Beer Flies and The Sopranos

If you’ve not seen The Sopranos this post may contain spoilers…

Beer Flies

I’ve worked in 3 main environments in my employed life; in bars, in breweries and mainly in laboratories and in all three flies were a problem.

You’d think in fairly modern lab environments that creepy crawlies wouldn’t be a factor but they always find a way in.  Through doors, through windows left open in the hotter summer months, through fume cupboards and extractor vents.  With all the nasties I’ve inhaled over the years you think that those chemicals would be a big enough deterrent for these critters but no, there they are, what was a pristine working surface when you left for the day is returned to in the morning to be met with a fly somehow doing backstroke in your mobile phase.

For me, most of the bars (or cellars) were relatively flying pest free, the biggest problem is always at the brewery.  A lack of storage space in most pubs will see used casks thrown outside, most of the time not sealed and lord what a grand job cleaning fly eggs out of cask is. Bar flies are not included in this piece, loveable rogues that they usually are.

I’m not a fan of chemical weapons; watching something slowly twitch its last as its mitochondrion cease respiring is never pleasant so the short, swift splat against whatever surface they are resting on is preferable, or the Mr Miyagi school of snatching it out of the air is also employed, usually without chopsticks.

Though I find that every time I do this I consider what the fly is thinking; one minute buzzing around, bumping into things, smelling the sweet wort of the final beer and looking for a way into the fermenter, the very next moment – nothing.  Obviously at point of death they aren’t thinking anything at all but in some ways this then gets me thinking about…

The Sopranos

I was bought the box set of The Sopranos many years ago and finally, over the course of the first few months of 2017, got round to binge watching it all.

When it comes to TV series it started with the original run of Oz, which despite being bumped around the late night schedules of Channel 4 (UK), I was still able to catch most of it.  I never watched 24, save the very last episode of Season 1.  I can chalk off Breaking Bad, Games of Thrones is still ongoing for now and The Wire still remains my personal favourite but a lack of The Sopranos always seemed to hang over my head, so I settled in to watch it.

The series was originally shown on Channel Four and when this happened I caught precisely, one opening credits sequence, one scene of Lorraine Bracco, a Rottweiler and a vending machine (which obviously made little sense at the time) and the last few minutes of the final episode, which everyone had banged on about but again made little sense in any context.

The scene is famous for a long and protracted diner scene in which Tony Soprano (the sadly deceased James Gandolfini) waits and meets the arrival of his wife, his son and maybe eventually his daughter, all to the sound of Don’t Stop Believing  by Journey.  As they discuss mundane family matters, the bell in the diner rings to announce the arrival of each new customer and each time Tony looks up to see if its his daughter, then over the course of some onion rings the bell rings, Tony looks up and then the screen cuts to black.  There is a wait of some 30 seconds before the credits roll.  The ending baffled most, mainly because of its ambiguity let alone the suddenness of it all.

Personally I never saw Tony as anything more than the gangster he was, on my scale he didn’t even measure up as an anti-hero but the ending still have a hard impact despite not being wholly loving of the main protagonist.

There are many videos out there discussing what the ending means and a very good one that picks out “clues” from the preceding few episodes to point to the fact that Tony died.

Swift, short, sudden and the victim was totally anonymous to their own death, in essence just like squishing beer flies.

Who wants a protracted death, body flooded with chemicals that are only palliative, far better just to have the lights turned off.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

One thing I can agree with Tony Soprano on is this…

 

Prequel: If Beer Was…

If Brewdog Was…

They Live

This past weekend, a reincarnated ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper took a trip up to Aberdeen, Scotland.

 

 

On the way there he was given some sunglasses which caused strange things to be seen when he tried them on…

 

 

 

He then found his way to a meeting of, well he didn’t know what to make of it…

 

 

 

He snapped at the gathering…

 

 

The more loyal members of the fan club became enraged and went on the attack…

 

And sadly Roddy and his morals were no more…

The moral of the story is, you never know what you are buying in to…

…or who you are drinking a beer with…

 

Thanks for reading…

 

 

 

 

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Bière Clos

Subtitle: Blogger who says people take beer too seriously writes piece with reference to French existential philosophy.

Actually, I was going to write a few observational bits and pieces about beer based on the translations of the title of the play Huis Clos but I can’t be bothered, I’d only be repeating myself and every other beer blog so I’ll just let the titles speak for themselves (so much for research). You Figure It Out.

No Exit (No Entry)

In Camera

Vicious Circle

Behind Closed Doors

Dead End

 

Hell is other hobbyists.

 

Oh well, let’s continue…

 

Thanks for reading.

