Ken Gargett

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Everything posted by Ken Gargett

  1. personally, i think this was our low point. sopranos wanabee. stevie nicks. a trumpet. the shame, ayala, the shame.
  2. nothing is going anywhere. get used to it!! send me a kenfessions care package full of RRs and LEs and the tag might go.
  3. it just sits there. no nails or rope. rob has knocked it a few times but the film censors will always protect him. otherwise only gets knocked down by the occasional possum or python. it has been explained numerous times but for newcomers, the roof has a corner which causes a lot of the rain to come off at that spot. so it gets caught and then used for the plants.
  4. ps - a bloke i knew kept one in the car. he called it glove box love. he was a very strange person. had five serious car accidents in the first couple of years of having a licence. accepted responsibility for four of them but defended the fifth in court. it was a single car accident. caused major damage. his defence? and i am not making this up. they built the house too close to the road, therefore, they were equally to blame. i did enjoy the 80s.
  5. in other words, rob has just broken his own rules. love it. but that is terrifying.
  6. even the skins got a couple of superbowl wins in the 80s. that was back during that long era when the only question was which NFC East team would win the lot (with the bears making an impressive cameo and the 49ers sticking their nose in as well). other than the iggles of course. and the pats were the easybeats of the comp. strange days indeed.
  7. https://qz.com/emails/quartz-obsession/1664086/
  8. Havana to Miami: Crime Fiction Across the Straits of Florida Leonardo Padura & Alex Segura talk about noir, hometowns, homelands, and how being a crime writer in Cuba has evolved. July 15, 2019 By Alex Segura If you have a passing knowledge of Latin American crime fiction, then you’re familiar with Leonardo Padura, author of the acclaimed Mario Conde detective series and arguably (though, it’s not a point you’d want to debate) one of Cuba’s best-known writers, full stop. He’s won numerous prizes for his fiction and has seen his novels translated into a dozen languages. In short, he’s a big deal. His iconic detective, portrayed in Padura’s beloved “Havana Quartet” of novels, leads readers through a modern, broken-down Havana, worn and weary under the Castros (mostly Fidel, later his brother Raul). Though Padura is unflinching in his presentation of Cuba, politics don’t weigh down the books in a heavy-handed way. Instead, we’re introduced to one of the tentpole elements of good serialized crime fiction—the city as character. Padura does for Havana what Chandler and Ellroy do for Los Angeles: gives readers a setting rife with contradictions, texture and unforgettable characters. He turns the Caribbean paradise into a hotbed of noir, with dark, menacing corners and a sense of dread and danger that’s hard to beat. Padura’s latest, Grab a Snake by the Tail [originally published in Spanish in 2011 as la cola de la serpiente], reunites the author with his familiar creation, as Conde is forced to investigate a murder in the Barrio Chino, the battered Chinatown of Havana— outside of Conde’s usual stomping grounds. Conde’s asked to step into the case by his longtime crush, police colleague Patricia Chion. As Conde delves deeper into the murder of an elderly man, Pedro Cuang, he discovers that there’s more to the murder than first believed—including elements of Santeria and drug trafficking. Like Padura’s earlier Conde adventures, the novel is doused in noir, and you’re immediately transported to a dank, mysterious city that is equal parts paradise and nightmare. Like the classic detectives Conde is patterned after, our hero soon discovers there’s more to this case than he first believed—and the dangers will drag him down into the darkest corners of the city, and his own psyche. Article continues after advertisement When I was asked to interview Padura, about a year ago, I entertained the idea with some trepidation. Like him, I write crime novels—except mine are set in my hometown of Miami, 200 miles from Cuba, in a very different world. My detective, Pete Fernandez, is Cuban-American, has never set foot in Cuba (until Miami Midnight, the final novel in the series), and was raised to believe Castro is the enemy of freedom. The dualities of our professions and lives intrigued me—Padura’s CV is much longer and more storied than mine, but the broad strokes are there. I was raised in “freedom” and he was not. At least that was the simplistic view I had before I got to speak to him. My parents were born in Cuba, and they (along with their families) fled the island as Castro came to power. My mom’s birthday party—January 1!