23 December 2008

Beer Report : Tues edition, Cider

Tonight a very nice, if strong (7.2%) Tremlett's Bitter Cider went down. It's very cidery, in a traditional sense. I don't know if it's just me, but proper cider has a slightly musty taste to it. Nose was crisp and interesting, but the musty taste was also there. It's very nice, it kicks back, and I'll drink more of it. 500ml doesn't last very long, and I've now got the new QI to watch, huzzah!!!! Oh, made from an old UK apple, but I didn't notice anything too special about it.

Made in Taunton, for those of you who remember my first trip to England, that should provoke some giggles...

Love, B

22 December 2008

It's the last day of work

And I look rather like Hunter S Thompson. This was intended. And is currently disturbing workmates who know who HST is. The rest of them are just laughing at my get up :)

me xxxxx

20 December 2008

Beer Report : Weekend edition

It's been awhile between reports, if not awhile between drinks. I think we can put that down to nothing exciting has gone down the gullet - aside from a 2003 Thomas Hardy. But I've already raved about the beauty of that beer.

Today I'm sipping the new Mata drop, Feijoa. It's a very crisp lager, very 'dry', strong feijoa nose, seems to have low hop content. Sweetness of the feijoa cuts through the dryness of the lager, there's no notes on their webpage so can't give any notes on what hops were used. I'm liking it, its not as sweet as the Monteiths Radler and is quite quaffable. I sense it could work very very well with BBQs. I should investigate it more. Sadly it seems hard to find, but the ol faithful, Regional, has it...

I appear to be a blogging machine today...


Link of the Day

Top 10 Beers to drink during a zombie attack.

B (mmmm maybe I should go get a beer...good plan...go me!)

24 Hour Movie Marathon Pt 2

Back again, by now we'd hit the caffeine heavily and were approaching midnght (i think). We'd nibbled the strawberries, the grapes, the hummus. Yep healthy eating and caffeine overdosing. Go Team!

The Time Machine (1960) This is one of the truly great sci-fi movies, and it was great seeing it on the big screen. Who knows why they re-made it, as this version is the definitive. It's at times cheesy, deep, intriguing, sexist, visionary - perfect for the marathon. Good realisation of the book, with the usual 60's looseness. The lead, Rod Taylor, is very very good and holds the story together nicely. Speaking of which, it might be a bit hammy, but the story is nice and sets up a reasonably thought provoking discusion of free will.
Those of you who watch the Big Bang theory will recognise the machine and morlocks :) which is very similar to Mortlach ! Wonderful envisionaging of the time travel too - nice effects. Great movie that you need to watch.

Torture Dungeon (1970) Aahhhh Andy Milligan, one of the worlds most visionary directors ! i love his stuff, we've seen a bit over the years, Guru the mad monk, Blood and I think a couple of others. Shockingly bad!!! He is truely one of the originals and exactly wot I wanted to see. It's got all the hallmarks of Mr Milligan, kinda vaguely middle Europe mid Renaissance? setting (but shot in Staten Island from memory). Kings, Queens, lost children, idiots, but somehow this one wasn't living up to everything I wanted - not enough porn for a Milligan. As usual no coherent story (not that I could follow anyway), acting that makes porn stars look good, production values lower than a yoofs jeans - all wonderful. I can't find any clip of it online, so here's the trailer for The Mad Monk which we watched last marathon.

The Ruins 2008 The last of the premies! (heh heh) Four friends holiday in Mexico go to a hidden ruin. Very predictable horror which I really didn't enjoy. Boring. Some of the scenes involving 'the monster' where good, particuarly the infection aspects of the victims. Again DVD.
Acting was annoying and characters not very well developed. Worse than normal for a horror movie.

The Last Dragon (1985) How feckin' awesome was this! Motown Kung Fu. This was bloody marvellous. Young master is seeking the final level and goes on a journey of self-discovery. Kicking butt to an awesome soundtrack. Everything is wrong about this movie, and was perfect. We needed far more of this! Trivia time, the main chick is Vanity as in Prince's protege. She's now a hard-core born again (ahhh bet you thought I was going to say porn star!).

Gojira tai Gaigan (Chikyu kogeki meirei) 1972 We only got one reel of this - the final one where the big fight happens - nice four way between the monsters, two of which are space monsters!!! Fun movie, from what we saw, and crap dialogue. Not sure if I could have coped with 80 mins of it, but 20 mins was great!

Moonshiners Woman (1968) Ahhh a wonderful return tothe moralistic crap like Reefer Madness. Hilarious overdubbing by the narrator about the perils of the big city, money and drugs/booze/prostitution. Sign me up!! Painfully long to sit through and worth every minute of it!

And finally, we ended up The Road Warrior. Again good to see this on the big screen. Not much point reviewing this, given everyone has seen it !

Overall, it was good, but my major issue was that there wasn't enough crap. Too many classics, not enough porn/crud/bollox - which is, afterall, what you want to see at 2am in the morning on a caffeine high. Will I go again? sure. Will I complain to Ant about the level of quality? sure!

Love, B

19 December 2008

24 Hour Movie Marathon

I didn't die from caffeine overdose, again proving resistence and year round training pays off. So what did our merry band of addicts watch?
King Dinosaur (1955) Reptile porn!!! croc's, lizards, fights! crap lines! romance! shoddy effects! Great start to the marathon. MST3K did do a pisstake, but we didn't watch that one. So here's the trailer. Movie rocked along nicely, not too long, and funny with great 50's sensibility. A habitable plant magically appeared close enough to Earth to visit. Huzzah!!!

Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) OK, so it's not a b-grade but it was nice to see on the big screen. It's actually a good movie, but it's also notable for the wonderful stereotyping of blacks, poms ("he's english, so probably a fruitcake"). Plot revolves around a hijacking a New York subway train - lots of famous actors in their early days, or at the peak of their performance. Well written, well acted, and clips along at a nice pace. Do watch it.

Role Models (2008) First of the premieres. from the history of the writers, I wouldn't have given this one the time of day. But locked in a movie theater, ya don't have much option, and it turned out to be a very funny comedy. Two miscreants end up on a youth support program (big brothers to disadvantaged kids), one a loser geek and the other a smartass black kid. It should have been cliche'd bollox that had me swearing, but somehow it worked. Smart and offensive, I gave it the thumbs up. Would recommend seeing it when it came out.

Ninja Turf (1985) AKA LA Streetfighter. It's an 80s Ninja movie, need I say more? Script atrocious, acting worse, continuity an early victim in this movie. Think West Side Story meets Saturday Night Fever. Kinda. Set at a high school where everyone is at least 35 - I begin to see where Aaron Spelling got his inspiration from ... kung fu stuff looked good, even if the movie made little sense. Loosely the plot, which takes sometime to appear, gangs fighting (which is irrelevant to the story), boy meets girl from other gang (again irrelevant), boy steals lots of cocaine, bad gang unhappy, kidnaps rest of gang, hero goes in search of friends. Dire!!

Krull (1983) Oh dear god. This is where the pain set in. I remember watching this in the 80s and thinking it seemed a bit silly. Ants introduced this as 'this should take you all back and scare you with 80s memories'. This movie is crap. Storyline? hahahahaha. Acting, ideal for a bgrade marathon. jeez it's bad. Unfortuntely it takes itself seriously. For some time. A very lengthy time in fact. One of the worst movies ever made, I'd quite happily group it with Dungeon Siege 2. For those of you who harbour happy memories of this - go watch it again. And have your childhood memories dashed by Liam Neeson trying his very best to act within the appalling script and background.

Dying Breed (2008) Second of the premiere's. An Australian horror movie set in Tasmania about flesh eating. It's not bad, definitely better than Wolf Creek. I enjoyed it, even if it's pretty predictable. Two chicks, two guys, all young go in search of the Tasmanian Tiger - same area as one of the chicks' sister died some years before. End up in the back of beyond with weird villagers - somewhat reminiscient of league of gentlemen ! I found the cynical comedic relief guy (aussie larrakin) a bit annoying quite quickly, very cliched character. As mentioned, it's predictable, but it's OK, no major frights. Nice feel to the movie, very dark and atmospheric - seemed similar in some respects to 1000 corpses. Good gore level, so I reckon 6/10 for this one. Worth seeing, but don't rush. DVD will be fine.

Vigilante (1983) What's with all these bloody 80s movies that are good, and not b-grade being shown? A revenge flick where a steel mill worker has his wife/kid murdered and joins a vigilante group to sort them out. Quite enjoyable and gritty - style seemed to take a lot from the new york 70s crime flicks. Fred Williamson in there too. Enjoyed this, and some good lines.

Part 2 to follow.


