Edinburgh: The culmination to my aMOZing weekend

Edinburgh Expeditions

‘What would Edinburgh be without the rain? Who knows, but it wouldn’t be Edinburgh!’ Morrissey proclaimed during his show Monday night at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.

If it wouldn’t be Edinburgh without the rain, it wouldn’t be a Morrissey gig without the legion of devoted fans. Amy and I got there pretty early, several hours before the gig was set to start (a note to our professors and families, we did bring work with us). Turns out that we weren’t even close to being the first people there–some had been camping out since 3 am, the hardcores, of which a few of my friends would say I belong to, but which I fervently am not. Though, if I were returning to the States this autumn, I would definitely try and get to his Boston gig and at least one of the NYC gigs.
Yes, I have been bitten by the Moz bug, and after that show it isn’t difficult to see why.

Edinburgh was the gig that Manchester should have been.

The audience was mixed. There were those who have followed Morrissey since The Smiths, hipster kids in skinny jeans and knotted hair, parents and children, everyone else imaginable. Whilst queuing, we swapped stories of the Manchester gig and discussed vegetarianism–I am not a veggie and probably couldn’t be one, I like chicken too much. I did attempt it for the weekend, though.

I ended up in the second row, which was fantastic! The floor was far more subdued than in Manchester, filled with energy but not nearly so dangerous. There were still flying arms, all grasping to reach Morrissey’s hand, but the elbows and bodies did not fly around so much.

Morrissey himself was brilliant. Witty, engaging, his voice even stronger than in Manchester. You would never have realized it was the last night of the tour. He sounded fresh (though looked a little knackered to start).

As I’ve said earlier, there is something visceral about his music. It hits me in the gut. I find that I can relate to his lyrics, perhaps more than any other musician. Seeing him sing live, with all of the emotion in his voice–there was nothing else I needed. It was the sort of show where time stood still, life was on hold. Captivating, entrancing, wholely part of something.

That’s the thing I love about fantastic gigs. The music transcends social barriers, and together, the audience, the musicians, become part of something bigger. United for a few hours by a common love–the music.

Edinburgh captured this more perfectly than any gig I had previously been to–and I’ve been to some fantastic gigs. The sound, the power, the emotion.

The encore (“How Soon is Now?”) was incredible. People launched themselves over the barriers, keen to hug Morrissey, to shake his hand, to be a more active participant in the night. The chaos, the excitement, the cheers, the voices raised to match Morrissey’s, could never be described perfectly, only experienced.

Who knows if I will ever have another weekend like this one. But I certainly will be at another Morrissey gig, standing on the floor, my hand raised to shake his.


(C) Bethany Wolfe

Balkan is the new punk.

Edinburgh Expeditions

“You might want to change your shoes,” a friend said to me.
I looked down at my ballerina flat clad toes. “Combat boots then?”
She nodded. “Combat boots. Have you never been to Balkanarama before?” Seeing me shake my head, she continued, “The dancing is a bit like being in a mosh pit.”

Despite my (joking) claims that I was a punk in a former life (can’t help it, I have a soft spot for ’70s punk music) , pogoing and moshing have been two styles of dancing I’ve never been particularly keen to try. Needless to say, that’s exactly what I was going to attempt, I just didn’t know it at the time.

Balkanarama is a popular club night in Edinburgh. It features, surprise, Balkan music, both live and DJed. I hadn’t listened to Balkan music at all prior to Thursday night, when I ran into two-thirds of Bobok serenading my friends. When I got a text from another friend suggesting that we go on Saturday, I was completely on board.

What I found at Studio 24 (an independent club just off of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile) was not what I expected–in a good way. I had no idea what would be waiting for me, not only where the club was (we got ever so slightly lost, ending up on Calton Hill and looking down on the club rather than standing right by it), but what it would be like inside. Two floors, of which I only made to the first; reasonably priced beer (a can of Red Stripe for £3); some seats near the bar, and a pulsing pit of dancers in front of a live music stage.

I took a swig of my beer and looked to my friend. We both looked to the pit, to each other, and nodded. The loud, blistering sound of violin, accordion, trumpet and percussion greeted us, along with the undulating mass of bodies and reek of sweat. The pit was sweaty, smelly and alive.

Alive sums up Balkanarama. There’s something about bouncing up and down to energetic music, bumping into those around you, somehow ending up right by the stage, dancing like a madman and being knocked against the metal railing. Something wonderful, endorphin-inducing. I had a massive smile on my face even when we left, sometime after the band Smash Kafana left the stage.

As we wandered home, we said, ‘why on earth had we not gone there before?’

I’ll surely be at Balkanarama in coming months, still in my combat boots.

Harry Potter and the Disappointing End

General Geekiness

Here there be spoilers.

I wanted so badly to love Deathly Hallows, Part II. I really did. My friends all proclaimed their love for the movie, have seen it multiple times, and assured me that I, too, would love the movie.

