EDINBURGH FRINGE – GRAHAM DICKSON IS THE NARCISSIST

Graham Dickson is a talented performer, who has an abundance of charisma. He seems to be an actor capable of great range as well, as evidenced by some of the scenes in ‘The Narcissist.’ But this show was advertised as a comedy, and I did not laugh once.
It is obviously a labour of love, taking influence from pretentious and buffoonish thespians and works of Russian literature, but nothing ever really landed for me. It is a show that tries to do many things, but arguably never really accomplishes any of them. Part of the show takes the form of a farce, as Graham and his director Hamish argue about different approaches the show should take. It then starts to delve into character comedy, Graham playing a Russian man who self-absorbedly looks back throughout his life to give us a taste of his formative years. The lead character, Grigoriy Alexeivich Dhukov takes us on a journey through his life, detailing the life of shit that he’s led up to this point, the experiences that led up to him writing his magnum opus.
With the exception of two cringe inducing American characters that play on tired archetypes, the play mostly follows this Russian protagonist and Graham himself as he breaks character to bicker with the director. The main problem is that while a lot of the writing has the cadence of a joke that invites you to laugh, it’s not actually funny enough to force one out. The story is okay, it might even be pretty interesting if it wasn’t littered with jokes that make you want to crawl out of your skin and out the exit. The show jumps around pretty frantically and Graham does a good job with some of the physical comedy, but neither the characters nor the humor in ‘The Narcissist’ make any impact. It’s not mean or cruel enough to be truly narcissistic, instead it is a lame, ill-conceived concept. It presents itself as a vehicle for character comedy, but nothing about the characters or the writing is particularly amusing.

Last year I worked for a publication that did not publish negative reviews, so I haven’t written one in a while. It does pain me a little to write this, because while the guy although hasn’t written something I could connect with, the audience I was in there with did enjoy it. But still, there were times where the laughs felt forced from the people sitting next to me. I was impressed with Dickson’s acting ability, and he does have the potential to be a great comedic actor. The writing though, needs to be funnier all round. I was almost going to give it a second chance halfway through if they didn’t do a joke about everyone’s least favourite president, but near the climax they blew it with a joke that had no place in a show dealing with a 1930’s playwright. It might have been an out of character moment for Dickson, but it was still a cheap joke in final few minutes. I do wish Dickson all the best though – it’s hard to be objective when something really doesn’t connect with you on such a wide ranging art form such as comedy. I despise most improv troupes that I’ve ever seen on the festival because of each members need to outperform each other. I understand Dickson comes from an improv background and this does feel like a play that was scripted by a good improviser. Perhaps my fault with the show of is just the incompatibility with the styles of comedy we draw influence from.

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Graham Dickson is The Narcissist is on at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61) ​
20:10, Aug 17-27

NIGHTMARE CHALLENGE – EPISODE 1#

Nightmare Challenge is a podcast about things gave us nightmares and still do to this day. When I was a child, everything they showed me on television induced me into a state of paralysis, I couldn’t turn away because there was only 4 channels and only one with any kids telly on. To this day, I can’t stomach the body of work made by Ragdoll Productions. I’m sure you all have things that give you an unsettling feeling in the recesses of your damp, dank mind. Perhaps it was an episode of ‘Boy Meets World’ that just went TOO far? Or perhaps it was a game on the Amiga that everyone told you was ‘mega haunted’.

On this podcast we explore some of the things that made us want to piss our drawers with irrational fear. Surely these things were made with the consideration of their audience of weak children with developing minds, whose ability to draw fear from nothing is at maximum capacity. The mind of a child is a fragile, broken thing, and I don’t know what I would do if I had to go through it all again. Maybe read a book or something. This episode features our co-host Sam Mackeddie, whose own fears include morality tales from the 1930’s and everyone’s favorite ‘Roy Chubby Brown’, a man who on the surface appears to be offensive – but his jokes don’t make enough sense to offend anyone.

GRAVE SHITTER – MUSIC VIDEO

This is a strange one. I had written a script to make a short film about two brothers, one who loved his dear deceased father and the other who knew about some damning details about him, leading him to defecating on his grave. The film would have ramped up into a piece about blackmail, as the shitty brother starts getting threatening messages about being a shitter.

We set out to the graveyard to film our scenes, but i had left the tripod back at the flat. Not wanting to waste the day, we filmed a home-video style piece that could be turned into…something. I had this riff lying around that i had no other ideas for other than the chorus being “fuck…you” over and over – and we decided to turn sam’s antics into a music video.

The result is what it is. I liked the VHS effect, but i should have kept the 3:4 aspect ratio. I had fun editing it, it distinctly reminded me of our first youtube video some 11 years back Danger, Danger High Voltage! in that it’s a video with Sam doing silly and random shit set to music. It’s probably something he gets a kick out of, because he always suggests to make one. I think the way forward is to edit like a DJ Douggpound song.

