Posts from 9th July 2009

Jul 09

Blog Pride!

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Last week I posted a list of my favourites among my own 2009 pieces. I also asked people on Twitter to tell me what their favourite thing THEY’D written this year was, promising a bit of link love. And here it is! No editing or vetting – just some online writing people are proud of:


The FT Top 100 Tracks Of All Time: 26: The Human League – Open Your Heart

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We are all the Human League. WE WISH! If there was a band that, given a few early synths that we would want to be, it would be the League. How hard can it be, a few simple melodies and semi-portentous lyrics sung over the top? How hard is that. And then we all got a Casiotone keyboard (with additional calculator functionality) and we realised how hard it was. Take Open Your Heart.

The Human League made a choice to play Open Your Heart in an oddly high key, which then necessitated Oakey to sing it all shakily either too high or then an octave lower (Jo and Sue on backup). It is, as you would imagine, terrific. Phil Oakey’s voice is a donkey dressed as a horse. It brays, it strains and it puts itself through remarkable contortions to hold a tune sometimes – but it does it all with its head held high.


Spenwood, Berkswell (Cheesy Lovers #5 & #6)

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My Human Wheel Of Cheese told me to get some hard sheep cheese from Neals Yard Dairy, so off I trotted. They do two different varieties, and so I got a little slice of each for a side-by-side taste test.

Cheese Stats: Both are hard, unpasteurised sheep milk cheeses from the UK.

Testing conditions: Lunchtime office cheese. I ate these on seedy sunflower bread.


power shandy: the next generation

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Facebook asked me to be a fan of women who like beer! I do wonder why. Of course I clicked through, a little concerned it might be a more, ur, specialist site – you know the kind with black bars across the ladies eyes and pixellated bits until you pay a subscription – Oh! Look Out!, I found on two more clickthroughs a page from the brewers? pub company? PR company for a shadowy cabal? for a random pub in Burton on Trent who apparently created the page (? don’t understaaaaand fzbk):

“Every Wednesday evening 2 courses are £11.90 and 3 courses are £14.90 from The Dial Ladies night menu. Visit to see the full menu.



(Let’s have an example of this beer cocktail then:
Amber Mojito
6 fresh mint leaves / caster sugar / 1/2 lime, cut into wedges / 60ml Havana rum / ice / 100ml ice cold Coors Light / 1 spring mint to garnish)

Well I can’t see WHY you’d want to do this in any way at all but whatever…. for one crazy second I thought this would be like – you know – Black Velvet (guinness and champagne)… but I was wrong. Yet I still don’t know who on earth the Bittersweet Partnership are (I wonder what their name could.. imply…) – ooh and note the “Coors Light”, for the ladies…

More clicking through, and by this time I have developed RSI, I get the “Alfie” page: (DYS?). It appears that the main push from the Bittersweet Partnership, via a Facebook intro, is to raise awareness of a super new product. KASTEEL CRU ROSE. You heard. Rose and lager. Rose… and… la…

Rosé lager! All this clicking and we’ve reached the grail. And what a grail! This isn’t just a fruit beer. This is pink wine topped up with Wifebeater!

My Former Boss once poured half a bottle of pink blossom hill into the remnants of his pint of Carling at the end of a boozy lunchtime, and i suspect Kasteel Cru Rose would not at all dissimilar… if you’re reading, Former Boss, perhaps you could sue them? I mean, SOMEONE SHOULD. This hamfisted and bon-bon-bonKERS attempt to get women drinking beer by MAKING IT INTO COCKTAILS is both the worst and best thing ever! Let’s think about the assumption it’s making: women like cocktails. Women don’t like beer. But if it was in a cocktail!! There’s only one problem – and that is that brewed hops plus tequilla plus vermouth plus a maraschino cherry and ideally a sparkler would taste like a Hermesetas addled pig had done his business in your mouth… \o/ \o/ ???

Taking this back to the initial facebook page for “women who like beer” – it’s not surprising that no-one is ‘a fan’, given that by the time we’ve gotten to the crux of this bizarre push, we’re not reeeally talking beer anymore, are we Tonto. It makes me wonder what’s lurking at the bottom of other facebook ads. A fanpage for La Roux will turn out to be advertising Jeremy Vine endorsed stock cubes?!

Oh, and whilst I’m putting “cru” on a beer doesn’t make it any more premium… (hello Kronenboug ‘Premier Cru’ et al, purse, sows ear, springs to mind)…

Full disclosure: you can probably disregard all of this as I myself have been known to sample the power shandy in my younger days (half of budvar, topped up with smirnoff ice). Internet searches give me a whole range of variants on the power shandy – mostly with a “bomb” aspect – i.e drop a shot of midori into a can of Special Brew. One suggestion is for a shot of soju to be chucked in a mug of Hite! Non, mon cher…

Good Poo TV

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I’ve been watching British TV this week. I don’t usually do that. I’m not normally in, but I have been pleasantly surprised with nearly all of the new shows that have popped up (especially Gettimg On). It strikes me that early July seems an odd time to release all your good TV shows at once, but there is no accounting for TV scheduling.

It started with the new BBC1-i-fication of Torchwood which seems to have a bigger explosion budget. Now down to a more manageable three person team, with some proper plotting, its first couple of episodes were genuinely exciting and clever and even spooky. It still suffers from too much incidental music, and the Captain Jack problem* (though dodges it in ep 2) and will almost certainly implode like most Russell T.Davies BIG STORIES. But three fifths in its still quite good (though a bit heavy on the sound effects mixing as well). And good turns from the baddies, and the “are-they-baddies” – especially man of the year Peter Capaldi.

Man of the year? Well launched last night with absolutely no fanfare was Getting On, a three part comedy set in a hospital ward.


Lake Tahoe And Wendy And Lucy: Oh My!

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So a car breaks down in a small town and our hero heads out to get it fixed. Not much money, and generally depressed what follows is a low key exploration of small town life from the losers end. Un-cooperative garage owners, trouble with dogs all combined with a naturalistic shooting style creates a small gem of a picture. What am I talking about? Wendy And Lucy from earlier this year. AND Lake Tahoe.

There are, of course, a lot of differences between Wendy & Lucy and Lake Tahoe, the latter being Mexican for one thing. The lead is male in Lake Tahoe, and the dog isn’t his, just turns up later. But there is a similar small film mentality, neither film are about much more than the unravelling of an individual down on their luck. In Wendy & Lucy it is Wendy being down to her last pennies and destitute looking for a way out. In Lake Tahoe, we eventually discover (it is a very quiet and still film which rations its information) its the death of the leads father. He is trying to feel something.