Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Beer 114 – Black Sheep Golden Sheep Pale Ale

One last fine ale before I fly out to Indonesia tomorrow morning, found this in Tescos (where I also spotted some Fursty Ferret – for my “weird” friend in Aberdeen).

The actual colour was much lighter than the photo depicts – more golden than dark, poured with a large head. Initial taste was of hops, but there were more complicated flavours going on in there – and at 4.7% abv could be drunk easily over an extended session. One to revisit when I finally return to the UK.

So this will be the last post for a while until I can source some high speed connection around Jakarta, will be living 45 mins out of town so I have no idea when that will occur. Will not be back here until the end of June, but rest assured that I will get on my blog rounds when access permits.

SlĂ inte mhath!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

New Metaphor Required

Read yesterday that the Forth Rail Bridge is being coated with special paint that will last for 25 to 40 years - work will finish in 2012 so from that time on we are going to need a new metaphor for never ending tasks.

It took 7 years to build the thing and work was completed in 1890 - those Victorian engineers sure knew how to build things to last down the ages. Compare and contrast the Forth Road Bridge which was completed in 1964 and is currently predicted to close by 2020 due to corrosion and heavier traffic levels than originally predicted.

One and a half miles in length it is not only an engineering marvel but also a thing of great beauty - have crossed it on many occasions but it is amazing to look at from the edge of the water.

Here is the BBC's take on the ending of this (and other) metaphors.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Los Campesinos!

Read a favourable review of this lot in today's paper so in an idle moment I tracked them down for a listen or two.

Based out of Cardiff, they formed in 2006 and released some singles last year – their name means The Peasants in Spanish – and they are a seven piece.

I love the sound they make and they sure do go in for some interesting song titles, take this one The International Tweexcore Underground or how about their latest single Death To Los Campesinos!.

Last one is around 6 mins in length – cool video though. They have a page on MySpace if you are interested.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Last Road Trip in UK - For A While

Just got back from a road trip visiting friends and family over the weekend - the photo is taken at the back of G's house where I stayed last night, great food and wine and even better company.

Posting and doing blog rounds is going to be tricky from Thursday of this week as I am leaving the UK and heading out to the island of Java to visit little bro' and family for 4 months. They do not have a high speed internet connection, if I can sort one out for them then "normal" service will be restored.

Otherwise I will be dependant on finding wi-fi hot spots in comfortable surroundings - quality of posts may improve.

Eldest Niece, her man and baby Lewis came down to visit at lunchtime, Lewis got fed, changed and then posed for some pics before dropping off to sleep. Here is the best one.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Beer 113 – Badger's Fursty Ferret

Came across this on the supermarket shelves and could not resist the name or the label. Have read some unflattering reviews of it online but those were almost matched by favourable ones – some folks reckon that the draught version is superior – quelle surprise, give me well looked after draught every time.

Not very fizzy, has a pleasing malty taste to it and at 4.4% abv it would make for a good beer to drink over an extended session.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Maddona Makes Film

She directed, co-wrote and executive produced a film called Filth and Wisdom which had it's premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. Given her recent track record in films it will come as no surprise to learn that she has delivered a turkey.

Not even the presence of Eugene Hutz (lead singer of Gogol Bordello and a pretty good actor as well) as one of the main characters can save it from failure.

Do not believe me? Then read this review from yesterday's paper.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

St Germain

Today I made the mistake of visiting the supermarket at lunchtime and even though I only had a few items it seemed to take forever due to the numbers of men in suits in front of me buying their lunches, and to a man one or two bunches of flowers – is there something going on of which I need to be made aware?

St Germain is an alias for French producer Ludovic Navarre, this track is a live version of Rose Rouge which is on the album Tourist. If jazzy electronica is your thing then rush down your local record store and pick up a copy.

The vocal sample is from a track by a lady called Marlena Shaw – do not know anything about her but I do like the sound of her voice.

