28 February 2010

6 nations pt 3

I think this is Part 3, have a feeling I missed the games last weekend? dunno. Anyway, I've just got back from a very relaxing week on London, I've got Mahler's 6th on, there's some roundball on tv (just over my toes), and I've been tidying up. Excitement abounds.

Wales v France looked to be the best game on, and conveniently it popped up on Friday night, when I could watch it. The French are by far the best of the teams this year, showing a most uncharacteristic tendency for consistency. They aren't afraid to throw it wide and open up the game, something that's missing from most of the other teams. Wales managed to look crap for most of the game, keeping it in tight, looking as creative as David Beckham in a post-match interview. The Welsh got some ascendency in the second half, causing the French to begin to go to pieces. Not helped by the sin-binning of Para (who is surely one of the best halves in the northern hemisphere), and the introduction of Michelek who displays all of the old school French inconsistency. Wales managed a good, if belated comeback, but didn't deserve to win.

Scotland v Italy I will never pick a dark horse again. The Scots have managed to utterly destroy any progress made by their win against Aussie. A fair and deserving wooden spoon winner for porridge stirring. Having said that, Nick Mallet seems to have taught the Italians the value of defence.

England v Ireland Meh neither team have looked like much this season. I watched the highlights, such as they were, and again it all seems very pedestrian rugger. Top marks to the Irish defence, I had a look at the stats this morning, they had no ball and managed to score 3 tries. So I guess something is working... The papers here seem slightly surprised (but not too much) that the English 6 nations attempt isn't going anywhere. Jonny W has come in for criticism that he's not passing enough, but honestly when all the team wants to do is run one off the ruck, why should he?


21 February 2010

Holiday !!!

Some aspects of the British working life are good (if silly). I've been here all of 5 minutes and my boss says I have to use up my holidays - all 20 days of them - before the end of April. WTF. Oh well, if you insist sir. This coincided nicely with the lovely A-team gallivanting in safa land, so we're down in London for a week.

In true holiday style : flu, missed train, rain. I even had a day off last week thanks to the cold. Awesome. For those of you suspecting this is simply a case of man-flu, I've had no booze since Tuesday night. Admittedly I'm wondering cause/effect here too... Train was fine, lied a little, turned on my charm and got through it. See I have charm :) The ticket counter wench was unhelpful but charm won over the train chickybabe.

But I've discovered I'm about 20-25 minutes from the St Peter's Brewery pub and the SMWS London rooms. Huzzah for well placed A-team residences.
The V and A today methinks, current exhibitions here (the gothic one, digital art, and met forgeries look good).

With love and stuffy headedness, me xxx

14 February 2010

A reorganised LP collection, the stereo, 6 Nations Week2

Yes, it's all go here. I bought another LP holder as my collection was getting a bit crammed in and overflowing into the TV table. I took the opportunity to reorganize things a bit too, there's now a box for PT/No-man, a box for Marillion, a box for Queen/Fish/Steve Wilson (other), and another box for 'everything else' which seems to include a sizeable amount of Tom Waits and funk. Inspired by this, I took another look at my stereo system to try and sort out the SACD playing

Onkyo TX-SR607 7.2-Channel A/V Surround Home Theater Receiver (Black)KEF KHT1005.2GB 5.1 Subwoofer Satellite System with KUBE-1 (Gloss Black)I've got a nice DVD/SACD player (Cambridge Audio DVD99), hooked up through an Onkyo TR- SR670 AV amp   (apologies for the link thingy, but eh it's a nice picture) which does everything I want very nicely, and spits out sound (currently 5.1) to some Kef 1005.1 speakers. All of which was my present to me on moving countries. All sounds nice, but it wasn't playing SACDs through the Toslink cable - although it would do it through the HDMI connection. Which all seemed odd to me, mainly cos I'm not an AV person. I'd thought the Toslink would give a better quality connection so had given up on the SACDs for the meantime and had even considered selling a couple of them (the Talk Talk one in particular, having seen what it's currently going for). However the other night I decided to look into this, and HDMI does give as good, if not better, sound than the Toslink. So I pulled out some Porcupine Tree DVD-As and tried it, in both DTS and DVD-A format using HDMI and Toslink. I couldn't tell the difference, possibly the HDMI sounded a bit 'brighter' but I'd be the first to admit that may have been wishful thinking. And so I'm now connected by HDMI only from the DVD/SACD player, and happily revisiting my SACD collection. The initial tests were done using Peter Gabriel's Up and Talk Talk 'Colour of Spring' (which is in stereo, not 5.1, just high quality). Excellent.
Oh the LP player also goes through this, but that's obviously kept to stereo.

