Posts from May 2004

31
May 04

Alton Brown

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 553 views

Alton Brownspeaks a lot of sense, Vic and I watched quite a lot of his show while in the States and are now petitioning UK Food for them to be shown here , so good ar ethey, anyway, here’s a sample:

“If I?ve said it once I?ve said it 97 times: there are no bad foods, just bad food habits. If I?m fat (and I?m not saying that I am) it?s not Ronald McDonald?s fault, or ConAgra?s fault or Ben & Jerry?s fault, or my mom?s fault or anyone?s fault but my own. I don?t support lawsuits against fast food any more than I support lawsuits against cigarette companies. Anyone who doesn?t know cigarettes are bad for you is an idiot. Anyone who doesn?t know that eating too much fast food will make you fat?ditto. In fact I think I may organize a class action lawsuit against people who stage lawsuits against corporations who they think should take responsibility for them. Criminy! Most corporations can barely take responsibility for themselves much less others.

If I?m fat it?s because I?ve shoved to many calories down my pie hole. I don?t need to chat with Oprah about it and I sure don?t need to consult that loathsome profiteer ?Dr? Phil. I just need to stop eating so much and exercise more. ”

wise words indeed

FT Top 100 Films 92: ONE OF OUR DINOSAURS IS MISSING

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This is a film I saw once. When I was six. So why did I nominate it for the Freaky Trigger Top 100 films? You may pick the analytical version or the honest version, dear reader.

THE ANALYTICAL VERSION: As I was saying on The Brown Wedge the other day, there is a certain reluctance among critics to embrace a childlike reaction to art; what you might call the Wow-factor. This applies in films more than anything else, partly because mainstream cinema panders more than any other cultural medium to precisely that factor: if you can hardly move for producers trying to wow cash out of you, it’s easy to become cynical. But rather than honing a sense of when something is actually kewl and when something is ersatz or rehashed or trying too hard, the sensible critic is encouraged to distrust and discount the Wow-factor entirely. When you get a load of people together drinking in a pub, though, “Wow”-ness tends to get its due. So it seems absolutely appropriate that a half-remembered movie that totally entranced me at the Saturday matinee when I was six should have been the first I chose for this list. And it didn’t surprise me in the slightest that my fellow drinkers agreed.

THE HONEST VERSION: It is called “One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing”!! It is about a missing dinosaur which is being driven round London on a big truck!!! ROXOR!

Secondary support

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Secondary support

I was interested to find that I had preferences in all the League playoff finals this year, for various reasons. Beyond my beloved Bristol Rovers, I don’t care much about what any other teams do, but I found I had a desire for a particular result in all these games, and they seem to say something to me about how football tastes can work.

The first house I bought, four years ago, was in East Ham, ten minutes walk from the West Ham ground. They were in the Premiership, Bristol Rovers were low in the 2nd. I thought I’d adopt West Ham as my second team – I’d get to watch them on TV every week, they had several players I really liked (Di Canio, Cole, Sinclair). It never really took, but I was rather sorry when they went down – and that cost me the first reason, of course. Still, I was hoping they’d come back up. Crystal Palace I have a slight negative feeling about, I think due to Ron Noades comments about black players when he was their chairman, years ago. He said something about their having talent, but not being tough when it counted. This was when Palace had Eric Young in their team! I know it’s unfair to dislike a team due to that, but these things are naturally irrational.

The 2nd Division one was clear cut: I’m neutral on Brighton, but their opponents were Bristol City. I don’t have the great hatred of them that many Rovers fans do, but I have enough that I was glad to see them lose.

In the 3rd, Mansfield mean nothing to me at all. Huddersfield, however, are a mixed back. I have a friend who supports them, which usually disposes me a little towards a team, but Huddersfield were the other team in what seems to me to be the pivotal moment in Rovers’ recent history. The only time I’ve been to Wembley was for the 2nd division playoff final several years back, Rovers vs. Huddersfield. We were 2-1 down in the closing moments, when Marcus Stewart hit the woodwork. 2-1 was the final score. We sold Stewart to Huddersfield, and since then we have been selling really good strikers regularly – Barry Hayles, Jason Roberts, Bobby Zamora, Jason Cureton, Nathan Ellington and more. We’ve declined to our worst ever performances – the last four seasons have been our worst positions ever. I always imagine that if we’d gone up we might have held on to our best players and the extra money might have allowed us to consolidate there. So, hardly anything to Huddersfield’s discredit, but I blame them in a small way, so I’m a Mansfield fan today.

Too Tough To Cook

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Too Tough To Cook

Post-Punk: an examination of the underground culinary movement

How to make Gutter Punk

International Pizza Punk Day!

30
May 04

whose Spanish cuisine rules London?

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whose Spanish cuisine rules London?

