Archive for October, 2006

On the pleasures of chili oil

Friday 27 October (2006)

some chili oil
this isn’t the actual oil I have, but it looks the same

I have always enjoyed a good pizza, but I’ve only ever really eaten supermarket or brand-name frozen ones. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but when you find yourself in an Italian restaurant (with a bona fide Italian maître d’ and waitress) and you order one, you know it’s going to be something special. It certainly was, but what intrigued me was the large bottle the waiter left behind with the pizza: it looked like olive oil, but it was a deep red colour and had chili peppers suspended in it. My friend Ryan had been going on at me about pouring olive oil over his pizzas, making them ‘superb’ – perhaps this is what he was talking about? So, ever one for indulgence, I poured some of this oil over the pizza. And my God…

It became apparant when I spoke to Ryan that he poured the olive oil over his pizza before he cooked it, not after, so I was confused. But that was one fucking great pizza I ate in that restaurant – so I went to Tesco and bought some of their ‘chili infused olive oil’ for £2.50. That evening I experimented – I poured some oil over a pizza before cooking it, and then also after. And fuck me, if it wasn’t amazingly tasty.

I mean, olive oil on its own isn’t a substance I really use in my cooking – if I ever fry something I always use vegetable or sunflower oil, and I don’t really go for it with salads or pasta. But this chili oil is different. I have no doubt that it’s supposed to be used as any other oil is in cooking, but with a touch of heat for connoisseurs of spicy food (like me.) The thing is, I’ve been using it differently – in a word; cheese.

Pizzas are covered in cheese and this stuff browns it nicely, and also spices it up. So when I made a pasta bake just now, which I literally covered with grated highland cheddar (I’ve gotten over my parmesan fetish, thank God,) I poured some of my magical oil over it. Good Holy God! It makes any meal with cheese (and possibly tomatoes, in one form or another) become transcendent.

Buy some.

And on a side note: no Sunday Review this week; I’ll be away on holiday 😀

Jackass: Number Two vs. Dirty Sanchez: The Movie

Tuesday 24 October (2006)

I’ve had the privilege of watching the latest movie offerings from the two foremost exponents of the ‘let’s hurt each other’ scene recently; Jackass: Number Two and Dirty Sanchez: The Movie. Reviews aren’t necessary (I mean, there’s nothing to review is there) but for those of you who like your comedy-pain / sideshow entertainment the question you must have is: which one of these movies is the worst? And by worst, of course, you mean best, you sick bastard. Well, read on my friends.

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The Sunday Review: My Name Is Earl season 1

Sunday 22 October (2006)

my name is earl

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Lost: Further Instructions (s3e3)

Thursday 19 October (2006)

I appreciate the irony that after my previous post, I am now posting about the latest episode of Lost which I was downloading even as I wrote that rant, but television is different – on the ‘perfect’ Internet it would probably be broadcast worldwide in HD (with adverts to fund it) and there would be no way to rip it or download it at the same time. You can’t see a new movie without paying for it in some way (legally) but watching new TV episodes is free. It’s not the strongest justification, but I don’t care because this latest episode of Lost was fantastic! (If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading now.)

Old John Locke. He’s certainly a great character for a TV show – as the weeks go by we see how he is motivated by tragedy and pathos, and at the end of season two he made another huge mistake when he lost faith, but at the same time he’s the person who understands the island best. He’s been mixing up his hallucinogens since the first season, and in this episode he does so again. I like how the producers of Lost don’t shy away from this shamanic concept that hallucinogens are genuine spiritual tools, not just recreational drugs (especially the ‘jungle’ ones like Ibogaine and DMT) but last night actually showed us where John got his knowledge of such things. The young kid being a cop was a clever twist (ingenious to make a traffic cop pull them over to give him absolute credibility early on) but as soon as I realised that John was living on a hippie commune I thought ‘LSD.’ That wasn’t mentioned, but the ‘sweat lodge’ John mentions is definately some kind of trip out room, even if the drug they use isn’t acid.

In fact it was a real drug soaked episode – Charlie talks about how he used to get high and watch wildlife documentaries on ‘the Beeb‘ whilst John, it seems, was part of a grass-growing gang. As soon as I saw the forbidden tent and the fertiliser I thought it would be grass in there, but to be honest I thought it would be for the commune’s personal use – not for selling for profit. But that’s by the by.

