This week, Monday 2nd December 2013

Do They Know It’s December?

image

Holy frikkin’ tinsel everyone, it has become December. I haven’t done any Christmas shopping yet… surely people just want to be thought of fondly and receive a manly nod across a pint? We were in Meadowhall last week and I’ve been into Nottingham and my god, the hordes of stumbling shoppers were horrifying. And those were on relatively quiet weekdays. I think I’d better retreat to the internet for thing acquisition.

Meadowhall’s food court was particularly awful. I think it’s partly the use of the term ‘court’ an not ‘parade of restaurants’ or something similar which makes people think it’s either a sport, hence the scrums of fat children having chicken juiced into their mouths by their greasy-faced parents, or a judgement, which would explain the evil eyes and hatred directed towards those of us who successfully attain tablehood.

People are possibly even more frightening than birds. I’m thinking mostly of their button eyes and weird limblessness when their wings are folded and they’re walking around like demonic clockwork toys. Evil I tell ya. They’re clearly still wondering how to eat us since they got all small and feathery and we got big and naked, then un-naked. That said, I do like pied wagtails. Thems’re dinky little birds who really do jig about like they’re wound up. I haven’t seen any this year though.

♥ Last Week’s Scribbles

Poem – Apricot Shades – I’m trying to make words pretty.

Writing

I blame work, other people and me. In that order. Work for making me stressed (though it’s my response to the work that produces stress), other people for wanting to do cool and interesting things (which I want to do as well) and me for saying yes and / or no to things people and myself. Sadly very little of that has been oriented around getting writing done… Bastardfish.

I did enjoy m’little poem last week though. I have a few little bits like that which don’t fit the Shankanalia requirements because there’s more melancholy than hate in them.

I am at least making notes and adding words to a pile of other words when they occur to me. So that’s something. I plan to write about our amazing pilgrimage to the Lego Store last week and the musical improv weekend just gone by.

Improv

A slightly slower early week for improv (thank the good lord Monkey Feet for that), but it accelerated dramatically towards the end. I met up with my one to one client for our first proper session. Planning for it is proving thought-provoking and interesting since there are only two of us (yes Nick, that is what one to one means) and that wipes out a whole bunch of games that you can do insanely with three but don’t make sense with two. Nonetheless we focussed on agreement, because that seems truly foundational for any creative endeavour, and also listening to oneself. We had fun and I am booked in for further sessions, so that must have been successful!

I ran our weekly jam on narrative. Nothing too heavy, just pushing us into thinking about cause and effect and scenes that follow each other. Because of playing around with the Armando structure a lot we’ve become used to seeing scenes that are thematically linked or at least share inspiration but aren’t really part of a story. I like stories, I like writing them and I like watching them. Very often we don’t see what happens to characters and it makes me sad inside. So we told some really weird stories. Many thanks to Mr Steve Roe (of London’s Hoopla Impro) for inspiration.

I’m going to have to deal with the Friday show and the weekend later because they were immense.

Media Intake

Goddamn it, I finally finished that Gozeul’s Dark World Toy Box which took forever to get through because of the insanely irritating typos only to find that it’s not even the whole bloody story. I liked it in parts, but I’m not going back for the sequel.

Whispers on the Underground

In need of mind refreshment I dived into the third of Ben Aaronovitch‘s supernatural detective series Whispers on the Underground. That’s the one I tried to read first before clicking (in my dopey way) that I didn’t understand what was happening. It’s just great – natural, funny, a bit scary with characters who pop off the page and wander round your bedroom. I very much enjoy the magic and Peter Grant’s attempts to rationalise and explore it as well as the splendid villains. I’m really hoping he’s going to keep knocking them out – the main character is barely into magic and there’s surely ten to twenty books in the story. These are superb and remarkably readable.

Boardwalk Empire

We just finished season one over the weekend and were fairly blown away by its overall awesomeness. The set design and costumes are astonishingly beautiful. Mrs Schroeder’s hats are a thing of wonder and the suits worn by Nucky and Jimmy make me want to wear nice clothes. So yeah, it looks pretty, but it’s got a killer script, magnetic cast and a simmering tension that makes it feel like a glossy Deadwood.

It is a joy to watch Steve Buscemi finally given a chance to shine – I love him in any film, but I’ve never had the opportunity to witness his range and the terrifying flat silver eyes he can turn on and off at will. Kelly Macdonald is equally gripping as domestic abuse victim turned I-don’t-know-what: enigmatic and stunning. The cast really deserves individual praise but I’m sure they’ve got that elsewhere. I just want to mention Stephen Graham‘s frighteningly psychopathic young Al Capone and Michael Shannon‘s prohibition agent – they both glue your eyes to the screen whenever they’re on it. A fantastic show and I can’t wait to start season 2.

