24 December 2010

Happy Christmas From A Winter Wonderland!

What better way to celebrate Christmas than let someone else do all the hard work, both in the kitchen and behind the lens?  I present you, two great shots from the soon-to-be-winner of a Michelin star Neil McRobie!

22 December 2010

Apologies To Iceman, Seems He's A Do-Gooder After All!

Yesterday I accused Iceman (think cartoon of The Amazing Spiderman) of being captured on CCTV trying to steal so icicles.  Well, having returned to the site today they have increased in size proving Iceman was clearly adding to the icicles rather than trying to swipe them!  Bobby Drake, I apologise!  In other news, I think the idea of winter-madness is clearly proposterous...

19 December 2010

Life's A Beach With Snow-Where To Hide...

So before the snow returned to Edinburgh, Liverpool was hit so hard that the sea froze, the Liver Birds put on red scarves and the sand changed it's chemical structure. Either that or it snowed so hard funny scousers built an igloo on the beach of the Mersey (right next to Gormley's Another Place).  Credit for the photo goes to 'me Ma'...

16 December 2010

And Snow It Begins... Set to hit -283°C

Weather update: it's started snowing in the centre of Edinburgh, albeit very lightly.  Is this going to be the once-in-a-generation blizzrds they are predicting?  Heresay figures suggest that it will get down to a few degress above absolute zero, however with wind chill it will feel like 10 degress below absolute zero (thanks to P5ychofox for verifying that this is theortetically possible and a doubly funny gag from Futurama).  Ah well, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

8 December 2010

Waiter, There's Glass In My Snow...

Lovely shards of 'glass' in the day-old snow today.  Beautiful refraction of the late-afternoon wintery sun.  Only downside is I wish I had a decent camera on my phone!  One of the rare occasions I miss my Satio...  Please release a good camera with good options on a good Android and I'll be first in line (unless it snows)!

6 December 2010

A Birthday Week: An Introductory Guide

An I have been asked, by those interested parties, to explain the rules of one of my greatest inventions, the Birthday Week.  I am firmly of the opinion that a birthday should be celebrated and not just the day, but you should be treated for a period around your birthday.  The name "Birthday Week" is a slight misnomer as it doesn't necessarily last a full week, it depends on what day your birthday falls (much like the "Royal Mile" isn't actually a mile in length or a "light year" does last a full year... ;-)  FWIW if I had my way everyone would get their birthday as a day off work each year.

During your Birthday Week you are like a child again: get to choose what happens, where you go, what you eat and when it all takes places.  You are not a dictator but treated like a prince or princess for that time.  If you fancy something then why not, it's your Birthday Week.  A normal Birthday Week lasts 5 days, although it could on rare occasions be as long as 6 or as little as 4.  It starts 2-3 days before the big day and runs 1-2 days afterwards.  This can vary depending on what milestone it is and when exactly it is in the year (if it clashes with anything else).

If your birthday lands on a Monday then probably it would run from the Friday before through to the Tuesday (just one day after).  By then you should have had more than enough time celebrating and turning into your next year.  A Tuesday birthday could plausible start on the Friday and run to the Wednesday.  Wednesdays are interesting as you would start on the Monday and then run through to the following Saturday, although in this case you are celebrating more after the event.  Thursdays would probably do similar, although start on the Tuesday and Fridays most likely start back on the Wednesday and run through to Sunday.  Weekend birthdays usually start on a Thursday and end on the Monday, again depending on how important the year is.

28 November 2010

Let's Rename This Month To Snovember!

Arthur's Seat is just still visible in this shot, incredible how  much snow has fallen in the centre of Edinburgh in one night.  Who said it couldn't snow again?  (Okay that may have been said in mid-April). 

6 November 2010

I'll Have A Gin and ... Apple?

When you don't like cucumber but love gin, an important question to ask your tender is what do you recommend serving it with.  Hopefully the answer will come back lime rathern than cucumber but I certainly don't expect the answer 'red apple'.  Behold Carunn, a new from a small distillery in Speyside.  It tastes very floral and the soft acidity from the apple complemnts it wonderfully, where lime would drown out then flavours and fragrence, where it would just taste like watered down Bombay.  It's my second favourite Scottish gin, after Blackwoods of course...

9 October 2010

The (Nissan) Juke Of Edinburgh Rocks The Galleries!

There are some things that blow even my mind. A car launch (well, kind of) in Edinburgh? In October? How is that possibly cool? This evening I experience an incredible light and sound show (missed the fireworks) and managed to witness the National Galleries of Scotland covered in graffiti, on fire and come alive to watching us. Behold the Nissan Juke in one of the coolest things I have seen all year (Note to SNP : this is who you should be employing for St. Andrew's Day).

Thankfully, LCI Projects, the brilliant team behind the event, have posted a single angle and edited video for you to relive my experiences.

14 September 2010

Writing Ideas On A Napkin ... Properly

I've scribbled many ideas down on scraps of paper, used envelopes and on occasion on a napkin (a handy way to remember phones numbers!). This however is a very professional way to do it!

30 August 2010

I'm All Out At 47, Now Only 338 Days Until Edinburgh Fringe 2011

47 shows, 3 misses, 2 no entries and 1 walk out (in the first category) and I'm done. Lots ofn reviews to be written up for use by Googlers over the rest of the year (as these shows are either World Premieres or European Premiere).  I met and spoke to Sa mmy J, Celia Pacquola, Alan Cumming, Phill Jupitus and post-win, Russell Kane who were all lovely.  Also saw Clive Anderson and Jo Brand plus numerous other performers.  This is the first, and last year, I have seen every nominee.  Sadly some of them are just not to my taste nor of award quality.  But the sad news is of course that it's all over for another 48 weeks and 1 day...

28 August 2010

Police Seeking Witnesses As Man Is Bound, Gagged & Mugged In Central Edinburgh

A violent crime happened in the middle of the day today as a young tourist from New Zealand was shockingly gagged and mugged in broad daylight.  The young man, nothing more than a boy called , is at the end of his three week stay in Edinburgh and is missing a statue and valuable title that is rightfully his.  It is believed that the crime was organised by Nica Burns who is well known in Edinburgh circles and it is understood that an inoccent third party, Londoner Roisin Conaty, is currently in possesion of the 'stolen' property, although it is being stressed she doesn't deserve any blame.  People are being advised to keep their eyes open to try to see The Boy With Tape On His Face and spread the word about his un-just loss.

Edinburgh Comedy Award Is Now Foster's Consistent Performer Award

So the winner's have been announced.  Once again we are in a position wheren the Best Comedy Show award does not go to the best comedy show, but rather the Most Consistent Performer, much liken when Rhod Gilbert lost out to David O'Doherty.  Russell Kane has won despite both Greg Davies's and Bo Burnham's shows being significantly better than his, in fact the non-nominated Kevin Eldon possibly had a better show too (although Russel's was better than Sarah Millican, don't know about Josie's yet).  Interesting fact about Russel Kane's show this year: I had to give away my ticket because of his big finale, although I did get to re-book.

Best Newcomer is Roisin Conaty and I'm seeingn her in a few hours (not personally though, just in her show!). She will have to be awe-inspiring to have justifiably beaten The Boy With Tape On His Face. Bo Burnham gets the Panel Prize and should have really been runner up in the main award, if there was such a position.  Another year of lowest common demoninator decisions for the shortlist and most consencious building show for the awards.

25 August 2010

The Official Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award Nominees Are...

