Sunday, September 30, 2007

Partridge Pot Roast

It's the same recipe as my Pheasant Pot Roast except with 3 partridges instead of a pheasant, and cooked for 45 minutes at 180C rather than 1 hour at 150C. As the original recipe this was taken from was for grouse, and partridges are much more like grouse to cook than pheasants, unsurprisingly this worked just fine.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Five's Fridays (or Friday's Fives)

Song: John Denver, Leaving on a Jet Plane. In the clip I link to, John Denver talks about his love of flying. Sadly, Denver died while piloting a plane on 12 October 1997. If I were organised I'd have left this two weeks to mark the anniversary, but that would have been in questionable taste, and I have other things planned for that day.

Book: DMZ Vol. 1:On The Ground, Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli. This is a comic book collection, so if you're too snobbish for that go and look at the Bayeux Tapestry or something. DMZ is set in New York during a second American civil war; Manhattan is the DMZ of the title. The protagonist is Matty Roth, a rookie photojournalist, who finds himself trapped on the island and begins reporting. Fairly obviously this is a comic about divisions in American society, living in a war zone, and the purpose of journalism, but it's also about growing up and finding that the world is a much stranger (and cooler) place than you ever imagined.

Film: Footloose. "Well, 'nobody puts Baby in a corner' is all very well, but nothing beats men dancing with men", as my brother or one of his mates said. Which is all very well, but for some reason no one seems to have put the classic montage of Kevin Bacon teaching Chris Penn to dance to the tune of Deniece William's Let's hear it for the boy on Youtube. As an inadequate placeholder, here's the final scene of Footloose which does feature some men dancing with men, but as it's a climax and summation of the film dilutes this important property with some women. Which is okay too.

Food: Based on a Nigel Slater recipe, Pork Belly with mustard and (preserved) lemons[1].

Fry onions and garlic slowly in a lidded casserole in some butter. Cut the belly into bite size pieces. Add the meat and a pinch of fennel seed to the onions and brown it for a couple of minutes. Cook it in the oven for at least an hour[2] at 150C; make sure that it's sealed, so some buttered paper as well as the lid won't do any harm. Add a little flour to thicken it, then stir in the chopped lemon and some seeded mustard. Cook with lid off for another fifteen minutes.

(No quantities as I play it by ear)

Wild Card: I'm sure I'm last to point this out, but here are the 2007 World Beard and Moustache Championship Winners.

[1] We have too many at the moment. Feast or Famine, that's us.
[2] As long as you can stand (between 1 and 1.5 hours) leaving it in with no liquid; the moment when you're sure that it's burnt to the bottom is probably when it's just right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Green Tomato Chutney

It's that time of the year when the tomato plants are still fruiting, but you know they're going to die soon. Fortunately our ancestors (in this case my Nan, in a recipe dated "Sept 72") had a solution: Green Tomato Chutney

2 lbs Green Tomatoes [1]
2 Large Onions
3/4 pint Vinegar
1/2 lb Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 oz Mustard Seed
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon Salt

Cut Toms in halves, peel and slice Onions. Sprinkle these with salt and leave overnight[2].

Crush the Mustard Seed, put all ingredients in pan of Vinegar, bring to the boil. Simmer until tender and thick. Put into small jars and cover.

Update: As well as tender and thick, the tomatoes should have changed colour from green to brown.

[1] This afternoon I picked nearly 3 lbs so have multiplied all quantities by 1.5 in the instance going on in the kitchen
[2] Underlining preserved from original.

Midweek Monk-y Business

Wednesday is halfway between Sunday (here expressed by The Velvet Underground) and Saturday (interpreted by Jim's favourite chanteuse, Whigfield) so I call it "Midweek". If you aren't keen on my choices, as an alternative, you might also look at this song by The Sundays, or this excerpt from Saturday Night Fever.

As ever I've plundered the usual suspects for amusing cartoons; digging yourself your own hole on Wondermark; a Not Safe For Work commentary on Science from BeaucoupKevin; and an off-beat one-gag eight-page Tom Strong story on scans_daily.