—was interrupted with news of the revolution. My grandmother, a local judge, had to flee her courthouse in the back of a friend’s truck. My grandfather, a part of the previous government, had to seek exile at a nearby embassy to avoid capture. Every Cuban-American has stories like these—tales of escape, subterfuge and rebellion. It defines who we are. This idea of displacement and of another “Cuba” in Miami has been ingrained in us since birth, and I vividly remember many days spent playing in my grandparents’ house, listening to Cuban AM talk radio, updating listeners on the latest news from across the water. Castro was bad, Miami was safe—there was no middle ground. We, as a people, longed for a return to A Time Before—without truly spending much mental real estate on what that entailed, and the problems that affected the island nation long before a bearded revolutionary took to the mountains. But, as with anything, we begin to delve deeper into the beliefs that were drilled down into us as we get older, we start to question things. A few books come to mind, at least in terms of properly chronicling the combative, bloody history between the Miami exile community and Cuba proper—most notably, Ann Louise Berdach’s Cuba Confidential, and Cristina Garcia’s fantastic work of fiction, Dreaming in Cuban. This is a long-winded way of saying that, after some reflection, I felt ready and excited to talk to Padura, a man with whom I shared many things, in terms of background, writing and inspirations, but also someone who was in many ways the other side of the coin—a man raised in Castro’s Cuba seeing me, and my “Miami Cuba” in a different, perhaps equally conflicted way. What I discovered, to my great surprise, was a friend. Someone who shared the same passion for the written word, who spoke the same kind of pitter-patter Spanish I grew up hearing and speaking, and someone who—like me—was loathe to get into a political debate over much-worn ground. He wanted to talk books, detectives, and writing. Leonardo and I ended up keeping in touch after this conversation, and—spoiler alert—I was almost able to get his famed detective, Mario Conde, to appear briefly in the pages of Miami Midnight, as an homage to one of Pete Fernandez’s inspirations. Legal stuff prevented it, but if you squint closely enough, you can figure out where he would have been. Though the conversation didn’t become what I expected, nor the political debate some might hope for, the end result was much greater—and purer, I’d argue: two crime writers from similar backgrounds talking shop and sharing a love for the medium. I spoke to Padura during a brief stop in New York last year by phone. He’s a warm, thoughtful and focused man, who’s quick to point to his influences and remains humble and bemused despite his worldwide success. *** Article continues after advertisement Padura’s love for crime fiction sprung up in college, but it wasn’t until he started to earn a living reviewing mystery novels that the author thought to try his hand at writing his own. “I studied at the University of Havana from 1975 to 1980. Before that, I’d dedicated my life to playing baseball, it was my passion, I wanted to be a baseball player. I always say that I had two careers, the academic career and my reading career,” Padura said with a laugh. “I read a lot of Agatha Christie, some John Dickson Carr, Sherlock Holmes, as a kid, but in college I became more selective in what I read. I think it was the discovery of Chandler that started my interest in crime novels and police stories.” Padura landed a job as a literary critic for a Cuban cultural magazine, which brought him into direct contact with crime novels of the era. But it wasn’t until he attended a conference in Gijon, Spain—Semana Negra, or “black week”—that Padura felt his eyes were truly opened to the genre. “It was a spectacular event with many important writers of the time. I came back to Cuba with a suitcase full of books,” he said. “I didn’t have money to buy books, but I came back with many that I’d picked up second-hand. That was when I decided to write my own detective story, which I started at the end of 1989—and I spent most of 1990 writing it. That became Pasado Perfecto, the first Mario Conde novel.” [Reprinted in the U.S. as Havana Blue.] The story, in Padura’s view, was heavily influenced by those first detective novels—especially the famed detective/gastronome Pepe Carvalho series by Spaniard Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. We both spoke about the power of the crime novel—of its ability to shed light on a given corner of the world, warts and all. But what of his process, I asked? Here in the United States, there are many paths to publication. I wondered just how different Padura’s was when he started, compared to his publication process today. “Here in Cuba in the 80s there was a publishing system that was excessively generous, too many books were published, there were even published many detective stories written in Cuba by Cuban authors that were frankly horrible,” Padura said. “This changes in the 90s, where we see the beginning of a crisis. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, the first thing that stopped coming to Cuba, before the oil, was the paper, which was coming from the Soviet Union.” It was around this time that Padura published his debut, during what the author describes as a strong “publishing crisis,” tied directly to the country’s paper shortage. Padura’s first novel, despite initially being approved by the cultural committee that determines which books are viable for publication in Cuba, ended up finding life via a small Mexican publisher. Padura’s work continued to gain traction and, after winning a literary award in Cuba, saw the publication of his second Conde novel, Vientos de cuaresma [Published in English as Havana Gold]. The third in the series, Mascaras [Published as Havana Red in English], found a publisher in Spain after Padura won the Cafe Gijon Prize, one of Spain’s most distinguished literary awards. This launched Padura’s long-running relationship with Spanish publisher Tusquets Editores, which, ironically, sees Padura’s work debut on the Spanish market before appearing in Cuba. “I do everything possible for