25 January 2009

Dinner, B Stylez

Had a relaxing day, woke up and watched Scrapheap Challenge which I'd taped yesterday, sipped coffee and had some fruit salad. Meandered up to meet Suz and headed to the diVinci exhibition. Really enjoyed this, interesting - a lot of his inventions had been recreated.
Was very very hot in town, so found some breeze, had a very nice omelette, bought some shoes (as Ecco were having a sale and I needed some), did some food shopping and decided walking home was a bad idea.

Dinner tonight: Caesar salad and whitebait fritters. Yummy. Here's my recipe for the fritters:
1T flour (I used rice flour, mainly as I'd run out of standard, it worked fine); 2 eggs lightly beaten, 250gm whitebait (drained and rinsed), salt and pepper. Mix all. Fry gently in butter. drizzle lemon over fritters.

That seems to be far too many blogs for one day, I should stop.

Me x

Seen and Heard

Leonard Cohen: Some friends were disorganised and didn't get tickets before the Wellington concert sold out. They missed one of the best concerts I've been to. The stage was simple, curtains lit by soft-ish lights, and three hours of Leonard. I had a fantastic seat, and he played everything I wanted. He's also quite funny - but you'd get that from his lyrics. The band was superb (although some people took issue with the sax/wind player), and all the nightmare 80s arrangements had been changed, improving the songs. My only complaint is petty: I don't like Suzanne, which he played. But aside from that, brilliant. Including stunning versions of My Secret Life and Boogie Street (sung by Sharon Robinson, who co-composed it). Hallelujah was extremely moving, and he's now singing it with a more redemptive quality than the album version.

Young@Heart Lovely doco this one. Follows a geriatric choir who cover Radiohead, Sonic Youth, James Brown, Allen Touissant etc. Just like a real rock n roll band, we've got death, love (kinda), bad behaviour, pathos... I really enjoyed the movie, it's sweet, interesting, well paced and funny - there's some terrific one-liners in it. Ok so the reviews (mine included) may not read as exciting - but it is definitely worth seeing.

Frost/Nixon: Enjoyable enough fare from Ron Howard. Dramatisation of David Frost's interviews with Richard Nixon where Nixon admits he might not have been honest as he could have been. The movie seemed well paced and the actors playing Frost and Nixon were excellent. In keeping with Ron H movies, it is manipulative, and it's not very subtle either. But having said that, I enjoyed it. I did find the turning point for Frost's 'redemption' manipulative, but hey it had to be something. Overall I came out of it with a greater appreciation for Nixon. I'm not sure if I was supposed to, but meh, it's likely to make me read more about him.


Bye !

S has now arrived in Cork. It was/is raining.

My spies had previously reported food/beverage is good there...which should always be a consideration at to cities to live in.

have fun with the phd thing. or at least more fun than most of us do...

b x

Photo Meme

Pinched from Psychochicken.
The Rules:
Go to your picture files
Go to your 6th folder.
Go to your 6th picture.
Tell us about it.

I was wandering home after swimming, must have been winter, and the lighting around Frank Kitts Park and the bridge was nice. Haven't done much with the photo as it didn't seem to need much, it was dark enough that the background was low enough for what I wanted. For the foreigners, here's a link to a daytime pic, this is from the left hand side of mine.

me x

19 January 2009

Beer Report : Weekend edition #2

Since it's a long weekend, you get two beer reports.

Regional Wines got a new supply of Belgian beer in, and the Gaz and I ambled down on Thurs to restock my well stocked fridge.
Today we have Oud Beersel Oude Geuze Vielle, you'll know my love of the Oude Geuze style. This one has the typical lambic sourness, which I love, and it's very refreshing. It seems very similar to my usual Oude Geuze that I get. That's good, as it's very hard to get this one in NZ, and if my usual tastes the same - then huzzah ! Very smooth beer, very interesting, and I'd definitely drink much more of this.

