Recipes From Scratch.

I saw a story on the BBC that showed from research carried out by the UKTV Food channel that Briton’s can make 10 meals “from scratch” – IE: without the use of a recipe or cookbook.

Number one on the list was spaghetti bolognese. PER-LEASE! If you buy the sauce ready made, as I’m sure most people do these days, the recipe has three ingredients – sauce, pasta and mince. Ooh, hard!

Second on the list was a traditional roast dinner. Erm, again. What recipe *IS* there for that? Get a big slab of meat, or a chicken, whack it in the oven. Roast some potatoes, boil some vegies.

Third on the list was pot noodle. Forth was beans on toast.
LOL – NO! I’m kidding! But it might as well have been.

Some of them do get a little complex down the end of the list. Some people claim to be able to do a cottage pie from scratch with no recipe. That’s fairly bold.

At the end of the list was curry. I can’t help but think for some people who said “Yeah, I can make a curry from scratch.” that their list of ingredients would read:

1. One jar of korma sauce.
2. 500gm of chicken fillets.
3. 75gm of uncooked rice.
4. 15ml of olive oil.

Method:
Cook rice to instructions on packet.
Place oil in frying pan, heat. Add chicken, cook to brown, approx 8 minutes. Add korma sauce. Serve with cooked rice.

If they actually can make the sauces from scratch with no recipe to reference, they are better than I could ever be! I suppose if you’re Asian you might be able to do it, as it would be second nature to know what the sauces are made with and they’d be making them regularly.

Another was stir-fry. Well blow me down with a feather! That’s hard. Fry some meat, and a variety of chopped vegetables to your liking, then add some soya sauce, a bit of honey…viola!

Still, if people ARE cooking at home, and regularly enough not to need recipe guides, it can only be good.

Click here to read the story from the BBC.

Odd Juxtaposing Day.

I feel very drained today. We ventured out yesterday. Got this free bus travel around the region and have hardly used it so far. We just went to Stevenage again. There’s a pet store there that I wanted to go to. It’s quite large and they have lots of small animals for sale. Bunnies, guinea pigs, chinchilla’s, gerbils, as well as degu’s. One of the gerbils looked just like our little Banjie, and he came up to the glass to say hello to me! Too cute. And me and Em were both going gaga over all the lovely CAVEY’S!

Anyway, we didn’t go there for the fluffy creatures, we went there to try and get some replacement equipment for the fish tank. There’s a split in the under-gravel filter and we need to get a new one. Of course they didn’t have one! But we were able to get a replacement glass scraper/cleaner and we bought two tubs of this stuff they are selling, which is kind of like a chewy version of Bonito tuna flakes/Kitty Kaviar. I was really hoping Chris would like it, ‘cos she goes MENTAL over the Kitty Kaviar, but she’s not keen. The texture is too heavy and chewy. It’s not light, dry and flaky like the Kitty Kaviar. She kept investigating it, went to eat it a couple of times, but then stopped. I just don’t think she likes the texture. BUM!

Anyway, while in Stevenage, we checked out Aldi and we got a little tray of mini Ritter Sport’s chocolates. Em got all dark chocs and marzipan, and I got all milk chocs with different centres.

And the local Tesco has an in-store Krispy Kreme counter, so I got my big Easter treat of a dozen original glazed doughnuts!!! YUM!

We went back to Hitchin for a while. We got some flower and vegetable seeds from the 9TP (where everything is 90p – hence the name. Cute pun!) shop. 15 packs of seeds for 90p! Then we got a couple of fruit tree/shrub/plants from another discount store. We got one blackberry and one blackcurrant for £2 each.

Anyway, on to today. As a result of yesterday’s adventures, I feel TRULY knackered. My legs started to hurt before we got home. By the time we were home, they’d died. My feet were aching like mad, and at that point, once I’ve rested, for next 36 hours, I find it incredibly uncomfortable to put any weight on my legs. They just ached and throbbed in bed all last night.