Last year Vicky and I visited Moro, often touted as being one of the best restaurants in London for Iberian cuisine and had a fantastic meal with terrible service (see the archives for a report – around August last year) Anyway, last night we were lucky enough to visit a new contender – Fino. Fino is situated just off London’s restaurant strip mall that is Charlotte street, an unassuming entrance leads you underground into a very very pleasant space. A small cocktail bar off to the right, and more steps down to the dining room, tables are nicely spaced (although we reckoned that only one table would give you a really good amount of privacy. Anyway, the food, at Moro we ate traditionally – starter, main, dessert. At Fino we decided to go with the gourmet tapas selection – plenty of small dishes coming as they are ready. In order they were…..

Pamb Tomaquet (not sure of all their spellings to be honest)
Lovely sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and then a tomato is squashed on – a hearty way to start a meal (and a good work-out for the teeth too)

Selection of Carcuterie
Great chorizo, some salami style sausage and some slices of meltingly good Jamon

Pimientos de Padron
Small peppers (they offer a lottery style thrill in that one in ten are supposed to be firey hot – the rest sweet and mild)chargrilled into softness with plenty of flaky salt sprinkled on – good stuff

Langoustines
These were simply split in half and grilled – very sweet and succulent with a lightly smoky flavour

Clams
Served in a light broth that was enriched with small pieces of ham and onion/garlic – these were sweet and tasty, really really fresh

Crispfried squid
Simple squid rings (and tentacles) in a light batter – all the better for extra salt and a good squeeze of lemon

This we thought was it, and felt slight;y gipped as we were still hungry, but our plates were cleared and so we thought about pudding, but all of a sudden the stars of the meal appeared:

Chorizo with tomato
An unlikely star but wow, it wasn’t because it was the best chorizo I’ve tasted (which it was – sweet and spicy withought getting too sickly as these things can)it was the tomatoes – one bite and I was transferred to my old next door neighbours greenhouse which was full of tomato plants – they were soft, juicy and so flavourful – a real woonder. These and the chorizo combined to make one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten all year.

Veal loin (well we think it was veal – very lightly flavoured and the only thing else it could have been is pork – but it was pink in the middle…)
A lovely bit of meat – slightly pink in the middle and with a crust that had plenty of pimenton in it – thus it was sweet, smoky and intensley savoutry all at the same time.

We had just enough room left for dessert now, and were glad we did – some fresh fried doughnuts with vanilla ice-cream were a gron up kids treat, while the santiago tart, laden with almonds and dried fruit was like having Christmas in the summertime. Capped off with a ridiculously strong Poire William and a great armagnac we left full and satisfied.

The bill wasn’t cheap (bulked out by a very good white Rioja) at over a ton, but the question to be asked is “would I go again?”

I’d go there every day for weeks if I could.

A note on some new songs I heard this weekend:

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A note on some new songs I heard this weekend:

Phixx – Wild Boys: It really is last-chance saloon stuff for these guys, I quite liked the naffness of Love Revolution, which I think barely made the top ten. Now, you can’t really go wrong when you cover Duran Duran, which very little deviation fron the original bar a teeny bit of scratching and each of them singing in turns. I predict they will go top three with this one! Haven’t seen the video, but I’d be very surprised if it is any different from the original. Simon et al will be happy with royalties.

Seether feat Amy Lee – Broken Wings: The enduring legacy of grunge it would seem is the continued use of the Vedder/Cornell gravel ‘laying on the emotion with a trowel’ voice. And, employing the first lady of metal will mean that this is a hit, even though it sounds like every other gravel voiced post-grunge song ever (read as, I kinda like it)

KITTEN’S GAME

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KITTEN’S GAME

“I think I’m playing a different game from the others” sez current reason-to-watch-BB Kitten. I don’t know what the game is though and I don’t think she does either, but based on last night’s show she’s winning it.

Kitten is annoying and her rule-breaking is childish – “let’s have a mini revolution” she says, why?, just ‘cos! – but what’s interesting isn’t her, it’s the way the others react. Some ignore her; some are nice or indulgent or reason with her; others turn on her immediately and vehemently.

Kitten is at first sight a troll (she may even be a plant; I don’t think so though). Like online trolls her m.o. is to enter a community with no intention of obeying its customs and bylaws. But unlike most trolls she isn’t out to attack or offend the other community members. Her rebellions pose the question – whether she means them to or not – ‘what is Big Brother about?’ If it’s about 12 people interacting in a closed environment, what she’s doing is harmless. If it’s more about the tasks and rituals and arbitrary rules, what she’s doing is dangerous. The reactions of the other housemates tell you which side they’re on – business school student Vanessa, for instance, leaping within half a second on the chance to punish the rule-breaker.