Events and Excitement

Saturday 7th December 2013

Knickerbocker GloriousKnickerbocker Glorious

A sweet layered stack of free live Entertainment, an abundance of Acoustic Music, a generous measure of Performing Arts. Topped off with a liberal sprinkling of family friendly Comedy. I’m compering!

The Fountain
Derby Market Square
Cathedral Quarter
Derby
11am-3pm – FREE
https://www.facebook.com/events/360132110789127/

Thursday 12th December 2013

Gorilla Burger: improv comedy carnage

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, plus MissImp annual awards ceremony.
The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

Saturday 21st December 2013

Knickerbocker GloriousKnickerbocker Glorious

A sweet layered stack of free live Entertainment, an abundance of Acoustic Music, a generous measure of Performing Arts. Topped off with a liberal sprinkling of family friendly Comedy. I’m compering!

The Fountain
Derby Market Square
Cathedral Quarter
Derby
11am-3pm – FREE

It’s Getting Damned Christmassy In Here

Christmas Begins

I adore Christmas. I like the presents, the decorations, the two weeks of hardly seeing anybody… It’s all rather lovely. The first important step is acquiring a tree. Last year we were really late doing this because our kitchen was being refitted and it cut the whole sense of Christmassiness rather short. No such delays this year I’m happy to report

I took off at lunchtime today to find us the perfect wood lump to die in our living room over the next month. Beeston is cheerily packed with folk flogging firs so it only took me twenty minutes of cycling up and down the High Road humming and hawing to make up my mind. We only have a little house so we can’t get a giant beast of a Triffid, but nor do we want something incapable of carrying the weight of lights and tat we intend to drown it in.

Victory Over The Forest

There is a further restriction – it must be possible to strap it onto my bicycle. I cannot be bothered to drag the thing, and frankly it amuses me to tie it to my bike and then cycle home.

It’s a slightly risky prospect and draws both horrified and admiring looks from passersby. I can assure they and you that we did indeed get home safely and intact. She is now happily installed in our living room. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tTHn2tHhcI&w=420&h=315]

This week, Monday 9th December 2013

Christmas Time, Whiskey and Rhymes

Despite my previous fears about not having seen any pied wagtails, my tree-acquiring shenanigans caused me to almost run one of the tiny clockwork creatures over. I’m now seeing them as a precursor of Christmas cheer. It surprises some friends and acquaintances that I’m so enthused about the season. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the myths of Jesus, and far more to do with rather liking the dark wintry weather and having an excuse to batten the hatches and avoid almost all human contact for a fortnight. We will see some family folkses, but Christmas is about personal space, peace and freedom for me these days. And opening presents. Oh, and giving some too.

The whole of last week turned into a blur of activity, or late nights, or drinking – or something that stopped me getting anything done. I’ve finally reclaimed Monday evenings now that the MissImp Level 1 course is over, though I’m rather missing my Parky time. Instead I figured I’d get stuff done… nope.

Film: Free Birds

On Tuesday I “allowed” myself to be dragged to the cinema for Free Birds – a film which should have been awful but instead beat our expectations to a pulp and had us laughing all the way through. Good work potential-disaster-flick. It’s basically a remake of the excellent Chicken Run, but with time travel – and turkeys. I’m pleased to say I now finally know what American Thanksgiving is about. There’s a particularly good run of psychological assessment gags from the President’s daughter and I found the muscular buttock rivalry between the two big tough turkeys to be very entertaining. I am easily pleased.

On The Flipside

Wednesday evening took me and Martin out for David’s birthday – a trip to the Flipside brewery for a tour and some drinks. They make truly excellent beer and I can’t believe they’re only three years old! Drinks like Dusty Penny will always beat the other beers at the bar if available. It’s a great shame more pubs don’t stock ’em. The tour was fun and highly informative and very open to a wide range of questions from those about tax and the genetic variance of their proprietary yeast to who gets to test out the beers. We had a good time. Much of the tour reminded me of Dad’s cellar and the endless hours spent filling bottles and stamping the caps on before I was even able to drink the stuff. I’ve previously acquired one of their amazing mini-casks (8.8 pints) of ale and may seek to do so again…

Knickerbocker Glorious

Knickerbocker Glorious1I delight in compering this event – sure, I have to get up as if I were going to work but go to Derby instead and spent from 10-3 in the cold outdoors, but the people are ace and I’m allowed to say pretty much whatever I feel like. It’s very freeing turning up and doing the bits between the musical and spoken word acts. Plus it’s nearly Christmas and there are hundreds of weird things to point at like the zimmer frames on the ice rink and the terrifying Dark Crystal people (it must have a name – the folk in costumes where it looks like they’re about half the height of a human with their real face hidden in the massive pack on the back. These ones had monkey faces and curly leather shoes).