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I didn’t want to put weight on my legs and feet. I stayed in bed until 11.30am, then I knew I had to get up. Luckily I did, as my “friends” had just arrived and left a spot on my underwear – GODDAMNIT!! Just to add insult to injury, they arrive!

So, it’s a lovely sunny day, Em’s just gone off to some allotment society thing at another allotment nearby to join and get some supplies. And two weird juxtaposing events are happening in England today. The Grand National and Jade’s funeral. At least it’s a lovely sunny day for both.

Today is a weird day…

Ryanair – Taking The P*ss Out Of Themselves and YOU.

A few weeks back there was news that Ryanair were seriously considering charging passengers for the use of toilet facilities on board their flights. The depth at which Michael O’ Leary (chief executive of Ryanair) trawls to earn his money knows no bounds.

I discussed it with a fellow tweeter and said the headline to the story should be “Michael O’ Leary’s taking the p*ss, and YOU’RE paying for it!”

There was apparently a steady backlash to the idea, with many customers getting in touch with Ryanair to let them know how they felt about it. And as a result, Ryanair have come up with a competition. The best idea submitted for the next “discretionary charge” – as they call it (not flagrant ripping-off of passengers) will win 1000 Euros.

To see the submissions so far, click here. You almost have to admire Ryanairs ability to take the Mickey out of itself if it wasn’t so farcical a notion to have these “discretionary” charges. I like the first one on the list, charging for toilet roll, that has Mr O’ Leary’s face printed on it! Genius! I’d definitely pay to use that. Better still, let’s have the opportunity to actually urinate and defecate directly ON Michael O’ Leary’s face!!!

Ryanair – going that extra mile to make the passengers happy.

Channel 7 Sydney (and Regional) Closing Down Film.

There are adverts before it, but if you want to skip straight to the closing down sequence it starts at 2 minutes 8 seconds.

I absolutely adored this little sign-off that Channel 7 in Sydney used to do in the 80’s. I used to wait up purposefully to catch it. Thank you to FrozenDobermanfor uploading the video. I hope it doesn’t get taken down.

DVD’s I’ve Watched In The Last Two Weeks.

I took a rental holiday over the Christmas period then started my rental back up on January 20th. I’ve watched several films since then in varying degrees of depth (the movie plots that is).

One of the first I watched, which I’d been dying to see was There Will Be Blood. OMG, Daniel Day-Lewis plays such an absolute bastard in that film!! And Paul Dano’s performance as evangelical minister Eli was SO powerful – amazing! It’s a long film, weighty to sit through, but worth it. I was a little apprehensive it was going to be all about oil, but it’s more about family dynamics and business and money. It was really good.

Another film I’ve watched recently was Juno. I can see why it was getting cult plaudits. It was such a quirky little thing. A slightly odd subject seeing as adoption hardly ever takes place in the developed world any more, but it had interesting plot developments. Really liked it. And I loved the way Ellen Page played Juno – brilliant!

Another was The Cottage. A Brit sort of horror/com with Andy Sirkis and Reece Shearsmith from The League of Gentlemen in it. It was VERY gory towards the end, but very funny all the way through. And the “bogeyman” in the film – what a seriously creepy f*cking guy!!! Eeewww A rare film that had me both laughing and recoiling in horror at the same time. I loved it!! And there is REALLY strong language too. Jennifer Ellison must have the C word at least 20 times! lol

On Wednesday night I watched Teeth. I’d sort of heard about it through the ‘net and stuff and it sounded so preposterous I *had* to see it. It lived up to all my expectations. It’s about a girl in one of those “Promise” ring-wearing-sex-abstinent religious cults in which you are meant to keep chaste until you’re married. It helps when you have a built-in chastity belt!! Her vajayjay has teeth!! In the 80 minutes that transpire in the film, her vag manages to “bite off” some 3 penises and a set of fingers from a gynaecologist, as well as an implied penis severing at the end of the film. Through the whole film you never actually see her vajayjay. All the prosthetic penises laying about at their points of severance made me laugh though. Especially the last one – for reasons I won’t elude to in case I ruin your viewing “pleasure”! lol It was so trashy, but it made me laugh!

