29 March 2008

And finally, Wilco

Wilco: rock, country, alternative? Yeah not all that clear, and following gig, you'd reckon more rock-country. Blonde and I skipped the opening act having checked her out on myspace we'd decided she was like a whining brooke fraser. Not a good idea. Reviews post gig suggested we were right, the number of the audience who stayed in the bar suggested we weren't alone.
First the rant: the Opera House as a venue sucks the big one. Whats the point of a rock concert when we all sit down, kinda kills the vibe eh? But that's a major problem in Wellington, we've got great small venues (San Fran, Bodega) up to 500 (I think), reasonable large (stadium and Westpact Trust) but nothing in the middle, and that's where Wilco fell.

The concert was good, very good. The first half was pretty much just the songs, no interaction from Jeff Tweedy. Then he started chatting and turned out to be a pretty amusing fella. Pisstaking of the bogun quotient in Wellington following Rock2Wgtn, which was fair enough, it was pretty scary for all of us wandering through town.

The band was very tight, and sounded fantastic. Wilco have a very cool rhythm section, and the use of two keyboards (one of whom doubled guitar on occasion) meant levels of musical complexity not usually heard at gigs. The audience was into them, but obviously vibe was suppressed due to the seated gig. Thoroughly enjoyed the gig, but I felt it was missing something. Sure they sounded great, played a really good selection of new/old stuff. It wasn't just me, blonde also felt the same. It was #3 of the three gigs, the vibe with Immortal was superb, and it will be hard to top Iron and Wine. But I'm glad I saw Wilco, just wish it was at a better venue as it would really have gone off.

B. xx

25 March 2008


I've just asked the boss for some bereavement leave:
Fire destroys kiln
NEW 7:50AM Wednesday March 26, 2008
A fire, described as the worst in the town in three years, destroyed a hop kiln shed in Motueka on Sunday morning.

No one was inside the shed at the time and firefighters took about 40 minutes to get the blaze under control, Chief Fire Officer Mike Riddell said.

The building, owned by Northwood Hop Company, contained five kilns and associated processing equipment, as well as part of the season's harvest, all of which was lost, the Nelson Mail reported.

The fire was not being treated as suspicious, Mr Riddell said.

Source here.

B :(

22 March 2008

Gigs: Iron & Wine; Immortal

Heh heh yup I decided to wait after the Immortal gig just so I could have that as the title. I'm like that.

Iron and Wine is Sam Beam, his first album 'The Creek Drank the Cradle' on the legendary SubPop label, was a collection of low-fi bedroom recordings. Since then a couple more albums and some EPs have been released. I got hooked on the album 'Our Endless Numbered Days' and the EP 'Woman King'. Breathy, hushed, delicate lyrics over a low-fi country (ish) guitar backing. Wonderfully emotional touching music. Things clicked totally for me when Sam teamed up with Calexico for 'In The Reins' EP. That EP is one of the most perfect albums I own (Neil, it's also available on Gods Own Format). Calexico brought a bit more rock (for want of a better word) to Sam's delicate delivery. So when I heard Iron and Wine was coming to Wellington it was a no-brainer, even better he was bringing an 8 piece band (although I only saw 7...) in support of the new album 'The Shepherd's Dog'.
The Shepherd's Dog is excellent, there's more movement going on in the rhythm section which is moving I&W away from the purely acoustic low-fi vibe of the early couple of albums.
The band featured members of various other alt-country bands, but the stars had to be Calexico's pedal steel guitar player and the drummer ?Ben Massarella (Califone). Awesome stuff. What set this gig apart from the usual run through the songs, thank the audience etc was the variety. The first few tracks were Sam, his guitar and his sister recreating the delicate melodies from the early work. I've never heard the SFBH that quiet. Gradually more of the band turned up leading to some wonderful reinterpretations of older work and funking of the new stuff.
Yeah funking. There was a distinct Rock/Funk vibe running through that band and damm was it good. In theory breathless delivery, pedal steel guitar and funk should not work. But it did, wonderfully. One of the best gigs I've been to, ever. Possibly even better than M live at Oswestry...
Iron and Wine Homepage includes samples
Tracklisting that I swiped from somewhere:
The Trapeze Swinger/
Cinder and Smoke/
Resurrection Fern/
Each Coming Night/
Peace Beneath The City/
On Your Wings
/Lovesong of the Buzzard
/House by the Sea/
The Devil Never Sleeps/
White Tooth Man/
Boy With A Coin/
Sodom, South Georgia/
Woman King/
Song of the Wolves
Naked as we came

