Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Midweek Monkey Business Late Version

Late, internet stupid, blah, blah blah. So do I have anything of interest? Well, there's the video of the Mark Ronson (featuring Amy Winehouse) version of the Zuton's Valerie, here as much for it's interest as the story; allegedly Mark Ronson, his band and a whole bunch of extras turned up for the video shoot, but Amy Winehouse didn't. So Ronson[1], building up the legend of his competence, suggested bringing a bunch of the extras on stage to fill in. The rest is down the link, along with all the usual stupid Youtube questions and comments.

An old song or two I stumbled on this week: Wax, Building A Bridge To Your Heart; and Jim's least favourite band, Men Without Hats, with Safety Dance.

Also, Mark Ronson again with his version of the Kaiser Chief's Oh My God featuring Lily Allen. It seems that Ronson, a whole bunch of extras and the Kaiser chiefs had turned up, but... no wait, that was another time Lily Allen didn't turn up to perform at a Mark Ronson gig. The cartoon version was supposed to be there all along.

So World News - the world's largest Elk is to be built in Sweden; so large it will have a restaurant, concert hall and conference centre inside it. Also the world's toughest No Parking sign.

Solar System News - On October 24 the Sun was no longer the largest object in the solar system; Comet Holmes appears to have exploded in size and brightness.

Finally, from the National Geographic, a picture of Stan a spider monkey.

[1] Or possibly an unnamed member of the production team

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Six (Just About)

Song: In honour of Jim's movie night, I present the classic masterpiece that is Fountain of Wayne's Stacy's Mom.

Book: I only just started it, but in Hannibal Rising, the unnecessary prequel to the other Hannibal Lecter novels, the stone outside Lecter Castle in Lithuania is called the Ravenstone. Hmph. It now sounds like the Ravenswood stories are some kind of cheap rip-off, or amateur tribute. Well, that's an improvement for sure.

Film: Hero. Not for the gorgeous design with colour-coded alternate versions of the stories that it's made up of, the extraordinarily kinetic martial arts or the whole Chinese propaganda elements; I mean watch it for that, sure. It's here because I have the story of why it's "Quentin Tarantino presents Hero". Apparently Tarantino hears that an American studio have bought the rights to put out a English Language version, and are trying to work out how to edit it for US audiences. Tarantino, who has his own sources for Asian cinema, tells them not to be so stupid, but to release it as it is (with dubbing for people who can't be bothered to read subtitles). Hmm, say the studio executives, who are personally responsible for the small, but still multi-million dollar, budget for this release, we could do that, but say Quentin, would you mind if we put your name on it as some people who might otherwise be put off will go and see it. Tarantino agrees (does he get paid? How much? We don't know) and the rest is history. Or histories as it turns out.

Food: Last night I made a smoked Mackerel pie. Simply fry up some lardons, onions and carrots, make some cheese sauce, combine with the smoked mackerel in a pie pot, then roll out some pre-prepared pastry. Easy!

Wild Card: The most interesting video explaining the essential unity of moebius transformations; if you aren't big into math, this film will show you some of the "Ah, I get it!" some of us have. Via Making Light.

Bonus: You have seen this already I'm sure (I've seen it in half a dozen places) but here's the trailer for the film Brokeback to the Future.

Stuffing Birds Inside Each Other; What I've Watched on Television; Other Updates

Big shout out to my brother, who has commented from a Syrian prison cell internet cafe that the first thing you find if searching for Coq au Trice is a post saying I've talked about it in the past. Well, here's another, but with linkage to the recipe; another useful link, with pictures of how to bone a turkey etc. and stuff it.


Last night I watched Matthew Collins program This is Civilization in which he examines civilisation through art (and, obviously enough, art through civilisation). There's much of interest (this first program was about religion and art and civilisation and their intersections), but the thing that struck me that wasn't obvious was the placing of the adverts (two very early, after his first two brief sections, then one late on) and his acknowledgement of the adverts in the program. I think this is part of his focus on what art physically is; that sublime painting you fell in love with is reflected light from painted marks on a flat canvas; that divine statue of a Apollo is a shaped lump of marble or bronze[1]. In the same way, this television program is a program paid for and built around the adverts. At least that's my take on it.


I think I've now watched 10 episodes of Dexter in a row[2]. I'm not going to talk about the most obvious things (there are 10,000 other websites for that), but instead say that Dexter (the character) protests too much. I mean he is an emotionless psychopath[3], but the way he always talks about not feeling anything, then talks about Harry or Deb[4]... well anyway. And the use of explosive Latin Jazz at moments of suspense or horror is excellent.