there to be Cuban editions of my work,” Padura notes. “For the Cuban to buy. This is important for two reasons: in Cuba books are not imported. Second, if books were imported, imagine how a novel like El hombre que amaba a los perros [The Man Who Loved Dogs] would do? That book costs 22 euros in Spain, which is basically a month’s salary for someone in Cuba. It would be impossible to sell here. That’s why I push for Cuban editions, editions that are not very high in terms of quantity and might not circulate as widely, but at least allow for me to be published here in Cuba.” I note the irony of this, that he, as an author, had to gain acclaim outside of Cuba before making it possible for his work to appear in his own country. Padura didn’t seem bothered by this, taking a very accepting view of the Cuban publishing process. I wondered if I would feel the same way, having only known that structure myself. “In Cuba, you have to look at the bigger picture to understand how peculiar the situation is there,” Padura said. “Remember, in Cuba, independent publishing houses do not exist. All the publishers have direct financing from the state. And, while there are certain institutions that do not belong to the state, they are financed by the state. So, sometimes it can be a bit complicated to publish a book. But until now I have been lucky and all my books have been published in Cuba.” Though humble and mild-mannered, Padura does note that he won Cuba’s National Prize for Literature in 2012 (overseen by the country’s Ministry of Culture) and was shortlisted for the award a few times before. But despite the acclaim and popularity of his work in Cuba and Latin America, Padura enters each new project with the same trepidation: that this will be the book that doesn’t get approved for publication. At the time of our conversation, Padura’s latest novel, La transparencia del tiempo [the ninth Mario Conde novel, not yet available in English], was awaiting approval from Cuba’s internal systems. While Mario Conde does appear in this latest book, he’s not the sole protagonist—a plot device Padura has used in the past, most notably in Herejes [Published as Heretics in English]. The novel finds Conde about to turn 60, feeling more skeptical than usual about Cuba and the world around him. An old friend enlists him to find a stolen statue, which Conde soon discovers is more valuable than he first thought. The quest pulls Conde into the world of art galleries and foreign collectors. As the bodies begin to pile up, the story jumps around in time, to various periods, following the statue’s various owners. “I always try to use history to try and clarify the present—it serves like a mirror, so we can understand what we were and what we are.” As Padura’s career expanded into the new century, so did his scope—moving past the more grounded, gritty tales of Mario Conde to epic, historical novels like El hombre que amaba a los perros [The Man Who Loved Dogs], which dealt with the murder of Leon Trotsky and his assassin, Ramon Merader. It’s arguably Padura’s greatest achievement, and the product of years of research and revision. The book’s political slant is also worth noting, as it hinges on Stalin’s hunt for Trotsky, arguably the brains behind the initial Russian revolution and the father of his own brand of socialism, in stark contrast to Stalinism. The book’s publication was telling to me, and, honestly, surprising—based on the preconceptions I held before our chat. It was the kind of novel that Padura could not have written out of the gate. “That was a novel that I wrote when I could write it, really,” Padura said. “It would have been impossible earlier, because the information available in terms of the elements I touch on in the book were not as well known. In Cuba, we didn’t know anything about Trotsky. But as I researched, I learned that Trotsky’s killer, Ramon Mercader, lived in Cuba for four years—the last four years of his life. So, I used the brutal history and story of Trotsky’s murder as a representation of the perversion—of the big idea of an egalitarian, 20th century utopia. “I believe that there comes a point where the idea, where the utopia, loses the power of realization. And the whole process in the novel is seen through the eyes of a Cuban of my generation—someone who has lived in a socialist country and who has experienced living in a system in which a utopian idea was put into practice. I always try to use history to try and clarify the present—it serves like a mirror, so we can understand what we were and what we are. We always claim to learn from history, but in fact we forget it. I’m less interested in history in terms of dates or appointments or what happened when. I am interested in its capacity to illuminate the present.” *** Padura, like many authors, likens writing a novel to a birthing process—one that involves a period of growth and development spearheaded by inspiration, writing, and revision. “Every novel has a way of coming to life,” Padura said. “The processes are sometimes similar, but I believe each book is different. You watch a movie, read a book, learn a story—and then a seed is planted in that mysterious place where all novels are born, which is never the same. So, I start with an idea, then I start to think about how I might be able to construct the story—and that leads me to research. In the case of the Trotsky novel, it took years of research. Then I start to write, which is then followed by extensive rewriting, which can involve 10, 15, even 20 