Friday, March 14, 2008

We continued our run of seeing fine films last Sunday, when we saw the excellent Juno at The Orpheus. I was a little concerned before the film started when we appeared to around twenty years older than anyone else in the unusually noisy room. Once the film started the chatter around us stopped, however would I be able to keep up with the teenage talk coming from the screen?

Thankfully the answer was yes, in fact one of the main joys of the film was the cracking script, it’s just packed with great lines and perfect cameo scenes. The cast are perfect, how great it was to former West Wing star Allison Janney in big screen action. Witty, touching and wise, it’s a film that’s well worth seeing.

I’ve been listening to three very different albums this week. The Herbie Hancock album “River – The Joni Letters”, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds latest “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” and the debut album from Champion Lightspeed “Falling Off The Lavender Bridge”. They all work on very different levels, I love feeling like a grown up (I know, I’m 46 but those oldies are right when they say you don’t feel old inside) as I hear something different in the lyrics or music each time I play it.

The Nick Cave album sounds more simply recorded than some of his recent records but his writing pen was still dipped in the same coruscating ink allowing him to spit out those poetically venomous lyrics. The Champion Lightspeed album is an unexpectedly charming record, with idea’s way above some of his indie compatriots.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My friend Simon is in a very interesting band called Little Scratch, have a look at the video for their excellent song On My Way Back (from where I'm going) here.

You can vist them via

Thursday, March 06, 2008

We saw a film in The Watershed last night and as ever the place was buzzing, we decided to go to the cinema early for the 8:30 showing so that we could enjoy a drink and something sweet before the film. Gratifyingly for the people that the run the place it was pretty difficult to find a table with room for us two amongst the crowds. Orynthia queued for food and drink and I set out to scout for a place for us to relax in. This pattern was repeated with several other couples, so a non contact battles of wits commenced as we prowled around the room like Lions waiting for youngest Wildebeest to become detached from the heard and move into our possession.

At first I managed to grab a couple of the high stools next to the small raised counter on the way into the cafe area, a good temporary measure but not the best long term location as Orynthia is rather short, so a lot of awkward clambering on and off would be required if I failed to come up with something better before she emerged with the goodies. Then the tricky job of appearing to be nonchalantly enjoying the ambience of the room, whilst franticly scanning all seats within my sightline for signs of people preparing to depart began.

With three films showing and staggered start times, there was plenty of scope for people to be vacating their seats to catch an earlier film than our chosen entertainment. Watching the crowd is an interesting and nerve racking process on occasions like this, will the table of three with the chap quickly draining his pint glass be leaving when he does so? Is the lady putting some leaflets into her bag getting ready to leave for the showing of "There Will Be Blood"? Of course all the other standing customers are playing the same game, luckily for me, two chairs are vacated on one of the tables which come with inbuilt internet access and it's within a couple of strides of my current location. Within moments I'm off my lofty perch and have claimed the seats for us, seconds later Orynthia rounds the corner with some hot chocolate and a nice piece of orange polenta cake, the perfect way to relax before the film.

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly was the film which we went to see and in different hands it could have been a mawkish and sentimental press the buttons tear jerker. Luckily the director Julian Schnabel was able to bring a great deal of humour and and reflection to tale. I have never got around to reading the book that the film is based on but I remember how much it moved a good friend of mine when he was struck with very serious health problems many years ago. It's a slim book, less than 140 pages from my memory so I'd imagine that almost everything that's in the book makes it into the film. In addition to written word which forms the basis of the work Julian Schnabel brings a fantastic visual sense to the piece, then again as he is primarily known as a painter I guess that should not come as a surprise.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Last weekend we took the near 300 mile trip north to see our friends Kevin & Julie in Whitby, it’s a very long drive. An American colleague of Orynthia’s commented that she loved road trips, then again she is from the wide open spaces of Texas, so the delights of a busy Friday afternoon on the M1 may not have figured too much in her life on the road, if they did she may have a rather different tale to tell.

We were actually reasonably fortunate and only had problems for about forty-five minutes of our outbound trip, however it’s not a journey I’d like to take too often. The welcome was warm and it was good to see the latest addition to their family in such good health. We only really had the Saturday to explore the local area but managed to use the time well, enjoying a leisurely ride on a steam train to Pickering and back, followed by a quick dash around Whitby itself.

Small as it is, at least Whitby does have an interesting little record shop tucked away between all the chipies and pubs, it’s call Folk Devils and I managed to pick up a great Sun Ra album called Some Blues But Not The Kind’s that Blue. I always enjoy a bit of Sun Ra madness, this album is reasonably restrained by his standards and does feature some great takes on a few “standards”. My favourite is a wonderfully eccentric version of Nature Boy where his piano playing is almost as much Les Dawson as it is Thelonious Monk.

In a change from my usual reading diet of fiction, I have just started reading the book White Bicycles by Joe Boyd. It’s an account of his time in the musical world of the 1960’s both in the States and here in the UK. It sounds as though he managed to keep a reasonably clear head, whilst those around him were losing theirs, as was almost compulsory in that world at that time. He does ask why the English are so embarrassed about their folk music compared to everyone else in the world. Daft question really, who wants to hear lots of middle class people singing in daft accents about the life of a medieval farm worker?