Thursday, April 30, 2009

Weekend of Excellence

The view from one of my favourite places on Earth

I had a pretty amazing weekend. T was away with friends so I was free to play all the guitar I wanted. I did sate my guitar needs but I also managed to see my first cricket match of the new season which was a lovely day out on Saturday even if the game itself ended up coasting to a dull draw. The added bonus was that despite apocalyptic weather forecasts it remained dry all day so sitting outside was very pleasant. I treated myself to fish and chips on my way home and managed to time my arrival at the chippy to perfection as a fresh batch of both fish and chips were just coming out of the fryer as I entered the door.

In the evening I watched a lot of Bob Dylan footage and the Dylan documentary "Don't Look Back" before settling down to watch another documentary,this time a surf one, called "Crystal Voyager". I'd found out about this movie through a CD purchase I'd made earlier in the week. I love surf music and I love stoner psychedelia rock too. For this reason "Chairman of the Board - Surf Soundtracks '64 to '74" leapt out at me and I had to have it. Having loved the music I found that one of the films featured was available on DVD and one Amazon visit later "Crystal Voyager" was winging its way to me.

The film is great, the first two thirds are a reasonable matter of fact documentary about surfer and film-maker George Greenough and his attempt to build a yacht for sailing to places too remote for others to try and surf. That was fascinating enough but the last third of the film, which is separate from the rest of the movie is a 23 minute short of abstract footage shot from within the tube of waves and under water. Greenough made a camera mount he could wear on his back whilst surfing and it was using this that he got the footage. The music for that last sequence is "Echoes" by Pink Floyd and the sound and picture complement one another perfectly. Awesome movie, I completely recommend it.

On Sunday I cleaned and tidied the flat and then in the evening I walked up to Camden to see Bob Dylan play the Roundhouse. I'd never seen him before and apparently this was the smallest gig he'd played in about a decade. The music was great although the more successful songs were the more modern ones that played to the Tom Waits style growling delivery which is all his voice is capable of these days. His band is a rootsy, rock and roll, bluesy type outfit and on the newer tracks the whole sound, including Bob, were amazing. He played "All Along the Watchtower" as an encore which was extra special because Hendrix played a really noted gig at The Roundhouse so there was a real sense of history to it. It's a bit bizarre to me that songs like that were written. They seem so much part of our culture that must surely have always been. The idea that this little old geezer on stage in front of me created those things out of nothing is a bit magical. It was a great end to a great weekend.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Magazine Title FAIL

Magazine title FAIL, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

Nothing to add. Amused me no end.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Little Frangipane Tarts

Little Frangipane Tarts, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

These little tarts were made from a recipe by James Martin. I used my own sweet short-crust pastry methods though. I used the 4 silicone baby flan tins I got for my birthday for the first time and they worked a treat when it came to turning the tarts out. The filling is frangipane with prunes; a really tasty combination. The other good thing about using the silicone was that I could turn them out earlier than I could with a traditional metal tin meaning that they could cool in the air thus preventing a soggy pastry which sometimes happens if the tarts spend too much time in the tins once they're out of the oven.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Future is Awesome and Now

My Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I have a confession to make. It's not a bad one but here goes. I bought an iPhone. Before anyone gets all judgemental I should point out that the 'phone it replaces is eight years old and was finally really beginning to show its age by refusing to hold much of a battery charge, switching itself off every now and again and generally just getting a little eccentric in its dotage. I have searched for 'phones for a long time now but none of them were smart enough to justify the extra expense or space that they take up to justify getting one. Finally my elderly Nokia became too senile and had to be retired. Enter the iPhone. I have to say I am incredibly impressed. Here is a device I can watch TV on, stream radio on, listen to my podcasts on, catch up with T.V episodes, keep tabs on the news, my e-mail, my calendar and and and. I was, and indeed am, slightly overwhelmed by it all and have been struggling to find some frame of reference for how exciting the ownership experience has been but Saturday finally provided it.

