new post on Christian Visualist blog

June 28, 2010

case study: Michael Trotter gig 26 June 2010

food: Hillhead Bookclub

June 28, 2010

{hb} hillhead bookclub

“One of the best bars and restaurants in Glasgows stylish west end. Whether it’s quality pub grub, cheap cocktails or a pub quiz night, this is the place to be.” as it modestly claims on its own web site.

Popped in hear on Saturday afternoon for some lunch when we noticed that it had changed-hands or re-branded (again).  This is the old Savoy … a restaurant for some years but I do remember going here to the cinema when I was a student.

The place is much nicer than I remember for whenever I’ve been in before.  It still has tables on various levels inside and there are still some nice original features from the cinema especially in the roof.  There are a couple of caged in play rooms in the balcony which I’m sure are used not just for kids during the day but I would have a go at the playstations and table tennis on a night out.  But, what about the food?

There are a few different menus on the board outside, I think, called ‘brunch‘, ‘lunch‘ and ‘dinner‘ and we weren’t sure which we would be getting (especially since a burger is £5 on the lunch menu and £7 for brunch!)  It turned out we were there for brunch menu from which we ordered two £7 burgers.  To be honest there wasn’t a massive variety of choices, pancakes, ‘something with eggs’ (which is a section of the menu with of things involving eggs), full breakfast, burgers or fish and cocktails(!)

Not a great photo, but a fantastic burger – possibly the best burger I’ve eaten in the west end – The salad accompanying it wasn’t great being one lettuce leaf and a slice of tomato.  The coleslaw was nice, but nothing to write home about, however the burger itself was sheer perfection and I had it with both red onion relish and bacon.  It was well cooked and utterly delicious.  The chips were closer to potato wedges and again lovely!

I would highly recommend giving this place a try!

book: Stieg Larsson “The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”

June 25, 2010

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the final book in Stieg Larsson‘s “Millennium Trilogy” following up The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and  The Girl who Played with Fire.  This book opens minutes after the incredible climax of the second book and starts with the same breakneck pace the second one reaches (eventually).

The only problem (and it is true to some extent in all three books) is that there is just too much detail.  In this final part I would say that this becomes a major problem and it is only because the reader has invested so much in the characters and story that the author can get away with this.  In particular I found it difficult to follow all the new characters and places that were introduced early in the third book only to find out that soon you didn’t need to keep track of them all.  People came and went, there were chapters which didn’t really move the plot along any and basically a lot that could easily have been cut.  I think book 2 and 3 in this series should be one story and I’ve no idea no idea how they will make these into a movie since most of the ‘action’ involves hacking through computer files which tends not to be too visually interesting.

Other than that criticism the actual story that is told is excellent.  This book ties together all the loose ends from the second book taking Salander through a trial that reaches the highest political levels of the country.  It is also very interesting how as story can be so gripping while the two main protagonists very rarely meet.

book: Stieg Larsson “The Girl who Played with Fire”

June 25, 2010

The last book I blogged about was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo I liked it but gave a warning about the type of content – The Girl who Played with Fire is the second in Stieg Larsson‘s “Millennium Trilogy” and just as enjoyable and captivating as the first.

Everything revolves around two characters, Lisebeth Salander (the girl with the tattoo) and Mikael Blomkvist, the publisher and journalist of Millennium Magazine.  Lisebeth is such an involving character with a complex mysterious past that is hinted at in the first book.  Here we finally find out what made her what she is.

The plot is complex, well constructed and cleverly punctuated some fascinating and unexpected twists.  However, the does book take a long time to get going and there are some totally unnecessary sections of tedious detail, but soon enough it gets up some speed and has such a stunning climax that you really should have the third book on standby to start straight away!

If you haven’t read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo then don’t read this.  This trilogy has to be read in order or not at all.

Back in the USSR!)

June 24, 2010

On twitter the other day was this tweet from Barack Obama…

… so the Russian president is on twitter and his first message was a very friendly “Hello everyone! I’m on Twitter, and this is my first tweet.”  (actually I think this is the default message when you set up an account but that’s not important.)

