Saturday, August 29, 2015

What's been happening during August

After having been a fairly devoted blogger over the years, it might seem a bit strange that I haven't posted anything here this month. There are several reasons: the weather (two unbelievably hot weeks in which I could hardly function), work, research ... a variety of things. I didn't want to saturate my posts by remembering all my vinyl records; that can wait for another year. I'm going to write about some bits and pieces here, and save a more serious post for a separate entry.

A few weeks ago I wrote about obtaining peppermint tea; encouraged by this, I decided that I would like to get some peppermint extract in order to improve my milk shakes. It took a while, but eventually I found a supplier - - who both had the goods and was willing to supply to Israel. I ordered a small bottle of peppermint extract and one of banana essence; each cost 6.42 GBP including postage.

The package arrived yesterday and of course I had to try them out as soon as possible (but not together!). I'm not sure what the correct 'dosage' is; I tried one teaspoon to a glass and a half of milk. The results were somewhat underwhelming. It doesn't help that the bottles have a very small hole in the top through which the liquid emerges, making measuring a teaspoon-full difficult.

I'll try them both again in the future, although this time I'll use higher 'dosages'. One minor problem which affects me: the extracts are dissolved in alcohol to whose taste I am very sensitive. For me, more alcohol will make the results worse. I think that the extracts are designed for baking; the alcohol will evaporate in the heat. I'm using it in milk shakes, which are cold!

Searching for banana powder leads me here - they also have blackberry powder. I'll probably make my next order from them. Powder will be more suitable for a milkshake.

After a short drought on television, there have been a few films and programmes which I have enjoyed watching. The past few days have seen several films starring Mark Ruffalo being shown; some of these I've seen in the past, but there were two new (to me) films. For a long time, I didn't like this actor: there's something about the way that he speaks that annoys me. I've partially overcome that annoyance but I still find it hard to countenance his almost constant swearing.

"In the cut" (2003) is advertised as an erotic thriller; I didn't find it very thrilling and barely erotic. Unfortunately, the best thing about this film is getting to see Meg Ryan in the nude for the first time. That thrill wears off after a few minutes, making the rest of the film very hard going. The beginning of the film is exceedingly confusing. 

"Begin again" (2013), on the other hand, is much more my cup of tea. Ruffalo is still swearing, but at least it's somewhat tempered here. This is a musical film by the director of 'Once', starring the until now non-musical Keira Knightley. I thoroughly enjoyed this, probably because the subject matter spoke closely to me. 

The tenth - and final - series of "Spooks" is finally being shown here. Gripping and totally unpredictable, the only faults which I have with this is that high quality surveillance intelligence is available immediately and that people jump to the correct conclusions on very few facts, and they're almost always correct (except when they're being 'played'). This is television, after all, and the grey minions of John Le Carre would put us all to sleep if the series played out at its real pace. Whilst there is a series long arc (which has yet to be revealed to us in its entirety), there is also the 'crisis of the week', which I find somewhat tiring.

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