Sunday, July 30, 2006

Clean Shaven ?

Still Ilkley Moor Burns

Although the firefighters and a helicopter were working away all through Friday and Saturday, and despite some steady rain last night, the moor still seems to be burning today.



This was taken at midday on Saturday, the pall of smoke is so heavy it looks like dusk is drawing close.



The smoke is now right down to the River Wharfe, you can hardly see the main part of Ilkley on the south side of the river.



Mid afternoon, it smells strongly of smoke all through the clubhouse, we're at least a mile and half from the seat of the fire, there are people saying that the smoke could be seen and smelt over in Guiseley.





The only up side of the fire, the smoke drifting up the valley makes for some nice atmospheric photos.

The fire still appears to be burning tonight, Sunday, no sign of the helicopter today. I'm having a walking day tomorow, setting off early and doing some hills and ridges around Mallerstang, assuming the moors are open.
Staffspotting on MySpace



'Evil' Steve, really, could he look any more Emo than that ? Hi, I really love Fall Out Boy, writing poetry and walking in the rain. Wht's the best thing about having an Emo lawn ? It cuts itself!



Hmm, I actually only employ one of these girls, but I'm sure I could find a postition for the others.....

Have a nice time in Venice Steve, Clair and April, see you all in a week.
It's Like A War Zone Up There

You see, I'm not exactly a natural on camera, so when I said obn Look North that the fire atop Ilkley Moor resembled a war zone, I meant that it was rather blackened and denuded of vegetation, not that there were Israeli fighter jets screaming overhead firing rockets at innocent and terrified fleeing civilians and murdering women and children.

Tony Blair, thou art truly thy master's creature, you horrible cowardly little man.

Ceasefire now please.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ilkley Moor Is Burning

For three or four days now, Ilkley Moor has been burning. Light winds have driven the fire from its starting point near Long Ridge close to the Northern end of the High Moor plantation, the fire has now moved across a large swathe of moor burning Crawshaw Moss, Heber Moss, Bare Hill and is now burning the old Hollin Hill Peat Pit area.



This was the view from Ilkley Golf Club last night, you can see smoke rising from a large area of the moor.





Burnt ground at Long Ridge End (086464), but turn around and you see this.....



So the moor isn't devastated at this end at least, but there is a lot of damage.



Further along, here is a pall of smoke rising from the leading edge of the fire close to Keighley Road.





Firefighters trying to damp down the flames on the leading edge.





This is the fire creeping across the line of grouse butts which lie parallel (just West of) to Keighley Road. A this moment the wind picked up driving the flames on and pushing the smoke down across the moor, time to beat a hasty retreat.

On the way down I got interviewed on camera for this evening's Look North, don't be surprised if I don't make it to the final edit though, I'm a face made for radio.
Bad Food Britain Cont.

4) Renaissance Restaurants.

In this chapter Blythman looks at various aspects of British dining out culture, what we expect from our top chefs, how menu's in Britain are put together, how we manage to corrupt the cluniary styles of other countries, an what we expect our children to eat.

Blythman mentions Heston Blumenthal, oh yes, we've all heard his name, we know of the Fat Duck and its snail porridge and bacon and egg ice cream, the pinnacle of British cuisine, or so it is claimed by various sections of the foodie media. Yet we are not theonly country to have restaurants that seem to blend science and cookery in such a way, the Fat Duck seems to take its inspiration from Spain's El Bulli or even Napa's French Laundry. This triumph of style combined with skill is not restricted to Britain.

We are probably all aware of the British effect on other cuisines, the authentic tikka massala, stodgy battered sweet and sour and the downright odd stuffed crust and other novelty pizzas offered by the chains. I think here though Blythman seeks to deny some aspects of our heritage, we are an island nation, our borders open to imports, ideas and immigration.

Immigration has played a vital and positive role in shaping our post WW2 culinary history. Incomers from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and the Windies came to Britain and brought their home cuisine with them, often, in order to market it to the British palette they combined their own styles with aspects of British cookery to produce a hybrid. Thus you shouldn't be surpirsed when travelling to find that your restaurant favourites are unheard of in their 'home' countries.

This in itself isn't such a bad thing, we should understand our culinary heritage, but it should not be a static, immoveable thing.

