30 October 2007

More Scotch

In my continuing attempts to destroy my liver - soon to be ably assisted by AndrewS and Psychochicken - I went to the Regional Wines Scotch Tasting. Another fun night with B and M, as usual my tasting notes are vague, although somewhat more descriptive than normal. This tasting was run by the fabulous Whisky Galore in Christchurch (which our fav chicken has been to as well) and included the following (all no chill/colour):
Bunnahabhain heavily peated 9yo signatory refillbutt 5275 46%
Ben Riach 16yo 43%
Ben Nevis 10yo 46%
Edradour 1993 cask 251 59.8%
Highland Park 22yo 56.6% duncan taylor cask 1731 orkney matured bottle
laphroaig 17yo OMC 50% refillhogshead 1710
Port Ellen Provence win83 refull butt 3229 23yo
+ a mystery one which i didn't write down :)

My pick? strangely not the most expensive one (see other Scotch blog), rather the Edradour which came in at a 9.5 for me. And I was right pissed off when I ordered it, only to discover they had no bottles left :( Normally from that list I'd have picked the HPark but really didn't like that one, describing it as too sweet and caramel on the palate, and not liking the nose much either (chlorine according to me!).
The Edradour had a huge nose with big notes of caramel, and the palate was 'velvet caramel', nice long finish too.

In what appears to be a continuing theme, I've just noticed Neil is also a fan of Edradour. The trip to Scotland may turn out to be expensive. Oh and my #2 was the Laphroaig (8.5-9), I was (apparently) very impressed with the 'texture' and the 'oily noise).

Love, me


Suz and I wandered along to Stardust last night - the movie adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book. I'm sure there are masses of reviews out so mine's a vibe based review. I liked it. A lot. It stuck pretty much to the story (as I remember it anyway) and it's a fun movie. The cameo's are excellent - and thankfully Gervais isn't in it too much - de Niro is by far and away the highlight of the movie. His timing is wonderful, and worth the price of admission alone.

I'd have liked to have seen more asides from the rapidly increasing ghost contingent, as they were pretty special. I enjoyed the pacing of the movie which certainly isn't hurried, but meanders along nicely. The one complaint is that the music wasn't the best, seemed a bit too repetitive.

I can see this becoming a bit of a cult classic, kinda like Princess Bride. Definitely recommended.


28 October 2007

KPW Helloween Hell II

Martin and I wandered along after some QI and Boss Nigger to the KPW 'Helloween Hell II' as we'd enjoyed the previous KPW event. Obviously there for the legend that is Dr Diablo, we managed to sit through the matches before the herculean man muscle of Diablo cantered to the stage. We were awestruck!!
Is that man on the juice? Surely not!
A glorious victory ensued, the second in his amazing career. Surely he's in line for a title shot? We must start a fan club - Lil' Diablos?
Some action shots of the big man in action, locking in the leglock and inflicting the pain - he's got a PhD in it ya know.

Big calls by the big Blair too - possibly our favourite "I'm in Newtown and a fights broken out!"



Our intrepid band of Bgrade fans tracked down Boss Nigger and watched it yesterday. For those of you who watched the preview from YouTube (see earlier post) the movie doesn't disappoint. Great performance by Fred Williamson - the gags and oneliners are great. Bill Smith takes the role as the bad guy. It's worth checking out his IMDB entry he's a bright wee boy, and has very diverse talents. Aside from acting he's: Guiness record-holder for reverse-curling his own body weight; Performed over 5,100 continuous sit-ups over a five hour period etc. And he's been in some classics.

So the movie, um blaxpoitation western. Funky soundtrack with black sheriff cleaning up white mans town.

Worth watching. We headed to the KPW event afterwards and I'll blog about that soon, should be with some pictures too.

This blog has been brought to you by the metal show with Anathema playing "Phantom of the Opera" and now Opeth riffing out on 'Deliverance'.

Love, B

26 October 2007

Munro, Smith, Berlin and Dean - Review

Thanks to the lovely people at CT, I had tickets to the Chamber Music New Zealand gig last night. For those of you local, the Smith is ex-concertmaster of the NZSO, Wilma Smith. The programme was interesting. Kicked off with Mozart Piano Quartet in Gmin K478. Regular readers will know my dislike for Mozart. This one was no different, I keep thinking Mozart's like a pretty but vacuous chick, good to look at but ultimately you have to talk to her, and it's all downhill from there. Usual Mozart motifs, repetition, kinda dancey vibe, and when he feels the variation has gone on enough - he hammers the main theme. I thought it was well played. But certainly not what I was there for.