I got to enjoy The Tremeloux’s (Scott Thomas & Carl North), 1/3 of Karl & The Marx Brothers (Matt & Adam), Harriet and highly animated punk-poet Dwane Reads. We had a bit of extra time, so Dwane and I had several bouts of improvised beat poetry – grabbing a word from the audience and word-duking it out. We also told some stories, and I spun a nice tale about a man who used a leprechaun to plug a hole in his boat, then stole the little fellow’s gold. It was another brilliant day in Derby. I talked about super-exciting future activity with Matt and went off with my head in a spin.

Both The Tremeloux’s and Karl and The Marx Brothers have tracks on Furthest From The Sea‘s compilation album:

https://soundcloud.com/furthestfromthesearecords/sets/acoustic-nights-at-the

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121021846″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/120450690″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

And Dwane’s got a poetry book out at the mo’ The Annoying Megaphone Pigeon – you may need to contact him to get a copy though:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKVwUJOhANc&w=560&h=315]

Harriet’s got a whole bunch of great songs on Souncloud and horrifyingly is about half my age:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/60862120″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

♥ Last Week’s Scribbles

It’s Getting Damned Christmassy In Here – the power of tree.

Events and Excitement

Thursday 12th December 2013

Gorilla Burger: improv comedy carnage

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, plus the MissImp annual awards ceremony.
The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/163535893857233/

Saturday 21st December 2013

Knickerbocker GloriousKnickerbocker Glorious

A sweet layered stack of free live Entertainment, an abundance of Acoustic Music, a generous measure of Performing Arts. Topped off with a liberal sprinkling of family friendly Comedy. I’m compering!

The Fountain
Derby Market Square
Cathedral Quarter
Derby
11am-3pm – FREE

Lego Blog: Rummaging In The Body Bank

Pre-Christmas Brick Jaunting

A bunch of us took a day off work so we could go on pilgrimage to the Lego Store at Meadowhall (near Sheffield – the source of ‘Sheffield’ steel and just poking into the North within Yorkshire, the most commonly abused or ignored ordinary British accent). It took no small amount of coordination, lies, confusion and hysterical giggling. No part of the day lacked incident. Even the train journey itself saw the tragic loss of my favourite hat with its collection of badges – someone somewhere is wearing my hat and I shall scalp it from them when we meet. Meadowhall itself is one those vast windowless labyrinths rammed with bumbling manimals. Without a guide I’m certain we would never have found the Lego Store (or without the handy maps we scooped up).

The Sheer Eye Bleeding Joy Of It All

I think I last visited a brick mecca when they still had a shop in Birmingham, but that was before the Lego frenzy took me over and it was merely of great interest rather than burning passion. Actually, the Birmingham store is where my Captain Pigheart hook and eyepatch came from, so I suppose I’ve been wearing my Lego heart on my eye and stump for a while now. The Lego Store in Meadowhall is like an oasis of bright colour and calm in the moronic melee of Meadowhall merriness. Cases filled with crafted objects of beauty, Lego themed everything including the ceiling, staff who are enthused and interested, wall to wall plastic glory!

We acquired many things… some of which will require further discussion – like the construction of our new Lego Palace Cinema set, which we’ll be attacking over Christmas. It’s fantastically satisfying to have a big box of Lego in a bag.

Deciding between the various big modular building sets was agonising. Before getting there I’d done myself a little spreadsheet to make an assessment of brick value (gotta rationalise it all somehow!) It turned out to be pretty useful for several of us. I hadn’t realised just how ‘premium’ the Star Wars stuff in particular is. I really want the Town Hall and Fire Brigade too. And the Pet Shop…

Set Price No. Bricks Price per brick Bricks per £
Fire brigade 99.99 2231 0.04 22
Town Hall 149.99 2766 0.05 18
Palace Cinema 119.99 2194 0.05 18
Pet Shop 119.99 2032 0.06 17
Grand emporium 132.99 2182 0.06 16
Tower of Orthanc 169.99 2359 0.07 14
Haunted House 149.99 2064 0.07 14
Ewok Village 199.99 1990 0.10 10
Jabba’s Sail Barge 99.99 850 0.12 9

Minifigure Playtime

Marilyn had made much of the make your own minifigure possibilities and I’m happy to say that between us all we spent several hours just rooting about for the coolest faces and accessories. I restrained myself and only built six… Here are the first trio.

Captain Agatha Counterpoint

The captain was cruelly bereaved on her wedding day when their ship came under gas attack from Aermand Feyr and Mister Hexx’s band of roving killers. She wears her wedding dress in memory of her husband. The briefcase she carries contains both his heart and an empty space for his killer’s heart. But fear not, she’s moving on with her life and revenge is just a small part of her overall plan for domination of space.

Ambrosius Pfefferkuchen

Hero of Becklear’s Last Stand, Ambrosius is Agatha Counterpoint’s trusted lieutenant and confidante. He cuts a rather dashing figure wherever he goes.

Cumberwine Shalley

A lifelong victim of ill fortune, carelessness and laziness, Cumberwine was rescued from a veteran’s prison hospital on the fringes of Gutton III. Despite the Captain’s fears, Cumberwine’s exquisite gastronomical senses outweigh his pair of prosthetic limbs and cutlery arm. In his heart he just wants to be hugged.

