RIP James Gandolfini

20 06 2013

I switched on the television in work this morning to hear the sad news that James Gandolfini of Tony Soprano fame had passed away at only 51 years of age whilst on holiday in Italy.

Whilst the official cause of death hasn’t been announced yet it is being suggested that the Soprano’s star suffered a heart attack.

Whilst Gandolfini will be best remembered for his iconic performances in the Sopranos, his film credits included Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly, and he appeared in the Broadway production God Of Carnage.

The three time Emmy award winning actor was in Italy for the 59th Taormina film festival.

A great actor, a great man and a great loss.

 





Chill time

16 07 2012

Sons of Anarchy – check

Cigar – check

Beer – check

Let the relaxing begin ūüôā





The Dark Knight Rises

11 07 2012

Only 9 more sleeps until Batman is back yay!!

Am I excited about the Dark Knight Rises? Hell yes I am! I have always found Batman to be one of my favourite superheroes, probably because he is semi-plausible.

He isn’t from Krypton, he wasn”t bitten by a spider or zapped with gamma rays.

Nope he is just a rich dude with a grudge against lowlife scum who uses his money to buy awesome gadgets with which to mess their¬†collective shit up. Don’t tell me that isn”t what you would do with a lottery win. I know I would.

That some of the film and TV adaptations of the caped crusader have been a little crap is ok. From the days of Adam West and his overly camp escapades through to Arnie as a wise cracking Mr. Freeze I have enjoyed them all.

But the new Batman, the darker,edgier, nastier Batman. Well he is just pretty damn awesome.

Batman Begins was a great film and really served to relaunch a franchise which a lot of people kinda looked down upon. Dark Knight was the perfect follow-up, I defy anyone not to have found Heath Ledger’s Joker to be the perfect counter point to Bale’s Batman.

That is why I am so frigging excited about Dark Knight Rises. The artwork looks great, the trailers have been amazing and I think that Tom Hardy as Bane is a great choice.

Bring on the 20th





Don’t trust UEFA

4 07 2012

 A lot of us watching the semi final between Germany and Italy will have felt for the poor German fan who was moved to tears after Balotelli struck his second goal in the 36th minute of the game.

No sooner had the mental one scored his screamer, ripped off his jersey and struck that pose when the footage cut away to a female fan with the German flag painted on her cheek and a single tear rolling away from an emotional eye.

Except it was a little bit of a lie on the part of European football’s governing body…

A lot of commentators mentioned how it was “Too early for tears”. And it was, there was an awful lot of football left to play at that point. The commentators knew it, the players knew it and the seemingly overwrought fan in the stands knew it too.

The German newspaper S√ľddeutsche¬†Zeitung talked to the tearful woman: Her name was Andrea, she came from Dusseldorf, and she was surprised when she started getting texts from friends asking why she’d started crying with nearly an hour of play remaining.

Simple answer:¬†she hadn’t.

Instead, Andrea said, she had been overcome with emotion during the playing of the national anthems, before the match kicked off. A camera recorded her then, and the footage was inserted into live TV later on, at the moment it would have the most impact. The emotional power of sport, on cue.

Naughty, naughty, naughty. How dare the television networks con us, the pay viewers, in such a cynical way.

Well they didn’t.

Don’t blame¬†the BBC¬†or ESPN. They didn’t know, nor did ARD, the German network airing the match, nor did ZDF¬†or SVT, or any of the other hundreds of channels that had won the regional broadcasting rights around the world. They had no control or input into what was being recorded.¬†They merely aired the streaming live signal from UEFA‚ÄĒwhich on multiple occasions goosed the live footage by adding prerecorded shots, with zero acknowledgement.

 We all remember the light hearted moment during the Germany Vs Holland match in the Group stages when German manager Joachim Loew playfully snuck up behind an unaware ball boy and smacked the football out from under his arm.

It showed a real human side to a man who often comes across as rather unemotional and was quite the counterpoint to what was possibly the most intense match of the group.

