25 June 2014


We wanted the Baltics, but then Eurostar came up with some nice deals, so Belgium it is - this time. Talinn, I'm watching you...

Conversations concerning this went something like:
-contemplating going to belgium
--for the beer?
-no, why would you say that?
--i know you.
-it's more my bucket list of seeing the european parliament
-and my passionate engagement with Herman van Rompuy's haiku's.
--well yes, ok, they are very moving.

I should be in sales.

23 June 2014

Biking and my knee

My left knee and I have had a bad relationship for years. My expectations that it will do stuff when I want goes contrary to the knee's personality. It's hard to get angry with it, since I recognise that attitude...

Anyhoo, when biking I'd be fine for about 60-90 minutes then pain, and no power in the left knee. This made the return journey home slow, painful, and annoying. Three words I don't cope well with. So I sat down and thought about where the pain was, and what could be causing it. The pain was localised inside the knee, which meant it wasn't the position of the saddle (either too far back or too far forward), or height.  There's a good summary here.

Looking at a the knee joint, and assessing where the pain was, my thought was that my foot was turning out on the pedal. As the pain didn't show up during my shorter rides to work (upto 30mins with some large hills) I suspected it was cumulative, or kicked off after I'd been going for awhile.

Rather than rushing out and buying clip-on's which, in theory, shoudl force my feet to keep straight. I thought it would be worthwhile trying alternatives. So I grabbed some orthotics (as I said, my knee's and I have a long history...) and went cycling with those, while paying more attention to my foot position on the pedal. This helped a lot, but I still got some twinges which I put down to laziness and letting my foot turn. The next three longer rides I strapped the knee quite heavily, and aside from sweat and some rubbing, all was good.
(some of this was done on a stand for my bike, which proved useful to keep more of an eye on my cycling style)
So I'm quite confident it's postural. Next step is getting some SPDs and shoes...

It's fun when you get to experiment on yourself. Although if any of you want me to practise some surgery, I'm totally up for that too...


19 June 2014

Solving the Genesis Question : Gabriel or Collins

In a fit of research I believe I've solved the Genesis Question.

Collins does not appear in Genesis
Gabriel does not appear in Genesis
Peter does not appear in Genesis
Phil does appear in Genesis, a total of 8 times. In relation to 'Philistines'.

Further research:
No Anthony / Ants / Tony
No Hackett
No Steve
No Rutherford
No Mike
1x banks [of river Nile]

Obviously, this prompted queries about how many Fish are in the Silmarillion:
1x Fish [as in fisher-folk that dwelt by the River.]

You can all thank me later.

10 June 2014

Contender for worst [music] video, ever

Yes I know it's a big call, especially with the dross I've inflicted over the years. But this is completely, utterly, brilliantly OTT and so Bad it's Good. See what I did there eh?

9 June 2014

Cooking with Bruce : curried fish and pasta

It's been awhile since the last recipe, no real reason, I had a few I was going to put up, but for some reason (yeah ok, apathy) didn't.

This one is apparently from Antonio Carluccio - originally. I took one look at it, and decided it was unlikely to have enough flavour for me - it appeared to have been 'Englished'. So this is my version.

Curried Fish and Pasta
olive oil (large slug)
1x medium onion (chopped)
3x cloves garlic (chopped)
2 fish fillets
1 hot red chilli
150ml white wine (I was using a Pinot grigio, mainly as it was to hand)
400gm tomato passata
2T med-hot curry powder [I made my own]
2t cumin (freshly ground)
2t garam marsala
2 bay leaves

  1. Heat olive oil in a frypan on medium heat, add onion, garlic, chilli, and fish. Cook gently for 10 mins, and add the wine. Continue cooking until the fish is cooked, I was breaking it up while I was cooking.
  2. Remove the fish, onions, chilli and garlic leaving the liquid in the frypan. Add the passata, bay leaves and spices. Cook gently to reduce.
  3. While the sauce reduces, cook the pasta to al dente
  4. Combine all, and heat the fish through. Serve.
I thought it worked well, I'd rather spice it myself than use curry powder (pretentious, moi?) but that'd work too.


5 June 2014

gigs - swans and classical

I've had a couple of gigs in the last couple of weeks, both quite different to each other in style and result.
First up was the Swans in Manchester. They're on the road promoting their new album 'To Be Kind' which Buzz'n'Hum has reviewed here. Swans are not a background music kind of band, words such as relentless, uncompromising, scary, brutal, direct etc are the usual starting point for their reviews. Interestingly the new album, the followup to the stunning The Seer, has a strong krautrock vibe kicking along in the background. And it's that krautrock vibe that really came to the fore live, there's an (almost) danceable groove kicking along, which was unexpected. Imagine Can meets Tool meets [modern] Scott Walker. Sort-of. 
The band don't interact with the audience much, but Gira is quite mesmerising as a frontman. His vocals range from throaty menace to high pitched screams, all of which suck the audience into their highly dysfunctional world (mirror?). 
Speaking of the audience, great cross section of ages at the gig, even if it was, largely, a sausage fest. Swans appear to approach winning audiences over but figuring brutally sonically assaulting them is probably the best approach. It seemed to work. But it was also refreshing to have an audience there for the gig unlike most London concerts... but I did cherish my earplugs.

If you like your music challenging, at times nightmarish, try either The Seer or To Be Kind. The latter has more groove and is probably the more approachable of the two. And yes, approachable is entirely the wrong word. But they're both very very rewarding.

Last night I went to the Chamber Ensemble of London who were playing here as part of the LU Arts programme. An interesting programme on paper of British composers, many of whom I'd never heard of.
Kicked off with Purcell's Overture and Rondeau from Abdalazer which is one of my favourite pieces of music. Things didn't start well. The violins (more precisely the 1st violins) were slightly out of tune to each other. Entries were tentative, leading to a jagged start to themes as the instruments came in. I felt the balance was out too, I was sitting in the middle of a row about 3/4 back in the auditorium and the sound was dominated by the lead violins, which was a shame as the viola/cello/bass performances were excellent - when you could hear them. Personally, I thought they massacred Abdalazer which put me in a bad mood to start with. The same ragged performances and slipped notes occurred in the next piece, things improved when they played English pastoral, probably as the shimmering style of pastoral music covers more out of tune and entry issues.
I quite enjoyed the Harold Darke (of 'in the bleak midwinter' fame) piece (Fantasy in E major) which their composer in residence had orchestrated from an organ piece. 

The Ensemble can play very well, as I'd heard a few tracks from their new album on ClassicFM, but something was very amiss for this performance. It was so bad that I left at halftime, I put on John K Samson's Provincial which restored my humour somewhat.

Here's a version of the Rondeau which has more attack (and is in tune) than what I heard last night:

and here's some John K Samson.