Friday, 29 April 2016

Radio Friday: A Curious Sort Of Bird

Been a while since I did a Radio Friday post, but I've been listening to this an awful lot this week so figured I'd share. If nothing else, just check out what J. Wilgoose Esq. starts doing at 3:25. That is some fucking awesome talent, right there.

(The post can also serve as a buffer between Geek Syndicate links if I finish my write-up of "The Red Woman" before the final part of "Remember Tokyo".  Busy times at Casa del Squid.)

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Geek Syndicate Review: Harrow County Vol 2

In my latest for Geek Syndicate we take another trip into the bayous of Harrow County. It remains a pleasant place to visit, but you wouldn't want to die there...

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Adventures In Liverpool

The Mersey is wonderful, what the Tyne could be if it really put the effort in. We watched the sun set over it as we sat in Cargo Bar and Grill and ate a truly astonishing amount of seafood. They were doing some kind of promotion that apparently involved giving people far too much expertly-cooked fish, crustaceans and molluscs, and then cackling quietly as its sheer deliciousness forces you to eat it all anyway.  We went in not understanding why the place was so empty, and left having got it completely; everyone who turns up to eat there turns into a seal and swims down the river to start their new life.


"These chopsticks are rubbish."
"Those are straws, Ric."
"They gave me straws to tackle my ramen?"
"That's a gin cocktail."


Mango cider. How is mango cider a thing? And a thing so popular the pub we were in only had enough for half a pint less than 24 hours after hooking spile to pump, no less.

(This worked in my favour, I admit. That stuff was basically sugar dissolved in yellow alcohol. I could hear my pancreas and my liver yell "Oh, for fuck's sake!" simultaneously.)


There's something utterly brilliant about the Liverpool Maritime Museum and International Museum of Slavery having separate entrances that lead into the same entrance hall. It's both a comment on the stupidity of segregation and a reminder that the two topics are utterly inseparable. Liverpool's status as arguably the country's most important port in the 18th century cannot be disentangled from the massive amount of unimaginable human suffering

Both museums are fascinating, and depressing. You'd think the tone might lighten once you've been through the floor dedicated to slavery, but the maritime sections focus on the Titanic, the Lusitania, and the extended freezing misery of the war for the North Atlantic, so it's pretty much misery wall-to-wall. I mean, you should totally go, but bring tissues.

(There was one moment of strangeness when we along with three or four other people were sitting watching a video in which woman of colour told stories of slavery and we heard three of four other women laughing uproariously beside the photos of lynched slaves just outside. There was a brief moment in which we all glanced around at each other and, by mutual consent, decided not to go out and reprimand the presumed hen party (hell, who doesn't want to learn about the Middle Passage before tying the know?) and instead concentrate extra hard on the video instead. Because we were white British people, and that is how we deal with these things.)


The day after the museums of slavery and maritime disaster, we wandered over to the Liverpool Museum for some light relief. What we got was poverty, unemployment, labour theft and race-riots. So that didn't work.


I love food that doubles as social commentary. We found a creperie on Albert Docks we liked so much we had breakfast there both mornings. Our order of choice was the "breakfast brunch"; a combination of French and British cuisine. Well, I say "combination"; it was a delicious cheese and egg crepe (with herbs, when they could be bothered) that they then just dropped a slice of bacon and a hash brown on top of. "There you go, England. This is the kind of merde you like, non?"


It's never fun being woken at 6 in the morning by the people in the next room yapping on at ridiculous levels for over an hour. It's at times like this I wish I didn't have a pathological need to avoid confrontation (see also: International Museum of Slavery, inappropriate cackling within).

Fliss, who has much better hearing than I do told me the whole thing was basically some dude's attempt to get laid. Seventy-five minutes of negotiation! Have some pride, man. Just spend a few minutes pleasuring yourself and spend the rest of the time getting some work done. Or having a sleep.  Sleep looked pretty good right then.


"They've stopped talking."
"Yep. He finally got his sex."
"That's what all that was about?"
"Yes. Give him credit. It did work. Eventually."
"It did? I didn't hear anything."
"She moaned four times whilst you were having that wee."


There's a Beatles pub crawl in Liverpool that features 168 pubs. 168! I'm filing that under both "life goals".

