Monthly Archives: July 2011

Hogwarts hallowed halls

Seeing as tonight is the last time that I am going to have the good fortune to dress up like a wizard and head along to a Harry Potter movie I thought I would share this rather poor quality picture of where I was just over a week ago. I’ll leave it to you to decide where it was, the clue is in the title. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not that I’m wanting to make any of you jealous at all. He he

The Tour de France – Finally, recognition for some great Australians! :-)

Man, I am such a proud Australian after the Tour de France! What? You think it is great that Cadel Evans won as well? Yeah, that was good I guess but bout time really, he has had 7 goes at it for goodness sake! ๐Ÿ™‚ No, I was talking about the comment below which was posted on the live feed of the official Tour de France site and seen by millions of people around the world.

17.30 Bogans running next to Contador : There are Australian “bogans” running beside the stage leader. They’re wrapped in the national flag and are ignoring the many requests from the race organisers to leave the rider alone on the climbs.”

Soย  proud, soย  proud! ๐Ÿ™‚

On a serious note, what a great result hey. Now maybe Iย  won’t be looked at like an alien every year when I rabbit on about the Tour. ๐Ÿ™‚ If anyone wants me to bore them to death about the tactics etc behind the Tour please let me know. But for now I’ll just tell you that he effectively won the Tour on Friday when he rode by himself, without any assistance from any other riders, for 16 kilometres up the side of a mountain steeper than the road to Dwellingupย  to make up over a minute of the minute and half he had lost earlier in the stage to two world class climbers (Schleck and Contador) because of a mechanical problem with his bike. Had he not caught them then Schleck would have had enough of a lead going into the time trial. Most of us couldn’t imagine the effort and pain involved let alone have ever experienced it!

Damn, bugger, poo, bum, shit!! :-)

Man, does it suck to have someone show you how something should be done properly! Have a read of this, this is how blogging should be done. Love it or hate it, I challenge you to not have an opinion on it. Personally, I think the sentiment is spot on but I’m not sure about the stuff on poverty. You might be physically secure in Australia if you are poor but I think, psychologically, being poor in a country that is generally so well off must be pretty soul destroying.

Glasgowโ€™s hidden gems : Ep. 3 – The Final Fro…One! :-)

Well the time has come to call time on my hidden gems series. Not so much because I have run out of hidden gems as that I have run out of time to write them. At time of starting this I have two weeks until I get on the plane for Aus and barely a spare minute to write anything of any consequence. When have you ever done that, I hear you cry. To which I reply, sod off! ๐Ÿ™‚ So here is the final instalment of my hidden gems.

First up is some building facades. I’m not saying that modern business ethics suck (they do *whispered behind hand*) but there was a time I think when being in business meant more than simply making money. Companies wanted to be around for a long time and contribute to community they were a part of. I think that is why they ended up with things like this as the facade for … a carpet factory. I think this is one of the true hidden gems of Glasgow and has to be seen in person to really be appreciated. Apparently it is based on a palace in Venice. Oh and the carpets for the Titanic were made there. Cool huh! ๐Ÿ™‚

And then almost directly north in the Gallowgate you’ll find a housing development that won all kinds of awards and has this,ย  this and this as facades. Anyone want to take a stab at what building the facades used to belong to? I’ll give you a hint, it was something to do with the carvings you can see above the gates. That’s right, it was the Glasgow Livestock Market and Abattoir. Can you imagine that kind of effort going into a abattoir these days??

This picture of the Glasgow City Chambers again shows the amount of effort that went into building back in the day but the hidden gem here is not the building as such, because it is pretty well known. The hidden gems, and there are two, is the foyer of the building, which has the most amazing mosaic ceiling, and the fact that this picture was taken at 10.15 at night with a poor standard camera phone. The length of the day in Glasgow in summer is a real bonus for tourists and adds so much to the enjoyment of the city. The six hour days of barely twilight during winter suck! ๐Ÿ™‚

And the final hidden gem of Glasgow is looking up. A lot of tourists prefer the architecture of Edinburgh because it is more traditionally beautiful. But that is only because they fail to look up when they are in Glasgow. Street-level in Glasgow reflects its much more working-class origins. But if you lift your head you’ll find a whole new aspect. This, this and this are examples from some pretty normal buildings in a hundred metre stretch of the Buchanan Street Mall, while this is an old library in the East End. But check out places like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and you can really see what I mean! ๐Ÿ™‚