Yes, as I said, it's all go here.

I took the opportunity to hook-up a power saver device the power company sent me for free (yeah, now that makes sense!) which switches off power if the TV, Amp, DVD player are all in power save mode. This seems to work well, and the system is switched on by using the TV remote power button. Clever.

6 Nations Rugby Week 2 Part 1
The two games yesterday were a distinct improvement over week one. Scotland looked convincing against Wales, validating my Scotland as the dark horse pick. Then went to pieces in the last 10 minutes and managed to lose. Very similar to watching Wellington, although in Wellington's defence they've been far more consistent the last couple of seasons, and they aren't an international team. Dan Parks had an excellent game and controlled things well, the forwards stood up to the Welsh pack nicely.The Scots were helped significantly by the Welsh trying to keep things in close, one-off the ruck was about the end to it. Until the Scots stupidly got players sent off. While they were winning. Dicks. The coach seemed rather pissed by all this.
The French dominated the Irish, who also stuck to one-off the rucks whereas the French seemed happier flinging it around in French fashion, without losing control. Their forwards certainly stuck to the gameplan and held the Irish down. Reasonable game and this will put the French as the team to beat.

Overall, it's still not that exciting to watch, and I'm getting more tempted by Sky so I can watched the Super14. Damnit.

Food in Shepshed
Avoid. The pastie was advertised as award winning vegetarian pastie (mushroom and stilton), which it may have been, once. It would have benefited from being heated up using an traditional oven rather than the new fangled microwave, and using tasty mushrooms rather than small unopened white buttons. Sigh. I used to go to cafe's to get inspired for new things to cook.


11 February 2010

Thursday night music club #2

In the increasingly regular music club we've opened with Karnataka's new album The Gathering Light. I'm not a huge fan of female singer/songwriters, or indeed female fronted bands. I've tried, god knows I've tried, I've had hard core lady-rock people recommend stuff. It's all been to naught. Until Summer's End and Karnataka. They blew me away. There's celtic influences, there's rock, there's prog, there's elements of Marillion's Seasons End.
I haven't heard any of their older stuff, apparently there's a different singer. But I thoroughly recommend this album. It's magic. Samples available here.
To the point I may actually write a review of it. Yeah. Actually don't count your chickens ...

And yes Dave, you were right.

Beerwise: opened with some Badger, Blandford Fly. Stupidly I used some of this for marinating my fish with - admittedly the fish was superb, but still. It's lovely, not too bitter, hint of ginger, quite a full mouth feel, and slightly hoppy on the finish. Now onto the Hook Norton Brewery's Old Hooky. Not as good as the Badger, it's missing something interesting - fine as an ale, hint of chocolate (that maybe dessert btw), it's a session beer rather than a savouring beer.

Second up was the classic Genesis album Selling English by the Pound in glorious 5.1 sound. The remastering surgery performed on the Genesis backcatalogue was a revelation. I'd never been much of an early era fan, preferring Home by the sea onwards. But this stuff is gold. The mix makes sense in 5.1 and on the CD version, the clarity improvement is massive. Massive I tells ya. This had a downside, I ended up buying the three boxsets, although as I didn't have much Genesis on CD, this wasn't much duplication.

Last this evening will be the Brian Eno doco screened recently on BBC which I've been looking forward to, but hadn't organised myself enough to watch it. Seemed to be a good end to the music night. I may end up forgiving him for working with U2. But I can't guarantee it.