And that is a soppy as it is going to get round here today – the greeting card industry does not need any pimping from me.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

News Roundup

When I read the headline “Hamster prices triple in China” my first reaction was oh no now they have found a tasty recipe for hamsters – my fears were unfounded, it appears that the dawn of the year of the Rat has led the Chinese into a frenzy of buying hamsters for pets.

John Peel's grave has finally been marked with a grave stone on which is the quotation from the Undertones song Teenage Kicks that he had always said that he wanted placed there "Teenage dreams, so hard to beat".

This last one is just plain bizzare, the National Health Service are claiming on their web site that “'sexercise' can lower the risk of heart attacks and helps people live longer.”.

Not only that "If you're worried about wrinkles - orgasms even help prevent frown lines from deepening." - read the article here.

What neither it or the NHS site will tell you is how the data was collected, did they have teams of sex inspectors roaming the land checking that group A were having regular sex sessions while control group B were abstaining? Surely we have the right to know, and also where to apply.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Honda TV Ads

While most TV adverts leave me pretty cold (with the exception of the Guinness ones) the ones generated by Honda over the last few years have been pretty cool and not at all annoying.

Do not know if they have all been produced by the same advertising agency – OK, now I do - they have all been produced by Weiden & Kennedy for Honda UK.

Started with this one - the cog ad (2003), then there was the one for diesel engines (2004), and finally Robot (2006)

Monday, 11 February 2008

Seasick Steve

First came across this guy on Jools Holland's New Years eve show at the end of 2006, he has certainly led an interesting life, learnt to play guitar at the age of 8 getting lessons from an old dude from Mississippi, left home at 13 and was a hobo for a time. Since that appearance on the idiot box he has achieved great success over here and is down to play the Royal Albert Hall in October.

He plays a a beat up guitar with only three strings and comes across like a real deal Delta bluesman, elder bro' went to see him live twice last year and raved about him both times.

So here are two clips from Jools New Years eve shows, first one is Dog House Boogie (2006) and Cut My Wings (2007).

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Beer 112 – Badger's Golden Champion

Have not stopped drinking beer it is just that everything I have had recently has already been posted. This is an unusual beer, according to the blurb on the label that fruity flavour coming through is elderflower – slightly sweet but very refreshing on the palate after coming in from a brisk walk in brilliant sunshine on what felt like a warm Spring afternoon.

Not convinced that I could drink more than one or two in a session but pretty enjoyable as a change, 5% abv so not a lightweight.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Fun Site

I cannot claim any credit for finding this as I have stolen the link from my friend in the North of Scotland Noddy.

He put it it up yesterday and I have watched it several times - very amusing use of Flash and would win best web catalogue ever if there was such an award - check it out here.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Dead Rock West

On the recommendation of a close friend I went out last night to catch this band playing in the back room of a pub in Winchester and I was not disappointed by what I heard and saw.

The support act was Stewboss which consisted of a guy called Greg Safarty on guitar and vocals and Frankie from DRW and they were pretty cool – the rest of DRW joined them for the last couple of numbers. Great songs performed with gusto.

The venue was a back room in a pub, could not have been more than 15' wide and 40' long including the stage area so I was about 10' from the band. It was pretty full, around 100 people of all types and ages – my kind of crowd.

Had seen various band members in the other pub rooms before the gig grabbing a bite to eat and chatting to people who had seen them play elsewhere – very approachable bunch of people.

DRW were awesome, great musicians and sung some fine harmonies – Greg played guitar all through their set. Good sense of humour as well, Frankie kept banging on all night about some horror movie he wanted to make (Space Rats). The crowd really loved them and they hung around afterwards to chat with people – this lot deserve great success.

First gig I have ever been to where a band member asked the audience if she could take our picture, and then Frankie roped in an audience member to video a couple of songs for them and the guy did the rest of the gig. They let him have his pick of the merchandise table for his efforts.

Here are a couple of clips from their UK tour, first up is Rocket From The Crypt and then their closing number (before they played 3 extra songs)
Burning House of Love.

Check them out on myspace here, and if you have the time visit with Stewboss.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Book Meme

My blogging buddy Phlegmmy tagged me with this bookish meme causing me to waste a few hours in thought at the keyboard.

