31 October 2010

Halloween viewing

Halloween, stupid concept. That may just be cos I'm not allowed to greet children at the door, or rather I am, if I'm clothed. Pah. 
But it gives me an excuse to watch horror movies, and not just Jennifer Anniston. Urgghhh. Shudder. Anyway, it's a quiet day as I was at the Whisky Show yesterday, got home around 930 and fell asleep. No idea why,but a vague report will show up tomorrow. In brief, drank whisky, enjoyed it, scored some glasses, and 1/3 bottle of Bruichladdich. Booyar.

First up, the classic, the original. The weirdly affecting 'Haxan', a doco on witchcraft from 1922, although the copyright free version I downloaded has the worst soundtrack. Someone has dumped a bunch of classical tunes (including Lohengrin, Schubert's 8th "unfinished" etc.), which really don't work. I'd stick to the silent version. The movie is, in places, quite disturbing and it's interesting to consider how some scenes were received when it was first released. It's been years since I've seen haxan (I went through a silent movie phase), but it stands up well. Definitely recommended. And as I said, it's available copyright free from here. 

We've stocked up on horrors, so coming soon will be brief reviews of Let The Right One In, and Bergman's Hour of the Wolf. And Psychoville have a special on tonight.


28 October 2010

slightly pisht post

Well it is Thursday night, which is music night. And it's been an interesting week at work, with two competing job offers. I've tried to play reasonably dumb and innocent for both of them. Which has created no end of consternation. *Result*

So Music Night, what got hit?
Started with the Steven Wilson music doco 'Insurgentes' which i thoroughly enjoyed. It's dark, it's artistic, and I do love Lasse Hoile's design work. Basically it's a 75min rant against the modern music industry, but from a interesting and lucid perspective. Worth a spin. I felt it lost its way near the end, but still recommended.

Enjoyed the bonus disk from the DVD (CD of an unreleased track).

Then onto Pure Reason Revolution DVD which came with the new album, Hammer and Anvil. They started out as a cheesy prog band, but appear to have turned into a mix of prog, Depeche Mode and possibly Prodigy - but all in a good way. I would definitely recommend the new album. The DVD is mainly second album stuff, and is not essential. Actually it was kinda crap. But good enough I may buy the second album. Damnit.

Decided to stick to the DVD theme, and went for IQ live in 2007. Chose about 6 tracks from this then moved Queen 'Sheer Heart Attack' on vinyl. I really love early Queen. Actually I love all era's of Queen, but the visceral passion of the first three albums always works for me. I'm lucky enough to have the Complete Works on vinyl, which is, to quote the Fast Show, nice.

Booze: pint of ginger beer; pint of bitter and twisted (harviestoun); bottle of Spanish red (meh); and now Glenfarclas 105.

Oh bugger, guess I should put some vids in.

26 October 2010

Bear wanna a Granny?

Russian bears are nibbling away in cemeteries due to food shortages.

I quite like that idea, renewable resources and all that.


24 October 2010

Whisky Tasting

I'd been promising one of the work colleagues he could sample a collection of my whiskies, things grew a little and in the end three of us combined bottles for an islands tasting.
Since I'd surprised the wench by taking the week off, I figured escaping for one evening of booze would be fine. *Result*
One of our intrepid band hadn't really had much whisky before, so we were trying to showcase a diverse range of flavours from the islands.
Our tasting was dominated by SMWS bottlings, as is only right and proper, and I would like to apologise in advance that the notes get more 'vague'.

SMWS 53.114 Caol Ila Smoky parma violets 55.2%, 342 bottles, refilled hogshead. 15yo, bottled 2007.

Orders from the bottles owner : we need to finish this one.

Nose: peat, salt, smokey bacon, hint of sweetness
Palate: salt, honey (strong), sugar, sweet, golden syrup
Finish: mid length, warm,hint of tingle.
Rating: 6-7.5/10 (I was more the 7.5 range, but it appeared we had a harsh group)

SMWS 4.131 Highland Park An Artists' Retreat 20yo sherry butt, 60% 542 bottles.
Given how much this bottle costs, we'd decided to drink it early before our palates were destroyed.