Tom Waits gig

Tom Waits

And in the final, very belated, blog of the trip to see Andrew and Alex's wedding, a review of the Tom Waits gig in Dublin.
We left Krakow and flew the deluxe flights of RyanAir to Dublin via Stansted (my God, what a horrendous airport). Bus to hostel which was reasonably close to the main street of Dublin, which for the moment, escapes me. And yeah I know I should know it. A shower then wandering to the gig at Phoenix Park. Phoenix Park, we had been informed, was a 25-30 min walk past such scenic highs as the Guinness factory. More on that later. And yes, it was a 25-30 min walk.
Unfortunately the gig was at the other end, and the Park is bloody massive.
We arrived at the gig around 8pm, picked up the tix, which I discovered back in NZ that having asked for them to be pickups at the gig, they'd posted. Idiots. The venue was a circus tent with a number of stalls around the sides. Exactly what you'd imagine a Tom gig to be. Our seats? Middle of the stage, 4 rows back, I love andrew.

The stage was set up as an old barn, odd instruments strewn everywhere, old speakers hung at the back, and small stage in the center - again strewn with oddities and detritus.
The band wandered on; sax, drums (tom's son), keys, guitar and bass. And then Tom arrived. A decrepid hobo, vaudeville in appearance, basking in applause, playing the crowd.
Kicking into the setlist, a shambling rambling old man, totally captivating the crowd. Not one word , this was an audience who wanted to be there, this was no London crowd.
In my view, a perfect setlist find one? with music from every 'era' of Tom's. The setlist may have been planned, but Tom's approach to gigging keeps the band on their toes - as Tom said after kicking of a song 'well, that could be any of them...'. Tom's better song banter, was excellent, although having heard the NPR gig (link here), it may not vary !!
Excellent section with Tom on piano and a bass player, including piano has been drinking.
What can I say? Atmospheric, dusty (placed on his stage, so stamping during songs produced a dust cloud), shuffling, oddly rhythmical with strange claps, whistles and stamping from the man, and possibly the best gig I've been too. Certainly in the top three. A spell-binding performance by a singularly unique performer, cult hero for over 30 years...

Yeah I liked it.

The weather turned to crap during the gig, it drizzled from Dublin airport to the city and on the wander to the gig. It was torrential rain on the walk down from the Park back into the city. We were soaked. Very soaked. To the point where we didn't have a beer, or indeed any drink. I would have popped into a pub if there'd been a nice one open - another 'minor' issue. And so, waking at 7 in order to catch the ferry across to Wales (as I was training back into London) I can say that:
I have spent 18 hours in Dublin, it was either drizzling or raining the entire time, and I didn't have a beer.


Love and not so much travel this December, me xxx

Hairy Bruce

I now I promised a long time ago that I'd post pictures of me pre-wedding. It's still the same year so I guess I didn't lie :D
Background: 5 months of growth to scare Alex. Given she poured booze down my throat then made me get it cut, I suspect mission accomplished!

Love, B.

14 December 2008


Caffeine intake: check
V intake: check
24hrs of movies: check

Full review to follow, but caffeine intake from 8am Sat to 4pm Sun: filter (1); espresso (7); Vs (5). Death not apparent.

There are blogs aplenty to follow :) I should really do something there.


3 December 2008

Ahhh Driving Miss Brian

I'll get back to the beer saga soon-ish, but in the meantime from HMVs email this morning:

More Brian Training

Nintendo DS

This has caused much amusement.


25 November 2008

Beer Report

Has been a time between drinks. Actually it hasn't, but it's been awhile since I commented on beer.

But I'm back. And I'm pissy.

Two recent experiences to demonstrate my point. And I'm not too embarrassed to admit I lost my rag on the first one.

Supermarket, not exactly upmarket - ie not Thorndon or City New World - is selling triple abbey beer. Huzzah I think, and carefully pick up a 750ml bottle and carry it to the checkout. The chick packing the bags flips it over and spins it to wrap it in paper. I yelled at 'what the fuck are you doing, that's bottled conditioned'. She looked quite shocked. So I explained why you should never do that to a bottle conditioned beer, and said I'd be going to get another one. Muttering loudly about fucking incompetent idiots.

Went to a pub after hockey and ordered an Emerson's APA (bloody marvelous beer). the other beer I was getting I'd said no glass, and this one the barman said 'No way I'm giving you this one without a glass, and be nice on the pour'. Respect. 
Regional Wines? When I picked up some cork'n'wires the other week, Fraser said "now, no drinking for at least a week, let them settle". and he knows me as a beer lad. 

My point? Other than I'm getting more angry as the years flow by, is that if someone is stocking an item they should know how to sell it. I've ranted about stupid feckin pretentious twat bars (The Jimmy comes to mind) that have a great selection of wine, and four or five beers. All crap beers too - I got stuck with Stella. 

But by god, this Edradour 14yo is going down nicely.

20 November 2008

Thank Fk thats over

I had my PhD oral defence.

Call me doctor.

And yes, I've given up on science.

18 November 2008

Cooking with Bruce

Fine. I'll give you the recipes. By popular demand, last night and tonights dinner recipes. Can be made in one sitting as the curry improves flavour overnight.

This is the quick version so use bought savoury pastry.
Peel and chop into small cubes 2-3 potatoes, boil til soft (ish).

Heat oil in pan, add 1 finely chopped onion, 2t chopped garlic, 1 red chilli, cook until fragrant. Add some tomato paste (or mexican sauce stuff - I'd made some and had it in the freezer), more chilli, 1 tin mixed beans, 1T gnd cumin. Mix and heat.
Anything else you can think of throw in there (prawns are nice, as is cheese), add roughly chopped tomato, half of the cooked potato. Let cool down a bit.

Take pastry, split sheet in half, put mixture in there, and seal up sides. Yeah can do the fancy arrangements, but meh. Cook in 190C oven until brown.
Serve with green salad, sour cream, etc.

Mushroom and pea curry
Fry thinly cut onion with 2t garlic, 2t ginger. Add 1 tin of tomatoes, 1t tumeric, 1t chilli, 2t cumin, stir and fry until oil separates. Add mushrooms (lots!!) chopped roughly, cook until water absorbed (ish), add 0.5-1c peas, and leftover potato. Add coriander just before serving.

Serve with rice.

Love, me.

17 November 2008


Damn I'm an organised bunny this evening. I've cooked some lovely vege empanadas and while they were cooking, made some mushroom and pea curry for dinner tomorrow night. Tasty!!

Which means I should get some work done tomorrow night too!! huzzah!!

And Marillion have released the new t-shirts. Hmmmm. Pretty.

Me x

16 November 2008

Sunday avo stuff

I should be doing things, so I'm taking this blog time as 'breaktime'. Honest.

I'm on a health kick at the moment. Generally these last 2-3 days, but I'm excited to report this one has notched up 6 days. I was more reasonable and decided that keeping beer/booze in would give me a better chance of succeeding. It's costing me a small fortune in grapes and strawberries (my nibbles d'jour) but eh, I like them.

Watched the test this morning with Dad. Ireland seemed to have a very well organised defence (if *slightly* offside) in the first half, but that kinda fell apart in the second. Far too many handling mistakes tho. But the ref had a blinder - is it wrong to suggest he might be the best ref in the world? Great decision making, great communication.
Wonderful to see the mighty blackness destroy the country whose major output is black. And Ronan O'Gara is the most overhyped player in the world. He is crap. I've yet to see a good game from him, which must get bloody annoying for his 2/5 and center who are brilliant...

The Americana show has Leonard Cohen reciting Democracy over a very spooky backing track. Magic.

And in another sporting update within the same blog. Apparently the worlds most dangerous sport is 'baby jumping' (god knows why, they're a renewable resource) from Spain. Apparently it cleanses the babies of sin, ironic given they are only there thanks to the #1 sin !
Anyway the best way to show baby jumping is by youtube, and it just had to be backed with VH's "Jump".

12 November 2008


The PsychoChicken's interesting post on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - a response to a radio show in the UK (those of you in NZ, give me a yell if you want it - it's around the torrents...), was going to get a quick comment from me. After starting typing I realised it wasn't going to be a small comment.

So I've moved proceedings to here.

For reasons that will become obvious shortly, this is a tune that means a lot to me.

I first became aware of this music through the Buckley version. And to this day it is my favourite version. The passion, the fragility and yet the power in his voice, brilliant. Again something PC and I agree on. That album is perfect.
Discovering the Cohen original was something of a shock, it is significantly different in vibe and focus to the Buckley. And there are a few versions by Cohen which differ in quality. To my mind the shorter, 4'39min version is definitive for Cohen.
His version seems more bitter, with a weirdly lounge touch (and no, I don't like the backing singers) to the positive redemptive quality of Buckley. Cohen, in addition to bitter and bile, seems to imbue the lyrics with cynicism. It seems to me that in his version the protagonist is a loser, with no hope of redemption, and is simply sinking further down. Buckley, with the delicate guitar intro, indicates where he wants the song to go, it's sad, but it's positive. His protagonist doesn't want to be dragged down, rather he wants life but realises it's a battle to win. The ending is where the power kicks in - but thats in the live version.
A video for the Buckley version is here.
A video from the current Cohen tour here. More redemption here...

Like Neil, I don't get any Christian references in the track. I suspect, given the bitter cynical Cohen version, the title is more a failure of joy. Not a redemptive God reference. Buckley seems to be using Hallelujah as union between the characters.

