Sunday, 2 October 2011

Vulture: John Grant and Tara Pakay; a good night in...

For this ongoing section I'll be detailing stuff that's stroked my hair or rattled my cage during the week; it seems that sunday is the end of the week so... sorry, 'Vulture' is the best title I could come up with this alcohol fueled Sunday eve for detailing my cultural week.
It's been uncommonly hot (hottest October weekend on record) and I've been outside; playing tennis (tournament doubles winner) and then playing tag with six year olds (work), so I've been neglecting the 'arty' life.
Rattled: I hate to be parochial but I despair of the way that the scrum is refereed by southern hemisphere rugby officials (Kaplan esp); one for the whites, one for the blacks; bonkers. Scrummaging is one of the most defining elements of the game; it's well known that the 'Tri Nations' see it as but a restart and want to redefine the rules as such, but while they are in the book the rules should be respected; they're not for interpreting. Bah....
Stroked: Meanwhile... I'm loving the new album by Amos Lee: 'Mission Bell'. It's produced by the boys from Calexico and is fantastic driving music. Listen to 'El Camino' here.
I watched 'Songwriter Circle 2' on BBC4 and was knocked sideways by John Grant singing 'Where Dreams Go to Die'. He was in lofty company; Allen Toussaint (who sang a brilliant version of 'Southern Nights') and James Dean Whatever, the singer from the Manic Street Screechers (sorry, not a fan). Watching Toussaint's face whilst Grant sang about Signourny Weaver and aliens was worth the price of admission... I'm sure that it will be on iPlayer or whatever it's called; have a look. Also, I know it's no revelation as it was lauded last year, but if you don't have Grant's 'Queen of Denmark' album, buy it. He is backed by the brilliant band Midlake, as I believe he will be on his next release. If you like him I'd also check out everything that he did with his previous band The Czars. I particularly like their album of covers: 'Sorry I made you Cry'.
Finally, I got to see (and loved) 'The Kids are Alright' directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Fine acting by a quirky cast; Julianne Moore/Annette Bening/Mark Ruffolo and the budding Mia Wasikowska (first seen with Gabriel Byrne in 'In Treatment') as Joni, named by her lesbian parents after the singer of their favourite Mitchell album 'Blue'. It's not about plot (don't look) it's about connection and character. I liked the Mexican gardener and Di and I now have a new line courtesy of Ruffolo: "Shut the Front Door".
In a lean week I also drank the best bottle of red ever, surpassing D'Arrenberg's 'Dead Arm'. It was a present from a good friend St. John (I bet no one else has a friend named St. John). If you need spoiling, just google 'Tara Pakay 2007' and put aside a few quid (£31) to savour this spectacular red (St. John's loaded). To accompany, I roasted some beetroot, quartered, in tin foil with thyme, red onion, red chilli, garlic, good olive oil, salt and pepper and served it up with some good goats cheese. Life's good...

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