As always I'm the last person in the world to report on goings on on the internet; nevertheless, I'll mention that Stephen Fry has a blog. The best commentary on this comes, as always, from Warren Ellis.

And as for Monk-y business, here's more Youtube of Shaolin Monks doing that whole Kung Fu thing (the bit where one of them spins a thing under him while bouncing up and down on his buttocks has to be seen to be believed, although the amateurish editing reduces the credibility).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amateur Theology Moment

There are many advantages to being a lapsed Anglican - you don't actually have to go to church; you can follow your own spiritual instincts without worrying about becoming so heretical you have to find a hipper vicar; and if you find yourself in a household that expects you to go to church on a Sunday[1] you can go without embarrassment[2] or having to excuse yourself - but occasionally you find yourself with a theological question and no one to discuss it with.

Like now: If God is a trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, why is it that it was the Holy Spirit that came to Mary to conceive our Savior? And why is the Father called the Father then?

It's not that there aren't answers to this, it's just I'd like to know which are the orthodox answers and which are "out there".

[1] They exist
[2] After all, you haven't actually broken with the church, have you?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Seven Wonders: Introduction

The one thing we do know about the Seven Wonders is what they are. So here's the list:

The Colossus of Rhodes
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Origin of the List

But is this the list? Apparently Herodotus and Callimachus of Cyrene made lists of seven wonders, but we don't have their lists, only references to them. The earliest list is apparently in a poem by Antipater of Sidon around 140 BC (by which time two of them had already been destroyed), and he has The Ishtar Gate of Babylon rather than The Lighthouse of Alexandria (still standing at that time). The Lighthouse got put in later. So what is it a list of in the first place; why have a list of wonders?


Essentially the list is one of "sights"; a "Things to see before you die" tour if you like. It is, of course, a Hellenic[1] list; specifically a list originating from Ionia in modern day Turkey. Looking at them in order of closeness to this centre we have the Colossus and the Temple of Artemis as Greek Wonders, the Mausoleum as a nearby Persian/Lydian/Greek Wonder; then the Statue of Zeus for the Greeks in Greece. All these are on or near trade routes easily reached by ships in the Aegean. Further afield we have the Pyramids and the Lighthouse for Egypt[2]; a long way away but still on the trade routes and easily reached by sea. Finally, at the far end of world[3] we have the Persian[4] Hanging Gardens; you can go there but it's a long way and a once in a lifetime trip.

[1] Greek
[2] The Lighthouse was built by the Ptolemies, a Hellenic dynasty founded by Ptolemy Sotor, one of Alexander the Great's generals. Was the replacement of the Ishtar Gate with the Lighthouse more Helleno-centric chauvinism? If I find out before I write it up I'll let you know.
[3] Or not, after Alexander
[4] Or Babylonian or Chaldean, but to the Greeks, all the Eastern Empires were Persians (or Medes)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Five for feeling Urgh

Song: When I'm down, sometimes I listen to Hold On by Wilson Phillips. It talks to me on a level that I don't blog about. (Sometimes I listen to Dead Souls by Joy Division, which also talks to me in a way that I'm not blogging about).

Book: When I feel like reading something of real interest I pick up anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, but especially Mirror Dance. On the other hand, if I feel like losing myself in another world, I pick up anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, but especially The Curse of Chalion.

Film: When I'm bored sometimes I put on the sequence from The Matrix Reloaded beginning with the Watchmaker being broken out ending with the end of the Freeway. Even though it's robbed of all suspense, and indeed meaning. Which is among the points the films make. Other times I watch The Princess Bride and lose myself in it's playful joy. Or is that it's joyful play?

Food: When I fancy eating but don't want to spend ages cooking, I quite often make a Spanish style omlette; potatoes, onion, peppers, garlic and (when we have too many) a preserved lemon fried up; lots of egg poured over, then sprinkled with cheese and grilled. Other times I just make Cheese on Toast.

Wild Card: When I'm looking for something different I look at until this kind of thing happens. Or maybe I go look at Bruce Schneier's blog for all the news on security, cryptography and squids.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Midweek Monkey Busyness

Wednesday again. Wednesday is halfway between Monday (represented by The Bangles and Fox Mulder) and Friday (here expressed in song by The Cure) and I thus call it "midweek".