I got the feeling that this was a young quartet, not so much hesitancy as enjoying the novelty of playing together. And this was apparent in the second piece, the Copland (Piano Quartet 1950). I really enjoyed this piece. Interesting, quirky and challenging. All the things I like in classical music, and all the things missing from the Mozart (yeah I know I should stop harping on about it, but meh!). I should buy more Copland as I like everything I have of his. And ELP covered him. There ya go prog-readers, a hook-in for you lot and evidence I do listen to pre-1980s prog.

The second half was the Schumann Piano Quartet in Eb Opus 47. Now I'm not the biggest Schumann fan either (jeez i'm a picky bastard), but this was great. Again with the interesting rhythms, but more lyricism than the Copland. As you'd expect from Schumann.

Performance was excellent, I got the feeling there was a bit of unsure playing in the Schumann, but the excellence of the Copland more than made up for it. Excellent balance as well. Well recommended.


Ancient Reptiles

Ok, so I'm a bit bored at work at the moment and may put up a few blogs today.

The first is a subject close to my heart, reptiles. In particular archaeic reptiles. There has been some controversy about when reptiles started wandering around, previous to the current work the oldest fossil was dated to 315 MYA. Molecular work suggests that around that time the Testudines (turtles) split from the reptilian lineage. And that's separate from the anapsid:diapsid split issue. Sphenodontidae were also about to start their big diversification (heh heh- not so much), so the 315 MYA date has been largely ignored in evolutionary discussions. Even the main morphology players don't use it much (Lee, Benton et al). So the recent finding of rocks 1 - 3 MY older pushes the date back. It may not seem like much, but it supports earlier dates and the authors acknowledge that this era is poorly studied.
More support for the molecular side.

Nature summary here.

Article here.

Love, Sergeant Sphen

23 October 2007

Ngauranga & Effluent

Please note the ampersand between those two. I was sitting on the train and noticed the weird contraption next to the Ngauranga station, labelling on it says it's a place for dumping effluent from stock trucks and mobile homes. I never knew these things existed, and there's one I ride past. Exciting!!
Other interesting facts about Ngauranga. There's a boat carcass up there somewhere, probably around the lights. I read something in the DomPost some time ago about it - it was on the beach front, but that got lifted during the big quake. Some guy in Wgtn had been trying to find it for sometime. I think that kinda thing is cool, I often think I'd have liked to have been a historian, or at least done more local history. I really enjoy Peter Kitchin's columns each week in the Sat paper.

All those thoughts were inspired by the absolutely wonderful album, Up by Peter Gabriel. If push came to shove I think that album would make it on my top10. Ever. And I don't like early Genesis. It constantly disturbs me how many ppl presume I like early Genesis and Yes, and I gave up trying to explain the concept of 'neo-prog' to them. Sticking to 'I like Radiohead' seems to work better.

Love, B.

22 October 2007

Up the Irons!

Far be it for me to suggest that your average Iron Maiden/metal fan is a smelly, unkempt individual, but one could certainly draw that conclusion from items in the IM merchandise collection, namely:

For those of you playing at home, yes that's right, IM branded incense. that beat the IM branded candle holder, wrapping paper and coasters as my favourite item. More information on this stunning example of niche marketing here!

Can you smell what the Eddie's cooking?

me x

19 October 2007

Oct 19

1943. Streptomycin was discovered.

Which is surprising given how recent that was, and how important it's discovery has been - particularly for tuberculosis. And another example of supervisors f'ing over their grad students. For a brief summary read it here.

Watching the Argies deal to the Frogs at the moment :)


I should find this movie

The preview suggests it has everything I need in a movie

Me x

16 October 2007

Cane Toads!

Regular readers of the blog will know of my interest in Cane Toads, and their rampage across Aussie. Toad #2 here and Toad #1 here.

So in todays update - this time from Nature - Rick Shine (quiet Chris...) reported that those toads at the leading edge of the invasion had longer legs. That makes sense. But in research just published in PNAS these toads also have increased spinal abnormalities, with 10% having spinal arthritis. This, Shine says, may make them more vulnerable to novel methods of control - including parasites due to a compromised immune system.

Without too much thinking about this, it strikes me that if arthritis is only affecting 10% of the population, then killing them off maybe a bad move. All you'd be doing would be strengthening the population genetics. Interesting spin on Eugenics tho'.
If the stress induced by the rampage into new environments weakens the immune system (Shine's hypothesis) then infecting them with parasites isn't really dealing to the problem. All it is doing is slowing the spread - but not dealing with the areas already invaded. I still think it makes more sense to focus on a form of reproductive control. Amphibians are quite susceptible to steroid affects, but with the huge herpetofauna in Aussie thats a dangerous road to go down.

Crickey, almost a cogent post.

In upcoming blogs Anapsid/Diapsid III (honest!!) and some music reviews.


Calendar update

Some initial reviews of SpanningSync. It seems good, except I can't find a way to sync my URL field from iCal to GoogleCalendar. I've emailed the maker of the program, and yesterday entered the URL in Notes rather than the URL field of iCal. So we will see what happens.

