Posts from April 2006

Apr 06

very gingery golden gingerbread

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 409 views


2 and a half x cups x PLAIN FLOUR
4-5 x heaped teaspoons ground ginger
1-2 x heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-2 x heaped teaspoons ground allspice
1-2 x heaped teaspoons ground cloves
half x teaspoon salt [oops i just forgot this :( so let’s see what diff is ]
1 and a half teaspoons baking power powder

1 x jar of ginger preserved in syrrop (sharwoods has nice dragon on label)

1 and a half x cups plain water
2 x cups TATE AND LYLE (OF SLAVE TRADE FAME) GOLDEN SYROP = out of thr strong comes forth SWEETNUSS etc

half x pack of unsweetened butter
1 x cup dark sugar
1 x egg
2 x teaspoons bicarb of soda

cake tin and greaseproof paper

OK here is what you do
i. PUT APRON (my jumper is all covered in flour) and OVEN on: latter at gas mark 4
ii. begin w.project B = grab ginger-in-sirop, tip out and KEEP all the sirop, cut up the ginger into v. small pieces (canonic recipes have SULTANAS here which is pffff at best): this is a STICKY TASK so clear yr table first and keep a wipey cloth on hand — dust ginger bits in flour and set on one side
iii. for projects A&D you will need TWO large mixing-type receptacles (fairly spacious and ideally NOT very heavy when empty)
iv. sieve all of FLOUR, 4xSPICES, salt and baking powder into one of em, so they mix perfectly — allow to rest
v. put sirop (inc.from ginger-in-syrop) and water on slow boil = project C
vi. mix butter and sugar until kinda crunchy yet gooey (recipe says “pale and fluffy” but this is CODE) (use an electric whisk if you like — it will gunk up inside yr whisk ends, so make sure yr fingers are CLEAN)
vii. beat egg in wee bowl and add to butter and sugar — add bicarb on top but DON’T mix in = project D
viii. prepare cake tin and greaseproof — i am not good at this and someone clever needs to show me how prizewinning cakemakers do it
ix. when project C is boiling well (= water and sirop are well mixed and very liquid and hot), add to project D, which will FIZZ UP WILDLY
ix. stir like crazy, adding all the sieved stuff and ensuring the mix is smooth — the fizziness and heat kinda give you a window of opportunity as everything is dissolving and hurtling about: BROWNIAN MOTION IS YOUR FRIEND
x. pour mix into cake tin; sprinkle chopped ginger onto top surface — if you do this SUPER CAREFULLY the ginger will NOT sink to the bottom (this is the point of the flour) — however actually most of it will
xi. into oven for c.1 x hour AT LEAST (prob.half an hour more)
xii. this is bcz the ginger at the bottom tends to shelter the very centre from heat, so when you take it out, the MIDDLE may still be gooily liquid –if liquid still apparent just put it in for 20 mins more
xiii. also it will OVERFLOW the cake tin if you use all the mixture in my experience
xiv. try not to scoff all in same day — is specially delicious w.the REST of the unsalted butter

(an LJ-FT co-production)

News Will Eat Itself

Do You SeePost a comment • 449 views

Which is thoroughly apt as in the UK it appears that we like to think of our TV news in terms of meals (which if you think about it might be the worst time to actually watch news). Breakfast and Lunch news – ony Dinner/Supper/Tea gets away with it because of the slipperyness of the dinner/supper/tea concept in the English language. So it is thoroughly appropriate that the BBC News, previously in the headlines with the Hutton Report, is now devouring itself at such a rate that there will be nothing left.

Wednesday morning: last fifteen minutes were taken up with a tearful farewell to Moira Stewart, bowing down from Breakfast. Thursday, on was Anna Ford, being bolshy about what she sees as BBC News’s age discriminatory policies. And this morning, a ten minute piece on – wait for it – the changing face of Breakfast News through the years, with particular emphasis on the SOFA. Finishing with a tearful (more tearful than with Moira) stroke and pat of the current sofa which we will see no more.


Fa(r)t Free Beans

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 244 views

Note, despite the photo on the BBC Science News Website, nowhere in this article regarding making legumes less gassy do they mention making the UK Baked Bean less fart-promoting.