I said it at the outset of this new sponsorship, I don't give a XXXX who sponsors this award just as long as someone good (with a great show) wins it!  So who is in the frame?  Here are the official nominees for the Best Comedy Show (the main award, née If.com Eddie, née Perrier) are:
* Greg Davies (called it!)
* Bo Burnham (called it!)
* Russell Kane (good show but not better than last year's)
* Sarah Millican (good show but hardly award winning)
* Josie Long (haven't heard anything, wasn't taken by her style a couple of years ago)
My pick would have to be either Greg or Bo, both had five star shows.  If I'm forced to choose, they'll go home grown and award it to Greg.

To complete the set, the nominees for the Best Newcomer are:
* The Boy With Tape On His Face (called it!)
* Asher Treleaven
* Imran Yusuf
* Gareth Richards
* Late Night Gimp Fight
* Roisin Conaty
Not knowing or hearing much about the others, The Boy With Tape On His Face has to be the hot favourite.  So glad I'm seeing him tonight!  Roll on Sunday 12am...

Pre-empting the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award Shortlist

Yep, it's that time of the festival again when debates happen and reason goes out of the window.  Apparently the second panel meeting, aka short-listing meeting, is already taking place so here are my five candidates based on what I've seen and heard whispers about in 2010.  Idiots of Ants should get a second consecutive nomination for another excellent sketch show.  Character sketch performer Adam Riches deserves a nomination (as he did last year but never got it) for another flawless hour of riotous mayhem.  Bo Burnham was incredibly with is debut show Words, Words, Words and the 20 year old (his birthday was last Sunday) could have a decent shout of being the youngest ever winner, unless he is "relegated" to the Best Newcomer category.  Greg Davies is sort-of making his debut in Edinburgh although he might be ineligible due to having worked on TV shows (although he wasn't the named star, it was the crazy gang he was in, We Are Klang).  Finally I would expect The Boy With Tape On His Face to be close to a nomination, although until tonight that is all based on other people's opinions.  Previous stalwarts of the Newcomer and Main Award nominations Andrew Lawrence and Jon Richardson didn't have as flawless a show as previous years.  Paul Sinha could be an outside shot but again that will have to wait until this weekend.  All shall be revealed shortly...!

12 August 2010

Tom Wrigglesworth - Nightmare Dream Wedding

Following up his much praised show last year, Tom returns to Edinburgh with another journey into his life over the last year and specifically about how his dream wedding went all wrong.  Despite his bizarre appearance (yes, he looks like Sideshow Bob but sounds nowhere near as menacing as Kelsey Grammer), Tom comes across as a hugely friendly and likeable guy with a great knack for telling one very long story with a range of humorous sub-sets whilst never boring an audience.  Without revealing any real details about the story, we are introduced to several interesting characters in a handful of interesting locations and now with the added benefit of video footage!  Was is it as perfect as last year's show that earned him a nominated for Chortle's Best Show award?  Not quite, but it is very strong perfectly paced with one very memorable gag he was forced into telling (to someone who found out he was a comedian).  8 out of 10 (4 stars) and Tom was quickly established himself as a sure-thing in the world of Edinburgh.

10 August 2010

Andrew Lawrence - Too Ugly For TV

Andrew Lawrence is a unique talent and a firm favourite of mine, ever since I first saw his award-nominated Best Newcomer Act and appreciated his abilities but decided that his style wasn't really to my taste.  Erm, hang on?  The following year he was nominated as Best Show which surprised me so for his third year I returned to give me another shot in the venue at the Pleasance Courtyard that needs to be renamed the Oven (actually it's Upstairs, but it is above a kitchen!).  I immediately regretted not seeing him the previous year as I was blown away by the hugely positive enhancements he made to his act (dropped the keyboard, had a hair cut).  Last year he topped that show with a perfect portrayal of "soul-crushing" despair and bitterness to the world which includes some of my favourite bits of all time.   Finally as we reach 2010 Andrew seems a lot more positive and happier which personally pleases me but takes the edge off his superbly dark material.  No doubt this is making him a lot more palatable to TV and mainstream audiences and given his great talent it's a very good thing for him.  I am delighted he is starting to get the true recognition he deserves outside of the core of the industry and I'm certain there are a lot of people seeing him for the first time will be surprised as to how dark he can get, even in this lightened version.  The only thing he lacked was a killer bit that he shone with the last two years, so as it stands 8 out of 10 or 4 stars.  PS:  Please don't forget us when you are huge Andrew, keep coming back to Edinburgh!

Dan Antopolski - Turn of the Century

Last year in his second year back at the Fringe, Dan built a great show that deserved won him 5 stars and was the inaugural winner of the "Best Joke of the Fringe" from that well known sponsor of the Edinburgh Festival, TV channel Dave (?).  The joke is of course the infamous "Hedgehogs.  Why can't they just share the hedge?" and this year Dan provides many more such one liners including a follow-up to that very gag.  Rather than regurgitate my previous praise for this talented comic, I'd suggest reading the reviews of his 2008 and 2009 shows, and then finding out that this year he was a bit more restrained and at a slower pace, much as he was in 2008.  There are some slower bits without as many laughs per minute but the overall gigglequant is still very high.  There are four stunning jokes he lands equally spaced throughout his set that will stay with me for a long long time, much like I hope Dan does in terms of Edinburgh.  8 out of 10, aka 4 stars, although with a really sharp crowd and a bit too much coffee it could feel like 9.

9 August 2010

Ivan Brackenbury - Hospital Radio Remix

Tom Binns burst on the Edinburgh scene as Ivan Brackenbury three years ago with a nomination for the then If.com Eddy Award and the following year put in a great show with a Christmas theme.  Last year he moved to the larger cabaret bar and seemed to coast, although he clearly tried to put more effort in his show with more elaborate props but it back-fired.  This year he returns with his original show, less his moustache which helped him appear "special" and has 'remixed' it to include the best gags from the subsequent two years (NB:  there was only one gag from last year he used!).  Aside from four good stand-alone gags and three 'quiz show' segments (which really killed the mood), Ivan re-works the one gag of setting up a scene verbally and then delivering the punchline through recognisable song lyrics.  This actually works really well and delivered properly it can be a riot.  in truth he is a pale version of the character who won our hearts two/three years ago, and if you haven't already caught Ivan then you'll probably chuckle throughout this show.  He performed almost transfixed behind his keyboard / laptop and frequently mis-judged the audience's reaction and tempo.   As he plugged his other show in the festival (Ian D. Montfort) he mentioned that this might be the last time he does Ivan.  Hopefully it is as without true commitment to the character and the passion he previously had, I don't really want Ivan to die and long painful death just to rake in money.  7 out of 10, aka 3 stars, but probably worth an 8 out of 10 if you've never seen him, but he is a shadow of what he once was.

8 August 2010

Richard Herring - Christ On A Bike 2

Richard Herring is a masterful comedian that has reliably performed good sets over the last several years.  This year he returns to a much larger venue, the Ballroom in the Assembly Rooms, to deliver a show revolving around Jesus and whether he believes he was the son of God or not.  Starting from a staunchly atheist viewpoint Richard's skill is apparent as he crafts a delightful show without being preachy and at the same time evolves his own viewpoint without it feeling forced just for comic effect.  His material ranges from intelligently picking apart the inconsistencies in the gospels as well as blending in performance art and story-telling humour.  It's good to know that performers at this level still care about their craft and will work tirelessly to create memorable pieces of work they can be proud of year after year.  8 out of 10 aka 4 stars.