I’ll let you know what other wonders I’ve watched in future posts.

American Goodies!

My BFF in America, Kelly, sent me a box of lovely goodies that arrived this morning. YAY!!! Guess who’s going to have choccie chops later!!

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A Doctor Who Top Ten?

This is a response to a question on a forum I wanted to answer which became WAY too long-winded to air as a post. So I thought I’d put it here and link to it.

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I have to say that I haven’t got a top ten. Although I’m almost 38, grew up in Oz where there is a HUGE following of DW on TV (it was aired during my formative years), I didn’t really watch it. I was aware of Peter Davison’s Doctor, and tried to watch, but like most things aired on the TV channel in Oz that showed DW (The ABC) – I thought everything they aired was boring.

I can’t really therefore give a top ten of Doctors. But I did want to say that I was utterly smitten with the new series from episode one. I was worried I wouldn’t like it ‘cos I just wasn’t interested in it all the years beforehand.

The new series has taken me through up and downs. I LOVED Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor from the start and when it was revealed he’d only be Doctor for one series, I wanted to cry. Even more so when they announced this “who is he?” bloke, David Tennant. I wanted to boycott the second series, but thought I’d better give DT a go. I wasn’t really happy to begin with. I thought he played it too childishly, too manically (a diff manic to CE’s – an over-exuberant rather than a dark manic), too in-your-face happy clappy. Then of course it was announced Billie Piper was leaving, and despite my reservations when it was revealed who’d be playing the Doctor’s companion in the first series, that Billie would be too amateurish, I felt she allayed my fears.

Then Xmas 2006, and we get Catherine Tate as companion of sorts. I was NOT a happy bunny. Thank God we knew that this is not going to last, I thought, as we’d been told of Freema Agymen’s appointment as the new companion. I didn’t watch The Runaway Bride at all.

I lose interest a bit, miss bits and pieces, but come back to it in time. I thought Freema would be good, and thought she was competent enough at the time. I missed chunks because I went home to Australia for a few months shortly after series 3 began. I watched some while there and caught up once back home. By this time DT is maturing into the role as the 10th Doctor and I’m really beginning to shine to him.

Xmas 2007. Kylie Minogue? WTF?! Had you SEEN her in Neighbours? If not, check out Street Fighter (yes, the lame movie version of the video game with Jean Claude Van Damm in it). Sorry, I really LOVE Kylie as a musical performer, but as an “actress”, I’ve seen more animated and less wooden strips of MDF! She didn’t disappoint (with the notion she’d be even MORE sinkable than the Titanic itself). The best scene was her throwing herself off the precipice in the fork-lift truck!

I wasn’t really sad about Freema leaving, but I was peeved they’d decided to reprise Catherine Tate’s role as Donna Noble. Just when I was beginning to get happy with the dynamic (which on reflection was AWEFUL), they were going to have yet ANOTHER companion for the Doctor! And one I was really not happy about to boot. I SO feared it was going to send DW back into a more “kiddish” slant and have DT back to his manic Doctor and that there’d be too much farce with CT back as Donna.

I can’t say my fears were FULLY allayed by the first episode. But of the comedy and farce there was in Partners In Crime, I enjoyed. As I watch more episodes, The Fires of Pompeii, then Planet of The Ood, I was really beginning to take to Catherine Tate. By Turn Left, I really, really loved her character. And DT’s Doctor had matured even more than series 3. The dynamic between Doctor and companion was FINALLY at its most believable. He finally had someone by his side who was a true crutch for him, and not a soppy little teenager with a crush. A soulmate almost, a kindred spirit. Ballsy, brash and passionate, how can you not love that about Donna?!