Menu's in many British restarants, especially 'gastro-pubs' can be an awful hodge-podge of dishes from around the world, cooked in vast processing plants, blast frozen, delivered by Brakes, defrosted and warmed up by 'cooks' who can't make pastry or bread from scratch.

I've had a quick flick through my menu's to see if they look at all regional, English or British.

Home made soups (although I do tend to make a lot of Tomato&Basil and French Onion)
home made chicken liver pate
Yorkshire Puddings with Onion Gravy
smoked trout with horseradish
salmon cakes with lime salsa
warm tart of roasted peppers and brie
smoked haddock with spanach and cheddar sauce
chargrilled chicken ceasar salad

beef casserole with stilton dumpling
braised lamb shank with rosemary
roast chicken with sage and onion stuffing
trio of pork sausages, mustard mash, onion gravy
grilled salmon fillet hollandaise
deep filled steak and kidney pie
parsley coated salmon with roasted onion, garlic and tomato sauce
boiled Yorkshire ham with parsley sauce
braised shin beef with mushrooms, tarragon nd red wine

Plus our very popular carveries of English Top Rib of Beef and English Pork

For desserts, we tend towards traditional fruit pies, crumble, roly poly, rice pudding, meringues etc.

Broadly then, I present a fairly traditional British menu with the odd add on from elsewhere. The menu is a bit skewed towards meaty/blokey stuff, but all male golfing groups are my main customers.

It is though almost impossible to find a restaurant serving good British fare here in Britain, not so in France, Italy, Germany and Spain where the majority of restaurants serve their traditional cuisine. This is a shame, our cuisine is large, encompassing all manner of meat, game, fish and seasonally grown veg and fruit. We have a large number of great traditional dishes, but many lie almost forgotten and unconsidered by chefs, only ever placed on a restaurant menu if they are given a 'modern twist'.

Here are a few great British dishes we should see a bit more often on restaurant menu's....

Bacon, Liver and Onions
savoury ducks
faggots
haggis
pressed tongue
potted shrimps
cumberland sauce
rum dog
rabbit pie
tatie-pot
Oxford Johns
likky pie
braised cabbage
braised oxtail
skate with capers
salt cod
kedgeree
jugged hare
devilled kidneys
slated or brined brisket, or fresh boiled
salmon with cucumber sauce
tea brack
kendal wigs
brawn
potted cheese
beef wellington
bacon chops with gooseberry sauce
caudle pie
tripe and onions
soles in coffins
White Moss Cumberland nicky
damson tansy
whim wham
curd tart
bakewell tart
fools and syllabubs
Eccles cakes

Lastley in this chapter Blythman asks if we would go out to a nice restaurant and pay for a reformed, ground up, high salt, high fat, processed, battered chicken shape ? And if you wouldn't then why the hell would you feed this sort of crap to your children ?

If children are brought up from a young age on poor quality, additive filled, processed food then they will not recognise, and will rebel against, proper food when they are taken to decent places to eat. We have all seen this in restaurants both home and abroad, and those of us who travel abroad will also have noted how whole famailes of French, Italians and Spanish dine out together and how their children eat just the same as the adults.

Virtually no other country in the world expects their children to eat the sort of rubbish that millions of British parents (and caterers, and at school dinners) feed their children on, all over Europe, kids eat what their parents eat.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A New Chef

So, Evil Steve leaves in a few weeks to pursue a new career in mental nursing (70% of last year's qualified nurses are still without employment in our better than ever health service), wish him good luck, he's going to need it.

I've had some adverts running and have whittled the apllicants down to two, what do you think....

James

or

Rachel ?
Staff Spotting, or, Found on MySpace



Here's Jessica, or Prinzess Jezzkaaa! as she calls herself in teenspeak, and yes, certainly not old enough to be holding that large cocktail.




Robyn, Clafairy, Mr and Mrs Brown (aka Clafairy's parents) and as yet unidentified blind drunk girl.

There will be more when MySpace is back up.
Star Trek and the Holy Grail
Buy Your Moleasses Here



(Nicked from Happy Toast)
Book Review : Bad Food Britain - Joanna Bythman****



This isn't going to be a book review per se, more a series of commentaries on Blythman's book via my own experiences as a chef of 25 years.