Nose: vanilla, sherry, cut grass, turps
Palate: honey, sherry, red wine, currents, xmas cake
Finish: big sherry, very light salt.
Rating: 8.5/10
Really lovely complex full bodied interesting island whisky. It's worth the price too. I liked the hint of salty-ness with the traditional sherry complexity. It worked well, a highlands whisky with island overtones.

Arran Malt - 13yo Sherry finish.
One of mine, so there's been tasting notes on here before.
Nose: sherry, strong, burned rubber, peaches.
Palate: sweet, and other words I can't read.

Generally, it was too simple, had limited complexity, and was probably too young. Which is pretty much what I felt drinking it on it's own. Also with the excellent complexity of the first two, it showed up how light this one is. 5-6/10

SMWS 73.34 Aultmore 16yo refill barrel, 58.9%
Yes, I know it's a Spey, not an island. Words were exchanged with the offender, but being such nice generous fellows we forgave him and drank his booze.

Nose: sweet, fruit, marshmallows, mango, peach, toffee, menthol (esp with addition of water)
Palate: sweet, dessert wine,
Finish: short
Rating: 7-7.5/10
As you can see our intrepid band were getting more creative in their descriptions and appeared to like this sweet whisky. From memory, Aultmore are more known for their contribution to Dewer's, but this cask suggests they are worth finding on their own. Tasty, sweet whisky.

We then had the Lagavulin 16yo as our plan was to round out the tasting with an exploration of Islay whisky's. And let's be honest, the L16yo is as good a place to start as any.

SMWS 3.168 Bowmore After Dark 11yo first fill sherry butt, 58.1% 269 bottles
Nose: leather, wood, tannin/oil, rich, treacle
Palate: smooth, cigars, leather, wood, cognac/brandy
Finish: explodes, but short
No rating on this one. But I'd thrown it in to confound expectations of Islay salty bacon whiskies. On nosing and tasting, you'd think this was a Highland or Spey, and older than 11yo. Lovely stuff.

We then had some Port Charlotte 8 to demonstrate how Bruichladdich can do a heavily peated Islay at cask strength. All liked this.

And then we had the monster.
SMWS 127.3 Port Charlotte Beach BBQ for older boy scouts, 8yo 67%, refill bourbon barrel.
Nose: singed nostrils, bbq meat, hint of sick
Palate: sweet, bourbon, rubber, hint of lime, gin'n'tonic
Finish: massive, rubber, medicinal
Rating 6.5-7.5/10
It is drinkable at cask strength, which prompted one of our panel to say "Good way to go". It's not a relaxing whisky, but if you want a big big Islay, it certainly delivers. It was probably the only thing that could get through the previous whisky in terms of flavour.

Big thanks to our intrepid tasting panel, I suspect the whisky cabal will be assembled again at some point. Especially with the winter weather coming in. Booze good.


23 October 2010

Gigs - Mumford and Sons

Paul and I rocked along to Mumford and Sons the other week, mainly as they were playing in Nottingham and we could drink beer.
The two support bands were good. First up were Matthew and the Atlas (apparently). Kinda hippie, kinda alt rock. Recommended, or at least keep an eye on them.

They didn't have any EPs available, but I might track one down later.

Next up were Johnny Flynn, who I thoroughly enjoyed. I dunno alt-pop? I picked up the new album and have to admit, it's pretty damn good. Being the sucked I am, I did get the 2CD version, but it's thoroughly enjoyable and on the album, the band aren't as frenetic as they were on stage. That was more the result of having a short time on stage, I guess.

Mumford and Sons were disappointing. The couple of tracks I'd heard previously were encouraging, but really they don't do anything new. Even less than recent Keane or Snow Patrol, with whom I guess they'd share a significant audience. There isn't any variation between tracks, and even the new stuff which they were premiering, wasn't any different. We lasted an hour, then wandered off.
Here's the debut single (doubling as the album, if I were cynical).


