’s my point! A 5% increase in ticket sales doesn’t mean diddlysquat on it’s own. So there was 5% more bums on seats, but if the overall number of seats for bums to sit on (ie, the number of seats available for every performance of every show) has also increased by 5% then there’s no real increase at all and a 6% increase in seats would mean audience numbers are down – audience statistics would be a far better way of judging whether the Fringe was more successful than previously.

Also, might one enquire how many tickets were sold at the Half Price Hut? After all, every ticket sold there is kind of like half a ticket, and let’s not forget the Friends of the Fringe 2 for 1 tickets, again they’re like half tickets too. They might make a company feel better seeing more faces but if all the tickets sold were at half price, how much of a comfort is that?

As a punter I love the Half Price Hut, it is a necessity with the Fringe having become so huge to help some shows get folk in, I check it most days hoping one of my possibles comes up. On the other hand, there wouldn’t be such a need for it if the Fringe had a slightly smaller huge choice of shows. Ok, so no one outside of the big acts makes any money, but if a show with tickets priced at £8 only manages to sell tickets at £4 it’s not doing well at all, surely?

Now I’m feeling despondent for all the little shows trying desperately not to sink beneath the waves of the great ocean that is Fringe. I do love the Fringe but sometimes I wonder where it’s going.

Nighty night  x

 

 

The loveliest man on the Fringe

This award I would give to Aidan Goatley, he really is a lovely chap. I first saw him doing his show Ten Films With My Dad at the Voodoo Rooms in 2013. Since then there’s been The Joys of Retail, Mr Blue SkyThe Year of the Goat and this year’s Aidan Goatley is the Vicar’s Husband. Each year he has still also done Ten Films… which I love, it probably helps being a similar generation so the films are very much part of my own cultural references.

There was just one fairly obscure old black and white war film, with a young Thora Hird, that I didn’t know; I took a friend to see the show last year (any excuse to go back again) and she creased up in hysterics as she immediately recognised the film because of the young Thora Hird. On thinking, that same friend also almost ended herself at Year of the Goat when Aidan was slagging off his wife’s hometown, it only turned out to my friend’s hometown too! (she did agree with him)

You will have never seen a rant ranted as politely and so Britishly as Aidan Goatley rants, and I do find myself nodding and in fits of giggling agreement, for example, “street food” – if it’s indoors how can it be “street food”??! Totally with him on that one, a little favourite rant of my own in the last year or two. Oo, and Avatar, don’t get me started!! It’s wonderful to hear someone able to put voice to my own rants with so much eloquence.

I went to see this year’s new show The Vicar’s Husband  at Sweet Grassmarket and thoroughly enjoyed it, and not just because it’s in an air-conditioned room! That, of course, is a bonus, but on the other hand Ciao Roma did have the most sumptious ice cream to aid cooling. This year Aidan is also doing a few Ten Films … as podcasts with a different guest each time to chat about films, but sadly it’s also the last year he’s going to do Ten Films… So for one night only he’s doing Ten Films With You Pricks a look back at some of the horror stories of his time performing it. I have kinda mapped out my last few days of Fringe but, oo, I may have to work some jiggery-pokery to fit it in.

So if you happen to read this in Edinburgh before 25th August 2018, you still have a chance to see one of my favourite ever shows!

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It’s only rock’n’roll but I like it!

So last night was a bit of alright! I was in the Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68 come August, very nice but rather warm, real ale in the bar) for the launch of Logan’s Close new EP “Fried Bangers.” Sold out so it was very packed and very warm. I got there shortly after the second band came on (sorry to Shredd, I’m sure you were awesome too), Ayakara who were pretty fine. There was a good contingent of their fans in the crowd (they knew the words!)  After procuring myself a pint of Joker IPA I found a good spot to see the band and be faintly wafted by what air-con there was from time to time, unfortunately as usual some beanpoles took up their strategic positions to block at least half the band from sight at any given moment.

Pardon me a little rant here. So okay, I am quite a shortarse but even average-sized humans can’t compete with those guys and they do like to go centre towards the front. Beanpole may not have been the correct word, that suggests tall and thin, these guys are pretty often quite broad, not easy to see around! There should be a line three-quarters of the way back that anyone over six foot has to stand behind – it’s not like they wouldn’t be able to see over our heads!!    And breathe.

Where was I? Being gently wafted before getting another pint of Jokers and wading back in to find a spot to watch the Close. This time I was at the side, a better view than I would have had in the now packed out centre, but no wafts to cool me down. Oh, the lads were on top form! Just, just, bloody marvellous, shit hot, astoundingly awesome! These are the guys I’ve been waiting for, finally a band worthy of the rock’n’roll crown hung up since the demise of Nick Johnson and Bluefinger!

I first saw Bluefinger in 1988 in the then Preservation Hall and followed all incarnations of the band until Nick left Edinburgh for Spain permanently  (he had been semi-regularly coming back over to play but had decided it was time to stop) and was sadly killed in an motorcycling accident about a year or so later in 2010. Bluefinger were a force of nature, even when it was only Nick on guitar and Ed on flamenco box drum, they rocked up a storm in Whiski on the Royal Mile during the Fringe in 2007. Bud and I would wander in late after a show, sit at the bar and soak up the vibes, and when Ed would do his box solo in Not Fade Away, wow, people would get up from their seats, crane their necks, a mass movement towards the band to see how one guy’s hands could create such a sound. Ed was always good but some nights he was totally “in the zone”, man, I will never forget how great those nights were.

