Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Last weekend was the All Tomorrow’s Parties Nightmare Before Christmas event, curated by My Bloody Valentine. I had a fun weekend. The bands I saw were…

Josh T. Person (later dubbed “King of Butlins” by Warren Ellis)
De La Soul (fun party band to start the weekend off proper)
Witch (J Mascis on drums but they all looked a bit like J Mascis)
Yo La Tengo (some people didn’t seem to like this but I did, not as good as they were last time I saw them)
The Tyde (so-so west coast jingle jangles with a Dylan sneer. They got the guy from The Thrills out to do some backing vocals at one point)
The Membranes (John Rob’s punk band. Hilarious)
Sun Ra Arkestra (good but I wasn’t quite in the mood for it, so I went and pumped loads of 2p coins into the penny arcade thing)
The Pastels (this washed over me a bit, don’t really remember it)
J Mascis & The Fog (good stuff, J had a mini colloseum of amps around him)
Sonic Youth (good, but I was a: stood behind a massive pillar, b: drinking the worst ale ever, and c: it was Saturday night and I wanted HITS but they played a fair bit of stuff from the Eternal instead)
My Bloody Valentine (not life changing)
No Age (brilliant, the best I’ve seen them, and they got Bob Mould out at the end)
Chuffed Up (double brilliant)
A Place To Bury Strangers (I’ve seen them 3 times before and it’s getting a bit samey but it’s good enough)
Th’ Faith Healers (this was ok)
Swervedriver (good but not great)
Mum (didn’t stay long, don’t like ‘em)
EPMD (amazing stage banter: “any Puerto Ricans in the house?” and “this for the ladies – all 6 of y’all!” and then a 10 minute obituaries section)
Bob Mould (played a mainly acoustic set, he seemed like a genuinely great guy)
Dirty Three (stage banter > the music)
Lightning Bolt (incredible, was umming and ah-ing about seeing them but so glad I did. Really glad they play on a stage now)

As you might be able to guess from my brief summaries, I’m a bit indifferent to a lot of shoegazey stuff so I got a bit over-egged with that side of things – but that just made me enjoy the other bits more. Had loads of fun with my friends, and that’s always the best bit of ATP – dancing, pile-on, playing the arcade games, talking nonsense in the sports bar, drinking mulled cider in the chalet.

2 negative points – one was the staff not really having a clue what was going on with the wristband exchange thing on Friday, and the second being that Watership Down is the worst film ever to watch if you’re even slightly hungover. But other than that, no real complaints. Yay!

PIZZA SLICE BONUS MATERIAL – had 9 slices of Pizza Hut buffet. Not a bad effort.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

At The Pictures: Zombieland

Almost forgotten I'd seen this. It's good fun, in a knockabout disposable way.

It follows a small group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse world. 28 Days Later running zombies, not the Romero shufflers. It’s got a bit of everything; action, comedy, romance. Everyone involved seems to be really enjoying themselves (but not in a self indulgent Oceans 11 style), and it all zips along at a nice pace with some nifty visuals chucked in. Scares come in the usual ‘things popping up suddenly with a loud noise accompaniment’ format, but the schlockiness serves the film well. Plans are apparently afoot for a 3D sequel.

The film also contains
A Hot Girl.

The Pizza Slice: The Italian Way

I love The Italian Way with all its overt Italian fakery and fishing nets dangling from the ceiling. It’s just a bit kitsch in the best way possible. And it’s BYOB on the wine. “Wahey!”

Had some good calamari for starters, not chewy at all – always a good sign. She had some rather good meatballs.

Main course was obviously the pizza (or I wouldn’t be blogging). There’s no set menu here, you just build your own and get charged per topping. It’s quite a nice approach I guess. I had pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives. It was good pepperoni, not too hot and it didn’t have that cutting the roof of your mouth quality that some bad pepper sausages do. The mushrooms gave it a nice bit of texture. The olives were good but a bit annoying as they hadn’t been de-stoned. This isn’t usually that much of a problem for me, but on a pizza it’s a bit annoying. You either had to dissect them or just try and not choke to death. I went for the dissection approach. She had anchovies, artichokes, and olives. She agreed with me about the olives.

For pudding we shared a tiramisu. Not the best one I’d had to be honest. Washed it down with a nice filter coffee. Then we went to Chapter and I drank Buddy Holly themed ales. Brilliant.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Obligatory decade in review thingy. It’s not really in any order from #4 onwards. And I’ve not really given it much thought to be fair.

1. At The Drive-in – Relationship of Command (first MP3 I downloaded as well, from Napster. One song took about 30 minutes)
2. Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary (would be pretty much perfect if they dropped ‘The Same Ghost Every Night’)
3. Arcade Fire – Funeral (I sort of associate them more as a live band in my mind now, but I listened to this on a daily basis for ages)
4. Animal Collective – Feels (see! I don’t just like ‘guitar’ music)
5. The Thermals – The Body The Blood The Machine (please play ‘Returning To The Fold’ at my funeral)
6. The Strokes – Is This It (snapped me out of NuMetal, and I’m still wearing Converse)
7. Bright Eyes – Lifted, Or The Story Is In The Soil Keep Your Ear To The Ground (great soundtrack to failing at things – mope!)
8. Deerhunter – Microcastle (makes me want to take up long-distance running)
9. The National – Boxer (sometimes, when I’m hungover, I put it on loud-ish and just lie down on the living room floor listening to this)
10. The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone (this is quite a weird record isn’t it?)
11. Joanna Newsome – The Milk Eyed Mender (reminds me of staying up too late in a non-party way)
12. Mclusky – Do Dallas (angry, funny, from Cardiff)

Side notes and disclaimers: I’m currently listening to Deerhunter’s Cryptograms and thinking I may prefer it to Microcastle, and The National’s Aligator deserves some form of mention. I loved White Blood Cells by The White Stripes for ages, but I’ve not listened to it in years now. Love all The Shins’ albums as well. Looking back at the list and the ones I still listen to the most are The Thermals and The National albums, so maybe they should win? I don’t know.

Stay tuned for Top 10 Pizzas of the 00s! (Only joking)

EDIT: I keep remembering other brilliant albums that I've forgotten all about:

1. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags & Codes
2. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
3. Oxford Collapse - Bits and/or A Good Ground
4. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
5. Britsh Sea Power - The Decline Of

I'll probably keep topping this up as I think about it.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

What I Did On My Holidays - Edinburgh

My first visit to Edinburgh and indeed Scotland. Had annual leave that needed using up by the year’s end, friends to visit, and I found some cheap flights. It was all systems go. Edinburgh has amazing links from the airport to the city centre. A 24 hour service that operates on a ‘bus every 10 minutes’ time scale for most of the day. This was flabbergasting, especially after having experienced Cardiff’s town to airport links (one bus an hour if you’re lucky, or a train an hour plus shuttle bus from train platform to airport). Met my friend and he took me to a nice pub called Cloisters. We had this really nice beer called Munich Red which is brewed by the West brewery – they brew all their beers to the German Beer Purity standard. It came in a thick glass with a handle. We had other beers as well, but that was the one I remember.

On Friday I had most of the day to myself, so I mainly wandered. Felt a bit self conscious at my constant A-Z referring but once I’d taken a couple of wrong turns it stopped bothering me so much. The architecture of the city is amazing! I spent most of my walk looking skywards at the buildings. Do a Google Streetview on random streets in Edinburgh and you’ll see what I mean. I had a look at the Scottish Parliament, which I didn’t think was as nice a building as the National Assembly for Wales’ Senedd building, and I stopped in at their National Museum but none of the exhibitions really appealed to me (just had a coffee in the café instead). Then I headed over to the National Portrait Gallery which was good. Lots of Titian’s and other famous types, lots of pictures of Jesus. There was a small room of Impressionist stuff which I really liked. I love how vivid they were, and the way they used the paint in a textural way. There was another room with pictures of Britain in, including one of the old West Gate at Cardiff, but it was drawn a good few hundred years ago so I didn’t really recognise specifically where it was. Then I met up with my friends and we had really nice beer and burgers at a smartish pub called 9A Hollyrood (or maybe Hollyrood 9A), and then we went to watch Japandroids. There was 1 good local-ish support band, whose name I’ve forgotten. Bronto Skyway maybe? They were good. Then after the bands we stayed at the clubnight for long enough to decide it wasn’t great, so we went home and watched Pet Cemetery instead.