Sarah Millican - Chatterbox

After a mere 18 months Sarah went from Best Newcomer in Edinburgh to winning Chortle's Best Headliner award and what's more, her 2010 Edinburgh show Chatterbox was sold out a couple of weeks before the festival started!  This progression is arguably faster than John Bishop's rise to fame, although he is playing the largest venue in Edinburgh (the re-opened McEwan Hall were I sat many degree exams) and Sarah is filling The Stand.  I guess there are quite a few similarities in their styles, the gentle amiable warmth that makes you feel like you could be their friend.  This year's show doesn't have an over-riding theme but instead is a collection of "I like..." statements leading to brief bits cumulating into a very pleasant hour.  As with last year's show she made me chuckle throughout her show but does lack that killer, whole-belly laugh.  A reliable high end performer that you should be able to bank on.  8 out of 10 or 4 stars.

Adam Riches - Rides!

Last year Chortle garnished Adam Riches show with 5 stars and the quote "Quite simply the best sketch show I have ever seen".  What's more surprising is that statement wasn't from founder Steve Bennett, yet he let that get published under his valued name.  What did I think of his show last year?  Brilliant.  Quite simply the best character sketch show I have ever seen.  So we move on from Alpha Males to his 2010 offering, Rides!  The show starts right were we left of with Pierce Brosnan (rather than Daniel Day Lewis) and we are off for a wild ride of mayhem, silliness, extravagance, and riotous laughing.  Take the pure enjoyment of We Are Klang, mix it with the bold stage presence of Brian Blessed and whip it all up with a butch male cheerleader and you have a truly great show.  As always there is a lot of audience 'interaction' and Adam has the ability to suck you into feeling overly-confident where he re-asserts his dominance of the stage without fully breaking character.  The writing, pacing and imagination of his performance is faultless.  Surely this year he can't be ignored at the top awards again?  9 out of 10 and my first 5 stars meaning I'm going to pester people to go and see it!  If Adam doesn't return to Edinburgh next year a little part of me will die inside - he's that good.

7 August 2010

Sarah Pascoe - Vs Her Ego

Apparently this is Sarah's first Edinburgh show however her posters are raving out her almost being the next big thing.  Can she do what Sarah Millican did and go from newcomer to headliner in 18 months?  On the basis of this show she has a fair degree of talent although her stage presence is a little bit strange.  Dressed almost as a sixth form schoolgirl she frequently tugs at her shirt or flicks her leg to the side like a much younger child reciting lines or just telling you her bold opinion.  She is not brash or arrogant and that is to the benefit of her material which is sometimes 'overly confident' but still with some good ideas.   Her punchlines often have a quite second or two after as people appreciate the material but without the cover of loud laughter it results in gaps in her delivery which in turn seems to slow the act a bit.  One joke in particular about a health scare will remain a favourite of mine for many years to come.  Alongside her good comic mind she tries a few drama scenes with some under-performed lines and intentionally unsatisfying punchlines which did bring wry smiles to my face, but sadly not laughter.  Sarah clear has talent and when she hones her delivery / character I think she could have a very good show, especially with some more of her intelligently-silly gags.  A lot of promise but still an enjoyable hour so 7 out of 10 aka 3 stars.  I will be interested to see her again in the future...

Colin Hoult - Enemy Of The World

Colin Hoult earned a few very positive reviews last year for his show Carnival Of Monsters and on the back of that I have a ticket for his new show.  I admit I know very little about him, other than he does "character sketch" shows, which is the more apt description than just sketch.  Colin finally makes his way out on stage after an atmospheric opening my his 'assistants' and we are taken on a dark (well, red) journey through some very interesting characters and bizarre scenes.  The humour comes from the characters rather than any specific jokes and his performances are very accomplished, with an almost Chris Barrie air to his movements (and indeed physical appearance).  Most people compare his work to League of Gentlemen and it's just a shame I'm not a fan of their style.  That said Colin is entertaining, probably more so for fans of this style, but still a well crafted and well performed show.  A very respectable 7 out of 10 or 3 stars.  With more captivating story-lines or a unique hook he seems to have the potential to pull off a great show (and maybe he did last year!).

6 August 2010

Sammy J - Skinny Man, Modern World

Sammy J is one of the leading stars of a new wave of Australia-based Australian comics (as opposed to the likes of Brendon Burns and Tim Minchin who are now based in London) who are getting wide-spread acclaim.  Others include his often partner-in-crime Heath McIvor (a wonderfully thoughtful and generous gentleman!), the previously covered Celia Pacquola, Lawrence Leung.  Could this be the result of many years of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival searching out the best home grown talent and helping foster a great environment over there?  Possibly, but they also grew up with some great talents on their TV including one of my all-time favourites Shaun Micallef.
But this review is just about Sammy J and I have to start it by summarising a conversation I was very lucky enough to have with the show's star the next night.  The whole content of this show is true.  You will find it hard to believe but I have it from the source that everything (well, with one obvious exception) is real.  With this in mind Sammy takes us along on a musical and stand-up journey from his teenage years, to his future death, back to falling in love, being a performer in Adelaide and previous years in Edinburgh.  Breaking out from two years of character driven story telling Sammy performs with a confidence and smoothness that acknowledges his physical limitations ("Sammy ain't a fighter") whilst looking very sharp in his trendy suit.  The hour flies by as Sammy effortlessly delivers his well-paced disparate sets.  Thoroughly enjoyable, light-hearted relief from a real talent doing his third different style of show in as many years.  8 out of 10, aka 4 stars and a certain re-booking for next year (which rumours have it means Ricketts Lane comes to the UK!).

Celia Pacquola - Flying Solos

Last year Celia's debut Edinburgh show went down very well with me and many other reviews / critics / people-with-an-inflated-opinion-of-their-own-importance.  She is a very friendly Ozzie, quite positive and a good communicator.  So in the same outfit as last year she greets her sold-out audience for her new show in the same venue.  This year Celia focuses on doing things on your own, encompassing intentional feats and embarrassing moments.  Her warmth really sets the audience at ease even as she tries to get them to cheer if they've made similar mortifying mistakes.  Normally this type of audience interaction dies quite painfully and you see a drop in the performers tone or effort but not so with Celia.  Her unending positivity rides over the awkwardness and brings the audience with her along a journey of trying to achieve something impossible on her own, namely playing the piano solo from "I'm So Excited".
Along the way we have insights back into Celia's shameful childhood and the relationship she has with her mother.  It's not all personal discover as there are some very good jokes and concepts in there, especially a cleaning joke that seemed to not get the credit or time it deserved (but that might be a cultural thing).  Her merging between video, props and music is very smooth and seamless, just like her lights & clicking trick from last year.  The show builds to a climax for Celia to genuinely stand up on her own two feet, even beyond the scope of the stage, and achieve something that seemed totally impossible at the beginning of the show.  The audience really loved it and left elated and feeling so positive, in fact I defy anyone to leave the show not feeling uplifted (cue inevitable comparisons with Adam Hills and quite rightly so).  A thoroughly enjoyable hour from such a likeable person, 8 out of 10, aka 4 stars and I will be back to see Celia again next year!

Sophie Black - A Sketch Show

So the re-arranged first show this year is a woman (just like last year).  Let's hope she does better than the damp start to last year...  Sophie Black comes out to 3/4 full room (50-ish capacity) with a bizarre permed wig on in character as a street sketch artist.  Yes, opening a sketch show with a sketch about sketching is mildly interesting on paper, but that's the only thing that's actually vaguely amusing throughout the long hour in the Attic.
She performs her characters with relative proficiency and wraps up the last 15 mins with callbacks and closure to earlier stories but by this point the audience just didn't seem to care.  It took 10 mins for me to start looking at my watch and wondering why I had gone to see another humourless show like Nick Mohammed, whilst someone left after the second scene (about 20 minutes in, which is about the same time I stayed for Nick Mohammed's show two years ago).  Was there anything of any note in her show?  Sadly not.  If you are interested in seeing someone do an average job of pretending to be characters that are slightly exaggerated and follow stories peppered with silly statements in lieu of jokes, then I'm sure you can pick from many others in the same category as Sophie.  6 out of 10, aka 2 stars, which is sadly the same disappointing start to this year's Fringe as last year!

