Call me Russ L

Two posts in a fortnight, fancy

Posted in Food, Modern Living, Music, Stage, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 27 July, 2013

There’s always enough going on in the world to make a few coincidences inevitable. In an effort to encourage myself write something (anything), I did think about shifting this all over to Tumblr. I don’t think I’m going to, though. It has its good and bad points, but I can’t imagine that the quick-and-easy nature of it is really going to spur me to actually poke at the keyboard any more.

Coincidences, anyway – when I was contemplating that, I got an email saying that my largely-unused Tumblr account is six years old.

I didn’t say it was a very exciting coincidence.

So then: stuff. Stuff that I’ve done. Let’s talk about those sort of things, in brief and non-illuminating fashion.

Taxonomically speaking, the order “Stuff That I’ve Done Since MOJFAS” contains the family “Things Calling Themselves Festivals” (hardly scarce in Birmingham), and within that you have the genera “Park”, “Market Stalls” and “Theatre” (although there seems to be a separate variant genus of “Theatre” within another family that also includes “Picnic” and “Feeding Ducks”). Specific species within all of these will be summarised below. You also have “Gig”, which for me is on the verge of being some kind of rare macromutation nowadays.

Mercy me, such utter crap. This is why I really need to get to blogging again, you see. It’s not healthy to keep all this abject nonsense inside a small brain. It is good for me to blather in this fashion. I expect the rest of you have been missing my idiosyncratic “More Parentheses (Than A Skunk Anansie Song Title)” style, too. No? Ah well, never mind then. I am trying to cut down on the brackets, but they come so naturally to me.

~ The Moseley Festival – A cause of endless confusion (I’m exaggerating towards y’all: the confusion does eventually end), what with people often nowadays referring to Moseley Folk and Mostly Jazz, Funk And Soul as “Moseley Festival”. Such sloppiness is unforgivable but the misunderstandings are real. I’ve never actually been to anything that was part of the Moseley Festival before, far as I recall, but here this time the open day at Moseley Park (as I’ve said before, it was lovely to see the bits you don’t get to see at the more specifically named festivals. I wasn’t keen on the little sod of a child throwing bricks at the ducks but for some reason it would be me who got arrested if I threw bricks at said child and so there’s not a lot to be done. Classical conditioning, that’s all I call it) and the market stalls (I bought a birthday card) were partaken of.

~ Birminghamfest – For the last few years I’ve only been to the very odd occasional play, but repeatedly told myself that I need to go to more theatre. That held true for for the first half of this year too, but then came Birminghamfest – lots of little short plays bundled together (no thematic connection. Well, I suppose the thematic connection is that they were all performed in Birmingham, hence the imaginative name ‘Birminghamfest’), of which I went to a fair few. There are also now tickets ordered for a few plays for the rest of the year, too, so perhaps I’m abandoning the Alice tendency to seldom follow my own good advice.

Lightning quick, then, ‘cos there were quite a few: “Taking Care Of Business” (various very short plays/sketches, mostly but not all comic. I’m struggling to work out the common theme if there was one. I think I most liked the one about Oliver Cromwell on his deathbed, and the one with the British-Asian with his union jack flags and his un-accepting neighbour) and later that night “Parklife” (five people in Pigeon Park one day tell their stories. A bit over-wrought at times but a fun little character study nevertheless) upstairs at The Old Joint Stock, “The Inferno Kid” at The Blue Orange Theatre (about a physically and mentally broken ex-pro-wrestler, nowadays making his wife’s life a misery. Not at all based on The Dynamite Kid, nosirree. Ahem. The plot twists were easy to guess but it had more than enough intensity), “Ledge” again at The Blue Orange Theatre (a man planning to commit suicide finds that his jumping-ledge is not as secluded as he thought. Hilarious, and this time I didn’t guess the twist ending. The quote “It’s life by numbers and no-one other than me seems to care that the numbers don’t add up” describes how I quite often feel in my more solipsistic moments), “Tempestory” at A.E. Harris (I suppose you could call it a remix The Tempest, with select bits of it used to tell the tale of an old fella in a care home – remembering happier times with his wife, trying to set his daughter up with one of the orderlies, grumbling about how his brother knifed him in the back etc. Brilliant, I thought, the best of the festival from what I saw. The balletic elements were… mixed, but at their best really added something), and “I Am Blackbird” at the little room of The Crescent Theatre (a poetry/spoken word performance by one Kate Walton, about finding love and finding creativity. Absolutely drenched in hippy positivity, which is something that can sometimes get on my nerves but actually worked for me here).