drafts. Sometimes I share these drafts with a group of readers so I can get some feedback, so they can let me know what sections work and which ones don’t. This helps me very much, because I believe an intelligent reader is extremely valuable.” Though, as an interviewer, I find process and writing habits to be of great interest—it’s even more compelling here, when talking to Padura, as I had no idea what it must be like to live as a writer in Castro’s Cuba. Did he write longhand? How did he find time? His answer surprised me. “I write on the computer,” Padura said. “The first thing I bought when I had some money in 1990 was to buy a computer, and it helps me very much with the work, especially with how I write—which involves extensive rewriting.” It’s at this point, well into our conversation, where I ask the question that’s buzzed around my brain from the beginning: Cuba. What is it like to be a creative there? How has the scene changed? It’s not a light topic, and not one that can be summarized quickly, Padura notes. “This is a complex issue,” Padura said. “In the 1960s, these were the years of great, big revolutionary enthusiasm, so you saw a lot of writers greeting this kind of event. And as time passed, as we see a much more orthodox vision, pulled from the official government perspective, as opposed to stemming purely from the art.” The period Padura references is thought of by many as “the gray quinquennium” or “black decade”—a period during the 1970s that saw a notable crackdown in areas of the arts. The period was known for pointless delays and blockades on literature and other art forms. “We felt some recovery from that in the 1980s,” Padura said. “Especially for writers of my generation, we got back some of our reflective spaces, to create. But that ends in 1990, with the paper crisis, but that free space was still open. For the first time, people started to look for ways to get published, and that free space survives up through today. Today, the problem is that the younger generation—authors under forty years of age—are not very visible in Cuba due to issues with how books are published, for creative problems and because Cuba has issues in terms of its publishing market.” The publishing landscape aside, Padura is eager to discuss his hometown—Havana—as the perfect setting for noir novels. Like the best noir fiction, Padura’s setting of choice is almost as important as the protagonist, creating a textured backdrop for Mario Conde to explore alongside the reader. “Though we belong to countries, I believe as crime writers, we are especially connected to cities,” Padura said. “And I am a novelist of Havana.” “Though we belong to countries, I believe as crime writers, we are especially connected to cities,” Padura said. “And I am a novelist of Havana. That’s why most of my stories are set there and even when I diverge from it, I always end up returning to Havana. It’s the natural space for my novels, it is essential to the story of Mario Conde because I know the city in a very intimate, deep way. It’s not just the buildings and street names that matter—it’s about the people who inhabit it and even the form in which they speak. I have a very deep appreciation for Havana in my novels. “Havana—in contrast to other Latin American cities—is not particularly violent, but it is a city where diverse crimes happen,” Padura continues. “I try to exploit the urban space that I know well to present not only the dark side of society, but of the human condition as well. The crime always reflects a side that is in a more dismal situation than we are in, and for me, I wouldn’t be capable of writing a crime novel not connected to Havana. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Will Mario Conde ever travel to Miami or Santo Domingo and work there?’ Which, of course, intrigues me, but honestly, the world Mario Conde is capable of exploring is the world of Havana. I can’t see him anywhere else.” I mention to Padura again that I write the Pete Fernandez novels, set in Miami, but live in New York—and explain my frequent trips back home to retain a connection to the setting of my series. I joke that Conde might want to make a trip to Miami to share a cafecito with Pete, or vice versa. We both laugh at the idea and promise to explore it—which we do, for naught, but the journey ends up cementing our friendship after this conversation concludes. Still, the joke steers us toward our respective detectives, and the connective tissue between author and character—and the creation of Mario Conde. “I felt it was important to make Conde a police officer because there was no role where you could investigate a murder in 1989 in Cuba,” Padura said. “It had to be a police officer. But from the beginning I gave him characteristics that, in essence, made him an anti-hero. He’s too soft, too sensitive, an educated type who wants to be a writer—and you see this through his friendships and his sense of loyalty. All of that went into creating this character who also happens to be of my generation. He has an education and personal history similar to mine, because he lives in a part of the city much like mine, and has lived through experiences similar to mine. We’ve seen him evolve, too, and even leave the police force—which allows me a greater freedom in telling his stories of investigation.” But what is crime like in Cuba, one has to wonder? I ask Padura to give me a sense of what it’s like to write these dark tales set in the island nation. “Well, I believe corruption is universal,” Padura said. “Murder