Well surprise, surprise it didn’t quite happen like that.
In reality the incident took place during the pre-match warm ups and was spliced into the live feed at a point when some UEFA goon in a suit decided it would provide the most amusement.

Two networks, claiming they were caught off guard by UEFA’s sneaky, underhand¬†¬†practices, have spoken out against it:

“Of course any form of censorship or manipulation is not acceptable for us.” said ARD’s¬†Euro 2012 chief editor Joerg Schoenenborn.” That’s why we clearly told UEFA that the German public expects coverage to be live when it says it’s live. Live is live and has to stay live.”

“We have complained to UEFA¬†that the impression was aroused that these were live pictures,” ZDF editor-in-chief Peter Frey said. “That does not correspond to our journalistic standards.”

¬†Which of course is very admirable and indeed is the right thing to say in the circumstance. Doesn’t mean we should automatically trust everything that TV shows us though. After all haven’t we lived through years upon tedious years of “Scripted Reality” shows such as “TOWIE” or “Geordie Shore”?

Not to mention such absolute utter bollocks as the live, unedited antics of housemates on Big Brother?

Your favorite news and sports shows always make sure to tape footage of their reporter nodding thoughtfully, and insert it under an interview subject’s voice. This makes it look like correspondent are intently listening and paying attention, when actually ¬†they might be doodling, picking their noses or surfing hardcore porn on their desktop monitors.

It’s subtle, it’s unnoticeable and it is utterly cynical,¬†sadly the Hollywood manipulation of seemingly unbroken scenes is surprisingly common.





Man vs Phaal

17 08 2011

When I have a spare moment I quite like watching the television show Man vs Food with hyperactive glutton Adam Richman.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show Adam travels the length and breadth of the US taking on various food challenges, most of the time these challenges are focused on Adam eating ridiculously large servings within a set period of time. These episodes are all very well and good but my favourites have been the episodes which feature some slightly spicier adversaries.

One such episode featured Adam taking on the phaal challenge at the Brick Lane Curry house in Manhattan.

I was intrigued to see this episode for a number of reasons; firstly I love Indian cuisine, I would possibly go so far as to say it is my favourite food, added to that a good phaal has to be one of my favourite dishes and I have eaten so many of them that I have lost count. Some were better than others but they all have one thing in common, they are all pretty damn hot!

Secondly I was intrigued to get a look at the food being served by the Brick Lane Curry House  seeing as I grew up within spitting distance of the actual Brick Lane in East London and have eaten my way along the entire length of it over the past 20 years or so.

Well I watched it and I laughed and laughed and laughed some more, whilst I am sure that it IS a very hot curry I am completely not convinced that it requires quite the hullabaloo that seems to surround it.

Enjoy…





HBO Developing Series Based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods

22 04 2011

The series based on Gaiman’s 2001 novel would showcase his new pantheon of deities based on American culture.

¬†The details are scarce, but HBO is currently in talks to write and film a pilot for a new fantasy series. Interestingly, the series would be produced by Playtone – the outfit of Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman who made Big Love and Band of Brothers. Gaiman first gained notoriety as a comic book writer with his Sandman series in the late eighties but he’s since branched into writing novels, short stories and movies (Beowulf). Gaiman’s works are no stranger to adaptation as his novella Coraline become the 2009 animated film and his Graveyard Book is also tapped to be a feature film. No one knows who would write the script for American Gods or when production would begin, but it seems that HBO is becoming more interested in genre content with the success of True Blood and the imminent Game of Thrones.

The main character in American Gods is an ex-convict called Shadow, who starts working as a bodyguard for a mysterious con-man named Mr. Wednesday. As Wednesday travels across the United States meeting with strange people, Shadow eventually figures out that his employer is an incarnation of the Norse god Odin and that he is recruiting other mythological figures whose power has diminished to fight a war against new American “deities” such as the Internet, media, and mass transportation.

Typically I don’t watch a lot of telly but I really have to take my hat off to HBO who in recent years have pumped out some absolute crackers; ¬†Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Six Feet Under to name a few.

