I was going to give up on writing these but then I was encouraged to keep it up. So therefore, welcome to the first 2018 edition of these monthly round-ups. I hope something here piques your interest. If you have a Netflix account then this is worth reading….
“Zinedine Zidane as a symbol for the reconciliation of French-Algerian ethnic trauma is a concept that endures.”
Stuff I’ve been doing
It was great having a few days off at the start of the year. I slept! A lot!
I pottered around the Sydney, rising late and drinking beer early.
I’ve visited Bitter Phew multiple times this month. It always has been one of my favourite places in Sydney but increasingly it feels like a home away from home. In other booze related stuff, I bought a case of wine from Drnks. Delivery within a few hours on a public holiday – it doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve also ordered Lark’s XO Brandy but at the time of writing that hasn’t arrived.
Wildflower is becoming a regular stop for a lazy Saturday afternoon. I also received the first Collective delivery consisting of a magnificent beer, a glass, and a leather booklet for tasting notes.
Kicking off the year in good foodie style, I visited Continental Deli, Bar & Bistro. I enjoyed a tinned negroni, steak tartare, a glass of Italian orange wine and some presswurst during a long, lingering lunch.
Another place I finally got round to visiting was Ester. I’ve only lived around the corner from it for years. It was the ridiculously hot Saturday before going back to work. I literally only left the house to go there and I sat there dripping with sweat (from the five minute walk) and ate through their sensational tasting menu. The fermented potato bread and the ice cream were highlights.
I also revisited LP’s Quality Meats, one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney. It’s always great. I may have enjoyed myself quite thoroughly throughout the day before making it to the restaurant though. The pouding chomeur was incredible and I was impressed by their steak tartare having never tried it before.
Since going back to work I’ve been sleeping terribly. I think it’s a combination of humidity and stress. Going back to work after a relaxing two weeks was a shock to the system and January has been a bit of a struggle. I’m already losing track of my aims for this year. It’s not been a great start.
I’ve done a lot of writing about beer. The Hottest 100 beers, which I celebrated with the Sessionable podcast at the Royal Albert Hotel, provided a lot of inspiration. That (and obviously Bitter Phew) was how I spent my long weekend.
Stuff I’ve been watching
I’ve kind of got into Netflix (thanks to my housemate for lending me her password!). I’ve realised why I never signed up before though. It’s great for rewatchable films that I’ve seen before but the majority of stuff does nothing to inspire me. There have, however, been a few things that I’ve enjoyed, particularly documentaries.
Firstly though, I’ve made a dent in Peaky Blinders. It takes a lot to get me onto new TV shows but I think this has been worth it so far. I’ve just started season 2. I basically have a man crush on Cillian Murphy. I worry that the accents will bring out that horrible part of my mongrel accent. The soundtrack is excellent, the aesthetic perfectly miserable and grimey, the dialogue is brilliant and the violence extreme.
Les Bleus is my ideal documentary. It’s about the intersection between politics, society, ethnicity and 90/00s football. World Cup 98 was a defining time in my childhood. It ignited my love for football and between Zidane and Ronaldo I realised it was a great time to love the game. Later on I became aware of the complexity surrounding this French team and its importance as a symbol and catalyst for racial integration and wider social issues in France. I wish this documentary had been around when I wrote an essay about Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Zinedine Zidane as a symbol for the reconciliation of French-Algerian ethnic trauma is a concept that endures. Even if you don’t love football, this is an incredible documentary.
Concrete Football is another doco about French football. This time down at street level in the banlieues, rather than on the green carpet of the Stade de France. You have to be tough, quick and skillful to play on the Paris streets. It’s a different culture entirely.
Becoming Zlatan is yet another football documentary. I’ve seen a similar thing before using a lot of the same footage but this feels more rounded and holds onto its narrative better. It’s simply the story of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the years between him becoming pro at Malmo and him signing for Juventus. I hate that he’s at his current club but I love him for being a maverick.
Somm: Into the Bottle is the follow up to one of my favourite documentaries, Somm. This time, instead of following people on the journey to Master Sommelier, it seeks to define and explain exactly what a sommelier stands for. It’s good.
A Year in Champagne is exactly what the title suggests. Follow the growing of grapes, the harvest and the production of sparkling wine in the Champagne. It’s a great intro to Champagne if you’re a beginner like me.
Chappie is okay and Gangster Squad is utter trash despite the delicious Stone-Gosling chemistry.
I actually saw in the year watching Russell Howard’s Recalibrate. I was tentative as he used to be one of my favourite comedians but it was really good. I started the year with my ribs aching from laughter. Barleywine helped though.
Obviously the month wouldn’t be complete without BBC iPlayer. QI and Would I Lie To You? have been weekly companions. I also watched Mr. Holmes which has been on my list for ages. Sir Ian McKellan’s performance is a belter in a film that is otherwise just pleasant enough.
I managed to ignore most of the tennis but have watched some Premier League football thanks to the random legend at Optus who finally managed to sort out my Optus Sport subscription. If only the time difference weren’t so brutal. I miss spending all day watching football.
Stuff I’ve been reading
I finished Alan Bennett’s …Father… and The Blizzard. I flicked through Milk Made and Randy Mosher’s How To Taste Beer again, as well as What to Eat with What You Drink. They’re books I’m likely to return to again and again, picking them up and putting them down.
I also started reading Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. I picked it up second hand while in Hobart last year. I’d seen the movie but never read the book. It’s a joy!
I read Mark McKenny’s own version of these posts. I’m honoured that someone might take a modicum of inspiration from me. Naturally, his is wonderfully written and very interesting.
Finally, the Leeds United badge redesign is one of the scariest things that’s happened in a while. This analysis from a marketing and branding perspective was very good.
Stuff I’ve been listening to
This Will Destroy You and The Album Leaf help me work. I return to them again and again.
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, as always. I’m always tempted to cut down my subscriptions at this time of year. I’m particularly drawn to Football Weekly and Football Ramble, and The Square Ball has started up again. I think it’s because it’s a World Cup year that I’m getting especially excited about football.
I revisited Childish Gambino’s Because of the Internet.
Dean made a sick remix which he shot me a link to.
I’ve listened to Eva Cassidy’s Songbird quite a few times. I got it for Christmas and wrote about why I like it so much on Instagram.
I got this as a Christmas gift from my parents (but mainly my mum). It’s a recent reissue but it means a lot. It’s a well known album and one with which people will have their own memories and associations. For me the songs on Songbird span different moments in my life, from long car journeys as a kid to memories of deceased relatives, and youthful adventures in foreign cities. It’s one of my earliest memories of sharing music with my mother and played a huge part in the formation of my musical taste. Most of all it’s a collection of songs possessing such pure, unadulterated beauty and restrained power, characteristics which seem to be severely lacking in the world at the moment. It’s an album I can revisit again and again and one that provokes a very real emotional reaction each time, just as music should.
Otherwise I’ve been selecting records to listen to almost at random. It’s not been the most musical month to be honest and I’m not really sure why.
That’s it for this month. It’s been a weird one. It started off brilliantly but has been a bit rough towards the end.
I’m loving wine more and more and might start putting some pretty basic tasting notes (for basic read: infantile/juvenile) on this blog. It’s just the compulsion to write, you see. Well, drink and write at least. Adieu!