You're The B-Side

I have a feeling Je Ne Parle Pas Français is going to be one of my favourite songs of the year. There may be something wrong with me at a fundamental level.

(but really, it just affirms my theory that 'd'accord' is the greatest word in any language, ever. And I will fight anybody who says differently. Or run away and spread scurrilous rumours about them involving rubber hose and a reissue Sideswipe figure.)

But right now, it's the year that punk rock broke my heart. Or a year later. All my cynicism melts away in the face of the prospect of drowning in Dewey Decimals, the benefits of doing these things in flats, the jealousy of That Guy In The K Records t-shirt, and all the rest. It reminds me that I am the ridiculously twee person that would leave treasure maps on the pillow, film sub-Gondry epics using finger puppets and deck trees out in LED lights as the twilight sets in.

It's just somewhat unfortunate that I'm almost 30 and supposed to grow out of all that. But I don't think I'm going to anytime soon…because at this point, if I changed, would I still be me?

It's you. It's me. And It's DANCING!

currently playing: Los Campesinos! — Knee Deep At ATP

Do You Have Robot Insurance?

Jack McCoy will sell you some:

Last year, three armed ground bots were deployed to Iraq. But the remote-operated SWORDS units were almost immediately pulled off the battlefield, before firing a single shot at the enemy. Here at the conference, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Forces, Kevin Fahey, was asked what happened to SWORDS. After all, no specific reason for the 11th-hour withdrawal ever came from the military or its contractors at Foster-Miller. Fahey’s answer was vague, but he confirmed that the robots never opened fire when they weren’t supposed to. His understanding is that “the gun started moving when it was not intended to move.”

THEY WILL RISE!

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney – Heart Attack

Miscellany

Have you been into a Woolworths recently? Did you have the same odd feeling? That you could feel the shop aging around you? That once well-arranged aisles are now dilapidated and strewn with disorganised and out-of-season items (specifically the toy section, obviously)? The pick’n’mix section of the shop seems to be collapsing in on itself; a tiny little island of sweets holding out against the encroaching racks of Wii games and mobile phones. A desultory selection of contemporary CDs fighting for space alongside ancient compilations reduced to clear. Chad Valley disappearing in favour of simple, plain white packaging; efficient and soulless.

Let’s go to town and switch the magazines.

I’m probably just getting old. But it feels like the chain is dying a slow lingering death.

Even though we’re 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29!

It’s a good thing that I checked Kieron’s weblog, because he seems to have said most of the things that I was going to say about American Demo, damn him. Even the bloody Nick Cohen comment!

(essentially, my problem with Cohen’s Left, from what little I know about it, is that while there are some on the Left who will always see America as the Great Evil, there’s a big section of us who, while sympathetic and enthusiastic to the cause spreading of democracy, wonder how we’ve managed to end up with an America that tries to split hairs over whether controlled drowning is torture and turning a country into a playground for lackeys and the latest insanity from the University of Chicago Economics department. But hey. Another argument for another time.)

So, er, yes. I really like American Demo, as it manages to cut me to my core at various points. Especially Sixteen.

And Los Campesinos. Okay, I admit, I avoided them for a long time, for reasons that I can’t really remember right now. But I bought the album a couple of weeks ago…it’s quite fabulous, isn’t it? At first, I thought it was an album that I would have loved if I was currently in the Sixth Form, but on the other hand, are Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia big names in 16-18 set right now? I am sceptical. So I’m coming around to the idea that they’re the flipside to The Indelicates’ cynicism, a glorious jangle of xkcd-like adventures, twenty-something reference points like ATP and K Records, and the feeling that I get when I hear Come Out 2Nite. Which is pretty awesome.

And this song will be four years old this year. YEAH! YEAH!

currently playing: Johnny Boy – You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve

*blinks*

Really? I was beginning to think that he had in fact secreted the world’s ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card someone on his person somewhere back in 2004…

currently playing: Stars – the big fight

Please, No!

Cincinnati Nazi Time. Spaghetti is obligatory (unless you doing one-way, in which case you might as well just make chili)…

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

NOOOOOO!

The Bernard Butler/Black Kids thing isn’t true, is it? This is what comes of touring with Sons & Daughters. MARK MY WORDS.

(not at all inspired by POPCRUSH! on one of the band, obviously…)

FoodScience! Do You Know Where That's Been?

Methylcellulose is an odd little chemical. You’ve most likely come across it in toothpaste or ice cream, where it’s used as a bulking agent, but it’s also used as a treatment for constipation, the main ingredient for gunge used in children’s television shows (and the effects for Ghostbusters), and ahem, also used as a substitute in certain ‘specialist’ films.

It helps not to think of the last one when cooking with it.

A few weeks ago, Stacie and I tried to use Methylcellulose to make 'hot ice cream'. Our results were not entirely spectacular. But I knew there were other applications for it in the kitchen, so I thought I'd get a batch at home and experiment.

To add to the madness, Bonnie and I took leave of our senses and ordered a Kitchen Aid stand mixer this Wednesday.

Kitchen Aid!

It is glorious. And it also allowed me to consider making eggless meringues. It's fairly simple: methylcellulose is not soluble in hot water, but it is in cold. This has the odd effect of making a solution turn solid when heated. To make an ersatz meringue, all you should have to do is add methylcellulose, whip it into a mixture, and then bake it in the oven!

I thought about it. And thought about it some more. I decided that the best use of this knowledge would be to make a Pimm's and lemonade meringue. Well, you would really, wouldn't you?

Anyone for Pimm's?

I added a touch of xanthan gum to thicken up the drink before adding in the methylcellulose. This is where things went wrong. Because I used carbonated lemonadem the combination of MC and the gum caused the bubbles in the liquid to stay instead of it going flat. Plus it had the rather unfortunate side effect of turning the drink light yellow/brown.

Still, after being mixed in the Kitchen Aid for just over 15 minutes, it had risen quite impressively. The texture is a bit like Angel Delight but much frothier.

Whipped Pimm's

It was at this point that I forgot I was supposed to put it in the oven. I blame a trying day at work.

After losing a can of Dr. Pepper to the curse of the brown bubbles, I got out my handy carton of orange juice and made up a smaller batch using that. This time, I did remember to put it in the oven (150°C for 5-10 minutes).

This is an orange meringue. If I had a blow torch, it'd probably look a bit more done. But if I had a blow torch, my sister would have set me on fire by now, so it's good that I don't.

Orange Meringue

The trouble with the technique is that methylcellulose doesn't hold its shape for very long; as soon as the temperature dips below the setting point, it begins to turn back into a liquid. You have to eat it fast, I guess.

The same technique can also be used to make vegan-friendly marshmallows. To test that, I used Diet Coke. They looked pretty good, but the taste is pretty vile. Next time, I think I'll try a batch using raspberry puree or a liquid mixed in with a sugar syrup.

Diet Coke Marshmallow

currently playing: Los Campesinos! – Drop It Doe Eyes

The Elephant In Your Living Room...The Fascist In Your Bed

Almost five years since the launch of the iTunes Music Store, it is now the biggest retailer of music in America.

We can pause here to laugh at the RIAA, who were so afraid of unrestricted music that they handed the keys to their kingdom to Apple Computer, Inc. Good show!

currently playing: R.E.M. – Living Well Is The Best Revenge

"THAT'S JUST YOUR HAND!"

Oh yes.

FreakazoidS1.jpg

currently playing: Beta Band – It’s Over

2008: Indie Sloganeering For The Masses

Also: iMac speakers are brilliant for holiday office work…

currently playing: The Chemical Brothers – Don’t Stop the Rock