Immortal are one of the pioneers of Black Metal. Hugely influential without the extremist Satanism some of the BM bands throw around. From the Norwegian school of BM (not to be confused with the Swedish school as readers of the blog will be aware!) the music is pretty brutal, but does demonstrate a level of sophistication and complexity, typical of the Norwegian/Swedish BM vs some of the US counterparts.
I hadn't heard masses of Immortal, but figured we get so few BM gigs here that it was worth going - and Nick and I had had a great time at Napalm Death.
Immortal were a huge improvement over Napalm Death. The band is tight, focussed and damm can they play. Great gig, and although I hadn't heard much of their stuff I got the feeling the earlier music is more thrash/brutal than their later stuff (later 'sort-of' confirmed by Nick - he's a Gorgoroth fan so big crossover with Immortal).
The audience were possibly more scary than the band - who are known for their Corpse Paint look (see picture). Personal hygiene was not big on this groups list, and hair fell into two categories - very long or none. Nick and I looked quite odd with out 'some' hair option. Good natured audience tho, which does seem to be typical of metal and extreme metal gigs I've been to. The same as the Napalm Death gig, quite a few hot babes. Quite a few of which didn't seem to be attached to long haired (or shaved) boguns. Weird.
Glad I went, it was fun, interesting and strangely relaxing.

I have Wilco on Monday which will round off the gigs nicely :)

Love, me

Link a rama for Science!

The link said 'if you like to laugh at creationists, go here'. That's all I needed.

But believe me when I say, it might be the funniest thing I've read all year.

Go here. It's that good.


21 March 2008

Whisky Tasting: Glenfarclas

Wednesday saw a new band of soon-to-be merry mates head to Regional Wines. Nick and Jonny from work joined me at the Glenfarclas vertical tasting. Yeah get ya jokes out now...go on...finished? good.
This meant we had tastings of the 10, 12, 15, 17, 21, 25 and 30 yo bottlings. Ohhh yeah baby. I can't recall having had a Glenfarclas before but this was interesting and I'm glad I went. So the reviews, Glenfarclas is a Speyside malt which at least gave me a rough idea what to expect, and this time I made reasonable tasting notes.

Oh and I also got 7 out of 7 for my picks (as its a blind tasting) which I'm inordinately proud of.

10yo 105 60% Cask strength : nose: caramel, maple syrup; palate: huge taste, caramel notes and massive finish. I gave it 9/10, and at $100NZ how can you say no, especially as it's a 1L bottle at cask strength. Go buy it.
12yo 43% nose: sherry, iodine, raisins; palate: hot sherry pepper; finish: mid-long, vanilla. This one didn't live up to the nose, a bit of a disappointment 7/10
15yo 46% nose: big, sweet, cucumber; palate: smooth; finish: smokey and short. Again disappointing, the taste didn't live up to the nose, not much was happening in this one. 8/10
17yo 43% nose: young vanilla; palate: smooth and oily; finish: short and citrus again not really delivering. 7/10
21yo 43% nose: meh, kinda like cough mixture, ?sherry palate: very very smooth, citrus, finish short 7/10
25yo 43% nose: strawberries, nice, lovely palate: smooth and interesting; nose: light and lingering 8/10.
30yo 43% nose: plum lots of wood; palate: excellent caramel; finish: butter and long. 9/10. Wonderful.

I was quite disappointed with the younger ones (aside from the 10yo) they promised lots and delivered very little. Nothing much was happening in them. Pricewise all $100ish so would strongly avoid these. I know the reviews above may not suggest it, but the 21 and 25yo whiskys were lovely. Very very light and drinkable. I described them as breakfast whiskys which, although ridiculed, was agreed as a good description. The 30yo was great, but at $420 a bottle no better than the Brora and the Edradour (my benchmarks) and indeed didn't have the complexity of either. Save your money.

A very very nice tasting, all of them were very drinkable (as shown by me finishing all of them) and two of them were excellent (10yo and 30yo).

Rumours abound that next tasting is Edradour...ooohhhhhh yippee! Although there isn't much chance they'll have the 24yo's.

Love, B

Wine, Scotch, Beer

The next blog will be a review of a whisky tasting I was at on Wednesday, but it has prompted me to think about tastings in general.

A position also brought on by watching Oz and James Wine Adventure. It strikes me that the wine, whisky and beer tasters have quite different views. I still think that wine drinkers do tend towards the pompous and arrogant, and are often very narrow minded about other drinks. Beer tasters/drinkers seem more open. I'm wondering if that has anything to do with the massive variety of beers available? Even for people who don't like beer, or profess to not liking beer, it is usually possible to find something they do like - case in point, S tried my Kriek lambic last night and liked it. Whisky tasters seem quite open to trying various types too, possibly due to the close relaitonship between beer and scotch (same ingredients, roughly)?