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

DI John Rebus, Ford Prefect and Nanny Ogg – on a pub crawl in Edinburgh ending in a curry house.

You are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

Titus Groan, have tried reading it twice and gave up on both occasions – nothing seemed to be happening. One of only two books that I have never finished.

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?

No, I don't do that – proud of my Celtic barbarian status and happy to profess my ignorance.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?


You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why? (if you feel like you'd have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP.

VIPs read? OK then, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

Spanish, as I have read some great novels in translation and would like to be able to try the originals and it would come in handy travelling in Central and South America.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick. A cracking story that is really well written.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

In Fury Born by David Weber – had never heard of him but bought this late last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

A room of around 20'x20' with a large picture window at one end where the hi-fi sits, in the middle a large oak coffee table surrounded by a comfy sofa and two chairs. The walls have free standing bookcases in oak which rise to a height of 8', they are full to bursting with a mix of hardbacks, paperbacks and graphic novels (no leather in sight) and the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary/

Phew that took longer than I thought it would, am not going to tag anyone but if you want to play as well then go ahead,

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

No Country For Old Men

Finally made the trip to local big city to catch this film as for bizarre reasons it has not been showing at either of my two local multiplexes. Should probably preface this by saying that I have been a fan of the Coen brother's films ever since seeing their first Blood Simple, but even they are not infallible and the have made a few stinkers over the years.

This is not one of them, beautifully shot in New Mexico and Texas the landscapes provide a stunning backdrop for the unfolding story. The tale opens with a man (Brolin) out hunting deer in the scrubby desert, while following the trail of a wounded animal he comes across the remains of a drug deal gone bad. One man still lives and asks him for water but he does not have any with him so he tracks down the bag of cash and returns home to his wife in their ramshackle trailer.

Later that night a twinge of conscience draws him back to the scene with a large bottle of water, the man has since died and some associates of the dealers appear forcing him to flee on foot leaving his truck behind. Events spiral out of control from this point with a vicious hit man (Bardem) pursuing him leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. The local sheriff (Jones) follows the trail while waxing philosophical about how the world is changing for the worse around him.

Excellent performances from the three central characters (Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin) and a fine supporting act in Kelly MacDonald who (for a Scottish lady) turns in a good Southern drawl

There is almost no soundtrack in this movie with the directors letting the locations, script and actors tell the story without distractions. They even manage to inject some humour into what is otherwise a tense thriller.

Based on a book by Cormac McCarthy and according to what I have read a very close adaptation – have never read any of his books but this makes me want to change that real soon

Two hours really well spent and while I have heard some people complain about the open ending I had no quibbles about it as that too is taken straight from the book.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


I love it when I come across a musician that is new to me and instantly connect with their work. That happened to me last Friday when I came across Leslie Feist for the first time on Jools Holland's show.

Great voice, interesting songs and some intriguing musical instruments in the mix made for a stunning introduction. A far superior addition to the canon of female Canadian singers than Celine Dion I feel sure that this girl will go far.

She is up for 4 Grammy nominations this year, rounding off an excellent year for her that started snowballing after 1234 was used in an ad for the ipod nano. And any artist who cites PJ Harvey as a musical reference is going to get a good reception from me.

So thanks to those UK “YouTubers” (or whatever the term is) for posting the following clips (the last one was not broadcast on the night).

She started with My Moon, My Man and then played Sealion and for a bonus we get 1234.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Factory Records

Watched an interesting documentary the other night about Factory Records (independent label that was home to Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays to name but three). The people behind it had no experience in the record “industry” nor in business, on the plus side they had ears for good music and also an appreciation of fine art.

There was some great archive footage of Joy Division whose lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide the day before they were due to leave for their first US tour and before the release of their second album.

What was really intriguing was the revelation that his fellow band members had never read any of the lyrics that he had written on the grounds that they were personal and none of their business.

Despite/because of this set back the label was soon generating large amounts of revenue, so they opened a New York styled night club in Manchester called the Hacienda. This was losing money at the rate of £10,000 per week – paid for by the Joy Division royalties rolling in.