Longer versions of Buckley's are available on the Sin-E deluxe edition (9'15); L'Olympia (9'35); Bataclan (9'25). Some differences to Grace, but nothing dramatic.

Having dealt, albeit briefly, with the two definitive versions, here's the other versions I have sitting around on the ipod. Randy Newman, his was the version that most people recognise, being on the Shrek movie. As it's Randy Newman, it's very good, powerful, well sung, but lacking the emotive power of the BigTwo.

Female singers: yeah I've got a few versions, but the best is k.d.lang's from her tribute to Canadian songwriters (Hymns of the 49th Parallel). It's her and a piano, and she does have a great voice, and brilliant phrasing. I do rather like this version, her voice has character, and she does a couple of interesting passing notes. The problem with her version, is it's lacking something. It doesn't cut me. There's no passion, no pain, no cynicism, no loss, no redemption. She sings the words, beautifully, but misses the point of the song.

Rufus Wainwright. I think he's the most talented of Clan Wainwright. And his version of H is as good as Cohen's. There are quite a few versions of RW singing H; the most common one is his version on the Shrek soundtrack (I think I've got that round the right way, Newman and Wainwright - one did the soundtrack, one did the movie). But for my money, his definitive version, demonstrating power, fragility, and brilliant support singing by his sister, is from the Leonard Cohen tribute movie 'I'm your man'. Wainwright's slight speech impediment (weak 'w's) seems to increase the Buckley-ness of his version. Again he treats the song as redemptive.

John Cale. Yeah that John Cale. You'd expect him to get this song. And he does. Like Cohen it's more negative (to my ears), he moves it along more than Cohen, there is more redemption than Cohen. But I still think he thinks the protagonist has hit rock bottom, unlike Cohen he see's a future for him. Cale and a piano (seems a common way to approach the song) works well, but strangely I keep wanting more character in the voice. My version is from the Basquiat soundtrack.

So that's my quick n dirty review. There are other versions I have lying around, But nothing to challenge those ones. Buckley's is the definitive version, Cohen and Wainwright come in joint second, mainly due to the entirely different take Cohen has of his song compared to everyone else.

Having written that, I've been pondering it for a bit, and I'm sure I agree with myself. If Cohen had a decent backing track, I think the cynicism of his version may be my favourite. It will be interesting to see what he does with it in January...

It also works well on the harmonium although the triplets don't, so I'm tending to block chord bass n 5th in the left, and triplet/arpeggio/block chord in the right.
France liked this song. And she liked the Buckley version. She didn't like much of the rest of TheAlbum. Sadly she never really succumbed to my reasoned arguments of how good Grace was (I beat her with AoS, but she was never a huge Marillion fan).
So H was played at her funeral, so it does have emotive value that song. Aside from that layer, the song itself is powerful, no matter what your take (cynical or redemptive), let alone if you feel the need to load some form of religious layer as well - although having listened to Cohen interviews, I really struggle to see how you could load them on this song.
Other singers I'd be interested in hearing cover this: Steve H, although I doubt he'd make it through to the end sensitive soul that he is. But the way he's singing these days, it could quite easily be the definitive version. He has covered both Cohen (Famous Blue Raincoat) and Buckley (Dream Brother).
Ryan Adams, he does covers well (look at Wonderwall on Love is Hell PtI).

And the leftfield options, Arcade Fire. No seriously, think about them and the power in Funeral. But to put the cat among the pigeons, Justin Timberlake.

Tom Waits could be interesting, I'm thinking it would be more Cohen than Buckley. Tom's characters may have hearts of gold, but their redemption is few and far between.

Here's a Wainwright version, I've just watched a few of his and I really like the way he plays with the tempo, anything from 3'45 to 5'00.

Love, me

8 November 2008

But there are more links

Ok, so one of my favourite bands, The Mountain Goats, has released a 'free' EP download called Satanic Messiah. The 'Goats are kind low-fi alt-indie band. I love 'em.
So go download here, and donate - your call how much.

Do it. The band is worth it. And no I haven't heard the EP yet.


Ramone Me Baby!!!

What would be your name if you were inthe Ramones???

Find out here! Be Surprised! Be Excited!!! Be Aware!!

Go get me more booze.

NZ Election night

How bloody boring is the TV coverage. I have a cold, but even then the nutnumbingly inane crud has driven me to booze.
I tried beer: a very nice trappist (Rochefort) then a Mac's Sassy Red (overrated).

So I've turned to my drink d'jour. Edradour 24yo; Brora 24yo (Dun Bheagan). i might go and watch a movie instead. Or go to sleep, which will be better for me.
Stupid feckin' idiots.


6 November 2008

For S2H

The Answer is Always Oasis.

This may have been prompted by listening to Don't look back in anger single, just for 'Cum on Feel the Noize', which in turn was prompted by the music quiz playing the original last night.
Here's the original version by Slade.

me x

3 November 2008

Scotch Report: Malt Masters

This months tasting looked at what Malt Masters bring into New Zealand. So without further ado...

Bowmore 18yo 43% My God, it's not a cask strength! That made picking it quite easy ! Nose: linament; salty bacon; caramel. Palate: caramel, rum?, sweet dark chocolate orange; Finish: chilli (yeah really!); ash; dry, short-med. 7.5-8/10
Macallan-Glenlivet Cadenheads 16yo 1989-Sept06 53.3% bourbon hogshead 282 bottles Nose: muscatel, sweet, cognac? apple. Palate: warm delicate, muscatels; Finish: spicy, ash, pepper smooth, medium finish 7/10
Springbank 16yo 8y refill bourbon 8y fresh rum June91-Aug07 54.2% 5100 bottles The first of the Springbanks, very sweet, vanilla, chocolate, rum notes; Palate: soft, evolves in mouth, smokey, hint of soap; Finish: salty, tang, very light, medium length 7/10
Springbank 12yo bourbon/rum 1989-April02 54.6% 5700 bottles Nose: vanilla, rum, very sweet, parmesan cheese!; Palate: salty, lovely!; Finish: warm, earthy, long-huge 8-9/10
Springbank 10yo 100 proof 57% Nose: leather, old, edradour-ish; paint; Palate: tasty, smooth, meaty; finihs: ash, toffee, rum, long 9/10
Longrow 7yo 5.5y refill bourbon 1.5y fresh Gaja Barolo Oct00-Jan08 55.8% 12170 bottles Nose: salt, bacon, smokey; Palate: sweet, salty, smokey; Finish: salami, very smokey, med-long 6/10
Arran 57.7% bottled 14.9.06 130 of 487 Napoleon Cognac finish from A.Hardy Nose: sweet, white choc, soap, marshmellows, strong! Palate: cough syrup, paint?; Finish: apple, grand marnier, almond icing, med-long finish 8-9/10

So an interesting selection of whisky's. I've never had that many Springbanks (they make the Longrow too) , but am very partial to my SMWS (or wotever order it is) Springbank. The 10yo was the standout for me. Very full bodied and very tasty - since I'd flogged off a couple of unopened bottles I'd been given over the years, it made this one nice and cheap (speaking of which, if any reader wants a bottle of Glenmorangie 10yo cheap, let me know). 
The Bowmore was disappointing, I've had others and really enjoyed them - and want someone to buy me the 42yo Black Bowmore so I can try that ... but the worst, by far, was the Longrow. Is this indicative of their style? 

All up, good tasting of stuff I hadn't really had before. But it's beginning to confirm to me that I don't the Macallan. 

Love, B.

2 November 2008

In other news

I'm cooking beetroot for pickling. I am so a domestic goddess. Damn I need a beer. Ooohh I have beer. Now I just need to move.
Americana show is blasting out from inside. Thanks ActiveFM.

Found while surfing: Elderly texting, including:
BIMD: Back in my day
ROFLACGU: Rolling on the floor laughing and can't get up
ML2N?: Matlock tonight?

New Luke Buda album is out now - Vesuvius. I haven't heard it yet, although it is now on my ipod. And the Chicken's copy will be winging its way on Monday.

Hmm I've just realised I haven't had a chance to listen to the new Bob Dylan album. Actually I have a lot of albums to catch up on. Tough few months in terms of albums.

Ooohhh I found my beer notes, so here's wot we tasted the other week at the Belgian tasting at Regional Wines. We were focussing on Maredsous, and it was taken by Fraser not Geoff Griggs. We like Fraser's approach to beer tasting, it more reflects our own. Geoff has a bad habit of being on the second beer after an hour. We don't like that.

