Monthly Archives: March 2013

Stuff everyone should know from Quirk Publishing

There is a quirky little series from Quirk publishers, of Worst-case-scenario handbooks fame,  made up of small and short books that tell you all about stuff you should know. Dad’s learn how to get rid of monsters from children’s bedrooms; Women learn all the jokes they should ever know. There is stuff for husbands, dads, men, moms and I’ve already written about being a woman and recipes for men.

Most of them are very likeable and readable, packaged in hardback and pocket-sized. The Jokes Every Woman Should Know however is filled with old smutty jokes that are mostly about sex. Editor Jennifer Worrick really missed a trick in finding some fresh and innovative material from so many brilliant women comedians.

Insults Every Man Should Know spends three pages in its introduction talking about masturbation. Not a highlight but the rest isn’t too bad.

My favourite is Stuff Every Mom Should Know and the advice ranges from how to deal with unsolicited advice to getting rid of lice.

Here’s a useful tip to prevent lice: create or purchase a solution of pure peppermint or tea tree oil mixed with water at a ratio of five drops of essential oil to one cup of water. Spritz this mixture onto your children’s hair, hats, coats and backpacks to prevent infestation. This spray will repel lice and is useful to have on hand when you are notified that your child has been exposed.

Received for review from Quirk Publishing.

Extra tip*:

How to rid a room of monsters

– Perform a thorough search. Follow your child’s lead, since he’s the one who’s been pondering the likeliest monster hiding spots. Use a flashlight to search under the bed, inside the closet, and behind the furniture. See, no monsters!

Make up a story. Tell your child that only nice monsters live in your house and their names are George and Kitty.

Mix up a monster-repellant spray. Solicit your child’s help in gathering ingredients, such as water and a variety of spices. Pour them into a spray bottle. Walk around the room, spritzing under the bed, inside the closet and behind the furniture.

Introduce a guardian. Offer him a new stuffed animal, doll, or toy that has been empowered to protect children from monsters. If he’s still unconvinced, heap on the hype. Explain that this protector has been passed through three generations of children who all grew up safe and sound.

* For Nick

Review: The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman

thetinywife The Tiny Wife is a quirky and rather enchanting, fairy tale cross parable fun little story. In a queue at the bank a flamboyantly dressed man holds up the people behind him and makes them give him something of sentimental value. Things then start happening to them.

I will say no more because it is too lovely and fascinating to spoil. I highly recommend it. There is something delightful about the writing which I haven’t found from too many authors.

Pieminister shop gets a whole new look

The Pieminister shop on Stokes Croft has had a refurbishment and is now looking more like a bar and acting like one too. It is open until 11pm and serves a good selection of beers and drinks. They even have the sparkling Wild Beer Co and 6 o’clock gin and tonic.

There are still plenty of pies along dishes such as cheese platters, popcorn crayfish and other English tapas.

See more about the new shop on Bristol Culture – and a photo.

A 1979 Bristol VR bus as a cafe in the Bearpit in Bristol

A 1979 Bristol VR bus is to be converted into a cafe and craned into the Bearpit as part of the Bearpit Improvement Group (BIG) project.

This is an interesting video of the delivery and setting up:

BIG has just been awarded £30k from the HLF for Heritage Interpretation in the Bearpit. Work is also expected to start in April of May for 6 months on the £1m improvement of access project.

With thanks to councillors Alex Woodman and Mark Wright from Cabot for the links and information.

Eat Drink Bristol Fashion – 13 to 27 May

See bottom for events list

For two weeks Eat Drink Bristol Fashion will be at Queen Square in its own “tipi village” which will house a fine dining restaurant for 100 people, a tapas cafe for 200, fully licensed bars, a live performance stage and an exhibition space. This takes place from May 13 to 27 2013 but tickets go on sale Friday, 22 May at 12pm, and last year they sold out in days.

Amazing restaurants taking part include the Pony and Trap, Casamia, The Pump House and Bell’s Diner. Last year I was taken to the Pony and Trap tasting menu evening as a Mother’s Day present and the food was wonderful (this year I got a bag of coffee beans).

Note though that it’s not cheap. You are still sitting in a tent in a field that is hopefully not being rained on and paying £45 to £65 for a meal each with potentially a wine flight which is of a similar cost. Everyone was seated on benches last year and because it is mass catering to an extent, the food wasn’t really introduced, it was just popped down. If you can’t get to the restaurants however then this is a not too bad second best.

Eat drink Bristol fashion.

Tuesday, 14 May – The Pony & Trap (dinner)
Wednesday, 15 May – Bell’s Diner, Jay Rayner review (dinner)
Thursday, 16 May — City of Bristol College (lunch)
Friday, 17 May — The Pump House (dinner)
Saturday, 18 May — Wilks (lunch)
Saturday, 18 May — Bird in Hand (dinner)
Sunday, 19 May — The Pony & Trap (lunch – carvery)
Sunday, 19 May — Bath Priory (dinner)
Monday, 20 May — Casamia (dinner)
Tuesday, 21 May — Souk Kitchen (dinner)
Wednesday, 22 May — Ronnies (dinner)
Thursday, 23 May — City of Bristol College (lunch)
Friday, 24 May — The Star & Dove (dinner – Henry VIII: Tudor Feast)
Saturday, 25 May — Special event: TBA (dinner)
Sunday, 26 May — The Pony & Trap (lunch – carvery)
Sunday, 26 May — Harvey Nichols Restaurant (dinner)
Monday, 27 May — The Love Food festival

9 to 5, Bristol Hippodrome, March 18-23

For a show that’s about women’s value being more than their looks, 9 to 5 sure has a lot of flesh on show. The panties, breasts and legs are nothing compared to full on performance by Bonnie Langford whose bottom was so impressive it should have had its own billing. But really.