Let's have some groundwork first. I'm 39, 5'11", I'm overweight* and have been since my early 20's, before that, I was so thin you could count my ribs. Six years ago, so age 32/33, I was the heavest I have ever been, I was a pound or two under 17 stone, to day I'm a pound or two under 14 stone, but I'd still like to be thinner.

*Along with 50% of the UK population.

My weight loss is statiscally remarkable, research shows that 80%+ of people who lose significant amounts of weight regain it within the next 5 years.

Other things about me, I do quite like exercise. I love long walks up moors and fell, I'm a member at the local gym where I'm a bit obsessive about long distance rowing - I don't feel I've exercised properly unless I have done at least 10k, I like doing a bit of weights, I quite like a swim.

I also love reading, lots of lazt sprawled on the settee for hours on end reading, and I love my computor, my blog, scrobbling, and general mucking about.

My main problems regarding my weight though are twofold, I love food, I love booze. Combine the two, a bottle of wine and a curry or donner kebab, followed by a hangover day with a full fried breakfast, sandwich and chips lunch and possibly another takeaway dinner if I can't be bothered cooking after work.

Here are some foods I really like....

Wine
Lager and ale
Single Malt Whisky
Bombay Gin

Meat, well cooked and rare, and I love all he worst bits, salty chicken skin, pork crackling, roast beef fat.
Fish and chips
Roast potatoes, all potatoes really, sautee, dauphinois, mash, baked, new
Chocolate, usually dark, made into any kind of dessert and served with cream
Cheese, mature cheddar, stilton, brie, pretty much all cheese really
Pizza
Donner kebab
Chinese takeaway, and curry
KFC, oh yes, I can't stand McDonalds, but you can always entice me into a KFC
Bacon, crispy, in a buttered bread roll with fried mushrooms, two of, for breakfast
Haggis, sausages, black pudding, pate, rillettes
Posh ice cream, Haagan Daaz Double Choc
Biscuits, sweet and crunchy

Sounds bad so far, but I also love......

Olives, I think I'm addicted, spanish olives and a glass of fino sherry, lovely.
Nearly all veg, veg makes a rounded dinner, but, if brocolli is nice, then brocolli in a a cheddar sauce is nicer.
Fruit
Most salads, except raw tomatoes
Decent bread
Pasta
Cous-cous
Rice

I like crunchy texture in food, chips, batter, roast potatoes, crackling, biscuits, toast (with butter and honey), rosti.

My mother taught domestic science, she taught me to cook all the basics, I did three years at a good catering college (Thomas Dandy - Leeds) to get my City&Guilds qualifications.

We opened a restaurant at the pub, me and Mum taught ourselves to cook Chinese from Ken Hom, and just about anything else from Robert Carrier, alongside prawn cocktails, steaks and bought in black forect gateaux.

I have worked in a number of pubs/restaurants doing passable but never prizewinning English/Euro/World cookery. Most of the places I have worked in did pretty well, I'm happy with the meals I produced at the Red Lion (albeit in a very rough and ready teenage learning style), the Black Horse (also thanks to Adam), The Boathouse and Ghyllbeck and even in my time doing industrial catering at Allders and a brief agency stint at an old folks home.

I have had two bad jobs, one at a pub on an estate in Harrogate, another at The Office in Bradford which due to a social revolution on Lumb Lane found itself smack in the middle of Bradford's red light area, not conducive to pulling in fine cuisine punters.

To the book then.

1) Fantasy Food

Blythman argues well that we Brits prefer watching our celebrity chefs on TV to doing any actual cooking ourselves. We are bombarded with foodie media, celeb chefs, restaurant and wine reviews, Ready Steady Cook, The F Word, Ramsey's Kithcne Nightmares, Floyd Gets Drunk And Cooks.

And yet, we eat out more and more, buy more snacks than all the rest of Europe combined* and buy more ready meals than anyone else bar the Americans.

2) How Others See Us / Brit Food

"Chips with everything"

Recently I did a menu for a large group, home made chicken liver pate with red wine and peppercorns, rocket salad, fresh made cheese and onion loaf, roasted parsley crust salmon, new potatoes, spicy carrot salad, ceasar salad, green salad, strawberry meringues.

