movie: Casablanca

February 13, 2012

Casablanca, probably one of the greatest films ever made.  Certainly one of the most recognisable, most frequently quoted and often miss-quoted movies ever made.  Yes “Here’s looking at you kid“, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine” and “We‘ll always have Paris.”  all appear as do several “play it” but never can the words “play it again Sam” be heard in this film.

D and I went to see this in one of our favorite cinemas, The Grosvenor in Ashton Lane and even splashed out for one of the comfy sofas at the back.  I’ve seen the move several times, but never at a cinema and first of all I’ll mention in passing a couple of problems.  Firstly, the sound volume was a bit low and in particular the DJ in the Loft bar above the cinema could be heard through out the performance.  Secondly it was extremely hot.  Eventually it was so uncomfortable that I popped out to the foyer and mentioned these two things to the staff and was told that they would pass this on the the projectionist.  Also, they said that as the movie is in mono the sound is only coming out of the front speakers so the sound is not at the normal standard.  However, given that very shortly after returning to my seat it was noticeably cooler and louder.  Thank you Grosvenor!

This old movie is showing at the Grosvenor this week because of valentines day, which I didn’t really get at first as I’ve always thought of it as a war-movie, but of course it is one of the great love stories of classic Hollywood.  Released in 1942, like much of the output of Hollywood at the time, the movie also serves as war propaganda showing the Germans as evil, strutting, bullies even in this more or less neutral country.

I think it is useful when watching Casablanca now to have a little knowledge about how Morocco, being a French colony came under the control of the pro-Axis Vichy regime when France was invaded by Germany.  Therefore it was nominally on the side of Germany, although an active resistance movement operated and (key to the plot) it formed part of a route out of Europe.

What is perhaps most surprising about Casablanca is just how funny it is.  Yes it is a story of resistance during WW2, and yes it is a story of love, a broken heart, love re-found and sacrificial love.  However, there are so many throw away lines that might raise a smile when watching this movie at home cause a cinema audience to laugh at the shared experience.  Here are just a few:

Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Ilsa: How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris.
Rick: Not an easy day to forget.
Ilsa: No.
Rick: I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.

Captain Renault: Carl, see that Major Strasser gets a good table, one close to the ladies.
Carl: I have already given him the best, knowing he is German and would take it anyway.

Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.


Review of 2011

January 1, 2012

That time of year again to have a look over what I’ve blogged about and review what the year has been like ( see 2010, and 2009)


MOVIES watched at the cinema…

RESTAURANTS, blogged about…

BOOKS read this year….


Feb: honeymoon in Barbados

July: we did a wee tour of England, visiting relatives in Coventry then having a few days in Yorkshire and the Lakes.

August:  CLANkidz not always seen as a holiday, but still it isn’t ‘work’ and it is in St Andrews so I think it counts

Other Highlights:

Feb: I got Married, D’ moved into my small flat and we began our married life of bliss.  The reality is that it is difficult to find a balance in everything when married, it hasn’t been easy but it has been a lot of fun.
Also, in Feb, as mentioned we went to Barbados and I found a new interest – Rum!
Oct: Put my flat in Woodlands on the market and it sold within three weeks
Nov: After looking at a lot of places we bought a house in Scotstoun
Dec: Moved into the new house, filled it up with clutter immediately, then had Christmas parties.  What a good month!

buying a house

November 29, 2011

Time to reflect on the house hunting process that took most of September and October this year.  Using sites like  and estate agents own sites we spent a lot of time looking for anything in our price range with the right number of rooms and in any of the areas we decided to look in.

Deciding the areas was the most difficult part of all this.  We needed to be south of the Clyde or close to the Clyde tunnel for Danar to get to work.  South side would be more tricky for me to get to work being either bus or car and underground, while some of the houses North of the river were close to the rail line that would take me straight to the office in about 15min.

With these criteria we started to give over our weekends to driving at break-neck speed across the city to quickly look around people’s homes trying to find interesting things to say – often all I came up with was “that’s a good size”.  The map here shows all (I think) of the places we viewed with the red ‘x’ (difficult to see I know) marking where we have ended up,

We saw some nice houses, a lot not-so-nice, some wrecks and some fairly sad places that were obviously someone very old had died recently.  We viewed a new town house called river-view that you couldn’t see the river from, and a house with plastic floor and wall decor.  We looked at new-builds and older properties.  Detached, semidetached, bungalows, conversions, anything…

In this process, we saw only one property that we put in a ‘note-of-interest’ only to be told that it had already gone under offer.  This was disappointing and we did keep phoning up that estate agent to ask if things had fallen through, just in case – is that wrong?

However, on Tue 4th Oct when we accepted an offer on our flat and it all became a lot more real. Two days later we had three viewings arranged, one of which we thought was OK and probably worth a second viewing.  The next day we found out that property was actually going to closing – so we decided to put in a bid, did some negotiating and got it.  The rest as they say is history…

selling my flat

November 28, 2011

Technically since getting married 9 months ago ‘my’ flat is actually ‘our’ flat but it is hard for either of us to think of it that way since I’ve lived here for 10 years and a lot of D’s stuff had to go into storage rather move here (my stuff got thinned out too, but that’s not the same).  So from the start the plan was to move as soon as we could.

It took a few months to get organised, throwing even more stuff out or hiding it with parents and friends until the flat was clear(ish) of clutter and in a condition that we thought would help to sell it.  In the mean time we started tentatively trying to figure out where we wanted to move to and what type of property we would like but perhaps that is for a different post.  We had to decide on who to market the flat through, and the main decision appeared to be whether to use a solicitors firm, or an estate agent (who often also have solicitors).  To be honest I’m still not entirely sure what the difference is but from viewing lots of properties and from our experience of selling I would highly recommend going with an estate agent rather than a solicitor.