Having had lunch with T's family I was due to jump on a 'bus and head south of the river to Camberwell for a friend's birthday. I stopped off at Fortnum and Mason to get a cake as a gift and during the time I was in the shop a huge protest march of 100,000 angry Tamils had started past the front of the shop cutting off my route back. I had, at that time, no idea how big the march was, where it had started from nor where it was headed so I couldn't work out which way to walk and which 'bus to try and catch.

Enter the iPhone, or Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy as I'm now calling it. From the BBC website I was able to find out how big the march was going to be: answer - Huge. Damn. I was then able to find a map of the route the march was to take and from that using the mapping tools on the 'phone plan a route I could take to circumvent the protesters as efficiently as possible. Next I was able to look up which 'bus routes were affected and thus to plan the rest of my walk to get me to the one open bridge across the Thames that had a bus service of use to me. I reckon the iPhone saved me a good hour of aimless wandering and it meant I was only a few minutes late. Sometimes I really feel like I'm living in the future and it's amazing to me.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Great Way to Spend a Weekend

I had an absolutely fantastic weekend but only now have I the time to tell you about it. Due to varies diary conflicts T and I have not had a whole weekend together in an absolute age so merely to have time with my little buddy would have been plenty but there was much extra to enjoy. We got up a little late on Saturday and had a leisurely breakfast in a little local café. After that we went for a stroll, I bought a cheap vintage Cuban shirt and T got some pretty summer shoes. Once we got home we the weather took a turn fr the worse and became incredibly cold with occasional downpours of rain. Unfortunately we had to go out again though there was an excellent reason: we had tickets to see Metallica in the evening. T had never seen the band and the last time I saw them was 17 years ago, a fact that makes me feel very old. So we bundled ourselves up in our warmest coats and headed out into the late afternoon rain. Thanks to the usual foresight and planning that makes London Underground legendary, the Jubilee Line, the one with the gig venue's station on it, was closed and so we had a half hour walk followed by a 20 minute train ride to get us to the right area of town. Once we'd got to Greenwich we had to cross the semi-industrial wasteland that is the Greenwich peninsula to get the the O2 Arena. It's a strange place. Following the Millennium festivities there was a concerted effort to try and keep the area thriving and many new blocks of houses were built. As we walked through only a few seemed occupied and all of the local shops that had also been recently built were deserted. T commented it was a bit like walking through a disused Soviet holiday camp and I think that sums the place up.

Eventually, cold and soaked we got to the gig venue and once inside found our way to our seats. There were two support acts, The Sword, whom I adore, and Machine Head of whom I am not so fond. The Sword were on first and I thought played a great set to a scarcely quarter full hall. It's a 20 000 seat arena and yet, because the stage was in the centre and the bands played in the round, it felt really quite intimate: no need for giant TV screens here. After a short gap Machine Head came on stage and made a horrid racket for about 40 minutes. Thankfully they eventually finished up and off they went.

And then came Metallica. The lights dimmed and the strains of Ennio Morricone's "The Ecstasy of Gold" came over the P.A. Everyone went nuts and then the gig started the stage criss-crossed with beams of laser light from the ceiling. Metallica were just awesome, I cannot think of a better live band. They played for two hours and had every member of the audience in the palms of their mighty metallic hands. They played "Master of Puppets", my favourite song by them and entertained the crowd royally. T thinks it was the best gig she's ever seen. I don't know about that but I struggle to think of better.

We left the venue, grinning from ear to ear but determined not to return in the way we'd arrived. Fortunately we were able to get tickets for one of the Thames Clippers, a river-boat ferry service that runs from Greenwich to Westminster. It was a lovely end to an amazing evening to be whisked along the Thames seeing the city by night as we glided past.

On Sunday we got up late, ate a small breakfast and then took ourselves off to Andrew Edmunds, my favourite restaurant, for lunch. We managed to eat and drink for two hours and finally made it home in the middle of the afternoon. After a nap and some pottering around the flat we walked over to Shoreditch for a friend's birthday drinks. A great end to a perfect weekend.