On Saturday we lazed about a bit, and then my friends showed me around the city a bit. We went to a farmers market, tasted some nice stuff, and we walked up the hill to see the castle. We had tasty soup in a nice bistro-ish place (but I had to pick the courgettes out). After tea we headed back into town for a Ghost Tour of some of the underground bits of the city (via Starbucks, not usually a fan but those Gingerbread Lattes are well nice). It was quite interesting historically, all these old tunnels where people actually lived. The guide talked about how haunted they were and the bad things that had happened to people who’d gone on the tour. At one point we had to stand in the pitch black for 15 seconds, then some THING ran out going “AAAARGH!!!!!!!” at us (it was a man). After the tour an American lady claimed something stroked her thigh (she wishes!). It was good fun, despite some ‘too cool for school’ types trying to spoil it with their giggling and turning mobile phone lights on. Then we had a few pints in a cinema’s bar and talked about how ace the Coen Brothers are.

Sunday! We went to this little art gallery and looked at some stuff that was all based around pencil drawings. Some of them were dead good. Then we wandered into the ‘Newtown’ bit which is well posh, and had 3 different but tasty ales in a nice pub. Then we went back to the flat and made veggie toad-in-the-hole with various roast veggies and my onion gravy. In the evening we saw The Men Who Stare At Goats in the same cinema we’d been to the day before. You can take a beer into a film with you, which is nice.

Didn’t really have much time on Monday, so I just headed straight to the airport for the journey home.

Good times.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

At The Pictures: Pontypool & The Men Who Stare At Goats

Pontypool was, for the most, pretty decent I thought. It’s essentially a zombie film but the ‘hook’ is that it’s mostly set in a small community’s Talk Radio station; so we only find out about what’s happening in the outside world as it filters through to the 3 people working in the studio. Unfortunately it all falls apart in the 3rd act with the introduction (almost literally from nowhere) of new characters and a semi-interesting idea about language spreading the infection which unfortunately the writers couldn’t fully exploit. After the credits there was some completely unrelated scene where 2 of the main characters were sat in some bar somewhere and it’s all done in that Sin City style. It was odd. Fair dos though, for the first 2 sections it really was quite effective.

The Men Who Stares At Goats jettisoned some of the darker bits of Jon Ronson’s book to create a breezy knockabout comedy. I love George Clooney when he does these kinds of roles, and it’s always worth seeing Jeff Bridges slip back into Dude-ism. It was good fun, but not really essential viewing.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Musics: Japandroinds/A Place To Bury Strangers

Good gig last night. It was Japandroids and A Place To Bury Strangers at the Barfly. My first visit to Barfly since the refurb. The stage is better now, but the floor is still sticky and there was a whiff of vomit about the place. More things change the more they stay the same. Japandroids were the most Canadian band I’ve ever seen. They looked polite and well-fed on nutritious food, and just seemed like nice friendly guys. At one point I caught myself thinking “I’d bet they’d help you move house and you wouldn’t even need to ask”. Musically ace as well, the guitarist was a bit ROCK but his Canadian-ness made it alright. He had a fan to keep him cool, and it blew his hair around in an 80s power-ballad style. He kept saying how excited he was to be in Cardiff because his favourite band were from Cardiff, and they closed on a cover of Mclusky’s To Hell With Good Intentions. He was wearing a Future Of The Left Tshirt as well. A Place To Bury Strangers also have a Cardiff/S.Wales connections as their drummer is from Barry. I find that quite amusing. How does someone from Barry end up in a doomy cool Brooklyn band? They did their whole 80s/shoegaze/Factory records thing, machine gun drumming and sonic Ouija board assault. It killed my hearing. Forgot my earplugs. Good though. Beforehand I’d overheard some guy describing them as ‘ambient’ to one of his friends. I’d love to know what they thought after.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

At The Picture: The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus

I really disliked this film. Quite often, it takes me a day or 2 to figure out that I didn’t actually like something – but I pretty much hated this from the very first scene. It was utterly un-engaging, with a meandering plot and mostly bad acting. Bonus point for Tom Waits’ scene-stealing turn as the Devil, but other than that I can’t really find anything of merit in it. At least poor Heath Ledger has Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight to secure his legacy. I wish I’d just stayed at home to watch Spooks.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Pizza Slice - La Vita (redux)

Went back to La Vita on the weekend. This time I opted for a pretty straight double pepperoni with chillies affair, forgot the name they gave it. It was really good, but I missed the vegetable element. The lady had a wholly veggie thing with olives and artichokes and possibly mushrooms as well – I can’t remember. It was good though yes, I’m still not fully sold on artichokes but I could probably grow to enjoy them if I put in the time and effort. Had a nice basic side-salad of rocket and parmesan as well. For pudding we wanted tiramisu (it was amazing last time) but they’d sold out, so instead we went for this pear and berry pie. Not what I’d usually go for but man, it was good! Special mention for the house red wine as well, which is ace-in-the-face. Only negative was that I ordered a coffee which never arrived. Waiter was being a bit cocky and not writing stuff down, and then a large group of people arrived just after I’d ordered the coffee so he must have just forgotten. Oh well, didn’t get charged for it at least. Not the sort of thing that’ll put me off going back.

After that we went to Chapter for the last few hours of their Oktoberfest. They only had 2 biers left. One was a straight Weissbier which was really nice, not as perfumed as the more commercial ones like Hoegarden and Kronenberg Blanc. The best was the Weissbier Dunkel though – it was amazing. Had this slightly metallic tang to it, it reminded us of a beer we drank in a Montreal micro-brewery as well. So it was nice to have that taste-based reminisce.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

At The Pictures: Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr Fox is a bit of an odd experience. It really is no different to anything else in Wes Anderson’s body of work – it just happens to also be about a family of foxes. The animation is slightly shonky on purpose; there’s a herky-jerkiness to the movements that gives it an old-fashioned vibe, but again that’s no different to any of his other films really is it? I like how he mixes the personalities of the animals, so one minute their sophisticated humanoid types and then the next they’re just being proper animals. The cast is brilliant. I particularly liked Jason Schwartzman as the sulky junior fox Ash, but in my eyes the show was stolen by Willem Dafoe’s knife-wielding slightly bonkers Cajun street punk Rat. Given the whimsical nature of Anderson’s work I wasn’t really sure how well it’d work as a children’s film, but I overheard some young’uns saying they liked it as I was leaving the theatre so I guess he did alright. And Jarvis Cocker sings a song in the middle of it! FANTASTIC!

At The Pictures: (500) Days of Summer

Saw (500) Days Of Summer in Chapter’s lovely little Cinema 2 the other week but forgot to tell you, my blog, about it. Sorry! I enjoyed it. It was quite inventively done with the jumping back and forth through the 500 days. I’ve read a few criticisms that the Summer character is a bit under-written or whatever, but I didn’t really get that. It’s all told from the guy’s point of view so it’s no wonder she doesn’t come out of the film looking too good, but there’s enough stuff in the film to show you that she isn’t a horrible person or anything. They’re just different is all. But yes, it was a good film, and they all wore nice clothes, and the indie references didn’t really feel shoe-horned in or anything. I did find myself thinking “there’s no way he could afford the rent on that apartment” at various points, but then I think that in a lot of films to be fair. Plus that blackboard bedroom would play hell with your allergies.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

At The Pictures: Toy Story and Up in 3D

The last 2 visits to the pictures have involved Pixar films in Disney Digital 3D. I’m not sure how that’s different from the normal 3D. Toy Story was all re-rendered, and Up was subtle, so you didn’t really get any of that ‘things whooshing towards your face’ 3D-ness. I can’t really decide if that’s a good thing to be honest. Having depth in the picture is nice enough I suppose, but it doesn’t really add anything to the experience that justifies forking out for specs that don’t really fit over normal glasses properly. Part of me thinks that maybe 3D should stick to being a bit tacky and exploitative.

The films themselves were great obvs. I’d forgotten how good Toy Story was, and how perfectly pitched it is to appeal to children and their parents. Up was simply incredible. Genuinely touching and equally hilarious with brilliant characters and imagery. Not quite sure if I prefer it to Wall E and The Incredibles, but I think they’re a bit too different to compare. The only slight quibble I had was with the ‘baddie’. You just didn’t get enough sense of his character, and the failures that had made him so bitter. But other than that, faultless.