I didn’t.

Yes, there were portions of the film that I really enjoyed–the Pensieve sequence being one, Helena Bonham Carter as Hermione Polyjuiced to be Bellatrix, and the visual effects (the dragon in Bellatrix’s Gringott’s vault, Voldemort turning to ash) but I felt the film was lacking.

Firstly, there was no true beginning. It just sort of started. I recognize that it was the second part of a book. But the structure was missing. As such, I felt it was very anti-climatic.

Within its structural issues, I felt that there was little sense of character. The Golden Trio, Neville, Snape, yes, but everyone else felt like cameos and nothing more than that. I was waiting for Trewlaney’s moment of awesome, when she chucks crystal balls at Death Eaters. Nonexistant. Fred’s death failed to have any emotional impact on me. Hagrid was…weak. Boring. He didn’t seem phased with Harry’s “death.”

Secondly, its too damn long. I love battle scenes as much as the next girl, but seriously. These are too long. I don’t want to watch a two hour battle scene. Its part of the reason why I don’t like The Two Towers all that much. Honestly, though, not enough happens to make it a compelling battle scene. There is no story to it, only fighting. The quest for the final horcruxes feels almost secondary, it detracts from the fighting, which has taken precedence.

Finally, it was unnecessary. I can hear people screaming, “what? why? we need to know how it ends!” Well, as a film, it was unnecessary. Deathly Hallows Part I could have been forty-five minutes longer, cut down on the ‘and we’re walking’ portions of the movie, and the final battle could easily have been included. Edited, of course. I gladly would have sat through a three hour Deathly Hallows, so long as it was well paced and engaging. The thing that hurts the most is that it could have been a fabulous single movie, the pieces are all there, but two mediocre halves do not a good movie make.

Love, Literature, and Potato Peel Pie

What's On the Bookshelf?

The preceding post in the AW Book Blog Chain is Fictional: Lurker in the Dark and Others and the following can be found at Random Writerly Thoughts.

For a couple of weeks, every time I spoke with my mom she urged me to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. “It’s about WWII,” she told me. “It takes place on Guernsey during the Nazi occupation.”

Being a sucker for all things related to the UK and WWII, I gave in over Thanksgiving break.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society begins with Juliet Ashton, a writer, receiving a letter from a founding member of the titular Society. Juliet decides to write an article about the society (for a philosophy and literature series) and begins to receive more letters from Guernsey. She determines that the best way to write the article is to go to Guernsey itself.

The book is written in a different fashion–various lines of correspondence between Juliet and the other characters, such as her publisher, best friend, and the people of Guernsey. Through the letters, notes and telegrams we get a sense of who these people are. Their thoughts are intimate and thoroughly engaging.

One thing that I enjoyed is the care the authors put into developing individual voices for each of the characters. Some write only one or two letters, yet sound distinctive from the others. This aids with the realism of the book. One can’t help but feel like one is spying on these people, yet also feel like they are friends (or acquaintances at the least).

The story is one that is alternatively light and dark. The tones the characters write to each other in are humorous and self-deprecating. On numerous occasions I started laughing out loud. As the book is about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, the story becomes serious at times, but never loses its charm.

It saddens me that letter writing has fallen by the wayside for email, facebook and twitter. Fifty years from now, will anyone write a story in a similar manner about people like us? Emails lack that personal feel. Will an entire book be told over tweets? It strikes me as a bit ridiculous, really (if a fun poetry experiment).

All said, this is a charming book. Recommended for those looking for a feel-good novel (it does have a very happy ending!). Light, enjoyable, and worth the few hours it takes to read. Best enjoyed with a continuous stream of tea and digestive biscuits.

Lost Wanderer
Vein Glory
Shethinkstoomuch –  That’s me!
Lady Cat – http://randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com
Rosemerry – http://beyondtourism.wordpress.com/


On The History Boys

General Geekiness

Well, what can I say? Despite the touchy subject matter, I spent the entire time watching this movie with a smile on my face.

For those who haven’t heard of this movie, it’s about a group of boys studying for their exams to enter Oxford or Cambridge. Of course, life lessons abound. Not so much. More, the characters deal with sex, life, growing up, and exams. Their teachers, from the eccentric closeted-homosexual Hector to the atypical Oxford alum Irwin to the sole female Lintott, try to push them forwards and into these Universities.

While this film can’t be described as a “great one,” it is certainly very good. The characters all had their various facets, even if they weren’t the main focus, which many films (and certainly books) can’t attest to. The acting was very good.

My favorite scene was the final one–not because it was the last one (as can be said in the cases of some movies), but because I felt it was an interesting and effective way to do the “and then what happened” so common at the end of movies.

Watch it if you’re looking for something entertaining, well done, and different.

Of course, I haven’t seen the play yet. Hopefully a production will be staged near me in the not-so-distant future, so I can rectify the situation.