And So The 64th Edinburgh Fringe 2010 Starts!

Yes I'm a little bit late to the game this year but that was a once in a lifetime situation.  I've had to give away 10 tickets for the opening few days which is just insane, so let's crack on quickly.  Who will I meet this year, who will I discover as a new favourite and who will fall off the list?  Don't forget the fully explanation of my ranking system out of 10 and the simplified version of 5 stars.  See you in town...

5 August 2010

31 July 2010

Two Ways To Root A Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro

Just like buses...  Firstly, a group of very generous people have got together to buy an expert German coder an X10 Mini Pro and within a day and a half we have a rooting method based on an OTA procedure.  This will allow you to install custom ROMs at a later date, as well as removing the un-wanted apps installed by Sony Ericsson.  For more details on Bin4ry's method take a look at XDA Developers.
The second method was actually posted before Bin4ry rooted the phone and works off a security exploit by (I believe) a Czech guru called nadlabak.  His rooting system is a bit easier as it works on all versions but can easily be fixed in the next software update so I'm using it until Bin4ry's version works for my firmware.  His exploit (referred to as Exploid) can be seen on his website.
Bye bye RoadSync, RollerCoaster, Peggle, Notes and TimeScape (although rather than removing the last two I renamed the apps from *.apk to *.bak just in case...)!

24 July 2010

Shouldn't Today Be The Longest Day Of The Year?

I think the European Parliament should re-align the calendar (created in Europe) so that today be the longest day of the year. 24/7 makes far more sense than 21/6 (or 22, whatever it is). True it wouldn't make sense to to Americans with their messed up date system but tough. of course it would work either for Asia and their superior International date format and the ISO standard but you can't please everyone...
On a slightly related note I love the gag from Two and a Half Men when Jake comments that his mother and her husband are arguing 31. Explaining that he looked perplexed and said "31. Y'know, 24 and 7... Geez and you say that I need to work harder at math'.

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23 July 2010

Mark Kermode Offers Insights to Inception's Inspiration

Firstly, Inception is a very good film.  As I'm not a huge fan of The Dark Knight (it's a decent film but a bit spoilt by weak acting from Bale and a needless 30 min extra bit tacked on about Two Face) it really shows what Christopher Nolan can do when given full creative control (I assume with Batman the studio interfered / put restrictions on him to some degree) and more importantly, works with good actors (Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are great talents, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy put in very good performances).  So what's not to like?  Well it seems the publicity machine is claiming it's the first time a film has been set almost entirely in someone's dream, and quite rightly Mark Kermode takes them to task on that:

22 July 2010

I Am Not A Follower of Fashion, I Am A Free Man!

I will not be pushed into a shop, measured, briefed, debriefed or given a changing room number.  My life is my own.  I set trends.
Unlike Markies...  I guess they've been looking at last year's Hallowe'en pictures...

15 July 2010

The Best Licence Plate In Years? AE 10 YOU

According to the DVLA this plate has already been taken, meaning there is someone out there who thinks faster than I do (technically I though of it after the 10 plates have finished!).  For the paltry sum of £399 (or maybe £799) they have one of the coolest licence plates available in decades, A E I O U.  Kudos Sir, or Madam.

14 July 2010

My First Official New Word: Double-Wicking

Yes I know it sounds obscene, but here's its official meaning / definition:
Double-Wicking - verb (only used in Present Perfect Continuous tense)
To burn the candle at both ends, e.g. I've been double-wicking a lot recently

In a moment of creativity it came to me and I now submit it to the ages as my first official* word.  Believe it or not but I'm hot on your heels Colbert...

* = Well, my first public word.  Like most people there are dozens of words I've created or altered in a unique language known only to me and my (at the time) better half.  You know if anyone ever actually makes a physical, hand-stitched version of 'Your Language' to English dictionary then they should probably be crowned the Most Romantic Man Alive...  Excellent, I now have a title to my collection and another thing to chase Colbert with!

12 July 2010

8 July 2010

The Easiest Marketing Gig Ever ... Call Your Product Snog!

Err, that's it! The copy just writes itself: "You never forget your first Snog", I Fancy A Snog .com and so on...

3 July 2010

Guess Who's Back? Mountain Dew in the UK!

OMG!  (Hopefully that's the only time I post that)  Mountain Dew is back in the UK!  And I've just guzzled a bottle down in less than a minute!  At an outrageous £2 for a 500ml at Baguette Express (in They Gyle in Edinburgh is also as desperate) it was worth every penny.  And this is not the much rumoured Mountain Dew Energy, this is the straight Mountain Dew, albeit with the label in Polish (I think).  I've missed you so much darling...

29 June 2010

Limited Time Offer: England World Cup Stuff In Scotland?

Sometimes I don't get around to posting things when I first see them or think of them, and this is such an instance.  A lovely special edition pack of Carlsberg lager at a bargain price of £4 for 8 (275ml) bottles proudly stating their sponsorship of the England team.  The strange thing is I saw this in a Scottish Tesco store - must have been a mis-delivery...  I am interested whether this rock bottom price is across all Tesco stores or if it just in Scotland as the are going to find it hard to shift the packs!
However, in delaying writing about this there was a slightly missed opportunity, out by about one week.
The promotional offer ends on the 20th June, if only they had of extended it by an extra week and it would have been as psychic as the damn German octopus...!

20 June 2010

500 Posts Over 5 Years ... Happy Birthday To PhillG.com!

Wow!  I've been doing this for five years now, spanning three different careers!  500 different posts, many of which I don't even remember (such as the fact I'm a Googlewhack!) until I re-read them...  There are course many posts that will go down in infamy, like me deciding after 9 months to close down PhillG.com and open a new blog reflecting the "real" PhillG.  Thanks to all the different readers and the 205 comments made over the years.  Why do I keep doing this?  Simply to inform and enlighten.  There are literally hundreds of people across the world who are guided by my reviews of World Premieres during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for deciding whether or not to see the show when it reaches them, or even the performers keeping in touch with fans pre-bookface!  People can also find out how to fix a showers, why swans abandon their eggs and of course, when the European & UK Premiere of Toy Story 3 was (last night and it was excellent!).  Keep on reading and I'll keep on bloggin'...

13 June 2010

Acceptable Institutional Racism Through Retail

Assuming we are all aware of the racist 'Anyone But England' t-shirts it seems a bit of a surprise that I can offer you an example of acceptable institutional racism through retail but then again I'm all about defying expectations!  Just so we are clear, the A.B.E. t-shirts are racist in Scotland, whereas in England they are seemed as a bit of a joke; no doubt why they have their own Scotland Not Playing (S.N.P.) t-shirts.  But substitute England for any other race (who are a minority in Scotland) and it would be arrestable racism.  So back to the acceptable version.  Wandering around Cameron Toll of all places I saw this poster encouraging people to get behind any team other than England but for a very good reason - the winner of the competition gets a holiday to the country who wins the World Cup and their hook is 'Anywhere but England'!  Very clever and ingenious whilst avoiding real racism.  Yes it gently plays upon the "we don't want our (friendly) rivals to win" but it does so for purely personal gain rather than bigoted beliefs.  Also, the 'anywhere but England' line isn't 100% true either, I'm pretty sure England is second bottom on the list of places you could go on holiday from Scotland, with North Korea last.  Kudos to Cameron Toll for an effective and amusing competition.

12 June 2010

ITV1 HD Miss Opening England Goal & Only Scotland Has HD Now!

