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August 2014
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October 2014

BrewDogging #16/#17: Tate Modern/Clapham Junction

South London Bar Diptych: Tate Modern on the top, Clapham Junction on the bottom[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stockholm, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap]

"South London. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

I'm assuming that something like the above was the reasoning behind BrewDog taking so long to open a bar south of the river. After all, Camden, Shoreditch and Shepherd's Bush have been representing the other three points of the compass for a year or more now. Sure, there were those plans to set up a bar in Brixton last year - they even produced a beer to mark the location, and are still selling it long after the property deal fell through.

But finally, they've got their act together. In fact, for one weekend in September, there were actually two BrewDog bars in South London. Except one of them doesn't exist any more.


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Bermondsey Beer Mile: The Wrong Way

This sign appears on a wall in the middle of Bermondsey Trading Estate. I'm sure it's not aimed at the people visiting Fourpure: the brewery has its own toilet for visitors. But it reminds me: do you know the only other place I can think of where people have to be told that weeing in public is wrong? I'll tell you: at the top of the stairs leading down to the Docklands Light Railway platforms at Bank station. There's a sign that basically says PLEASE DON'T PISS ALL OVER OUR STAIRS, and it's aimed at the people who run our financial system. Says it all, really. My name's Ben Elton, goodnight.You're aware by now that The Belated Birthday Girl and I have become fully paid-up Beer Ponces. You may have got the impression that it's just BrewDog we drink, but that's far from the case – although we will admit that thanks to the enlightened guest policy in their bars, drinking BrewDog has introduced us to countless other craft brewers, including many that operate much closer to home than Aberdeen.

There are at least half a dozen of them in South London, for example - all located within, roughly, a mile or so of each other. And they all open up their brewery tap bars on a Saturday for any passing customers who fancy a pint (although this being the craft beer scene, it's more like to be a 2/3 of a pint). It's become a thing: a hipster pub crawl route called the Bermondsey Beer Mile.

Other websites - for example, this one - have done a fine job in documenting the Beer Mile route from Fourpure to Anspach & Hobday. Nobody, curiously, has documented how to do it in the opposite direction. Which is a shame, because - as The BBG and I discovered last month - taking the crawl that way round has definite advantages, particularly if you like food. So, have a look at The BBG's gallery of photos, print off the maps linked to below, and prepare for a multi-coloured hop shop of a Saturday.

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Mo' Blogger Blues

FruitiliciousThey say every picture tells a story. Here's the story of that one over there.

Digital photo metadata being what it is, I can say with some certainty that it was taken at 9am on December 1st, 2004, on my way into work. (In an extraordinary twist of fate, exactly one year later I would be shitcanned from that very job after 21 and a bit years, but that's another story.) It's a whimsical blackboard that I spotted by a coffee stand at Clapham Junction station, and it amused me enough that I took a picture of it with my cameraphone.

Nowadays, you'd know exactly how the story would continue: within seconds, I would have shared that picture with everyone else on the internet, until everyone else said FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP IT. But in 2004, the methods you had for doing that were somewhat limited. It wasn't until 5.11pm on December 3rd, over two days later, that I made that image my very first post on what I chose to call The Unpleasant Moblog Of Spank The Monkey.

The Unpleasant Moblog has been running on and off for almost a decade. For the last couple of years, it's been largely off: but recently, circumstances have driven me to go back on again. Let me introduce you to it.

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MOSTLY FILM: Holydays In The Sun

The panorama function on my phone camera probably wasn't intended to be used vertically. But here we are.That picture over on the left is easily the most stupidly shaped one I've ever published on this site. But I'm quite pleased with it, so it stays.

If you've been paying attention recently - specifically, to this page - then you'll know that the day after I got back from this year's Edinburgh Festival, I was off again to the slightly more warm and less alcoholic environment of Dubai. It was another one of my semi-regular work visits to the United Arab Emirates - I seem to manage roughly one a year nowadays. After work, there's not much else to do apart from cruise the gigantic shopping centres, like the Dubai Mall pictured here (located just down the road from the Burj Khalifa). Even if you're not in the mood for expensive luxury goods, there are plenty of other things you'll find there. Like restaurants. And cinemas.

