Bermondsey Beer Mile: Slight (many happy) Return(s)

The Kernel Brewery, taken by The Belated Birthday Girl in 2014. You can tell it's an old photo, there are people in it.Twenty years ago today, I pressed a single button on a computer keyboard and UNLEASHED HELL. (Well, I say it was a single button, it was probably more like a messy FTP upload, but you get the idea.)

July 14th 1998 - Bastille Day, no less - was the day that I launched The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey, the Demon Internet website that eventually migrated over to this thing on Typepad. So, I've been spouting off on the internet for twenty years today. As I usually do most years, I'd like to thank all of you who've been reading this nonsense, no matter what proportion of those two decades you've been here for.

Still, the question remains: how do I best celebrate the anniversary of the creation of a website?

And the answer is: with the help of The Belated Birthday Girl, I've created another one.

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Simian Substitute Site For July 2018: Ten More Years Of Simians

Really not worth clicking on the picture this month, trust meMONTH END PROCESSING FOR JUNE 2018

Books: Six months after I first mentioned it here, I've finally got around to reading The Gospel According To Blindboy, the book of short stories by Blindboy Boatclub of The Rubberbandits. When I first heard he was working on it, I assumed they would be something like Limmy's stories, tales of surreal goings-on that would quickly spiral into something dark and distressing. And sure, some of Blindboy's stories do that (although they escalate much faster than Limmy's ever did: Arse Children, in particular, will be a jaw-dropper for anyone with any Irish in them whatsoever). But just as many of them take a swerve into somewhere that's still surreal, but utterly delightful, which works just as well for me. Apparently there's an audiobook on the way too, which is great because Blindboy's a terrific reader - he's roadtested half a dozen of these stories already on his podcast. To give you a flavour, you can find those stories linked to here, bearing in mind all timings are approximate because of the way adverts get randomly inserted into podcasts after their initial release: Did You Read About Erskine Fogarty? (starts 13:23), The Bourneville Chorus (starts 33:00), Scaphism (starts 36:43), Shovel Duds (starts 55:58), Malaga (starts 3:32) and Hugged Up Studded Blood Puppet (starts 19:55).

Movies: Bollocks to Secret Cinema, obviously. Mainly because it strikes me that in all the site-specific shenanegans that they build into their events, watching the actual film itself is very low down their list of priorities. It's possible to show a film properly and have fun with its presentation, as demonstrated by London's Prince Charles Cinema with their recent screening of Bonnie And Clyde. The starting point was, of all things, a University College London research project conducted between 2013 and 2015, Cultural Memory And British Cinemagoing, in which a thousand or so people were questioned about their memories of going to the pictures in the 1960s. Magnificently, all the raw data from that research can be read here: but they've also used it to recreate a typical 1967 night out at the movies, with Bonnie And Clyde as its centrepiece and UCL drama students helping out in supporting roles. The attention to detail was high throughout - hippies outside the cinema handing out invites to future attractions: personal greetings from usherettes and staff in period costumes: salt 'n' shake crisps and bags of boiled sweets handed out for refreshments. And that's before we got to the on-screen supporting programme: a batch of adverts for the concession stand, a Pathe newsreel about current crazes, and a Yogi Bear cartoon that was just mediocre enough for you not to feel cheated when it turned out to be the starting point for some theatrical silliness. All this and the Queen to finish off. As a nostalgia event, it was a little outside my timeframe (I think my first film at the pictures was Disney's Cinderella about a year later): but it was a brilliantly entertaining way to spend an evening, and I hope they do more of them.