Last week I mentioned the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotations; here's one they associate with Literally, a Web Log devoted to misuse of the word "literally". No. really.

Want to watch all the music videos Queen ever made, but don't have time to search them all out? Why not watch the video to The Great Pretender? Also the Extended Version with Queen messing about while being made up as transvestites (Queen? Cross-dressing? There must be some kind of joke to make there).

And I look at this every now and again (that Gellar's voice is the weakest just adds to the strength of the song).

Wondermark tell us how to respond to accusations of sleeping on the job. The Pain has greeting cards that we all need. Monkey Fluids has an amusing cartoon about scientologists that will almost certainly gain some not-safe-for-work comments.

And almost seriously, John Rogers, comedian, comicbook writer and screenwriter, has a blog called Kung Fu Monkey; a TV pilot he's working on has been greenlighted at short notice[1]. Here's his posts on the process so far:

Pre-Production Day 9-13
Pre-Production Day 6-8 (edited)
Pre-Production Days 3-5
Pre-Production Day 2
Pre-Production Day 1

Shall I crosspost to Parker? I'll think on it, as I've got to write up all my posts until Monday and then release them on schedule when I wander next to a computer with internet access. Anyway, Shorter Rogers: "filming is like building a house in a week while crazy people run around inside the construction site".

[1] Shorter than usual.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Interviews with Black Ties Revisited

Jim didn't think I meant "in black tie" rather than wearing a "black tie" did he? Surely the context would have made it clear. Surely.

An Unfortunate Occurance

Sunday Morning, I woke early and baked some bread. I was away from home and due to miscommunication and inadequate planning on my part the flours available were unfamiliar to me and each present in small quantities. So I made a Frankenstein loaf with elements from 4 different flours. Obviously no one could have predicted that this loaf would come alive and eat my friend Dean.

Now I have a dilemma. One course would be to publish the full recipe as widely as possible; perhaps even now someone is looking through their baking cupboard and deciding to bake an identical loaf using the left over flours they have available. How many lives might be blighted by this curse?

But if I make the recipe known, then cocky arrogant amateur bakers, thrill seeking cooks and perhaps criminal patissiers may use this loaf for foolish and evil ends. What to do?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lobsters and Obscenity

There was a banner at the France Namibia Rugby World Cup Game so rude that I'm not going to repeat it, even in the original French. But is this yet another symptom of the 21st Century? Once upon a time the coverage of a foreign sporting event would have been controlled by a local television producer with the commentary added by the broadcaster in the various countries it went to. This banner was so rude that I'm not sure that even a French director/producer would put it out over the air. If I'm right, and it's being put together by a non-Francophone production team, than every broadcaster (nation) is getting all the camera feeds and putting together their own show. Which is definitely a bandwidth-heavy 21st Century Event.

But that wasn't what I wanted to talk to you about. What I wanted to do was enlighten you on how to select Lobsters. If you're ever fortunate enough to be offer a selection of Lobsters, you should choose the ugliest one; the one with damage to it's shell, barnacles, even seaweed growing on it. Why? A Lobster that looks clean and nice is one that has shed it's shell recently. It hasn't grown into it. It's flesh is less dense, and there's less of it. An ugly Lobster has had it's shell for ages and fills it, getting you more lobster-meat.

Mmm... Lobster...

Friday, September 14, 2007

More lists

Traditionally I put up things I'm going to blog about and then maybe I blog about them, or maybe I don't. So here's the list of things sitting in drafts/my notebook/my head:
A Ravenswood story about a slave and shooting yourself in the head with an arrow;
Pub and Restaurant news from Sandwich;
Other Ravenswoods;
The Seven Wonders of the World.

Blogging about things you haven't blogged about yet on a Friday Night. Yes I have no social life. Why do you ask?

Note: The page blogger come up with after I hit post is partly in German. Just thought you might want to know.

