Monday, May 25, 2009

Black Is Traditional!


Amazing stuff.

Not having read the book, I watched this with the anticipation of a Neil Gaiman fan collective resting on my consciousness and a middling trailer seen on

It didn't disappoint.

A story about a young girl bored with her parents, and who thinks her parents are bored with her. So she finds new parents, who look just a little odd.

Definitely not a typical feel-good Disney/Pixar variant, which was refreshing. Scenes flipped between the eccentric to mildly amusing to an anticipation of an exciting finish. This is the sort of book I would've loved when I was young. Maybe even now!

The website was the icing on the cake - plenty of fiddling to be had for those with plenty of time on their hands.

Buttons anyone?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bit s and Bob s

Actually just a bit.

Heard that Coldplay's offering their live recording LeftRightLeftRightLeft as a free download here.

It's got some classics plus some ones off their latest album.

Can't believe its so soon till we finish our first year as junior doctors.
In the space of minutes we'll morph magically into SHO equivalents, expected to make decisions on discharging/admitting patients/sending patients to intensive care/taking over complicated patients from junior doctors - wonder if I'll be up to the challenge.

It does sound like fun though, so we'll see.

Plus, this weekend, if it pans out, should be fun!

PS: If you've still got an appetite for legally obtained free music, check out Amazon's free MP3 site.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The last time I ate Japanese, I threw up.

My sister is a big fan, my last housemate back home, my cousin and countless people I know swear by their sushi, sashimi, sake and every raw food that ends with a vowel, so I decided there must be something to the whole cuisine that I'm just not getting.

Etsu was somewhere we've been planning to go for a while. It was the 'place we would go for our first paycheck', then the 'place we would go for our second paycheck' then just 'arrggh are we ever going to go to that place'. Jack, Gil and I planned to make it a house affair, Esther and Naomi, always game to try out a new place, decided to join in.

Restaurant of the Year 2008 in Liverpool, plus rave reviews online - we were expecting good stuff. Gil was especially excited as she knew the chef from a houseparty not too long ago - turns out he remembered her too!

I think we all came with the idea that helpings were going to be small for some reason, so we might have gone a bit overboard in ordering a mixed sushi/sashimi plate, some gyoza and some tempura to start with, plus a main course for each. To complete the feast, some Asahi and Kirin for the guys and plum wine for the girls.

Now I'm a poor judge of what is fresh and what isn't, but the fish that night stuck in my mind as being 'fresh' from the moment I bit into their bouncy flesh that wasn't mushy/soggy in the least. Grains of rice that came apart easily in the mouth yet held together firmly enough to be moved in small clumps easily by chopsticks. Tempura was pretty normal, however the main courses were brilliant all around.

My unagi-don came with a sweet sauce that was light enough not to be cloying, and went beautifully with the white rice - the unagi itself reminded me of a very sweet ikan bakar from back home - similar texture. The tuna and red snapper steaks that Jack and Gil had were firm and went well with their sauces.

Surprise, surprise, we were full enough not to bother about dessert and instead sat around for an hour or so chatting about random stuff till Naomi had to go home and study for finals.

Definitely going back to try their bento boxes.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Free stuff is fun!

I've not won many prizes via random competitions before, so this was a big deal for me. Being a Waterstone's Cardholder, I rarely receive a parcel from them without knowing in advance, so I was surprised one morning, coming back from an all-nighter, to get a fairly hefty white envelope.

Inside was a letter informing me that I'd won an unproofed edition of Martyr by Rory Clements to read and would I be so kind as to submit an online review when I'd finished.

First of all, I mentally and physically prepared myself.

I remembered entering the draw for the book, thinking that I wouldn't mind reviewing a light historical murder mystery, a little light reading in bed would be fun. At the same time, I was wondering whether I would be able to be objective about it, as I've not read that many pseudo-historical thrillers before (Phillipa Gregory - I'd better read one of hers after this to compare)

What makes a good read, for me, is something I've never thought about; this might be interesting as an introspective for myself!

Firstly, I guess I like it when a book is easy to get stuck into - ie if the language is not too fancy, sentence construction isn't too long . In other words, how 'readable' it is.

I also like it when the scene/setting is painted naturally - ie descriptions flow from the pages naturally, making it easy to picture the surroundings without feeling as if the author is trying to draw my attention to each and every object present in order to make me believe in the authenticity/accuracy of his writing.

Descriptions of food are a bonus, I personally like it when meals are described in books, besides making me hungry, it helps to keep me in the scene, as it were.

Pacing of the plot would do quite a lot to keep me reading. I found books with slow plotlines very dull to read. This goes also for books with obscure references to events that only become clear when I keep reading. However some books reward persistence when the plot picks up a little way on; I found Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell very hard to get into at first-by the end, I didn't want it to stop.

Books with difficult-to-follow plots are an issue. Most murder mysteries, court-case-based books (John Grisham) are not on my reading list because most of them require a lot of attention to really be able to get the most out of them.

Based on the above, I'm actually quite a superficial reader!

However bearing all that in mind, I enjoyed this particular book, because it ticked all the boxes above. Plus I felt that since I'm not a writer, I shouldn't have been too harsh when I genuinely enjoyed it:-)