Swn 2009

My Swn from fuzzy memories:

Thursday - Shape night at Dempseys was mostly great. Thought the stripped down Freddie Stars were a bit boring alas, twas a shame. The rest was great but I was well tired by the end so I was itching for Zun Zun Egui to finish. Was relieved when they said "we're going to play one more song!" and then the relief soured when that one song turned into a 20 minute jam. They were pretty good though. Islet and Them Squirells were both great, and Evils as a full band was cool.

Friday – Was excited about seeing Exit International again, but now they're a bit too FOTLy/Mclusky-ish. When I first saw them the long hair man had crazy distortion over his vocals and the whole thing was a lot more sludgey and messed up sounding (for the better). PIZZA SLICE BONUS: Then I had a nice pizza at Pizza Express, the Sloppy Guissepie (or however you spell it). I’ve tried ordering it the last few times we’ve been, but it’s always been unavailable. It was nice, but I thought it would be sloppier... Then I saw a bit of Jonny Foreigner and I still don't like them, so I saw a bit of the Longcut who were also not great, and the Fuwch Goch doesn't really work as a venue that well, so I went back to Clwb. Pulled Apart By Horses were amazing. Attempted to head back to Fuwch Goch for Girls but obvs it never happened with the queue, so decided to catch people up in Dempseys but it was 1-in-1-out for Silver Gospel Runners (WTF?) and so we ended up in City Arms (first time I've been there since Twatty Bouncer-gate) for a drink because I didn't want to see Rogues, though this then meant we couldn't get in for Strange News (which was a shame as everyone who made it in said it was great) and then we just ended up dancing to the ridiculous DJing downstairs at Clwb till stupid o'clock.

Saturday - caught a bit of Allo Darlin but they weren't for me, bought some CDs in the record fair. I think new Chapter is good, nicer than old Chapter. The Gate stuff was great, though I don't know why it took them quite so long to serve people at the bar. I'm looking forward to seeing Internet Forever again at some point, and I think it was the best I've seen Los Camp ever. Mark Attack's Record Breaking Crowd-surf was amazing. Got into Slow Club no problems really (having power-walked over from the Gate), but they started about 15 minutes early which is a bit naughty, and it was full of people chatterboxing away which annoyed me no end. They were good though despite not playing their best song (All Our Most Brilliant Friends). Took one look at the queue for Right Hand Left Hand and realised there was no chance of getting in so had a quieter sit down drink whilst Adam Walton DJd in City Arms (didn't actually realise it was Adam Walton DJing untill the next day though, woops) then back to Dempseys for Moshi Moshi DJs - who were fun. So yes, all in all I had a fun weekend.

It's quite easy to find small niggly faults with Swn but equally easy to overlook them and have a great time (which I did), so hope they keep going strong. Just maybe try and not have the most hyped bands of the weekend in tiny venues with no other alternatives on next year please? It’s a shame they didn’t use Buffalos and Tommy’s Bar as they’re both semi-established venues despite their faults, so I hope they’re involved next year. Curious to see how the festival evolves from this point in, but best o' luck to 'em.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Pizza Slice - DOUBLE PORTION

Alright Blog? How are you? This week I have had 2 pizza experiences. Firstly, I made my own on Monday night. They were a triumph. Toppings were some wilted spinach, chestnut mushrooms, and Italian cured ham. Plus the obligatory mozzarella and tomato sauce. I think they were probably the best pizzas I’ve ever made; and the first since moving house. I think the fan-assisted oven may have made a difference. The next step on my odyssey is to get an unglazed bit of marble or whatever to use as a bake-stone. Don’t want to buy an expensive one from the kitchen shops though. I'm sure I’d be able to get a cheaper option from a reclamation yard.

Pizza experience 2 was Pizza Express. King of the Highstreet. I had a voucher which gave you starter/main/drink for a £10er. I’m not that fussed on the garlic bread or doughballs personally; you don’t really need a bready starter before a bready main. My main was the ‘la reine’ which is ham, olives, and mushrooms. Ladyfriend had that one with spinach and an egg – it was nice but the egg got a bit rich. Can't go wrong for a £10er though!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

At The Pictures - The Thing

One of the local cineplexes have been doing a season of ‘classic’ films every Tuesday, showing them on cleaned up digital prints. They showed The Thing which is one of those horror films that everyone goes on about. I’d not seen it before so thought “what better way to see it than on the big screen?” and off I went, with only a minor hiccup on the way – the lock to my front door started acting up so I was actually locked inside the house for a short while and couldn’t leave! Got to the cinema just in time really. My 'party' got three of the last 5 or so tickets so we managed to squeeze in to the heaving cinema.

The film itself was great. The opening scene is amazing, and the paranoia of the whole things is just brilliant. It’s the special effects that obviously stand out though. The model work looks a little shonky now I guess, but no more than CGI does after only a couple of years. I loved the inventiveness of the alien’s mutations. Special mention as well to some great lines of dialogue – “I don’t want to spend all winter tied to this fucking couch!” is a classic.

I think the whole concept of showing older films in the cinema is brilliant. More of it please! It’s great to see stuff ‘as intended’. I saw Double Indemnity earlier this year which was great, and year before last I saw It’s A Wonderful Life in the run-up to Christmas. Perfection!

Urgh, I’ve just read that there are plans for some kind of prequel/remake of The Thing to be set in the Norwegian camp. URGH. Why bother?

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Pizza Slice - La Vita

La Vita is a new-ish Pizzeria opposite Cardiff Castle. It used to be Café Europa which was my favourite place in town to have a cup of tea and a sit-down. In between it became Dirty Sue’s Café, which looked really rubbish so I never went in. Anyway, it’s now La Vita and they’ve exposed some of the old stone walling that Dirty Sue decided to cover in boring white plaster board, so they won plus points for that straight away. I opted for the ‘Gianni’ pizza, which is a mozzarella and cherry tomato pizza that’s finished with Parma ham, rocket, and parmesan cheese once it’s done cooking in the oven. Actually I can’t remember now if the Parma ham was cooked in the oven or not, I don’t think it was… whatever, it was really nice. You could tell that the ingredients were good quality, and I think that the simplest pizzas often offer the best results. I sampled a section of my friend’s pepperoni one which was nice and had a good level of heat, and my ladyfriend had some spinnachy pizza which I also sampled and enjoyed. The restaurant doesn’t have a ‘proper’ wood-burning oven so you don’t get that amazing slight charring to the base, but most restaurants don’t have a proper pizza oven anyway so you can’t really complain. The base was good as it was anyway. It’s nice being in family run places as well isn’t it? And the chef man gave us some free limoncello as well, which was nice – the last time I tried limoncello I didn’t really like it, but this was good. Had a little chat with the chef and he seems like a nice chap, the best of luck to them basically.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

At The Pictures - District 9

District 9 was... alright I suppose. A film of 2 halves really. I really liked the first section, which is done in a fake documentary style and is sort of like a body-horror of sorts with a bit of conspiracy theory thrown in. But then as the film progresses they ditch the documentary angle and just go for a pretty straight actioner. The effects were really impressive, given the relatively small budget especially, but yes, by the end I did just feel a bit like I was watching someone play a computer game. A lot of fuss has been made that the depiction of the Nigerians was a bit racist, what with them being more-or-less the only black characters in the film and they weren’t really portrayed positively. I’m not sure I agree with that, but I did think it ridiculous that they were subtitled despite the fact they spoke in perfectly clear English.

Nice seeing a film that isn’t based on a book/comic/game/remake/reboot/re-imagining/sequel/prequel/theme park ride/whatever (though it is adapted from the director’s previous short film so umm, what’s my point again?)

Trailers – arrived a little later than planned so only saw two trailers. The first was Sorority Row which is just a generic looking horror/slasher. I guess today’s ‘demographic’ for that sort of thing would only have been about 6 years old when I Know What You Did Last Summer came out. The other trailer was for Whiteout, which is based on a comic and stars Kate Beckinsale. I think it’s about some US Marshall investigating a murder up in Alaska or something. It looked like it could either be ‘not bad’ or ‘utter pants’. Couldn’t quite tell.

Afterthought - The main character in District 9 reminded me a bit of Murray from Flight Of The Conchords.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

At The Pictures: Avatar Vs Inglourious Basterds

Had two cinema visits recently. Firstly I went to one of those 16 minute Avatar previews, and at a later date I saw Inglourious Basterds. I guess you could say that both films are about the power of cinema in their own ways, though at least Tarrantino incorporated this into the plot.

