Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Five Batshit Things You Never Knew About Marvel Comics

Thought you knew everything there is to know about Marvel comics? Think again, true believer.

Sgt Fury's treacherous French commando

Marvel's wartime adventure comic Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos featured a cast of stereotypical Allied soldiers, from southerner 'Rebel' Ralston to bugle-playing jazzman Gabe Jones, and even a plummy Englishman called Percival 'Pinky' Pinkerton.

Later plans were to include charming Free French commando 'Toutou' Lefevre, but when the editor read the script for the next issue, called 'Something Smells Vichy', in which Toutou was revealed to be a ratfink Nazi collaborator, the character was quietly dropped for fear of upsetting French readers.

Of course, they need not have bothered as no self-respecting French person has ever read a Marvel comic, preferring to read crap about freakishly strong Gauls and Scrooge McFuckingDuck.

The Fantastic Four Christmas album

Many people remember the Spider-Man album Rock Reflections of a Superhero from the 70s, but few know that it was actually Marvel's second foray into the world of music. Back in 1965, as Marvel mania was on the rise, they brought out The Fantastic Four's Christmas Singalong, an album of original festive songs supposedly recorded by the cast of the Worlds Greatest Comic Magazine themselves.

Tracks included the crooning Ever-Loving Blue-Eyed Christmas, the romantic Reed, My Lips and the oddball Mole Man's Holiday. The true identities of the singers and musicians involved remain unknown, though popular belief has it that they were written by a young Neil Diamond, who rather than accepting payment, asked that Marvel use his likeness when they finally unmasked the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #39.

Ant-Man vs Clammm

Just as many early Fantastic Four issues pitted the fabulous quartet against the sort of giant monsters that were Marvel's standard antagonists prior to the superhero boom, so too did their costumed stablemates face a bizarre gallery of titanic foes, and none came stranger than Clammm the Man-Mollusc who was pitted against the heroic Ant-Man in an early issue of Tales To Astonish.

Hailing from 'Dimension B', the gigantic ambulatory clam was intent on devouring all of Earth's cereal crops, thus clearing the way for his people to 'conquer Earth with our fast-growing space algae!'. Fortunately the quick-witted Ant-Man spotted a pattern in the malevolent mollusc's attacks and defeated him in a bit of trademark trickery. Noticing that Clammm always avoided eating wheat crops, he commanded his loyal ant swarms to 'disguise these wheat fields as corn!' using tiny ant-sized paintbrushes, thus giving the belligerent bivalve a terrible case of acid reflux which literally cooked the gluten-intolerant Clammm from the inside.

Trucks, Robots and coloured lights

Whilst readers may remember the comic versions of popular toys like Micronauts and the Shogun Warriors, they may not be aware that these were far from the only children's games to be given the mighty Marvel treatment. Tonka! featured a gang of orphans who discover a crashed spaceship full of intelligent - and highly durable - trucks who had rebelled against their masters, aliens intent on making Earth part of 'Space Highway 919'.

Then there was Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, in which two mismatched Earthmen find their minds beamed across the galaxy into the bodies of gladiator robots. Streetwise Benjamin Franklin Jones and bookworm Harold van Hague must work together if they are to break free and fight their way home.

A proposed comic based around the game Simon, in which a succession of ordinary people gain different powers according to the sequence of coloured lights they press on the electronic toy, never got further than the planning stage.

The Rampant Hulk

A notorious image of an apparently naked incredible Hulk in the full throes of arousal very nearly made it to the newsstands, when idiosyncratic bullpen finisher Wink 'The Ink' Benderberg, at the time going through an acrimonious divorce, suffered a complete mental breakdown whilst inking an issue of 1970s team book The Defenders.

The original splash page, as drawn by the penciller, was to have shown the Hulk being swarmed by the Nebulon the space guru's Bozo minions, with the accompanying dialogue, 'PUNY CLOWN-FACES! HULK WILL SMASH YOU ALL! AND SPARKLY YELLOW SILVER HAIR MAN TOO!', with the jade giant wearing his trademark torn purple pants. But by the time a wild-eyed Benderberg had finished with it, the trousers had been removed to reveal a fully rampant Hulk batting the oncoming Bozos away with a sweep of his foot-long gamma-engorged manhood.

Fortunately the offending artwork was spotted during printing and every single copy of The Defenders issue was pulped. Benderberg was immediately fired and never worked in comics again, though he can sometimes be glimpsed at comic cons, offering to recreate his infamous 'Erectable Hulk' for $5 a sketch.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Sons of Pitches: Secret Wars

Warning: contains satire.

If you’re a bit of a comic fan like me, you’ll be aware that Marvel are currently running a massive months-long publishing event called Secret Wars, in which characters and settings from the company’s enormous back-history have been resurrected, remixed and repackaged to appeal to the incurably geeky such as myself. Much of these titles feel a little like fan-ficky to me, so if Marvel’s creators can get away with it, so can I.

Below are a few of my own suggestions for Secret Wars titles, many of which dredge up characters and storylines from the very dustiest corners of the Marvel Universe(s). A few of these would, I think, genuinely make for decent short-lived series, whilst others are simply ham-fisted attempts to chase various demographics. As I say, contains satire.

Unnamed Warriors of Lapsed Intellectual Property

Starring the Shiny Spaceknight! The Little Guys from the Microverse! And the Three Giant Robots! Together they must face the Nasty Oriental Doctor, the Giant Radioactive Lizard and the evil Space Dude In The Black Armour!

Killraven Loves Patsy

A romantic romp starring the grim future freedom fighter and the fun-loving Hellcat herself, Patsy Walker. In issue #1, the pair must escape a terrifying Martian arena in time to meet Patsy’s parents for dinner.


Suckertown, where mother-lovin’ vampires stalk the streets of the endless Harlem night. A handful of righteous brothers and sisters take a stand against a snow-white sucker by the name of Baron Frost. Starring Luke Cage and Blade; they can’t be bit and they won’t be bought.

Kitty’s Pride-Force

The actually straight Kitty Pryde and her fabulous LGBTQIA friends in one extremely fit rainbow alliance of heroism. Starring Northstar, Lightspeed, Flatman, the original Union Jack and Mighty Destroyer (oh come on - they were totally doing each other), Living Lightning, Hulkling, Wiccan, Rictor, Shatterstar, Karma, Mystique, oh let’s face it half the X-Men, all of the Young Avengers and Hercules who’s actually bisexual.

Probably written by Kieron Gillen.


If it’s good enough for the Thors, it’s good enough for Wolvie. This series feature All The Wolverines doing the dirty jobs that the Thor Corps can’t. Starring grumpy-Jim-Henson-fairytale Wolvie, not-Bogart Patch Wolvie, tragic kimono-wearing Wedding Wolvie, and embarrassing-bone-claw-noseless Wolvie.


