Saturday, August 27, 2011

brains, please

Brains Brewery on the River Taff

Brewery as seen from a side street

Anyone who knows me, knows very little beer has ever passed my lips. This is definitely a waste in the U.K. where it is the drink of choice for millions. Cardiff has its own local brewery Brains, which as you can imagine, has borne forth many clever advertising slogans such as 'You need Brains' 'Its Brains you want.'

I've always found beer too bitter for my taste, but I have been told before and recently that I should give a good stout a try. Plus, there are actually nutritives in a stout, they say. I've tried Guinness before and found it smooth. Last week I went into a local bar/cafe The Pear Tree, asked if they had Guinness, found out they didn't but they recommended Brains Black. With half a pint being cheaper than a cheap coffee, I can see why so many flock to the pubs.

I liked Brains Black so much I've had three in the last week. Wow! Don't worry though, it's only the flush of first love. And I may cheat soon and try Brains Dark.

assault on my sense

Recently I watched what was a pretty good thriller on T.V.  -- Assault on Precinct 13, a 2005 remake of a classic John Carpenter film which I haven't seen.

I would say the operative words here are 'was a pretty good thriller' up until the last 10 minutes when a movie set in downtown Detroit inexplicably grew a conifer forest.

What drew me into the film at the beginning was the scene of an urban street in a blizzard. Gee, that looks like Detroit, I thought. Sure enough then came along the River Rouge and Zug Island works and the city of Detroit skyline. It had an excellent cast and moved quickly. Though there were obvious flaws in its plot: why didn't the bad cops use tear gas in the beginning, or just set the place alight to accomplish their aim? I would have given it a hearty thumbs up.

But this film is an extreme example of how to ruin a good film with very sloppy handiwork in the last 10 minutes. The van carrying the 'good' guys crashes in an industrial site and in the next frame the main character is hiding out in pine trees with obvious fake snow and one of the protaganists from the crashed car appears unscathed in the same woods (though others have clearly died in the crash). Listen folks, there are NO FORESTS IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT -- especially pine forests. IF there were trees near a Detroit industrial site they would be Carolinian, such as maples and oaks.

The filmmakers, just to prove they hadn't totally forgotten where their movie was set, ended the movie with a shot pulling away from the forest to show a badly airbrushed fake city skyline, which was set rather high on a hill. THERE ARE NO HILLS IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT.

With all the money spent on films and all the meticulous work involved in their making, how do things like this happen?

Monday, August 8, 2011

cardiff big weekend

This past weekend was Cardiff's Big Weekend. It's not a holiday weekend, just a big, three-day free music festival with a summer midway and fireworks every night at City Hall. I pass through it on my way to and from work and was able to hear a bit of the music on Saturday and a bit more on Sunday. I was hoping to sit on the grass and enjoy the lineup Sunday afternoon but the skies, which had co-operated until then, opened up in typical UK fashion and dropped the rains pretty steadily all day and evening amid spells of respite. Check out the BBC coverage for proof that the weekend was not a washout.

Still, I saw King Charles and enjoyed him and his randy band very much -- excellent musicians with a rogue's touch. During the band setup I visited the National Museum, seen below to the left of the stage. I have spent several rainy days off at this excellent free museum.

Also, in the midway, was what was billed as a reverse bungee. IF I were ever to attempt anything like a bungee jump, this would be the way to go, caged-in sitting on padded seats with someone by your side. Most midway rides were £2 to £4 each (certainly not cheap), but this bungee thrill went for a whopping £12.50, with the option of an £8 DVD to commemorate the event if desired.

King Charles plays late Sunday afternoon

Reverse bungee -- for the ride of your life