A pomelo? Looks like a grapefruit

Not long in from seeing Palimpsest in the Balcony room at Gilded Balloon Teviot. I quite like the irony of having to head to the lowest level to reach the Balcony, that’s just to queue then there’s a different set of stairs to get to it. The Balcony used to be one of the hottest rooms of the Fringe, yay, thank god for air-conditioning units.

Palimpsest, just googled it, apparently it’s something reused or altered but that still bears visible traces of its earlier form, ah, that makes sense! I’d never heard the word before, never heard of a pomelo before today, either (it does look very like a grapefruit);a day of discoveries! Palimpsest is also the name of a play by Alex Lacey, which she also stars in alongside Rob Kemp (he also has his own show Rob Kemp: Agenda reviewed last post).

Yes, I did see Palimpsest on the back of Agenda, good decision, loved it too. The flyer calls it a meta romcom, it’s meta and then some. If you enjoyed the film Free Guy that’s a good starter to liking this. The play starts normal enough, each actor delivers short monologues then the other joins in with the same line and takes over with their own monologue……until Jess tells Jim to stop interrupting her! The initial play is funny enough, but when the characters go off script, wow, its brilliantly written with really fun ideas – your head may hurt a bit after seeing this! Just go have a drink somewhere, you’ll be fine (the Library bar doesn’t have a lovely stock of real ales anymore, sadly, so head somewhere else if you want a good ale).

This career off-piste into a wickedly funny existential crisis reminded me of Phil Jupitus‘ play Waiting For Alice at a Fringe many years ago about Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but that was quite melancholy and sad, it’s the existential bit that’s similar. Both Palimpsest and Agenda are on until the final Sunday, time enough to fit them in!

So 2021, any highlights?!

Oh 2021, we started the year thinking we might get past Covid and all the restrictions, ha, here we are a year later! After all the lockdowns of 2020, more of the same just made 2021 drag. This time round it just got boring, lethargy set in, no point trying to look forward to anything as it would most likely be cancelled, at best postponed indefinitely. So, were there any highlights? Hmmm.

Highlight numero uno, the snow in January and February, all from the east, so lovely powdery stuff, snowmen everywhere, sledges, snowboards, even skiing in Holyrood Park! Yes, decent snow in Edinburgh, again! Okay, so slippy as hell, but beautifully scary is better than greyly dull.

Highlight number two, finally being able to head down to see family in May. It felt so different to other journeys home, and so nice to see faces right in front of me and not on a screen. And hugs!

Numéro trois, cinemas re-opening, yay. I like seeing movies on the big screen. Oh what? Pubs were re-opening too? Sorry, not a highlight for me – too many constraints, the new normal; being able to go back to the cinema was way better to me. Tied for my top cinematic highlight of 2021 are Free Guy and Last Night In Soho both brilliant in very different ways.

Nummer vier, enjoying the beautiful summer weather at Portobello beach. After spending so much time in solitude in Holyrood Park, it was great to be among people on the beach, and so many nationalities, it felt quite cosmopolitan. Oh, I love the wildness and nooks and crannies of the Park but sometimes I do need company, to hear voices and laughter, a sunny day at the beach ticks those boxes.

Numero viisi, it had to be there, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2021. Okay, so it started real slow and I was dubious how good it would be, how many actual live In Person shows there would be, but as it progressed more acts came up (as the line from Field of Dreams says “If you build it, they will come”). Every few days more shows would be announced, more venues opened up, more seats became available at previously sold out shows because of the restrictions being eased; it was exciting and unpredictable, regular checks for updates were vital (I have no idea how the Online version went, I was done with screen-watching). The lack of the Half Price Hut meant I had to adjust my sights to fit my budget, Pay What You Can and Free Fringe shows featured a lot for me.

The Monkey Barrel Comedy Club was a highlight hosting weird and wonderful comedy; including John-Luke Roberts, Rob Kemp and two thirds of the Privates, all of my Fringe highlights! Oh, except one, the only show I saw at the Pleasance Courtyard, Tim Fitzhigham: Here Now. Tim’s always entertaining but he really was on top form for this one show in the Cabaret Bar, almost manic with glee at sharing his stories with a live audience.

August saw highlight numer pięć – live music back again! A band had started playing almost every day on Waverley Bridge, like, why not? It was good weather in general, the road was closed to traffic, plenty of room for people to pass by while others hung around and watched (generally safely distancing). All this fringing and good music got me itching for more, Stramash was open again with bands playing, I had to go along; and who was playing my first time back? The band from Waverley Bridge (aka The Kennedy’s Project), oh joys! They were such fun.

The autumn months of 2021 were as good as any time I can ever remember for seeing great live music: the Voodoo Rooms (especially The Courettes ❤); Stramash, of course; I became reacquainted with Whistlebinkies (I’m not sure why I didn’t go there for years!?); and, a particular highlight for 2021, Fur at Sneaky Pete’s! Yay! I’ve discovered the likes of Jed Potts and Willie Dug these last few months, it’s like a new vista laid before me; there’s been old friends in new guises, The Scat Rats, aka Scott Rough and Carl Marah from Logan’s Close, playing covers with a few of their own songs thrown in (bloody marvellous as per usual).

Sadly, what promised to be the highlight of the year, Logan’s Close Presents … A Christmas Pudding had to be postponed because of the latest covid variant. Mind, even without that shindig Logan’s Close take the top highlight of 2021 spot with the wonderful Logan’s Close on LimbicTV (Live from Aluhpasonics) back on the 27th March 2021; still available to watch on YouTube and I think there’s still a way to donate if you feel inclined to show your appreciation. I could wax lyrical about how great it was, or I could attempt a pingback to the post I wrote at the time So Close so fine, let’s see, by George, I think I did it! Hopefully if you click on the highlighted post title it should open up in a new tab [EDIT If it doesn’t open, try twice more, it may need coaxing], I hope (or you could scroll right to the bottom of this page and do a search for it).

If you do read about why this live music session takes the prize for 2021, you’ll notice my pleas for the audio recordings, well…….. I’ll tell you later.

Toodle pip, and may your god smile upon you in 2022 💛

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