~ Birmingham Chilli Festival – I knew in advance but managed to forget on the day about the fact that there was also an EDL demonstration in Brum on the same day as the chilli festival. I got there before their protest/rally/whatever-have-you had begun, and the coppers had got them contained in Bar Risa on Broad Street. Someone has a sense of humour – “Give ’em the one with a foreign name, they’ll like that”. I probably should have joined the counter-demonstration over the other side, but, well, I didn’t end up doing so. I did look at the stalls at the chilli festival though! Who needs politics that can have effects on people’s lives when you have consumption.

By which I mean buying and eating things, not pulmonary tuberculosis. I don’t have that.

I tried lots of things and bought a few, anyway. Got me some nice cheeses from Croome Cuisine, and from the Fire Foods stall I got some chilli scratchings, a bottle of Chilli & Garlic sauce (doesn’t seem to be on their website), and a bottle of Infinity Chilli Sauce. I’m actually a teensy bit disappointed about the lastnamed, now I’ve had it a few days – it’s not the megastrength elephant killer that it’s reputed to be (it’s downright feeble compared to Dave’s Insanity Sauce) and it doesn’t have that much of a flavour either. It’ll do for general everyday heat-boosting purposes, though.

~ Not in Birmingham so it doesn’t have to call itself a festival – The annual trip to Harvington Hall! With outdoor play (via the Crescent Theatre folks) and picnic and duck feeding (and no irritating little sod throwing bricks at the ducks)! This year it was “The Importance Of Being Earnest”, which surprisingly I have never seen played before (I’ve read the script, I’ve seen the fillum, I’ve seen the endearingly loony post-modern opera, but I’ve never seen it played). Hilarious, obviously, that goes without saying. The initial Gwendolyn/Cecily scene was done perfectly, I thought.

~ Pop concert – Unexpected delays with the number 50 (most frequent bus service in Europe my Bradshaw) meant that I’d completely missed M. Geddes Gengras by the time I’d got to the Bunny & Bow-Wow, and that’s a shame. I know nothing of his own runnings, but I love the collaboration with The Congos and so would have liked to see what he was up to.

Juneau Projects started things off for me, therefore – a trio who seem to be involved with a lot of local arty things, even though we saw little of that here (although were their Fisherprice-lookin’ keyboardy things home-made, perhaps? The existence of this exhibition would seem to suggest that). Here we had mournful synthpop, with lots of long dragged-out chords of electrical “Aaaah”. I quite liked them. I certainly approve most strongly of songs about the fear of local murals disappearing.

Akron/Family were our touring ‘Merican headliners. I’d loved their collaboratory album with Angels Of Light since longtime, and always intended to hear more by them but didn’t actually get around to doing so until very recently (until I heard about this gig, in fact). Based on the couple of albums I listened to, I’d decided that my standard description was going to be “Battles doing The Byrds with occasional moments of Merzbow” – awkward but grooving curlicued maths-rock mixed with poppy singalong Americana, and the odd blast of white noise.

Live they surprised me by being lot more rrrrrrrrrrock, a lot more Led Zep than on record. I liked ‘em but it did all seem a lot more straightforward, and I expected this to be a really out-there gig. I thought they might at least drop in a few feedback noisebombs for no good reason, just for a laugh likesay. The sound was a bit messy too, but I still enjoyed ‘em which ever way up.

Those, then, were the things that I did. More things will yet be done. For the moment, I’m Audi.

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