Nice, simple, tasty, good. Except when the organiser phoned me and said "Let's change the new potatoes for chips".

Virtually every country in Europe thinks our cuisine is poor, that we have no knowledge of our own culinary history, that individually we have no knowledge of basic cookery or how to put together s simple, wholesome meal, and mostly, they are correct.

Our knowledge of our own food culture and history is awful. Most children leave school almot unable to produce for themselves a decent, nourshing meal made from fresh ingredients.

If you asked a British child to tell you about scones, crumble, suet pudding, scotch eggs, haggis, pease pudding, cottage pie, lancashire hot pot, savoury ducks, Yorkshire puddings, bread and butter pudding, roly poly, syllabub, summer pudding, hash, jugged game, how many could describe or cook such an item ? Not many I'll warrant.

The French as a nation are not so ignorant of rillette, coq-au-vin or tarte tatin, nor are the Spanish unable to concoct gazpacho or paella, why then have we Brits so nearly completely lost touch with our culinary heritage ?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Captions ?

Walking Yorkshire : Ilkley, Thruscross

I want to do the Three Peaks as I did not manage last year due an ongoing back problem, however, my wonderful physio seems to have cured me so there's nothing to stop me this year, except for customers, staff, fire and flood etc.

This was to be a fast paced (for me anyway) training walk, to see how much distance I could cram in.

It was quite hot yesterday, I lathered myself with sun cream and popped my favourite straw hat on my bonce bfore setting out from home, my target, lunch at Thruscross Reservoir.

Within minutes of begining the steady climb up Hardings Lane I'm pouring with sweat, later on the gentle ascent of Round Hill (122535) I'm sweating so much that it has soaked my heat and is dropping steadily off the edge of its brim. Drink plenty then.



The Stations of the Cross at the entrance to the retreat at Myddleton.



The (gas ?) pipeline being laid acroos the moors to the North of Ilkley, here it is cutting across Parks Lane. Moments later that bloke notices me climbing across the pipe and comes over to tell me off.



I know it will green over fairly quickley when it rains again, but it is an ugly swathe across the hillsides at the moment.



I can't see why they have cut down so many trees above Denton, they look to have cut down a large copse to one side of where the pipeline runs, the trees didn't seem to be intefering with the route of the pipe.



A Lynx helicopter flies past whilst I'm striding across Blubberhouses Moor.



A peacock butterfly feeding on thistle flowers alongside Kex Gill Road near Blubberhouses Quarry (143557), there was quite a lengthy stand of thistles and they were alive with hundreds of butterflies, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Large Whites, Peacocks and Orange Tips, it was very pretty.



I stopped for a quick picnic lunch at Thruscross Dam ( 155574), tried to dry out my sopping t-shirt in the sun for half an hour, then pressed on down the Washburn Valley to Blubberhouses, up Rues Lane then across Timble and Denton Moors.

It was very hot, but I was sensible, kept applying the sun cream and didn't get burnt, I also didn't take that many more photos, I was just keen on getting back home for a cold drink and a cool shower.

I did just a fraction shy of 18 miles in 7 hours with a break for lunch, the Three Peaks is roughly 25 miles with, obviously, three peaks to climb, that's ok, I should be able to manage that. I've provisionally set a date of Sept 2nd, I may need some kind soul to drive me home again though, my legs might well have packed in after all that walking.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hey Baby, I'm Gonna Strip Just For You

You know how it is, you decide to perform a hot, half naked dance routine on your webcam for your boyfriend, and at the worst possible moment your Mum walks in.

Slightly NSFW, but isn't Mum great!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I Know It's Hot, But Say It Again And I'll Have To Kill You

By the time the 1000th person has come into the bar, mopped a bead of sweat from their brow and said "Gosh, it's hot," my patience may well snap, I may well vault said bar and violently assault the sayer of the bleeding obvious with a blunt instrument.

I know it's hot, alright.

I know it's hot because I work in a kitchen, when you're sat in the garden sipping an iced Pimms (and let's face facts lads, you do look rather gay holding a pint of pink fruit salad), I'm in front of the range, ovens belching raw dry heat, pans of various liquids venting steam and the ever present menace of the eyebrow removing eye level grill.