Telly: Whenever The Belated Birthday Girl and I are in the kitchen these days, our cooking sessions tend to start with a joint yell of "ALLEZ CUISINE!", which can only mean one thing: Iron Chef America is back. It's been four years since the show was last on American TV, and close on double that length of time in the UK: as yet there's no sign of this season making it onto Food Network UK, so you'll have to use the combination of a VPN routing through Montreal and the website for Food Network Canada, which hosts the five most recent episodes of this ongoing run. There have been a couple of changes: Alton Brown's chatty introduction has gone, the number of judges has been reduced from three to two, and the basic challenge of the show - cook a five course meal from scratch in an hour - now has the additional requirement that the first course must be ready to serve in twenty minutes. All these factors ramp up the pace and urgency of the show even beyond the ludicrousness of its previous seasons. Happily, the gladiatorial aspect of the chef-on-chef battle is as hilariously tongue-in-cheek as ever, largely down to Mark Dacascos' role as the Chairman - the one remaining hangover of a series backstory that nobody even remembers any more, intended to link the show to its Japanese predecessor. If nothing else, watch the first four minutes of this slightly dodgy copy of the season premiere, and make it your goal for the month to have as much fun in your job as Dacascos does in his.

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Edinburgh Festival Preview 2018: We Will Deep Fry Your Kebab

No, no clues here, you'll have to look up the post title for yourselves.The rules are simple. If x is the number of a year after 1994, and (x+1)/3 is an integer, then x is a year when I'm not going to the Edinburgh Festival. Like this year, for example.

This doesn't stop Spank's Pals from going up there without me, of course. And so a secondary tradition has emerged over the decades: every three years, even though I have no intention of seeing any of the shows, I read through all of the Edinburgh programmes - International, Fringe and Book Festivals - and still come up with a list of possible recommendations.

They're primarily aimed at Nick and the crew going up there this year on August 11th–18th, so I'm not recommending anything outside of that week. But if the rest of you want to use these suggestions for your own purposes, feel free. All links go directly to the ticket booking pages for the shows, with one or two exceptions where appropriate. Here we go...

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Monoglot Movie Club: Gogol. Bored? Hello!

Just try looking at that statue without making a loud 'whoosh' noise with your mouth. I dare you.Now, you see, at the start of this year it didn't seem like such a big deal. "Fancy working for a week in Moscow?" they asked me in January. "It won't be for a couple of months yet, we'll need to sort out visas and everything." It'd be my first time visiting Russia, so how could I possibly turn down that opportunity?

It took nearly three months to complete all the paperwork, by which time we'd had that whole awkward business where the Russians allegedly tried to whack a couple of their own people in the Salisbury branch of Zizzi. Diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia were at a post-Cold War low. Arsenal had just beaten CSKA Moscow 4-1 in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final. And I was going to be in Moscow the same week that the city was hosting the second leg.

Spoiler alert: I got out alive. Arsenal, meanwhile, won 6-3 on aggregate, only to bottle it in the semis.

So, while we're on the subject of football... If any of you are going to be in Russia for the World Cup over the next month - hey, look, an actual excuse for publishing this two months after the fact - here are some travel tips for you, along with two of my inevitable reviews of unsubtitled local films I didn't have a hope in hell of understanding.

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BrewDogging #53: Overworks

Carelessly, Overworks has chosen to serve its beers in glasses that feel pain.[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kungsholmen, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap, Tate Modern, Clapham Junction, Roppongi, Liverpool, Dundee, Bologna, Florence, Brighton, DED Angel, Brussels, Soho, Cardiff, Barcelona, Clerkenwell, DogHouse Glasgow, Rome, Castlegate, Leicester, Oslo, Gothenburg, Södermalm, Turku, Helsinki, Gray's Inn Road, Stirling, Norwich, Southampton, Homerton, Berlin, Warsaw, Leeds North Street, York, Hong Kong, Oxford, Seven Dials, Reading, Malmo, Tallinn]

Earlier this year - in BrewDogging #49, to be precise - I introduced you to the concept of the Intergalactic Beer Visa, a small passport-sized booklet allowing you to collect stamps from each of the bars you visit. At the time, I didn't mention that the visa also has a competitive element to it, in that you can claim prizes for collecting stamps from all of the bars in a particular category. For example, all the ones in England, or Scotland, or London.

The easiest prize to claim is one they call Homedog, for anyone who manages to visit all of the bars in the brewery's home city of Aberdeen. The Belated Birthday Girl and I achieved that over the space of a single weekend - a weekend, in fact, when the number of Aberdeen BrewDog bars literally increased by 33%, thanks to the opening of BrewDog Overworks. We even managed to fit in an entire AGM between the second and third one.

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