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.


Booze report

Two in the weekend? Anyone would think I like a beer...

The lads and I were having a wrestling viewing Sat afternoon (Summerslam 2008, and ol' skool Wrestlemania IV), so I took the opportunity to drop into the re-opened Glengary in Kelburn following the fire (WAHHHHH).

Dux Lager from the Queenstown brewery. Advertised as a classic NZ lager. This is a blatant lie. A typical NZ lager is sweet to the point of being undrinkable, generally frozen (to make it drinkable), and served in 1L plastic containers. Dux Lager is none of these. It is however classic in the German lager sense, dry, crisp, refreshing and worth drinking more of. Recommended.

Fuller's 1845 Sorry Neil. Interesting ale this one, high alc (6.3%), full bodied, bottle conditioned (but travels ok apparently), tangy flavour, hint of citrus, but mostly I got whisky. Which makes me wonder what was in the casks before beer...very drinkable, possibly my fav of the Fuller's I've tried.

Invercargill Brewery Boysenberry Another fruit beer from NZ. I'm becoming convinced that we don't do them too well. This one is based on a wheat beer with boysenberry. Don't get me wrong, very very drinkable, tastes like ribena. But I think, on reflection (after another sip) it's a little sweet. I'd go for the Emersons JP in preference to this.


23 August 2008

Scotch report Addendum

Inchgower are apparently a major consitituent of Bells blended Whisky.



Scotch Report: Adelphi bottling

Those of you who read my pisht post will have realised I was at a whisky tasting on tues. Here's the more sober review...

I was on the reserve list for the tasting as I'd mucked around, and wasn't that sure I wanted to pay $100 for a tasting. It seemed a little steep for me, but figured let's leave it in the glands of the gods - and in the end I had a call tues morning to say I had a place if I wanted it. I took it.

The tasting was for Adelphi Bottlers , and was a repeat of one early in the year (which i'd also missed out on) run by Sales Manager Alex Bruce (related to the Robert character...) which received rave reviews from our whisky guru Daniel. Adelphi are independent bottlers, so they select casks that interest them and then bottle that cask (100-700 bottles), meaning their whiskies are unique and interesting examples. 
Adelphi Private Stock Blended whisky 40% It's worth repeating that, this is a blend of apparently 3-4 whiskies. The nose gave hints of socks, bananas, muscatels and was interesting. The palate: christmas cake, salty, with a longish finish. Gave this a 7/10. Which is better than quite a few single malts ...
Glen Scotia 13yo Cask#434 1992-2006 66.8% 186 bottles Crickey 66.8% gives a bit of a kick! Nose was big, aggressive, band-aids, anaethestic. Palate: sweet and strong, very hot, hint of raspberries, menthol. Finish huge but smooth, although I noted it hurt my tongue! 9/10.
Caol Ila 25yo cask#685 1982-2007 225 bottles 57.9% Nose: salt, strong, medicinal. Palate: sweet, but a bit empty, salty. Finish long and very dry. 7.5/10 
Dalmore 17yo 59.7% cask#7327 1990-2006 590 bottles OMG I loved this. Nose: lovely, high alc.; intense, hint of Springbank?, complex, sherry and walnut. Palate: awesome (hmmm, useful description that!), chocolate sour, smoke, oranges? finish: huge, jaffa, long, hint of sulphur? 9.5/10 possibly 10/10. 
Glen Elgin 16yo 55.1% 1991-2007 cask#2599 566 bottles Quite rare to see a single malt Glen Elgin as most gets taken for blends by White Horse Whisky. Nose: light syrup, very light cognac, ?soap?. Palate: very light and a short salty finish. Light and tasty whisky. 7.5/10
Inchgower 26yo 59.8% 1980-2007 233 bottles cask#14155 (can't find a link for this on their website). Nose: perfect, woody, glue-bitter, reminded me colour and nose of Edradour/Brora. Palate: solid, old. Didn't deliver on the promise of the nose. Finish, mid dry, hot. I'd look out for more Inchgower as there is superb potential there, but this one only got an 8/10 from me.

The Whisky that cannot be named. 50yo Speyside 54.3% 1953-2003 cask#1668 I'll go into more detail below, but: nose: sweet fruit, caramel, coconut (strong), vanilla. Palate: old, lager (good quality one), smoke, incredibly complex finish: med, soft, changes, THC. 10/10.

That last one is the $1500 NZ bottle. It was incredible, first sip or two not much happened, then the complexity began to explode. each sip, each hold in the mouth and another flavour began. i have no idea if it's worth $1500 as I haven't had anything else in that price range before, but I would suggest it probably is. The THC overtones were amusing and quite noticeable, which may also be the 'lager' notes I picked up on (the two are similar). the reason it can't be named is some distilleries who sell Adelphi their casks don't want to be linked, which if the flavour is sooo different to the house blend makes some sense. Daniel mentioned that very old Glenfarclas is known to have THC overtones, and the two dominant theories are a Glenfarclas or the Macallan. 