You can look at the whole team here on Flickr.

Related articles

This week, Monday 16th December 2013

Skip Skipping into Wonderful Winter

Turkey HeadIt is of course, mostly raining and drizzly. Well, I think it is. We didn’t see daylight today having gotten up late with mild hangover and faced away from the window until night fell once more. It has not been the most productive day but I don’t care. We had a little Christmas party in our tiny house last night and it was rather lovely. Boisterous without violence – a lot of alcohol was consumed, as was much cake. Marilyn made Key Lime Pie, Millionaire’s Shortbread and chocolate brownies. They are all wonderful things, plus she made an absurd quantity of the last two and we shall be sugared and fattened all week – hoo hoo!

It was also a chance to celebrate our finally painting our kitchen (it’s taken a mere twelve months to get round to it) and the shelves which have become horizontal after filling a corner for a little while (ahem). It’s particularly nice to have the shelves because we can put the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar there and we used a shelf for displaying the Christmas Lego diorama I’ve been frantically hashing together this week. I’ll post some pics up later in the week. The Skipper Rum I snapped up when it was really cheap in the supermarket proved to be utterly delicious, exactly like drinking thick demerara sugar.

A Wyrd Week Ahead

There’s only one week left to go until Christmas, or at least until I stop working for Christmas, and I’m really quite excited about it. There seems to be going out drinking for most nights this week too. It will be fun, but no doubt a mere foreshadowing of the organ hammering to come.

I’m also going to Colin’s inquest on Wednesday. It’s a formality which has to happen because he died outside England & Wales, so I think it’s mostly just a reading of the report from the procurator fiscal. It should be interesting at the very least, though likely an emotional experience. I hope it will bring a helpful catharsis for the family and another step towards life getting back to normal.

We’re finishing this week by seeing a friend who’s back from New Zealand for a couple of weeks and then getting up the next morning to compere the last Knickerbocker Glorious of the year! Hurray.

Books: Cursor’s Fury by Jim Butcher

I’ve finally accepted that this fantasy series isn’t funny and self-deprecating like the Dresden series. Now that I have, I’m free to properly enjoy them – three books in and I’m invested in the characters, the plots and the wars. This one’s got a number of very good battle chapters. It’s the part of fantasy that sometimes lets books down, but I’m pleased to see strategy, politicking and interesting uses of the Furies themselves. It’s unclear exactly what the Furies are – elemental spirits which can be manipulated by the humans to heal, build, destroy and a hundred other fiendish uses. They are also vulnerable to salt… I’m looking forwards to burrowing further into the series.

http://www.jim-butcher.com/books/alera/cursors

Books: Orcs by Stan Nicholls

I’ve seen this around for ages but never quite considered picking it up and reading it. In the end I’ve reclaimed the omnibus edition I bought for Colin a few years ago. It’s a satisfyingly chunky three-books-in-one and I’m making swift progress hacking through the pages like an orc with a battle axe. I used to love the Space Orks of Warhammer 40,000 and they’re my favourite nameless drones to be cut down in Lord of the Rings so I’m interested to read the story from their perspective. They don’t have any particular voice though and could easily just be a band of humans. I’m not blown away by it, but it’s ticking over nicely. With the broader storyline of rescuing the land and its magic from the humans and escaping servitude just starting to emerge I’m hopeful it will give us a more unique view of the orcs and their culture.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0575074876/knibbnet-21

♥ Last Week’s Scribbles

Lego Blog: Rummaging In The Body Bank  – a great deal of fun at the Lego Store making minifigures.

Events and Excitement

Saturday 21st December 2013

Knickerbocker GloriousKnickerbocker Glorious

A sweet layered stack of free live Entertainment, an abundance of Acoustic Music, a generous measure of Performing Arts. Topped off with a liberal sprinkling of family friendly Comedy. I’m compering!

The Fountain
Derby Market Square
Cathedral Quarter
Derby
11am-3pm – FREE

https://www.facebook.com/events/461374987310834/

Poem: Find Me

Find Me

Finding Meaning In Everything

This little poem wasn’t intended to have any particular feeling in it, but in retrospect it feels quite sad. I’ve always felt the appeal of the old solipsist philosophies which seem to justify the thought that there’s only me and everything else just pops in and out of existence according to my presence. I rather like the idea of the universe following me around like a shadow.

The calendar, notably, does not act in accordance with my wishes. I’m surprised to find that it’s nearly two months since Colin’s funeral. Today I’m going to his inquest. It’s just a formality since he died outside England and Wales – all the way up in Scotland. As there’s no suspicion of foul play there was no rush for it to happen but it does feel a little odd for it to be so late, and just before Christmas. I don’t really know what we’re going to learn from today – some confirmation of what we already know. Mainly, I think, a degree of finality. I like knowing the ends of stories, and I need detail to make anything real in my mind.