Devil-Slayer, Skull the Slayer and the awesome Apeslayer - together for the first time! Warning: contains more bare chests and leather pants than a Jim Morrison tribute act.

What If: Altergasm

This depressing series features every What If scenario taking place simultaneously, from Dark Phoenix immolating the X-Men to Wolverine becoming Lord of the Vampires to Korvac turning the Avengers into his personal sock puppets, while the Watcher sits in the middle of it all, rocking back and forth and tearing his fucking eyeballs out.

A typically upbeat What If ending

I have no words.

As Seen On TV

A realm championed by the 1970s television incarnations of the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Dr Strange and Captain America, in which our small-screen heroes battle low-rent hoodlums, martial artists, evil hypnotists and an inexplicably Italian Red Skull in budget-friendly adventures.

Features thugs being thrown in cardboard boxes, lots of silly string and an embarrassing motorcycling outfit. The special edition of issue #1 contains a bonus bootleg cameo of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four.

Pet Avengers

Lockheed! Zabu! Redwing! Lockjaw! That cat from Speedball! The Frog of Thunder! Even Ms Lion from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends! Super animals fighting for justice and freedom!

The Pet Avengers protect the United States of Animalica from the villainy of the vampiric Hellcow and the Pet Masters of Evil, led by the nazi clownfish Baron Nemo.

Super Family

Cap, Iron Man and Spidey in the sort of team-up Stan Lee never envisioned. This appeals to a certain section of the internet, which you’re just gonna have to google for yourself. Nuff said.

X-Men: An Age Undreamed Of

Crom! Like the other Secret Wars X-titles, this rehashes a classic storyline (Uncanny X-Men #190-191). But unlike those others, this one actually deserves a second visit and expansion from the original. The revived Hyborian sorcerer Kulan Gath has bewitched Manhattan and its inhabitants, transforming everything and everyone into their swords and sorcery analogue, including the X-Men and Avengers.

It’s superheroes in the age of Conan! What’s not to love?

Power Pack: Funland Run

Uncle Jolly's Funland, a land of toys and rides and never-ending cartoons. Where children play all day long and there are no grown-ups to tell them what to do or bother them. Not unless you count meanies like the alien Snarks or the dumb ol’ Boogeyman, who never last long thanks to Funland's very own kid superheroes: Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie - the unbeatable Power Pack!

But when the perpetually grinning Uncle Jolly selects one of the Powers to become his latest ‘special friend’, something doesn't feel right.  The team defy his will and run away from their Orphanage, pursued by the child-catcher Spiral in a desperate race to escape this land of do as you please and find the mythical beings known as Parents.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Semi-Final Destination

So I mentioned last week that an over-running gig at the Edinburgh Fringe had resulted in a slight injury for the Ocelot. Here's the full sorry story:

I'm at the Blind Poet pub with Mr CJ Hooper to see the highly entertaining Deborah Frances-White perform her Friend of a Friend of Dorothy gig. As long-time readers will be aware, the Ocelot's Fringe timetable is a thing of intricate precision and beauty, cramming the maximum amount of shows into every day. This sort of thing takes - in the words of Jack Burton - crackerjack timing, with just enough time in between shows for me to get from venue A to venue B. On this occasion I have 30 minutes from the end of this show to start of the next - The Lost Hancocks - across town in the Assembly Rooms, which is just about enough time.

So when her show gets to the 1 hour mark and she's still talking, I start to get nervous. When it's 5 minutes over and she's halfway through a Jehovah's Witness story, I really start to panic. But when you're sat in a brightly lit pub bar with the performer between you and the exit, there ain't no way you can leave without looking like a grade A tool. So I sits and I panics.

Suddenly she stops and asks the time. She gasps in shock. Evidently the clock behind the bar, which she's been using to time her show, is woefully slow. Hence the padding out of her set with the JW material. She is both apologetic and understandably annoyed, as she really wants to get to the end of her story. So she she goes on for another 5 minutes.

I am now 10 minutes late. I bid goodbye to CJ and bolt from the pub, jogging down to the main road phoning Herself to explain the delay and simultaneously scanning the street for an available taxi.

Nada, they're all occupied. I reach the main road, still jogging. About 18 minutes to get across town. I could probably do it if I ran all the way, but Edinburgh is not the flattest of cities, and August not the quietest of months. The streets between me and my destination are thick with Fringe-going crowds and tourists.

Still looking for a taxi, I trot over to a traffic island near the Pleasance Dome off Potterrow, looking over one shoulder. My feet don't get the message from my brain to keep going in one direction and I stumble. One, two three breakneck steps, with my body lurching further toward the horizontal with every tottering footfall. And then I hit pavement.

I strike hands first, so my fall is more or less broken, but it's a jarring impact on my palms all the same. I tumble to the ground on one shoulder like a drunken judo fighter and then roll up onto my feet almost immediately, even as thoughtful flyerers and passerby rush to my aid. I attribute my speedy recovery as much to the power of embarrassment as my cat-like reflexes.

Staggering on, and finally getting a taxi, I have time to examine my wounds: two grazed palms, a worrying ache in the wrists and - as I later discover - a snapped bracelet. I was probably quite lucky to have avoided more serious woundage. All thanks to a slow clock. And my inability to keep one foot in front of the other.

That sorry incident put me in mind of another story, not so very long ago, in which the law of unforeseen consequences also struck, with moderately unpleasant results for the Ocelot. Such incidents are leading me to suspect that the universe is doing its best to slightly maim me through an increasingly Byzantine series of unfortunate events. It's a bit like the Final Destination films, but with Horrific Death replaced by Minor Disfigurement And Inconvenience. I call this story

The Curse of the Pox Mother

Warning - this story contains unpleasant bodily humours

I notice a tiny lump on my head, possibly an insect bite picked up while visiting Birmingham. This is by no means an indictment of that redoubtable city's track record on pest control. I am certainly not suggesting that the delightful B&B in which I overnighted was host to Bloodsucking Head Bugs. Oh no.

The tiny lump gets scratched. I admit it. I'm a scratcher. It gets infected, I guess, and gets a bit bigger and doesn't go away. After 5 days I am persuaded by Herself to get down to the doctors' and get it checked out. Those of you familiar with the 'start phoning at 8am and keep redialling for the next hour until you get through' style of GP booking protocols will appreciate the funtimes I had that Friday morning.

But I get through eventually, and by using the magic words 'urgent' and 'infection', I manage to get in to see someone that morning. One of the prescribing nurses, as it happens, which is to say a nurse who can deal with minor cuts and bruises and who can prescribe medications of the painkilling and anti-infectional variety. Just what I need.

I get to the GP clinic and sit down in the waiting room. 5 minutes to go for my appointment. So why are there so many people ahead of me?

The answer becomes clear when a woman emerges from the consulting room, child in one arm, phone in the other hand. Thanks to her stage whispered conversation with - I presume - her mate, it is apparent that she is unhappy with the service she is receiving from the prescribing nurse. Something to do with 'not getting a letter'.