Loves, B

9 February 2010

google maps, it's not just me

Google Maps and I have had a difficult relationship, my desire to get from point A to point B quickly conflicts with GoogleMaps desire for me to see the countryside (B roads, I kid you not, actually one wasn't even that).

But it appears I got off lightly. Read here how phones for the UK ended up in Uganda. And yes, it's for a google phone.


7 February 2010

6 nations pt 2

Scotland v France
Yeah thanks Scotland, I profess faith and what happens? Pah. Actually that's not fair, it was the best of the three matches, and Scotland were a bit unlucky that the French brought their good game. The Scots weren't outplayed hugely, although they probably didn't deserve to win either. The expansive French play was matched reasonably well by the Scots, so I'm not giving up hope. Yet. And on the strength of the first weeks play, these were the two best teams by far.

It does seem a bit odd watching the 6 nations and thinking it's all a bit naff for two reasons, firstly the rugger is kinda crap, and secondly I don't have much investment in anyone. So I'm watching for the pure rugby aesthetic.

Here's hoping it gets better, and I'm aiming to get some more beer in for next weekend.

Me x

6 Nations pt 1

The 6 nations has started here - and since it doesn't have the round ball involved, I'll be watching it. I haven't seen a lot of the teams, aside from the end of year tour by the mighty Southern Hemisphere teams. And then even the worst of the three (Aussie), did well.  My feeling is that two obvious teams to watch would be Ireland and England, but that unlike everyone else, my dark horse will be Scotland. On the strength of their performances last year, they are playing well as a team, although lacking 'star' players.

Ireland v Italy
First up was in Ireland, and should have been a walkover - as defending champions against the perennial wooden-spooners Italy. What a bore. The game was rubbish, akin to watching an NPC badly played Div2 game. Handling was dodgy, no creativity - everything was one off the ruck, very very slow passing by the halves (Italy was better here) and the backs looked lost when it did, eventually, get to them. When the ball was spun past the first receiver everyone was flat, no-one hit at pace and no-one ran any lines. The couple of times O'Driscoll and O'Gara did do something interesting resulted in tries. But in general, turgid. Even the commentators were hanging out for it to end.
Justin Marshall was the special comments guy for BBC and he expressed his surprise at how boring the game was. Heh.

England v Wales
The game that was being hyped up as the best of Round 1. It was significantly better than Ireland v Italy, the English backs are looking better - a reflection of Martin J's selection on faster backs and (possibly) lighter forwards. I like how Wilkinson is now running quite a bit, certainly opens up the backline more when he does.
It was a good game, marred by a Welsh sin-binning that allowed two tries to be scored. The Welsh didn't really recover, but I suspect that's not the cause of their defeat. They looked timid and it wasn't until the last 20 that they began to throw the ball around - scoring impressive tries. Sadly for them, they got carried away  leading to an intercept English try.
England are looking good, there's potential there - not so sure on the Welsh, they seemed disorganized and lacking focus.

About to watch the Scots v France game now.


4 February 2010

Inaugural Thursday Night Music Club

I was missing my Monday fortnightly lad meet-up, and my weekly Thursday night music quiz (beer drinking). And so following suggestions of others, I've set aside Thursday night for beer, cheese, whisky and music.

The inaugural session has opened with Roger Waters 'In the Flesh DVD' and Brewdogs Punk IPA, which is a big big hopped to buggery IPA. Great stuff. Go drink it.

I got a Talk Talk 12" 'Today' for the princely sum of about a 1.50 quid. That may get spun between the two big guns, as I'm intending to follow Lord Rog with Marillion's Essence on vinyl. The PsychoChook assures us all it's a brilliant mix, so given it's a pretty chilled album, I'll be sipping a downbeat highland whisky methinks.

Back to Roger. And sad bastard that I am, I'm playing In the Flesh on itunes at the moment, just for Last.Fm goodness.


Zombie Animation

Came across this today, a trailer for a forthcoming zombie animation movie. It looks dark and bloody...