Why Warren Ellis doesn't like Facebook

Warren Ellis doesn't like Facebook. This is fair enough - he's hardly their core audience (although a quick check shows he has 805 friends, and there are 252 and 74 members of Warren Ellis is the Internet Jesus and Warren Ellis' Holy Slut Army respectively) but it's quite interesting why.

Take for example this post of his, about how he finds new music on the internet. Essentially he goes to the Piccadilly Records site where they rip 40 seconds of every new release, then tracks down anything he's interested in. One of the places he tracks is Myspace. As every band on the planet[1] has a Myspace page with 4 free tracks to listen to, it's a good resource.

Since Mr Ellis[2] is interested in finding people with content, or at least an really shiny surface, Facebook with it's gossip-oriented networking system is not as useful to him. He wants to be networked with people who are creating stuff, and Myspace is much better for that. Those of us with no useful skills or talents will continue to use Facebook, and never come to his attention. Thank god.

[1] In this case meaning every band who have a release at Piccadilly Records
[2] The Love Swami

It must be Friday Five

Song: Amy Macdonald, Mr Rock and Roll. I'm a sucker for this kind of voice. It reminds me of Alison Moyet, Nico (who I only know from her work with the Velvet Underground - hmm there's a blog post there I think) and Joull, who is an entertaining French girl on youtube.

Book: Time for filler: Here's updates on previous books I've blogged; do they have sequels and have I read them?

Vesuvius Club, Mark Gatiss. Sequel: The Devil in Amber. Lucifer Box, HMG's most outrageous secret agent has another outrageous adventure.

Temeraire, Naomi Novik. Sequels: Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory. I've read Jade and War. All good stuff as Captain Lawrence and Temeraire grow as characters and the Napoleonic Wars unfold in an improved way. Why do I say improved? Everything is better with dragons! But don't take my word for it: Novik won the John W Campbell award for Best New SF Writer of 2006.

Genghis Khan, John Man. Sequel: Kublai Khan. The story of how the Mongols overran China, but were assimilated in order to become a part of Chinese society. Also includes the cult of the Assassins.

The Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross. Sequel: The Jennifer Morgue. Bob Howard, HMG's most geeky secret agent finds himself forced into the role of James Bond. I always have absurdly high expectations for Stross' novels, and this one disappoints slightly; still it pins down Fleming exactly.

Ash: A Secret History, Mary Gentle. Two prequels; the novella The Logistics of Carthage, which is good and interesting, but not on a par with Ash, and Ilario: The Lion's Eye which I've not read.

Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan. Two sequels: Broken Angels, and Woken Furies. Altered Carbon was so imaginative, so explosive, so well-written that we all expected far too much from Morgan's sequels. I'll say this; if he hadn't written Carbon, Angels or Furies would have blown me away. He explores more of the world of Takeshi Kovacs, but somehow doesn't seem to move on as I'd thought/expected/hoped. Still an excellent trilogy.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Have now read the 4th book, The miserable Mill. Continues to delight (Sunny fights someone with a sword, using only her teeth).

Film: The English Patient. It's about love and death[1], promises and loyalty and betrayal and forgiveness. And it looks gorgeous. Essentially, it's too much to describe in one short paragraph. Also it has Lewis.

Food: Short on inspiration this week. So maybe I'll just note that if you make too much garlic butter for your Big Mushrooms, you can use it in your baked potato. Mmm garlic.

Wild Card: The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks. After reading this, there is "no" need to "ever" look for "new" "content" on "the internet".

[1] Have we seen these themes before?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Midweek Monkey Business: The Return

Judging from the complaints, criticism and calls for my resignation after missing a week of Midweek Monkey Business, no one is really that bothered about it. So I can fill this with any rubbish I feel like. It's always good to have the bar lowered.

In honour of seeing Tony Hadley last Saturday, here's a few Spandau Ballet songs: True, Gold, and one he didn't play, Only When You Leave, which has a long bio of the band in the information/credits box.

I've never met anyone who didn't like Spandau Ballet, but on the off-chance that one of them stumble across this page, here's Don Mclean singing American Pie, and Weird Al's version/recap of The Phantom Menace, Saga Begins.