Aaand, back to Logan’s Close again. Indeed, I get the same feeling of blissed-out happy watching them; Big Nick would approve of them inheriting his crown. But will they be playing Edinburgh during the Fringe – you may wonder, oh yes!! If you’ve read my early posts you may have spotted that I must have broken my self-imposed Fringe Code if I am aware of this fact. Okay, so I get emails from the Fringe whenever a new batch of shows are up online; I just had to check if the Ukulele Death Squad were coming back (yippee, they are), at the same time I noticed the Close were playing, and at a venue I’ve never been to before, ooo.

I also spotted Bon the Musical, yes, a musical about Bon Scott!! I’m not sure how I feel about it, if they don’t get it right it could be terribly wrong! Maybe I’ll check reviews before I commit to it, at £12 a ticket that could be a big mistake. Mind there’s always the chance they may put some tickets for sale at the Half Price Hut. There’s also the fact I am still a Friend of the Fringe which brings the benefit of 2for1 tickets for a long list of shows which this year includes all three shows mentioned above 😊. I could purchase pairs of tickets, then offer the pleasure of my company and a half price ticket on Facebook, I could, it might be quite fun.

Toodle pip!

 

 

I 💛 Susan Calman

2016-08-21 09.03.28Some may call it a guilty pleasure, but I have no such feelings about Strictly Come Dancing. I feel no guilt or shame about declaring my allegiance to this wonderful, feel-good show.

And, hey, I’ve finally managed to put a pic up and downsize it, moving it about is tricky but then I’m a moose not a sheepdog.

So, to bring my international readers up to speed. The brilliantly funny comedienne Susan Calman is in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing on the telly, she’s also the first openly gay female celebrity on the show. Oh, there’s been a number of openly gay male celebrities on the show, never a fuss about why they weren’t paired up with another man, but as usual it’s another matter for a woman and apparently some on social media have criticized her for dancing with a male partner. WHAAAT!!!! Get over yourselves people! How narrow-minded that a gay woman should have to dance with a female partner, and (from what I’ve read on the BBC News website) it’s the gay community doing the criticising! Huh?! Can’t you just share the joy emanating from Susan? The obvious glee on being partnered with Kevin was pouring through my telly, there was even an emotional wee tear. She’s even admitted to having a picture of him – on her fridge I think she said.

Well, I did say last week there was a rant coming up, I just didn’t realise this one would jump the queue, but it just really irked me.

I wonder if they’d ever consider having a moose on the show? I take it I’d have a lady partner, oo, Karen Clifton or Janette Manrara please, both seem like really good laughs. Mind, who knows? Kevin Clifton would be my top choice (yes, I too have a Kevin-thing going on) or Pasha, we could make a dashing duo!

 

 

 

What’s Monday without a little drama?

That’s all I heard of a conversation as I meandered to the Pleasance Courtyard on my way home this evening. With so many wannabe thespians in such close proximity there’s bound to be some tears, or at least dramatic flouncing before bedtime.

I decided to pop in as it had dawned on me that I hadn’t been in so far this Fringe! This is a very strange occurrence, how could I have not seen a single show at preview time at the Pleasance Courtyard?! The last time this happened was 2008, and then I saw four shows there the first weekend, ah the preview prices may have continued to the Saturday for some shows and back then the 2for1 days were the first Sunday and Monday. The Pleasance Courtyard has always been good for comedy acts, but at higher prices, and they never appeared on the Friends of the Fringe 2for1 list, hence early on cheaper shows were a must.

Another shocker, I’m not seeing anything in Pleasance Two this year, I’ve seen the list of shows there and not one appeals to me, which is a shame because as venues go, it’s a pretty good one. The seating is well tiered, only someone freakishly elongated could block the view of the fellow behind. It’s been sometime since I haven’t seen a least one show there.

So I wandered around having a nosy at all the little and not so little changes. I noticed the inside bar looked different through the window so popped in for a look, ye gods, it’s bloody awful now! Even worse than what’s been done to the Peartree, a few streets away, which has just recently been reopened after extensive work at the expense of losing the Blind Poet next door, becoming just another part of the Peartree. From two great old pubs, they’ve made a modern dull, could be anywhere, lounge bar. Bloody vandals!!

Well, that’s quite enough drama for one night. Toodle pip.

 

Another wee rant

Booking fees!! Finally they’ve nabbed me, the blighters! As a local I’ve always just trotted along to the Box Office in person, thus avoiding what had been a 90p booking charge per ticket (on phone, online or app bookings up to £5.40), so imagine my horror when I discovered that this year they’re including counter sales too!! How very dare they!

At least they’ve had the good gracious to reduce it a bit to 80p a ticket  (to a max of £4.80), but still!!?*##%*!! Yes, I know, its only 80p, but it’s the principle of the thing. Oo, and a sudden thought (I do have them occasionally) – what about shows that are Free Ticketed? Huh? Not quite free anymore, that’ll be 80p, sir? Another thought occurs ( I’m on a roll today!), is this booking fee right across all tickets or is it just at Fringe Box Offices? i.e., not charged at the venues themselves? Hmmm.

Now if the Fringe had just decided to add an extra 50p on to every ticket instead of an additional booking fee added on afterwards, everyone would have just thought, yeah just another wee price rise. And the phone/online/app bookers may primarily twig on, but they would have been delighted too. No extra booking fee always sounds better, even though most of us realise its only because its just been put into the ticket price.

Jeez, three thoughts in a day! The new way of “Buy a ticket in advance to guarantee entry or Pay What You Want at the venue” for some shows may find fewer advance tickets being sold, the paying public can be a very principled lot especially when parting with cash – that 80p will be needed to pay the extra hike-up in beer prices!