The Perfect Medium

Earlier this week I listened to Red Barchetta by Rush. Haven’t heard it? Give it a listen. Red Barchetta is a narrative song about a future in which a ‘Motor Law’ bans many vehicles, such as everyday cars. Every week, the story’s protagonist sneaks out to his uncle’s old farm and takes an old sports car, a red barchetta, out for a spin on the country roads. The music ramps up in intensity as the car picks up speed, and cymbals crash in time with guitar crunches as the barchetta is spotted and chased by modern air cars. This would make a brilliant story, I think to myself. But then, it’s already a story. It’s simply a story written in sound instead of sentences.
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Winter Chills: The Christmas Ghost Story

’tis the season,” I cry, wolfing another mince pie. “Another mulled wine, Liam?” “’tis the season!” “What shall we watch now?” Ah. Well. Christmas really would be incomplete without a ghost story, wouldn’t it? ‘tis the season for a wintertime chiller: snuggling down in front of the television with a haunted house and a hot chocolate, ready for a scare or two. I think the Christmas ghost story has a seasonal charm as essential to the festive period as Christmas dinner. A ghost story is simultaneously a pleasant diversion from the happy festivities and an important complement to them. And when better to indulge in some spooky atmosphere than in the bleak midwinter?
Dare to read on…

New Year’s Resolutions

I had a wonderful Christmas time, thank you. A minor mishap when I forgot everyone’s gifts notwithstanding, everything went as smoothly as a sleigh ride: presents were opened and well-received, Christmas dinner was delicious, and much merriment was had over a few games of Articulate. My favourite present? Maybe my set of four antique canopic jars – not something you see every day, but something very much suited to my mildly macabre tastes. Anyway – Christmas is passed, but not forgotten, and it’s time to look ahead to the New Year, and to plan those resolutions.
On to the resolutions…

MacBride is the New Black

I have just finished reading Flesh House by Stuart MacBride. It was brilliant, though I don’t know why I sound surprised – I’m not a MacBride novice by a long stretch, and I was in fact re-reading this one. I’ve actually read most of his novels – my first, the aforementioned Flesh House, must have been back when I was twenty or so. It was (and is) an extremely gripping police procedural, veined with a delectably black sense of humour and splattered with enough visceral detail to keep Jack the Ripper himself happy. After reading it for the first time, I tracked through the remains of his oeuvre, devouring his books on sight. Of course, this reading fervour rather blinded me to the chronology of his Logan McCrae series; I don’t think I read a single book in consecutive order, having started with the fourth and finishing with the first. Not a problem – they’re all great stories and they work well as independent novels. But that hasn’t stopped me going back and reading them all again from the beginning.
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A Mean Tagine

This one’s a recipe.

Two years ago, I couldn’t have told you what a tagine was. All that had changed by Valentine’s Day 2013. My relationship with my girlfriend had been ‘Facebook-official’ for just a couple of months by that point – long enough, importantly, to warrant some romantic obligations. I decided simply to kick my flatmate out for the evening and invite my other half round for an amorous evening of gifts, candles and a homemade meal. I offered her an invitation and enquired of her: what would she most like to eat that night? Nothing too difficult, came the response. A tagine?
On to the recipe…