This screenshot amused me. And this photo on Michael Swanwick's blog. Also the XKCD cartoon Commitment.

Hmm. Looks a little light. The only way to spice it up is something about monkeys. If only the internet had monkey resources on it. If only.

Interviews with Black Ties

I'm unsure what I'm supposed to do with this one. As I recall the conversation went something like:

Stan: I only have 3 ties
Me: Do you have a black tie?
Stan: Yes, but you can only wear that to funerals
Jim: Or Reservoir Dogs Nights
Me: Or Men in Black Nights, or Gangster Nights or maybe an interview
Jim: I wouldn't give a job to someone in a black tie
Me: Why Not?
Jim: I'd think "Who's this joker"?

(Paraphrased and filtered through my memory in unpredictable ways)

At fault: Probably me, but Jim wrote down the action point, so I'll stick this one to him.

(Introduction to this series here)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I really don't have anything to say about the Googlebot[1] that isn't said anywhere else; here's the wikipedia link. Presumably anyone reading this can use google to get more information; if for some reason you feel that neither wikipedia or google are good sources for this topic here are a bunch of other search engines:
Yahoo Search

At fault for this one: Jim again, who had never heard the word "googlebot" until Sunday. LUS3R!

(Introduction to this series here)

[1] Googlebot, although one process, is a multiplicity of processes. Apparently.

Homage Du Fromage (sic)

Quiz Team Homage de Fromage. Should they have been Homage du Fromage? Likely we will never know. At fault here: All six of us, but in this instance Stan for deleting the text with the name in from his phone.

(Introduction to this series here)

17,000 Generals

An article in The Sunday Torygraph[1] revealed that since Labour came to power, £2.3 Billion had been spent on consultants for the Ministry of Defence. This is the same cost as 51 Apache Helicopter Gunships, One Aircraft Carrier or the salaries for 17,000 Generals[2].

It's clear that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are unlikely to be improved by adding 51 Apaches or an aircraft carrier into the mix; 3 brigades of generals would at least give plenty of scope for a docu-soap of some sort[3].

At fault here: The Sunday Telegraph

(Introduction to this series here)

[1] Which Jim confusingly referred to as The Nazigraph.
[2] I should note, as I did in this conversation, that these consultants do useful work; it's not money thrown away or just going missing. This is however the opportunity cost of the consultants fees.
[3] I believe that some South American and Sub-Saharan African nations have experimented with the "Many Generals" force structure, although traditionally they have preferred to stick to the "Many Colonels" design instead.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nazi Dance Fight

The Nazi Dance Fight idea comes from crossing West Side Story with The Sound of Music. West Side Story has Dance Fights; The Sound of Music has Nazis. At fault for this one: Jim.

(Introduction to this series here)


I have stories, thoughts, ideas and conclusions from the weekend, none of which are suitable for a public blog. I have a whole lot of random stuff, but I'm saving that for Wednesday and my regular post. So all I have to blog about is the extremely random "items" list from Sunday. And Tony Hadley.

Here's the list:
Nazi Dance Fight
17,000 Generals
Homage Du Fromage
Interviews with Black Ties

Looking at it, I'll give each of them a mini-post of their own.

Here's Tony Hadley.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Late Again

Friday Five, late again?

It is so.

Here's a "five" related link, in case you have nothing to do and are waiting for me to entertain you: Five Star, System Addict on Youtube.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

More late Heroes stuff

As has been pointed out by everyone in the comics blogosphere, Watchmen + X-men = Heroes.

But I wonder if it's a coincidence that BBC1 scheduled Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Heroes evening, after episode 9, Homecoming. Save the cheerleader, save the world indeed.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Not Midweek Monkey Business

No Midweek Monkey Business this week. I don't even have anything to fill the gap. Nothing at all. Sorry. All out.

Oh, all right. Here's Neil Gaiman pimping 4 trailers for Stardust.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Unusual Awakenings

Woke up this morning next to a copy of Ken Hom's Hot Wok. This isn't the first time I've woken up next to something or someone I don't remember being there, but it's certainly the time I'm most likely to tell to my Godparents.