The Helicopter Music Competition isn't dead, merely resting. The video to the Stereophonic's The Bartender and the Chief is based on a couple of sequences from Apocalypse Now, but for some reason the video doesn't appear to be online. Which is a pity as it would make a good spacefiller until I get around to doing things properly.


And what of Friday Five, or rather Sunday Six? I'll get around to that in about two hours.

[1] Note the absence of the word "just".
[2] So much for my inability to commit to things. Partly, of course it's because FX put it on about 10 times a week, making it easy to catch the next one. I managed 7 consecutive episodes of Heroes as well, although that was two double-headers and a triple-header (or watched 3 times in 6 weeks).
[3] Not a spoiler; this is the very heart of the show.
[4] Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) looks very like the current incarnation of Mel C. Yes? No?

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Evening

I've spent the evening walking backwards around Sandwich pointing out broken lightbulbs on the Christmas lights. It's an unusual hobby, but one that amuses me.

The big turn-on and Sandwich Carnival are this Friday.

In case you wanted something from me

I'm taking this week off from Midweek Monkey Business (and last week from Friday Five); assuming I don't go crazy and start throwing out blogposts everywhere, this week I'll only (sort of) address one question: "What is your blog about?"

Here's what the labels say the blog is about (labels are patchy before January this year):

Friday Five (17)
Midweek Monkey Business (16)

- (Regular Posts)

Recipes (15)

- (Me and every other blog)

Trip North (12)

- (Special Event now over)

Ravenswood (8)

- (Ah! It's about my fiction!)

New Words (7)

- (... and my love of New Words)

Blogging (5)
Fish (5)
Neil has gone bonkers (again) (5)

- (Those three go together well - how fortuitous!)

Beer (4)

- (Ah! it's about my love of beer!)

Coq Au Trice (4)

- (... and my love of stuffing birds inside each other)

Dreams (4)

- (That series seems to have died for the moment)

Facebook (4)

- (Hmmph. Self-recursive.)

Harry Potter (4)

- (Me and every other blog)

High Days and Holidays (4)

- (Well now we're getting somewhere - it's also about dates and special days)

Hats (4)

- (See also the title)

The Princess Bride (4)

- (Do I really like this film that much?)

Pirates (4)

- (Ah - it's about my hatred for pirates!)

Heating (3)

- (Hopefully this label will be retired tomorrow)

K T Tunstall (3)
Pop Music (3)

- (Another fortuitous combination)

Stan (3)

- (Grr... Stan)

Tarot (3)

- (Another series in hibernation)

Too Honest (3)

- (Surprisingly "avoiding the question" isn't a label)

Warren Ellis (3)

- (The Love Swami)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A New Word that's actually by me.

In a discussion about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I coined the word "Spaghnostic". Meaning:

A person who holds that knowledge of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is impossible

Would you belive the spellchecker doesn't like it? At the moment Google only gives my first use.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Somewhat after Midweek Monkey Business

The Internet has not been my friend for the last couple of days. But enough of that! Here's a roundup of the best of the rubbish that I've found on the internet this week. In honour of my brother, here's They Might Be Giants with the Tiny Toons video of Istanbul (not Constantinople). The Youtube comments, unsurprisingly, seem keen to refight... hell, there's a thousand years of Turkish/Greek conflict to choose from; let's just say the Battle of Manzikert and leave it like that.

Bicycle Bicycle You are my Bicycle serves as an introduction to the band Be Your Own Pet; in the comments fans are refighting the details of one band member leaving a year ago. Oh Youtube comments, you astound me with your wit and charm.

BeaucoupKevin pulls out the stops for his Genius Covers Sunday series with the Atomic Superboy.

Warren Ellis has redesigned his blog-object for the winter; it's very busy and puts the latest posts from people on his blogroll on the right hand side. It's an interesting design. You could go and have a look, but the content is not for everyone; be warned that it is Not Safe For Work.

I meant to post to this earlier, but it's still interesting; Matthew Vaughn's Week in the Guardian; as it says:
After laughing at Ricky Gervais, the movie director sees his wife get the attention at his film premiere, faces the press with Michelle Pfeiffer and is asked if he can manage to cut a £300m budget in half

Scans_Daily brings us some Wonderwoman Ape action. No, that sounds wrong, especially after one news story Warren Ellis linked to. I mean they bring us some White Gorillas in a Wonderwoman comic. And some innuendo. Is that close enough to monkeys for you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Wisdom of many Chefs on Lobsters.

Recycled from a number of emails and posts over the last three years.