In the icy depths of winter, the kitchen can be uncomfortably hot on a busy session, in the middle of the current English heatwave (for people from hot countries, we start moaning about the heat at about 25 C) the kitchen can be just plain bloody awful.

At least Auntie Beeb is on our side though, during an article which featured various moaning buggers/Southerners complaining that their offices were 30 C and they were going to walk out because it was unfair to make them work in such conditions, the camera crew placed a thermometer in a restaurant kitchen where the temperature reached 55 C during a busy lunch service. No chefs walked out, that's 'cos we're all hard as nails, or rendered insane by the heat, one or the other.

List Of People Who Can Complain About The Heat

1) People in steel smelting plants
2) Firefighters putting out burning oil heads in Kuwait
3) Chefs
4) Nobody else at all
Captions ?


Slightly Late To Post....



Clicky for bigger.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Are You Sure You Are Who You Say You Are ?

Another phone conversation, the phone rings, I answer it.....

"Hello, Ilkley Golf Club kitchens."

Voice - "Oh, I wanted the pharmacy, where did you say you are ?"

YS - "Ilkley Golf Club kitchens."

Voice - "Are you sure ?"

YS (laughing in a slightly exasperated manner) - "Well, I can see ovens and grills and waitresses, it looks like a kitchen."

A pause.

Voice - "Well the man at 118-whatever said this was the pharmacy number, what is their number"

YS - "I don't know, sorry, have you tried the Yellow Pages ?"

Voice - "Yes I have, and I don't think you've been very helpful."

And he rings off, plonker! So that's it, don't phone the golf club looking for medical telephone numbers because I just won't help you at all.
I Just Don't Understand

A conversation between an employee of Nisbets and myself.

YS - "So you'll pick up the stock that was incorrect, and send out the stuff we actually wanted."

Nisbets - "Yes, the coffee pots will be sent out on Tuesday, and the pick up will be by ANC on Thursday."

YS - "Who is doing the delivery ?"

Nisbets - "ANC."

There is a pause.

YS - "Does that make any sense to you ?"

Nisbets = "I don't understand."

YS - "If the same company does the deliveries and returns, why don't they just pick the stuff up as they deliver ?"

There is another pause.

Nisbets - "That's just not how it works."

Anyway, the upshot was the driver did pick up the returns on the same van, and the coffee sets in the second delivery were the same as was sent first time around, i.e. the wrong stuff.

One step forwards, two steps back, the small business tango.
Drinking

The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks and gapes for drink again;
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair;
The sea itself (which one would think
Should have but little need of drink)
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
So fill'd the they o'erflow the cup.
The busy Sun (and one would guess
By 's drunken fiery face no less)
Drinks up the sea, and when he's done,
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun:
They drink and dance by their own light,
They drink and revel all the night:
Nothing in Nature's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses there -- for why
Should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why?

Abraham Cowley (1618-1667)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yorkshire Photo Of The Day



A bus in Sheffield.

If what you really want from a web page is lots of photos of buses, then pop across to Busphotos, they've got all the passenger transport action you can handle.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hit by Meteors ?

"You could say that Bell was unlucky to be run out by a direct hit from Inzamam, which is cricket's equivalent to being killed by a falling meteor while out walking the dog on Dartmoor."
Martin Johnson on Ian Bell's bad luck to be run-out by a swift-footed Inzamam in the second innings at Lord's.

(From Cricinfo)
Moorland Wildlife

We appear to be having another heatwave, huge blue skies, the sun baking down, the moors look green and enticing from my position on the valley floor. It is a bit quieter at work this week so I'm planning on getting a bit of hiking in if I can.

There are a few types of hiker that you come across on nearly every walk, here's what to look out for.

Jeans and Trainers Man
You checked all your equipment this morning, boots waterproofed, map in plastic case, compass ok, water tank filled, packed lunch prepared, extra rations of sweets and dried fruit just in case, waterproofs, hat, gloves and jumper just in case the weather turns, hiking pole at the ready.

You're just struggling up Scafell, the wind has picked up, low clouds are scudding across the summit. Your jacket is out of your pack and on your back, you're considering your wooly hat when jeans and trainers man appears, coming down from the summit.