She paces up and down the corridor in obvious annoyance. Then she turns and I get a good look at her child's face. He's covered in chicken pox. Not late-stage crusty chicken pox, no. The early very-infectious little red spots sort of chicken pox. Thanks for bringing your poxy kid in for the rest of us to enjoy, lady.

A doctor is called in to mollify the Pox Mother, who we can hear raising her voice from within the consulting room once more. Eventually, after some 20 minutes of haranguing, she leaves, red-faced and irritable, not unlike her child. I am then called in to see the nurse.

Of course, health care professionals are supposed to be, well, professional, but she is clearly rattled. Being the sort of Friend To All Mankind that you know the Ocelot to be, I make sympathetic noises and surmise from the nurse that the Pox Mother was trying to secure a letter of transit for the child to board a plane (not unlike the plot of Casablanca), despite being highly chicken poxy. By all accounts she became verbally abusive to the nurse and left the good woman in something of a distracted state.

Just how distracted I would not appreciate until many days later.

So she has a quick look at my bonce, writes a prescription for antibiotics and sends me on my way. Our entire appointment has probably taken but 3 minutes, 2 minutes of which were taken up with me sort of apologising for the behaviour of the Pox Mother who preceded me, because I am British and that is what we do.

I gets me antibiotics and I starts taking 'em, confident that the nasty infection will soon go away, as such things do.

A few days later I am in the hairdressers, getting a very expensive hair colouring treatment from a nice young man with a tiny tattoo of a pair of styling tongs behind one ear. This detail is by no means important but it is a lovely little touch to my real life tale. In retrospect, I probably should have cancelled the hair appointment and avoided exposing my aggrieved scalp to a chemical bath of ammonia and chromonite (I made that one up), but I was well into my antibiotics course now; surely the infection was clearing up?

Only it wasn't. It was getting worse. By now the lump had swollen up under my hair like a tiny volcano, oozing and aching as it stretched the skin. It wasn't getting better, and I was beginning to worry. But not enough to actually go back to the doctor's because I didn't want to make a fuss (see 'being British' above).

Eventually it is 2 weeks after the initial Birmingham Bug Bite and Mount Ocelot is still growing. Not only that, but we are now driving to the lovely Shropshire town of Ludlow for a week away with the parents. The weight of the lump on my head is probably causing my head to loll on one side; it feels like I could be claiming child benefit for it.

Fortunately, where my head is addled with ooze and Britishness, Herself's is clear with take-chargeness and peculiar ability to get things done on behalf of someone else who is too sheepish to sort themselves out. Using the Power of the 21st Century, she uses her smartphone to locate the nearest minor injures unit to our holiday destination, and directs me there as soon as we have decamped the parents at the holiday home.

There, on a quiet Saturday evening, we find the hospital practically deserted apart from ourselves and a couple of lovely ladies of the nursing variety. I go straight in and plop down in an amazing reclining chair that is - wonder of wonders - actually made for an adult over 5'6", unlike the local dentist's chair, which is permanently configured for the more compact patron. How my back aches after a long scrape of me molars.

But I digress. The nurses take a look at Mount Ocelot and proclaim that it is not infected, but full of pus. A very large amount, as it transpires. It is the source of my discomfort and needs to be dealt with promptly. At which point the senior nurse places the palms of her hands on either side of my scalp and gives me a good squeeze.

I would like to say that at this point there is an audible pop and we are all showered with vileness, like Humpty Dumpty cracking his head, but in reality I at least am spared the horrors of the squeezing. The nurses, professionals that they are, do not blanch at whatever John Hurt in Aliens imagery that confronts them a few inches above my eyes. Doubtless they've seen worse on a Saturday night.

I am sent away with a small bandage clamped to my wounded scalp and reassurances that it has all been cleaned out now and will start to heal properly from now on. But all is not 100% well. There have been casualties in this sorry tale, to wit: a small fistful of hair, about the size of an old 50p piece which perforce had to be wrenched out by the nurse in the squozing process. I am left with a bald patch and must now artfully sweep my remaining locks over the bare expanse like a young Bobby Charlton attempting his first combover.

This follicular folly would not have been necessary if the first nurse I went to hadn't been so distracted and she in turn would not have been so distracted had it not been for the monomaniacal efforts of the Pox Mother to get her sweet little Patient Zero aboard whichever hapless flight she was intent on.

Perhaps I do the Pox Mother a disservice. Perhaps she absolutely had to get little Jack on the plane to see an ailing granny, or to get that vital bone marrow transplant he needs in Sweden. But if he didn't, if it was just for a bloody week by the pool in bloody Spain, then you owe me, lady, you owe me a fistful of hair.

* * *

Or maybe this is just how all accidents occur, if we but took the time to analyse how they came about. Where I see cosmic malevolence and catastrophic butterfly effects, there may simply be random chance and the rubbishness of humans. You decide.

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Awards

Screw the Perrier Awards or whatever they're called these days. The Golden Ocelots are the true mark of Fringe fame or failure.

Most resounding endorsement from a flyerer

"Me mam’s seen it. She said it was alright."

Most tenuous ornithological segue from a flyerer

"Excuse me, are those seagulls printed on your backpack?"
"Um, no, they’re swallows."
"Oh, not seagulls?"
"No, you see the forked tails…"
"Only we’re doing a production of the last act of Chekov’s The Seagull and I thought you might like to see it."

Most redundant recommendation from a flyerer

"He’s quite famous"

Most slappable face on a poster

Baldy leather kilt wearer Craig Hill: Playing With My Selfie, for the second year running.
Runner-up goes to Carl Donnelly: Jive Ass Honky, for the sheer ubiquity of his moody makeover mug on every bloody lamppost in town.

The Lee Evans Award for Sweatiest Performer

The Story Beast, who managed to sweat right through his raincoat. God knows what state it’ll be in by the end of the month.

Swankiest eating experience

Jamie's restaurant in the Assembly Rooms. You can sit at a wee table on your own and not look like a complete Johnny No-Mates. Especially if you are wearing a made-up Fringe lanyard and are trying your best to look like a hard-working performer in between gigs.

Worst pub service

Has to go to the bearded , somewhat Scandinavian barman at the Blind Poet on West Nicholson Street who pointedly ignored me in favour of several later patrons standing directly in front of him, and who ensured his award by snapping at a nice lady who asked if he could put the music back on. Beardy Scando Barman, you can just bum right off.

Most disappointing tea

The ash grey tepidity served at the Nation Museum of Scotland.

Yummiest biscuit

The heart-shaped shortbread sold at the Modern Art Gallery.

Comfiest seats

The armchairs in one of the Gilded Balloon bars.
Honourable mention to the chaises longues at Madamoiselle Macaron.

