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...