Apr 06

Rubbish Updated

Do You SeePost a comment • 527 views

How dare they take OUR rubbish kids cartoons and turn them into “hip and radical” rubbish cartoons of today. Here are just two examples coming up for Saturday morning US TV:

* 9:30-10:00 a.m. – LOONATICS UNLEASHED:
The six descendants of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, Tasmanian Devil and Lola Bunny continue to protect Acmetropolis from evil villains who have their own uncommon strengths. Throughout the second season, new characters descended from classic Looney Tunes characters like Yosemite Sam, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird and Marvin the Martian make special appearances. Loonatics Unleashed is executive produced by Sander Schwartz and produced by Ron Myrick for Warner Bros.

* 10:00-10:30 a.m. SHAGGY & SCOOBY-DOO GET A CLUE: Ruh-roh! Everybody’s favorite quivering sleuths, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, are back in a new adventure that will anchor the “Too Big For Your TV” programming block. In this comedy, also produced by Radomski, Shaggy and Scooby live in the bling’d-out mansion of Shaggy’s Uncle Albert, solving mysteries with the help of a transforming Mystery Machine which, at the click of a remote, can morph into one of a number of modes of transportation. New Scooby Snacks infused with a top-secret nano-technology allows our canine hero to fly, become a towering robot or even turn himself into a giant magnet, which comes in handy as Shaggy and Scooby-Doo carry out their new mission: protecting the Scooby Snacks and keeping them safe from those who want them for evil. Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue! is executive produced by Sander Schwartz and Joseph Barbera.

Now I’m not saying that Scooby-Doo was ever really any good. But I certainly think that if I was going to “fix” the concept of Scooby, I wouldn’t make him able to fly and have a transforming Mystery Machine.

The Da Vinci Code Judgment Code

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 976 views

Now I ask you, would Judge John Deed do this? I wait with baited breath to find out what Justice Smith’s message is. I hope its something like – “You may not have plagarised, but you got to admit you’re a jammy bastard”.

I hope it sets a precedent too: in cases which are dismissed due to irregularities in the evidence, the judge could write a code such as the following:


Who’d bat an eyelid?

yes yes “one ring to rule us all” but what’s it ABOUT?

Do You SeePost a comment • 187 views

i. you can now (“now”) go out and buy versions of a film w.people talking right through it! when did we sign up for this brilliant development — if i have one full-on objection to the 19th-century model of art it is the “keep quiet and absorb what’s good for you” angle
ii. i do not believe that you turn primarily to the AUTHOR to disocver the meaning of the work (their job is in fact to PRODUCE the work; meaning for them no more than a pretext or quaint device to help them finish and shape it — and for us it arrives, evolves, takes root and blooms once we are persuaded we wish to start discussing it)
iii. films based on books have A MULTIPLE COLLECTIVITY OF AUTHORS by NO MEANS IN SYNC w.ONE ANOTHER: “Peter Jackson’s” LotR collective, notwithstanding executive decision auteur-shaped power at the top, numbers HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS
iv. the thing that made me think abt all of this is the HEATED ARGUMENT that actors (and close friends) elijah wood and sean astin (ie frodo and sam, once they put their accents back on) have, during the commentary to the TWO TOWERS, abt the precise WAY in which LotR is anti-war, given the time of its making and etc etc. No need to claim either of their views are deeply worked through or logical: the point is, the finished (haha “finished”) object contains both, even if it’s only at the level of actorly body-language decisions responding to the polylogue of speeches and language-modes in the novel.
v. ok yeah so all this is so much hohum bahktinian (and/or brechtian) blah, except it’s happening anyway… it didn’t need knowledge of B&B to kick it off in the first place, and it doesn’t need citation of B&B to validate or curate or steer it.
vi. “And anyway is a traditional final rock criterion. Etc. So. So. So my whole summation does whatever iot does and does anyway too, but watch the anyway level.” R.Meltzer, Aesthetics of Rock, not TWO PAGES IN! (i never quite understood that bit TILL I WROTE THIS POST!)
vii. The LotR special extended DVD edition plays the entire 12-hour film, plus ditto w.four full-length commentaries from difft technical teams; plus 43 (!) documentaries about the design, making, storytelling etc; plus interactive maps and picture galleries — even if the “work” itself is the distilled commodity fetish form, which selected permutation of these remixes constitutes the “work” itself?
viii. i’d better stop here i think as per worried reader request

Apr 06

What was I saying about Torquay?

TMFDPost a comment • 482 views

Okay, here’s what I was saying about Torquay, basically that I don’t believe they will go down as they are perennial escape artists of the bottom division, especially when Barnet are involved.
Last three results:
Macclesfield 0-2 Torquay
Torquay 1-0 Wrexham
Torquay 4-0 Stockport.

See! They are still in the relegation zone at the moment, but by one goal. WALK AWAY Ian Atkins!