Lost In The Electrical Void

Retrospectively then this poem aligns weirdly with today – Colin and I are already separated by nearly three months – those regular opportunities for shared experience, the darkly shaded area of our familial Venn diagram slowly drift further apart. That’s already a quarter of a year’s worth of time. I don’t have any belief in the afterlife, and its strange to consider someone’s absorption of the world stopping while mine continues. All that’s left of him are those memories left in our minds and the physical ephemera of a life left in his house.

I don’t believe that we will meet again, other than in the trivial notion of our atoms once more rejoining the frothing flood of the material world. Eventually we’ll continue to exist only in the minds of those who knew us both. Occasionally we’ll be merged in a shared remembrance; neural shades of ourselves having a drink in someone else’s head.

That’s not bad, it’s more than we frail creatures can hope for. It’s already amazing that in the constant storm of atomic particles flowing through our bodies into the environment and back again, that this whirlwind of forces can ever lend us the appearance of body and the transient beauty of the mind. It’s neither surprising nor alarming that we will be blown back into the void from which we sprang. It’s just a shame we don’t always hold our forms for longer.

Lego Blog: Brick-a-brac

The Lego Store Adventures

Happy LegoOne of the very best things about the Lego Store trip we took a couple of weeks ago was the rumoured pick-a-brick wall of joy and delight. Marilyn had been previously and brought me back one of their large soft-drink style containers of bricks. She did an ace job of packing the stuff in but I was pretty sure it would be possible to cram even more bricks into it. I don’t buy a lot of random bricks – I’m content to acquire most of my Lego through sets, but the mere sight of a wall of Lego left me quite dizzy.

Pick A Brick Joy

I’m assured by this helpful and delightfully insane post that the volume of it is about 1130ml. Some people have made extraordinary efforts to fit bricks in, but I just wanted a decent range of bricks that I don’t have that many of. The technique seems pretty obvious – tiny stuff right at the bottom and fill all the gaps.

I started with tiny red single round studs and worked up through red 2×2 plates, more of the gorgeous lime green 1x2s, slotted gold 1x2s and then other oddments I’m fond of. I never have enough flowers, or the green supports for them so I grabbed a few fistfuls, plus I’ve seen the bigger tropical palm leaves in other sets but I didn’t have any… in they went. I continually shook the bricks into place (I know stacking would maximise the potential but I just couldn’t face it).

Eventually I managed to cram the lid back on (had to ditch a couple of bricks) and had a full tub that didn’t even rattle when shaken. I was very proud. Once shaken out at home it made a satisfying smooshing sound like plastic water and I got to see all the bricks I’d stuffed in but forgotten about!

Lego Pot

I love those corrugated white column bricks and the grey hinge pieces will come in handy. For good measure I also got some transparent blue cones, cream corner pieces and a couple of windscreens. It’s a nice assortment of things. Many of them have already come in handy in the Christmas/winter building. I had hoped for a bit more range in-store, but a lot of them were very tradition 3×2 or 2×4 bricks in primary colours which I just don’t use that much.

A Final Gift of Brick Love

Pick a brick boxWe took away one cone of bricks, the Thanksgiving Feast set, twelve custom minifigures and the Palace Cinema set. All in all a pretty good haul. As a bonus, and possibly for the insane grins on our faces, the nice lady in the shop also gave us three free Christmas Pick A Brick boxes which we can take back and fill for free before the end of March. We just need to align our schedules…

It’s amazing how happy this stuff can make me.

Knickerbocker Glorious! Saturday 21st December

Live Music & Comedy In Derby

Saturday 21st December 2013

Knickerbocker GloriousKnickerbocker Glorious

Should you find yourself in Derby town centre shopping merrily for Christmas you’ll almost certainly need a break instead of killing people. Join us in the market place for Knickerbocker Glorious, entirely free entertainment between 11 and 3.

A sweet layered stack of free live Entertainment, an abundance of Acoustic Music, a generous measure of Performing Arts. Topped off with a liberal sprinkling of family friendly Comedy. I’m compering!

This Week’s Line Up:
Georgia Fowler
Flames Snakely
Hannah Howe
Dwane Reads
Ben Haynes
Captain Pigheart
Rose Devine

Derby Market Square
Cathedral Quarter
Derby
11am-3pm – FREE

https://www.facebook.com/events/461374987310834/

Christmas Beer Review: Imperial Russian Stout

Drinking In A Winter Wonderland

Christmas is surely not the season without getting utterly trashed. To that noble and spiritual end I have filled a cupboard in our garage with booze acquired from the trinity of alcohol cheapness that are Tesco, B and N Bargains and Home Bargains. I aim to drink at least one of each over this Christmas period (I can’t possibly drink them all – I reckon we’ve acquired enough on 4 for a fiver to last me until April). I’ve also got a load of whiskey but I may not reach the stuff once I’m lying on the floor…