Fraser divided the tasting into three types of beer, and produced three per type. So we could compare the brands - we think this worked well. First up were:
Maredsous Blond lemon/citrus nose, light hop notes, nice, slightly bitter, very light 8/10
Leffe Blonde yup that one, kinda tasteless, slight herbal taste 6/10
Steen Brugge Rich thought this would be a good session beer. oddly tasteless, very similar to Leffe Blonde, dry, sweet 7/10

Next up were the Bruin beers.
Maredsous Bruin bitter, dry, chocolate (lots), malty (lots), smooth 8/10
Leffe Bruin Smooth tasting, chocolate, bubbly, very malty, a bit dry 6/10
Dupoint Moinette Brune chocolate, lovely, sweet nose like xmas cake, wine hints 9/10

And finally the triples.
Maredsous triple banana nose, chilli hints! interesting beer, citrus 8/10
Brugge triple spicy banana fruity rounded 7/10
Karmeliet triple very spicy nose, great taste, lemon cheese cake, spicy sausage!! 9/10

So I'll keep avoiding Leffe, not good. Maredsous is good and worth drinking. And I do so love Triple's, and the Karmeliet in particular (which I've had a few times before).

Rich and I decided to sober up from the Belgian 8-10% beers (all 10 of them - we had a bonus taster) by drinking some 4% beer. That went well. Until we found whisky. I can recommend the Dalmore standard now too :)

This blog brought to you by Timmermans Kriek.
B xx


I'm managing to avoid doing anything today. I did get out of bed, but only to make coffee and lie in the sun.

I have done washing, I've listed some CDs on trademe. Thought seriously about finishing cleaning the house. Read the paper, read some Watchmen (been awhile so thought I'd re-read it), and watching a couple more episodes of the new Alan Ball programme True Blood. It's got Anna Paquin in a southern gothic vampire love murder story. I like it a lot. Quirky, dark and seems to nail southern gothic very nicely. Worth a watch, and the theme song is great (see below).

I was going to do the scotch and beer blog, but I seem to have my lists of what I've drunk recently on my desk at work, and that would involve moving. So you ain't getting that.

Anyone got any new music I should check out? I'm like the Jace Everett theme from True Blood, the new Bloodbath album is kicking the right metal notes, new Jolie Holland seems good, but I'm in the mood for something different. Go on, surprise me...

29 October 2008

(slightly) pished post

The hot date went very well. But we parted as friends, but will see each other again. Probably tomorrow infact. Is that too early? I dunno. Dating is so tricky.

In other news, cavemen were druggies. No really. I read this while drinking...see:
Scientists believe that the drug being used was cohoba, a hallucinogen made from the beans of a mimosa species.
The article here.

An appropriate video would appear to be this:

Love, sleep drunkish b.

I have a date tonight

And it's with my second longest running relationship. If MicrowavePie boy is #1, then Marillion (the Family) are second - seeing as he got me into them.
the newest member of the Family has arrived in Wellington. Happiness is the Road. I'm now curled up with a cheeky wine, dinner and my very very hot date.

In order to impress her, for it can only be a her, I have slow roast mushrooms and red onions, with blue cheese, some caesar salad, and some chick pea patties with a variety of pickles and chutneys. The wine is a 2004 Zinfandel from Kemblefields, which is rocking along with the dinner, and dessert will be the remaining blue cheese.

I'm on track 4, and I'm loving it. As per usual it will take some time to absorb her, let her get under the skin, caress me, whispering... ahhh good times.


28 October 2008


Ok I'll admit straight up I don't like gadgets much. Which probably comes as a surprise to most people, but really I can count on one hand the gadgets I have (ipod, laptop, appletv). And I hate phones. Really hate. I hate their ringing. I hate people wanting me to do stuff, and i hate their general intrusion into daily life. Which is why i don't have a landline at home.

I like text messaging and watching my phone ring, just so I know who I'm ignoring.

So when work told me I needed to put my mobile number on the business card I said 'no' it's a personal phone, so you won't be doing that. They said fine they'll get me a work phone. I got excited at that point and said, can I have an iphone. They said no, and my enthusiasm disappeared. I ended up a with a Palm Treo 700wx. It's a hefty wee thing, but does fit OK in my pocket, and TBH I'm a hefty wee thing too. It runs Windows Mobile and lets me read my emails and get reminders of meetings. That's proven to be very useful and I like it for that. The layout is mostly Windows-y so I can navigate around it pretty easily.
The battery seems crap, like 2-3 days (max) when ive got it checking emails and on phone. And it doesn't seem to have a phone only option (ie no Outlook), I'm not saying it doesn't have one, but I haven't found it. And I can't be arsed reading manuals. I tried. I really did. But got bored and found beer instead.

And my personal phone? well the SonyEricsson thing I had died. Badly. So I got an iphone. It's like sex, I can't get enough of it. Looks great, is really simple to use, does everything I want a phone to do (aside from MMS, but there's a hack for that), and syncs with my Mac - which was always a driving issue for a new phone. The SonyEriccson did ok via BlueTooth tho'.
It's simple to use, the keypad is easier to use than the Treo (which isn't too bad - looks crap, but works ok) and typing messages is quicker than I thought it would be. I would have thought my fingers would be too big and i'd get the wrong letters, but no. It's just great. And it looks even better!

I haven't ever felt this kind of need for a phone before. I even answer phone calls on it !!

So there is another gadget in my life, and I can see this one making life easier - which is my usual issue with gadgets, in large they don't add anything. This one - syncs my calendars, organises my shopping lists, allows me to dump to-do's on it including shopping lists, can check the weather, tap out emails, listen to music (if I ever get around to putting any on there), watch movies (if I get around to that). Oh heaven and joy :)

me (somewhat infatuated)

22 October 2008


This blog was going to be a review of the scotch tasting last night. But it's not. Instead it's going to discuss my job. An almost unheard of thing in my ramblings about beer, whisky and music.

As many of you know I recently departed the world of science for the world of IT, in which I've dabbled for some time. Dipping my toes, but refusing to get anything more than soggy socks. My disgust at the state of science, and organisation thereof in NZ, caused me to apply for a Team Leader role. Which I got, and am enjoying. Full immersion to continue the watery analogy.
One reason for the hiring was to implement a knowledge base - using KCS methodology. Basically it's knowledge base management but from calls/incidents in real time and everyone gets to create the entries, and depending what status you are, some people get to edit others' entries. It's a bit more complicated than that, but it relies on everyone doing stuff (not just one person) and getting feedback and keeping the solution simple.

I think it's going well. We've discovered we do *a lot* more than we thought we did, which means we're still in the creation phase, rather than re-use phase of the entries.

What has been interesting is peoples response to this, as it is a paradigm change for some of them. Our ServiceDesk had had a complete turnover of staff, so they were in a WTF is going on here phase, so convincing them of the use was easy. My lot were more sceptical, about half of them thought it was a good idea. Some of the others just did it cos knew I'm not likely to let go of things if I think they are a good idea. And some were grumpy cos they like to hoard knowledge and be known as 'the expert' which is what I wanted to break. I didnt' see any wins there, and figure all of the team should be able to do, in theory, anything. Hells bells, I wrote one of these entries and got my boss (who is sooo not technical) to test it, by configuring server stuff.

The last couple of weeks I've been gathering data and putting it into various reports/charts for various presentations my boss and I are working on. This is where we found out we do far more than we thought. And at the meetings where we've been promoting some of the people to the 'you can edit others entries' phase, there have been some very unhappy campers. So many of them didn't get that the crux of this was formatting. It's all well and good writing a feckin' novel how to fix a problem - but if you can't write it so someone else can follow steps. What's the point?
The funniest was one of the non-english speakers (my boss likes hiring them, cos they make her laugh...) who we promoted above someone who thought he was excellent (he's not). Her explanation "I wrote them so I could follow them" was exactly the point.

So yeah I'm enjoying this at the moment. A mixture of analysis, cajoling, violence, manipulation and dictatorship. It all seems to fit my personality.

We did a presentation to a group of Wgtn support people this afternoon, which was interesting as well. the ones who see knowledge as a 'something we should do' vs those who see it as a cornerstone of support was quite obvious.

I'm writing this while listening to Albinoni Oboe concerti. As some CDs arrived which are going to take some time to absorb: Albinoni Oboe concerti; Calexico (new one); bob dylan bootleg v8; Rush snakes and arrows live; Telemann concerti; Lilburn Symphonies. And I hope the new Marillion arrives in the next day or so.

I'm also reading Sandman again. Ahhhh lovely. Back to that now.

Love, me

18 October 2008

New Pornograhers

S2H and I wandered along last Thurs. The blonde and I had had some cocktails in the office, then headed to the music quiz (our trad Thurs endeavour) where beer occurred, s2h turned up, quiz finished. Headed to gig, found mohitos. Info after that vague...

Martin Phillips (ex ?current? The Chills) was support. Just him and his guitar. It was good, not great, and as s2h mentioned, a bit sad he's still playing songs that were average 15 years ago. Sure Pink Frost is brillant, and worked reasonably well acoustic. But eh. I can't complain, Kayleigh?

The New Pornographers are great live. Great on album too. Indie-pop? I guess that's a label. Anyhoo brillant gig, lovely harmonies, great rhythm section. Infectious vibe, good audience. Definitely recommend them as a live act. Personally, of the three bands I've seen in the last fortnight, Yeasayer and WGC were better, but still New Pornographers are a great live.
Very quirky, fun lyrics.

Ok, so not much of a review, but eh I loved the gig and am really glad S2H made me go. My cunning plan to make him go, worked out well for both of us - since it made me go too.