is universal. But my stories focus on Havana, and acts of corruption in Cuba—in a country that has poverty like Cuba. It’s not akin to, say, a Mexican politician stealing for himself. It’s not the same here. In my novel, Vientos de cuaresma, the whole investigation hinges on the remains of a marijuana cigarette. That might seem laughable to you, but in the Cuba I knew and in the Cuba I grew up, the existence of this marijuana cigarette was not common and therefore—everything that had to do with the drug, from the violence to obtaining it—is very different in my novels than that of other Latin American crime writers. All of this stems from having experience living in Cuba and knowing how these types of people work in Cuba within the social, economic and political landscape of the country.” As we approach the end of our chat, I get to the crux of my queries—and the space between us, literally and figuratively. I explain to Padura that, since birth, my perception of Cuba was driven by the perspective of the previous generation—the people who’d fled. The walls went up and the division existed. The Cuba I knew was an idea. So, from his view—what is the reality? “There are two Cubas—two antagonistic views exist,” Padura said. “The traditional left that sees Cuba as a possible paradise, and the right that sees it as a hell of sorts. I believe there’s a little bit of both. Cuba has many problems, especially in terms of economics—there is a dysfunction there. There is also a peculiar social and political structure, which is very difficult to change. Right now, there’s been a change of government [Padura is referencing the ascension of Raul Castro to head Cuba’s ruling party], it is still rooted in continuity, while at the same time, the life of the everyday Cuban is complicated, difficult. There are few sparks, if that makes sense. There isn’t a tendency to enrich. In general, it is a society where some things change, but the essential conditions are immobile, and they will not change until the economic conditions change.”
  9. especially love the one with the fox and eagle. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/audubon-photography-award-winners-show-breathtaking-beauty-wild-birds-180972651/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190716-daily-responsive&spMailingID=40216831&spUserID=NDY2MjY2NTk4MTUxS0&spJobID=1561348651&spReportId=MTU2MTM0ODY1MQS2
  10. understood. that said, i think that the passion shown for this topic shows that this won't go as easily as they might have hoped.
  11. i have absolutely no problem with female heroes, warriors, badasses, whatever. no one is a bigger buffy fan than myself (okay, there may be some). but we are talking wonder WOMAN, warrior PRINCESS. black WIDOW. female roles. some things are sacrosanct. you don't put sauv blanc in grange. it is not bruce and the bay city rollers. you do not reinvent bond (fleming would have been mortified). dimwitted people bereft of creativity or ideas do not have to stuff up what is good. psycho, ghostbusters, arthur... will they never learn?
  12. just saw a report in the Guardian (which probably says more about the Guardian than anything else) which suggests that social media is wildly enthusiastic about the idea and it has received widespread support. clearly, the guardian does not read FoH.
  13. i agree re dalton, but i think lazenby has been treated harshly. the bloke was not an actor and came in mid-connery. no man on earth had a chance to overcome that. the producers must have seen something in him as they offered him a massive seven film deal (and he knocked it back?????). and i think both lazenby and dalton exceeded brosnan and moore.
  14. the difference is pretty much that TNMT was all new. this is a major rethink of books/films from 60 years or more. much more radical in that sense. for me, the problem with idris elba (who i do really like - the man is a fanatical gunners fan) is not his race. it is his age. these days, i have no issue at all with bond being whatever race as long as he is british. elba is five years younger than craig (although there are suggestions that he is even older than claimed). given that these days, it takes four-five years almost to get a 007 film out, he'd be very close to the age when craig bailed. he is simply too old for the role. there is another possible explanation for the rumours of a black woman as the new 007. in the books, the number was rolled over for the next agent after the current one was killed, though i don't think that was the case with the name (but easy to make it so). so she could get the number at the end of this film and if the backlash was such that they had to backtrack, very easy to have her "killed" off-screen and the then they can bring in a new, more "appropriate" (if one accepts that bond is british and male) actor.
  15. fuzz, craig is a better bond than brosnan in his sleep! and i still don't buy this new crap.
  16. as i said at the start, i simply do not buy. the producers are not stupid (and they have said in the past that 007 will remain a male). there is always the chance, a very good one, that they are clever enough to start a rumour like this to see the response. if positive, they can go ahead. if another idea comes from it, they can take advantage. and if a negative response, they had no idea what anyone was talking about. it is easy to dismiss it as a radical leftist agenda but in all seriousness, of all the film franchises out there, there are not many that are as un-radical leftist as bond.