Day One: The Strong Stuff

I really love dark beers (and really pale ales), especially stouts. There’s something in the richness that you can really roll around your mouth. Of course, they do tend to be quite strong as well which also suits me. I’ve long held that if it’s less than 5% then it’s basically a soft drink. Clearly I needed something of quality to withstand the cinematic pain of Universal Soldier: The Return and this was the first bottle to leap between my lips…

Courage Imperial Russian Stout – 10% 275ml, by Wells & Youngs

Imperial Russian Stout1We spied these little beauties in Tesco a few weeks ago while they were in the 4 bottles for £5 (swiftly changed to 4 for £6 and most interesting lines dropped). It’s a cute little bottle – just 275ml and attractive enough to seize the eye with its red black and gold livery. According to the bottle they brew it but once a year (because it’s so special) in the same manner as it was once brewed for Catherine the Great in 1705.

First impression – “tastes amazing”: I’m eloquent when drinking me. I stand by it though – this is a very strong beer and has a rich textured taste of chocolate. I convinced myself to sip it judgementally rather than indulge in what I really wanted to do which was fill my mouth with that wonderful thick flavour. It also looks great, being completely black and impenetrable to light.

My only real regret is that the bottle is so small. Thank goodness I have more in the garage… If I’m smart I can allow it to continue maturing for up to thirteen years! I very much doubt they will mature for more than a week.

Rating: Drunk Talking Porcupine

http://www.wellsandyoungs.co.uk/home/news/revived–historic-brew-courage-imperial

Extras

Oh, and in case you haven’t seen it:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2SxMcP-UFo&w=420&h=315]

Related articles

This week, Monday 23rd December 2013

A Day And A Night Until Christmas

merlyxmasI am thrilled to have finally finished work for the festive season – it’s taken ages and no time at all to get here. I am pleased; I like Christmas, or more specifically I enjoy the prospect of quiet. It hasn’t happened yet…

It’s been a knackering couple of weeks running up towards Christmas. Partly that’s work, which has had a special frenzy about it for a while. Without going into specifics, the organisation is being forcibly separated into public and potentially private sectors along lines drawn by morons. The plans for it are terrifyingly inept and poorly thought out. And that’s just the high level view. When you get down to actual details you find a horrifying blend of ignorance, naivete, arbitrary decisions and absence of information. Some species of catastrophe is inevitable.

Improv and home have been much more fun, but have torn us out of doors most evenings. There have been a pleasing number of evenings spent drinking and chatting with close friends; it is a goodness. We’ve also finally got a new television (thanks Mum & Mike!) so we can start catching up on a month’s recorded TV and Christmas films.

This Week

Not much, other than Christmas really… I have great plans for Lego, reading and drinking the cupboard full of beer I have acquired. We shall see select humans, hug them and send them on their way again. I intend to publish a series of Christmas beer drinking reviews for your entertainment and my inebriation.

♥ Last Week’s Scribbles

Poem: Find Me – a little bleaker than I’d intended, and unintentionally triggering a mental run off.

Gig Report – Knickerbocker Glorious

I was really hoping to get straight into lie ins immediately, but I had to bound out of bed on Saturday at abnormal o’clock to ravage Derby with the Furthest From The Sea gang for Knickerbocker Glorious. Marvellous chaps and musical folks all round. I find my Saturdays spent with Jamie, Dave and Josh especially fun. They’re an excellent crew and we seem to have clicked rather nicely. We’ve had some fascinating gigs this year. Often it’s dealing with complete arseholes and whining randoms that makes it so special. I shall never forget the war of the badgers, the drunks and the hat people.

Last week we had a nice range of people I had not previously met on stage, including the rather lovely swing Christmas singing of Rose Devine.

We had another horrifyingly young and talented young singer, one Georgia Fowler:

And yet more charming guitar and voice skills from Hannah Howe:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq0ZPCzPD4s&w=560&h=315]

To get the balance just right we also had Dwane Reads (a very fun on stage partner) and local comic and poet Flames Snakely. We had some fine banter and story, poetry and song invention on the fly.

I also just noticed that I’m on the Furthest From The Sea  Artist page – how lovely, but then that’s the sort of folks they are. Next year is going to be immensely cool and exciting – Derby’s going to be the place for joy.

Film: The Muppet Christmas Carol 

On Sunday morning, a time one might reasonably expect to be blissfully unconscious, saw us rise at a Satanic hour to see the Muppets strut their Dickens at Cineworld. Incredibly we also hauled two good friends out to see it as well. I was pre-verbal until after the film but I was able to snort and laugh throughout. It’s a surprisingly resilient film in which I still find new amusements. I very much enjoyed Michael Caine‘s incredible awkwardness when singing – it reminds me of my own pain when trying to loosen up enough to sing myself.