Worst seats

The cramped chairs in the Paradise In The Vault, a glorified corridor. When the guy in front of me sat down he almost dislocated both my kneecaps.

Most overrated show

One Man Breaking Bad: the unauthorised parody. Love of the source material cannot make up for lack of pace and precious few chuckles.

Favourite shows (in no particular order)

Jon Ronson: So You've Been Publicly Shamed (talk)
Tom Neenan: The Andromeda Paradox (comedy)
Blam! (physical)
The Story Beast (comedy)
The Rattlesnake's Kiss (theatre)

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Day Seven

Friday 14th August 2015

Last day. Being typed up while waiting for taxi to take us to Waverley Station. Slight sad face.

Camden Comedy

Whistle Binkies, Niddry Street

Finally we get round to seeing our good chum and flatmate Mr CJ Hooper, performing at the midday Camden Comedy slot, hosted by nice Alistair Sadler. A very pleasant showcase of gentle(ish) comedy from single mum Cally Caroline Beaton and the manic James Ross.

I specially saved my last clean pair of superhero socks (Thor, since you're asking) to flash at CJ during his set, but he trumped me with a surprise reveal of his Jesus socks. Though I'm pretty sure Thor could take Big J in a fight.

Pippa Evans: There Are No Guilty Pleasures

Bannerman's, Niddy Street

Seem to have spent a lot of our Fringe this year in various subterranean pubs under Niddry Street. If a nuclear apocalypse or attack of ravening bird-people were to strike, this would have been the ideal time.

Anyway, Pippa 'her off of Radio 4' Evans is very good. Bags of energy, excellent accents, lots of interaction with the audience but not in a horrible way. She improvised a song about Herself being a physio, and seems an all round jolly good entertainer.

All The King's Men presents: Radio Gaga

C, Chambers Street

Smooth all-male a capella from a talented young group (though this is their 6th year at the Fringe). I prefer a mixed boy/girl a capella meself, but will - if pushed - take all men over over all women. Oo-er.

Stand-out performances from - and here I apologise for not getting their real names - Ginger Falsetto, Tiny Beatboxing Sinatra and Young Gay Tony Hadley.

One Man Breaking Bad: the unauthorized parody

Gilded Balloon, Teviot

Actually not that great, Considering this is the show's 2nd year year, I expected something better from American performer Miles Allen. Tighter, faster, funnier. The voices are good, especially Mike and Gus, but the parody tag is a little optimistic; in many way the show is simply a summary of each season with a few chuckles. I laughed about 4 times - not a great giggle score. Maybe I've been spoilt by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, Stars Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes etc.

I've seen a few ropey performances this year, which I've gently omitted, mainly coz I'm a softie and in my dreams all the Fringe performers are reading my every word, but they were generally in the 10-minute free fringe slots, not the 1-hour, 2nd year, £15 a head, packed debating room in the Gilded Balloon shows. Don't believe the hype. 

Museum After Hours - Friday Fringe Takeover

National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street

3 hours of evening entertainments around the lovely restored Victorian museum. There were three stages, showcasing acts from across the Fringe: dance, music, comedy, science and poetry. Also we got to wander round all the exhibits at night. Sadly none of them were a sexy animated Amelia Earhart from Night At The Museum 2.

My highlights: 

  • Retro gramophone DJ, Lord Holyrude, spinning some lovely 20s tunes. Nice checked suit too.
  • Dr Caroline Watt, of the Koestler parapsychology unit, Uni of Edinburgh, debunking some basic psychic/magic tricks.
  • Dan Simmons, nerd poet - I had to help him out by explaining Open Beta testing and Rube Goldberg devices to the audience. Honestly. Kids today.
  • SEED - awesome Japanese drumming from a bunch of pretty young men dressed as Dragonball Z characters. Drumming you can feel in your wobbly bits.


For the last time.

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Day Six

Thursday 13th August 2015

Right, time to bring this bitch of a blog to heel. Let's see if I can do this one in under 30 minutes.


Now That's What I Call Stand-Up #2

Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street

Shit. Fringe website still loading. My speedblog falters at the very first hurdle. C'mon you toss- ah. There.

The Blind Poet and The Counting House next door are the heart of the Free Fringe. This is our first visit there this year. We manage to miss CJ's set - not on purpose, honest! - but do catch MC Gary 'from Harlow' Shaw introducing Harry U Eldritch.

The well-dressed Harry looks and sounds a little like Will Self in a skinny suit. His material's pretty full-on; he was notably followed out of the late night Wrong Comedy gig earlier in the week by irate fellows incensed by his Jesus/gay material. We joined him, Gary and the others for a cuppa at the Mosque Kitchen afterwards and he seemed perfectly human though. Certainly not worthy of beating up for making a joke.

09:45 shit shit shit.


Went in to the notorious Dead Head Comics, now just two doors down from the Poet. Bought nothing as it doesn't really seem to sell new comics, just back issues and selected collections. Same misanthrope is running the place though.


CJ and I ate jam doughnuts for lunch. I only wanted one, honest. But Herlelf had ducked into a Sainsbury's on the walk into town... and you can guess the rest.

Better. Go go go

Deborah Frances-White: Friend of A Friend Of Dorothy

Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street

The other reason for me hanging around the Blind Poet was to see the lady who devised Voices in Your Head (reviewed the last two years). This year I'm trying to catch her stand-up, about her relationship with gay men.

Like many acts here, she first asks the audience who came here as a result of flyering. Not many. Which is the usual answer in my experience. Sadly I don't get the chance to show just how very Planned Months In Advance my booking of her show was.

Given the subject matter, he does a quick straw poll of the audience to see who's L, who's G, who's B and who's T. I am a two-fer. Yay me. Usually I keep schtumm but I figure this is a safe environment, and indeed it is.

failure imminent, failure imminent

Now, I have just half an hour between the end of the D F-W gig and that start of the Hancock show all the way across town at the Assembly Rooms. D F-W overruns horribly; a faulty clock behind the bar the cause, and ultimately of me injuring myself in The Ocelot's Mad Dash thereafter.

More on this law of unintended consequences in another blog. Suffice to say I now have some interesting indentations on my palms (stop that) where I violently interfaced with the pavement outside the Pleasance Dome.

The Missing Hancocks: Live In Edinburgh! (Show A)

Assembly Rooms, George Street

Apparently they found the scripts for four long-lost episodes of Hancock's Half-Hour. This show recreates two of them on stage, as if it were the original live recording. We get there just in time (see above) to see The Winter Holiday and New Year Resolutions.

Dire warning team...

Kevin McNally is a spot-on Hancock, as is Robin Sebastian as Kenneth Williams (appropriately milking his part for the audience), Susy Kane as Andree Melly (perfectly capturing that bizarre cut-glass heroine voice you only hear from Hancock's Andree or Paul Temple's Steve), and Alex Lowe does a cracking Bill Kerr. Simon Greenall (him off of I'm Alan Partridge) isn't a very good Sid James though - when everyone else in the cast is spot-on vocally, he is merely passable. Even Herself does a better Sid-laugh than him.