I am really pleased I went to the tasting. I was pissed by the end of it (6 cask strengths whiskies will do that), but I've had a $1500 bottle, and everything else was $180+. Aside from the blend, which as I said was excellent, and only NZ $45 a bottle (UKP 15-17). I came very very close to getting a bottle of Dalmore which was superb, instead picking up a blend as Nick and I had realised neither of us a low alc bottle of whisky :) and putting that order in won me the dregs (2-4 nips) of the Dalmore. So all worked out for me.


Ballet and Beer

Right, a scotch report coming very very soon (like within the hour) but briefly: I went to Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev score) last week with another brunette. It was great, and excellent stage layout/design. But that's not the point of the post.

The ballet was at the St James, quite a nice venue for ballet/opera (and, oddly, Apple product launches...). And they have a crap selection of beer. I counted four, maybe five types. the best of which, and I struggle with the term 'best', was 'Stella Artois'. Yup, wifebeater was the best beer they had. 
I didn't manage to finish the bottle.

I've done this rant before, but WhyTF can't decent venues realise there is a market for good quality beer? they have a huge wine selection, but I don't necessarily want a glass of wine. On it's own you lose the complexity, as food lifts and adds to wine. Beer can be enjoyed without this, a good beer does stand on its own. I went in really wanting a nice lambic - so I could sit around, read my book, sip something interesting, reasonably light (tasting) and wait for the brunette.

It really pisses me off the arrogant stupidity of places like this. 

22 August 2008

Booze report

I'm sure there will be more booze reports from the weekend, but here's a review of the Emersons JP.
I liked it. It is a brown ale with cherry overtones in a Belgian style. Brewed each year as a tribute to late Professor Jean-Pierre Dufour (more info at regional wines), the beer flavour is changed each year.
Others have commented on the winey overtones, and indeed two of my beer lads didn't like it much. Although once they'd realised that it was a brown beer, it made more sense to them.
It is intricate, the flavour is subtle but not insubstantial. The background ale is very good, and having my second bottle in a week, I think it's fair to say I'm enjoying it.

It isn't up to an excellent Belgian, but then again it's not a lambic, and when compared to other brown ale Belgian's it stands up very well.

Go drink it.

19 August 2008

pisht post

I just drank some $1500 NZ a bottle whisky.

holy fuckarama.

twas an adelphi bottlers tasting at regional. and it was something else. even their blend, blend i tells ya, was a 7/10. for $45.

im a little bit impressed by this evenings tasting. i'll blog about it while sober, but wow.

and to those of you who commented on the last drunk post, which ican see myself doing more of, screw you all. the answer is always oasis. no screw to the blonde who also said it was oasis.

im stopping now :)

18 August 2008

I'm peckish, where's my dinner

For patient diners only, await thy dinner...(with thanks to lovely A for this one).

Turtle soup.

16 August 2008


I'm not a fan. But, the rowing:
* a one minute delay for a 'weed' stop (comments from A 'it'll be the munchies next')
* he starts slowly but then ups the stroke rate to finish quickly

I can't top that.

14 August 2008

pisht post

title stolen wholesale from the chicken.

apparently daiquiris, followed by vodka n tonics leads to this.

who knew, who knew.

yay the music quiz, although goddamn we were one point off the money. if they'd listened when i said it was feckin oasis. but no.

sleep now. bye kiddiwinks.

13 August 2008

i've found me a t-shirt

You can even get it on boxers or a thong.

B sides

Remember them? Ahhh the amount I've spent on obscure singles for the B-side...and the 12" single for the extended mix. Lovely times. Lovely vinyl. Lovely lovely.

Anyhoo, getting back on track, the BBC has a new radio series celebrating the B side, it's available on iPlayer for those of you in the UK for a few more days. I haven't heard it yet - will, um, find it in the next day or two.

If I wasn't busy watching Nick Cave, I'd talk about my favourite B-sides. Briefly: Tux On and Hijack My Heart would be up there...I guess Grendel is a B-side too...no must stop. sleep needed.


11 August 2008

The speech

Ok, my notes were vague, I extrapolated a lot, but I think this covers most of what I touched on in the speech. Obviously the pauses and asides I can't remember, although I was sober at the time (mostly).

I apologise in advance for the absence of offensive comments, but I'm scared of Alex. In much the same way she was scared of my hair. Except she hits harder than the hair did.

Andrew and I have known each other for far too long, initially as 'the teetotaller' in a friends flat, and later as long term flatmates. As such I believe this is the ideal time to offer advice and support to Alex. I'd like to think I've had some positive civilising effects on the boy from Pram. Pram's similar to Essex. He can, when pressed, critique coffee - which isn't hard in this country - and has been known to do dishes. Sometimes.