Having watched the first episode twice so far it seems that Game of Thrones is set to be another classic and if they do even half as good a job with American Gods it will be outstanding.

Original source Hollywood Reporter




Louis Theroux: America’s Most Hated Family In Crisis

3 04 2011

America’s Most Hated Family In Crisis is a follow-up to his acclaimed 2007 documentary The Most Hated Family In America, and sees Theroux return to Topeka, Kansas for a second visit to the Westboro Baptist Church.

A fire-and-brimstone Christian group, made up of 80 members of the Phelps family, has garnered worldwide notoriety thanks to their funeral picketing of soldiers killed in action.

Believing they were killed as God’s punishment for America’s toleration of homosexuality, the family wield anti-gay placards while singing their own disturbing lyrics to Lady Gaga tunes.

In the four years since Theroux’s first documentary, a series of defections of family members has shaken up the church. They’ve also been at the centre of a landmark supreme court case (the court ruled that vicious anti-gay rhetoric was constitutionally protected) and their beliefs have become increasingly bizarre.

For Theroux the story has moved on, which is partly why he wanted to return. That and the fact he admits he’s “fascinated” by the Phelps family.

“It sounds really odd to say this but there are aspects of them that are quite nice, given how hateful they and the pickets are,” he says, adding he found his attitude towards them “modulated”.

“When you’re on the pickets you find yourself shocked and sometimes upset by what they’re doing, and then at other times you see them as normal people. The challenge is to try and manage your reaction,” he explains.

“I mean we’re human beings, they’re human beings, in some way you have to guard against demonising them too much, and against becoming desensitised by being around them.”

The documentary is being broadcast tonight at 9pm on BBC2 – make sure you tune in.





Abbot Ale – 5% English Ale

13 12 2010

Abbot Ale is Greene King’s flagship beer and is also one of the first real ales that I ever had the pleasure of trying back in the day.

As such it is probably a little surprising that it has taken me quite so long to work my way round to writing a review on this particular beer.

I guess the biggest reason is that of choice; there are so many other beers out there and I am so keen to try them all (ambitious I know!) that if I am out in the pub I will drink pretty much anything before I consider heading for an Abbot, likewise if I am in an off-license there are literally hundreds of bottles that would come home with me first.

First things first let me state that this is a cask pint from the Hamilton Hall at Liverpool Street Station. It is NOT – note the capital letters – ¬†from one of these cans with a widget in. I don’t really like most ales in a can and Abbot is no exception.

When poured properly, not like my first pint that was slopped into the glass whilst the barmaid was chatting to her friend, you should see a clear golden/amber pint with a decent white head of about 2 fingers width which slowly fades away to a thin layer which stays throughout.

You can quite clearly make out the smell of malts, some fruity sweetness and a touch of hops but everything is fairly muted with no one aroma standing out from the crowd.

The first flavour that really hits you is a sweet toasted maltiness but before that can start to seem a bit too much you get the hops kicking in, there are some floral notes and a slight Earthiness Рsome have even said it seems a bit skunky on occasion. After the hops have started to recede a little you get the bitterness of the beer coming through along with a slight hint of citrus/orange  as well.

The flavours in Abbot ale are all quite crisp, strong and well-defined the only slight issue that I have is that everything is a little bit mish-mash and all over the shop, for example there is a fairly distinct cinder toffee note that you get right towards the end of the beer and because there is nothing around to balance it or cut through it you are left with a slightly burnt after taste. Not unpleasant by any standards but possibly a little disconcerting to some.

I have an old friend who always accuses me of being more complementary of Abbot Ale than I should be as a result of it being one of my first real ales. He might have a point but then again sod him,  there is something to be said for flavours or smells that take us back to a certain time or place and if Abbot Ale does that for me then so be it!

When all is said and done I still ¬†have my original problem with Abbot;¬†it is a good beer, there is nothing about it that is unpleasant or even less than pleasing but it isn’t a great beer – I wouldn’t ask for a pint to be bought to me on my death-bed.

If you are looking for a good example of an English Ale than Abbot will see you just fine but there are better beers to be had.

4.0/5








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