I was crushed when it became obvious that this might be Catherine Tate’s only series of Doctor Who. I fell in love with Donna (metaphorically) and just thought her and the Doctor were the best pairing so far, and the best pairing of David and Catherine. No underlying sexual chemistry and all that baloney, just straight out mutual respect and friendship. Why does the Doctor always have to have “totty”?

The roller coaster continued when Russell T Davies toyed with us at the ending of The Stolen Earth with the regeneration scene. I was ready to slit my wrists at the very notion of David Tennant leaving! Heaven forbid! Just when you got me not only liking him as the Doctor, but actually falling in love with him! NNNNNOOOOOOO

I know he has his haters, but I think there was far more a collective sigh at the beginning of Journey’s End then “oh hell, it’s STILL David Tennant”. I think there were quite a few utterances of “tsk” when the first few minutes went out, from whichever side of the DT fence you sit on. What a wasted regeneration sequence that was!

BBC Three just finished repeating series one which I watched again. It felt VERY strange watching it, because although I SSOO loved Christopher Eccleston to begin with, when watching the repeats he didn’t feel like MY Doctor. My heart now belongs to David. CE was a darker Doctor, but he did have some mania with the role and he wasn’t quite as wholly competent as I remembered him to be. And although it has taken DT probably the two full series to “hone his craft”, I think he is now a compelling and complex Doctor with wonderfully subtle nuances.

So, now we are still left wondering if DT WILL continue into 2010 (he’s not signed the dotted line yet as far as I am aware) and who will be his companion. I, for one, hope the rumours that Catherine Tate will come back ARE true. For me, David Tennant and Catherine Tate ARE the “dream team”.

Random Musings.

Going through the list of Scottish music I like had me hunting down stuff I hadn’t listened to for a long time. I have completely rekindled my passion for Simple Minds and Big Country. I was listening to their stuff last night. There’s such colour in Simple Minds’ stuff. They can so easily and fluidly travel from new wave synth super pop to thumping rock anthems like no other band I’ve heard. And in a lot of songs, have both elements sitting side by side.

 

It’s strange, because I keep coming back to their stuff in stages. Unintentionally. Last time I was really into them was around the early Naughties. Before that, probably sometime in the mid 90s. Before that, right at their 80s peak, when they brought out “Once Upon A Time” – which I owned.

 

I think I’ve started a new stage. I forget really until I come back to the music, just how much I love them. And I really should own albums instead of “best of”‘s.

 

And as for Big Country, I’m not sure if I can stretch to familiarizing myself with the full back catalogue of Big Country music, but I cannot get ENOUGH of one of their songs in particular.

 

 

It’s permanently stuck in my head!!!

 

I watched Blades of Glory on DVD the other night. I didn’t think I could ever laugh so hard at a Will Ferrell film! They way they have filmed it to make it look like both he and John Heder are competent skaters is brilliant.

 

DVDs coming in the post are, Magicians – with David Mitchell and Robert Webb (of That Mitchell and Webb Look and Peep Show fame). Not really sure what the movie is about, other than it being about magicians, obviously. I love David Mitchell. There’s this thing about him being middle class which he seems to get stick for, plus he’s just sort of geeky. You also see him on panel quiz shows sometimes. He’s a regular on a BBC show called Would I Lie To You? in which teams have to work out whether a statement read out by a member of the opposing team is true or a lie. One of my faves was David Mitchell declaring that his first word was “Hoover”. As soon as he read the card out I thought “Oh, he’s so ANAL, it HAS to be true! PLEASE, let it be true!”

It was…

 

Other discs coming are “The Runaway Bride”, the 2006 Doctor Who Xmas special with Mr T and Catherine Tate. I didn’t watch it at the time. I think I was sick that Xmas and I went to watch it, but fell asleep within the first 10 mins or something. I don’t remember it AT ALL. It’ll be good to see anyway. I’m just intrigued as to how Catherine Tate played Donna back then.

