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This is a portmanteau post in many ways- a few things recently have been prompting me to update my LJ but nothing worthy of a full fledged post, so I'm just bundling them together here.

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Free Will

Nov. 6th, 2010 01:06 pm
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There has been a cassette tape in my life for many years. An old C90 tape filled with a variety of songs. I think it was compiled by my father, but I'm not entirely sure, it's just always been around. It ended up in my music collection when I was a kid and I played it and played it. The music covered a wide variety of bands and styles ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s and I got to like most of the songs a lot.

As it got older though it started to get a bit worn and a bit gnarled up in places - a common problem with old cassettes, and the amount it got played really didn't help it.

One of my favourite tracks on it was "Free Will" by Rush, a hippy/prog-rock anthem extolling the virtues of rationality over superstition and religion as a basis for living. And in the middle of the instrumental break the tape had a fault. It wasn't twisted or broken, or anything visible, but the music always distorted in one particular place, odd notes, mangled noises, even a moment or two of a Phil Collins track from the corresponding position on the other side of the tape. It only lasted a few seconds and then carried on as normal.

Well the tape finally took the road less travelled and gave up the ghost entirely, and that felt like the end of an era in many ways. That particular mix of music had been a companion of mine through my childhood and adolescence and losing it felt like a hole had been made.

Time moves on, and technology with it, so I started to gather the individual tracks in mp3 format so I could at least rebuild the compilation, and I've pretty much done it now (I'll be honest there were one or two tracks that I never really liked, so I'm not buying them again just for the sake of it).

And of course I've now got a new copy of "Free Will" in mp3 format, and I still enjoy the song. And of course it's perfect. It's as the band intended. It plays nicely all the way through without any distortion in the middle. The instrumental starts, continues, and gives way to the final verse without any blemish or interruption.

And it never sounds right to me now. I grew up with that distortion, it belonged there. In the same way that your mind, on listening to a familiar album of music, mentally anticipates the next song in the queue as the current one ends, so my mind always anticipates that strange defect in the track. And of course it's not there. It disappoints me. It has made me realise that fixing something isn't always the best option, it's not always even required. The defect over time became normal to me, even something to be missed when it was gone. I've got "Free Will" now, and I've got it as it was intended, but I miss the real version, my real version.
finncullen: (finn)
This lady died in 2008, aged 98, but I only just heard about her.   A remarkable life, and a courageous one.   Her obituary tells the story.

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An insightful piece on double standards, found online:

Imagine: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege
By Tim Wise
April 20, 2010

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure—the ones who are driving the action—we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let's begin. )
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This article isn't mine - it's written by Brett & Kate McKay of the Art of Manliness site. I thought it was worth reposting here - partly for my own benefit so I can find it again quickly.

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[ profile] newsboyhat  gave me a link to an interesting website – here – which she thought, correctly that I would enjoy and find interesting.

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I decided to have a lunch of fish and chips today - a classic British takeaway meal and one I do not indulge in too frequently. There is an excellent emporium within easy walking distance of Finn's house.

While I was there I met a woman.

She really enjoyed the taste of fish - not just haddock and cod, but all sorts of fish. Her liking extended as far as other seafood such as prawns, lobster and so on. She really really enjoyed this type of food.

Unfortunately about two years ago she developed an allergy to any fish products. Now, within minutes of eating it she feels hot, nauseous and her skin flushes red. This is a source of endless frustration for her, as her family still enjoy eating fish and she is quite jealous that they can, and she cannot. Her nine year old daughter, for instance, LOVES fish and eats it at every chance she get. The daughter is a bright girl, but developing a sarcastic streak which is apparently due to the influence of her father who is estranged from the family.

How do I know all this?

The vendor asked her "Do you want fish, love?"

Fun Food

Mar. 23rd, 2009 11:33 am
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I managed to catch part of a television programme yesterday that made me chuckle in an impressed manner.  It was hosted by Heston Blumenthal, an English chef with a reputation for producing innovative and imaginitive food.  His restaurant "The Fat Duck" is considered one of the best in England despite the weird name.

The programme was part of a series in which he creates a themed feast based on historical concepts.  Last night he was dealing with Tudor food - noted for its lavish extravagance and 'show off' factor.

The first dish he produced was buttered beer which sounds revolting, but in fact when he created it straight from a Tudor recipe he said it was so good he didn't need to tinker with it at all.   Warning.. it does sound revolting, but the diners loved it.  Beer - into which is added milk, eggs, sugar and butter... all heated up and stirred together, served as a drink.

The next dish was a savoury blancmange.. flavoured with frog.   Yes, I know.  He considered it a waste of good frog meat, so served the blancmange as a dip for some battered frog legs, making a nice themed edible frog-environment for it to be served in.

The main course was a chimera... a masterpiece of mixed meat roasted and formed into a fake animal over which was constructed a 'shell' of animal parts which seemed to create a beast with the forequarters of a pig, the hindquarters of a chicken and the wings of a swan (I think).  This was served to gaping eyes and mouths and topped off with unexpected pyrotechnics.  Basically just a mixed meat dish, but presentation was everything to the Tudors... and the appearance of a mythical creature at the table certainly made it a course to remember.

The final course amused me the most.  The Tudors served savoury versions of desserts (viz the blancmange earlier) and occasionally also enjoyed sweet versions of traditionally savoury dishes.  Blumenthal excelled himself here.  What arrived at the table appeared to be a fried sausage with mashed potato, onion gravy and boiled peas.

What the guests discovered when they started eating was that:

The sausage was formed out of rice pudding bound with sweetened gelatin and fried in butter.
The mashed potato was a puree of banana and apple
The peas were sweetened pea puree dropped drop by drop into liquid nitrogen to make tiny balls of sweat pea flavoured ice cream
and the onion gravy was actually caramel.

Brilliant illusion.

The guy is the Willy Wonka of food


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