(If you are a betting man, Macclesfield are 7-1 to go down, and they are nowhere near as safe as a their seventh from bottom position suggests).

21st Century Quaint?

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 418 views

There are pubs called things like The Spinning Jenny – which seem to celebrate some stage in British industrial evolution. And I bet they were not named just as said Jenny’s were new thrusting things in the world. Therefore I cannot help but think the choice of name NANOBYTE for a recently taken over Wetherspoon’s on Wardour Street is more archaically cute than fantastically sad. And Fancyapint seem to agree with me. I think it used to be the Moon And Sixpence – which was a much more archaically made up name for what had probably just been a bank or something – and I don’t think there is anything wrong with calling a pub (and it is clearly a pub) The Nanobyte. It is a bit funny, and one wonders if the owners really think there is anything cool about it. But beyond that question you cannot help but wish good luck on anyone who improves an old Wetherspoon’s.

Of course I cannot say if it has improved, having not been in. I preferred the Dog further down the road. Did pop my head in, and there were no computers or anything (mind you, old Vic 20s, BBC Model Bs and Speccies hanging from the ceiling would have been great).

Also note that fancyapint have a “Gone but not forgotten” section now of closed down pubs. While its sad to see them gone, it is instructive to see that its about a 3:1 ratio of shite pubs to good ones.

Don’t Let Sean Bean Sire Your Daughter

Do You SeePost a comment • 437 views

(People don’t use “sire” in that context much anymore. Actually, I guess they don’t use the word sire in any context that much any more.)

Why? Well in two Sean Bean films in one month, he has a daughter, said daughter gets mixed up in some supernatural shenanigans which you as wife go to sort out, only to find in the last reel twist that you are actually DEAD ALREADY.

Silent Hill is pretty ropey, as we have come to expect from computer to film adaptations. It is a pity because at the heart of it is quite a spooky little picture. But twists to manipulate Radha Mitchell and daughter into Silent Hill in the first place, and the tedium of the explanation of what is actually going on distract from interesting graphic design and a decently spooky air. It is also a good half an hour too long and Sean Bean does some ridiculous Yorkshire / American accent which was misguided from the off.

The Dark is a better film, if only for its brevity and its acceptance that
a) An American woman can marry an Englishman
b) He might go and live in Wales
as being plausible plot points. Indeed there are so many superficial similarities between The Dark and Silent Hill that surely Sean and/or his agent might have noticed and thought doing both could be a bad idea. Enough with the spooky possessed children already anyway. At least The Dark has murderous sheep.

Back! Back!! Bactria!!!

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 225 views

Tom Holland’s Rubicon, a romping story of the Roman Republic’s endgame, was one of my top reads last year so I was relishing getting stuck into Persian Fire, which gives the treatment to the Persian Wars. Holland’s strengths as a historian are clear: he is a fantastic narrator, a brisk marshaller of sources and also has a real gift for thinking through the motives of individual players. His weakness in the last book was also obvious: he’s addicted to making clever parallels between ancient and modern. This can be entertaining – recasting the Persian Wars as “the world’s sole superpower leading a war against two mountainous terrorist states” is smart and amusing, but in Rubicon he hammered the similarities home a bit.

Persian Fire doesn’t push the parallels much beyond the dustjacket blurb, but faces a different problem: as Holland says in his introduction, the earlier history of the classical world is enormously difficult to piece together. And the earlier history of the non-classical world – the mighty Persian empire included – is even more difficult as written sources are almost non-existent. To make matters worse, whereas for Rubicon Holland was working with scrupulously elegant but slightly dry Roman historians, in Persian Fire he is walking in the footsteps of master fabulist Herodotus, a man whose stories often need less embellishment, not more.

Holland keeps as sure a footing as he can but the opening chapters of Persian Fire are often necessarily sketchy, with outlandish yarns retold for a lack of much other evidence. The ebb and flow of tribal war in the ancient Near East is complicated stuff, and hard to make catch fire. Luckily, when the focus narrows to the build-up to war and the war’s action, Holland comes into his own, and the book gets much more gripping. Here we’re back on Rubicon territory – political and military maneouverings by big characters for massive stakes – and Holland does a wonderful job.

Narrative history is back in fashion right now, and sometimes Persian Fire reads like a film or TV pitch – it’s easy (and tempting) to imagine a lavish BBC drama called Greece, or Athens, with cliffhangers and season breaks ready-made. If such a thing did happen, I hope Tom Holland gets a nod as consultant.