The Gin Chronicles

artSpace @ St Mark's, Castle Terrace

Tch. Ah well. Might as well finish now.

Clearly inspired by the excellent Fitzrovia Radio Hour, capturing the golden era of British radio drama, this is an entertaining pastiche of a 1940s serial, with a small cast (the Misfits of London) appropriately clad in formal wear covering all the roles.

Luke Lamont as Hugbacon - the chap on the foley (sound effects) desk - does a cracking job throughout, and I rather liked Helen Foster as go-getting housemaid Doris Golightly, capturing that peculiar 'classically trained actress tries to do working class' accent that you used to hear on 1940s and 1950s drama. Find that black and white Catherine Tate spoof on Life On Mars to see what I mean.

A jolly good show.

Oh, I should also mention that it's held in an actual working church! St Mark's is a Unitarian church staffed by very nice people who have been at the forefront of LGBT rights, same-sex marriage and so forth for years. Well done them.

Tea and Cakes

Honourable mention here to Madamoiselle Macaron on Grindlay Street, where we killed a pleasant 20 minutes before the Gin Chronicles. Herself and I reclined on chaises longues, sipping hot beverages and nibbling tiny wee meringuey things called macarons. I tried to read a bit of the first Harry Potter book which had been translated into French. I think Ron's pet rat Scabber's name in French is Croutard, which I guess translates as Crusty.

Festival Folk at the Oak

The Royal Oak, Infirmary Street

Time to catch some folk music in the Wee Room (and it is very wee) downstairs at the Royal Oak. As ever, it is pot luck who you see on any given night, as we book long before the performers are announced. Tonight it is husband and wife Carol and Alan Prior, she with guitar, he with a nice kinda-Josef Locke voice.

It's very nice as far as it goes, but this particular sort of folk is not entirely my cuppa, being a bit slow and wistful, not having any jolly twiddly dee dee fiddle and being largely sung in near-impenetrable Rabbie Burns Scots - a pidgin tongue I swear was invented and maintained purely to baffle the English.

An honourable mention to the lady who came on first to do a couple of songs. One of her own, about the local No. 37 bus, was very good, and funny. The locals seemed to know it and were all singing along.

We nip out at half time for our next show...

The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

Heroes @ the Hive, Niddry Street

Finally get to see this after a couple of years trying to find the time.


Hosted by John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck, there's something of the Vic & Bob's Big Night Out about it, with the permitted heckles ('I drew you a cat!' 'A noble failure!') and the air of manic glee with which the hosts cavort around, especially Tuck with his table tennis paddles of grammar (don't ask), looking like David Mitchell playing the Penguin.

Lots of good bonkers acts on show here, including the Hoover Woman (Mary Godden) and weird guru Dan Lees, but for my money, the prize has to go to the young man who did a straight 15-minute monologue before the show properly started, rambling on about growing up in his village, with its kite festival and haystacks. His name is apparently Jos Norris, but that could just be the character. I'll try to find him and post a link here.

It's Joz Norris. Thanks to Matt Langley for that.

Oh, and a surprise final-minute rant from supposedly retired-from-comedy Robin Ince at the end. Always a pleasure to see him hunched over and shouting.



Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Day Five

Wednesday 12th August 2015

All has become strange, in the words of the one who wasn't Kim Catrall in Big Trouble In Little China. Days run together and lose their meaning. Mornings are the brief minutes between waking up and tearing out the flat for our first gig.

Once again I find myself in the back half of our Fringe week, with the end in sight laying a slight dampener on the funtimes.


A brief word on apps. The Edfringe app is quite good for reminding us what the actual name and address of each venue is; even with our fastidiously constructed timetable 'pon t-shirt and handy lammie look-up cards, we've only noted down the venue number, not whether it's this pub or that hall, the cellar of this restaurant or the upstairs of that hotel.

Also: the Transport for Edinburgh app, if you can get it to work, is jolly handy for working out which bus one needs to get from A to B. Comes with a handy map and timetable, which is infinitely more helpful than the notices on the actual bus stops, which presuppose that you have a map of Edinburgh in your head and so simply list strange street names.

Both free and worth downloading.

Warning: apps only work if your sad old smartphone has not run out of juice by 4pm after taking far too many photos of Herself drinking various beverages and posting up hilariously captioned pics of baby gherkins. Or that could just be me.

Off the Top

Canon's Gait, Royal Mile

This is the Free Fringe venue where you have to go to the bar beforehand and get a 'token' to allow entry into the gig space downstairs. It's where we failed to get in to see Robin Ince a couple of years back. The tokens this year are little rubber superbouncyballs. I find it very hard to resist bouncing them off walls in the style of Virgil Hits from The Great Escape, and instead attempt to do David Bowie from Labyrinth impressions by rolling them in my palm and going 'Saaarah'.

Anyway, this show features Baba Brinkman, the Canadian rapper who we saw last year do the Canterbury Tales (check out his CD for the Beowulf and Gilgamesh raps). This year he hooks up with his Actual Wife, neuroscientist Dr Heather Berlin, to demonstrate how the brain improvises, which parts are active when, and to lay down a few rap beats along the way.

An older fellow called Bill from the audience does some excellent volunteer rapping as part of the experiments, and both Brinkman and Berlin take turns with brain diagrams, multitasking demos and freestyle rap. A jolly good show.

Our House

I suppose I ought to briefly mention where we've been staying. Our Morningside base camp is a flat in a big ol' building that must be well over 100 years old. The stairs that wind up three floors are worn and bowed substantially in the middle, almost like water's been running down the steps for the last century.

Also the hallways are painted a thick blood red up to head height. It is moderately disturbing, like that deck on HMS Victory.

Sorry - this bit is completely out of chronological order. I told you all has become strange.

Aidan Goatley's 10 Films With My Dad

The Voodoo Rooms, West Register Street

Over the Norloch for me and Herself now. She to see a one-woman Rosetti's Women play, me to see the terribly nice Aidan Goatley put on his 10 Films show for the fifth year. Finally, finally, I get to see it - was too knackered to hike across town last year.

Personally, I loved the show because he's about my age and it's about growing up watching certain films - Jaws, Aliens and the classic football/POW film Escape To Victory. There are some charming video clips of Aidan and his dog 'recreating' movie scenes and some lovely stuff about him and his loud, naval engineer father.

Worth staying around for the credits at the end: there's a recipe for his mum's sponge cake and a bonus dog scene.

Also, he was wearing a Bob Layton Iron Man t-shirt and has lots of cool comic-book tattoos.

Jesus Camp: the Musical

The Newsroom, Leith Street

Time for some more musical fun now. Herself's choice is this comedy about two mismatched American teens clashing (and of course falling in love) at Sarah Chastity's Christian Camp for Kids - a sort of Midwest madrassa.