Channel Four’s whole pre-publicity this year (and last year and the year before) focussed on the latter ‘point’ of BB – the housemates were going to have to jump through particularly nasty and demeaning hoops. So the most interesting thing about last night’s show was Davina’s performance. She either actually detests Kitten or gives a very good impression of it. Before the ad break, when it became clear that K. was the one who would lose her suitcase, she gloated to camera about how badly she’d take it. As it was she took it well and nonchalantly, so Davina cut back to the studio and started rifling through Kitten’s suitcase – raising eyebrows at the “rather feminine” shoes, laughing at the photographs of home (“it’s a man…in a dress”). Suddenly and quickly she stopped and they cut back to the house – I’m sure I wasn’t alone in imagining the horrified producer shouting in Davina’s headpiece, “Christ, don’t you realise how awful this is making you look?”. Too late, though: Davina was implicated, playing Kitten’s game as much as the other 11 housemates, and losing round one.

(I think I found the whole thing particularly fascinating cos I saw myself in it. I have an addiction to arbitrary rules systems – as an RPG Games master in my teens or a message board moderator in my 20s. I think the rules I’ve made are generally quite good or harmless ones but I do know how easy it is to get attached to them, and lash out when people break them. Big Brother made for sobering watching from that viewpoint.)

GIRLS ALOUD – “The Show”

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GIRLS ALOUD – “The Show”

There’s an MP3 of this floating around taken from the radio with Chris Moyles talking over it. You should find it EVEN DESPITE the Chris Moyles element because this is a magnificent single. It’s the pinnacle of pop’s electro-flirtation and the next natural step, taking its cue from Freeez’ “I.O.U.”, Hi-NRG, The Flirts, Bronski Beat, blah blah, you get the picture, big joyful robodisco, so nice to have it back.

(The lyrics are perfect evocative nonsense as usual. After 5 listens I’m still not sure what “The Show” is – what show? whose show? Maybe this is their “The Reflex” – total pop-dominating confidence manifested as ambiguity.)

The great thing about GA is how lovingly it’s all done. There’s something about the group that seems to have really caught the songwriters’ and stylists’ imagination – so that they save their best stuff for this rag-tag reality TV mob. Girls Aloud could so easily have played it wrong – gone for the Spicey ‘we’ gang angle; instead they seem happy to be a vehicle for the records and so even though there’s always something ‘Girls Aloud-y’ about the songs it’s never self-conscious. With the Sugababes (and I love the Sugababes) you get the feeling there’s a definite brief given to songwriters – “moody, a bit urban”; same with Kylie and Rachel Stevens and all the rest of them. But with Girls Aloud the brief is just “OK, no fannying about, just modern Rolls-Royce pop please”. And I love it.

29
May 04

Infertility/Infidelity: not just similar words

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Infertility/Infidelity: not just similar words

Plainly there is a causal connection between infertility and infidelity. I base this finding on extensive research* conclusively demonstrating that whenever an adulterous woman becomes pregnant, it is very frequently (to a highly statistically significant degree) the case that the husband is then found to be infertile, though obviously the wife did not know this when conducting her affair. I dismiss the possibility that this is a cheap trick of fiction, so there is therefore clearly a cause and effect link.

I am putting a submission together as we speak seeking substantial funding for further research to investigate whether infertile semen is unsatisfying to married women, perhaps due to being inferior in quality or flavour, therefore increasing the likelihood of their having affairs; or whether being cuckolded, even without the husband’s knowledge, increases the incidence of infertility. I anticipate that my research methodology will prove controversial.

*specifically watching lots of soap operas and movies, including The Good Girl just now

“we’re lost and we’ve missed telly!?”

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“we’re lost and we’ve missed telly!?”

= the forlorn cry (immortalised in family legend) of long-ago small-sinker woe, when a daytrip-by-car went awry…

here i wz trying to think of something to say abt watching Transformers: BeastWars and Xcalibur back-to-back, and it jumped into my head: yes, *I’m* lost, and yes i’ve clearly missed the telly (possibly decades of it) required to make sense of Five’s current Saturday-morning fare, unfolding as it incomprehensibly does somewhere out between metal hurlant, robotoid computergame grafix (don’t ask ME to say which) and 19th-century post-preRaph kids fairystory illustration:

(that there’s Eleanor Vere Boyle courtesy www.surlalunefairytales.com, and Beauty and the Beast)

Of course I can tell you lots abt the latter – how this strain of art was an open portal straight into the weird-sex underside of the Victorian mind, all tanglewood backdrop, chix in clingy shifts and writhing erectile monsters… but BeastWars and Xcalibur (just for starters) present such an undergrowth of tired kidflick hand-me-down and startling image, confusion, war, sexlessness, senselessness, libido, manufactured archetype, cliche and i don’t know what else that i couldn’t guess where to begin