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October 2019

I Got Seoul And I'm Super Bad (At Coming Up With Titles)

Not mentioned in this page at all (though it gets a passing callout in BrewDogging #63): the Cheonggyecheon canal walkwayApril 29th-May 6th, 2019, again

So a week in the capital of South Korea requires more than one page to do it justice. Who knew?

(And to head off a question that we've been asked a couple of times since we got back: no, we never made it into North Korea. It's not entirely impossible, you understand: there are organised tours of the DMZ you can go on, some of which even offer you the chance to wave a tentative toe over the border. We were under the impression that they're the sort of thing that a friendly hotel concierge could book for you, but that was never going to happen with the non-English-speaking landlady at the Haemil Hanok. It looks like Kim and his guys need you to book several days in advance for security checking purposes anyway, so bear all that in mind if you're planning to do something similar.)

Still. Enough of that. We've already covered the hotels, bars and restaurants of Seoul: let's talk about the other stuff.

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BrewDogging #63: Itaewon

마치 똥 힙스터 웨더스푼과 같다April 29th-May 6th, 2019

Well, you knew it was coming. We've done Japan: we've entered Korea via the back door of Busan: and now we've made it up to Seoul, where they've got one of these bad boys.

Was BrewDog Itaewon the only reason we went to Korea in the first place? Well, no. But it was probably the final nudge that drove us into visiting the country after several years of talking about it. And after a weekend in Busan bookended by horrendous weather, you'll be pleased to hear that our week in the capital is blessed with glorious sunshine throughout. It's a week that takes in two hotels, five palaces, and countless bars, cafes and restaurants. Plus, just like Busan, there's a bridge that needs to be named and shamed for its FILTHY LIES about a light show. (But that'll have to wait for another page: this one is just looking at the bars, restaurants and hotels.)

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Simian Substitute Site For September 2019: Brass Monkey Ice Cream


Food and Drink: The Belated Birthday Girl and I were assigned as Real Ale Twats at birth, but these days we choose to identify as Craft Beer Wankers. This makes us ideally positioned to watch as the Great British Beer Festival struggles to attract the new tribe without totally alienating the old. This year, having a small craft corner - or Pioneer Pavilion, as they chose to call it - literally fenced off with a wall made out of key kegs shows how much CAMRA are trying to reach across the aisle. It's part of a more general policy of inclusion, I guess: the high-profile sponsorship by Stonewall was the most visible manifestation of that, even if it did give beery lads the chance to wear badges saying 'some people are lesbians, get over it'. As far as the beers go, The BBG's sesh consisted of Brewsters' Hophead, Weird Beard's Fire, Powderkeg's 6ixes & 7evens, Black Hole's Supernova and Lacons' Audit. Myself, I ended up drinking New River's Isle Of Rye, Runaway's Kaffir Lime & Thai Chilli Wit, Ulverston's Laughing Gravy, Bragdy Twt Lol's Horny Goat and Nene Valley's Release The Chimps. We finished off together by splitting a bottle of La Pirata and Laugar's Tovarisch Block, a 13% that was our joint favourite of the night, if that doesn't sound too obvious a choice.

1. A 39 year old filler track from a Monty Python album might not seem like the obvious place to start a Spotify roundup of the past quarter's music, but it's here because...
2. ...I heard this bit of Strauss at a recent Prom, and finally realised where Terry Jones had nicked his tune from. This particular section of the Alpine Symphony is forever linked for me with the opening of the 1991 Pet Shop Boys tour Performance, which uses it to hilariously pretentious effect.
3. It seems a bit much crediting this single to Ocean Wisdom ft. Dizzee Rascal, when Dizzee does virtually all the work and Ocean (if that is his real name) just turns up for the second verse. Mind you, it's an impressive verse, to the extent that he's apparently offering a £500 cash prize to anyone who can match it.
4. Junior Brother is a recommendation from The Blindboy Podcast, but if I hadn't said that you probably could have worked it out anyway from the accent. Music that sounds on the brink of chaos until you listen to it carefully, and realise how meticulously constructed it is.
5. In my recent Edinburgh reviews, I expressed my disappointment at Baba Brinkman's new show for having too much lecturing and not enough rapping. His new album, See From Space - a collection of offcut tracks from the past few years with no overriding theme - turns out to be the perfect antidote to that complaint.
6. Yes, I know I said that I wasn't going to be including any more tracks from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but that was before the delayed release of the final season's soundtrack album, which reminded me of this song about re-introducing yourself to an ex after a messy breakup, and how it has one of the most attention-grabbing opening lines of the year.
7. I've had a think about it, and I've decided that Kate Tempest records work best when she's not attempting to match the beat with her words.
8. Still having a fine time with the new Lamb album, and although Lou Rhodes has a nice voice and all that, you do forget sometimes how wild their instrumentals can be.
9. You know how it happens: you stick on Lloyd Cole's 1988 album Mainstream and find yourself wondering what he's doing now. It turns out he's doing this. I'm amused by how, under the electropop trappings, it's still very much a Lloyd Cole song in its structure and style.
10. 'They say the gods are just a myth / Well, guess who I've been dancing with?' Somewhere in the 40 year span of The Waterboys' back catalogue, there's a song called The Pan Within. Mike Scott's chosen to follow that up belatedly on their latest record with this rather lovely thing, which is literally just a repeated four bar phrase overlaid with his reading of The Unexpected Bit from The Wind In The Willows.

Theatre: A Japanese language adaptation of Othello playing in a tiny theatre in August? That's so much on brand for us, it's almost a shock to learn that it wasn't happening in Edinburgh. ‎It turns out that The Shakespeare Company Japan were doing this at the Fringe as far back as 2000 - one of my years off, that's my excuse - so this summer they chose to bring it to London's Tara Theatre for a short run, which is now over. The twist in Ainu Othello, possibly spoiled by the title, is that here Othello is an Ainu: one of Japan's few remaining indigenous peoples, and traditionally the victims of Japanese racism for centuries. For Japanese audiences, this gives an extra local frisson to the feud between Iago and Othello: but for the rest of us, it has the odd side effect of removing the racial angle from the story, turning into a tale of pure gaslighting and revenge. The other imaginative touch is the use of Pirikap, a four-woman ensemble who provide a number of Ainu language song and dance interludes. If past form is anything to go by, The Shakespeare Company Japan should be bringing this production back to the UK in 2038, so look out for it then.

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