  17. this, i will believe only when i am sitting in front of the finished film. Lashana Lynch—a Black Woman—Is Taking Over as 007. It’s About Damn Time. opinion Slaven Vlasic/Getty According to a new report, Daniel Craig will pass the martini to ‘Captain Marvel’ actress Lashana Lynch, who will be introduced as the new 007 in the still-untitled 25th Bond film. Adam Howard Updated 07.15.19 4:20AM ET / Published 07.14.19 7:26PM ET In news that will surely come as a shock to James Bond fans and the film industry at large, it was revealed today that longtime 007 Daniel Craig will pass the Walther PPK to black British actress Lashana Lynch in the iconic role. For years there has been intense speculation about who would take over the reins of one of the most durable and profitable film franchises in history once Craig stepped aside. Much of that speculation has revolved around whether the series might make a nod toward diversity and cast a person of color or a woman for the first time. But if the report from UK tabloid the Daily Mail is to be believed, the 007 producers are going for a radical twofer: casting a 31-year-old black female newcomer as Bond’s heir apparent. According to the report, the upcoming, yet-to-be-titled 25th Bond film will reveal Lynch as the new 007 with Craig’s character coming out of retirement for one last mission. This development will almost certainly divide diehard Bond fans who are notoriously protective about the series, which has spanned six decades and featured six white male actors in the black tux. For instance, there has been a prolonged debate over whether current “Sexiest Man Alive” Idris Elba could or should replace Craig. In 2014, The Daily Beast broke the news that Amy Pascal, then-head of Sony Pictures Entertainment, wanted Elba to be the next Bond. And almost every interview or profile of Elba has seemed to renew the speculation, about which the Hobbs & Shaw star has remained remarkably sanguine. Prior to a debate over whether there could be a black Bond, there was even a hew and cry over whether there could be a blond 007 14 years ago when Craig was first cast in the part. Clearly, the producers of Bond 25 have decided that it was time to do something even more unorthodox with the globe-trotting espionage series. According to the Daily Mail’s source, “There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says ‘Come in 007,’ and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman.” “It’s a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond but he’s been replaced as 007 by this stunning woman,” they added. This piece of news is just the latest in a string of tumultuous headlines to emerge from a production that has seemed rocky at best. First, there was Craig’s initial reluctance to return to the role after four successful, largely well-received films. Following 2015’s Spectre, which grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide, he claimed he would rather “slash his wrists” than play the part again (he later walked back the remark and got on board). Then there was the hiring (and departure) of A-list director Danny Boyle after he and his leading man reportedly wanted to take the series in diametrically opposed directions. With Boyle’s departure there was a need for a whole new script and director. The Bond role has long been viewed as a blessing and a curse for the actors who have played it since it can overshadow everything else they do. Since then, True Detective guru Cary Joji Fukunaga has taken over directing duties—making him the first American filmmaker to helm a Bond film—and the 007 Instagram feed has begun to share tantalizing on-set photos, suggesting that perhaps the film, which has been repeatedly delayed, was back on track. It would come as no surprise that after five grueling films—and many, many injuries—the 51-year-old Craig would be ready to move on to other projects. The Bond role has long been viewed as a blessing and a curse for the actors who have played it since it can overshadow everything else they do. Even Sean Connery, who arguably has had the most productive post-Bond career, will be best known for originating the part of the suave spy in the 1960s. With Lynch, there will be a relatively blank slate. Mainstream audiences know her best from her supporting turn as Carol Danvers’ sidekick/pseudo love interest in this year’s blockbuster Captain Marvel. She has also previously appeared on television in several, mostly short-lived shows like Crims and Still Star-Crossed.