I really hope Avatar isn’t “The Future Of Film”. The 3D was kindof fun, though equally distracting. And yes the computer effects are impressive (though to my eyes not much of a step-up from what’s gone before), but the plot seemed a bit lame (Dances With Wolves in Space) and the dialogue was super-clunky. “Come on bitch, show me what you got!” (or something like that) – sounds like it was lifted from a Limp Bizkit song.

Inglourious Basterds was great. It’s the sort of film only Tarantino would have the chutzpah to make; full of little riffs, side-steps, and sleights of hand. Colonel Landa is the best screen-villain since Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men. Sherlock Holmes in an SS uniform.

Wasn’t expecting the film to be as funny as it was either. The “it’s a bingo” line from the trailer still had me chuckling, but Brad Pitt usurps it with one word – though I won’t mention it to avoid spoiling any surprises.

Even the bits I was worried about worked; Eli Roth’s dead-eyed ‘Bear Jew’ and Mike Myers’ ridiculous scene-chewing English General.

So yes. It’s good. Possibly his best film since Jackie Brown.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Wisdom Teeth Removal Blog

On Monday I had all my wisdom teeth removed. The bottoms ones had been playing up and growing at funny angles. The top ones were fine but they said I could have them out incase they played up in the future, so I thought 'might as well' and got rid of them as well.

I'd never had general anaesthetic before, and I was a little worried going in, but the staff were great and helped rid me of any fears. I made sure I told them that I gave blood regularly hoping they'd think I was one of the Good Guys and thus treat me well. It didn't take long for the GA to knock me out, it started as a dead arm from the feed in my hand and I guess I was bit giddy from the gas and air stuff I was inhaling. I giggled "my arm's gone a bit dead!" and then I was gone. Felt like 5 minutes had passed and I was waking up, but it had actually been an hour or so, then after a little sit down in the recovery room I was able to go home (though I had to be chapperoned - or however you spell it). I've basically been recovering since then. My face had swollen up a bit, like I was doing an impression of Brando in the Godfather, and my throat had also swollen a bit making talking and eating a bit hard.

Eating's been the worst bit really. I bloody love my food usually, but it's totally killed my appetite, and the only stuff I can eat have been tinned soups (which aren't great really) and I've moved on to semi-solid stuff now - started with a couple dollops of bean chilli and a small omlette, and yesterday I slowly made my way through a bowl of spaghetti in a basic tomato sauce.

The cat's been quite nice to me this week and not attacked my feet as much as usual, which was good of him. He's having his balls off today, so it's his turn for suffering now. Poor sod.

I've not watched any of the films I borrowed from the Blogginator yet, though I did watch the Battlestar Galactica discs he lent me. I'd seen them all before a few years back, but it was nice to have something semi-familliar to half follow as the effects of the GA wore off. I've also been watching Joss Whedon's Firefly which is okay but not brilliant. I guess it's more episodic than I'm used to from TV shows these days, so it feels a bit aimless at times. I'm only halfway through though so it might pick up. I've watched a lot of the latest Rick Stein series through the brilliant iPlayer (which I can now watch via the actual TV) - the food he's been seeing and cooking looks amazing and I'm desperate to have some Vietnamese Pho soup now.

I finished reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods which was pretty good, though I think it diverged from the main plot a bit too much. About a third of the way through Let The Right One In now. It's a bit different to the film. I guess you have more room for depth in a novel, but the ambiguity of the film was one of my favourite things about it.

Today I'm feeling a lot better and I'm playing Spotifriday, catching up on musics I've missed out on. Wild Beasts' newie was quite good - wasn't that fussed to begin with but it grew on me. The Xx have been getting a lot of bloggy-hype recently so I checked them out and didn't really feel it. It's a bit minimal in a nice way, but I doubt I could grow to love it. Now I'm listening to the Gaslight Anthem which is another distillation of Springsteen's America in a nice enough way (though it reminds me a lot more of Sam's Town era Killers than the actual Boss himself). It's not as good as The Hold Steady basically. It's nothing like The Hold Steady really, I don't know why they get compared.

Right, I think I might put civilised clothes on and leave the house in a bit. Got tickets for Avatar Day later so that something.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

What I Did On My Holidays

Had a little mini-break over the weekend. Went up to Cirencester to visit friends of the ladyfriend. We went to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, it was rather ace. For some reason I was thinking it’d be a bit small-scale, but it’s actually huge. Good ‘spread’ of animals. I saw monkeys and penguins and meercats and wolves and bats and those giant guinea pigs and zebras and rhinos and the worst display of falconry ever. No bears, but you can’t win ‘em all. Actually I did see a sign for Red Pandas somewhere, but they’re not proper bears anyway so I’m not fussed about missing them.

In the evening we had food in a nice bistro place attached to a butchers. I had rabbit for starts and steaks for mains and sticky toffee pud for afters.

On the Sunday I went on to that London to stay with various friends. BONUS PIZZA SLICE ACTION: We had pizza for tea on Sunday. Can’t remember the name of the place, just a small pizza place in Crouch End. Reasonably priced. I had a spicy italian sausage with tomatoes and extra mushrooms. Thought it was very enjoyable. After that we had a pint in a nice pub. Their menu said that they had beer-battered cod, and the named the beer as Bombardier. Which is weird, because what with Bombardier being an ale, you don’t really get many bubbles. The whole point of beer-battering is that you get lots of bubbles so that the batter is crispier. You need a lager or something.

Anyway, after that we went home and watched a DVD of Gone Baby Gone – the Ben Affleck directed picture that had its release pushed back because of the ‘similar’ real-life vanishing of Madeline McCann. The film was okay, 6ish/10. It started well enough but descended into a fairly standard thriller. Ending was nice and ambiguous mind; it left you to decide on some moral issues.

On Monday I sat around in my friend’s flat for a bit, reading The Escapist comics that spun off from the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay novel. Personally I thought they should have been drawn in a more ‘traditional’ 1930s style as opposed to the more modern look they had. After that I used public transport to go over to the Roundhouse to see David Byrne’s Playing The Building. Essentially a piano wired up to various devices around the Roundhouse which created various noises. I liked that you couldn’t really tell at any point if the room was being played by a bunch of toddlers or a concert pianist. I had a little tinkle of the ivories myself, but felt a bit self-conscious. There’s a real glee to the whole thing though. Worth seeing.

Spent the afternoon wondering around, lunch in Wagamamas, met friends for teas and coffees, visited the gift shop of the Transport Museum (didn’t have the £9 to actually visit properly), and then went to a nice pub called The Harp to meet another friend. The pubs are the best thing about London really. Cardiff centre lost a lot of its old proper pubs back in the 60s – all in the name of developments which have now been knocked down to make way for new developments…

Then it was the main reason of my visit. The National were playing the Royal Festival Hall. Our seats weren’t great, right near the back in row U, but it was still a brilliant concert. They played an amazing set and it wasn’t until the following day that I realised they’d missed out some of my favourite songs of theirs. I really want to see them again and again and again. Easily one of my favourite bands.

The next day I caught a slow commuter bus to Victoria, saw a man get told off for being too loud on his phone, and took a megabus back home.

Friday, 7 August 2009

I wish I was going to ATP New York

What a line-up!


The Jesus Lizard / Iron and Wine / Dirty Three Performing ‘Ocean Songs’ / Suicide Performing First LP / The Feelies Performing ‘Crazy Rhythms’ / The Drones Performing ‘Wait Long By The River’ / Comedy Stage hosted and curated by David Cross featuring Eugene Mirman, Jon Benjamin & Jon Glaser and Derrick Brown & The Navy Gravy.

SATURDAY: curated by ATP

Animal Collective / Panda Bear / Sufjan Stevens / Deerhunter / Melvins / Shellac / Boss Hog / Autolux / Dead Meadow / EL-P / Anti-Pop Consortium / Circulatory System / Atlas Sound / Akron Family / Grouper / Sleepy Sun / Bridezilla / Black Dice

SUNDAY: curated by The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips / Boredoms perform 9 drummer BOADRUM / No Age perform Husker Du with Bob Mould / Caribou perform as Caribou Vibration Ensemble / Deerhoof with Martha Colburn / Crystal Castles / Super Furry Animals / Boris performing Feedbacker / Low Lows / Oneida Presents the Ocropolis / Hopewell / Black Moth Super Rainbow / Birds Of Avalon / Menomena

ANOTHER Wild Things Trailer!