John’s dream (or trip, I suppose) was excellent too – Boone wheeling him around the airport, nicely edited, the colour slightly off to remind us that it’s not real, slight inaccuracies like Hurley working there – very entertaining. And then we get Eko and the polar bear, some funny scenes with Hurley and Desmond, and then a huge bombshell at the end: whatever happened to Desmond when the shaft imploded, whilst he can’t turn into the hulk, he apparantly can predict the future. Spooky stuff.

So that’s half way through season three part one, and it’s shaping up to be quite good 🙂

The Internet is Decadent and Depraved

Thursday 19 October (2006)

I’ve been up all night tonight, and to be frank, I’ve had enough of the internet. It’s a perverted playground; a steel-and-glass shopping mall with an enormous dungeon below it, with free entry to all. You walk through this mall, and the storefront logos run out towards you and block your path, flashing and jumping and shouting about special offers. You see a pretty girl walk past, and in an instant she’s naked and covered in baby oil for your pleasure, writhing around with her most private areas craftily concealed, and she’s begging you to give her some money so you can watch her defile herself. She doesn’t even beckon towards an out-of-sight corner as she thrusts a free preview onto you. You’re a man, and you have urges, and this girl is naked but for some reason, it doesn’t turn you on. And then you turn around and some horrible lowlife approaches with a sack full of DVDs, throwing them to anyone who feigns an interest, and you know it’s full of expensive software, the latest movies, music and games, and although you know it’s wrong this guy is just giving this stuff to you.

Well, fuck that. I don’t like this mall of temptations. I want the Internet to be sophisticated. And you can argue that it already is, and that it’s easy to avoid the dark alleyways if you want to, and all that bullshit, but the fact remains that whilst you’re in one of the trendier parts of the mall drinking an organic latte and having a chat with some eminent intellectuals, somewhere far below you in the same building a fat pervert is watching some Eastern European bastard having anal sex with a twelve-year-old girl. It’s distasteful.

So what should the Internet be like? I don’t know. The Internet should be like sitting in a vibrating leather chair with a goblet of wine, having your feet massaged whilst the cast of the latest Hollywood blockbuster personally perform the movie in front of you; your own private stage production.

I don’t know. But somebody needs to fucking fix it. And don’t comment telling me it’s impossible, because I don’t give a shit – we’re talking about ideas man, and they’re indestructable. I don’t want Big Brother, and I don’t want to suppress free speech – I just want the law to be like it used to be; tangible, dangerous, powerful. Let’s make it so the dirty paedophile fucks out there can’t get their rocks off over the loss of innocence. As soon as his filthy pornography is downloaded he’s clapped in irons and never seen again. I want someone who downloads a DVD rip to be instantly accosted by security, like they would if they strolled out of HMV with it under their arm. I freely admit, I download shit all the time, and I’ve looked at pornography in my lifetime, and that sucks. Because I prefer owning movies, or watching new ones at the cinema. Because I like physical CDs and album art. And I’ve never walked into a newsagents and bought a porn mag and I’ve never stolen anything from a shop in my life, but this stupid fucking Internet lets me make an ass of the law without even trying.

Ah… Over.

The Sunday Review: Little Miss Sunshine

Sunday 15 October (2006)

little miss sunshine

(Spoilers ahoy.)

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Ralph Steadman talks about Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday 14 October (2006)

ralph steadman

I went to another event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival today: Will Self interviewing Ralph Steadman about his new book, The Joke’s Over, which is about his late friend and collaborator, Hunter S. Thompson. I’m obviously a huge fan of Thompson, and he’s something of a hero of mine so I was pleased when I talked Sally into joining me for this one. Unfortunately, she insisted we go to the pub first, and I spent the entire seventy-five minutes with crossed legs trying not to think about the sound of running water or metaphorical releases of tension.

The interview took place in a large marquee outside the town hall, and we arrived early enough to get seats on the front row (next to what Sally described as a ‘stunningly beautiful’ girl who apparantly fancied me – I don’t know how girls know these things) which was lucky, because the room soon filled up with well over a hundred people. Soon enough, Steadman entered the stage and the interview began.