I'm typing this while eating strawberries and a timothy taylor landlord ale. It's a fine ale, bitter, dark golden in colour, very hoppy, slightly creamy in taste.

me x

18 January 2009

I have no defence

I'm taking a break from TheWire (upto Ep9) and sipping the last of my PC6 while watching Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.
I'm enjoying it, obviously not as indepth as the book, but meh I like it.

But I guess as it's Sunday evening and I'm watching a doco ...

I have finished my PC6 bottle, it's been awhile since I actually finished a bottle of whisky! Don't panic lovely reader, there's a bottle of Bruichladdich Rocks for my Islay requirements. Among *some* others.


17 January 2009

Mac Wheel !!!

With thanks to Rod, and the Onion for this one.

Telstra, Networking, TV

I have minions. Generally I like them, today I'm loving one of them. We were chatting about crap TV reception, which I've got, and he asked was I on cable modem. I am, I'm on Telstra. He mentioned if I put a TV splitter in, took the cable coming in as the input, then ran the TV and the cable modem off the splitter, I'd get great TV reception and keep the networking.
He was right.
Things were complicated as my router decided to blow up the other day, actually it was just the power supply, so I replaced that too.

I now have crystal clear TV reception for all channels, this means, hallelujah, I can get back to watching the Daily show on TV (rahter that online), and more importantly, The Steel Mill. Aaaahhhh. bliss. I've done an auto-tune to check stuff, so now I just have to manually redo them but it's all good.

And now, I'm going to watch the next Oz and James, the new QI and relax with some wine or beer.

Enjoy the long weekend!!!

Weekend Beer Report #1

It's been a busy day, made a pasta salad for lunch for Steve's birthday party, wandered around town to get some bits and pieces for my tv/network (more on that later).

Finally got home, feet up watching The Wire S3 - loving this. I suspect I'll finish watching this season over the weekend, admittedly I only started this morning...

And during Ep3 of The Wire I am sipping Lindermans Apple. Clear golden colour, strong apple nose, even stronger apple taste. Nice tastey lambic bitterness cuts through the sweetness of the apple. Very very drinkable beer. Kinda granny-smith taste btw.
Very Nice.


11 January 2009

Unexpected gifts

A car stopped next to me. A long haired, lanky, hippie-ish fella poked his head out and said: here, have this.
So big ups to Billy for his gift of a compact cassette (link provided for younger readers).

Various Artists : The Wrestling Album II : Piledriver.
This is scary, it includes vocal performances by many of the artists, apparently there was even an 8 track video tape of this pinnacle of musical talent.

I was, and still am, speechless. I also need to find a tape player so this can be mp3'd for all to enjoy. In the meantime, the cover (Village Person Hulk Hogan) and a couple of the video's (thanks YouTube - although you lot may not agree, check out the intro of the first one, in particuarly the pronunciation of Tchaikovsky, but Mean Gene can rap, kinda; here's a link to 6 of the videos)

But more worrying is Vince McMahon and 'Stand Back', but it's amusing to play spot the wrestler...who knew Jake was a sax player eh?

I think that's enough for tonight.

Love, B

7 January 2009

Thursday linky-winky

The guitar needs a make-over.
Read the Guardian's view on this.

Why are they still making guitars with "real" strings that are difficult and boring to learn how to play and really make your fingers hurt? What is the point?
... with the button guitar you can still use the instrument for its main purpose – pretending that it's a penis or a machine gun.

This is important because, despite the fact that it is old, smelly and too hard, the guitar has never been successfully replaced as pop's coolest instrument, mainly because the synthesiser makes a poor penis/machine gun substitute.


Love, me

3 January 2009

Seen: The day the earth stood still

Firstly, don't judge me. There wasn't anything else on.

The positive: Keanu understands he looks good in long coats and well cut suits.