I mostly follow some church-tech and worship visual stuff also some comedians and for news @Number10gov and @BarackObama, so I clicked through to follow @KremlinRussia_E just to see what they would be saying

However, it looks like the Kremlin have decided to follow anyone who follows them so I got an email from the Kremlin saying “RussiaKremlin_E is now following you on Twitter!”

Just as well I don’t tweet much :-/

Montage of Paul McCartney gig

June 23, 2010

gig: Paul McCartney Hampden Park 20 June 2010

June 23, 2010

What can you say about a legend like Paul McCartney.  Well for a start you could continue to spread the rumour that he died in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike (here, here, here),  but lookalike or original you can’t argue that he is an extremely talented man!

First, however, I feel the need of a short rant about why I do not like stadium gigs!  They are just too big – you can’t see the band – there are too many drunk people around (well in a standing gigs at least), the sound isn’t great, they charge laughable prices for poor quality food and drink… etc.  I promised to myself after a disappointing Red Hot Chillies gig in Hampden Park last year to avoid these at all costs.  Since then I saw U2 last yearSnow Patrol last week, and when you score free tickets for a Beetle you just can’t say no!

Mentioning that we got these tickets for free does let me continue to moan a little bit more about stadium gigs – firstly the view from this distance and angle is ‘limited’ and we weren’t in the worst seats and the sound was fairly disappointing from where we were with audio dropping occasionally, lack of any distinction and a tinny quality… hard to describe exactly but overall disappointing.  So I can honestly say that the tickets were worth every penny we paid :-/ but I wonder what the face price was.

I also don’t understand how places like Hampden can get away with enforcing a policy of not allowing and food or drink to be brought in and then charge £4 for a very low quality burger and £4 for a small glass of wine or pint of beer.

Right, now that is out of the way – Paul McCartney.  He is incredibly good at his job!  Switching between many different guitars, mandolin, ukulele, pianos and playing songs from the Beetles, Wings, some songs from John and George – it would be very easy for someone with a career like Paul McCartney to have turned into a parody of himself playing all the same old songs but he has managed to avoid that.  When playing early Beetles songs with the gathered voices of the Hampden choir somehow it didn’t feel like a nostalgic moment but more of a party.  You have to pinch yourself occasionally to think that this isn’t just anyone singing these standards but one of the guys who actually lived through it all.

Of course there were also many non-Beetles songs and I have to say the way the set was put together was a great mix (see the setlist from Glasgow below).  The only Wings songs I really know are Jet and Band on the Run and they were good of course, but Live and Let Die was incredible with a full on rock-show firework finale – speaking of ‘finale’ there were at least two Encores according to the setlist below but an Encore to me means one more song… Paul just kept playing!

One of the many highlights of the evening (IMHO) was Mull of Kintyre when the band were joined by a school pipe band – and the massed voices of Hampden Park, really a great and moving moment which I have struggled to upload to youtube (is it just me or is youtube getting harder to upload to):

All in this was a fantastic way to spend a lovely summer evening in Glasgow, and it was the sun gradually setting over the stadium which made this photo look like everyone was standing to salute Sir Paul McCartney, after all he did deserve it!

Glasgow Setlist – Sunday 20th June 2010.
1. Venus and Mars / Rockshow
2. Jet
3. All My Loving
4. Letting Go
5. Drive My Car
6. Highway
7. Let Me Roll It
8. The Long And Winding Road
9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
10. Let ‘Em In
11. My Love
12. I’ve Just Seen A Face
13. And I Love Her
14. Blackbird
15. Here Today
16. Dance Tonight
17. Mrs Vandebilt
18. Eleanor Rigby
19. Something
20. Sing The Changes
21. Band On The Run
22. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
23. Back In The USSR
24. I’ve Got A Feeling
25. Paperback Writer
26. A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance
27. Let It Be
28. Live And Let Die
29. Hey Jude