The two young performers - theatre founders Bethan Francis and Dan Peter Reeves - act and sing in full-on American Musical Nasal Tones admirably well, she especially sounding like the archetypal Broadway Disney heroine. A lovely little show with good songs and tight choreography on a stage the size of the pole-dancing nook in Flashdance.

The newsroom itself is a good place to east and drink, though we are now worried that Herself got the meat haggis with her nachos instead of the veggie version. Make your food order clear, food fans.

Deadly Dungeon Murder Mystery

The Edinburgh Dungeon, Market Street

Our most expensive Fringe ticket this year. A 90-minute private tour of Edinburgh's version of the London Dungeon, framed by a murder that we 'detectives' have to solve. It all starts rather cheesily, with a lisping Holmesian detective Abberline, sporting deerstalker and Harry Potter specs, on the trail of Jack the Ripper (since Edinburgh doesn't have enough killers of its own apparently) with his assistant PC McWatson (ugh), taking us to meet the underworld kingpin Judge Mental, a name that becomes increasing irritating over the next hour and a half.

There is some initial nonsense about members of the audience being accused of silly crimes, then there is a murder and we are led around the dungeon in deep gloom, to meet the various denizens of the Edinburgh underworld and get a few frights from the Dungeon's ghost-train effects. There's a pitch black boat ride, many a flashing light, things dangling in your face and benches that have been rigged to pulsate under one's seated bum in a manner either disturbing or arousing, depending on your taste. Possibly both - distousing?

Among the characters we meet in our search for clues are a torturer, a madam, a mad poisoner woman and cannibal father and daughter Sawney and Bonnie Bean. For my money the performance by the anthropophagous and yet still cute Bonnie Bean was the most creepy and amusing.

It all ends with a summing up of the case, examination of the evidence and the audience voting for their suspected killer. We get it dead wrong. There's also a final twist that we got dead right.

Oh, and there's one of them awful vertical drop rides. The one where you all sit on a long bench thing that chugs up into the air and drops away, leaving your bottom in freefall for a second or two. I fear I may have embarrassed myself somewhat during my descent.

Warning: the whole tour is very gloomy and involves lots of steps and narrow corridors. Combine that with some of the 'disguises' we were issued (in my case an eyepatch) and you're running the risk of walking into something or tripping. There were a lot of elderly people on our tour and I did worry that there might be a breakage or two.

Fourth Monkey's Grimm Tales: The Bloody Countess

Space Triplex, Hill Place

Somehow I've managed to get us to see two different plays about Countess Erzebet Bathory this year. Must be something subliminal, probably to do with my Ingrid Pitt fixation.

This was a new venue for us, halfway between the Pleasance and the Gilded Balloon. Oddly, they did not seem to have a separate backstage for the cast to wait to go on, and it felt weird to be queuing up before the show surrounded by the young people that we were about to watch, especially as they were all in costume but very much not in character at the time.

This is a highly stylised midnight performance in the round from the predominately female Fourth Monkey cast. The black and white tiled floor is dominated by a massive bloody stain and a white bath. There's some nice first-year drama school business with all the cast rolling around in slow motion being trees or something and nice use of red rags to signify the copious bloodletting, reminiscent of the David Glass Ensemble Gormenghast, many years ago.

Costumes are mostly effective, apart from a couple of the chaps in nowt but plain grey shirts, and nice to see lots of different (though almost uniformly batty) female characters driving the story. Gory grand guignol stuff.

Worth noting that a far as I can tell, this same company do 4 different shows every day: Rapunzel, followed by Little Red Cap followed by Hansel and Gretel. And then a late night Bloody Countess. Now that's a proper full working day. 


I picked up a bunch of Secret Wars comics from Forbidden Planet. Amazingly, the one I liked the most was the least likely on first glance - the clumsily title Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies written by veteran James Robinson of Starman fame. 

The biggest let-down was Where Monsters Dwell, written by Garth Ennis and art by Russ Braun; the concept of WWI pilot the Phantom Eagle vs dinosaurs should have been a no-brainer, but the art is only so-so (despite a beautiful cover for #2) and takes about 90 seconds to read.


Have you noticed how I've completely dropped the haiku and poem angle? Yeah, it's too hard. Back to rambling reportage for me.

Today's account has waaay more film references than all the others so far. I am reverting to type.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Day Four

Tuesday 11th August 2015

Jon Ronson: So You've been Publicly Shamed

Assembly Rooms, Princes Street

Went to the excellent Jon Ronson talk on public shaming. They played Uptown Funk before he came on, which made me worry that I'd booked to see entirely the wrong Ronson.

He's so splendidly shuffly and unprepossessing. It feels less like he's putting on a dweeby act to sucker people in, which is the vibe I get from Louis Theroux.

Fascinating stuff about people who said something dumb and then got pilloried online by thousands of strangers, notable Justine Sacco. The democracy of social media turns to mob rule.

There was time for a Q&A at the end, and I'm pleased to say that Ronson's old investigation into the Bilderberg Group, Bohemian Grove and the great stone owl of Moloch came up.

Main thing I took away from this though was that I should not go anywhere near something called 'twitter'. Not even with somebody's else's bargepole.

Kevin McMahon: Quantum Magic

Gilded Ballon, Teviot

A pleasant hour spent in the company of this research scientist turned stage magician. Excellent sleight of hand and misdirection - his card and coin tricks are extremely deft.

The science bits don't always come across so well; perhaps a little dry. Maybe that's just me - it's halfway through our week already and the old brain is starting to calcify. Too many new experiences, not enough RAM.

Nice little bit of 3D specs magic at the end.

I bumped into crime writer Val McDermid as we left the Gilded Balloon. I immediately shook her hand, said I loved the books and especially her radio series on forensics. In retrospect, this may have come over a bit too full-on and I apologise.

She had very cold hands, by the way.

Thrones! The Musical

Assembly George Square Studios

Whistlestop tour through the juggernaut that is the Game of Thrones TV show, brought to us by Baby Wants Candy. A talented cast portrays both rabid GoT fans about to watch the final episode and all the major characters.

Some excellent strong voices and funny songs. I kinda got lost in the 'names of every character you need to know' number, but that's only to be expected.

The white walkers' N-Sync number and Cersei's walk of shame (somewhat reminiscent of a naked Aunty Val in League of Gentlemen) were particular highlights.

Had a particularly fleshy crepe afterwards, and struggled to finish it before its cooling rubbery texture revolted me to my core. When will I learn...

Tom Neenan: The Andromeda Paradox

Pleasance Dome

Having seen his The Haunting at Lopham House (a comic pastiche of MR James and Woman in Black type ghost stories) last year, I really wanted to catch Tom Neenan's one-man parody of classic British sci-fi. And as it mainly spoofs my beloved Quatermass and the Pit, I was so there.

