Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ultra spiritual

It was my three hundred and thirty third yoga session this morning, and though, judging by the mirror that always lines the front wall at a Bikram session, I still turn into Red Skull before he first water break I must be improving. For the second week in a row my locust pose was praised and offered as an exemplar by the teacher. When I consider that when I started I couldn't raise my legs at all in it I am rather chuffed.

A year ago, I went straight to the studio after coming back from the Bomber's Old Ruts end of season rugby tour and fell asleep (can't imagine why, I'd only been up boozing for three days) before the lesson even started. I was woken by a stern woman whose blissful egolessness had been disturbed by my snoring.

These days I would have explained to her that ‘prana’ refers to the universal life force and ‘ayama’ means to regulate or lengthen. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is what keeps us alive. Pranayama is the control of prana through the breath. Why you gots to be the hater pouring salt on my game you no-skillz beetch?

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Gas Man Cameth

Not only is my heating working again. I can now control it from my iPhone.
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' He chortled in his joy.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sing Something, Simple

Manny Pacquiao's official fight song for his upcoming match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a masterclass in power balladry.

If I was Mayweather, this is how I would hit back.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right or better.

There is a cookbook on the market compiled by a chef who “has never tasted a single morsel of food.” Watson, IBM’s cognitive system that famously defeated two human grand champions to win the US quiz show Jeopardy, has turned its attention to the kitchen.

It was strangely jarring to find this out on the same day that my copy of "Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto" arrived. Aaron Franklin and  Jordan Mackay's book is available only in hardback, there is no ebook at all. Cracking the spine on a new volume is something I haven't done for a long time and it was good to get involved with instruction and memoirs based on years' worth of hard-won knowledge as opposed to theory for a change.

It echoed as well with The World Beyond Your Head, which I started to read on the exercise bike this morning. That advocates skilled practices as a way of engaging with the world in a more satisfying way and gives the examples of a cook, an ice-hockey player and a motorbike racer as people whose roles force them to deal with material reality; no representation can replicate the feel of the puck on ice or gravel under your tyres at high speed. Each relies on good judgement of a complicated subject and the ability to manage the presence of others in the same space.

Whether this applies to my BBQ technique of putting something in the smoker in the evening then buggering off and picking it up in the morning is probably moot.

I could go and see Matthew Crawford next Tuesday, but that - given the giddy social whirl - is also my only chance to catch The Car Man at Wimbledon. If I have got his proposition right, he would probably advise me to go and learn to appreciate the embodied skills of the dancers rather than him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Reading too much into it

I have just finished reading Matthieu Ricard's The Art of Meditation and am about to start on Matthew Crawford's The World Beyond Your Head: How to Flourish in an Age of Distraction.

I kid myself I chose books on a whim, but maybe my subconscious is telling me that going stir crazy waiting for the gas man to arrive is symptomatic rather than a problem in itself.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Gas Man Cometh Not

I have been sitting here like a lemon since 8 o'clock this morning waiting for a British Gas engineer to arrive and look at my boiler. He was due between 8 and 1 so he is late.

I've called the company. They say he is 'dispatched' and I am his next job. To wait or not? There are things to do in the office and I have to take the bomber to the dentist later.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

a combined Christmas and birthday present?


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Man finds food

John and I watched Chef the movie again the evening after we met Shauna Guinn (Icons passim) Aaron Franklin is in it as himself and so - under the assumption that the universe is sending me a message - I have ordered his book from Amazon. The image above was the clincher as the map on the left contains all the BBQ joints I can remember Shauna recommending during our chat.

I fired my smoker up for the first time this year and did a shoulder in it overnight. I will work it up into some pulled pork with Carolina mustard sauce later. This is a dry run for Ollie's birthday barbecue next Saturday. She actually asked me to bring some long to it earlier this week when I was having a crafty pint with the Hendries and the Goddings. I was flattered.

I have also decided to go down to Cardiff's Brew Dog on 23 April for the Hang Fire Smoke House takeover. I will go on the train and meet up with the Ruts for the rugby tour on Friday.