Monday, 3 August 2009

"I've Never Seen A Movie That Looked Or Felt Like This"

Author Maurice Sendak giving his blessings to Spike Jonze’s adaptation of his book Where The Wild Things Are. I really can’t get over how amazing the footage I’ve seen of this film is. Stunning stunning stunning stunning. Stunning.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

At The Pictures 29/07/09

Trailers I saw at the Pictures last night:

Inglourious Basterds (or whatever it’s called) – I wasn’t really looking forward to this before, but it actually looks like quite a good fun film. I snorted with laughter at the “it’s a bingo!” line. Good work.

Adam – some kind of rom-com about a guy with Aspergers who hilariously tells it like it is (or something). It also featured the police commissioner guy from The Wire. Nice to see he’s branching out from Angry Police Chief to Kind Old Man AKA The Morgan Freeman. Staggering range of rolls available to black actors isn’t there?

Something with 2 girls’ names in the title – this looked really bad. The tag line is “Based on TWO true stories!”. It’s about some woman who trained at Cordon Bleu in the olden days, and a woman who writes a cookery-blog in the modern days. Blogs and cooking! You’d think this film was aimed squarely at me, but no. Shoddy. It’s all about learning stuff about yourself and that guff.

I can’t actually remember what else there was, they all looked bad though (except for Basterds – “It’s a bingo!” hehehehehe, the delivery’s amazing). They also showed some Blackberry advert featuring U2. Almost shat my pants when Bono’s big face showed up and sang at me.

Special mention as well to the knocker sat behind me. He kept making ‘hilarious’ comments to his girlfriend during the trailers; which got me really worried because I often make ‘hilarious’ comments to MY girlfriend when we’re watching TV at home, and if my comments are anywhere near as ‘hilarious’ as this chump’s then she has pretty ample grounds for divorce. He also decided to eat a massive bag of crisps throughout the film. Not even cheap crisps, they were like them hand-baked posh crisps that are really loud eating. I was almost on the verge of snatching the bag out of his hands – I guess that’s why they don’t let you drink beer in cinemas. And it’s not like we were watching some noise film like Transformers, it was Moon for-crying-out-loud. It was quite a quiet film!

I really hate the multiplex. Moon was good though, fair dos.

EDIT – oh now I remember, there was also a trailer for the new Almodovar film – Broken Embraces. I read a review of it in Empire and the review and the trailer seemed like 2 completely separate films (neither of which particularly interested me).

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Pizza Slice: Tesco Finest's Italian Meats

Found this in the reduced section due to slightly bashed packaging, thought it’d make a good lunch. Salami, pancetta, Parma ham. Meaty! Took it home, deboxed it, unwrapped the cellophane, added some olives and a bit of leftover sweetcorn we had knocking about in the fridge. Put the oven on to heat up. 20 minutes later and the oven still wasn’t hot. In fact, the fan ‘assistance’ meant it was actually colder. Seems our oven is broken. The joys of moving house. So we ended up having to grill the pizza, which lead to a slightly undercooked base and a slightly overcooked topping. It was nice enough I guess.

List of problems with new house so far:

1. Broken oven.
2. Fridge bulb not working (have tried replacing)
3. No keys to open any of the lockable windows (most of which are currently locked)
4. Two of the upstairs radiators come on when you turn on the water heating.
5. Had to (violently) remove one of the back door locks so that I could actually close the door. Technically my fault I guess, but if they’d given us all the keys then it shouldn’t have been an issue.
6. Broken shower bracket, so you can’t fix the shower head to the wall whilst washing. I now have to clamp the shower between my knees when lathering.
7. House was filthy.
8. Cutlery drawer won’t close as the runner is broken.
9. Various issues relating to overly comprehensive inventory.
10. No gas safety certificate because of the pipe connecting to cooker to the gas supply.

Being a letting agent – easiest job in the world (if you’re a bit of a scumbag)?

Friday, 17 July 2009

The Pizza Slice: STRADA – Cotto

Once again, Martin Money Saving Expert – patron Saint of cheap pizza – came up trumps with BOGOF vouchers, and so off we went on my first visit to Strada. I was rather excited as they’re apparently the main competition for Pizza Express; aka The High Street Pizza Chain Benchmark.

I’d been a bit bored earlier at work and browsed their menu online. I was pleased to see that they offered one of my favourite topping combinations; ham, mushrooms, and olives (meat and a double dose of umami). My excitement level was set to medium-high. At the restaurant itself I couldn’t decide between that one and a spicier option, but eventually decided to go with my gut instinct (pun!).

First impression: The restaurant was tastefully decorated though the deep reds and the mood lighting combined somewhat murkily. Couple of nice touches; I particularly liked the tap water served in refrigerated Grolsch style pop-top bottles, and the glasses were pretty nice as well. At the end of the night they got an indie point by playing We’re From Barcelona.

Pizza itself was in a slight naan bread shape, which I’m a fan of. Perfectly symmetric circles always look a bit machine-made and I like the more rustic hand stretched approach implied by the tear-drop on my plate.

The base itself was really good. Nice and floury, thin but not so thin that it shatters at the touch of a fork. Slight charring. All good things. The mozzarella hadn’t quite started to brown yet, which I don’t mind that much but as the pizza cools the cheese can get slightly rubbery. There was a generous helping of toppings evenly distributed, which is always welcome (particularly after the 5 olive fiasco in Prezzo). The waiter also brought a bottle of chilli oil stuffed with dried chillies if I wanted to spice things up a little. Gave the oil a spin on one section. It didn’t really pack a punch, instead it packed a slow-burning jujitsu arm lock; pleasantly surprising. The toppings started to get a little sickly as I progressed through the pizza, but I endeavoured and the summit was scaled. Celebrated with a macchiato.

The lady-friend had a ‘Rustica’ pizza which combined thick slices of Italian sausage, roasted plum tomatoes, ‘caramelised’ onion and some form of artichoke (I get them confused). It was also rather good. I had her leftovers cold for lunch just now confirming one of my feelings that cold leftover pizza is one of the greatest lunches known to man. Up there with re-heated leftover take away curry and re-heated leftover take away Chinese.

All in all, I don’t think it was quite at the standard of Pizza Express, but I’m definitely happy to go again (if only to sample that spicier option). Their bases were better than Pizza Express, but Strada just couldn’t compete with the depth of the Pizza Express menu (for pizza at least, they do offer other kinds of dishes if that’s the sort of thing you’re in to…).

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Pizza Slice: Some kebab/pizza shop in Canton

Got so caught up in packing/house-moving yesterday that we didn’t realise how little food we had in the flat. Some friends were getting take-away pizzas so we decided to join them (we were running out of packing boxes anyway). It was from some Pizza/Kebab place on Cowbridge Rd that a friend visits fairly often, and in the past I’ve found the odd slice of their pizza I’ve had (via said friend) to be that dreaded mix of bready dough and greasy cheese; but it was actually better than expected.

Dough wasn’t as dry as I remember it being, and I’ve definitely had worse (hello Pizza Hutt!). Toppings wise I went for the ‘Spicy Chicken’ which places the pizza in the heart of India. Tandoori chicken, onions, green peppers and chillies. Didn’t really notice the chillies to be honest, so the term ‘Spicy’ in the title was a bit misleading, but I suppose I can forgive them for that (almost).

Price-wise it was almost a steal, what with their ‘buy one get one free’ offer. Basically worked out as being £3.75 each! And that left me with enough for lunch today as well. Bargain.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Music 2009

Hello my poor neglected blog. How are you? I am bored at work and thinking about cats. Here is a list of every piece of music I can remember buying so far in 2009. I have forgotten some probably. And there’s a couple I might have picked up at the tail-end of 2008 but ne’ermind. Brief thoughts on each are bracketed.

Animal Collective – Meriweather Post Pavillion (Technicolor wonder-land)
Dan Deacon – Bromst (return to the Technicolor wonder-land)
Future Of The Left – Travels With Myself and Another (i like the harder shoutier ones more than the not so hard/shouty ones – though they are growing on me)
Dinosaur Jr – Farm (not really sunk in yet, sounds like Dinosaur Jr though)
Abe Vigoda EP (not as good as the album)
Oxford Collapse EP (not as good as the albums)
Hot Panda – Volcano Bloody Volcano (the original EP/MySpace tracks with a couple of not-so-good extras)
Abe Vigoda – Skeleton (sounds like steel drums and church-bells)
Pissed Jeans – Hope For Men (uncomfortable in a good way)
Dinosaur Jr – Beyond (better than any post-reunion album has any right to be)
Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone (fun, and shows that they’ve got more tunes than gimmicks)
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes (great for hangovers)
Crystal Stilts – Alight Of Night (think I’ve only listed to this once. Woops!)
Atlas Sound – Let The Blind Lead…. (don’t like this anywhere near as much as I like Deerhunter)
Pony Tail – Ice Cream Spiritual (not as good as the live show)
Handsome Furs – Face Controll (sort of the complete opposite of the first album)

I’m not sure which is my overall favourite. Possibly the Dan Deacon album. I don’t listen to it much but when I do it frazzles my brain a little. He’s deffo on the top of my list of Bands I Want To See Playing Live.