Wow, I knew ITV was a channel in trouble but accidentally pressing the "go to advert" button the second the England throw-in was going to be taken and missing Steven Gerrard's delightful goal is a huge own-goal!  Apparently this didn't happen on regular ITV, just restricted to their much-hyped ITV1 HD channel. What makes it worse is that as they have restored the feed it is standard-definition, not HD (look in the top right, there is no HD logo).  You can also confirm this by flicking between the normal ITV channel and HD versions and you'll notice no picture difference and no time delay (the HD version is usually behind the normal version).   So you can't watch the England game in HD on ITV, unless of course you live in Scotland where we have STV and their HD feed has been un-interrupted so the Scots are the only people watching England in HD right now!  You can't right things this funny...  Anyway, someone's head should roll for this especially as it comes after ITV messed up the deciding goal against Liverpool in the dying minutes of extra time in the FA Cup game against Everton.
UPDATED:  It seems they have restored some camera feeds for the mid-point of the half (as the ITV HD logo returned) but the whole game is still not in full HD in England, only in Scotland!  Furthermore the second half is being broadcast only in standard definition.

8 June 2010

Sex Sells... Unfortunately I Just Point Out Advert Copy-Cats!

I had a lovely time at the Taste festival in Edinburgh and wandered around savouring all the culinary delights (and good jazz band).  That is until I see an arty picture of a (possibly) naked woman with the line "Sex Sells..." underneath and I rush away from human contact to take a picture of it like some for of soft-core pervert.  Of course, a little explanation later that I was passing USC the day before and saw the exact same advert in their shop window partially justified my trigger-happy camera action.  The next day I passed USC again (as if I was drawn to it...!) and snapped the same image so you can judge for yourself.  Is it lazy advertising or has an agency re-used or copied other work?  Either way it's quite surprising that hip fashion shop USC and cool bar Cargo both have less racy adverts than M&S!

5 June 2010 And British Cinema Plumbs Depths Below Alice Creed

So the worst three "films" I have seen this year are all British (well, English).  That's a very sad commentary on the state of UK cinema give the resurgence during the early 21st Century.  Trash of the Titans at least earned a score worthy of distracting me when I have nothing else to do (perhaps sitting on a long haul flight and can't sleep, although the last time that was the case, Quantum of Solace quickly sent me to sleep with its incessant talking and minimal action).  Then came a film I scratched my car to go and see, The Disappearance of Alice Creed.  For sometime I hoped the "director" would disappear from his apparent day job and maybe do something useful to the world instead.  The film was written and acted as if being performed by group of A Level students who aren't even top of their class in a mid-city school not known for its art courses.  Something would have to be pretty bad to beat the "5 out of 10 - don't watch it even if it is free" score of Alice Creed.
And then came Noel Clarke and a film which would be considered offensive and childish if it was actually made by GCSE girls with attitude problems.  I assume the title really refers to the number of weeks they spent on different aspects of the film, such as the combined number of weeks spent in acting classes by the cast (4 weeks), the time spent watching other films to copy their original directing tools (3 weeks as the subtitles in Rent Lola Rent can be complicated if you are not used to good films), writing the "dialogue" (2 weeks and that included a 10 day holiday), and they amount of time this film should have been in production (rounded up to the nearest full week, 1).
This is the first 4 out of 10 film in a while (since last year's festival actually and the apparently brilliant Dario Argento's appalling Giallo) which translates as zero stars and means walk out (or don't let someone drag you in in the first place).  I cannot overstate just how poor this film is for a "mainstream" release.  There is absolutely nothing good about it and if you consider modern covers of good songs as a redeemable aspect of a film then I'm afraid you are as mis-guided as Noel Clarke.  The only saving grace is that is it is still some levels above the worst film of all time (also British), The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael.  A message to Noel Clarke:  You like borrowing ideas and full stops?  Let me remind you of the telegram in Blackadder Goes Forth and ask you to "please STOP"

30 May 2010

I'm Cured! Well, Diagnosed & It's Not A Negative Brain Scan...

Yes, I have had a brain scan before and yes it came back negative (insert your own lame gag here).  Since I was a teenager I had the idea of a 'teardrop formula' that described the relationship between genius and insanity.  The higher you go up the intelligence / creativity scale (vertical axis) the thinner the gap between sanity (left half of the 'tear') and madness (right half).  Low and behold, scientists have confirmed teenage me was right!  In short they report that "creativity is akin to insanity" and through brain scans they have found that "both highly creative people and those with schizophrenia lack important receptors used to filter and direct thought".  This allows "creative people manage to see unusual connections ... that other people miss".  Do I make unusual connections?  Hell yes!  Just yesterday I was telling a good friend to pray to Ra that we have In case he didn't know who Ra was I reminded him that his mother is quite famous too...

29 May 2010

Is M&S Following Ann Summer's Marketing Strategy A Perfect Fit?

Cheeky sexy images are a key part of Ann Summer's marketing strategy but is it really the right idea for good ol' Marks & Spencer to try the same thing?  Maybe it's just me, but I'm not entirely comfortable with the word play in this advert, shown both in-store and online:

That said, they do have a long way to go before they hit the "heights" of Ann Summer's.  Take a look at their 'red hot sale' advert on the main shopping street in Edinburgh a couple of years ago and tell me if that is too far...  I assume that the official line is that it is a match bursting into flames.

28 May 2010

How Much Is That Complementary Drink In The Window?

Ladies...  So starts the advert in the window of The Kilted Pig, a lovely bar & restaurant in Edinburgh.  To celebrated the launch of Sex And The City 2, plus the Bank Holiday Weekend, they are having a special Ladies Night with secret hidden costs!  Don't believe me, take a closer look at the (sub-) text...
"8.45pm Complimentary Cosmopolitan Cocktail on arrival
9.00pm Hot buffet served with complementary glass of prosecco"
I'm sure the prosecco does complement the hot buffet but how much does the drink cost?  I assume it is not free otherwise you would have written complimentary as your did for the Cosmo cocktail...  Maybe 'complimentary and complementary' would have take up too much space...
NB:  Thanks go out to an elderly gentleman who first alerted me to (whilst complaining to me) this issue as Sainsbury's Mint Sauce incorrectly had "compliments lamb" written on the back.  Well, unless the mint sauce could actually talk in which case 68p would be an absolute bargain!

18 May 2010

Guy Running Edinburgh Marathon In Fancy Dress Is Not The Real Looney!

As a wonderful friend of mine bids to do battle around Edinburgh yet again in the Edinburgh Marathon, there is a guy who is hoping for a record number of people to turn up including one attempting to break the world record for running it in fancy dress!  What a looney!  Oh wait, he's not?  That would be the Marketing Director of the Edinburgh Marathon...  Why?  He is actually called Mr Looney?!  No?  Phew, what a relief!  Oh, he's called Mr O'Looney (not much better really!)...  Maybe the future he should exploit his surname a bit more as he is in Marketing after all...!  Good luck Mike, I wish you were running it as The King on his Ostrich!  Next year... :)

12 May 2010

Sitting Near Number 10, Unaware Of My Dream Coming True...

I've just been apologised to by a great friend. We have been sitting around the corner from Number 10 and Westminister, completely unaware of the momentus happenings going on - The first coalition Government since WWII (OMG!)!  And I was (almost) there...  Still, let's look back to what I wrote back on 3rd April, namely "my ideal would be a Lib Dem - Conservative alliance to bring in real change".  Clearly dreams can come true, let's see how accurate I was in a year's time...

9 May 2010

I Took On The Internet, And I Won! I Was Right Sounds So Good...