What I wouldn't recommend: starting work at 630 the next morning. Or rather later that morning. I got home and into bed around 1. Thankfully my staff are now used to beer/whisky tastings/quiz nights/general debauchery from their beloved TL and can recognise the signs to be quiet and deal with problems themselves. Go empowerment. I am a brillant leader.


Eating with Sphen

From last weeks culinary adventures, 20 minutes max from start to finish (using the shortcuts detailed in the recipe).

Tom kar with dumplings
2x 400ml tins coconut cream
1/2 cup water
1T tom yam (sometimes yum) paste.
Mix over low heat
add: 1 small onion chopped; 2t grated palm sugar; 4 slices galangal; chopped small red chilli; sliced lemongrass; 8 kaffir leaves (I used 2t of kaffir leaves from a container with preserved leaves - cos it's a prick to find them fresh); 1/2 c chopped mushrooms.
Simmer for 10 mins.

About 10 dumplings (I used prawn and vege) either make or buy good quality, if frozen, microwave for 2 mins with a bit of water - covered.

Combine and serve.

Bloody marvellous, quick and reasonably cheap. Like me.

14 October 2008

Show me your fin, bigboy

From Nature news today, NZ researchers have discovered you can sex dolphins by looking at their fins. Males have more scar tissue and females have more scabs (phrased at patchy skin lesions in the news article).

Show me your fin bigboy!

It's not the size its the scarring!

It's been awhile since I had a science blog. this might be stretching it, but godamnit I'm taking it!!

This evening is working out nicely

I biked home. Which made me feel sweaty, hot and virtuous. The first two and the third do not frequently met.
Had a nice refreshing shower and made some dinner. Rigotoni, walnuts, blue cheese, mascarpone, lemon zest, parmesan, salt/pepper, parsley. Bloody marvelous. I've got some dessert, with pistachio gelato and chocolate sauce, some Wire to watch, and a beer to consume.

This maybe a perfect evening.


13 October 2008


It's been a good couple of week for live gigs here in Wellington. i've already blogged about Willard Grant Conspiracy, last week I caught Yeasayer - promoting their 2007 album 'All Hour Cymbols) . What an awesome gig. the band have quite a different sound, Simon Sweetman mused recently that he was wondering who of the new hip bands would push on to something new. His suggestion was Yeasayer. I'm not as sure, they are certainly unique, but only having one album makes it a bit hard to judge.
Sonically it can be summed up as 80s synth meets world meets prog. There are elements of CSN, Beach Boys, RealWorld artists (now there's a catchall!), bits of Talking Heads (but not enough to piss me off like TH) and then some widdly keyboard bits over strange rhythms that wouldn't be out of place on a Peter Gabriel record.
The crowd were really up for them, I'm not sure how much they'd heard from the band, but their infectious vibe (the bands, not the crowds, that came later) was, well, infectious. And the rhythms were cool - their drummer is incredible. the falsetto vocal acrobatics of the lead singer (all the band sing) were quite impressive too.

I really can't do this gig justice for how good it was, and how good and different the band are.

Sound samples are available here, and their main website is here.

me x

12 October 2008


Well yeah I know it was some time ago now, but I did make some notes with the intention of typing them in at some point. And, if I'm organised, I might add pictures.

I flew back to London for Andrew's stag do, a rather fun event. We even managed a few pints of cider at the Southwark Tavern, one of my favourite pubs - as its next door to the Borough Market. The cider day at the pub was complete with a grass floor and apple bobbing. And the potent cider? mmm yummy.

I flew into a very hot Krakow and made my way to the hostel, a lovely art deco building. We wandered into the square for a folk music gig. Enjoyed this, although the Hungarian group, who were apparently quite famous, had a brass section of the 'rip shit n bust' variety. No finesse at all, which ruined the performance somewhat for me.

Krakow is quite lovely, undamaged historic buildings, friendly (mostly) people, and flat. And cheap. I got the feel the place, although welcoming to visitors, and having a huge number of info kiosks, hasn't quite worked out how to market themselves.

Rather than the cheery comedic relief of Auchwitz I chose to explore the Art Deco display and the National Museum. I'md sure my soiled soul could have benefited from Auchwitz, but I'm less concerned with it, preferring to focus on the edification of my now. The Deco display turned out to be a modern artist working in the style of Deco. So that was crap. The National Museum was far better. Top floor had an extensive display of 20th c. Polish art, which was exactly why I wanted to do there. I loved this. There was, from my perspective, a unifying theme of darkness, frequently dispression, torment and pain. A pictorial equivalent of Sam Neill's 'Cinema of unease'? Having seen some Polish movies, I'd suggest NZs are pretty upbeat...suggesting the continual struggles, invasions, occupations etc have really damaged the Polish. But it was a wonderful exhibition, hard to single out highlights, but the comics/drawings were fascinating. The darkness of the subject matter, with the black and white drawing emphasising the starkness.

A recent donation of a major collection of 20th C art including Warhol and others provided a stark contrast with the insular Polish collection. No matter how perverse the subject matter, the pictures were all more upbeat than the Polish. I enjoyed the exhibition, but preferred the Polish.

Other floors of the museum explored the history of the Roman Catholic church in Poland. A history of Poland does, by necessity, revolve around the Church. As such many relics, finery, jewellery, stained glass windows etc were present.

For the military nutjob, a collection of Polish uniforms from the middle ages to the present day filled a sizeable area of one floor. Sadly not much musical history with only a msall corner of 'old' instruments, and none labelled very well. On the plus side they did have a hurdy-gurdy which was uber-cool.

why yes, I do want one. A hurdy-gurdy harmonium duet could be like soooo awesome dude!

the remainder of the floor consisted of jewellery, fashion, coins, furniture through the ages. Interesting, but aside from the 20th C glasswork, nothing really grabbed me.

A separate section presented and explained a number of Jewish artifacts. Not very interesting and personally I felt it lacked any context. Just seemed to be dumped there, cos they had to.

Beer in Poland wasn't very good. Which was surprising as I've had some excellent Polish beer. Sadly not on tap at any of the bars we went to. Food was, as expected, based around potatoes and cabbage. Not all that great. But in it's defence, it was cheap.

Krakow seems to like and value tourists, but isn't entirely sure how to deal with them - outside of the main square anyway. This seemed to lend the city an unspoilt effect, with traditional vibes rocking along nicely a block or two off the main area. Not too many loud Americans and not too busy. all in all, not great but I'd go back there.

Pictures to come.


10 October 2008

Brief Beer Report

Today was annoying, I'd ended up with large blisters on my feet and had ignored them on Thurs until the hobbling was drawing too many rude comments from my minions. they'll pay, oh god will they pay. So I worked from home and created 140 jobs for them to do - nah nah nah.
Very productive and I got to listen to lots of music at my kinda volumes, and it was lovely weather so the washings dry. Domestic goddess. That's me. Just don't ask me to speak. The illusion collapses then.

A brief beer report - I found one of my fav beers at Island Bay New World - St Peter's Fruit Beer - Grapefruit. Rather than a lambic, it's a traditional ale but with grapefruit. It's really lovely. Think Montheiths Radler, but good.
Yummy yummy yummy.
Great summer refreshing brew.


9 October 2008

Bela Tarr

The Man from London. I haven't seen any movies by him before (just checked imdb, and nothing is jumping out at me).
It's in black and white, or rather light and dark. The storyline is complex, more so than you'd imagine, but didn't appear to be the driving force of the movie. Rather a study of light, and absence of light, and how that can be used to focus attention. It is a very dark movie, both in story and lighting. The few brightly lit scenes burn bright, focussing story, driving the image into the viewer. Akin to how Turner focused his light (that's for the chicken...).
Movie? Hmmm slow, in the French Besson way. But it didnt annoy me the same way as most of Besson's movies. Possibly as the story was coherent, and did have a point. And there were no feckin' donkeys.
I enjoyed this, but I suspect I'll be in the minority. Had I been in another modd, I'd have hated this due to the long lingering shots which don't do anything (hence the Besson comment).


7 October 2008

pisht post

Much NZ red. Much NZ pinot in fact.

And  Yeasayer.

My god, what a band. 80s synth meets prog. I was in feckin' heaven. 

more of a review later, maybe. but they are great live.

and i have to go to work in 5 hours. and im very very drunk (at the time). woohoo fast show.

smoochies on your interesting bits, B.

5 October 2008

Of movies, music and beer

I have done pretty much nothing all weekend. Other than lie in bed and relax.