I’d forgotten how much I detest Robin in his needlessly over the top portrayal of Tiny Tim, but also how weird Gonzo/Charles’ proclamation that “Tiny Tim didn’t die” is. It certainly made us laugh… to the perplexity of the kids behind us. Other brilliant moments include the watermelons being stolen at the beginning, ice-skating penguins and the lobsters in the closing scene.

Events and Excitement

Well, Christmas – obviously… but after that:

Wednesday 8th January 2014

Pub Poetry_SQPub Poetry – Open Mic Comic Lit

An evening of poetry karaoke – bring your stories, poems and songs just so long as they’re funny.

The Canalhouse
Canal Street
Nottingham
8.00pm – FREE

https://www.facebook.com/events/333865666752917/

Thursday 9th January 2014

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM

Gorilla Burger: improv comedy carnage

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, and a superb opportunity to get an idea of what Nottingham improv is all about.
The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/780799861945613/

Friday 10th January 2014

Pub Poetry_SQPub Poetry – Open Mic Comic Lit

An evening of poetry karaoke – bring your stories, poems and songs just so long as they’re funny.

The Old Cottage Tavern
Byrkley Street
Burton on Trent
7.30pm – FREE

Christmas Song: Santa Slayed My Gal ~ Misk Hills Mountain Rambler

Christmas is Fun

Misk Hills Christmasas

My dear pal Misk Hills Mountain Rambler and the epically entertaining DH Lawrence & The Vaudeville Skiffle Show collective have provided us with a skiffley comic marvel. Americana, skiffle, Christmas and comedy?  It would be remiss to not share it with you all.

You can grab it for 69p (that’s pence! – get it for everyone you know) from Bandcamp.com.

Singalong Fun

To enhance your delight, Misky’s included the lyrics so you can sing along at home.

[bandcamp width=350 height=442 track=838193612 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=e32c14 notracklist=true]

It was late Christmas Eve, when he came down my flue
He said to my babe, “How do you do”
He walked past the tree and he gave her the eye
He said, “baby, I’m gonna switch on y’ lights!”

I was lying fast asleep, I was already pissed
Safe in the knowledge, Santa didn’t exist
But I think someone’s been telling me lies
Now Santa’s eating my baby’s mince pies

His name was Santa in the big red suit
Santa in the big black boots
Coming round here with his bulging sack
We ain’t sayin a thing bout that

He came round here on his big white sleigh
He was trying to steal my baby away
They drank my whisky and they drank my wine
He took all my money it was the end of the line

With that false white beard and the big red nose
My baby she had nothing to lose
He found her switch and watched her lights glow
What he did next … only the Devil knows

His name was Santa in the big red suit
Santa in the big black boots
Coming round here with his bulging sack
…..Oh we ain’t sayin a thang bout that

Oh Santa’s stealin my gaaaaal
Oh Santa’s stealin my gaaaaal
Oh Santa’s stealin my gaaaaal
Oh Santa . . . . . . . . he’s stealin my gal!

She said, Santa “ What you got for my Son”
He said, “Never mind that” and he pulled out a gun
He shot my baby, now she’s gone away
He’s got her body on the back of his sleigh

He chain-sawed her up, and then he stopped for a beer
Then he fed those little pieces, to the hungry Reindeer
He’s a Psycho killer and he’s heading your way
Don’t ask him for a present, cos’ you might rue the day

CHORUS 2
He’s a homicidal killer in a big red suit
He took my baby’s body and a bag full o’ loot
Coming round here with his chain-saw and gun
…. Oh that’s his idea of a night full of fun

Cos Santa slayed my gaaaal
Oh Santa slayed my gaaaal!
Oh Santa slayed my gaaaal
Oh Santa . . . slayed my gal

Happy Christmas ….. !

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Skiffle

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a stage with this amazing crew. I think we tag teamed briefly during the Furthest From The Sea Festival in June. No – I’m instantly lying, we were both on the bill for Little Wolf Parade‘s performance art show in the middle of Nottingham just a couple of months ago. Anyway – it’s been far too long since we did the Pirate Coves show in the Nottingham Comedy Festival back in 2012 (2011? I have no idea how time works). It is clearly of the highest importance to catch up properly in the New Year and do some cool and foolish stuff together again.

Christmas Beer Review #2-6: An Inebriation Of Ales – Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Mud City Stout, Deuchars Imperial Pale Ale, Huber Bock, St Peter’s Christmas Ale

Christmas Eve Beeringen

A nice pre-Christmas get together with my Dad and step-Mum for some Thai food (thanks to the amazing Yod Siam restaurant and their swift takeaway skills) has lead to the general destruction of my careful plans for a steady series of beer reviews. We’ve drunk five different beers this evening so I’m just going to have to deal with them all together or lose any hope of keeping up.

Day Two: Diversity Thy Name Is Beer

I may have mentioned that we’d well stocked the garage beer cupboard, so in preparation for parental arrival I randomly selected a group of my favourites and a couple of randoms. Inevitably we drank all of them, but wisely shared them by swapping pints at the third point. It’s a great way of trying a wide range fairly quickly. We had a very nice evening!