He's oblivious to everything, he gives a cheery wave as he passes by, sometimes he'll ask for a swig of your water because the bottle of coke he had on the way ran out hours ago (you will find the empty bottle on the pathside further up). He looks at your gear quizzically, then he's off on his way down the mountain. He doesn't have a map so he just hopes to remember the way back to where he left his car.

It's a little known fact, but if Mountain Rescue get called out because one of these fools has fallen over in a hypothermic stumble and broken an ankle, the rescue team break the other ankle as a lesson before dragging them roughly off the hills.

Sprightly Octangenarian

The SO is secretly dreaded by all semi-serious hikers, it goes like this.....

You're dragging your out of shape, overweight body up the side of Pennyghent in the blazing sun, sweat is pouring from places you didn't know had sweat glands, you're out of breath, sunburnt and your eyes are burning because the sweat keeps washing the sunscreen into them. You are knackered. You stop for a breather and a mouthful of warm water, the view is pretty good from halfway up isn't it? You could stop here, take some pictures, then go back down and walk something flatter, now that sounds good.

"Morning !" Sprightly Octagenarian appears, he's not sweating much, he doesn't appear out of breath, as you stand melting into your boots he zips past and away up the slope. Bugger, now you'll have to go up.

Or this.....

Halfway up Great Gable, the wind is driving rain, clouds and lambs sideways across the hill. You've roped up for safety, in the middle of the party little Michelle part walks and part glides as the shrieking gale gets under her and lifts her bodily into the air, secured only by the two fat lads on the other ends of the rope.

As you get higher the rain peters out, then it is replaced by sleet and stinging hail, glasses wearers are now effectively blind. You only have a six inch square piece of map remaining, at the last stop to change over the wind distributed the rest of the map over half of Cumbria.

You stop for a dismal lunch of luke warm coffee and rain sodden sausage rolls.

"Are we giving up then ? We could be down the pub instead." There are general murmers of agreement, then...

"Morning! Bit blustery today." Sprightly Octagenarian appears out of the mist, flashes a grin, then strides on upwards into the sleet whistling happily as he goes.

Bugger. Now we'll have to go up.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Joke




Jacques Chirac, the French President, is sitting in his office when his telephone rings.

"Hallo, Mr. Chirac!" a heavily accented voice said. "This is Paddy down at the Harp Pub in County Clare, Ireland. I am ringing to inform you that we are officially declaring war on you!"

"Well, Paddy," Chirac replied, "Theez eez indeed important news! How big is your army?"

"Right now," says Paddy, after a moment's calculation, "there's meself, me cousin Sean, me next-door neighbour Seamus, and the entire darts team from the pub. That makes eight!"

Chirac paused. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 100,000 men in my army waiting to move on my command."

"Begorrah!" says Paddy. "I'll have to ring you back."

Sure enough, the next day, Paddy calls again. "Mr. Chirac, the war is still on. We have managed to get us some infantry equipment!"

"And what equipment would zat be, Paddy?" asks Chirac.

"Well, we have two combines, a bulldozer, and Murphy's farm tractor."

Chirac sighs, amused. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 6,000 tanks and 5,000 armored personnel carriers. Also, I have increased my army to 150,000 since we last spoke."

"Saints preserve us!" exclaims Paddy. "I'll have to get back to you."

Sure enough, Paddy rings again the next day. "Mr. Chirac, the war is still on! We have managed to get ourselves airborne! We have modified Jackie McLaughlin's ultra-light with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four boys from the Shamrock Bar have joined us as well!"

Chirac was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 100 bombers and 200 fighter planes. My military bases are surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I have increased my army to 200,000!"

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" says Paddy, "I will have to ring you back."

Sure enough, Paddy calls again the next day. "Top o' the mornin', Mr.Chirac! I am sorry to inform you that we have had to call off the war."

"Really? I am sorry to hear that," says Chirac. "Why the sudden change of heart?"

"Well," says Paddy, "we had a long chat over a few pints of Guinness, and decided there is no fookin' way we can feed 200,000 prisoners".
To Clarify

A Scanner Darkly

Good news! Philip K Dick's novel A Scanner Darkly has been made into a film, it comes out in the next couple of weeks.