Alex, techniques I've used in the past include, when the dishes have stacked up, cooking a fantastic meal - for one. Works well, but block your ears if bad words ain't your thing.
Andrew and I met at Uni, which many of you will be aware with his catch-cry of "when I was a criminology major". An academic claim that needs some explaining. Many years, many courses, many papers, many essays - some for Andrew, some for other people, all resulting in an 'almost' degree. A life experience would probably be the kindest description of academic Andrew.

It hasn't been all one-sided with him grasshopper, me master. I have learnt much at Salmon-san's feet, including three topics I'd like to explore; textile analysis, fiscal management, and task-orientated efficiency. the looks on most of your faces suggests some explanation may be needed.

Textile analysis: Andrew is less than keen on clothes washing, which frequently led to days without clean t-shirts and a sad Andrew. Thankfully as manager of a comics shops (crickey, what career moves hes made!) a ready supply of t-shirts were on hand.
I'd love to say that after the test-drive that they were all purchased, but a more common outcome was an eventual wash and resale to other solidly built comic geeks.

This 'shop will provide' ethos brings me to fiscal management. I suggest to Andrew's Gosh workmates they block their ears, banking was done on Monday morning and the IOUs to the till kicked in Monday afternoon. Just in time for the matinee movies...

Lastly, task-orientated learning. Our microwave was in the living room due to space issues in the kitchen, and Andy's favourite chair was next to the microwave.
Andrew likes pies. Andrew liked microwaving pies, but sadly for our hero the pie sometimes stopped on the far side of the microwave. The flat learnt, via Swarmi-Salmond, that three seconds brought it around to the front. Saving energy better used for consuming PIE.

Andrew flatted with France and I for years, his collection of comics, plastic toys, computer games and inept cooking (how did that casserole dish crack...) led to a christening of 'Man-Child'. Man-Child did so enjoy his role, watching the neighbour top-less sunbathing from our 3rd floor flat, dropping hideous engagement pressies out the window. great times.

Having met the lovely Alex, and see her approach to Man-Child is like a caring Os Du Rant, I'm confident she'll be able to manage. Although in Andrew's defence, he was always the sweetest most caring and sensitive of my mates, always there to help people, or drink with them.

Drink. Now there's something we've done a bit of. Homebrew in the flat, 20L for 7 quid, good quality ale. And thanks to my biochem skills, we got our gingerbeer to 15%. 1L of that and we were anyones, although in deference to Alex and the audience, it *always* led to Nintendo64, Playstation, Manic St Preachers, bad 80s hair metal vids, or the Bangles (his choice).

I've obviously cut a lot from this. To stop me looking like a drunk pervert, to protect Andrew, to protect me from Alex, and because his transgenderism is no longer an issue.
I would also like to say thanks for the Tom Waits tickets, given his love for Tom - and he got me into Tom, it must have hurt to say no to the gig. It wouldn't have helped that he bought tix for me, as I was drunk at a Scotch tasting...I forgot to mention that at the time tho.

So to my best mate, whose been there during some traumatic times in both our lives, I'd like to thank you for asking me to be here for you. And to wish you both the best, I can't think of a better match for you than Alex. I know she'll be looking shocked at me being nice, but sadly, I even mean it!! so I call on all of you to raise your glasses to the lovely A-team of Alex and Andrew.

10 August 2008

The booze report and my job

I have a new job. I'm now a team leader of a disreputable bunch of miscreants masquerading as desktop support personages.
Deciding I needed a meeting with my Senior Mac Desktop chappie led to us having a private chat in a van, on the way to regional wines as we both needed the new Emersons JP (review to follow as I haven't drunk it yet). I picked up a bottle of Timmermans Woudvruchten Fruits de la Foret. Which I'm guessing is Fruits of the Forest, again a lambic. Reddish in colour with a pretty cream-pink head the taste is boysenberry (ish) and reminded me a lot of bubblegum. I liked it a lot. I realise a lot of you ain't as in love with fruit beers as I am, but I'm working on ya...there's a Belgian tasting next month at Regional which I guess I'll drop in to.
Definitely recommend this beer tho, I've only ever seen it at Regional unlike other Timmermans which pop up at most of the New World's these days.

New Zealand Gin: Rich likes his GnT, as do I. Last night I tried the 42below (vodka makers) gin. They make a traditional London dry, which I'm assured is excellent, but we were drinking the SouthGin flavoured with manuka berries and kawakawa leaves. Most superb. Went down a treat. It's not your typical gin, but damn it's tasty. Go drink it.


9 August 2008

In a brief interruption

The following is for the foreigners who insist on using sheep jokes for kiwis, the Welsh and the Scots.
The number of sheep per person in NZ is now 8:1, down from 22:1 in 1982.

So please desist from linking us with those dodgy sheepshagging Welsh and Scots. Although there may be job opportunities for a captive shagging population...

Those of you hanging out for more europe reports, they should turn up in the next day or two. If I can read my notes, the best-man speech may also appear.

Settle. It hasn't happened yet.