Like a puppet on a string

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

Love is just like a merry-go-round
With all the fun in the air
One day I’m feeling down on the ground
Then I’m up in the air
Are you leading me on?
Tomorrow will you be gone?

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

I may win on the roundabout
Then I’ll lose on the swings
In or out, there is never a doubt
Just who’s pulling the strings
I’m all tied up to you
But where’s it leading me to?

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care
If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there
Like a puppet on a string

Like a puppet on a….. string

I loved these Fringe performers on the Royal Mile, snapped on the way home from work:

Fringe 2010 - like a puppet on a string 02

Fringe 2010 - like a puppet on a string 04

The woman playing the puppet pulled some fabulous expressions:

Fringe 2010 - like a puppet on a string 05

Fringe 2010 - like a puppet on a string 06

electric ukulele land

electric ukulele land 2

A couple of buskers on the Royal Mile doing the rock thing but with ukuleles instead of electric guitar, but doing the full guitar heroes movements; as I listened to them rocking out on their ukes I realised they were giving big licks to Queens of the Stone Age! First time I’ve heard QOTSA on ukuleles – I had to shoot a brief vid clip so I could share the sound as well as grabbing a photo:

The Ukulele Lady

Amanda Palmer warming up in the basement of Forbidden Planet in Edinburgh this afternoon before a signing (and singing!) session for her and Neil Gaiman’s book “Who Killed Amanda Palmer”. Amanda has a music gig later this week as part of the Edinburgh Fringe (and is doing smaller gigs during the week as well), Neil is in town shortly for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, we’re helping her sell the book while she’s here and today was a nice chance for the fans to come and meet her – really good turnout, city centre buzzing with Festival goers plus a big line of fans waiting to meet Amanda adding to it all. This was Amanda getting into her zone before meeting the fans by performing a song for us all; I’ve videoed her performance (with her permission) and will add it here once I have time to sort it and upload it to YouTube.
ukulele lady 2

End of the Fest

Well, that’s the quickest couple of weeks of the year – holiday time – gone past already in a blur. Back to work this week and with the Fringe, Film Festival and Book Festival over the city seems so much quieter, all that’s left behind of the world’s biggest arts festival are the many posters for shows now finished and gone, slowly peeling off walls and panels with that same sort of melancholy you get from Christmas decorations still up after you’ve gone back to work in the New Year. Still, we’ve got the huge fireworks concert to come this Sunday night and luckily Gordon has invited Mel and I along to his work again, which has a long conference room with views out to the Castle; they also very nicely put on some food and booze to go with the event – certainly much nicer than jostling with a 100, 000 others on Princes Street to watch it.

I enjoyed a bit of Fringe while I was off, took in the Book Festival (actually I was invited to the launch party this year which was nice of them, bumped into several folks I used to work with a few years ago, which was even nicer), caught a very good panel on graphic novels there (first year they have covered the genre, went very, very well, I’m pleased to say) and as usual caught a pile of movies at the Film Festival (sadly the last time they are planning to hold that during the rest of the Festival in August, boo). Mel and I were right there on opening night to see the adaptation of Peter Jinks novel Hallam Foe which starred Jamie Bell (all grown up from Billy Elliot) and which was largely shot in Edinburgh, so that was fun to see some of the city on the big screen (also a pleasure to see the Film Fest’s Hannah McGill who as well as being involved in running a great film festival always looks so glamorous and gorgeous at these events) and we were there on the final day when they do Best of the Fest to reshow some sold out films. Documentaries, foreign language films, science fiction, fantasy, comedies and animation all in a few days then chilling with a drink outside afterwards and Joe is a happy boy.

Day Watch, the sequel to the surprise international hit from Russia, Night Watch, was excellent but my favourite film of this year’s fest (and Mel’s too, actually) was the movie adaptation of a book by one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman (and illustrated by the quite wonderful Charles Vess), Stardust. Was a little funny for me to be watching this film since I remember hosting a reading and signing for Neil for that book when it first came out back in the 90s and still recall sitting chatting after a totally packed event in the bar of the lovely, old Cafe 1812 as he doodled a picture on the inside of my copy and signed it after the fans had all gone (I even remember him being impressed when a friend of mine produced his copy of Violent Cases to be signed and Neil at once recognised it as a first edition). Back then he had talked about possible movie work and here we were years later watching our second Film Festival screening of a film based on a story by Neil (MirrorMask was the year before last).