Most of us have fond memories of the original. It's well worth watching. The same cannot be said of this remake. The scripting is absent, that's a surprise given the original had a script, and a good one at that. Nothing happens in the first hour or so, sure things land, things pop out, Keanu emerges, looks vaguely worried (as usual - I suspect it's got a lot to do with him thinking 'are they still paying me for this?'), he passes this off as acting. Sadly his expression doesn't change, ever. The love interest/saviour of the human race is a Astro-biologist or something, and the catalyst to represent the human race is a black kid. So another box ticked.
When things go bad, it does look good - the special effects are good - sadly they pop in during the last 20 mins when all hope had gone.
Any redeeming features? Special effects look good. John Cleese as a Nobel winning scientist ina field dramatically different to what he's portrayed as (the astro-biologist is his ?post-doc?). Other than that, it gives you 100 mins to play with yourself in the dark. Seriously, that's all it's good for.
Overall? Avoid at all costs, unless seriously drunk. Go watch the original, you'll be better off.

Love, saving your eyes, one pair at a time, B.

2 January 2009

For those about to Rock....

or, if everyone else is doing it why don't I (to paraphrase the MSPs). Yeah Bruce's Top10 albums of the year, and since I care, I've put them in some form of order. Numerical even.
there's been some reports that this year wasn't the best for music, I beg to differ. I think the level of variety in my top10 suggests that it was a superb year. Ok, so I might not have found many new bands this year (well Yeasayer, but their album was 2007) but it's been a varied year.

Those that missed out, just, from the top10: Van der Graaf Generator "Trisector", what a return to form, refreshing, slightly pretentious lyrics, stunning music; Steve Wilson "Insurgentes" mmm very very tasty and I'm not sure why it missed out, well ok it's so I could put one of hte #10s in there; Shihad "Beautiful Machine" I loved this, great rock album with almost emo undercurrents, this could be an interesting direction for Shihad; Isobel Campbell/Mark Lanegan "Sunday at Devil Dirt" only reason it's not on the top10 is the number of alt-country kinda things already on there.

10= Guns'n'Roses Chinese Democracy I bumped Steve Wilson for this. So sue me. I'm putting it here as it's exactly what I want from Axel, loud OTT rawk. It's had crap reviews from just about everywhere, Simon Sweetman excluded, but I really enjoyed it. Even the touches of nu-metal in there. It all works and there's some brillant tracks in there. There's also some filler - but hey it's GnR, you expect that. Was it worth however many years we waited? Well certainly it's much better than Metallica's latest which is being lauded as the best in 17 years (saying absolutely nothing). So this goes in to encourage you to give it a spin, the reviews are missing the point, it's good.

10= Willard Grant Conspiracy - Pilgrim Road wonderful solo gig this year at SFBH. But I've been a fan for awhile since a friend lent me an earlier album. Complex americana. A more delicate approach to song-wrting than Ryan Adams, but that's a good reference point. Darker too, so let's say between Adams and Nick Cave.

9 Calexico - Carried to Dust This band can do no wrong. They dragged the usually turgid Iron and Wine up to produce one of my favourite EPs (In The Reins); they rock live - and it's impossible not to be moved by them live, the entire gig was such a positive vibe. And they've returned with another dusty exploration of border country americana. This album seems more filled out than previous attempts, less of the sparse arrangements, but it still works.

8 Sam Flynn Scott - Straight Answer Machine was a toss-up whcih of the three Phoenix solo albums I'd put in (Luke Buda and TC Wedde), but Sam's song-writing is stronger than Luke's. The mish-mash of Sam's first album, which I loved, has been trimmed down to a more consistent style - again Americana, but it's allowed stronger lyrics and song development. Now we just need a new Phoenix album...

7 Mesuggah - Obzen I've been aware of them for awhile and liked the odd track I'd heard, so I went on a limb and bought the new album. Wow. Brutal. Points of reference are hard, but imagine a metal version of Krautrock. It's icy, it's brutal, and it's utterly mesmerising. Paradoxically there's a level of emotional investment in the songs which you wouldn't expect from the metronomic approach to prog-metal. I have no idea what label to give Mesuggah TBH, prog-metal seems as good as anything else.