Applying for the Position of State Censor

twitter2319807

I have been a long-term admirer of your work, even before you changed what the “C” in your name meant.  It was very helpful of you and the DPP to publish a list of 72 films and the subsequent 39 that were prosecuted made then all the more necessary to get hold of and view.  It has also been wonderful watching your scope increase; from film editors to analysing video games and now you have been allowed into the online world.

We shall skip what the definitions, legal or otherwise about what is pornography and pornographic, they have become a terms stripped of all meaning recently and I’ll just get to the nub of the matter.

I find the challenges of “regulating online pornography” to be rather easy.

What is made and filmed by consenting adults is legal and obviously anything made without consenting adults is a matter for the police, so this covers my view on the making of such material.

So we now have to turn our heads to who views such things and when it comes to viewing such material then it follows that it is legal for consenting adults to watch this material also.

If we skip the confusing laws of the UK that make the act of having sex legal at 16 but then having to be a full 2 years older to actually watch it legally then we should take the maximum age of 18 and below as the people we should worry about when it comes to getting hold of such material online.

And in this case it falls squarely on the parents.

I therefore can’t really expand to fill the requested word count of 1500 so I’ll just reiterate my main point;

Regulating online pornography to those under the legal age is the job of the parents or the adults responsible of said minors.

I feel I’ve just written myself out of a job but please feel free to consider me for the role.

Thanks for reading.

Part 2: If Beer Was…

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

 

Bill the beer communicator starts the hysteria even though he too is getting jaded but its OK because the adoring crowd only hear what they want to…

 

Who can take a mango
Add it to a brew
Mix in some more chocolate
and pray for a miracle or two?
The brewery man can
 candyman
Who can take some fruit pulp
Making beer drinkers sigh
Under carb it too
and make a lemon meringue pie?
The brewery man
The brewery man can
The brewery man can cause he mixes it with lactose and makes beer taste a dud
And the beer doesn’t taste like beer cause the brewery man doesn’t think it should

 

After a while the lucky few are led into a magical world of beer production and can’t believe some of the shenanigans that take place but they are enthralled, even hypnotised…

1inlzl

Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure Humulonation.
Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination

We’ll begin, with a spin
Travelling in a world of intrepid beer creation
What we’ll see will defy taste explanation

We don’t really brew beer right
We just throw some shoes into it

Grapefruit juice, passion fruit
Our new DIPA
Taste like raw sewage

1inmam

 

Then some odd looking beings appear and begin to sing words of warning, little attention is paid to them…
lookofit

 

Oompa Loompa dump in some glue
I’ve got another beer for you
Omni Pollo get in the fucking sea
If you are wise you’ll listen to me
What do you get from a glut of fad brews?
A massive beer gut and bad Untappd reviews
Why don’t you try simply drinking a mild?
Or would you just run hide?
F.O.M.O.
F.O.M.O.
F.O.M.O.
F.O.M.O.
Just throw in more Dextrose
dextrose

 

Oompa Loompa Doompadee Dah
If you vary your drinking you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Old blokes
In a pub do

 

By now those that remain wish are getting a bit narked, they were expecting one off launches, the hype wasn’t paying off, one poor minion snaps…
verucatantrum
No, now!!
I want a brew tap
I want a party
Craft beer bottle hauls and a million food stalls
And performing for the lols and …
Give it to me

Now!

I want the latest
I want the real scope
I’ve got the fear
It’s my freelance career
Give it to me
Now!

verucanow

 

Willy Wonka knows how volatile the brewery industry can be, he laments the trouble that is possible ahead…
There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction beer is going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the market’s flowing
wwchicken
Is it raining, is it snowing
Is it Willamete or Goldings?
Not a speck of light is showing
So the heavy murk is growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the Galena reaper mowing
Yes, the danger must be growing
My hop contract is surely slowing
But they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that business is growing

 

Then, only a few could reach maximum velocity and so the rest were cut to pieces trying to get through the great glass ceiling.

 

wonka

 

 

Thanks for reading.

I Don’t Read Your Blog

As I grew up, grew my hair, taught myself guitar and dreamt about being in a famous band, I had one rather odd music-related foible.

This quirk was that I refused to listen to any Led Zeppelin. Sure I knew some of their more famous songs but I staunchly refused to listen to anything else and in my burgeoning LP and CD collection of rock and heavy metal any other fan of those genres would cast their eye over them and ponder why the obvious gap under “L”.

It was quite simple in my young mind, I was tired of reading reviews of bands I liked where every journalist writing the piece would describe certain songs as Zeppelin-esque.  In my mind, if my songs became popular and some reviewed them with that lazy hack term I would be able to turn around and say “no, a-ha, I never listened to Zeppelin therefore what I’ve produced is my own work, without any direct influence from the band you mention.  I am brilliant and original.”