By Neil’s standards the story is very simple and straightforward, not as layered as most of his other work in prose or comics, but as he said back at that event in the 90s he really wanted to make a straight fairy tale but for adults and that’s also what the movie version brings. It doesn’t try to be clever and postmodern, to reinvent the wheel. Instead it gives you a gorgeously warm fantasy with evil witches, a quest, romance, swashbuckling, magic, corrupt princes, an innocent hero and as a bonus Robert de Niro in a lady’s bloomers dancing to the can-can. I mean what else do you need? Leave your cynicism at home and just wallow in a beautifully shot fairy tale (much of it shot in the islands of Scotland) which boasts a great cast (including Michelle Pfeiffer who just doesn’t seem to be getting older, does she? Although ironically she ages in the film every time she uses her magic). Everyone left the cinema late at night with huge smiles on their faces, its just one of those sorts of films; you’re never too old for a magical fairy tale. Of course some people think they are too old for such things, but that probably means they need it more than anyone, poor souls. It should get a general release in the UK this autumn (I think it has just come out in the US), so watch out for it.

My parents came through to visit before going off on their own holiday; I had a cunning plan to take them out for a cruise on the Maid of the Forth which would have been an early anniversary present and a way to spend the day with them too (sails from right under the mighty Forth Bridge down the river and includes a trip to the islands to visit the old monastery) but sadly that was the only day they weren’t sailing because of some liners coming up the river that day. So we’ll need to try again at some point, but at least we did get a fun day together anyway and a lovely lunch out at the canalside pub in the village of Ratho (great spot for food and drink). And then my old mate Bob through with his wee boys too, so again we all had fun. The boys are convinced I am a pirate because of my bandana and since they love pirates that makes me cool to them :-). Naturally I don’t want to disappoint them and try to keep up my swashbuckling ways for them. They also like knights and swords and kept asking if they would see knights at the Castle – so when we found men in plate armour posing just down the slope from the Castle you can imagine how big their eyes opened! Movies, shows, books, drinks, food, friends and family, what a great break…

Canadian comics banned in middle of Fringe performance

The Evening News tells of The Underground Comedy Invasion, comics from Canada, who have been performing at the Three Tuns pub, who were stopped in the middle of a show by a senior member of staff and ejected, their Fringe run there canceled. Apparently they had told jokes about child abuse, which is certainly in bad taste, but part of humour, especially underground humour, is to broach subjects which we might often find uncomfortable and distasteful – one of my comedy heroes, the great George Carlin has always stood up for that principle, where he says bollocks to anyone telling him there is any subject he can’t make jokes about because the jokes are a way of talking about something, they don’t imply support for something or condoning it – in other words a joke about something doesn’t mean you are saying yeah, let’s do it for real, nor should a joke be confused with reality since telling a joke is not the same thing as doing something. And really, you agreed to host some underground comics for the Fringe then you act outraged when they tell jokes you don’t approve of??? Er, what a shock, distasteful humour in a Fringe stand-up show… Besides which, the altercation – seen on the video below – seems to have come about not when the comedians repeated the joke but when they tried to talk about how the management had told them not to repeat the joke – so telling the joke is a no-no and telling the audience that you aren’t allowed to tell a particular joke is also apparently a no-no, which regardless of the content of the original joke seems a bit damned stupid to me.

Obviously this short clip is taken out of context, but the staff member comes across rather badly in it, just steaming in to shut the comic up as he tries to explain he can’t tell a joke because he’s been ordered not to, while the staff member also seems to confuse the joke with reality, shouting at audience members (his customers!) do you want your kids fingered??? Er, no-one is doing anything to kids there, man, you were talking about a fucking joke – this is like the cobblers in the media when Chris Morris did his Brass Eye special on child abuse, where he was showing how attitudes in the public and media go crazy over anything to do with it, precluding discussion in favour of extreme reaction. I doubt any of the comics are really trying to promote child abuse, this is a comedy act using bad taste and uncomfortable subject matter, but then so do a lot of comics, its a legitimate area for comics to explore. And asking them not to cover a subject in your venue is the right of the manager, of course, but then trying to shut them up when they tell folk about being gagged is just being OTT. Jeez, if we banned every comedian who told a joke that might be offensive to someone we’d never tell a bloody joke again anywhere (another point Carlin makes well). You know, instead of being grossly offended, if I find a comic’s material to be offensive and/or unfunny I don’t demand their head, I just don’t laugh – let them stand there in silence on stage. Not gag them. Then tell them not to mention the gag and equate that with actual abuse.

Midget glues dick to hoover at Fringe

Captain Dan the Demon Dwarf from the Circus of Horrors at the Edinburgh Fringe had to be taken to hospital after something went wrong with his act, part of which involves dragging a vacuum cleaner across the stage with his willy. A Fringe act, a stage, a hoover, an exposed cock and superglue = trip to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The irony being the Circus of Horrors is almost next door to where the hospital stood for decades, before moving a couple of years back (the old grounds are being redeveloped for ‘mixed’ price apartments – in other words they will all go to rich buggers) so Captain Dan and his superglued dick and vacuum would have a much longer ride to the new hospital at the edge of town (handily placed for almost no-one in the city). Ouch. The lengths some men will go to get sucked off :-)…