Things I want to buy that have recently come out are the new Sweet Baboo and Sunset Rubdown albums. Had a quick listen to the latter on Spotify and it sounded good.

Monday, 22 June 2009

The Pizza Slice: Domino’s Pizza (various toppings).

Slightly impossible to objectively review this. Had spent roughly 8 hours (on and off) helping friends empty out their house. Boxes and furniture shuffled about in the most physical game of Tetris I’ve ever played. 3 or 4 van loads worth of stuff.

Pizza was bought as reward for the volunteering of puny muscles. Tasted like heaven. All in all, I don’t really mind Dominos to be honest. Base is doughy without being too bready, and there’s something pleasing in the unctuousness of the cheese and tomato – it never slips into the greasiness of a Pizza Hutt. Toppings wise, we had a variety – 2 with various meats and 2 with various veg. Generally I don’t like to overcrowd my pizzas, 3 or 4 toppings max (only 2 of which should be meat), but again, in context, it was perfect. And the little pots of sauce, perfect for dipping crusts into. Experimented with some Tobasco at one point as well. Fiery goodness.

Side note: We had some beers with it as well. Refreshing Corona. Hoppy SA Gold. And a new one on me was Tomos Watkins brewery’s Cwrw Braf (rough translation ‘Lovely Beer’). There was a fruity sweetness to it that reminded me of Christmas – particularly a box of Quality Streets. Nice, but not really a 'session ale'.

Score: context/10

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Stolen Blog Concept

I really like THIS feature that Pitchfork are doing at the moment. Basically picking what your favourite music was at 5 year intervals of your life. So I thought I’d nick it.

5 years old – honestly have no idea what I liked at this age. Probably the Postman Pat theme. I loved Postman Pat when I was little. I had matching curtains and duvet-covers. I apparently used to cry when an episode finished.

10 years old – I do remember hearing Nevermind being played in my brother’s room and thinking ‘this sounds amazing’ but what I really liked at this age was Meat Loaf. I think I enjoyed the theatrical over-the-top element. I got loads of his stuff on casette: Bat Out Of Hell, Bat Out Of Hell 2 – Back Into Hell, Hits Out Of Hell. All the Hell ones basically.

15 years old – Deftones! I saw Deftones on my 15th birthday when they were touring Around The Fur. I used to do a paper-round at this time and I’d listen to Around The Fur on my walkman a lot.

20 years old – ‘Funeral’ by Arcade Fire came out around this time I think. It was around this time that I was doing a lot of file-sharing and that so I was hearing lots of good new/old stuff for the first time. Funeral was my favourite. Can’t believe it’s been 5 years since Funeral came out!

25 years old – No Age pretty much summed up everything I wanted music to do last year.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Monday, 1 June 2009

At The Pictures: 2009 so far

June! 6 months into the year! Where did the time go? Here’s a list of every film I’ve seen at the pictures this year (that I can remember) in order of how good they were:

1. Anvil: The Story of Anvil
2. Let The Right One In
3. In The Loop
=. Frost/Nixon

5. The Wrestler
6. Slumdog Millionaire
7. Star Trek
8. Watchmen

9. Synecdoche, New York

Actually it’s only the top 4 that are in any definite order, the others are more general. I’ve not seen any film I didn’t enjoy on some level really, but I’m pretty selective about what I go and see.

I really can’t state how brilliant Anvil was. I went in expecting a slightly amusing small scale Spinal Tap, and the film did start a little like that to be fair, but then it turns into this amazing film about Kindness and Optimism and the Human Spirit and Not Letting Things Get You Down and other Important Things. It really was touching. Generally I tend to think of myself as a fan of fiction over non-fiction, but documentary films always have a much greater emotional impact on me.

Let The Right One In had me thinking about it for days after, couldn’t get it out of my head. I think bits of it were flawed (CGI cats), but I just loved the ambiguity of it. I’ve blogged about In The Loop already, but it is brilliantly funny. Frost/Nixon was just a really classy film. Great performances from everyone involved, helped along by a cracking script.

The Wrestler had great performances/direction and would make an excellent companion piece to Anvil if you were doing a festival or whatever. Slumdog was a vibrant slice of ‘neo-Dickensian fairytale’, and Star Trek was a nice little guilty-pleasure roller coaster of a film in a similar vein to what Iron Man was last year.

Watchmen wasn’t the mess that I’d feared it could be, but I think a better director (Paul Greengrass for instance, who was previously attached to the project) could have taken some of the themes and adapted it into something more interesting. I thought the film had put the original book up on this impossible pedestal and the director was so worried about offending the fans/creators that he just stuck as closely to the page as possible. This method was successful in some places (the Dr Manhattan flashbacks-on-Mars sequence was really good to see on film), but the original was essentially a comic about comics, and so this panel-by-panel adaptation just felt slightly pointless almost, and the directors visual styles ended up undoing some of the comic’s main points – the wire-work and slow-mo made them appear way too super-heroic. Again, Paul Greengrass’ more visceral style would have worked much better. On the plus side, the opening montage sequence was brilliantly realised, and the altered ending was in my opinion better than the book’s. In other words, the bits where the director didn’t slavishly stick to the book were the film’s biggest successes.

I still can’t decide what I really thought about Synecdoche, New York. ‘Frustrating’ I guess. Just a long round-about way of saying not much at all. Which is sort of the point of it. Not as good as Eternal Sunshine/Adaptation/Being John Malkovich basically.

And yes, that’s my ’09 in films so far. Can you tell that I’m bored at work? I didn’t mean to go on so much…

David Simon at the Hay Festival

Another trip up the A470 to Hay-on-Wye. Got stuck behind the obligatory caravan for a good ol’ while. Witnessed lots of people driving stupidly, overtaking on blind corners and the like. Nice one.

Anyway, the reason I was going to Hay this time was to see David Simon, best known as creator of The Wire, but he was there to mainly discus his books ‘Homicide’ and ‘The Corner’. I thought that was pretty obvious, what with Hay being a ‘literary festival’ and all that, but the idiots sat behind me sounded a bit annoyed about it. The books formed the basis for the TV series so it’s not as though there wasn’t really any common ground.

The whole talk was really interesting, Simon held court on topics familiar to fans of The Wire – the collapse of regional newspaper journalism, the failure of the ‘war on drugs’, political corruption etc. He made a pretty powerful point about how the war on drugs has essentially descended into a war on the poor. I would have happily sat and listened to him for hours. I love hearing people who know their stuff talking about things they’re passionate about with clarity and authority, especially when they’re as likeable and down to earth as David Simon appeared to be.

It gave me the appetite to finally start reading The Corner, which has been sat on my shelf/coffee table/next to my side of the bed in various states of not-being-read, and I really need to purchase the DVDs of Generation Kill and The Corner.

Really looking forward to seeing Treme now, which is the new show he’s working on at the moment. Apparently it’s to do with New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, so there’s plenty of scope for him to be David Simon-y about that!

Downsides: the idiots behind me kept having little chats amongst themselves, and seemed incapable of sitting calmly in a reasonable manner. They were like children. They kept shifting about and knocking the back of my chair. At one point the lady idiot went to get something from her bag and somehow managed to head-but my shoulder.

I was on the verge of Having Words but I didn’t really want to Make A Scene in front of David Simon. I’m sure he would have been on my side though.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Heston Blumenthal @ The Hay Festival

Just returned from my first ever visit to the Hay literary festival, which is a bit shocking as it's only an hour and a half's drive away. Didn't really get lost on the way. Well, we sort of stopped following our directions and the 'Hay Festival This Way' signs vanished for a few miles but we had a rough idea where we were going so no, didn't get lost.

The site itself was a little smaller than I thought it'd be, and there's not much to do on site beyond going to the talks. It's only a short walk to the town itself though so you can have a little explore. I have no idea what quirk led to Hay-on-Wye having so many bookshops but there we go.