I've watched a fair number of movies recently, rather than indepth reviews I've decided to randomly mention some (not all).
I guess the trip to Berlin spiked an interest in war movies from the German perspective, so I hit Nick up and got:
Stalingrad - great movie, don't watch if you're feeling depressed, things don't end well. Engrossing movie tho'.
Cross of Iron - Sam Peckinpah does a war movie, from the German perspective. Meh it's ok, seems like a Western in places, and sounds like a US war movie. It's good, but over-all, I felt it's overrated (been awhile since I saw it).
Triumph of the Will - ahhh Leni Riefenstahl. It's not really a movie in the way the other three are, but as a documentary or even as a musical, it works brillantly. Described by imdb as 'the infamous propaganda film of the 1934 Nazi Rally in Nuremburg...', which is doing it a disservice. As a historical document, fascinating, as an expression of stage-craft - both movie and staging of the rallies, I suggest it's without peer. The film is apparently the best record of Nuremburg before it was bombed to buggery, and explores the city while following Hitler et al as they wander through it. Interesting look at the Hitler youth too, but by far the standout scenes are the rallies. Hitler was a very inspirational speaker, and who-ever did the stage management was superb (Speer? Riefenstahl?). I was hooked. Leni has had a bit of a redemption over the last few years and her stuff is more easily available, and doesn't have the same revulsion factor when you mention her name...
Downfall - probably the best of the four, looks at the last few weeks in Hitlers bunker in Berlin. Again the story was ruined by having the ending revealed too soon !!! but very well written, directed, acted movie - really enjoyed this one. Can't remember why I didn't see it at the movies...

In Bruges - new Colin Farrell vehicle. Worth watching, funny, but subtle and delicate movie about two hitmen hiding in Bruges.
Vratne lahve - Czech comedy about a teacher who leaves his job. I enjoyed it, funny in the way typical of Czech movies - that sounds a bit pretentious, but if you've seen any it'll make sense.

Beer: nothing much to report.

Music: iTunes was flogging off the 2008 Elbow album "Seldom Seen Kid" so I picked that up. Wow. Excellent. Will spin it more, but strong contender for top5 of the year. I keep forgetting how good that band are.
Some of my more guilty pleasures have raised their head recently. I've picked up the rest of the remastered Alan Parsons Project back catalogue, which I'll review in more detail later. But they do include Gaudi and Ammonia Avenue two of my personal favourites. Some of the others I've only had on tape, so haven't heard for years which could be fun.
Genesis 1983-1998 dropped in the letterbox. Now there's a guilty secret. Not known as their best period, the boxset includes Genesis (the one with Home by the Sea); Invisible Touch; We Can't Dance and Calling all Stations. For those of you who pick me as a hardcore prog boy, and S had this revealed to her on Saturday, I'm not. This is the Genesis era I prefer. I admit I've got more into them since I picked up the 76-82 boxset - it was cheap which was the only reason I succumbed. But Invisible Touch was the first vinyl I bought - from Chelsea Records in the Hutt (5 mins before I grabbed Hunting HIgh and Low from HMV? - I still like both albums btw). And I love it. Sure there's crud on there Anything she does springs to mind, but the album is fun. There's darkness on there, and there's pop-ness in keeping with Phil C's burgeoning outside career.
Genesis/Genesis is still good, and has more links to the older style. And any album with Home by the Sea is going to be a winner.
We Can't Dance. I still like it, I suspect it could have done with trimming. But the long 'jam' songs are still good. the Last Spike in particular.
Calling all Stations - never heard this, but am watching vids as I type this, and musically sounds like Duran Duran (well Shipwrecked did). I have Congo on CDSingle somewhere...

I still remember a review which asked 'how can a band who loses Phil Collins sound worse' (or words to that affect). Heehee.

I'm interested in revisiting the Peter Gabriel era when the next boxset comes out, as he's an artist who IMO has grown and developed well beyond what he came from. His solo stuff is some of my favourite music, but the Genesis stuff, hmmm can't remember it grabbing me. I think I liked bits of Lamb, which I've got vinyl but don't spin that often, if I want a 2CD prog album, I'll grab The Wall, or Snow, or Marbles.

There is some good stuff coming up soon, new Jolie Holland, new Marillion (and no, even though I got the download offer, I haven't done that), and new Steve Wilson. Also spinning new Richard Barbieri, which is interesting and in keeping with his immense talent.

Biggest bollox so far? Metallica, sure it's the best album of theirs in 10 years. But stop to look at what that actually says, it's better than a covers album, the crap S and M, the crap st anger, the good single but poor double 'load/reload' albums. I've spun it twice, which I'll agree isn't enough, but it's a yawnfest. The first half of the album passes me by, it's like 'oh really, track 6 already', there are some good tracks on there. But over all, a pass, not a resuscitation. I couldnt name any tracks :) so best album since 1991, makes it well, their best album in 17 years. That's encouraging that they do have it still in them. Rick Rubin is a talented wee chap.

Well I was going to read tonight, but think I'll doze off now.
Ciao, B.

2 October 2008

Earth, Willard Grant Conspiracy and beer

One of the brunettes and I were heading to WGC (Robbie Fisher) so decided to catch a movie first. Went and saw Earth at the Embassy. Hmmm, visually stunning, my quite soporific. Patrick Stewart, who narrates, has a great voice, but I got bored. Apparently the filmmakers had been accused of not putting enough global warming stuff in the TV series, and you got the feeling things were pushed through for the movie.
Music was horribly cliched and boring. dramatic scene=swell, add instruments, quieten down=pull instruments, birds flying=increasing chord changes. yawn.
Sure it looks good, but I'm not raving about it. Probably a 6/10 - worth seeing at the Embassy, but otherwise, don't rush.

Dinner was at the A-roy on cuba mall, which is good. Not quite spiced enough for me, so it'll be back to KK for me.

Support was provided by some group who I think were called the Downbeats. Really enjoyed their set, kinda of rockabilly meets surf meets murder ballads meets the Eagles. Which really doesn't do them justice. Lead singer sounded a lot like Kristin Hersh, in her more recent guise. That worked for me, and she had a very powerful voice. I'll try and track down their name, but we enjoyed this. I had a Black Mac.
Robert Fisher, the main power behind the Willard Grant Conspiracy, was doing an acoustic show. What a funny guy! great between song banter and the music, crickey. The CDs are pretty stripped back to start with, but this really brought out the emotion and power of the songs. The brunette had never heard their stuff before and loved it (I had promised to lend a couple of albums, but typically hadn't gotten around to it). I picked up another of their albums, which I haven't had listened to yet.
How to describe WGC? Hmmm, Nick Cave, Wilco, Greg Trooper, Iron and Wine? The most recent album, Pilgrim Road which is fantastic, but the album that got me was Regard the End.
All available from here. sounds from here.

Loved the gig, seated at tables, cool vibe - very very relaxed. One beer drunk. Giving a total of two, yes two, for the evening.


it's a quiet few days in B world

although i am creating merry hell in my job. to levels even i'm impressed with.

my ipod headphone socket is dead so that's off getting fixed, hence the quietness.

saw willard grant conspiracy lead dude last night, review to follow! this is just a quick post while the blonde finishes her stuff and we head ot the pub for the music quiz.


30 September 2008

The beer report

A bit delayed, and all i can do is apologise profusely. And blame beer itself.
Another tasting - the day after the scotch one - on Belgian beers, but generally avoiding the lambics.
Palm it's cheap, it's common, and it's a very quaffable ale with a slightly sweet taste. If that's the Belgian DB, then damn yet another reason to live there. 
Augustin Grand Cru 9% sweet sour spicy pepper floral with a hint of parmesan cheese (no really!)
Abbaye des Rocs Brune 9% bananas, very smooth malt, strong whisky finish. Double fermented, and another in the bottle
Achel Blond 8% very dry, light nose, citrus, not too great
Het Kapittel Pater 6% malty nose, sweet apples
Lindermans Geuze 4% too sweet - I prefer the ouze, drinkable, but I prefer the more bitter manly ouze
Dupont Moinette 8.5% bitter sweet, citrus, long finish, increasing bitter finish, spicy pepper
Dolle Brouwers Oebiers 9% banana, marmalade, hot increased alcohol, chocolate, orange, malty.

So my picks? Augustin Grand Cru 9%; Abbaye des Rocs Brune 9%; Dolle Brouwers Oerbier 9% - all of which I gave 9/10 to. Mmm Belgian beer. Makes me happy. So very happy.

What was a worse idea, although at the time it seemed bloody brillant, was Rich's idea of heading to the Courtney Arms, who just happen to have a number of good English ales in cask. damn it.

Slainte, B.

25 September 2008

Whisky Review - MJ Tasting

A tasting dedicated to the late Michael Jackson and his favourite whiskys. The selection was therefore a bit odd, and even more odd as there were no cask strengths there. All eight were 40-46%.

Auchentoshan triple distilled 21yo 43% MJ Rating 86 Hmmm now I've had 2 or 3 Auch's and never liked them. This was no different. Nose: syrup; bacon; sweet; honey; banana. Palate: sweet; muscatel. Finish: mid length. 6/10
Macallan 30s 40% MJ Rating 95 I thought I liked Macallan. I didn't like this one. Nose: sweet; dry maple; older. Palate: empty, ash. Finish: short. 5/10 Crap. I wouldn't use it for cooking.
Macallan 18yo Fine Oak 43% MJ Rating 94 (for the vintage version) Well this one was a bit of an improvement. Nose: sherry; raisins; muscatels. Palate: sherry; chewy muscatel; sweet; fruitcake. Finish: dry; smokey, medium finish. 7/10
Springbank 15yo 46% MJ Rating 88 Springbanks seem to confuse me, I love the one I've got (from the whisky society), but the others seem a bit lacking in complexity. Nose: salt, bacon, sweet, fruity, cheese. Palate: caramel honey, kinda soapy. Finihs: medium. 8/10 so I liked this one a bit more. huzzah.
Highland Park 18yo 43% sherry cask MJ Rating 92 Nose: light, kinda chocolate, ozone hints. Palate: low alc, light, kinda missed it. Finish: spicy and long. 6/10. No I didn't like this HP at all. Disappointing.