This means that I will have go and see Matthew Bourne's Adventures in Motion contemporary dance company on the Tuesday. To sit here writing that sentence when I have already been to yoga this morning and after a paragraph about BBQ and rugby feels rather strange. It takes all sorts I suppose, and I am all sorts just on my own.
"I predict a return of hot sauces to American cuisine. With color TV, the entire sensory life will take on a whole new set of dimensions."
Marshall McLuhan 1966
How right he was.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Initials BB

The Bomber went along to javelin training last night, for only the second time since 2013 as he missed last week with swollen tonsils, and told me afterwards that he had done 42m with his best throw. That is not too shabby as the best at U15 in the UK so far this year (though it is early in the season) is 42.21m according to the Power of 10 website.

I hope he will be able to make it to the Ebbisham League match Sunday week and lay down an official marker. I can't be 100% sure though as the last Old Ruts league game of the season is on that day as well and - although the boys are already promoted - they are still in with a sniff of winning the whole thing. An earlyish morning kick off would be OK as javelin is not until about half past three in the afternoon.

I have told him, to his bemusement, that we will be sampling Serge Gainsbourg's Initials BB for his theme song. Just as Gainsbourg used the Adagio from Dvořák's New World symphony and Danger Mouse and Black Grape sampled Serge in turn.

I have been looking for a project to try out FL Studio and Deckadance you see.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Car Man

Matthew Bourne’s internationally acclaimed dance thriller was first seen in 2000, winning the Evening Standard Award for ‘Musical Event of the Year’.
The Car Man is loosely based on Bizet’s popular opera and has one of the most thrilling and instantly recognisable scores in New Adventures’ repertory, brilliantly arranged by Terry Davies.
The familiar 19th Century Spanish cigarette factory becomes a greasy garage-diner in 1960’s America where the dreams and passions of a small-town are shattered by the arrival of a handsome stranger. Fuelled by heat and desire, the inhabitants are driven into an unstoppable spiral of greed, lust, betrayal and revenge.
It is at the Wimbledon Theatre the week after next. Maybe it could serve as a sort of Streetcar Part II for me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Day My Pad Went Mad

Last night, as I was boiling some sweet potatoes and listening to Led Zeppelin IV, my dish washer - which has been on the blink for months - suddenly started working again. I was bewildered. I don't even remember switching it on. Perhaps I rubbed up against it while gyrating to Rock and Roll or Black Dog. I will get some tablets on the way home and cross my fingers that last night's come back wasn't temporary.

Then when I woke up this morning I found that the boiler had been on all night and wouldn't switch off from the control in the airing cupboard. I called British Gas. They can't come until Monday but they have told me how to attempt to switch off the device itself directly.

Oh, and Man v. Food's Adam Richman has been vegan for three months.

“If you've done 6 impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?”

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


I mean to watch this later, so I may as well pop it up here to share with the world.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The F.B.I. Fitness Test

The New York Times
For the first time in 16 years, the Federal bureau of Investigation is requiring that its agents pass a fitness test, consisting of four exercises separated by a five-minute break.

That doesn't look so bad. I might have a crack at it later this week.

It is the minimum though. Aiming higher, here are the Special Agent requirements -

All together now in fantasy land!
WILLARD (V.O.): The more I read and began to understand, the more I admired him. His family and friends couldn't understand it. And they couldn't talk him out of it. He had to apply three times, and he put up with a ton of sh1t, but when he threatened to resign, they gave it to him. The next youngest guy in his class was half his age. They must've thought he was some far-out man humping it over the course. I did it when I was nineteen, it damn near wasted me. A tough motherfxxker. He finished it. He could've gone for general, but he went for himself instead.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Penylan (there is a barber showing photographs)

John and I took his girls, along with mum and dad to the Penylan Pantry yesterday for a social coffee and cake and also to stock up on the Hang Fire Smokehouse (see Icons passim) sauces we had read that they sold.

When we got there we discovered that Shauna Guinn of the smokehouse was there along with her sauces, so we had a long chat where she really lit a fire under us about Texas BBQ. She knows Aaron Franklin of Austin Texas' Franklin Barbecue who helped develop their Texas Espresso sauce and spoke of Lockhart - a city in Caldwell County - proclaimed by the Texas Legislature Lockhart as The Barbecue Capital of Texas.

Jules: [laughing] Oh, man. I'm going, that's all there is to it. I'm fxxckng going.
Myself: Yeah, baby, you'd dig it the most