 

The other is This Is England. I’d heard it being talked about, winning awards, etc. Then I saw a preview of it on one of the other discs I rented and it DOES look good, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.

 

I’m spending more time on the Internet than is probably healthy due to the Acer Netbook, but at least I can do it in comfort (surf the ‘net/use a computer). And it’s like a little media machine too, ‘cos it takes SD cards, so I can listen to MP3’s and watch MP4 movies and stuff.

 

Yesterday I busied myself creating a list of favourite comedians in an email to my friend Kelly. I watched SO many little stand-up clips from YouTube yesterday. It was fun though.

 

Here is a little list of some of my all-time Oz faves.

 

Firstly, Bob Downe. We’ve seen him twice. Once in Sydney, moons ago, and more recently at High Wycombe around 2002/2003. He is FAB live.

I love The Kransky Sisters too.

Doug Anthony All Stars (now no longer together, but Paul McDermott still gets around, as does Tim Ferguson as far as I’m aware).

Another quirky gem is Flacco.

And finally, even though there is so much more I could add, The Umbilical Brothers.

Search YouTube for them all and knock yourselves out 😉

Personal (and general) Musical Pinnacles.

I wanted to write a post about what, for ME, are/were the pinnacle points in music. But not just generalized, but in my life, my musical taste.

I’ll start with 1972, the height of Glam rock. Glam is a genre of music I still love to this day. One of my favourite albums of all time is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, released in 1972. I suppose Glam rock really started in around 1970 with Marc Bolan and T-Rex of which there are songs I do like. I like Cosmic Dancer, Metal Guru, Children of the Revolution, among others. Most of the songs and groups I love though for me, Glam rock peaked around 1972. If it hadn’t been for Glam, we probably would not have had David Bowie. He’d been around for several years already and had a modicum of success with Space Oddity, but it was very much a one-hit wonder thing for him until Ziggy. So for me the first pinnacle year is 1972. It gave us Glam and it gave us Bowie.

The next pinnacle year – 1977. The height of new, electronic music. It gave us Kraftwerk and a newly directed Bowie, giving us in that one year two of his three Berlin Trilogy albums, Low and “Heroes”, whilst also producing and co-writing on Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Lust For Life. A very prolific period for him indeed and gave us electronic gems like A New Career In A New Town (Low) and Sense of Doubt (“Heroes”). This sound would pave the way for New Wave and later, dance music in general. Many groups point to Kraftwerk and 1977 Bowie as inspiration.

From there, we go to 1981. Two musical genres collide here to make a very exciting time musically. New Wave and New Romanticism clash to make one of the best periods of modern pop music history. The acts are just rich! The songs as well. Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, Soft Cell’s cover of Tainted Love, Ultravox’s Vienna, Duran Duran’s Planet Earth are just some of the songs and acts swilling around. Basically, from this point until 1984 is probably my most loved era of music. It probably mostly coincides with my being a young teen and getting my own defining taste of music, but I just love this period of music. I don’t love ALL 80’s music, I don’t love ALL of the 80’s! There is a marked, audible decline in music by 1985 as far as I’m concerned, which has lead to the predominance of the over-manufactured pop we get now. I lay the blame solely at the hands of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. These men should be hung, drawn and quartered for their “contribution” to music. We do have things to thank them for, Kylie Minogue, Mel and Kim and Rick Astley. But also they gave us The Reynolds Sisters, Sonia, and changed Bananarama’s career for the worse as far as I’m concerned. There was amazing music from 1981 to 1984. It was if not the best period of modern musical history, then it’s definitely in the top three!

I must mention in this gap, there was the break-up of The Smiths. A group that sadly escaped my attention until the late 80’s at the earliest. I was definitely into them by the early 90’s though. Just had to mention them.