21 October 2010

Movies : Birdemic ; Boy ; Fish Tank

To start with a diversion, Jonathan Franzen is being lauded for his new book 'Freedom', having it described as the great American novel.  To those heights, I'd like to add Birdemic. At the base level, the story revolves around bird attacks, and love. The birds make the viewers use their imagination, stretch their minds, project themselves into the movie. What I found visionary was the tying together of history, green issues, and biology. Characters are well developed, although playing Everyman they are allowed to breath and express themselves to an unusually high degree. Aside from the green plot, there's also a higher subtext of either political (republican/democrat) or religious, depending on your interpretation.
There's more than one way to kill a bird/republican/religious zealot, and the movie explores concepts of freedom within a capitalist world.
Highly recommended.

Finally got to see this - thanks to Suz sending it over on DVD. Starts off well, very funny in places, but loses story and generally seems to meander to a largely unsatisfactory ending. I dunno, I really wanted to like it, but found it disappointing. It is a sweet story about a daydreamer (Boy) and his deadbeat Dad who appears when his G'ma goes off for a tangi (yeah it is a bit forced). Acting is excellent, music is good (well it is the phoenix lads), just ultimately unsatisfying.

Fish Tank
If it's all about realism, then Fish Tank is a winner. Social realism on a very depressing scale, to the point that Ken Loach is generally more uplifting. There were moments of comic relief, but it's not a happy movie. And definitely not Hollywood.Acting is superb, and you definitely need to see this movie. But bear in mind, the news will be a welcome happy relief.


8 October 2010

Whisky : SMWS 3.168

It's fair to say distillery 3 is rather popular if they're up to cask 168. It's also fair to say 3 is a very well known and respected Islay (Bowmore).
So cask 168, it's been bottled at 11 years, 58.1%, 1st fill sherry butt, and only 269 bottles. One reason it interested me was that the sherry finish Islay appealed.

Nose: sherry, sweet, rubber, sweet, cucumber, glue, very dark colour, no hint of salt or bacon

Body: ahhh there's the salt, raisins, sherry, hint of pepper, honey

Finish: spicy, heat builds, long raisin finish

It's not an Islay, at least not as you'd know one. I would have liked more salt coming through, but it is a very strong sherry cask, hiding most of the salt/bacon. I would have guessed a Spey or Highland, but close to the coast.
So definitely worth it for interest value, taste is interesting, warming and different. This should go down well at our tasting.
Rating: hmmm actually tricky 8/10. It's like the nose promises more than it delivers, but it is very very good. Strange. But then, that's the point of the SMWS.

7 October 2010

Whisky : SMWS 127.3

Currently it's hell at work. 10-12 hour days, far too many people have left stuff to the last minute, and I have to pick up the slack. I'm likely to comment on that in the weekend. Although I've also got the Freshers Fair on Sunday, so not sure when I'll get a chance.
But it's music night. And I've dedicated the evening to Floyd and Waters. Brilliant.

The SMWS have just released their first two bottlings from a new distillery, number 127. And to say I was excited may understate things a touch, for this is the manly Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte. Of whom I've raved about before. So the thought of the SMWS bottling PC really popped my cherry. They released two bottlings, 127.1 and 127.3. Sadly all of .1 were gone, but I managed to get a bottle of .3 'Beach BBQ for older boy scouts'
Both bottlings were limited to 235 bottles. .3 is an 8yo, bourbon cask, weighing in at 67% (WTF!). First notes are at bottling strength. Pt2 are with water, which it needs.

Nose: rubber, salt, vanilla, smoke.  (2)smoother, sweeter nose, vanilla, rubber, grass

Taste: salt, pepper, smoke, very strong,   (2) prickly (but drinkable), salt is stronger, fiery on the tongue, taste of furniture polish?, very warming, 

Finish: huge. fiery, salty, smokey. goes for years.(2) the smoke seemed to disappear, but the flavour and warmth seemed to last longer and turn into honey.