Yes, this is purely a self congratulatory post (I'm allowed one ever year...).  I wonder what happens if you Google "Toy Story 3 UK Premiere" (either on Google UK or the real Google.com)...  Well, as it's happening in Edinburgh I see The Scotsman in position 7, then STV in 5th, Edinburgh Guide in a respectable 4th, naturally the BBC make it in the top 3, Yahoo Movies is number 2 but at number 1 is *still* my exclusive reporting last year!  For the best reviews of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF 2010) or the Edinburgh Fringe 2010, your first choice should be this site.  And the irony is for the first time ever I am happy being referred to as a number...

2 May 2010

Edinburgh Is A Dry City, No Drinking Please...

Murrayfield is the inverse of all other stadia in the UK, they do not want you taking alcohol *out* of the stadium rather than in...

C'mon You Wonderful Wigan Warriors!

The real magic of The Magic Weekend starts now as league leaders (and my special side) the Wigan Warriors kick-off at Murrayfield...

27 April 2010

Toy Story 3's UK Premiere IS In Edinburgh At EIFF!

Just as I exclusively revealed, I mean, deduced back on this site in October 2009, the UK Premiere of Toy Story 3 *will* be in Edinburgh on 19th June as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.  I've even got the date correct!  In fact as it doesn't look like it's being shown out of competition in Cannes, it will (probably) be the European Premiere.  Let's all say it together... I was right!

25 April 2010

Scariest Movie In Years Is Amongst Us... Schizo!

Whilst waiting for The Joneses to start yesterday (good film, nice chemistry between some good characters and decent performances by Demi, David and Gary so 8/10), I saw a "teaser" trailer for what should be the scariest film in many years...  Schizo: The Movie.  Follow the link and watch the brief trailer for something that should be genuinely disturbing!  You have now been told...!

24 April 2010

More Intelligent Audience Seen At Previous Senior Scottish Debates...

These "leader" debates are really starting to annoy me...  They are so damaging for politics in the country in a pathetic attempt to try to get more TV ratings and mislead the public.  We operate a representative democracy in the United Kingdom and there is no popular vote.  No one has the choice to vote between David Cameron, (James) Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg - they are all standing in different constituencies.  I think there should be far more local debates (that can still be televised) but are representative of local issues and candidates.  Here's the audience at the 2001 Election looking far more engaged when listening to a panel of Alistiar Darling, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Alex Salmond, moderated by Sky's Adam Boulton:

BTW there is a far more intelligent (and less egotistical) man sitting to my right but I don't think he made it on camera :-(

23 April 2010

Working Lunch To End ... What Will I Be On Next?

Only a few days after the announcement that Working Lunch's original host Adrian Chiles is leaving the BBC, an even bigger announcement comes that Working Lunch is to end.  Sad days...  Let's take a look back at on of their heydays when Adrian passes over to Rob who's "in Edinburgh [with] an unusual share club; they say they're not bothered if they don't make any money" who in turn interviews "a frighteningly well dressed bunch" (according to Adrian)....

16 April 2010

Liverpool FC Is Finally Up For Sale! Bye-Bye Muppets!

The Liverpool Echo has posted a brief article about the shocking news released by Liverpool FC today that the club is up for sale!  The BA Chairman, Martin Broughton has been appointed as Chairman to "oversee a formal sale process".  Furthermore Hicks & Gillett state that "having grown the Club this far we have now decided together to look to sell the Club to owners committed to take the Club through its next level of growth and development".  Time to say bye-bye to the arguing Americans...

15 April 2010

Tesco Mobile Has Me Bouncing With Peaceful Joy!

Yep, Tesco Mobile do have that interesting cinema advert riding other mobile adverts about peace, friendship, blah blah blah and cuts to a girl saying she just wants her tenner tripled to £30 credit.  Straight forward advertising and probably quite effective (although nowhere near as good as the Orange "film" adverts!).  However, I just discovered that Tesco Mobile shouldn't be so quick to dis the idea of peace coming from a mobile network.  At least I assume that's why their logo comes from Transcendental Meditation, TM.org!  I guess every little helps when you are "designing" a new logo:

Transcendental Meditation logo, TM.org

13 April 2010

Exclusive: My Conservative Candidate Is A Klang-Banger!

Second week of the election and I've grabbed my first scoop!  I got home tonight and found a flyer for local Conservative candidate for Edinburgh South West, Jason Rust.  Yes, I know you haven't heard of him or his Lib Dem rival Tim McKay, but maybe you've heard of my sitting MP, Alastair Darling?  Anyway, as I glanced at the flyer I realised that I've seen Jason before ... at a 1,000 person, XXXXX-rated Klangbang a few years ago!  Yes, Jason Rust is merely a pseudonym for Steve Hall!  Does that make William Hague really Merrick?  And is Greg's alter ego Boris Johnson?  If so We Are Klang have reached a new level of anarchic comedy!  See for yourself what I mean about Jason:

UPDATE:  I sent this through to Steve Bennett at Chortle.co.uk to see if it made would be interesting for his WTF (Weekly Trivia File) and it made the cut!  A link would have been nice but that's not why I sent it in, just happy to share!

11 April 2010

Swans Abandon Egg A Week After Easter...

I assume that Easter being over cannot be the reason reason why a pair of swans have decided to leave their one egg completely unguarded in a relatively open nest...  I know the picture isn't great but the day before I saw the female re-adjusting herself and caught a glimpse of the egg, but the next day they have both disappeared in the middle of the day.  I always thought one bird stays with the nest at all times to protect the delicate egg from predators...  Fortunately the day after I took this one swan was back guarding the egg, along with some geese nesting on the same little island.

10 April 2010

'Shelter' Under Your Coat Or Away From Bad Direction?

At an unusual time of year a supernatural thriller akin to The Ring is released which naturally draws me to it.  Could it work?  First of all, yes, Shelter is like The Ring.  That is it has pointless cut aways and sudden close-ups just to try to build tension or make you jump, so it's quite frustrating.  The underlying story and what they are trying to do will be appreciated by fans of Ringu, the original Japanese masterpiece, despite the occasional ham-fisted way they go about directing it.  A quick overview of the film is Julianne Moore is a doctor of psychology who has disproved a murderer claiming to have genuine multiple Personality Disorder.  Then someone she occasionally works with (who happens to be her father, can't remember his name, so let's use Foxtrot for F, as in father), invites her to review a patient for him.  Foxtrot guy doesn't tell the Doctor all the info about this patient in advance and she discovers seemingly impossible things about him little by little, each time coming up with possible explanations.  There is one really interesting scene where (let's just abbreviate it further) Fox is playing basketball and the red-haired female Doctor storms in and a little exchange takes place where Fox tells her she has to open her mind to the possibilities of the world beyond the limits of her current scientific knowledge.  I think I've seen this somewhere before...  Was this something I made..?  :-)

Going in to see this film prep'ed with this information will probably help you enjoy it more despite some plot holes and questionable decisions by the characters.  The opening half an hour does swerve from place to place and I was unsure where they were trying to go with the film until it finally settled down with the story it wants to tell.  The acting from Jonathan as the patient in question is quite good although I wasn't impressed with the performance Julianne put in.  There are quite a few times where suspension of disbelief just falls apart and the film just feels too much like The Fourth Kind after you find out it's all fiction.  Despite all the criticism above, if you treat it as homage to the great show mentioned above, you can not only get through the film but also leave feeling pleased and mostly positive about the whole experience.  I even laughed with happiness...!

8 April 2010

Alex Ferguson is Forgetful In His Old Age ... Or A Hypocrite!