I understand it’s not for everyone. My brother was the first person i showed it to and he did not think it was funny. He thought it was kind of sad. After he said that i kind of realised that the setting is not altogether appropiate. He also hates MDE which Sam forced us to watch before we filmed this.

Until i met Hector, and he said he and Aiden had made the same journey up to Dean Graveyard and spent a couple hours drinking in there like teens. So it’s not just me that is still hanging in graveyards at the age of twenty six. I hope i can repurpose the film I wrote into something else. We are filming a pilot for a talk show soon (with no budget) and hopefully we can use some of the scenes in that. Like this poker scene where they’re all betting on this hentai doujinshi.

The best video games of 2016

Do you remember a simpler time when videogames were our only form of escapism? It’s the first thing in my memory where choice became a big deal. I understand TV is escapism, and so playing with your imagination, but these usually had outside influences that I had no control over. My life as a baby and then as a curious toddler was built on decisions with no input of my own. Then, something magical happened. Somebody placed me in front of an Amiga with a box full of floppy disks with unlimited potential. I could move Guybrush Threepwood where ever i wanted to! Sometimes, I was even able to solve a puzzle! I was in control of my life, finally. I still however was afraid of the monitor after I turned it off. I would speed out of the room like a little scared kitten. Where do the videogames go after the screen turns off. Do they come to life?

Today, I am only ever slightly afraid of my television. Years of therapy and many upgrades in game console have led me to the stage where I no longer freak out when it turns off. But that is a rare occurrence, as most of my time is spent playing through a library of great videogames. Here are the best of the best we played last year. This is still relevant, as the only new game we played this year is Breath of the Wild, (which is a very good title and has become so close to my heart)

5. Final Fantasy XV

After 10 years of waiting, was it finally worth it? I suppose yes, yes it was. It was certainly different from what I expected, with little prompt from the game to dig deeper into the story and instead letting you roam free with your handsome buddies. The fight system is a little clunky, but fun and the changes in gameplay from Episode Duscae were welcome. The behemoth mission in Duscae is such a pain in the ass, whereas i really enjoyed it in XV. The game is still surprising me with all it’s little secrets and side missions, which don’t really seem to get boring. There’s also a new game plus, a ton of dlc coming which should bring me back after a vacation away from Noct and his pals. Perhaps because of the addition of a Japanese language option, (thank god they had this) I also started to like Prompto, which every news publication actively told me not to. I like him a lot. You were all too cynical about this prettyboy character.

4. Dark Souls III

I am a big Dark Souls fan. The first game changed my perspective of gaming forever, encouraging me to seek challenge and despair wherever I can find it when playing games. Since then, it’s been a yearly tradition to pick up the next installment of whatever FROM SOFTWARE have been working on. Dark Souls III seems to be a hybrid of what worked in Bloodborne, and what people missed in DSII, a good thing for those who felt the second game in the series was a tad dissapointing. It became again the most cherished game on the console for a while, where a half hour play session would turn into 8 or more, invading and betraying my way through the world. The best part about the game is that you always feel that you could be better, could get stronger if you really wanted to. Cameos from previous games made this one feel all the more like a love letter to fans. Still, it doesn’t match the original’s same sense of wonder, the first time you exit the Undead asylum and enter Lordran. I hope whatever FROM have got planned next is going to blow us away even more.

3. Dragon Quest Builders

I always wanted to get into Minecraft, but I couldn’t ever get into it. All I would do was dig down to the centre of the earth and then the sad sweet music would play and I would feel like some little spec of dust in a hole where nobody could find me. I never played a Dragon Quest game before, and this action rpg-block crafter hybrid seemed to be the best place to start. It’s got great music, surprisingly fun gameplay and crafting elements, the fight system is simple but effective, building stuff is fun, exploring is a treat. It has had me hooked since release.

2. Enter the Gungeon

This game was purchased on a whim, but it’s easily the one i’ve spent the most time playing. Enter the Gungeon combines roguelike elements with a Bullet Hell shooter, something I never knew I wanted. The intensity of Bullet Hell schmups is hard not to admire, but stupidly hard to master. I never could really get the hang of them. Could I get the hang of Gungeon? Yes and No. I haven’t beaten it, although I have sunk probably 150 hours into the game. Everytime you play, it’s the first time, with small unlocks here and there. The first boss took so long to beat, I got that feeling of doubt like the first time I played Dark Souls. “Maybe this game is too hard for me.” But no, you have to push on further! If Dark Souls taught me anything, it’s that you never let a game beat you prematurely. Then you start getting through the first, second, third stages, with no problems! The same sense of accomplishment fills you when you start to craft mastery of a game after so much torment. However, I still haven’t beaten it, nor am I close. I did get up to a penultimate boss on the weekend with a friend (who has beaten it) in co-op, but we died. They just released a new (free!) update with new bosses and guns etc, so there is absolutely no reason for me to stop playing this one. I love this game.

1. Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon looked too weird at first glance, I’ve never been into tabletop D’n’D sessions or old school numbers games. I got it on sale because of it’s gleaming reviews and was still a little skeptical. But this one works so well, it’s the first time where statistics and random elements become actively thrilling. There’s such a great, punishing combat system where slight errors in judgement can lead to the wiping out of your adventuring party, and there it comes, permadeath of some of your favorite adventures. But shit happens, and you got to send in more weary travelers the next day, who may be successful or might share the same fate. So many people, freak out under the pressure and become erratic, leading to your doom. But occasionally something magically happens, and the pressure brings out a heroic quality in an adventurer, sparking a torch of hope in your dread filled heart. The aesthetics, music and voice acting make this game all the more addictive. Like with Dark Souls, the bleak narrative of the game starts to speak to you like a drug. You start to feel the darkness, and you enjoy it. A special shoutout to Wayne June, the lead voice actor of the game, whose amazing gravely voice has helped create a truly intense experience.

HARRY POTTER RETURNS! (RECUT)

Just one last thing before you go out for 2017. Harry Potter is back and bigger than ever, in his debut directors cut edition. That’s right, they’ve started the extended cuts, but only for specific films. This time it’s a new cut of the fourth film, arguably the first one to cut large chunks of the book out of the adaptation. With this latest edition, we will be able to bask in the original’s glory.

THE INTERVIEW WITH DAVIS DOCHERTY

Hello, and goodbye. The year is almost over,today being the only day of the year appropriate to say to someone “see you next year.” Isn’t it cheeky? next year is tomorrow! Other days, it sound so far away. Usually I get a bit soppy on new years but I don’t have any excuses to do that this year. Here’s a treat for you Hogmanay gay divorcees out there, a film about the exposure of a corrupt politicians. Riveting.

BAD TALK # 3 & 4

Hey guys

last weeks podcast is  here from dropbox be warned that if you download it’s a hefty wav file. Streaming is fine though mate.

Now for this weeks one, I got this snazzy little dropbox podcast program so i can share my shows a little easier. download the latest via justcast or just stream here. what ever you feel like! it’s an mp3 too so it’s not a pain in the ass.

This episode features magic island, air, mr. oizo and the stooges. Hope you enjoy it all, you princes of Dalry, you kings of Newtongrange.

Bad Talk episode #4

http://justcast.herokuapp.com/shows/peter-carson-badtalk-net/audioposts/161113

BAD TALK RADIO 1 & 2

Bad Talk #1  –  download link  (dropbox)

Bad Talk #2  –  download link (dropbox)

Here it is : two lovely podcasts for you pod people. Two hours of electronic bliss with nostalgia eating away at the fringes. It’s what we live for, the pointless romance of our past and i’m only now starting to get ashamed about it. Should we be ashamed of the shit we used to listen to, or the dirty things we never consider doing anymore? I always had my mind set on crashing parties and passing out in the driveway, but do i feel nostalgic about these fleeting anarchic moments or cringe at the memories of being asked to leave the premises? Perhaps nostalgia has it’s place in music and in movies – let’s not try emulate our garden hopping championship anytime soon.

I think South Park dealt with this quite well in one of their recent episodes with the ‘Member Berries’, Randy discovered a brain numbing patch of plants that can only say “Remember the nineties?” “Yeah, but remember the eighties?” “Yeah, but remember the nineties?” It turns the past-time of remembering fond elements of your past down to a ‘Dude, Where’s My Car’ level of stupidity.

It didn’t use to be so mind numbingly moronic to talk about the past, but it appears in the public consciousness, increasingly and without substance. The internet has been creaming it’s memes about game boys and push pops and the like, stating the obvious to a few generations of people and attempting to alienate…somebody. The old? The young? I wonder why nobody’s made memes like this to appeal to other age demographics?the-burning-monk-1963-1

Sorry if that seems a bit intense, but I love Rage against the Machine. (j/k, This is the photo of Thích Quảng Đức, a monk that protested an oppressive government in Vietnam. An hero.)

 Here’s a more local meme that took the UK by storm.

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Bad Talk (1# & 2#) won’t pander to you, too much. It’s like we’ve got a crush on you, but are too afraid to do something that draws attention to ourselves. Except that one time where we got drunk and tried to pull you in the club and now we can’t be in the same room together. Please respond to my texts denise.

BAD TALK VHS/RADIO

I know, I know, I didn’t use a VHS ‘video toaster’ to make this. It’s a combination of the bad talk radio podcast, with some of my footage accumulated over time that’s taking up HDD space. Thought it might be more useful if i did something with it, I have lots of long shots of the world outside my window which look pretty nice. A kind of lazy music video. You’re pretty lazy yourself.

Note: the latter half of the video has some extra drunk, mega drunk, shakycam shots that i did not screen for quality. Might make you seasick.