Obsessed with the art work for their releases their most infamous moment came with the 12” single release of New Order's Blue Monday (largest selling 12” over), the packaging was so expensive to manufacture that they lost money with every copy sold.

Tony Wilson (one of the founders who died last year) was immensely proud of the fact that the label had failed to sign up some of Manchester's most successful groups such as Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths for varying reasons. For him I think that is was always about the journey and never the destination.

Unsurprisingly the label went bankrupt in 1992 and the night club closed a few years later.

Here are New Order performing Love Will Tear Us Apart – written by Curtis for Joy Division and released as a single a month before his death.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Mayor “Kidnaps” Dog

Came across this story about the mayor of a small town in Texas who after being asked to look after her neighbour's dog then phoned them to say that the young dog had died.

The dog was then later seen by the dog's breeder at a grooming salon and recognised some months later, she contacted the owners - they mayor did not return their calls so they were forced to start legal proceedings. A judge is to deliver a verdict tomorrow on who gets to look after it.

The story at the BBC was short on some details so after some searching I found this full account of the events .

What I have trouble understanding is why the dog has not been returned to his rightful owners without the lawyers getting their noses into the trough.

Saturday, 2 February 2008


This comic for adults was started in 1979 in Newcastle in the North East of England, building it's circulation slowly at first after ten years sales peaked at 1 million. Nowadays it is still selling a respectable 300,000.

Have not bought a copy for over a decade but was reminded of it when I got an email of selected readers letters.

Hard to describe to someone who has never seen a copy but this extract from it's Wiki entry gives a good overview.

“At its best, the comic's style parodies the strait-laced British comics of the post-war period, notably The Beano and The Dandy, but with incongruous language, crude toilet humour, black comedy and either sexual or violent story lines. It also sends up tabloid newspapers, with mockeries of articles and letters pages. It features competitions and advertisements for overpriced 'limited edition' tat, such as a cat that "shits its own weight in gold", as well as obsessions with half-forgotten celebrities from the 1970s and 1980s such as Shakin' Stevens and Rodney Bewes. Occasionally it satirises current events and politicians, but has no particular political standpoint.”

So here is a selection of reader's letters that made me grin:

So Princes Harry and William are throwing a party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their mother’s death. I’m glad that they can finally laugh about it, but throwing a party seems a bit harsh.
D Antarctica , Rhyll

I think Sir Paul McCartney should try to put his current predicament into perspective. In olden days, if you were unfortunate enough to be robbed by an omniped, it would almost certainly be a pirate. At least he’s going to come out of this alive.
Stella Matlock

If the failed 21/7 bombers had just waited three more days, we’d all be calling them the 24/7 bombers. This would imply that they blow things up all day every day and, despite their actual lack of success, make them at least sound like they were good at bombing.
Christina Martin, London

THIS new police knife amnesty is a bloody nightmare. I dutifully handed all my knives in and now I’ve got nothing to eat my dinner with.
Richard Karslake, Oxfordshire

TO THE zookeeper in 1978 who replied “I’ll tell you when you’re older” when I asked him why one of the monkeys stuck its tongue up another one’s arse: I’m 36 now and still waiting for that explanation.
Joe McKeown

I HAVE just returned from a diplomatic trip to the Congo and I can testify that at no point did I see anyone drinking Um Bongo.
Neil Palmer

I’M A terrorist, and when ID cards come into force I will probably employ great cunning and not declare that as my job. I’ll probably say I’m a grocer or something.
A Terrorist

Friday, 1 February 2008

Old Dudes Rocking

Back in the early nineties Hairy Nephew and Irish Lass were living in West London and they became members of the 606 club a small food and jazz place where we spent many a happy night until the wee small hours.

I am pretty sure that they were the ones who introduced me to the alto sax playing of Lou Donaldson, very soulful and bluesy as this nine minute clip of them playing Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky From Now On shows.

Born in 1926 and still rocking today an inspiration to us all.

Check out this best of cd if you enjoyed the clip, you will not be disappointed.