JAMIE OLIVER has several pieces of advice, including:
-Cover a live lobster with a wet towel and it will go to sleep
-DON'T take the rubber bands off it's claws (Stan - this means you)
-Plunge it straight into really salty boiling water (he notes that Rick Stein boils his in seawater)
-Remove the black sac at the head and the strip of black running along it's back (everyone is keen on this)
His alternative to dealing with live lobsters is to buy a cooked one from a supermarket

RICK STEIN ( in his seafood odyssey) doesn't have any advice on cooking lobsters, although there are a couple of fine pictures of crustaceans. He does talk at length about how to deal with a ready cooked lobster (he suggests from a good fishmonger)

KEITH FLOYD prefers to kill the lobster with a big knife by stabbing it in the neck, cutting it in half and then grilling it. His alternative is to go to a really good restaurant and paying through the nose for it. [1]

Good Housekeeping's Cook's Book (which essentially tells you everything you need to know before you try and follow a recipe) says that the RSPCA recommend putting a live lobster in the freezer in a polythene bag for two hours before killing it.

Robert Carrier circa 1963 suggests that the most humane way to kill a lobster is to put it in warm water and then heat it up. I'm very suspicious of this, and think Good Housekeeping are more likely to be right.

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.

[1] After this first email, Jim replied:

Does Oliver also advise spraying everyone within 20feet with saliva stinking of eels whilst also being an annoying fat lipped ******* mockney ******* ******* ******* **** aardvark ****ey***** *** **** to a cool Toploader soundtrack?

Oh and I can't say much for Rick Stein's taste in music - thank you for the CD[2] anyway Neil.

Stan - don't give up the day job

[2] I'd got Jim "Rick Stein's Musical Odyssey" from the music and video exchange. Claire had wanted to get him the Gary Glitter Party Album (only 50p!)

Outmatched by American SF Writer.

With all due respect to Julia, John Scalzi has come up with an even better new word:
Which means: “A scale model representation of the end of the world.”

(Also he's been to see the Creation Museum, and describes it in a blog post I'm certain has the highest percentage of the word horseshit in one essay in human history)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Words update

In response to my questions about the word Geschplonken Julia writes:

it is indeed a new word. a word of transcendental(?) power and importance. it means to zonk out. to feel sleepy and splodge out on the sofa enjoying a fine snack or two. eg i am geschplonken. hope this is of use. x

Excellent. To celebrate this afternoon I'm going to be Geschplonken.

Saturday Six

The internet was not my friend yesterday, so in place of Friday Five, I proudly present Saturday Six.

Song: Momento, Bebel Gilberto. It seems to be Brazilian music week on Night of the Hats, Rather than the salsa-frenzy of Bonde do Role I pointed at on Wednesday, here's the dreamy voice of Bebel Gilberto, which I can listen to for hours, and often do.

Book: The Dark Heart of Italy, Tobias Jones. Italy is a weird place. It's a secular republic that dances to the tune of the Catholic church. The civil war between the Fascists and the Partisans was never resolved, leading to bombing campaigns which continue to this day, and no one is ever held responsible for them. Plus insane bureaucracy (2 weeks per person per year for 25 visits to various offices on average), insane football, insane corruption... Anyway, the point is Jones talks about all this, but never loses his sense of humour or affection for the country.

Film: Vampirella. Jim I'm sure will be pleased to learn of the existence of this film. I had to go to bed before it finished, but was struck by a curious parallel; Vampirella, last daughter of the dying planet Drakulon comes to Earth, as do several Drakulonian criminals - Superman II anyone?

Food: Rissoles, or as I called them, lambcakes. I didn't follow the Griff Rhys Jones recipe linked to exactly as I was using things up, but you get the idea.

Wild Card: Kate Beaton draws comics. Also she lives with Law Students.

Bonus: Uh oh. Out of ideas. Fortunately BeaucoupKevin has pointed out this game: Bobteds.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New Words

Julia on Facebook has described her current status as "geschplonken". Google provides nothing. It's a bona fide new word!

If only we knew what it meant.

Update: Google now points to this post. This is so self-recursive it's making me dizzy. I think I'll spend the rest of the day geschplonken.

Rude Television

Bill Odie (previously discussed by me here) outdid himself last night on Autumnwatch by stating that "this is a much more typical beaver shot, so to speak"[1].

The world is clearly ready for my new sexually explicit gameshow - "Clit or Miss".

For the alternative to this gameshow, here's Fry and Laurie:

(Thanks to Jim for the suggestion)

[1] while talking about a bit of film about a beaver.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Some sort of Midweek Monkey Business

Music from Brazil department: Bonde do Role (that link's to the Myspace page so it immediately starts playing James Bonde) have finally appeared on my musical horizon; I really wanted a video to Marina Gasolina but Youtube doesn't have the official one and the one fan vid is rubbish, so here's the link to Office Boy and it's 80's-style video.