Really, really bad news, it stars two pounds of chopped liver, or Keanu Reaves as you may know him.

Now that film animation has reached such fantatic levels of realism and believability, isn't it about time that the film industry did away with some bits of dead wood like Mr Reaves and Mr Bloom and instead replaced them with something more, well, animated.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

No Need To Diet

I usually don't go in for this sort of thing, but the delightful Ms Keira Knightley is looking a little thin, a little too thin in my opinion. She has always been a slight and lithe young thing, but it looks as if she's going a little bit too far at the moment.....



Here she is in March of last year, looking absolutely stunning.



And last month, huge eyes, huge lips, face looking shrunken and wan, Keira, eat something girl, seek some help.
Film Review : Pirates Of The Caribbean : Dead Man's Chest***



Bit 2 of Disney's park ride inspired trilogy follows closely the themes set in the first film, sea battles, Johnny Depp being odd, great special effects, but.....

Well, this film doesn't appear to have some of the verve and pazazz that the first one did, Depp's portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow was a piece of inspired lunacy in the first film, in this film film he appears forced and confused. Depp isn't helped by half of the cast, Keira Knightley turns in a very flat performance, and obviously Orlando Bloom turns in a flat performance because large chunks of dead tree can act better than Mr Bloom. Bill Nighy shines (albeit in unrecogniseable form) as Davy Jones and there are some decent supprting roles put in by Lee Arenberg and MacKenzie Crook as the bumbling comic pirate duo and Naomie Harris as the frightening but alluring Tia Dalma.

Dead man's Chest suffers from a bit of lack of direction though, as many middle sections of trilogies do, it wallows around a bit, not really making things clear and not really ever getting anywhere.



There are some good points though, there are some great action sequences, the special effects used for Davy Jones and his fishy crew are nothing short of astounding, but overall it appears as if director Gore Verbinski was just trying to cram two or three too many ideas into one film.

At just over two and half hours you might think you were getting value for money, but so many of the films ideas are repeated over and again.
How Climate Change Could Cripple African Agriculture



From Thursday's Independant.

So how about we all help out a little, change a few lightbulbs in your home/work for low energy ones, don't use standby - turn it off, recycle, be greener.
Food Miles and Miles and Miles

I was interested to see this advert in the Indy this week.



Country Life English Butter (when did they add the 'English' to it's name ?) scoring a big food miles point over it's rival Anchor Butter. Fair enough, why are our supermarket shelves flooded with foreign foods that we can produce just as well at home ? Look after our farmers and producers, help the environment, buy British / fresh / local.
England Looking Good

3 centurions in one innings, when did that last happen, they managed to make Pakistan's attack look fairly pedestrian. It's a shame for Bell that he is almost certain to be dropped for the next test, but well done to Bell, Cook and especially Collingwood.

Steve Harmison looked good once he had got the first over under his belt, fantastic economy and good penetration, might he be eyeing the world #1 spot again ?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Special Bear Is Dead ?



Warren Ellis is a very strange man
Yorkshire Soul's Rambling Quiz Series 5.4
Answers & League

1)


The Great Day Of His Wrath - John Martin


2)


Medicine - Hygieia - Gustav Klimt

3)


No points, but it is Hell from The Gardens Of Earthly Delight - Bosch

4)


Study After Velazquez's Portrait Of Pope Innocent X - Francis Bacon

5)


The Mill - Rembrandt von Rijn

6)


Dead Sea - Paul Nash

7)


Michael Jackson and Bubbles - Jeff Koons

8)


Pearblossom Highway - David Hockney

9)


The Sea Of Ice : Wreck Of The Hope - David Freidrich

10)


The Ghost Of Vermeer Of Delft Which Can Be Used As A Table - Salvador Dali


This Week's Scores

Didier Depireux 18
MR 17
Eleanor 14
Mr Moosehead 12
Saeri 8

5.4 League Table
1) MR 40
2) Eleanor 39
3) Mr Moosehead 34
4) Saeri 33
5) Dider Depireux 18
6) Penny Farthing 16
7) Chez 14
8) Tony G 13
9) Dan Munchie 12
9) Ben Spellman 12
11) Squirt 9
12) Electric Landlord 8
13) Dr P 8
14) Matt M 7