Actually I lied, the final gem is how Glasgow does its museums. They tend to have a very unique way of making museums accessible to everyone. I remember a display once of a Stormtrooper from Star Wars in the Kelvingrove Museum. The explanation went on very seriously about how they were the elite forces of the Empire, specially trained etc. etc., but finished off by saying ‘But for all this training there is no record of them ever having hit anyone’. ๐Ÿ™‚ And at the new Riverside Museum, which house the old Transport Museum, this is how they display the cars and bikes. Sorry about the quality of the pictures. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

It’s a pity they couldn’t Transform it into a good movie! :-)

As part of being a good citizen I thought it was my duty to come on and tell the world, DON’T GO AND SEE THE NEW TRANSFORMERS MOVIE!! ๐Ÿ™‚ This movie should have an ‘R’ rating, for the rage you are going to feel at having parted with good money to see it. Or maybe even an ‘X’ rating, cos that is what your language is going to be if you paid the extra to see it in 3D. Iย  mean, when a total stranger (in the target demographic) breaks the guy code of not talking to anyone at the urinal, to tell you how bad it was then it must be very bad indeed! It is only the second movie in my life I have wanted to walk out of. The only reason I didn’t was cos I was with a mate, who, as it turns out, didn’t walk out for the same reason. It was so bad that it has been put in my ‘You have to admire their balls’ section, well, cos you just have to! ๐Ÿ™‚

I really can’t even begin to tell you how bad it was but I am going to anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ The plot was a rambling piece of crap, the acting was awful, it was way too long (nearly 3 hours) and the dialogue was so lame at times that it actually very nearly made the whole experience worthwhile. And, before people jump all over me, this is even with a full understanding that this was just meant to be a rollicking action movie and not a cinematic masterpiece. I watched the first one again during the week and enjoyed it. The sad thing is, with a cast like John Malkovich (what the hell was his kung fu bit with Bumblebee about :-S ), John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong (he of Community and The Hangover fame) et al., there was a real chance for them to make a substantial action movie.

On the plus side the action was typical Transformers good, but not really that much advanced from the first movie, and, well that’s about it really. ๐Ÿ™‚ No wait, at least in the UK they are not into the whole 3D ticket price rip-off. Tickets to 3D movies are the same prices as for 2D. You then pay an extra $1.20 and buy a pair of glasses to keep. Next time you go to a 3D movie you just use the same glasses.

Oh, and the 3D, don’t bother. Once again, in a movie that seems perfect for it, it’s pointless. With all the fighting, flying, shooting etc. not one thing jumps out at you. And is it just me or does 3D just make everything look like cardboard cut-outs? I don’t know what it is, maybe the edges of things are too clearly defined, but it just doesn’t look anything like real 3D.

Btw, while I have you, can you sort something out for me? When 3D glasses make 2D into 3D, are they just adding another dimension or increasing the number of dimensions by 50%? The reason I ask is I want to know whether wearing the glasses in the real world will give me 4D or 4 1/2 D?

Glasgowโ€™s hidden gems : Ep. 2

Episode two in my ‘probably only going to be three’ ๐Ÿ™‚ series of Glasgow’s hidden gems is mainly about parks. Well, almost wholly about parks and what you can find in them. Glasgow, surprisingly enough for anyone who has visited here, has more parks than any other European city. Why this is surprising is that it just doesn’t seem like a ‘park’ kind of city. It is a big, dirty, historically industrial city. It really cleaned its act up in the two decades since it was the European City of Culture in 1990. But sadly the Global Financial Crisis has hit it hard and there are lot of boarded up and under-maintained buildings around. And Glasgow has always had a litter problem, one of it’s unhidden ungems! ๐Ÿ™‚

But I digress. Maybe because of its industrial past, as a way to give people a place to escape to, there are parks everywhere. And in these parks you’ll find lots of hidden gems. Victoria Park has a fossiled forest, Pollok Park has stately Pollok House and the Burrell Collection, hardly ‘hidden’ gems, but it also has the stable for the City Councils team of Clydesdales (you know, the really big horses). And Glasgow Green has the People’s Palace and Winter Garden. Now, again these are hardly hidden gems, they can be found in most guide books. But they are kind of hidden because I think they are under-valued. The Winter Garden is basically a huge greenhouse filled with plants from all over the world, a peaceful haven 10 minutes walk from the city centre. And the People’s Palace is a museum that tells you all about the social history of Glasgow over the past 100 years or so. It is fascinating to experience how tough life was in Glasgow if you were a have-not. As recently as the 1960’s whole families lived in ‘single ends’, basically a kitchen with recess for a double bed. The kids slept on a trundle bed that rolled out from under the main bed and a whole block of maybe 16 single ends shared a single outdoor toilet, or cludgie.