Unassuming scientist with father issues Bernard Andromeda is called to investigate a curious excavation in London's Devils' Crescent tube station. Encountering a plant-loving (no, really loving) German botanist, a loyal female assistant and a cute tiny green thing along the way. He's an excellent physical performer.

My pick of the day for sure. One for my 7TV chums.

Hal Cruttenden: Straight Outta Cruttenden


Not sure what I expected from Hal Cruttenden. I'd heard him doing pleasantly amusing schtick on Radio 4, probably in a lazy quiz-format show where a panel of four comediators are asked a series of open-ended thematic topics and are assigned completely spurious points at the end of each round like anybody cares. But I rant digress.

I rather liked his mixture of straight-camp musings on fatherhood, public school and gangster rap, all delivered with a decidedly cherubic grin. His stance on a particular social media phenomenon (that of annually commemorating a parent's death) is one I heartily endorse.

Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: Minging Detectives

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Now don't get me wrong: I love the Socks. We've seen them many times. And they went down a storm this evening, one woman sat behind us particularly howling with glee.

But I reckon I've seen the act one time too many now - even with new material about TV detectives this year, it is largely the same basic format (of course it is, it has to be) of a sock puppet Abbott and Costello in squeaky voices.

Or it could simply be that it was my sixth show of the day...

Will Seaward: Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories II

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Midnight. So tired now, so very tired. Why did I agree to a seventh show? Why?

Will Seaward's very good. Avuncular, in a Gelliant Gutfright (look it up) sort of way. Everyone else was hooting and loving his comedy tales of silly spookiness. But I was stuck in the very front row, hallucinating with exhaustion and eyelids drooping heavily, longing for bed.

Maybe he could do a spooky 6pm ghost story show for weaklings like me...


Back to base for shortbread and Secret Wars comics.


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Day Three

Monday 10th August 2015

Up with the lark. A fairly late-rising lark. Probably a lark that's been out late trilling and tralalalaing with its mates until all hours and now feels a little fragile.

Time for some Proper Culchure, so armed with a Transport for Edinburgh app (Herself) and a 17-year old city map (yours truly), we say hello to the public bus system and make our way over the Water of Leith to Dean Village.

M C Escher exhibition

Modern Art Gallery

Not a Neil Diamond lyric

Hands, drawing hands
MC Escher in the house
Flat lizard, real lizard, flat lizard
Impossible stairs and Möbius ants
Not a Dutch DJ after all
Nice beard though
Felt queasy walking downstairs after.

Oh, and the gallery cafe, while as stupidly expensive as its counterpart at the National Museum, does a moderately better cup of tea and an infinitely superior shortbread. In your face, National Museum of Scotland.

Trans Scripts


Six actors relate the experiences of real-life transwomen (why no transmen?) from America, Australia and Britain. Written by Paul Lucas.

Each life story is told in fragments, with each performer just doing a few lines at the time, while the others recline. It's very nicely choreographed.

Pretty sure most of the actors are trans themselves. Transactors?

Not sure I like the word trans. It's just a prefix. The grammar nazi in me dislikes it for its incompleteness.

Everyone's tale was different. Some had a fairly easy transition, some continue to suffer. Some are ballsy fighters, some are wounded and suicidal. For some the face and boobs are all important to everyday life as a woman, for others it's all about the vagina. Some want to disappear and go stealth, some are proud to own their differentness out loud. Everyone's got a different path and a different destination. Or none at all.

All in all a good show. I guess it's kind of Vagina Monologuesy. Vaginal Monological?

Spoke to actress Jay Knowles in the Pleasance courtyard afterwards. Mutual complementing of eyelashes and nails. She so pretty though; felt kinda daggy next to her.


Pleasance Grand

While Herself and CJ went off for some magic with Colin Cloud: Kills, I joined the throng for this physical tour-de-force.

All a bit Jacques Lecoq

Time for mime
Four office drones let loose their inner child
A desktop Die Hard
A water-cooler romance
Avengers meets Magic Mike
I left wanting to hurdle a partition

Lazy Susan: Double Act

Pleasance Dome

Good to see the one who looks a bit like Scully and the one looks a bit like Rosanna Arquette for a second year. Lots of silly faces and funny voices. And eating of carrots.

Wasn't sure if the two characters in one of the sketches were South African or Australian though.
They should go far, but I'd hate to see their act ruined by being given a BBC vehicle with proper costume and a full supporting cast. Much of their charm, like a lot of character sketch shows that I like, is down to it being just them and a box full of crap wigs.

Josh Widdicombe joined the queue for the show just after I described him to Herself as the love child of Boris Johnson and Ron Perlman. Perhaps I've discovered a new super-power: Remarkable Comedian Summoning.

The Story Beast


Now, I put John Henry Falle's rough slouching Story Beast down as a must see a long time back after seeing him at McNeil and Pamphilon Go 8-Bit earlier this year (a description of their show may be found here). I urge you to seek out his All The Kings And Queens Of England on YouTube post-haste.

He had me at 'the reign of the Shadow Men'.

Last night's show included a splendid semi-Saxon rendition of Beowulf, some Welsh mythlore that had CJ all of a twitter, an examination of the dire consequences of a literal Teddy Bear's Picnic, and - surrounded by a teeny tiny dollies all over the stage floor, a murder mystery that might best be described as The Doom That Came To Toytown.

Literary references and copious perspiration abound.

The last 10 minutes contain an unexpected bonus of which I shall speak no more.


And so to bed.
Well actually, and so to the last episode of Daredevil, accompanied by biscuits and champagne.

Monday, 10 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Day Two

Sunday 9th August 2015

... and already I fall behind. Curse this mortal frame and its need for sleep. And cups of tea in bed. And frankly bland New 52 collections of Aquaman et al.

A busy day today, though I wisely missed the first gig - A History of Porridge, as it stated at 9 flippin am. Honestly, what time of day is that for breakfast?

Herself and CJ seemed to enjoy it. I thought up a name for a play based on seduction, betrayal and watery oat-based cereals: Gruel Intentions. If somebody else could just toddle off and actually write it, that'd be lovely.

On with the shows.

Have decided the restriction of the 5-7-5 haiku is a time-eater. Much like the Langoliers or the rubbish time lizards in that Dr Who episode.

Comedy Death: Comics Talking About Their Worst Gigs

Just the Tonic at the Caves, Niddry Street

Honourable mentions to Ed Hedges, Damo Clarke and host Javier Jarquin.

The Riddle of the Sphincter

Corporates and charity gigs
MK Dons fans vs Wimbledon AFC comics
Getting the audience to boo a disabled kid
Buying a cider for the woman with no kidneys
Knuckle chewing sphincter tightening death

National Museum of Scotland

Tea and Skeletons

Lovely layout.
Nice place for a tea.
Except the tea is crap.
Earl Grey tastes of ash tray.
Nice skeletons though.

