Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Robert Burns 250th Anniversary

As the weather was pretty naff on Sunday, we wandered into Glasgow town centre to do a bit of shopping. It's my birthday soon and Lorna was trying to squeeze some gift ideas out of me. Anyway, that aside, after we'd wandered all over the place and were thinking of heading home we took a detour past George Square as there were some live acts on during the Robert Burns 250th Anniversary celebrations.

Glasgow city ChambersThe "Shortbread Tin" View Of The City Chambers

I'd been in town on Wednesday on a Glasgow Flickr Social Club meetup and had caught a few photos of the projection system setup and fancied seeing the full show as it did look very good. What they had were three projectors throwing images onto the facade of the Glasgow City Chambers building and then images could scroll up and down or left and right so they played a sequence of images accompanied by a voice-over, giving us a summarized life story of the bard along with some of his songs and poetry.

There was also a stage set up and music suppied by the likes of the Phoenix Honda Glasgow Skye Pipe Band and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers to keep the decent sized crowd entertained. Pity we couldn't have stayed a bit longer but it was freezing and we had a haggis to cook for our tea.

Glasgow city Chambers

Photos were taken during the setup as the crowd would have blocked the view.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Quantum Of Solace

WantedWe went to see the latest James Bond movie at the weekend - Quantum Of Solace. Despite the odd title, it's the sequel to Casino Royale (the second one) and starts off from where that finished up. If you haven't seen Casino Royale, then I wouldn't read any further but here's a short description of the plot…
With Vesper gone and the mysterious Mr. White captured, the British Secret Service learns that a previously unknown organization called Quantum has insinuated itself into almost every layer of business and government on the planet, including themselves.

When all the evidence points at Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) as the face of Quantum, Bond (Daniel Craig) goes on a mission of vengeance and even alienates himself from the service and M (Judi Dench).

With Quantum gaining control of seemingly worthless tracts of land around the globe, Bond teams up with a Bolivian girl called Camille (Olga Kurylenko) to try and solve the mystery behind their operation.

The Bond character has definitely changed. Gone is the debonair spy of Connory or Moore's time and in is the licensed thug that is Daniel Craig. Also gone is Q and that is a pity as a visit to the quartermaster always added a little lighter moment to the story. What we have now in these two movies is a much harder, probably more realistic, storyline. There's also a serious lack of sex here as well and, while it was never explicit in previous movies, it was always a given that Bond would get more than his fair share of seduction along the way.

On top of all that there is no really evil arch villain of the piece either. Dominic Greene is more like a corporate leech and he has no huge thug of a henchman to back him up either. He is a pretty cold fish but just lacks that element of seeking global domination that should be the raison d'etre of any Bond villain. Not that all of this is bad, it's just different but it doesn't really seem like a Bond movie so much. To offset this uneasy situation, there's loads of action - roof chases, car chases, boat chases, hand-to-hand fighting, explosions, etc.

Quantum Of Solace is a reasonable sequel to Casino Royale and finished off the story well enough although I suspect they could have squeezed it into one movie easily enough.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
My Rating: 7/10

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Seven Things About Me

I got tagged by my boss's boss's boss in the chain blog meme about listing seven unknown things about yourself that's doing the rounds of the blogging circle. So, here's my seven…
  1. I don't really like football much. For a Scot that can seem pretty unusual but it's a fact and I suppose I'm not really into team sports of any kind. My dad played for Keith when he was younger but I never caught the bug. He took me to the only two football matches that I've been to in my life (Scotland vs Austria and Partick Thistle vs Celtic) and quickly realized that I wasn't that interested. Frankly, standing at one point on the edge of a live match, one sees so little of the gameplay that I didn't see the point of going.
  2. Another notch in the Scottish sports coffin - I'm not a golfer. I'm with Mark Twain on this one - "A good walk ruined". Golfing equipment was simply too expensive when I was a lad and I'm far happier walking over the hills and glens of this marvellous country but anyone that reads this blog will know that already.
  3. I was "Dux Litterarum" of my primary school but never went to university. I've done a few of those online IQ tests and I'm hitting over 140 so I suppose I must be bright enough!
  4. I used to work as an electron microscopy technician in Glasgow University. It was my first job after leaving school at 17.
  5. I like fishing but I'm allergic to fish. I suppose it was all part of that getting outdoors stuff as a kid and I was a pretty good angler but anything I caught and brought home always went on someone else's plate.
  6. I practised Shotokan Karate for a few years and got as far as fourth Kyu but again my anti-competative streak put me off going for higher grades and then marriage and kids kyboshed it completely.
  7. I like watching motorsports - Formula One, Moto GP, WRC, Touring Cars, World Superbikes, etc.
Well that's it for seven things. However, I hate the very concept of chain letters or chain anything so this tag ends here!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Another year dawns and we're all that wee bit older although probably not that wiser. We spent last night in George Square in the centre of Glasgow at the Winterfest Hogmanay celebrations.

We had a few drinks beforehand in O'Neill's bar in Queen Street and then headed into the square via a tortuous route of closed off roads that had everyone enter from the East side. We got in in time for Idlewild kicking off on stage and they were pretty good. Following them was the headline act, Paolo Nutini, who arrived on-stage slightly early and performed all the way through until about 00:30 with a wee break over the bells so everyone could watch the fireworks over the city chambers and do the needful cheering and handshaking anyone that's close stuff.

I'm not sure I'm quite into Paolo Nutini's music, a kind of mix of blues and cajun rhythms with a rock feel, but he gave us a solid performance and had everyone bouncing up and down. The only downside was the fact that the video on the big screen they had up was slightly out of sync with the sound so it looked a bit odd but we were close enough to see the stage so it didn't matter much. He was followed by Blondie tribute band Bleachie who took us up to 1:30 and that's when it all came to an end. It was a pretty good night and everyone seems to have had a good time except for one ejjit we spotted on top of one of the buildings surrounding the square. I think he must have scaled the scaffolding that covered the front of the block to get up there and prance around but the police had spotted him as well so I expect they were waiting when he came down.

It was a ticket-only do as in previous years but this time they ripped us off for £15 each and with an estimated 10,000 attending, someone made an awful lot of money. Not bad for an event that used to be free.