The 'Sideways' effect has also caused an increased pretension in general wine drinkers, for some reason people associate wine with food and feel obligated to put forth crap about their wine. Now I like wine and I like good wine, but in many cases finding a wine that works well with food is difficult. And in most cases I'd rather have a beer. The art of choosing a good beer to match food is fun, and usually worth the effort - the problem begins if you're at a restaurant as they tend to have a very limited selection of beer. That pisses me off. If they go to the effort to source a variety of wines, why not do the same for beer? I can hold forth for some time on tastes, aromas etc on beer, but also am quite happy to quaff the bugger. I'm happy to quaff wine too, but people get grumpy about that :)

Whisky tasting is an interesting case. Most people do pontificate about the nose, the palate and the finish. And different whiskys do taste significantly different (even the same distillery, see next post). But, and here's the rub, they don't go on ad feckin nauseum about it over dinner. Mainly cos you don't drink whisky for dinner - and its not a quaffing drink being at least 43% alcohol. But it is a sociable drink, our little tasting parties at Regional Wines are fun times, just like the beer tastings. But the wine tastings- pretension.

The other thing that pisses me off, price. Beer - I'm happy to pay $5-10 NZ for a bottle of beer, particularly my beloved lambics. Wine, I'm happy paying up to $30 - dependent on type. I expect to pay more for a good red due to aging, but think NZ whites are currently over priced for what they are delivering. Whisky, jeez who knows, I've paid $250+ for a couple of 24yo's, but they have an 8yo for $50 which is great and a cask strength at $100 which again was superb.
So why do people feel obligated to pay up to $100 for a bottle of wine which they'll drink in a sitting? My whisky I know I'm not going to be quaffing, it is going to last for years. Unless Neil turns up.

Me xxx

18 March 2008

Just a quickie

Its been awhile since we had a Science blog. Sooooo, an exhibition has just opened at The Queen's Gallery : Buckingham Palace with lots of nature themed paintings and drawing selected the Royal collection curators and Sir Rich Attenborough.

Here's a link to the exhibition page.

And here's a link which has pictures.

I think I shall meander along while I'm there...

(that's advance warning for those of you wishing to drink...)


Is there no end to the excitement?

After a hellishly high number of hours in the lab I decided a quiet evening for me, with me, would be a good plan. So what does a relaxing B do? I went shopping as grocery supplies were low, very low - and then ambled up Garden Road leading to a significant amount of sweat.

View Larger Map

Classey ain't I. But it did make the cold shower very very nice. I cleaned the house, made a very nice pasta salad, washed some clothes, folded some clothes and am now blogging about it all. One episode of QI has been watched, but I'm getting near the end - unwatched episode stocks are dangerously low. But I do have Oz and James' wine adventure, an episode of which will be watched after the news.

I might mend some clothes soon and iron some shirts. Is there no end to the delightful domesticity of me??? Remember kids, you heard it here first!!

WTF, George W just got given a St Pat day shamrock. Apparently this is a tradition. Why? Why bother?
But I found a pic, with Bertie giving it to Georgey.

I'm meaning to review the Iron and Wine gig this evening too.

me xxxx

13 March 2008

My evening is sorted

I'm supposed to be installing some networking stuff tonight. To help me my DunBheagan Island (Talisker) 8yo has just arrived.

For the princely sum of NZ $53.



12 March 2008

I am not a slut

That should be qualified as, I am not as *much* of a slut as was previously thought.

One of the blondes frequently accuses me of being a music slut. She claims I listen to anything. And don't seem to hate anything. I've always said that's not entirely true, and then struggled to back myself up so wind up beating her into silence. Sorted.

Anyhoo I was installing comps at Teaching Services the other day and someone came in to see if TS could format shift vinyl to CD. So I said yeah I could, so spent this evening doing that. Turned out to be some french middle ages folk kinda music (Les Musiciens de Provence : Musique des Trouveres et Troubadours).
I hated it. I've never liked recorders and this stuffs full of them. No wonder the guy on the cover looks so sulky. I'd be beyond sulky and hitting homicidal...

So this posts for you Tiny Fists of Fury Blonde, there is now an example of why I'm not a music slut.

And yes, I'm still hoping for a Marillion focussed music quiz tomorrow night...one glorious night it'll happen...Carl's the weaker, I'll keep harassing him.

Love and, in tonights case, latin music (Mariza Fado), me xxxx

11 March 2008

A part of me is lost

In the same way that women cultivate relationships with their hairdressers, so I cultivated a relationship with my barista. He knew me, knew my foibles, knew my habits, my loves. We had it all.