It was very interesting to hear some of his memoirs – he described the first time he and Thompson met, where Thompson kind of put him through a trial-by-fire. After consuming a lot of alcohol and suffering a lot of abuse, Steadman was still holding his own, which won him the respect of Thompson and forged their friendship. He also read from some letters from Thompson, where it was revealed that a lot of the time Thompson needed to see Steadman’s drawings before he could write something, it being too ‘hideous’ in his own memory and the images serving as an alternate version.

Steadman, donning one of Thompson’s hats and some of his tinted shades, with a cigarette in a filter in his mouth, related the one time he got high with Hunter. They were on a boat, and Thompson was eating drugs at a voracious rate, and Steadman (who was feeling sea-sick) noticed that he didn’t seem to be bothered by the motion of the boat at all. So, he asked Thompson to dose him with some psilocybin. It was without a doubt a bad trip, but as he told us about what happened all these years later it sounded like a fond memory. He and Thompson had rowed over to an expensive yacht to write ‘fuck the pope’ on the side, but they were caught before they had chance. “We must flee!” he hissed in a perfect imitation of his old friend, with a smile on his face.

And then of course, things took a turn for the sentimental, and it was quite moving. He read from his book; a letter he had written to Thompson after he had killed himself, which perfectly captured the lack of understanding most of us had towards his suicidal tendencies. All in, it was a very entertaining and enjoyable experience, and I’m pleased to have spent some time in the same room as the man who illustrated Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

fear and loathing in las vegas

Thomas F. Wilson sings

Friday 13 October (2006)

I have an awful habit of going to random video sites and watching clips for hours at a time. It’s a bad addiction, and I should try and kick it, but every so often you find something really good: watch this. It’s a video of Thomas F. Wilson, who played Biff in the Back to the Future movies, singing a song about questions he gets asked a lot. Good fun!

Terry Jones talks about barbarians

Tuesday 10 October (2006)

terry jones

It’s the Cheltenham Literature Festival at the moment, and when I saw that my favourite member of Monty Python, the erstwhile Terry Jones, was giving a lecture based on his new book and television series Barbarians, I had to go. Luckily the ticket was only £3.50! And the evening was complimented by a surprise visit from Sally’s brother Scott, and his girlfriend Lisa.

Anyway we took our seats in the Everyman Theatre and awaited the arrival of Mr. Jones. Soon enough he arrived, and immediately embarked on a very interesting lecture. The word ‘barbarian’ for example – did you know that it was a word used by the Greeks to describe anyone who couldn’t speak Greek? Because those people didn’t speak, they just went bar-bar-bar-bar-bar and thus they were barbarians. The Romans then took the word and used it themselves, in a kind of linguistical coup d’etat, and eventually it came to mean any persons who were, basically, uncivilised.

The really interesting thing about it all is that I have assumed, like many, that the Romans were the civilised people and the nations they invaded were the lands of barbarians, who really, in the long run, benefitted from the invasion. Jones paints a quite different picture however, as he tells us that the Persians and the Germans (the only two regions of the known world which resisted Roman invasion) were actually far more civilised people. Even the Celts were credited with laying the foundations of the famous Roman roads.

Perhaps his most interesting conclusion was that, contrary to popular belief, the Romans and their invasions across Europe didn’t advance civilisation and technology but rather set them back, by as much as a thousand years. It’s really quite an interesting view of classical European history, and as Jones delivers his points so passionately and entertainingly, it’s hard not to believe every single word he says.

I thoroughly enjoyed his Medieval Lives series for the BBC, and I now intend to find some episodes of Barbarians on UKTV History. I might even pick up his book sometime, although my studies are quite intensive at the moment and I wouldn’t have the time to read it for a while. Still, extremely interesting! If you’re into your Romans, check it out.

Drug-danger ‘league table’

Monday 9 October (2006)

the drug 'league table'
click here for the full chart

I was browsing the Internet this afternoon when I came across something rather interesting. An article on New Scientist reveals a list formulated by the ‘UK Science and Technology Select Committee’ which attempts to re-organise drugs (both licit and illicit) into an order based on the ‘actual social and physical harm they cause’. I’ve only tried six of the substances on the list, but the results are very interesting reading.

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