Battle of the Superheroes

Laughing Horse at the Free Sisters

Hate the scrum at the Three Sisters. Far too crowded. Too many drinkers, sports screens and Kids In Pushchairs. A weird hodgepodge of the hoi polloi, all getting in between me and my intended show, hosted by comics fans Nik Coppin and Andrew Roper.

Niw Eht Rof Stenhsif

Hawkeye vs Green Arrow vs Zatanna
Three comics stating their case
The geeks in the crowd show off their knowledge:
Green Lantern's oath (some dude)
Mjolnir's inscription (me)
I am both cool and lame.

David Tsonos' Hawkeye for the win?
But no; Zatanna sweeps the board;
I shouldn't have brought up the fishnets.

National Library of Scotland

But We Didn't See Any Books

Nice displays of some archive
in the dark.
Reading rooms closed on a Sunday

Vampires in the Vault

Paradise in the Vault, Merchant Street (which, like the Portreeve's chamber, is a bugger to get to)

I do like a one-man - or one-woman - show. Glaswegian Marty Ross puts on a spirited performance of his own version of the tale of Hungarian Countess Bathory and her bathing in virgin blood.

Bloody countess

One man show
Bathory locked in the tower, emaciated, pleading to be free
The guard, curiously Glaswegian
Her tale is told to a girl
who frees her.

They descend to the laundry, the bleeding pit
Twist (ish) upon twist
An eccentric performance

Too long by twenty minutes
But that could have been the venue
Part corridor, part oven
And the seats were too close
Ooo me knees.

Terry Pratchett's Faust Eric

Paradise in Augustine's, George IV Bridge

Hooked back up with CJ and chum Goldberry for some Pratchett by Duck in a Hat Theatre.


Harry Potter: demon-summoner
Rincewind bound
wishes granted, time travelled
Squawky parrot and bureaucratic demons

Many quick changes
Remote controlled luggage
Nice giant book backdrop
Jolly entertaining

Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11)

Just the Tonic at the Mash House

Pussy Dried Hash

Sara Mason
Somewhat bonkers
One-woman show
5 people in audience, in a roof
Photos of Burt on the backdrop

80% real Hollywood memoir
20% penis-transplant bullshit
Actually drug smuggling and child abuse
Christ she was sexually assaulted aged 11
by one of my favourite actors

I can never watch the Crimson Pirate again

Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy: The Rattlesnake's Kiss

C Nova, Victoria Street.

Last show of the day and my pick of the day. What sets this Jethro Compton production apart from most others at the fringe is that there's a proper set. I guess as they are running all three plays continuously every day, from the afternoon to midnight, nobody else is going to be using the space anyway. Beautiful set of a timber wild west chapel. We audience sit in pews along either side, with the action taking place to our left and right.

Awesome posters too.

Bought the book afterwards - all 3 plays by Samuel French plus a couple of short stories. Well done the weather-beaten cast: Chris Huntly-Turner, Jonathan Matthews, Bebe Sanders, Sam Donnelly.

Blind Vengeance

Sightless Padre
looks like Clancy Brown
Grinning US Marshall 
looks like Jeremy Davies in Lost
Sunburnt frontier folk
Runaway whore working the pig farm
Nasty man with waxed moustache

Justice, revenge, venom
A mineshaft in pitch darkness
(scene went on too long)
Guns drawn in the chapel
Shotgun preacher
A box full of snake


And back to base. Shattered.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2015 Fringe: Day One

Saturday 8th August 2015

As promised, I'm going to keep my Fringe diary short this year. I can't be putting in a couple of hours every day, hunched over the laptop while everyone else is out having fun. If I was going to be the next Caitlin Moran/Charlie Brooker, it would have happened by now.
So instead here are some compressed highlights, and a few crap haikus of stuff that happened to me today and shows what I saw.

Dandy Darkly's Trigger Happy, CC Blooms

CC Blooms, Leith Walk

My first show of this year's Fringe, and it's a tidy step from where we're staying. Owing to a booking snafu, we are staying much further out of the city centre this year - down in sleepy Morningside rather than the pulsing heart of Greyfriars. Thus every day will start and end for us with a minimum 30-minute hike into town, or a bus ride if we're brave enough to figure out the routes and get the right change ready.

Annnnyway, Dandy Darkly. Saw him for the first time last year. Loved his high camp macabre storytelling performance. This year he is all in glitter and tassles and rhinestone cowboy drag. Despite a couple of twentysomething twats in the third row (right next to me - v awkward) yakking at full volume like they're watching TV, it was another absorbing hour of poetic storytelling, verging on hiphop at times (excellent use of a continuous soundtrack), on the theme of America's fears, trigger warnings, degradation and glamour. He'll never get on telly, but he's great live.

I filled in one of Dandy's What Do Americans Fear? flyers as follows:

  • Roundabouts
  • Uncircumcised penises
  • Rogue Islamic states with nuclear capability
  • Islamic roundabouts with nuclear penises

American Idylls

crucified sweetheart
otis moonshine's gay werewolf
stonewall's angry ghost

Norris and Parker: All Our Friends Are Dead

Just the Tonic at the Caves, Niddry Street.

RV'd with Herself for this one. Two-woman sketch show. Got tickets coz I liked the look of their flyer, and I do like sketch shows. You know where you are with sketch shows - less likely for the performers to die horribly or get heckled. It's a safe environment for nervous nellies like me. I liked their definitions of sketch show performers: actors who think they're funny but are too scared to do stand-up. Lots of energy, great fun, 50% lovely voices. Ones to watch. Two to watch.

black catsuit sketch show

confident charmers
songs, filth, Jackie Cooper Clarke
bloody funny too


Stuff that happened. In haiku form, no less.

Revelation of the Bleeding Obvious

tip for technophobes
optic mouse and glass tabletop
not an ideal combo

My Microwave Shame

baffled by controls
googled instructions; no bowl
had porridge on plate

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Moderate Overdrive

Last week I head the strangest noise as I was driving along. It was a sort of whirring sound, rising in pitch, emanating from the rear of the car. Now, Elwood's engine and all his other motory bits are in the front, as is right and proper, so this strange electrical whine some five feet behind me was as mysterious as it was unnerving. It put me in mind of a drone, or maybe some sort of hovering knife-missile from the film Runaway.
Turns out it was the car-vacuum. It had fallen over in the boot and knocked the power switch on.
So far so accidental, you might say. But then only last night we were woken up in the dead hours by another peculiar electronic tone. This time it was Herself's electric toothbrush, which had managed to turn itself on. No amount of button pressing would deactivate the damn thing, leaving only the ultimate sanction of the Screwdriver Protocol between us and some semblance of a good night's rest.
I conclude that the long heralded rise of the machine is upon us. But only the crap ones.
If this were a film, it'd be called Moderate Overdrive.
It would still star Emilio Estevez though.