As Xander said when both Buffy and Willow turned him down for the Homecoming dance "I'm going to listen to country music - the music of pain." However this Leann Rimes song is kind of bluesy, so maybe that's why it's not too painful; Nothin' better to do.

More than a month ago BeaucoupKevin did a series of Batman-the-TV-Series pictures with Batman: The Dark Knight Returns captions. It's here.

(If you don't know what this is about, well TV Batman was very camp, and Dark Knight (written by Frank Miller of Sin City and 300 fame) was very gritty. Bonus: Dark Knight captions to Classic Trek stills)

Once upon a time A A Milne was well known as a playwright (and later was well known as a critic of P G Wodehouse) and he wrote a detective novel. Sadly his novel was chosen by Raymond Chandler to demonstrate the implausibility of most detective fiction in his 1944 essay The Simple Act of Murder. Don't read the essay if you want to simply enjoy detective fiction without wondering about the holes; do read it if you want to know how to construct actual mysteries. Then marvel at how people in the entertainment industry continue to ignore these lessons.

I'm short on time and links, so I'll simply finish with a monkey video. Except I've mistyped it as "Mockney".

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stan and the Fag Machine

(Recycled from a Facebook Photo Comment - I'd labelled this photo "Stan and the Fag machine" and Jim had commented "As an idea for a sitcom 'Stan and the fag machine' was never destined to take off..", to which I replied with a bit of the pilot)

Fag Machine: Hi Stan! Want a fag?

Stan: No thanks. I don't smoke.

Fag Machine: Okay.

[Jim enters, dressed as a slice of pie. Mad props from the audience]

Fag Machine: Jim! You're dressed as a pie.

Jim: I know. My boss thinks this will improve sales.

Stan: Aren't you self employed?

Jim: Yes.

[Audience lets out howls of laughter]

Jim: My Boss is a ****.

[Audience can't believe what it's hearing, gasps, then cheers madly]

Fag Machine: Jim, do you want a fag?

Jim: No thanks. I don't smoke.


Sunday Lunch, Walks and Pubs

I've been thinking a little about the logistics of Sunday Lunch and Sunday Walks. If you go for a walk in the morning to build up an appetite, return home and then have a proper roast Sunday lunch, either someone needs to be at home to cook, or you're an hour and a half minimum from eating on your arrival[1]. Hence the walking to a pub for lunch.

If you're walking after lunch (to burn off all that stuff you've just eaten) choosing a pub near an interesting walk again saves you valuable time and, in the winter, daylight. People living near interesting walks can avoid this problem. One final note - it's due to the lack of daylight on Winter Sunday's that my family tend to eat the main meal in the evening; otherwise Sunday Lunch eats up the entire day.

[1] In Summer you could barbecue; you really need to let charcoal burn for at least half an hour before cooking on it anyway, but some sort of cold starter could easily take up the required time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Boiler Trouble

The boiler has stopped working again. Time for a new one. Unfortunately that will take two weeks. So I'm going to be wearing my dressing gown over my clothes and going out alot. Although probably not at the same time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Some sort of title based on Fridays and Fives

Song: Time after Time, Cyndi Lauper. I remember when this came out and I was surprised by the perfection of the lyrics. But then I was 8 years old and hadn't really paid attention to pop music lyrics before. So I imprinted on this (along with Boney M, Human League and Queen) and what we might call my "musical taste" was born.

Book: World War Z; an Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks. It's written as a series of interviews with survivors of a world overrun with zombies. There's some nice touches (North Korea's weird and mysterious response to zombies overrunning civilisation, and the lack of stories from "The Hero City" stand out), but essentially it's a straight zombocalypse. Or is that Zombiepocolypse? Maybe Zombie-calypso. Anyway, nothing wrong with that.

Film: Little Miss Sunshine. Everybody in it sees their hopes and dreams dashed, destroyed, or has their failures rubbed in. Or all of them. As you might imagine, it's a comedy and everyone learns something about themselves and each other by the end. Except Grandad. Why is it funny? Because the tragedies, grotesque as they are, happen to characters we care about.

Food: I seem to have been cooking variants on things I've already talked about recently. So let's note that you can make mash more exotic with such things as celeriac - half celeriac/half potato; celeriac takes longer to cook than potato so cut it smaller and/or put it in a couple of minutes earlier. Other root vegetables can work just as well.

Wild Card: As it's winter, here's how not to drive on snow:

If in doubt, stay at home!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Piracy: I harp on about it again.

You probably think that piracy is still kind of cool, or at least funny, despite my reports on it as a vicious, nasty and sordid crime. I can't say this enough times: if you see a pirate call the cops, or the coastguard. Or if you're on the high seas, like in this article, call the US Navy.

Perhaps, with the co-operation of the most powerful navy the world has ever seen, we can one day end the scourge that is piracy.