Poor loser Alex Ferguson rants yet again, this time about Bayern Munich allegedly harassing the referee to send a player off (via a second yellow card mind, not even a straight red)... "It was typical professionalism in a way but they saw the opportunity and they almost forced the referee to get the card out - the referee wasn't going to do anything. But we've seen it before from teams like that."  Yes we have seem teams bully referees before Alex, just as my cousin posted a picture of today...

Dictionary definition of a hypocrite

6 April 2010

Trash of the Titans - Release the Krap in 3D!

I've been thinking for a while of how to summarise this bad remake of a bad movie (that's not a double negative by the way) and then, the most talented man on TV, Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert D.F.A., summarised it perfectly: "they made this film in 2D and then transformed it into 3D but, here's the clever part, all the characters stay 1D". Another bad film "starring" Sam Worthington. It is official, he is the new Christian Bale (like the world needed another one!). The torch seems to have been passed (or maybe the disease spread...) and another "leading" man who apparently can act (Sam won praise for his early roles, apparently) is now stinking up the screen like a piece of wet wood. The paper the script was written on should have stayed as trees, much like Terminator Salvation (where the infection happened) and even Avatar (overly long, poorly scripted, acted and directed and an offence to have it mentioned on the same list as The Hurt Locker). The disease even affects genuine actors around them like Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver who seem paralysed by the black hole sucking all ability out of the shot. Expect more years ahead of lifeless movies with Sam (and/or Christian) cast as the "hero". Please put me out of my misery and let me look into Medusa's eyes (the one part of the story that was authentic to the myth!)...

3 April 2010

Note to Gordon Brown - Don't Play A Spin Master At His Own Game!

This has been a really interesting marketing day and the General Election hasn't even been called yet!  The Labour Party announced the winner of a competition for a new billboard campaign, which is "Dave" Cameron sitting on an Audi Quattro with the slogan "Don't let him take Britain back to the 1980s".  Now granted, this does bear a little similarity to Marty McFly in Back to the Future but it is of course it is comparing Cameron to the most liked and coolest character on British TV, Gene Hunt, at a time when the final series of Ashes to Ashes is just about to start.  With Dave himself knowing a thing or two about spin, and having just re-appointed the geniuses behind the Demon Eyes, the Conservatives have already hit back with the same image but with a better and cooler slogan, "Fire up the Quattro.  It's time for change.":

This ad is now going out on the same 11 digital billboards as the Labour one, so there will be 22 images of Dave Cameron as the most loved person on TV.  I'd already asked the question how badly the Labour Party wants to lose this election but this is pure suicide!  Mark my previously written words, there will be no hung parliament, Cameron will win with a decent majority (and that's not my political preference, my ideal would be a Lib Dem - Conservative alliance to bring in real change, just calling it as it will be).

1 April 2010

Spanish LFC April Fool's Story Sucks In Imaginary Sports Reporters

Firstly, the story in question is based around quotes in the Spanish newspaper Marca, with quotes from Albert Riera that his negotiations have stalled with Spartak Moscow and he wants to now stay with Liverpool until the summer. The first part sounds reasonable, but having called Liverpool a "sinking ship", allegedly hit a reserve player and criticised Benitez last week, would you really then say "my intention is to decide my future in the summer [snip] I want to continue my career at Liverpool because it is one of the best clubs in the world".  Slight contradiction there but he continues, "The feeling is spectacular, we have a great stadium and I feel very good at Liverpool.  I speak with Fernando Torres and (Jose) Reina and agree on the greatness of Liverpool".  Seriously, this is what got past the news desks at Sky Sports, The Metro, ESPN and The Telegraph on April Fool's Day?  Sigh...

However there is an interesting point about the final two "news sources".  Yes, everyone is simply re-printing the "quotes" directly from Marca, but The Telegraph have lost a lot of staff in recent times and according to Private Eye, they run agency copy for sports pieces and (have previously) attribute imaginary names to the piece.  This story is apparently written by 'Telegraph Staff' and end with "Benitez has not forgiven Riera, worried about his World Cup chances, for so publicly trying to manufacture a move at a crucial time of the season by misrepresenting his relationship with him".  That sounds awfully like the way ESPN's 'Soccernet Staff' concluded their piece which was "The Reds boss has not forgiven Riera, worried about his World Cup chances, for so publicly trying to manufacture a move at a crucial time of the season by misrepresenting his relationship with him".  It seems The Telegraph are not the only ones using agency copy and publishing it as pieces 'written' by their 'staff'.

31 March 2010

Help Find A Missing Girl: Laura Palmer. Posters All Around London

I've just passed a phonebox with a picture of an attractive young girl who went missing some time ago.  Unfortunately I was in a cab and couldn't take a picture of the phonebox near Whitehall but some kind soul (normko) has already done so in Hammersmith.  If you know anything at all about Laura Palmer I urge you to share that information with the world.  I certainly will...

30 March 2010

Who Said It Couldn't Snow Again?!

Maybe it'll be a happy and snowy birthday for you Mike...
Either way, have a wonderful birthday,

28 March 2010

(Almost) 10 Years of Bedroom-based Broadband Browsing

Apparently today is the 10th anniversary of Broadband in the UK, specifically for just one man.  He managed to convince NTL install his cable connection whilst they were still un-going extra test.  The rest of us had to wait a few more months and it was in June '00 that we had our lovely ADSL connection turned on by BT as one of the first flats to do so in Edinburgh.  What do I remember the most about that first day? Surprisingly there was so little out there that needed a fast connection it was hard to find things to download to stretch our new capabilities. So we did what any would do with a new media, we went off to the dark side of the 'net and looked up the videos of people's early careers...

26 March 2010

Don't Opt-Out of Junk Text Messages from Real Numbers!

This may seem a bizarre piece of advice but (as always) bear with me (grrr).  It seems a recent trend is spammers acquiring a load of sim cards and texting out some drivel such as " FREEMSG: Our records indicate you may be entitled to 3750 pounds for an accident you had.  To claim for free reply with YES to this msg.  To opt out text STOP".  My one (despite my mobile being registered with the TPF) on arrived from +44 7515... which is a real mobile phone number. The temptation is to "opt out" so you don't receive any costly text messages.  Of course, as I didn't sign up for them, I know I'm safe and quite confident my mobile provider will be able to verify that.  The interesting thing is as it's come from a normal mobile number they are not trying to charge you anything, they are just looking for mobile numbers that are real.  So replying with STOP (or heaven forbid YES!) will mean they've found someone they can send more crap to.  Just think the very early days of email spam where clicking on the 'un-subscribe' link just verified you email address as real.  Best option, do nothing!

24 March 2010

Mensa UK Are Stupid and Unobservant!

Bold statement, can I back it up?  Yes.  Each week Mensa publish their free puzzle and it's usually not too difficult.  The number-based one usually take a few seconds, the word-based ones a little bit longer (and vice versa for a former colleague of mine who shall remain Charlie, I mean nameless).  So let's take a look at this week's puzzle...
"You have £5.84 in change and it's made up of four different denominations of coins, the largest being 50p. You have exactly the same number of each coin.  Which coins do you have and how many of each coin?"
Now you may think that's a good puzzle, it should keep you going for a little bit.  That's true.  The answer will apparently be revealed next week (29th), also fine.  I want to know why they decided to put some stock images of British coins to brighten up the web page...?

22 March 2010

Jon Stewart's Moment of Zen Is Sheer Heaven!