6 Nas - untitled ha bet you never thought you'd see a hip-hop album on my top10. Except for those of you who I've been raving about this album to. I'd never really spun any of Nas' albums before, but some review I was reading suggested this one was worth listening to. Glad I did. Very intelligent lyrical rapping, and great music backing it. If you want to check out a couple of tracks first, spin Sly Fox (ripping the crap out of the Fox network) and NIGGER (the slave and the master). Great stuff. I should pay more attention to this genre...but like pop music there's too much dross for me to sieve through.

5 The Pineapple Thief - Tightly Unwound I lost my Pineapple cherry this year with the lovely GrizzledDog. This album isn't a huge departure for the band - but is their first on a larger label (KScope). Again lovely tunes, depressing lyrics, and huge hooks. Imagine Coldplay meets Travis, but with more interesting tunes. Well it's kinda hard to describe the thief, but if you like your slightly depressed English bands, please give them a spin. They deserve a bigger audience.

4 The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride this time, low-fi (ish) Americana. Or Alternative? hell I dunno. But this is their best album since Sunset Tree. Live, again they rock, and it's impossible not to have a good time since JD is a very funny frontman. This year they brought a drummer to the gig, which opened things up a bit. The line-up I'd seen previously was just JD and the bass player. The album is, as expected, full of short-ish (well I am a prog boy, so most things appear 'short-ish') songs, which blindside you with the directness of the lyrics. And that's what I love about the Goats, the music is sweet, the lyrics are biting, sharp, and very very funny (in places). There's a free download of an EP of theirs whcih I've blogged about recently...

3 Nick Cave - Dig, Lazarus, Dig Mr Cave returned. Mr Cave kicked some serious bottom. Not a bad track on the album. Again biting, cynical, biblical references (hard to miss given the title) all the stuff you'd expect from a Cave and the Bad Seeds album. Worth spinning 'And we call upon the author to explain' and the title track.

2 Marillion - Happiness is the road The boys return, and this time they make the top10. Now Mr Psychochicken and I have discussed this, he's a big fan of Somewhere Else. I like it, I liked the changes they were trying to do - successfully - but thought there were too many weak tracks. It does however have one of Marillion's best tracks in The Wound. But they've come back with a double album (Essence and The Hard Shoulder). I do think it could have done with editing. the emotional trip that is Essence, is sublime, but could lose 10 mins without missing too much. At the moment I'm preferring THShoulder, which is the more rocky of the two. It sounds like a band discovering fun again, having tried too hard to write rock/pop songs, they're going back to what they are good at. And that's resulted in a very natural sounding album. I think I prefer it to Marbles - it's also less over-produced - something Marbles really suffers from.
It's not available in the shops, yet, so pop along to marillion.com and get it. Then I'll stop harrassing you to listen to Marillion.

1. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid The title sounds like a Tom Waits character, and that's not a bad place to start a review of Elbow's brillant album. Like Tom? you'll like Elbow...not that musically or vocally there's any similarities. I've been a fan since Cast of Thousands, and have never understood why no-one else around here was listening to them. Brillant stuff. Again slightly depressed, quirky British music. But everything came together in this new album. It is sublime, and it kept Marillion of #1, which should say something. It also cleaned up at the brit music award thingies apparently.
I finally convinced S2H to grab this album, I think last I heard he was getting hooked, albeit slowly.
There isn't a bad track on the album, and it's hard to isolate one or two to recommend listening to. But as most of the online retailers are flogging it off cheap (well iTunes anyway), go get it...oh hang on, An Audience with the Pope might be a good introduction.

So there you have it. As usual my reviews are bollox, as I rely on vibe :D there's too much Americana in there, must find another genre...

Comments on a postcard...

Love, B