Next, a little detour around 1991. We get the first wave of dance music with things like Dee-lite’s Groove Is In The Heart. And we also get…Nirvana! And grunge. But no-one ever thinks of grunge without Nirvana. But of course there were other pioneers. Sonic Youth, Beck, The Breeders, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, and even a few “harder than grunge” acts like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. A good little beginning for what is now probably labeled EMO music.

Next, 1995 – the second Brit invasion with Britpop. LOVED this period too. Before the invasion though, and me discussing it, I have to make a mention of Bjork. She came in the wave of the rave scene of the early 1990’s with her Debut album in 1993. A pinnacle album for me. Just had to mention it as it’s sort of between timelines. Anyway, on to 1995. A Brit wave began. It must have been odd for some groups as they’d been around for some time before really breaking, like Pulp. They had formed way back in 1978, but didn’t really make mainstream impact until Common People and the Different Class album. Blur had been around a few years, had a minor hit with There’s No Other Way in 1991, but it wasn’t until 1994’s Park Life did they really come into prominence. Other acts of note were of course, Oasis, Supergrass, Suede and The Verve. Loved, LOVED Britpop. Being such a musical Anglophile, I found it fab.

Penultimate of the musical pinnacles for me is around 1999 when I moved to the UK and found myself in a resurgence of dance music and chill-out stuff. I bought several “chill-out” albums in the early Naughties. Mostly all Ministry of Sound produced. There was stuff like Alice DJ, DJ Spiller, Armend Van Helden, Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx, Avalanches, The Chemical Brothers (although around for some time), Goldfrapp, Royksopp, Air, William Orbit, all making an impact on my listening taste. I very much enjoy this genre of music.

Last of the pinnacles is 2005. Lots of new indie bands make their way to the mainstream. Two of my current faves, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers come to prominence then. As well as the Kaiser Chiefs and groups like The Futureheads. Also to come on the scene a little later was The Feeling.

Well, that’s it. My musical pinnacles. Let me know what you think.

My next topic for music will be my list of Scottish acts I like.

Musical Personalities and Being Gay.

I saw a story on the BBC News web site yesterday about a study that a professor of Heriot-Watt University in Scotland carried out. The research found that people could have their personality defined by their musical tastes. Here’s the results:

Blues: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease

Jazz: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease

Classical: High self-esteem, creative, introvert and at ease

Rap: High self-esteem, outgoing

Opera: High self-esteem, creative, gentle

Country and Western: Hardworking, outgoing

Reggae: High self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, outgoing gentle and at ease

Dance: Creative, outgoing, not gentle

Indie: Low self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, not gentle

Bollywood: Creative, outgoing

Rock/Heavy Metal: Low self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, not outgoing, gentle and at ease

Chart Pop: High self-esteem, not creative, hardworking, outgoing, gentle, not at ease

Soul: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease

Interesting, but what if you like several genres like I do? And how the hell do they come up with people who like classical music are introverted, and people who like rock are gentle? What if, like me, you like chart music as well as indie and dance? Can I be both creative and NOT creative, hardworking yet NOT hardworking, and have both a high AND low self-esteem at the same time? Am I bi-polar? All fair and good if you only like one genre of music and stick to it, but it’s hardly rule of thumb. It suppose it compounds that EMO’s are misery-guts’?

Another interesting little finding are the top ten GAY albums! Number one on the list is Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. There’s a high proportion of albums on the list that I either own or want to own. I’ll mark the ones in brackets. The top ten reads like this:

1. David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (own it)
2. The Smiths – The Smiths (don’t own it, but have Smiths songs)
3. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman (owned it)
4. Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls
5. Judy Garland – Judy At Carnegie Hall
6. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (see other Smiths entry)
7. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (like to own it)
8. Madonna – The Immaculate Collection (owned it)
9. Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual (owned it)
10. Antony And The Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now (own it)

I’m SSSSSOOOOOO gay! There’s actually a list of 100 albums in the “gay” chart. Click here for the full list of albums.