It's fair to say this is a monster. It is the biggest whisky I own, and blows the PC6/7/8 out of the water (hehe) for sheer stupidly huge Islay-ness. There's little of the complexity the PC's were showing, or rather, developing. But for all that, it is an interesting whisky, and with water, it opens up. What appears to be its strong point is the finish. It's massive, but becomes sweeter, literally like warm honey in your throat. Weird, but lovely. 
Going to give this one a 8.5/10. I'm glad I have a bottle.

Speaking of whisky tasting, we've gather a bunch of whisky lads at work, and willbe having a tasting soon. the line-up, as planned by two us, will focus on islands (not just Islay's) and I'll post some reviews up later.

3 October 2010

Ads in papers

I'll admit that it's probably sad, but keeping an eye on what ads are placed with various feature articles, suggests advertising space in papers is purchased at random.

The Observer had the first of a series by Stephen Pax Leonard (who the hell calls their kid Pax?) concerning the effect of melting ice on the villages and life of Greenland's Inughuit people. It's interesting, depressing, and will probably be a really good series.
But that's not the point.

Tucked at the end of the article was a 'reader offer' for a dehumidifier to eliminate damp, condensation and mildew.


2 October 2010

Monkey balls

Don't ask why, but I just came across a recipe for a cocktail 'The Monkey Scrotum'.

1 part lemon juice
1 part cointreau
1/2 part dark rum
dash bitters
tsp brown sugar


Crush the mint with the sugar and add the lemon juice. Top up to half of the glass with ice. Pour rum and Cointreau over ice and mix thoroughly.

Now I'm sure you all appreciate where I could have gone for pictures...

1 October 2010

The New Barbarians

I considered a quirky indie flick, but it's been a week of nightmares at work, so headed for Bgrade-ness, and one with Fred Williamson in it too- The New Barbarians. An Italian-USA production, guess that makes it a spaghetti-calypse.

2019 the nuclear apocalypse is over. There are dead puppets masquerading as bodies scattered, and a man who looks rather like one of the elves in Lord of the Rings heads up the baddies. There is slowmotion falling out of small stunt cars, sound effects not out of place on a handheld 80s comp game,and people falling over what look like kegs. Random.
It's fair to say, 10 minutes in, this makes MadMax look like Tarkovsky. Which, in many respects, is an incredible achievement. Oh and I don't think Fred's turned up yet, but what's this a green glowing light on a car? could it be? no. It's a Mel Gibson look a like. The dialogue is so stilted, John Holmes would would be looking embarrassed. So all in respects, this movie is delivering on it's promises. Hmmm the Mel Gibson look a like is actually more similar to Anthony Bourdain. 

Most of the movie has been shot in a gravel pit and explores the deep and meaningful issues of human extermination, love, loners - in general, the human condition.The hero loves, he longs for civilisation, and still has a green glowing car. The car gives KITT a run for it's money, the doors fly off and explode under other cars. Well a small explosion anyway, with a disproportionate effect. Ooohhh Bourdain just did a slow-motion run and jump!!! It's all looking very dire for our hero, but wait, whose that with a explosive bow and arrow?

The Templars (baddies) appear to have been kitted out at a BnD/Imperial Stormtrooper store. Which is all a bit confusing, but their long smouldering looks at each other (all guys) avoid dialogue, which is a good thing. Things potter along, with various rescues, emo encounters, a raid on the good guys camp. 
Fred follows his usual method of acting, not to be confused with method acting, and brings a level of campness to every scene. A poignant scene involves the Stormtroopers lining up the good guys against the wall, not only of the human condition, but also critiquing human history. This movie has it all, including a 10yo mechanic who dispenses philosophical advice.
Ohhh superb dialogue 'Scorpion, what are you here for?' 'I am here to kill you.'. In excellent bgrade fashion, one arrow kills 6 people. 

Well that was fun, very bad, and mercifully short.

me x