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I was back at the Ambassador yesterday for a Cold War Kids concert. I had gotten their album a few weeks ago and though it has a couple of great songs, it’s also a little messy. Live they were a lot better: very passionate, slightly nerdy and clearly having a great time. The video is one of the first songs they played on the evening, Rubidoux, about a criminal on the run.

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Ireland is one of those countries where you don’t see a lot of vandalism. Bus stops are usually un-smashed, newspaper standsĀ  survive most Saturday nights and even though I wouldn’t recommend leaving your bike outside, chances are it won’t be wrapped around the telephone pole you locked it to when you pick it up the following morning.

There’s one exception to the rule, though. Traffic cones! I don’t know why, but if you happen to be a traffic cone, you’re fair game for any passer-by. You’ll be dragged off the road, taken home to adorn a campus bedroom, or more commonly they’ll chug you off a bridge somewhere. It’s the last Irish rebellion. Death to all traffic cones! Must be because they’re orange…

Here’s my hommage to these fallen conical heroes.

As every other blogger out there, I’ve been glued to the stats page since day one. At first not much happened, but recently my site was indexed! Checking your stats will never be the same again. Here’s a list of search terms people have entered to get to my site, in reversed order of silly-ness:

7) Male chauvinism

6) Stylish guy

5) Victorian manga

4) INFORMACIO SOBRE ELS METROSEXUALS

3) Mismatched clothing

2) Strange porcelain dolls

and the winner is:

1) Adolescents in gothic clothing at school

Who on earth is looking for this type of stuff? And why are they directed to my site? Does anyone else out there get traffic like this? If so, post some examples, I’m intrigued.

Nonchalant PicturesThe Japanese, as everyone I’m sure is aware, are mad about fish and especially fresh fish. They’ll do anything to get their hands on it and even in the urban jungle of Tokyo they’ll go out of their way for a fresh catch. The picture shows dead centre Tokyo and the people you see are business men who’ve just paid $6 for an hour of back-to-nature escapism. Next to the railroad tracks, underneath a busy overpass, that is.

I always thought that the freshness of the fish is the overriding concern when making good sushi and to some degree that is true. I once saw an eel taken from an aquarium by two chefs, one holding it down while the other filleted and sliced it. It required two men, because eel do a terrible job at dying easily, writhing and wriggling all the way through the process. In this particular instance, it stopped moving a second before being placed on a piece of rice and disappearing into an eager mouth.

So freshness is important, but after that it is all down to meticulous preparation and skill, and that brings us to the Zen aspect. If you ever have the opportunity to sit in a sushi bar and watch the chef create one piece of nigiri after another with incredible speed, you might be forgiven for thinking that there is not much to it, but once you give it a shot yourself, you realise the mistake.

Take the rice, for instance. It’s just rice isn’t it? Well, no. First of all, you need to wash the (short-grain) rice very thoroughly for five minutes or so to remove excess starch. Then you let it stand for half an hour to soak up the moisture, before placing it in a rice cooker. After it’s done, you let it stand for another ten minutes. In the meantime you prepare a rice vinegar, sugar and salt mixture, which you fold through the rice, fanning it down to room temperature until it begins to look glossy. And that’s just the rice.

To be fair, all of this isn’t particularly difficult, it just takes time. While the rice is cooking, you can slice the fish, and prepare the wasabi, and then you get to the best part: making the sushi. So far I’ve only tried nigiri sushi, which you shape by hand instead of rolling it in seaweed sheets. It’s more fun sculpting the pieces yourself, I think, and they taste better too.

Once again the act of fusing a slice of fish with a clump of rice is one of many steps, eight in total according to my cook book. If you skip one, such as dipping your hands in vinegared water, you run into trouble; in this case the rice will stick to your hands like cookie dough. The whole thing is like a ritual. If you perform all the necessary steps pre-ordained by tradition you will be rewarded with the perfectly shaped piece of sushi. I haven’t really gotten that far yet, I assume that’s where the skill-bit comes in, but as they say practice makes perfect.

The other night I went to a concert of a new English band called Enter Shikari. Their songs are a mix of post-hardcore punk and old-school drum ‘n bass electronica. Ecclectic? Confusing? Or just plain messed-up? Decide for yourself. I’ve attached a two-minute excerpt from the opening.

The show was held at the Ambassador in Dublin and the crowd was… well, freakishly young. Average age 14 I reckon. The mosh-pit looked like a game of catch and at one point I saw a kid do a somersault on the floor, no really… But I have to say that the atmosphere was great. Everyone was having fun.

Unfortunately the band only had about an hour’s worth of music. The other twenty minutes they filled with some hectic dancing to old Prodigy beats and long stories on such varied topics as condom shooting snipers and danger wanking. Apparently this is when you start your business and right before you let off, you shout out ‘MOM’ at the top of your lungs and try to finish up and get rid of the evidence before she comes in.

It was that kind of night…

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