But the real hidden gem in today’s episode is Tollcross Park, a park in a pretty rundown part of the city. Within this park you can find a stately old building, a huge rose garden shaped like a rose (the picture doesn’t do it justice!), another winter garden and a children’s farm with a funky statue of a heilan coo (highland cow). The children’s farm was really interesting cos it was mobbed and it made me realise that kids who spend their lives in the inner city can quite possibly never see these kinds of animal for real, something that we generally take for granted.

Oh, and a real hidden gem about all of these and most of Glasgow’s museums, galleries etc is that they are free to enter. Hundreds of years ago some really insightful city elders decided that art and culture should not just be for those who could afford it.ย  So they placed aย  statute on the city by-laws that means that city-provided cultural facilities must be free for all to enter.

Now, as a special treat, here is a final hidden gem…my shop in Glasgow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Avenue Q – it doesn’t suck to be me, but boy can it be a little strange at times!

I started writing this from my seat (H22 in the Grand Circle, if you are interested) waiting for the curtain to come up on Avenue Q at the amazing old Kings Theatre in Glasgow, having very nearly not made it on time after totally misjudging how far it was to walk there. It seems, after three years away, that my geographical knowledge of Glasgow has slipped a little.

Now this is only really relevant because it very nearly ruined my day. Not that I am such a complete theatre-ite that missing the show would have gutted me but because I am a strange, strange person. For two reasons on this occasion, though my friends would probably suggest there are more.

The first is that, partly as an exercise in spontaneity and partly because, meh,ย  I was a bit ambivalent about going, I had decided to not buy a ticket in advance but to just turn up and see what was available. If I got a ticket, great, if not, no biggie. In fact, if there were no tickets then the decision had been made for me. The thing was the closer I got and the more it looked like I wasn’t going to get there on time the more disappointed I was getting. By the time I got I would have been devastated if I had of missed out. So from ambivalence to desperation to contentment in 10 minutes flat! ๐Ÿ™‚

The second was that I had decided that, for no other reason than it seemed like fun, I was going regale the ticketing person with a totally fabricated back-story as to why I was buying a ticket so late. It was going to be based on the idea that I was only in Glasgow a couple of days, I just happened to be walking past and saw that Avenue Q was on, that I had either been in the Australian production of it or had worked back-stage on the Australian production of it (I hadn’t decided which. Funnily enough, although the whole story was a lie, the ‘being in it’ idea seemed like bragging! ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and, for this reason, had never actually seen it. Oh, and what a fortunate happenstance it was that I had stumbled upon it the day before I flew out of Glasgow. The walk into the theatre was about 50 minutes and I had been developing and rehearsing this scenario for about 40 of those minutes. Up until I realised I was going to miss the show if I didn’t focus and get my arse into gear. In the end I was so rushed and so grateful just to get there on time that I totally forgot the whole back-story idea. And a pity it was too because the lady who served me seemed like she would really have enjoyed it.

As a bit of a side note, I had one of my surreal moments, as I am wont to do, early on in theย  show when it suddenly occurred to me with blinding clarity that the people on stage were only acting and weren’t, in fact, the characters! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the best one of these I ever had was the time I realised that the Klingons in Star Trek weren’t actually aliens but actors with ice cream containers, or such-like, stuck on their heads. But there were other factors involved in that one and it is another story in itself. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, my astounding epiphanyย  didn’t detract from the show at all, in fact it probably made me appreciate it more because it made me more aware of how hard these people were working to put me into a fantasy land that I became totally lost in. And it made me realise that, and here comes the soppy bit, theatre is fun not because of what you can get out of it but because of what you can give to others. Sniff, sniff, I think I have something in my eye! ๐Ÿ™‚