Christmas Ales 2-6

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout – 5.2% 500ml, by Wells & Youngs

This accompanied my delightful chicken balls and green Thai curry. It’s proven an endlessly reliable rich drink and I’m pleased to discover that it also goes well with Thai food. It might not have the kick of the Russian Imperial Stout I was drinking yesterday, but this is a very enjoyable longer drink with strong chocolate flavours (as you’d hope) and is really quite quaffable. I may venture out this evening to find another one.

Rating: Excitable Toucan

http://www.wellsandyoungs.co.uk/home/our-beers/ales/young-s-double-chocolate-stout

Mud City Stout – 6.6% 500ml, by Sadlers

We found this a while ago on the bargain beer shelves of Beeston. It’s slightly richer (and stronger) than the Double Chocolate Stout and I think is probably the better beer overall. It’s thicker in the taste as it rolls around your mouth. It’s the beer that reminded me just how fond I am of stouts this year: many thanks Messrs Sadler. I’ve been happy to introduce folks to this one for a while now, though I’ve yet to have the pleasure of finding it anywhere on draft.

Rating: Black Panther Extremist

http://www.sadlersales.co.uk/index.php/beerssignaturemudcitystout

Deuchars Imperial Pale Ale –  5.2% 500ml, by Caledonian

Y’know those pubs that don’t have anything you really want to drink? Straightforward Deuchars IPA  is one of the beers that I’ll take as a fall-back drink in those cases. I was quite excited when my other half stumbled across this Imperial version. In some way it harkens back to the days of empire when we had good strong beer all the time. It’s a much richer, rounded taste that stays in your mouth after swallowing. That’s a good thing in case you were wondering. It’s vastly superior to the vanilla IPA and I’d commend it to you.

Rating: Octogoat Overachiever

https://www.caledonianbeer.com/shop/product_detail/253

Huber Bock – 5.5% 330ml, by Minhas Brewery

Another random acquisition – spotted yesterday for 79p in B&N Bargains. I’ve always drunk Superbock when at Nando’s but had never especially noted  the ‘bock’ part of the name. Finding another prompted me to finally look the things up properly… educational! This is a very tasty malty lager, rather dark in colour. It’s quite sweet and very smooth and I’m happily impressed. It also got a boozy nod of approval from both my beer-educated parents. I shall certainly be seeking more of this American bounty. Why can’t all the vile shitty lagers we make in this country taste like this? Are they just too good for the Walkabout scum?

Rating: Komodo Dragon

http://minhasbrewery.com/our-brews/craft-brews/huber-bock

St Peter’s Christmas Ale – 7.0% 500ml, by St Peter’s Brewery

I must confess to not having been thrilled by St Peter’s beers in the past, but I’m always suckered back in by the old-fashioned flask shaped bottles. Plus these were in the 4 for a fiver at Tesco… It’s a strong fruity beer that is definitely the best of their brews I’ve tasted so far. It has less of an alcohol tang than some of their other drinks – I think that’s what I didn’t always enjoy before; I’ve drunk plenty of equally strong beers that don’t have that sharp alcohol spike in them. But really I have nothing bad to say about this Christmas Ale – I may have another on Christmas day itself I enjoyed it so much.

Rating: Minced Reindeer

http://www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk/products/seasonal-beers/christmas-ale/

Extras

I also had a bottle of Huber Bock while wrapping Christmas presents and watching Pitch Black last night. The sequels are so utterly terrible they almost, almost undermine how fun the original was:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIeSV4i7bxQ&w=560&h=315]

And how awful the sequels are (I can’t bear to repeat the last one):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCrDo3eCXkw&w=560&h=315]

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Lego Blog: Merry Christmas Scene

Merry Christmas One And All

May your bricks be festive and come in nicely wrapped boxes. Here are a few shots of the Christmas scene we put together (rather hastily) in the weeks before Christmas. It’s part wintrified Lone Ranger Colby Shootout, which is one of my very favourite sets ever for the delightful little buildings, colours and details. I’ve basically whitened just the roofs… All the buildings rotate because it’s on a shelf and I just adore the interiors too much. In the middle is the Festive Feast set we nabbed from the Lego Store and the disturbing discovery that Lego Friends heads fit perfectly on the turkey bodies.

Xmas Display

Winter Village Toy Shoppe

Also we’ve got our version of the Lego Winter Village Toy Shop. We downloaded the instructions from Brickset and had a crack at it, figuring we probably had most of the bricks (if not all – sigh, the arrogance!) Turns out we didn’t have some critical bricks, notably in the roof building and window design.

Winter Village Toy Shop

It forced a great deal of improvisation, which had rather nice results… I’ll post some pictures up of the inside later, which I’ve tiled quite prettily. Below is how it’s “supposed” to look.

Have a lovely Christmas everyone!

Xmas Display1

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