30. Day Tripper
31. Lady Madonna
32. Get Back

Second Encore
33. Yesterday
34. Mull Of Kintyre
35. Helter Skelter
36. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End

cost of oil

June 14, 2010

I’ve been fascinated by the BP Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and keeping up with the news almost everyday.  I simply don’t understand how this situation still isn’t under control since the explosion on 20th April.  For some time I worked in the shipbuilding industry and was an apprentice when MS Herald of Free Enterprise rolled over as it left Zeebrugge Harbour, it was a roll-on-roll-off ferry which is what our yard specialized in and very quickly some things were frozen, initial findings made changes to design, etc.  Health and Safety regulations are frequently so restrictive that they are a joke and are clearly more about preventing litigation than actually protecting individuals.  So how are we in this situation?  Why are oil companies permitted to have lines at these depths with no technology in place for capturing and stopping any problems?

I’m sure there were many safeguards in place on the broken wellhead but it is a man made piece of hardware at 5000 feet below the surface and s*@t happens!!  In this case the S*@t that happened was an explosion on an oil platform that killed 11 people and when it eventually sank the safeguards failed.  What I don’t understand is why there is nothing in place in case such things happen?  Why is there nothing in place to capture, control and stop any oil spill like this – since we don’t have Thunderbirds to come to the rescue!  Who’s to blame for all this – we all are.

gig: Snow Patrol Bellahouston Park

June 13, 2010

Some months ago some good friends suggested getting tickets to the Snow Patrol.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, I had heard of Snow Patrol but couldn’t actually have told you any of their songs.  Since agreeing to go I had spent some time on Spotify trying to get to know some Snow Patrol songs only to discover that I really can’t get into any of their stuff.  Honestly, I did try but I just seemed to zone out or even leave the room and find myself trying to figure out what I had been listening to and why.

I’m also not a big fan of outdoor or ‘stadium’ gigs because you rarely get a good view and people tend to be even drunker, more out of control and obnoxious.  So, off to Bellahouston Park on a sunny evening, we found a nice little spot near front-of-house and settled down to wait…  the first band after we arrived was Band of Horses, who were interesting enough at first but then all their songs started to meld into a very similar sound, they struck me as sort of 70s hippies out of time.  After some time, the Editors (or perhaps it is just Editors with no ‘the’) came on, and they were really fairly boring, I have nothing else to say about them – they came, they sang, they went…

Eventually Slow Patrol came on.  Many more lights were now used, more big screens with very good camera work(!) on a few songs I could also say that there were some extremely well thought out visuals to complement the music.  However (In my opinion) this might have been be because the tech’s get so bored with the long slow tedious songs they have to find something to do during a gig.

Basically Slow Patrol aren’t for me.  Their songs are repetitive, melodic, but with few real hooks.  Performance wise they seemed to have a good time with what I think they said was their largest crowd of around 25000 people, but even still there wasn’t much of a vibe coming from the stage (again – in my opinion).  Still had a good time, circling the crowd, watching from different angles, etc.  an OK night – but I really did notice how much better and stronger the first song I heard in the car was.

movie: The Brothers Bloom

June 5, 2010

The Brothers Bloom doesn’t have a mainstream release (we saw this at the GFT) so it is strictly in that “quirky”, “art house”, “independent cinema” box and I’m not sure it should be.  It does have a fairly unknown director (Rain Johnson) but stars Rachel Weisz (The Mummy(and Returns), Runaway Jury, Constant Gardener, etc.), Adrien Brody (The Darjeeling Limited, King Kong, The Pianist, etc.) oh and Robbie Coltrain.

The plot is the story of two brothers who have been con artists since they were kids.   Bloom wants to quit the business as he is losing his own identity to that of the characters he portrays; he doesn’t know anymore what is real and what is make-believe. Stephen talks him into one last con, on an eccentric, lonely but beautiful  heiress, Penelope Stamp.

However, as they start the con it isn’t obvious what is con and what is real, is she in on it or not, who is conning who, and so on.  Basically that is all background to what is actually a beautifully shot film in some fantastic locations while a complicated love story unfolds.

All in, it is a really enjoyable film with some extremely funny sections and a plot that is impossible to guess before it unfolds, but it still manages to miss tying it all together into being an absolutely great film.  Close but no banana.