All this is leading up to the inevitable revelation that while I was in Dubai, I saw a couple of movies, which I've reviewed for Mostly Film in a piece called Holydays In The Sun, the (gulp) fifteenth instalment in my ongoing Monoglot Movie Club series. And as is usually the case, you'll get some backup material here relating to other aspects of the trip, right after the jump.

Hmmm. That jump's a long way away, isn't it?

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Simian Substitute Site For September 2014: Fast Monkeys


Movies: Thirty years ago last week, I left my family home in Manchester and headed off for the big city. Sure, I was nervous, but excited about the prospect too: whereas my parents were just nervous, though they didn't reveal that until I was almost out the door. There's a unnervingly similar scene to that at the end of Boyhood, Richard Linklater's stunning film about one young man's life between the ages of 6 and 18. The one thing everyone knows about Boyhood is that it was shot in real time, Linklater filming a few scenes a year over a twelve year period to allow the character of Mason to age realistically on camera. There's a risk that this could turn actor Ellar Coltrane into a mere special effect, but the strategy pays off: although curiously few people seem to be acknowledging the equally nuanced performance of Lorelei Linklater (the director's daughter) as Mason's older sister Samantha. The Belated Birthday Girl expressed some concerns going in, fearing that this would be a film about its central conceit with nothing else to offer beyond that. But that underestimates what Linklater's always done in a quarter century of filmmaking, setting up characters and letting them reveal themselves through relaxed dialogue. Boyhood's a delightful time capsule of the period of its making (coincidentally, roughly spanning the first twelve years that The BBG and I have been an item), but it's so, so much more than that. There's a genuine sense of a life being lived in front of the camera, and the risk that it could have all fallen apart at any time during the 12 year shoot just mirrors the risks we all run living from day to day. And if you're still not sure if Ellar Coltrane is an actor or a special effect, just watch everything he does in the film's final shot.

Telly: If you need any proof of how much of an impact Mike Judge has had on the culture, just note how many people's first reaction to the appointment of Louis van Gaal as Manchester United's manager was "he totally looks like Butt-Head." Judge's track record in animation will stand the test of time: his live-action work has been somewhat more patchy. Until Silicon Valley, whose first season has already finished on HBO and is just on the point of wrapping up on Sky Atlantic over here. A sitcom centered around people with Moderately Irresponsible Jobs In The Computer Industry may seem like a rather niche proposition, but Judge and his co-creators are way ahead of you. The tech Macguffin at the centre of season one's plot - a massively effective data compression algorithm - is presented in terms any casual viewer can pick up. From there it's all about the character dynamics between the various geeks and suits involved, and any industry-specific gags are just bonus icing on the cake. Silicon Valley 's characters are what really make it work, and it's rather a shame that one of the most interesting ones - Peter Gregory, the boss of one of the two companies battling over ownership of the software - was played by Christopher Evan Welch, who died halfway through production of the season. It's particularly frustrating given the hints dropped about an ongoing storyline concerning Peter's rivalry with former colleague Gavin Belson, which presumably won't come to anything now. Unless they cast David Mitchell as his long-lost English brother for season two. Do it! Do it!

Theatre: After spending part of August running round Edinburgh in search of the hottest theatrical hits, we finished off the month catching up on one of London's current incendiary tickets. A Streetcar Named Desire is running at the Young Vic until September 19th, but your chances of getting a ticket for the theatre are virtually zero at this stage. There's a lot to like about the production  - notably Magda Willi's set, an open-plan apartment framework where there's nowhere to hide, particularly as it's doing a slow revolve the whole time. And most of the performances are great, with Ben Foster being totally his own man as Stanley Kowalski, to the extent that you never think of Brando once as you watch him. The weakest link, surprisingly, is Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois: it's a one-note performance that never really develops, despite the huge emotional arc of the character. There are points in the second half where she should be escalating out of control, and instead she's letting the costumes do the work. Despite that, Streetcar's worth seeing overall, and the good people at NT Live are streaming it live to cinemas on September 16th. If you go, can you let me know how the hell the cameras cope with the stage being in continuous motion?

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