The actual process of selling the flat was (in retrospect) fairly straight forward.  We had a visit from the estate agent, an estimated valuation, then parted with some money.  Then a surveyor comes in to do the home report stuff, from which we get the actual valuation, and then a price is agreed for it to go on the market.  At that point you sit back nervously and wait for viewers.

The current economic climate is not great for selling property.  The market is apparently very slow, the media tells us there are no first time buyers, the banks aren’t lending and no one wants to buy at this time.  However, we were selling in a prime area of Glasgow – Woodlands.  The property here tends to move faster, due to proximity to the Universities and City Centre.  So we hoped it wouldn’t be on the market for months or years as we keep hearing about.

In the end we had a fairly steady stream of viewers which just meant having to keep the place tidy for them.  After only two and a half weeks we had two notes of interest and then a verbal offer came in.  This drove us to go to closing and accepting an offer just three weeks after putting the flat on the market.  Happy days!

Selling the flat suddenly made the need to decide where we were going to move to much more urgent……

gig: Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad and The Lovely Posse

May 26, 2011

I never thought I would see Adam Ant on the road again.  But here he was on Monday night playing Glasgow’s O2 Academy with a line up known as “The good the mad and the loveley posse” (with ‘the mad’ referring to himself with his mental health issues).  I actually found myself blown away by how good this concert was, simply one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen, and I’ve found it difficult to put into words why, perhaps it is the concert that I grew up listening to in my head.

The opening song “Plastic Surgery” starts slow with sustained chords and drums but then suddenly takes off to a frantic pace (around 2:10 in this good quality video from the Glasgow gig).  The next five songs came so fast I couldn’t take my eyes of the TWO drummers who must have been exhausted already, but the pace didn’t let up through  – Dog Eat DogBeat My Guest, Kick, Cartrouble, Zerox … then Adam was joined on stage by two dancers / backing singers for Deutscher Girls, then Stand and Deliver, and so on

It was around this point that I started to actually notice what was going on.  There wasn’t new material (though apparently there is a CD ready for release), also this wasn’t exactly a retrospective of hits but rather it felt like a back to the roots kind of set.  Adam wasn’t going through the motions by trotting out the big hits but was playing mostly early tracks from the punk days and B-sides.  Some songs were slightly re-interpreted but mostly they were having fun and it showed.  They even played a YMCA spoof called ANTS which was released as a ‘flexi-disk’ 7″ single mounted to the cover of ‘Flexidisk’ magazine (I know because I had it!)

The first gig I ever went to was Adam and the Ants “Prince Charming Review” at the legendary Glasgow Apollo in 1982.  I was about 15 and hooked up with my first real girlfriend during the interval.  Yes there was an interval in a music concert – mainly to give time for the stage to be re-set and Adam to change persona from Pirate to Prince Charming.

However, even though I first discovered Adam and the Ants from their Kings of the Wild Frontier phase withAntmusicDog eat Dog, and Kings dominating the charts in ’80, ’81 I then went back to the earlier line up of Ants for the ’79 LP Dirk Wears White Sox.  This opened up a different world for me, instead of listening to the Sunday night Radio 1 chart count down I started discovering music for myself.

Adam Ant was involved in the beginnings of the early Punk rock scene in London in the late 70s, I came to know the Sex PistolsSiouxsie and the Banshees, Roxy Music, The Clash, etc. through finding out about Adam Ant.  Monday’s concert was how I imagined those early concerts might have been, rebellious, singing songs that Radio 1 would have banned.  The sound was very heavy, with screaming guitar and the inescapable roar of two drummers thudding through your chest as much as your ears.  A fantastic night and a trip back to my childhood (in a good way).

gig: Milton Jones

May 20, 2011

Milton Jones at the Pavillion Theater.  Milton’s style of comedy is fast one liners and puns, meaning that you leave a gig after laughing uncontrollably and can’t quote one funny thing you heard.  Well, almost, I can remember one example at the moment:

” My Grandad achieved his lifetime goal, to become a Lion Whisperer… just before he died. “

All I can say was it was a great night and I do hope more of those jokes keep popping into my head for the next few weeks.

Thanks Ross & Leigh for the birthday present.


gig: Blind Boys of Alabama

January 26, 2011

The Blind Boys of Alabama at the Concert Hall as part of Celtic Connections. First formed at the “Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind” in 1939, they did the black gospel circuit, playing in churches, auditoriums, and stadiums across the country. Influential for many gospel, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll artists The Blind Boys have been recording and touring for more than 60 years.

In the 1990’s they received two Grammy nominations and performed at the White House. In recent years the Blind Boys were awarded five Grammy Awards and their musical brethren have paid homage to their legacy and their continued relevance by asking them to contribute and collaborate on new projects.

Seeing them being led onstage to their microphones starts to build anticipation, but when they start to harmonize together to the blues rifts of guitar and bass the magic really happens.  As a show, it is fairly simple, three vocalists, keys/organ, a blind drummer (which is a first for me), fantastically talented guitarist and the coolest Bass player I’ve ever seen.

I love the sound of the Blues, I’m not too up on old time Gospel but I do like the Blindboys sound and their sound is the sound of the blues.  A fantastic night as part of the Celtic Connections, probably the only gig I’ll get to Celtic Connections this year and worth it.