The three main actresses were mostly excellent. Jackie Clune did a great job as Violet, the middle aged widow who kept being passed for promotion by men she had trained. Amy Lemmox as Doralee, the Dolly Parton character, was lovely, lilting and potentially lethal with a gun in her purse and Natalie Casey, from Pint of Lager fame, as Judy, was mostly great apart from the bizarre accent she would occasionally acquire. I’ve no idea why.  Mark Moraghan as Franklyn was lots of fun to watch as the slimy, evil boss.

The shoes all the women were wearing were so high that I seriously worried they would fall off the flimsy looking decor of the set. But this is 1979 and maybe that’s what they wore back then. We get to watch the past in action as three secretaries at a Consolidated industries have been wronged by the same man. There is much fun and laughter and even more singing as the boss’s actions catch up with him.

I enjoyed it so much I was tempted to watch the original movie that night on Netflix but it wasn’t available.

Music and Lyrics: Dolly Parton; Written by: Patricia Resnick and directed by Jeff Calhoun.

Runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until March 23. Book online.

Recipes Every Man Should Know, Quirk Books

Recipes Every Man Should Know by Brett Cohen and Susan Russo is another of the Quirk pocket books alongside Stuff Every Dad Should Know and Jokes Every Man Should Know. The recipes range from making sandwiches and cocktails to macaroni and cheese and lobster with burnt butter.

I thought that I might not be the best person to evaluate this book  so I passed it on to a male friend whose cooking skills need some work. His task was to prepare the following mac & cheese dish:

1 pound macaroni
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Self-raising flour
4 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
2 cups gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease a deep baking dish with butter.

2. Cook pasta until al dente; drain and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Slowly add milk, whisking continuously, until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 1 1/2 cups cheddar, 1 1/2 cups gruyere, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth; remove from heat. Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and toss well. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup gruyere.

4. Bake until cheese bubbles around edges and top turns golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Unfortunately he failed to find either of the main ingredients: Gruyere cheese or macaroni. The book did not cater for specific supermarket searches so maybe that’s an area they might want to explore for their next edition.

There is plenty of information on what utensils and implements to use and there is also some motivation along the lines of ‘cooking helps you get girls’. It’s a fun book and perfectly sized. I may have to update you later on the success of their recipes.

I like it. It would make a great gift.

Book received for review from Quirk.

Bristol Women’s Literature Festival, March 16-17, Watershed

The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival brings together some of the country’s women writers, academics and feminist commentators for a weekend of discussion, debate and activity. The event takes place from Saturday 16 March to Sunday 17 March with four separate showings at the Watershed.

Feminism on the small screen – Sat 16 March 11:00
Women’s Writing Today – Sat 16 March 15:30
Bluestockings and Muses – Sun 17 March 14:00
Out of the Ivory Tower – Sun 17 March 16:00

The festival is chaired by the writer and journalist Bidisha and is founded by activist and writer Sian Norris.

There is much to like about a festival that focuses on raising new, and challenging, themes about writing; especially little pockets of literature that may be ordinarily hidden by the main press. I say “little pockets” but when it comes to women’s writing there is apparently a whole world of work we never get to see and a whole of host of topics like violence against women that are hidden away.

“Research conducted by UK Feminista in 2010 found that only 38% of the writers nominated for the Booker were women, and, despite women’s success in the prize this year, by 2010, 70% of the winners of the Costa Novel of the Year have been men. A survey by For Books’ Sake revealed that at Manchester Literature festival, only 20 out of 74 speakers were women, whilst at the Latitude Literary Area, women made up 15 of 53 performers.”

I questioned the negative press release sent out by the festival against a recent string of successes for female authors.

“I think 2012 and 2013 (so far!) have been really fantastic for celebrating women’s writing. Hilary Mantel winning the Booker, Madeline Miller winning the Orange Prize and now the phenomenal success of women writers at the Costa prize. I believe the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival is part of this celebration of excellence in literature from today and from history,” replied Sian Norris.

This first year seems a little small for all the myriad topics about women’s writing. There is no space yet for female comic book / graphic novel writers, female crime authors and sleuths (Agatha Christie must be a session or two all on her own), and female comic writers.

Hopefully next year there will be more space for actual current thinking. This year the agenda seems to be more guided by which female authors could be recruited rather than by popular issues in female writing. It’s an impressive start.

Tickets are still available for all events (link).

Head Over Heels, an Oscar nominated short film

Head Over Heels was playing on the screen at Millennium Square last Friday and it made me stop in my tracks. This animated short film was nominated for an Oscar. It was beaten by Disney but I’m not the only one to think it should have won. See what you think.

Sister suffragettes: International Women’s Day