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Geek Syndicate Review: House Of Penance #1

Up at Geek Syndicate, I talk about the opening issue of a new series that takes some very promising historical material and fully does it justice.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Remember Tokyo: A Calm Autumnal Sadness

The UN sits there.
Such power? Can't even leave
While screams sound back home.

"It's OK, people!"
Comes the call. "It's not zombies!"
"Oh. R'yleh's risen."

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.1.10 - "Diary Of Always" (Biffy Clyro)

It would be unfortunate to sully this series with a sudden reveal of myself as an unbearable hipster, but Biffy Clyro were so much more interesting before they got famous.

It's not that there's nothing to recommend their latter three albums. Indeed Puzzle and Opposites are both distinctly superior platters (Only Revolutions is a bit rubbish, mind). But it was with The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land that Biffy did their most interesting work. Both albums are bewildering collages of shifting texture, half a hundred concepts compressed to bursting point into barely more than a dozen tracks. There's a tremendous sense of velocity, of impatience. The goal must be to reach the next idea, no matter how good what's going on now.

But to contradict myself entirely (hey, I'm in hipster mode, how can I avoid hypocrisy?), the best moments of those discs are when you get to take a breath from the swirling madness, and just listen to a tune.

"Diary of Always" is a case in point; a rare instance of an early Biffy track that builds rather than repeatedly unspools. Elsewhere, the band's pop-rock sensibilities rub up uneasily against their heavy metal freak-outs. Here, though, the two ultimately run in parallel, with the song ending with Simon Neil's melancholy vocal floating above an almost-submerged unhinged screaming of the same lines. The result replaces the band's usual shifts from sorrow to anger and back again with the idea that one always lies underneath the other. Neil is sad about his inability to change, but he's furious about it too. By song's end, we're listening to two tracks playing side-by-side, each informing and reinforcing its partner Anger and sadness feeding each other as they turn.

It takes time for the fury to build, admittedly; it's not until almost two and half minutes in before the wail of filthy guitar announces what's coming. In part this is simply a part of the song's structure, a textbook execution of the building layers approach I've always been a sucker for. But beyond that, it serves as a reminder that anger is something you can jump-start with sufficient sadness, when enough layers of hurt are compressed under their own pressure into a hard, hot rage.

Sometimes this is therapeutic. Sometimes it is dangerous. Here, at least, it is simply rather beautiful.

But you wish we all could betray whom, Simon? WHOM?


Saturday, 9 April 2016

Life On The Virgin Islands

With apologies to Aaron Sorkin, Martin Sheen, and Tim Matheson.

Monday, 4 April 2016

A Tale Of Cocktails #60 (Easter Special)

Mini Egg Martini


3 oz vodka
2 oz chocolate liqueur1 1/2oz Irish cream

Taste: 8
Look: 5
Cost: 7
Name: 6
Prep: 6
Alcohol: 7
Overall: 6.7

Preparation: Crush a few chocolate mini eggs with a pestle and mortar. Rub the rim of a glass with honey, and press into crushed mini eggs.  Shake all ingredients with ice and strain. Add more mini-egg pieces and serve.

General Comments: OK, so I guess it doesn't look great. Maybe I should've used a less runny honey; the visual impact of pieces of brown chunks sliding down the inside of your glass, leaving glistening yellow/brown trails, is not necessarily a feast for the eyes.

But it tastes absolutely great. The cocktail itself is sweet and thick, though not too thick thanks to the vodka. Add in the chocolate and the honey, though, and you end up with what can best be described as a boozy Toblerone smoothie. If that isn't your thing than I quite simply don't think this blog, or this planet, has anything to offer you. Indeed, if this thing has a weakness, it's that the vodka thins things out too much. I can easily imagine myself playing around with the mix to provide more delicious gloopiness.  Or at least, I could if it wasn't such a bloody pain to make in the first place.

(And yes, I realise it's more than a week too late for this to really be an Easter special. I was ill as balls over the actual holiday. I'm celebrating on behalf of all the bunnies that didn't get any fucking in during the first week of spring because they were tucked up in their beds having weird dreams about Marxist Gundam suits, or whatever the lagamorphic equivalent is of same.)

Sunday, 3 April 2016


Introducing the New Adventures of the Patriarchy Patrol. Can they turn back the latest wave of terror brought on by the Social Justice Criminals? Read on to find out!