Over all the first five whiskys were very light and very similar in style/flavour. Not recommended.

Bowmore Darkest Sherry 43% MJ Rating 88 This was superb. Nose: salt, sweet, burnt rubber, oil, smoked eel. Palate: salt, complex, chewy, gorgeous. Finish: huge, excellent. 9/10. I loved this whisky it really was awesome.
Laphroaig 30yo 43% MJ Rating 90 I liked this one too. Nose: sweet, smoke, salami, disinfectant. Palate: fascinating, smooth, developing. Finish: medium. 8.5/10. Good whisky, I might prefer the quarter-cask Laphroaig more.
Lagavulin 16yo 43% MJ Rating 95 Very nice. Nose: phenol, smokey. Palate: salt, spicy but smooth. Finish: beach, long smokey. 8/10.

The second bunch of three were good. Certainly more interesting than the first five.

I think MJ and I dont' agree on much at all. I wouldn't rank any of these as great whiskys, certainly interesting, but not fascinating.
I was going to buy the Bowmore as it was very very good, but strangely I didn't. But it is wonderful value for money at around NZ $120.


24 September 2008


it could be a pisht post

it is a pisht post!!

whisky tasting tonight! huzzah!!!!
tasting eight of michael jacksons favourites. i dont think he and i agree too much on stuff. but full review soon. when im sober.


oh and belgian beer tasting tomorrow. what a wonderfu week!!!

16 September 2008

Mac, Time Machine, happiness

My Mac had a harddrive failure. On the plus side this was three days before the warranty expired (go my mac!), and I had been doing weekly backups using Time Machine (part of MacOS 10.5) so I wasn't too worried.

Yesterday my Mac arrived back with a new harddrive and got to test how my Time Machine backups worked. Nothing like an emergency test :)

So I booted off an install disc, plugged in my external harddrive (FW800), selected the Utilities menu and 'Restore System from Backup', found my most recent backup and left it to it. Took about 90 mins for roughly 80GB. And voila everything was back to how it was. Sure MacMail needed to rebuild it's mailboxes (a minute or two), Spotlight needed to rebuild it's cache, and iTunes needed to be pushed towards my external drive (where I store things), but aside from those very minor issues...
Time Machine is bloody brillant.


14 September 2008

That was a nice day

Sunday was a lovely day!
I woke up, and went back to sleep. woke up again, struggled to the coffee pot, while that was doing its thing warmed some scones, then retired back to bed and read the paper. Bliss. Discovered the iPhone I thought I'd managed to score, is not going to happen. Bugger.

Got up, did some washing, made some lemon honey, then wandered into town and around the waterfront, pretty. 

Wandered around a bit more, picked up a ticket to Yeasayer who are coming to Wellington in October (wow, thats like organised! Free download tracks here). 
Saw Tropic Thunder. Which I enjoyed. Ok, so the movie doesn't live up to the brillance of the three 'trailers' before it, but eh, still good. It seemed to drag a bit in the middle, but all in all, worth seeing.
If only for the brillance that is Robert Downey Jr.

Curled up in bed, read, and listened to Marillion. 
B x

7 September 2008

Stupid oven

In addition to stupid headache, stupid flu, an element on the stove blew this morning taking out the fuse as well.
So I have no oven, and I wanted to make some scones and some lemon honey.

I guess it's soup for tea as the microwave is still rockin along.


Michael Jackson - Beer report

Not that MJ, this was a tribute tasting of the beer and whisky writer, MJ (1942-2007) desert island beers.
Regional Wines have said they'll try to make this an annual event - varying the tastings from MJs top25 beers.
Pilsner Urquell the original pilsner, wonderfully dry taste. and cheap. I've always liked this beer.
Marston's Pedigree one of the few ales (is it? there's arguments about that) using traditional casks. It's hoppy, its beautiful, and never ever buy it in the cans. Get the bottle conditioned glass.
Cooper's Sparkling Ale It's Australian, and it's alright. It's not brillant tho, we figured that since MJ tasted it in the 80s, he'd probably had lots of crap and it was a refreshing change. It is cheap tho. Not really recommended.
Orval it's a love or hate it beer. having said that, my response is more a yeah its alright.
Rodenbach Grand Cru This is one of my top 3 beers (#1 is later in this list, and the other is the Ouze Boon). It really polarises people, but I love the bitter almost vinegar lambic taste.
Schneider Aventinus a Bavarian doppelbock, ruby-red (ish), choc overtones, yummy. I think I had this in Germany, things are vague tho'. Definitely recommended.
Traquair House Ale it's interesting, a Scottish ale, strong, tasty and I liked it. There was a lot going on in this beer.
Thomas Hardy Ale This is it. This is the beer I put at #1 on my list. There is so much going on that it's difficult to describe. The one we had had been aged for 3 years, regarded as 'young' probably 'too young', with a minimum 10 year aging, and 20 years recommended. How to describe? Chocolate, marmite, solid, tactile, stunning nose, so complex in taste, caramel, toffee, the list goes on.
The big question is should I buy some and try and keep it for 15-20 years?
Should I? Can I?



To Sharla and her finishing of the thesis!!!


3 September 2008


Germany - Berlin
It's a good day when brekkie is in London, morning tea in France (somewhere on the Eurostar), brunch in Brussels and dinner Berlin. And it's not even a Kontiki tour. Things began eventfully with some mental pateint being arrested behind us while we waited for a bus, but he seemed pretty relaxed about it all. Customs and train travel are a relaxed breeze compared to the nightmare of stupid airports, stupid airport Customs, and stupid stupids working there.
But any problems were balanced by knowing that leaving the UK meant I was closer to the first decent cup of coffee for some time - aside from Monmouth and Flat White anyway.  
While brunching in Brussels, was very very tempted by the lambics, but resisted, in retrospect I don't know why as everyone else was drinking at 10am. Boarded the Thalys and headed to Cologne, the place with the Cathedral that everyone knows (hello Leonard!). It's next to the train station and hard to miss. Very hard to miss.The Cologne to Berlin, sure the whole trip took significantly longer than a plane, but with Easyjets usual delay policy, it probably doesn't work out much different. And it's more comfortable, and I'll try not to rant too much about airports.   I was reading Stephen Fry's Hippopotamus, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Kinda twisted version of Evelyn Waugh and Fry's own deprecating style of humour. Excellent stuff. 
Taxi to the hostel (the circus) which is a really nice place, stuck in the middle of what turned out to be a good cafe/pub district. Somehow we coped with that.  Had a tour the next morning of Berlin's sights. The initial impression, which didn't change, was of the schizo architecture. Aside from the leftover from communism (which being from Wellington, didn't seem too bad), there isn't an overarching style. This has left a city lacking architectual character, instead they seem to focus on green spaces. which are many and large, with wide open footpaths and cyclepaths. So it feels really open, differing from other major cities I've been to.

What has happened in the last 20 years is signficant rebuilding (in same cases recreation) of classic buildings destroyed in the war, in an attempt to bring back character. I dunno if it's worked, but they look pretty. Which is, after all, what I'm all about.
We stopped off at a memorial to the Jews killed in WW2 by Peter Eisenman. Although somber in its resemblance to tombstones, the place is also quite fun with the variations in height lending a playful vibe. The kids running around shooting each added something to it all. Meandering around the Reichstag, impressive building with the brandenburg gate next door, we boarded the bus thing and headed to the remnants of the wall. My Lord Thy Rog!!

Located in the remnents of the SS building there was an interesting display concerning the Jews. I found it all a bit tedious by the end, with at least 1/3 of the display concerning personal tales of anguish/pain/death/heroism which became quite monotonous.

Next day we headed to museums via the Dom, which is rather impressive with stunning decorations. I even managed to go up to the bell tower, until vertigo hit. I hate heights, but got a fair way up - only the last section stopped me which was on rickety (my choice of word) tight steps when that tingly feet and sweating broke out. At some point I might post photos.

I wanted to see the German National museum, as I'd read a fair amount of history from 1850 onwards, but knew very little pre-1850. This museum is massive. An absolutely incredibly detailed exploration of Germanic history, lots of original manuscripts, early church artifacts, roman remains, etc. Interesting examination of Martin Luther and the divide he created, including copies of his 'pamphlets'. Nice collection of Old Masters scattered around too. Definitely a standard visit, although I skipped most of the post-1850 stuff. The one complaint I had was an absence of music references, figure they are somewhere else - which I'll get to next time. Had an ice coffee while people watching, including spotting people who looked just like Rudi. Spooky.