And now it's gone. My beloved barista has been gradually ruining the relationship, first changing to a roaster I'm not keen on, and then the quality of his coffee sank. To the point where I sent two back. At that stage I saw no future for our relationship.

I can't say I'd been faithful. I often went to Deluxe and had been flirting with the tall brunette barista at Salem cafe. I'm with him now. He makes me happy.

It was an emotional 5 years, wins in the barista competitions, the highs, the lows the date scones. But everything dies. I'll remember him fondly of course, but it's over.


9 March 2008

Festival of the Arts

Now I'll be the first to admit I'm slack. Generally I don't even bother looking at the FotA booklet cos the stuff I want to see sells out quickly or it's too expensive to really justify. So I'd like to thank Patricia for being far more organised and dragging me to the Boston Camerata. As she put it 'it's odd music, you seemed the obvious choice'. Sweet.

A choral group that specialises in American religious groups from the 18th century. Think 'O Brother Where Art Thou' - kinda. Well it's a good starting point. The music is, as it was described, quite simple and linked strongly to Scottish, English and Irish music. Based on a pentatonic scale the music was written by amateurs for other amateur groups to sing. Harmonies revolve around 3rds and 5ths, with the occasionally 4th as a passing - and no real evidence of counterpoint. For those reasons it sounds much simpler (?pure?) than the more complex stuff I usually listen to. Beautifully performed and really interesting to listen to (helped that one of the sopranos was hot - looked a bit like the babe in the faculty office when we were in VZ). A variety of early American religious groups were represented including Protestants (at St Mary's !!), Shakers and their origins in Europe.

I enjoyed this concert. I found the directness (and quality) of the performance really enjoyable, even some audience participation - and this isn't a style of music you get to hear a lot.

Website; Shaker samples;
Movies: O Brother Where Art Thou (vaguely), and slightly more relevant Songcatcher. I've watched SongCatcher, and the music is fantastic, the movie is a bit of a dreary chickflick.

Currently listening to Daniel Johnston which seems right.

me x

5 March 2008

I'm back, it's scotch today.

As you may have figured the last few weeks have been a smidgeon busy in Sphenland. It still is, but I've got an evening to myself and have watched some QI, some Jeeves and Wooster, and am now listening to some A Prairie Home Companion. I might even get to read a *book* soon. I'm also warm having showered (after vacuuming, oohhhh the excitement) and have fallen in love with my new heated towel rail. Many of the worlds ills can be cured with warm towels. Ahhh blisssssss....

Anyway, back to scotch. Last Tuesday was the Talisker tasting at Regional Wines and Spirits. My usual boozer-in-arms has been captured by a babe-in-arms, and thus busy with an item much the same size as a bottle. Without the attractive fumes. I went to the tasting as I've been to the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye. There's the Skye boat song, but justly more famous is Donald Where's Your Trousers. I have fond memories of listening to that at my grandparents on vinyl with the voice of Andy Stewart. But back to Skye, catching the ferry from Mallaig, which in its self was 'different'. I remember finding a fish and chip shop for dinner, up a narrow pathway, order at a small window, wait until a parcel appeared. Why yes, a tinny house by any other name. But we got to Skye in our car (me, France and Caf), saw some more highland cattle - I've been trying to find the pics, there is one of France standing in front of a cow that starting urinating. Class. But I can't find them at the moment.
Again, I've digressed. The Talisker distillery was kinda slick, tour was slick, and then totally ruined by a very broad aussie accent encouraging us to drink some. It wasn't good. Rough and far too peppery from memory. From the tasting, this may have been the 8yo which they no-longer produce. So basically I went to see if I was right or wrong having been dissing Talisker. See, never let it be said I'm not open...

The best? Without a doubt the $550 bottle, Ltd Ed 25yo 57.8% bottle 01123 of 21000. bottled in 2004. Sublime. Sweet caramel nose, smooth supple gorgeous palate and very very long finish. But, and this is interesting, it was very very similar to my Edradour 24yo. A snip at 100UKP. The next two for me were the Talisker 18yo (strong muscatel nose; very sweet caramel butter palate; reasonably short finish) and the surprise the Dun Bheagan 8yo 43% - at $60 (roughly). This cheap wee dram had a light vanilla nose, very smokey and pepper palate and more vanilla mid length finish - I did note that the finish didn't really deliver on the potential. But at $60 I'm not complaining.

I'm beginning to think I need to check out more of the Dun Bheagan's, the 24yo Brora Dun Bheagan I have challenges the Edradour...that should wake Neil up a bit...

See I felt sorry for you lot not having any me to enjoy recently, so link-a-rama in this blog.

me xxx