What I may end up doing is using the iPod. Currently I sync my iCal to my iPod which does provide URL information. And I can open that calendar on any machine (well any Mac) using iCal. So that's all good.

S commented that my last post I appeared to be 'very tired' - a polite way of asking if I was pissed due to the spelling 'issues'. I've made a special attempt here.

Me x

15 October 2007

iCal and Google Calendar

Hi all, I'd like some help from those of you who understand what I'm talking about.
I use iCal for my main calendar program, but it's not always convenient to bring my laptop into work each day. So I need a way to have access to the calendar. It strikes me that using Google Calendar would be the easiest way given I use GMail.

So any recommendations for this?

Solutions I've found:
Subscribing to a GCal - Problem with this is that it doesn't allow synching both ways - which I need.
GCALDaemon - it looks scary!! I did start trying to us it, but it's tricky and I gave up, cos I'm shockingly lazy. No really. I am!
SpanningSync - Ok so it costs $25US a year (or $65 for a perpetal licence), but it's the one I'm testing at hte moment. And it works very nicely.
GSync - also does much the same.

So anyone used any of these? Other ideas? Remember I need to synch both ways.

I also heard rumours that 10.5 has this built in, anyone heard anything?

b x

14 October 2007

The Devil Dared me to & Infamous

M and I meandered along to The Devil Dared me to, a production by the Back of the Y boys (Deja Voodoo) with Ant (of Movie Marathon fame!) production company - or funding, or something.
Throughly enjoyable offensive flick. Big thumbs up. Randy Campbell, from a long lineage of stuntmen, wants to jump Cook Strait, a long torturous journey follows - a coming of age flick if you will. Much profanity, dodgy behaviour and a thoroughly honest view of the South Island. So many great quotes, so much learning for M on child raising (Randy's mate Spanner's father showed inspired parenting skills) - and lots of laugh out loud stuff. Loved it.
Lots of death, including Dick's girlfriend, tombstone reading "She was a great root."

In a slightly different vibe, Infamous, the other Truman Capote movie. Critics have been raving about Toby Jones' performance as Capote. And yes it's pretty damm impressive. The story covers the same time period as Capote, but seemed to me to focus more on person of Capote. It's certainly not as flashy as Capote, but this one seems more personal and delicate. Is it better? Well I guess that depends on what you want from your movie. I'd say its certainly got stronger more personal performances by the actors. Daniel Craig is wonderful as the prisoner who Capote falls for - an aspect that I think was lost in Capote. Seymour Hoffman won for his performance, and there should be no reason why Jones shouldn't win either. But given how this movie has slipped under the radar, I doubt he'll be even nominated. Go see it. Even if you saw the other movie.

B x

9 October 2007

Are you calling me fat?!?!?!

The world's largest organism, contrary to popular belief, is not Pavarotti's remains. Rather it's a fungus in Oregon at 10 square kilometers.

As Gaz mentioned: that's a bloody big omelette.


7 October 2007

Um yeah

Rugby? Oh that's some kinda game thing innit?
nah, can't say I follow it...

And in retail therapy news:
Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
Scott Walker - The Drift
Phoenix Foundation - Happy ending


6 October 2007

TVNZ, doco and stupidity

I'm going to avoid mentioning the word 'Charter' here. That would be too easy.

TVNZ recently played the Stephen Fry documentary 'The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive', an absolutely wonderful and interesting doco by Fry exploring his MD (bipolar) side. At times brutally honest, Fry described how he'd almost committed suicide, been thrown in jail and the most recent media event, running away from the stage show. In between his personal exploration of the illness, he talked to others suffering from MD - from extreme cases who were unable to function at all, to more mild 'famous' cases (Richard Dreyfuss and Carrie Fisher). One thing I found interesting was the Dr working in the ward saying they had a 90-95% success rate in helping people. As he said, what other discipline can claim that?

I haven't been this hooked by a doco for sometime, it was moving, interesting, informative and with Fry's characteristic dry humour.
All of which raises the question: why was it on at 1125pm on a Sunday night?

Jane Bowron in her column also bemoaned the timing saying that had it concerned Britney or that ilk, it would have made primetime TV.

Instead we had one of the most interesting, literate and honest presenters currently working, critically exploring a devastating illness at a time when no-one will be watching.
Great move TVNZ.

On the plus side, if anyone wants to borrow it I have it on tape (yeah ol skool) so you can skip the ads that paid for it to be on at such a stupid time.

B x
(currently watching For a Few Dollars More)

2 October 2007

Cool - Stevie Wonder

The man just pimps it.

I'm listening to Talking Book at the moment, having spun Inner Visions the other day after a mate lent them to me. I'd commented I'd never listened to much.

Our office is bopping along to Superstition. Well all of us aside from the old fck who none of us like.