Anyway, we had tickets to see Heston Blumenthal being interviewed by the ginormous nose of Jay Rayner. It was interesting. Hadn't realised quite how self taught a chef he was. Prior to opening the Fat Duck he'd only had 3 weeks of experience in professional kitchens. I knew all the stuff about translating French cookbooks despite not being able to speak the language - just going word for word with a French-English dictionary, what a loon! That tenacity and obsessive streak showed in a lot of his little anecdotes actually.

I really want to go to the Fat Duck now. Especially having heard him discussing the new flammable sorbet dish he's working on (and working with a conjurer so that the waiting staff can simultaneously ignite everyone's sorbet at the click of a finger). Taster menu is about a hundred quid per-head. Cheapest GLASS of wine is around £90. Best start saving now...

There was a Q&A session at the end, during which he dropped a pretty big hint that he was working on a range of appliances for domestic kitchens - mainly the water bath technique of vacuum sealing meat and slow-poaching them in low temperature water baths so that the meat is perfectly cooked.

Other things we did were... Eat a bacon sandwich, drink a cup of tea, buy some mugs, wander into town, have some curried potato thing, have a sheep's milk ice-cream, lounge around in the sun, read Jamie Oliver's ridiculous new lifestyle magazine (good recipes in it actually), drink a pint of official Hay festival ale. And then came home.

Going again next week to see David Simon, creator of The Wire. I hope he does an impression of McNulty.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Cats in Paris // Mae Shi // Abe Vigoda

Caught the second half of Cats in Paris having rushed over from the pictures, via a ‘gourmet’ burger - bought with a voucher from Martin The Money Saving Expert (love that man). It was pretty good. The burger and the band. Band was better than the burger.

4th time I’d seen Mae Shi now. How did that happen? Band on form as always. Wasn’t as much energy to the show as the other times. That’s a Cardiff indie-ish crowd though I suppose (me included). One of the geo-quirks of this city is that crowds can often be a bit static at gigs. I’m still a bit shattered post-ATP, and haven’t really slept well due to varying factors. So that’s my excuse. It was cool seeing the parachute in such a tiny room. And I liked the sit down bit as well. People got livelier after the crowd-participation. Guess we just like to be led? There’s probably a sheep joke in there somewhere.

Been looking forward to seeing Abe Vigoda for ages now. Got a little obsessed with their Skeleton album when I first heard it. They didn’t disappoint. They really are one of those bands that tick all the boxes of what I like music to do. Though I guess you could narrow that down to a MySpace tag of indie/alternative/punk. They were also very loud, and I was stupidly standing directly in front of the bass amp. Newer songs sounded cool, look forward to listening to the EP I bought now.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Pizza Slice – Pizza Hut (All You Can Eat Buffet)

As part of the ATP ‘experience’ we went for an all-you-can-eat buffet at the on site Pizza Hut. I’d not been in a Pizza Hut for a couple years, despite being given a voucher at Christmas, and I’d sort of forgotten how little I enjoy it. The cheese is really greasy and the base is so doughy. I know pizza isn’t exactly health food, but these are a step above your usual heart attacks. You just feel the whole thing ooze into your blood stream. It’s definitely the worst of the high street pizza chains.

I was feeling a bit woozy from drinking, a bit proteined from a fry-up I’d had earlier, and so I didn’t eat that much. ‘All I could eat’ didn’t equate that good value for money. I can’t even remember what toppings I got now. One slice of ham and mushroom. One slice of pepperoni. That’s all I can remember. The ham and mushroom was probably the best of the lot, but maybe that’s just because it was the first one I had? Who knows? I doubt I’ll go back to Pizza Hut until the next time I go to an ATP festival. Which will be in December.

I do quite like those little shakers of chilli flakes you get mind.

Monday, 11 May 2009

ATP: The Fans Strike Back

I’ve almost been back from ATP long enough to start forming coherent thoughts now. Here’s some things on bands I saw in a rough order of when I saw them.


Jeffrey Lewis – only caught a bit of this so no real opinion. He was wearing a Spillers tshirt.
HEALTH – good stuff. Some man complained that they’d been “too structured”. Pardon? 3 members of HEALTH were in the swimming pool the next day. They went “Whoa!” when they saw the slides.
Andrew WK – my lip spontaneously started bleeding. Motivational talks mixed with rock actions, and surreal moments including a man with a balloon on his head.
M83 – caught a bit of this and it was sounding really good but there were some clashes so I couldn’t watch the whole thing.
Devo – set of the weekend? Probably.
Antipop Consortium – I don’t listen to much hip-hop so I’ve not got much frame of reference for this. It was okay I suppose.
Jesu – This wasn’t really my kind of thing from what I remember.
Fuck Buttons – new stuff sounded good. I don’t think I watched the whole set.
Edan (DJ set) – I didn’t even notice this was happening at the time and I barely remembered even being there the next day.


Retribution Gospel Choir – I’ve not really heard much Low but this was good. Best heckle of the weekend was “throw a guitar at someone”. Luckily, he didn’t.
The Cave Singers – someone I was with said “this is good music to sit down to” and that was true.
The Acorn – had their moments. Worst stage banter of the weekend; “This place reminds me of Jaws … I guess it’s an average city in England huh?” - Silence
Harvey Milk – they were very loud. I liked it, but can’t ever imagine myself thinking “ooh I’d love to crack on that Harvey Milk album right now”
Beirut – Front loaded his set with all the hits which was annoying because I was getting a beer in a stupid place full of people taking up all the bar-time buying coffees.
Marnie Stern – I liked the fret-tappy songs more than the other ones. Bass Lady had inappropriate stage banter. What would her mother say if she knew?


Shearwater – Another good band for sitting down. I do mean that in a good way. Sometimes it’s nice to sit down.
Future Of The Left – weird seeing them on a massive stage during daylight hours. Felt like half of Cardiff was there watching them. Some man in a ludicrous hoodie got berated and Kelson threw sweets at people in a slightly menacing way. I bought a tshirt.
!!! – didn’t watch much of this. If it had been on a bit later I might have been into it more.
Parts And Labor – not quite as good as I remember them being on record (have only heard them a couple times) but I enjoyed it more as the set progressed.
Spiritualized – I sent my friend a text going “I’m watching that drugs band you like” and he replied going “which one? They’re all drugs bands”
The Mae Shi – The perfect band for that precise moment in my life. They Do This All The Time.
The Jesus Lizard – One of them classic bands that I’ve never really ‘got round to’ investigating. This will be remedied.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


So I've decided to start running. I'm basically quite thin but I've got a bit of a pot belly and this hit home the other day when I was having troubles finding a suit jacket that fitted my slim shoulders without being stretched across my gut. So yesterday I ventured into a sports shop and kitted myself out. I think I now know how my friend Shane feels when he goes into a delicatessen.

So anyway, off I ran. Wearing trainers that aren't Converse/Converse imitation (for the first time since The Strokes released This Is It), and tracky bottoms (for the first time since ummm... primary school).

Week 1 on my training schedule is 1-1-2-2-1-1 with 2 minutes of fast walking between each section of running. It doesn't sound like much but my fitness is basically at about 0%, so the 2 minute stretches were a bit of a push. Did it though, so that's something! I even sorted my route out so that the final 1 minute stretch was uphill! AND I was carrying extra weight because I had my work clothes stuffed into a rucksack. Go me.

My leg aches a little bit now. Knee feels fine though. That's what I was mainly worried about. Well, that and bumping into someone I know. Which also didn't happen. Another small victory.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

At The Pictures: In The Loop

Saw this big screen spin-off of the superb The Thick Of It the other day. Can’t remember the last time I laughed so much at a modern comedy film – it was possibly South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut.

It’s essentially about the run up to the invasion of Iraq, though it never uses that country’s name, and how a government minister gets spun into the debate against his will. As a piece of satire it doesn’t really have much new to say, though the observations of how British politicians turn into slightly embarrassing fan boys when meeting their American counterparts were great – the Minister and his aide riding in a limo going “this is fucking cool” and calling their mates to brag about it. Where the film excels is in its use of language. The insults are so innovatively aggressive; from pub banter up to Ministerial meetings. Anyone who says that swearing isn’t 'big' or 'clever' really needs to see it.

Special mention go out to the character of Jamie, who’s beckoned into the picture with a flourish almost deserving of pantomime, raising a cheer in the hearts of anyone who enjoyed his ‘iPod rant’ from the Thick Of It special; Rise Of The Nutters.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Pizza Slice: Prezzo (Tre Gusti)

Welcome to my new pizza feature where I review pizzas (which I love).