Then at 18, looking through a second hand shop’s wares I found a double-CD set of Zeppelin’s greatest hits for £7 – I’d spited my own ears for long enough and besides journalists will write what they want anyway.

If you look to the right of this piece you’ll see my blogroll of some blogs I like.

The frequency that these blogs are updated varies wildly and some are archival bits of useful info more than up-to-date musings.

Some of the authors I follow on twitter and am therefore more likely to know when they’ve published a new piece, though sometimes timings are out and I’m sometimes only made aware by someone else’s retweet.

Truth be told there are about 5 blogs on that list I actually make a point of reading, or at least click on once a week to check for updates.

Those blogs aren’t necessarily better, more entertaining or more knowledgeable than the others on the list (and the many others out there) they just appeal to me more.  But every time I read a new piece I always hope they aren’t going to cover the same(ish) ground of a blog I’ve been working on.

Granted blogs (and vlogs and podcasts) are all about having a larger conversation, about exchanging ideas and usually responding to something you may fundamentally disagree with but there is a hell of a lot of white noise out there.  This blog is far from anything resembling good but it is at least mine.

My problem is I’ve listened to far too many podcasts and read far too many new blogs whose style seem to follow a pattern based on those who are perceived to be leaders in the field.

They are cold, banal and trite.  Cookie-cutter fodder, following the formulae laid out as when one Led Zeppelin becomes successful there are then another dozen copycats riffing in their footsteps.

It dilutes the well while also elevating mediocrity to unnecessarily high levels and this then impacts on everyone’s ability to read, write and critique with any effective objectivity and impartiality.

Write, blog and talk from your heart and head.  Not from you wallet.

Thanks for reading.

The Sound of Inevitability

Last week I was round my mum’s house when she got a phone call and when she uttered her friend’s name and then promptly ran out of the room with her worried voice in full effect I knew, deep down, what the call was about.

After she came back into the room and put the phone down I saved her the effort of needing to explain what the call was about.

My mate and I first met at primary school, I’d say about aged 4 and bonded over our interests in BMX bikes and He-Man.

He had Castle Greyskull.  In fact he had all the bestest toys.  I didn’t have toys to contribute to this relationship but I did have the vivid imagination that came with childhood.  We spent most of school in a fairly large group (akin to a 6-person Stand By Me) and a good deal of the weekends and holidays were spent together due to us living close enough for our parents to trust us to go out on our own.

The bond between our families was curiously similar too, during our whole tenure of infant and primary school (up to 11 years old) we were the only kids whose parents had divorced and so both our mothers had bonded over that too, so much so that, come sleep-overs at each others houses; the line “and if you misbehave your mum have given me permission to smack you” was the promise made to each of us every time, not that it was every enacted.

My mate was always the more quiet and introverted one when we were at school or in a group but far more brash and fun-loving when with our mums.  He was the first person to use my mum’s proper name, a fact that at that young age caused a bit of confusion “Who is this person whose name you are repeatedly mentioning?” being my usual internal dialogue.

We made daft tapes together. Me and him presenting radio programmes with silly characters, all of whom would probably have uncontrollable flatulence at some point during their “interviews”.

We went to the same high school, we were in the same form, but as we grew up and got put into different sets based on capabilities, the circle of friends we hung around in changed, we used to hang out and stay over, only they became less and less frequent.

Different colleges, different universities came and went but what was odd is that at least once a year we would bump into each other.  Fate would have it that our paths would cross as each of us making our solitary journeys back to our own homes and that privacy would give us each a chance to chat and catch up, we were in our own world just like when we were kids.

Over this last week my mum began digging out old school photos, unlike myself and my friend, my mum and his mum had remained close.

The funeral was today, my first humanist ceremony and it was packed to the rafters.  My mum was more upset than I was but talking to his mum gave them both some solace. His mum, like me, somehow knew this day would come; it was never going to make it any easier, she had had the misfortune to find him and what gave her comfort was that she could see in his face that he’d taken control, made his peace with himself and a world he was always off-kilter with and was now finally at peace.

He will now become another statistic in the gender and age-range that sees more suicides than any other and while a lot is made about depression and mental health and about talking about things and remaining positive there is always going to be a grim inevitability that surrounds certain people and sadly that is the thing those left behind have to come to terms with.

The way someone dies should never eclipse the way they lived.

 

To the larger world, a statistic he might be but to me he will always be Fiendish Fart-Head.

 

Thanks for reading.