Jon Stewart is incredible.  Great host of the Oscars (mostly the second time that no-one watched), star of the latter series of The Larry Sanders Show and of course anchor for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Last week they ended the show with their Moment of Xen which was a local news piece about the flooding in New Jersey and how these tough guys can't get across the street without a dingy.  Click on the clip but be warned, I had to pause it whilst watching because I was laughing so hard!  What a great way to start last week.
Topping this great observation, Jon ended the week by going full-speed at Glenn Beck and managed to draw some pretty unbelievable conclusions.  Now I'm sure to a lot of people the name Glenn Beck won't mean anything, to others he will always be the guy who sang Hi Ho Silver Lining or sister of the singer of First Time, First Kiss.  However anyone who has seen any non-fictional American TV will realise that Glenn has his own TV and radio show were he puts out, erm, fiction!  Well, to be technically accurate, his show is a right wing op-ed piece that spouts numerous conspiracy theories against the left / centre and how America is under seige.  Each show seems to have Glenn getting maniac and questioning whether he is the only crazy one (yes) or in fact is he the only sane one (definitely not).  He also has a penchant for getting tearful, pressing his fingers against his lips and saying "I'm sorry, I just love my country, and I fear for it".  You are well advised to watch Jon best Glenn at madness and brilliant reasoning.  Thanks Jon for being a shinning light from across the pond!
[Sadly although More4 screens The Daily Show here in the UK we can't watch the clips directly on The Daily Show's website.  Instead we have to go to Channel 4's VOD section which is only up for a week :(  Hurry hurry!]

21 March 2010

I Love You I Love You Phillip Morris!

Nine months I've been waiting for this baby!  Okay that's the opening to a whole other post by a whole other person (and probably whole other sex too)...  But seriously, I naively believed that an independent film that stars Jim Carrey (big name but he does the odd independent such as Yes Man) and co-stars hometown hero Ewan McGregor (whose films are sometimes introduced by his mum if he has scheduling conflicts) would definitely be part of last year's EIFF.  Nope.  But it would be out soon after that though, it's going to be a big film!  How wrong I was.  Most of Europe got a release date by conservative Britain still did not have an announced distributor.  Finally, at very short notice, I Love You Phillip Morris has a release date which has now arrived and the title says it all!  I love you I Love You Phillip Morris!  In case you have no idea what this film is about, basically Jim Carrey is gay and goes to gaol (or jail as it is set in Texas) and falls in love with his one true love, Ewan McGregor.  It's funny, has a great plot, based on a real story, good acting and is very fresh.  So why has it taken so long to be released and why are the US only getting it for the start of May on a very limited release?   Could it have anything to do with Ewan and Jim making out with each other, plus a couple of gay sex scenes (one that is relatively graphic)?  Nah, that can't be the reason for Liberal America...  I'm actually a little surprised there hasn't been a mini-whinge about it here by the usual suspects.  Oh well, I don't care because I've seen it and it's fabulous and you should do the same darlings...!

20 March 2010

What A Beautiful Sky This Evening... Summer Is Coming!

After a lovely evening we are now being treated by a soft and velvety sky with gorgeous emerald and sapphire tones.  I could stand here looking at this all night long...

Key Is Locked Out Of Chortle Nominees - Quite Rightly!

On Monday Chortle announce the winners of their 2010 awards (for 2009) and guess who doesn't make the list even once...  That's right, Perrier Award (erm, Edinburgh Comedy Award) Winner Tim Key.  At the awards highlight show he did not go down very well with the 750-strong crowd, although it was after midnight and his show is not suited to a big crowd.  That of course is irrelevant as the scandal from Edinburgh last year was the complete omission of the stunning Pajama Men and their show Last Stand To Reason.  Did they make a shortlist in the Chortle Awards?  No, they made two.  Best Sketch or Character Act (along with Idiots of Ants) and more importantly, Best Show!  
So who are my predictions for these awards?  Best Headliner will be Phil Nichol (sorry Andrew Lawrence), Best Sketch or Character Act will be Pajama Men (sorry Idiots of Ants), I'd be surprised if Tim Minchin won Best Music or Variety Act as his last show was the weakest of his three so far, Best Show has to be Pajama Men: Last Stand To Reason (although it's good Tom Wrigglesworth got a nod) and the Best DVD is another sure thing for 2008's best show (even though the If.com Eddie went to David O'Doherty) Rhod Gilbert's Award-Winning Mince Pie.  Let's see how do in a couple of days...
UPDATED:  Yes Rhod won Best DVD (no shock there) although The Pajama Men lost out to the two acts I said sorry to, Idiots of Ants (say their name quickly) as best sketch group (with Stefan in last year's show!) and Tom Wrigglesworth for Best Show.  Sarah Millican won Best Headliner which on the basis of last year's Edinburgh shows makes no sense.  However, a headliner on has about 30 minutes on stage and Phil is definitely appreciated over the full hour so she could be going down a treat.  Roll on Edinburgh Fringe 2010, only 20 weeks to go!

17 March 2010

Oh-No! I Haven't Posted My St. Patrick's Day Cards... ):-|

A few years ago I was "bothered" when I received a "Happy Easter" card from my mother (although I appreciated the sentiment).  You send cards for birthdays, at a push Christmas and whatever Hallmark-Holiday you are rail-roaded into (e.g. Mother's Day, Valentine's Day...).
But seriously!  St. Patrick's Day cards?  This is shameless exploitation by card companies (I can't believe they have managed to shock me).  If you want to do something for someone so they have a "Happy St. Patrick's Day" then light a candle for them in church or help out a religious charity.  Please don't buy them a godless greeting card from the altar of capitalism...
[Wow, with this much lyrical venom I could be part Irish...  incidentally I am!]

16 March 2010

Put Your Money Where My Mouth Is On Dave's Landslide!

This is your last chance!  Not Gordon Brown, I'm talking to you!  The poll trackers are putting Labour and Conservatives neck and neck, whilst all the media is whispering "hung parliament".  Utter rubbish!  Three months before the American elections last year and McCain and Obama were "neck and neck".  It always happens, the underdog creeps up well before the election as people shy away from the inevitable winner so far away from the election.  People are still in a wait-and-see, non-committal, not wanting to be seen as a die-hard Tory.

However the last straw was last night when Gordon said 'I will carry on without a majority' and 'if I lose I will remain Labour leader' (a position he was unelected to, he was anointed). Come polling day, they will duly go in and vote for "Call me" Dave Cameron and he'll start our new Government with a majority of at least 50 seats (so over 348 Conservative MPs).  You should still have good odds on this right now, so put your money where my mouth is on Dave's landslide!

14 March 2010

Le Temps Détruit Tout? Or, Things, Can Only Get Better!

Yes the first part of this subject is a very powerful line that really moved me when I first read it*.  It translates as "Time Destroys Everything" and whilst it is not summarising the second law of thermodynamics, it is very true:  Things decay and everything ends.  However, thanks to superstar keyboardist and modest physics genius Brian Cox (no, not Hannibal Lecter, the younger one), we have the line from the D:Ream song (okay, he was an occasional keyboardist whilst at university and then went on to be a superstar physicist).  So which is true?  Well, lots of things decay over time but fortunately PhillG.com is not one of them!  A brand new theme with a great shot of Little Scotland, a nice slideshow of one of my Picasa Albums and, wait for it, all previous posts from Wordpress imported over to Blogger so the whole site is together again!  450 posts and counting over four and a half years!  Woo-hoo!  Now to end on a sad note, if you do want to depress yourself more than you were at the end of A Single Man or The Wrestler, rent Gaspar Noé's masterpiece, Irréversible and find out why Time Destroys Everything.

11 March 2010

Marketing Angle: Irish People Like To Drink!

It may not be the most original angle, but it is the angle that Wetherspoons are going with for their bar in London Heathrow Terminal One! It is also the last bar before New York and Edinburgh and Warsaw (ignoring those 'toy' bars during the flight) but clearly the believe this fear marketing will only work on the Irish! But it did work on me... :)