Had my first visit to a Prezzo restaurant last Wednesday. I was quite excited because they’ve got a fairly proper looking pizza oven plonked at the back of the modernly furnished room. I was getting a little anxious because we had to sit in the little waiting area for what felt like ages despite the fact that there were at least 4 empty tables, and other diners leaving on a regular basis.

Anyway, we eventually got our seat and I scanned through the menu. I opted for the Tre Gusti, which features pepperoni, chicken, pancetta, and fresh rosemary. I didn’t really notice the rosemary now that I think about it, and it really needed a vegetable of sorts in there as well, olives or something. The base itself was good mind, the pizza oven gave a nice ever-so-slight charring, but on the whole the pizza lacked any level of comfort. The ladyfriend had a vegetarian thing with leeks, gorgonzola, and a perfunctory amount of olives.

Overall Rating – 5.8

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Record Store Day

I was chuffed as beans to be asked to DJ in Spillers as part of Record Store Day. There's only about 300 independent record shops left in the UK now (down from a few thousand!) which is a real shame. They provide such a great service and i hate the way our towns and cities are becoming so identikit.

Here's what I played:
  1. Animal Collective - Fireworks
  2. War On Drugs - Taking The Farm
  3. Abe Vigoda - Dead City
  4. No Age - Teen Creeps
  5. The Mae Shi - Lamb And Lion
  6. Dananananaykroyd - Some Dresses
  7. Oxford Collapse - The Birthday Wars
  8. Dinosaur Jr - Been There All The Time
  9. Jay Reatard - You Mean Nothing To Me
  10. Deerhunter - Nothing Ever Happened
  11. The Thermals - No Culture Icons
  12. Wolf Parade - I'll Believe In Anything
I meant to play Jay Reatard's slightly bonkers cover of Fluorescent Grey (by Deerhunter) but I 'queued up' the wrong track. Durrrr.

I also bought the two Sonic Youth split singles (one with Beck and one with Jay Reatard) that Matador have put out to celebrate the day, and I got the new Spillers tshirt as a gift for "DJing" (I was going to buy it anyway). I wanted to go and see Truckers Of Husk's instore but I got lazy and the Blues were winning at the egg, so I've stayed home instead.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Dananananayrkoyd - 29/3/2009 @ Clwb

Saw Danan at Clwb and enjoyed every second. I love the way they strip hardcore of all its meat-headedness and just keep the "we're all in this together" communal stuff. Breaking down the invisible barrier between band and audience. Their new 'thing' is to play some repetative programmed beats and have a breakdancing party in the middle of the crowd. Crowd was really into the whole show, especially for Cardiff (on a Sunday!). Impromptu Wall of Cuddles and everything. Nice seeing a band trying their best to entertain and the people reacting to it positively.

Decided earlier today (when walking up the stairs to the canteen in work) that the ultimate gig ever for fun would be Danan, The Mae Shi, and Les Savy Fav. Imagine it!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

I just finished reading The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (who, it turns out, is John le Carre's son). I really enjoyed it. It's very geeky. Pirates, ninjas, kung fu, mime artists, truckers, soldiers, and corporate lackeys all thrown together in a post-apocalyptic satire of the Iraq war. Of sorts. The writing is very kinetic. Words spin and ricochet off the page, turn down dead-ends and head off on tangents. Quite breath-taking really.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Been waiting ages for this. Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. I have a vivid memory of reading the Welsh language translation a lot when I was little, sat cross-legged on the carpet of Mrs Williams classroom. I don't really remember what happens though I do remember the feel of the paper. Child goes off to the land of the monsters, becomes their king, and then goes home?

The puppet work looks lovely in the film, so glad they didn't use computery animations.

Photo Test

I'm only really doing this as a test. It's a photo I took on holiday in Canada. It came out wrong but I like it. I think I was trying to get an ultra-touristy shot of the Greek street signs.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Amazon Recommends - 24/03/2009

I’m a bit obsessed with Amazon Recommendations. Here is my Top 15 ‘things’ that reckons I should spend money on (and my ‘thoughts’ on each one).

#1 - Generation Kill - Complete HBO Series [DVD] – I will definitely be buying this at some point. Because, like everyone else on the internet, I loved The Wire.
#2 - Homicide: Life on the Street - Season 1 [DVD] – More Wire related. I’m curious to see this. Found the Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets book really fascinating.
#3 - Netherland by Joseph O'Neill [Book] – I think this won an award or something. It’s about someone playing cricket in New York (and probably Nine-Eleven).
#4 - 30 Rock - Season 1 - Complete [DVD] – I caught the first couple episodes of this on one of the Channel 5 spin-offs. It seemed quite amusing. Would like to watch.
#5 - Dark Was The Night: Red Hot Compilation [CD] – has a couple of ‘exclusive’ tracks by bands I like on. The National. Arcade Fire. Probably some other people.
#6 - Gomorrah [DVD] – All the reviews for this said it was ace and really brutal and non-glamorising (uglifying?) and generally Worth Watching.
#7 - Generation Kill by Evan Wright [book] – If it wasn’t for the Wire connection I probably wouldn’t be interested in this. Will watch the series first and then see.
#8 - Fuckin A - The Thermals [CD] – I have the other albums on vinyl (and the new one on ‘t-shirt’). I want this on vinyl. I can’t find it on vinyl for less than £40!
#9 - Saint Dymphna - Gang Gang Dance [CD] – I don’t really know anything about these. Bloggy hype. Plan B cover stars.
#10 - In Ear Park - Department of Eagles [CD] – I saw Grizzly Bear once. It was good actually. I never investigated further, and so I’ve not heard this off-shoot either.
#11 - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand [CD] – Used to love ‘the Franz’. Quite liked the comeback single too. Not bothered at all about this. Might even tick it as ‘not interested’.
#12 - Where You Been: Remastered & Expanded - Dinosaur Jr [CD] – This Band Could Be My Life. Will get round to buying this eventually I’m sure.
#13 - The Corner (HBO Mini Series) [DVD] – More from the Wire family tree. I’ve got the book on pre-order already.
#14 - Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates [book] – Classic Book. Not really interested in it. I’m judging that purely on the film trailer, which seemed to be 2 people being miserable in a house.
#15 - Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Pains Of Being Pure At Heart [CD] – More bloggy hype. Another band I’m mentally cataloguing under “A Bit Like Vivian Girls”. They probably sound nothing like Vivian Girls.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Animal Collective and Japanese Food (Bristol)

Last night I went to see Animal Collective in Bristol. Amazingly, we only got lost once on the way. What was really amazing was that the 'wrong turn' I took actually got us to exactly where we wanted to be but we didn't realise this until we looped back around to get 'back on course'.

Found a nice Japanese restaurant and I had an increasingly firey beef ramen* which I really enjoyed.

First time I'd ever seen Animal Collective despite enjoying their music for a good few years so I was looking forward to it. Bits of it were great. They did 'Chores' really slowly and then at normal speed, which was brilliant, and they ended the main set on a killer double-punch of 'Fireworks' and 'Brothersport', but other than that I found the whole thing a little flat. I just didn't connect with it in anyway, and by the end of the encore I was a little bored and itching to get home. Maybe it was just a Sunday thing? I'd still go and see them again I suppose.

* - Here's a vid of someone eating ramen (side note: quite difficult to YouTube search for 'Ramen' without finding loads of emo music vids) :

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Home Style Chicken Curry by Atul Kochhar

Just made THIS* chicken curry from a recent Observer Food Monthly and it was very nice. Simple to make though I did add a little bit of water to help break the tomatoes down a little. Didn't think to take a photo, we've got enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow though. Tactical move.

I went to Atul Kocchar's restaurant Benares for my birthday last year. It was pretty amazing. When the waiter collected my empty (wiped clean) plate he told me that it was "an inspiration to the Chef" which I was pretty chuffed with until I realised he said it to everyone. Everyone except the woman on the table next to us who only took about 3 mouthfuls. Idiot.

* - it's #3 on the the list.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

ATP: The Fans Strike Back - Voting Round 2

I can't really remember who I voted for in the first round, but here are my votes for round 2.

  1. Deerhunter
  2. Mudhoney
  3. The National
  4. Dinosaur Jr
  5. Liars
I had hoped to vote for the Thermals but they're busy touring in the 'States'.

Here's a live video of Deerhunter I found on YouTube