Heading home we unfortunately we came out at the wrong underground exit (right station tho), and came out opposite a specialist vinyl shop. I found a lot I wanted, and didnt buy anything!

At Ss suggestion we went on a pub crawl. After a visit to the hospital to reset my twisted wrist. We were in a cafe/pub mecca. I drank beer, enjoyed beer, and drank more beer. German beer is very very nice! Threw some Weissbier at S which she enjoyed, so it didnt appear like I was drinking on my own. Not that it really bothered me. In retrospect, my alcholism saved our lives. If we had been doing typical tourist thing we would have been coming out of the underground about the time a taxi ploughed into a cyclist, two pedestrians, and a lamppost. But since id said I needed to write the best-man speech and drink (not in that order), we were safe. Just like Jesus, leading his chosen to safety. Bruce's diaspora if you will.

Next day saw a visit to the New Gallery. Not what we were expecting, not a collection of pictures, rather two exhibitions. One by some guy which didnt grab me, appearing as brightly fluorescent sheets. Downstairs was a different story. A retrospective of Japanese/American photo-artist Hiroshi Sugiomoto.(Website) Absolutely spellbinding. His use of perspective to bring to life diaoramas to life, both macabre and flora/fauna, reduced the artifical 3D to 2D, ironically enlivening the scene. A series of movie theatres throughout the world came to life by shooting one shot for the length of the movie. Really liked this guy, and intend to track down some images.

I've always liked the Bauhaus movement, and it's impact on early Deco, so took the opportunity to see the museum. Seems there was a lot more to the Bauhaus movement that Id come across. Its not a big museum, but definitely worth a look. I enjoyed the slow meandering around this one, lots of art, pictures, design and a look at the influences of the movement. Excellent stuff. Klee, Kandinsky et al., happy B.

Food: Mmm I like this place. Wonderfully diverse food selection, good coffee, good beer, good food, including superb gnocchi and russian dumplings (gnocchi is often badly cooked, and dumplings are hard to make tasty!). We found an excellent French cafe just up from the hostel, so brekkie was sorted.

People: Its so relaxed. Very Wellington cafe vibe, but possibly even more relaxed. Huge pavements mean lots of seats outside, excellent service, and everyone was friendly. The Berliners could certainly teach the Brits a few things...

CD Purchases: none. But I eventually weakened and bought some vinyl (Tom Waits - Rain Dogs, and James Dean Bradfield - The Great Western), the owner offered a cheaper version of the Tom but it wasnt on 180gm vinyl - seemed a no-brainer. The owner laughed when I looked confused and asked why Id want the cheaper one. I didnt really want to lug vinyl back with me, but it was cheap...and its sexy...and oh bugger off. i like vinyl.

At some point I'll dump some pictures up, but I need to recover my harddrive before I can do that.

26 August 2008

Last night was more interesting that I wanted

I had a particularly nice soup, tamarind sour fish (with noodles). Tasty. Watched an episode of MadMen, my new addiction, and the news.
Discovered my laptops harddrive has died - not too bothered as I did a full backup last week.

My bathroom flooded. So I mopped it up. Had a shower, finished watching another MadMen episode, and found the bathroom flooded again. Choice. Chatted to landlord, we worked it it was her dishwasher pushing our full drains over the edge. Turning it off solved my soggy problem.

Poured some of the 1994 Edradour (14yo) and curled up to read Cuisine.

Am aiming for a quieter evening tonight.

Blair is my hero

In our continuing love-fest for Mr B.H.Rhodes, I love you dude. You may never read this blog, for it's Morgue Morgue Morgue for you, but the the unrequited love is here man.

And hello to the soon to return Morgue too (who does, at least, read this blog).

Over to you Smackers...Scotty-too-Hotty has been and loved a Rhodes

25 August 2008

Boris and the Olympics

I like Boris. He's wonderful.

His speech on the Olympics is also wonderful.

Mojo baby? Yeah I got it.

My cooking mojo is back.
I've cooked tuna last week (asian style), mushroom/tofu/udon noodle tonight, prawn curry (from scratch) last week, and veritable feasts for this week.

And I'm now curled up in bed listening to the BBC programme on Bsides of singles. And they played Jake the Peg.
So I found this for you lot.

Love and kisses, me.

24 August 2008

Darwin and Dawkins

S and I watched the three part series The Genius of Charles Darwin, written and presented by Richard Dawkins. Obviously no point in critiquing the science, so some vague thoughts on the programmes.
Part 1: An introduction to Darwin and the elegant, simple, perfection that is Natural Selection. Dawkins explained how Darwin came to his conclusions and how his ability to notice similarities and differences between closely related species led to the theory. What was particuarly depressing were the kids from the high school who Dawkins spoke to, some of whom denied evolution occurred thanks to the idiotic belief systems of their parents. It was encouraging that after Dawkins had spoken to them, and shown them fossils on the beach, that they were at least prepared to consider other options. I guess in the end that's all we can ask.
The one point that Dawkins did labour, which is well worth emphasising, is that of all the laws/theories/whatevers in science, Nat Sel is the only one that has never been seriously challenged. Even the 'new' fields of biology, such as genetics, all they've done is add support to Darwin's theory. There is nothing else.
Dawkins himself is a good presenter, he can get a bit ranty at times, but as he was writing/presenting the programme it was all pretty subdued.

Part 2: Dawkins looks at the social darwinism issues - eugenics and stuff. Interesting movie footage of Julian Huxley who was known for his eugenic views. Dawkins used this episode as a vehicle to argue for his selfish gene theory, but also to explain it properly, rather than the half-arsed interpretation most people have of it. Dawkins having pulling power,meant that the guests on this show included Frans de Waal and Stephen Pinker, both discussing the ability of genes to influence behaviour, and in humans, helping others. I found it interesting, but it does require you to pay attention as the concepts are subtle. Dawkins also looked at human evolution including having the Turkana boy skull sitting in front of him as he described it as the most important jewel in human collections, anywhere. Hard to argue with him there.
Good overall discussion about the differences between humans and other animals, and how our ability to recognise social groupings and critique behaviour makes us behaviour in a manner contrary to darwinian behaviour expectations.

Part 3: Ranty Dawkins came back. Kept mostly in check, this episode looked at the effect religion is having on the teaching of evolution. I'm going to try to avoid swearing a lot while writing this, although I failed miserably while watching it. There is inherent stupidity in people who say they recognise evolution occurs, but then find something that's a bit hard and say 'god did it'. What was more concerning is the christian right-wing nutjobs in the US who are demanding creationism, or its more insidious cousin 'intelligent design', are given equal time as 'theories' during science teaching. What a load of bollox. The whole point of science is that it is testable, natural selection has been tested time and time again, and has never been found wanting. Therefore, it is a fact. Creationism or ID are not testable. Therefore they do not even warrant the term 'theory'. They are just-so stories. What gets to me is the unbelievably smug look on their faces when they say 'ahhh but what about...'. I get that in my tutorials and patiently explain intermediate forms, and generally they get it (most of them are not smug looking, as they want to learn). The classic examples are the eye and human intermediate forms. The eye, or photo-receptivity, has been shown to have arisen multiple times in multiple lineages. If you want references, I'll provide them. A lot of them. And as for the absolutely massive fallacy of missing human stages, XXXXXXXXXXXXX. Two points need to be made here, evolution is not directed - a point a lot of people struggle with - if you can grasp that, you've pretty much got the concept, and secondly it is not linear, it always resembles a branching tree (divaricating for those of a plant bent). If you accept those two, human evolution becomes a case of 'what do you mean missing stages?', current fossils clearly demonstrate the increase in brain size, the change in posture (head position and pelvis) etc etc. And with dating these fossils we can clearly see the branching nature of human evolution.
The interview with Rowan Williams was interesting, and I would love to see to a written discussion between these two. Both are highly intelligent, and both are prepared to listen and critique. But the CoE's usual all encompassing position causes problems as well, it's akin to the 'well it occurs, but eh we'll say god kicked it off'. Again a cop-out. There is no need for that.

What really made me yell, and it made Dawkins grumpy too, were science teachers too scared to say 'this is how it is' for fear of offending people. FFS get a grip. It is that way. Tell them, I'm sure religious studies don't go 'well there might be a god, but also it might all be evolution with no such thing as a creator'. What Dawkins didn't say, and having dealt with 1st years for awhile, is that the high school teachers don't understand the topic either. And are therefore too scared to teach it in detail, for fear of being shown up as ignorant.

Another question left alone is: why do we always assume it's the christian god whose the big cheese? I'm sure there's a few other religions out there...

I think I've managed to not rant too much. I enjoyed the programme, finding it a good balance between detail and difficult concepts being clearly explained. As a subject I'm interested in it kept my interest without me wanting to yell at the dumbing down, all I wanted to yell at was the dumb people. I'm still convinced on his genes as units of selection, but it's reasonable...

I'm currently watching Peter Ackroyd's "Thames" now. And enjoying it.