  18. Did not watch the New Zealand innings - it was on our free to air but one of the lesser "regional" ones - the main channel chose to show the netball ahead of it (most aussies' idea of a nightmare is a kiwi/pom final in anything - washed out would have been the only acceptable result). But even so, netball? I turned over (not from the netball) and saw the first two overs for England. Roy could have been out three times in his first four balls - escaped by literally a millimetre or two each time. I thought that definitely means it is not New Zealand's day. I did set the tape and fast forwarded through this morning and stopped for wickets or whatever - cannot believe the bloke who caught stokes and stepped out and gave up six. For the rest of his life, "dropping the world cup" is his nightmare. What a dill. Then the tape died as New Zealand were walking out to their super over. And I started doing other things and completely forgot about it. I thought stokes deserved man of the match - even fast forwarded and even with that idiot and his foot, it seemed a cracking innings at a crucial stage. Only later did I realise I did not even know who won. so it was mid morning before i even heard the result. And now we have the umpires saying that a mistake was made in that last over and England was given an extra run in error. I reckon if i was a NZ player, i'd just be crawling under the blankets for a month. The worst thing about it all as far as I am concerned is that it will give England a lot of confidence for the Ashes. otherwise, rain would have been fine!! But overall (and ignoring our meek but deserved exit), a one day comp that far exceeded my expectations. New Zealand tried to do a Stephen Bradbury. Not sure what happened to India. We got as far as we deserved. The poms probably deserved it after the last few years. As for close games, they do not get much closer. the very first World Cup final is still perhaps the greatest one day game i've seen - 60 overs an innings back then. clive lloyd with a ton, walters runs, lillee and thommo. viv richards in the field - australia lost five wickets to run-outs. and then lillee and thommo in a last wicket partnership in the dark almost to try and get us over the line and falling agonisingly short. Interesting thing here is that a lot of utter morons are now calling for Carey to replace Paine for the Ashes. The bloke has been a terrific captain for us in terrible times. Carey gets a few runs in one day games and people want him in. his first class average is 29. And he is a far weaker keeper. I do not understand humans.
  19. remember we are on a site where we literally set fire to what we spend good money on!!
  20. from the wine-searcher site. The World's Most Expensive Bourbons © iStock | Nothing says Bourbon like a toasty char on a first-fill barrel. We look at how Bourbon prices have shifted as interest in American whiskey has grown. By Don Kavanagh | Posted Sunday, 07-Jul-2019 The Bourbon boom shows no sign of slowing, with a new generation of drinkers coming to appreciate its rich, sweet nature. Perhaps that should read "new generations" – younger consumers are far more interested in whiskey generally than their elders and young Americans, in particular, are hooked on Bourbon, according to our search data. We'll be talking in more detail about that in a separate article next week but, for now, let's concentrate on the beauty of Bourbon. Related stories: The World's Most Wanted Bourbons Whiskey's Wave Keeps Rolling Dawn of the Two-Tier Drinks Market One of the most beautiful things about it has always been its relative affordability. The most expensive whiskey on this list wouldn't make the top 25 most expensive Scotches, the dearest of which is almost 10 times the price of the top Bourbon. It's this value and reliability – and variety – that are attracting pocket-conscious consumers to the sector. That's not to say that you can't spend a hefty sum on Bourbon. Prices have been edging upward as the number of Bourbon fans has increased and, while price hikes have been steady, they haven't been as dramatic as you'd expect for the volume of interest we've been seeing. That volume of interest has pushed three Bourbons into our list of the most searched-for wines, with Blanton's Original sitting at #25 in the overall rankings. But we're not here to talk about popularity today, we're here to talk about conspicuous consumption and wealth signalling. Surprisingly, we've never run a most expensive Bourbon feature before, so we thought it was about time that we did. "Expensive" is, as I've said, a relative term, but there are a few eye-openers on the list. And the one big difference that you'll notice from the most-wanted Bourbon list is the slightly diluted influence of the Buffalo Trace distillery; oh, it's here – especially around the top end of the list – but it is nowhere near as dominant as it has been on other Bourbon-related lists. 1. Eagle Rare Double Eagle Very Rare 20-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Top of the tree for Buffalo Trace's Eagle Rare brand, the outlandish average price of $20,354 is the result of its rarity – only 299 decanters were released. The decanters themselves come in a silver box and light up when opened. And the whiskey itself? It has a high rye content in the mash and it's bottled at 90 proof. 2. Old Rip Van Winkle 25-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Also produced at Buffalo Trace, albeit as a joint venture, the Van Winkle name is a storied one in Bourbon circles. Using wheat rather than rye in the mash bill, the Van Winkle range is highly sought-after and reassuringly expensive – in this case the average price is $19,782, a rise of more than $5000 in the past year. 3. Buffalo Trace OFC Bourbon A Bourbon that has actually seen a quite dramatic fall in its average price since last August, when it debuted on Wine-Searcher with an average of $16,746. It now sits at a slightly more sane $10,723. 4. Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Family Reserve 16-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon It's the Van Winkles again, with their 16 Year Old expression, which is slightly surprising, given the popularity and reputation of the 23 Year Old bottling, which sits outside this list with an average price of $3028. This version has actually fallen in average price since last year, dropping from $10,578 to its current $6368. 5. Michter's 25-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon When it comes to Michter's, you can pick up a bottle for around $50 or you can dig deep for this little beauty, at an average of $5085. Bottled at a lower proof than the average Bourbon, the end result tends to be a very smooth spirit and the 25-year-old bottling is exponentially so. 6. AH Hirsch Finest Reserve 20-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Distilled in the 1970s, the Hirsch Bourbons have long been favorites among connoisseurs and collectors. Its high prices are a reflection of the fact that it is no longer being produced, although the average price of this expression has come down by $2000 in the past five years, to $5009. 7. Black Maple Hill 16-Year-Old Premium Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon A more recent addition to the Bourbon scene, starting production in the early 2000s. However, it has quickly garnered something of a cult following, partly due to the alleged involvement of one of the Van Winkles in the production. The average price has more than doubled in the past five years, from $1596 to $3891. 8. AH Hirsch Reserve 16-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Unlike its older sibling, this bottling's average price has increased steadily over the past five years, going from $1328 to $3301. 9. Old Fitzgerald Very Old Bourbon Another whiskey that leans heavily on wheat in the mash bill, Old Fitzgerald is a historic brand – it was distilled for medicinal purposes during Prohibition – that is currently produced by the Heaven Hill distillery. This expression has seen steady growth in the past five years, with the average price going from $1598 to $3207. 10. Parker's Heritage Collection 3rd Edition Golden Anniversary Bourbon Another product from the Heaven Hill family, this award-winning range of whiskeys is also a force for good – a portion of the price of each bottle goes to motor neuron disease research. After five years of fluctuations, its average price has settled at $3189.
  21. Africa’s Only Caviar Comes From a Lake in the Highlands of Madagascar Three French entrepreneurs want to put the island-nation on the luxury food map. by Sabrina Imbler July 08, 2019 Rova workers preparing to harvest Malagasy caviar. MAMYRAEL/AFP/Getty Images One of the rarest, most luxurious crops in Madagascar is isolated in one artificial lake deep in the country’s highlands. Located about 40 miles from the capital, Antananarivo, and home to a burgeoning community of farmed sturgeon, the picturesque Lake Mantasoa has become Africa’s first and only source of caviar. The farm, called Rova Caviar Madagascar, is the brainchild of three French entrepreneurs: Delphyne and Christophe Dabezies and their partner, Alexandre Guerrier, according to Agence France-Presse. Rova joins a growing number of sustainable caviar farms that have emerged in response to shrinking wild populations and the 2006 ban on worldwide trade in wild caviar, according to New Scientist. In 2013 Rova’s first batch of fertilized sturgeon eggs imported from Russia hatched in a special nursery facility by the lake, according to the company site. But because sturgeon take years to mature Rova didn’t sell its first crop of caviar until June 2017. Rova farms five varieties of sturgeon, each of which produces a distinct kind of caviar. That first batch came from the commonly farmed Siberian sturgeon, which can mature in just five years—relatively fast for a sturgeon. By comparison, most species of the fish take anywhere from eight to 20 years to produce eggs. Rova also farms Russian sturgeon, Beluga sturgeon, bare-bellied sturgeon, and Persicus sturgeon, though none of these species will mature for several more years. When the fry grow to a quarter of an ounce at the Mantasoa farm, they’re moved from the hatchery building to nearby freshwater ponds. When they reach one pound, they’re moved again, this time to one of 30 cages in the lake itself. Siberian caviar from a competing Russian company. Public Domain Madagascar has yet to make a splash in the global caviar market, which is dominated by China, Italy, and France. But Mantasoa caviar is enticingly affordable, at just $144 for 100 grams. By comparison, Calvisius Caviar, one of the leading Italian caviar companies, sells 100 grams of Siberian caviar for $250; its most expensive caviar, Beluga, runs around $570 for 100 grams. Much of Rova’s first crop was sold to luxury shops and restaurants on Madagascar and the neighboring islands of Mauritius, Seychelles, and Reunion, AFP reports. Madagascar, an extraordinarily biodiverse island-nation, may seem like an unusual place to import new species. But as a lake-bound fish, the sturgeon do not pose a threat to the surrounding terrestrial ecosystems. And the human-made Lake Mantasoa is filled only by rainwater, so there’s no way for the sturgeon to escape into a natural freshwater system. “Madagascar has an exceptional environment that produces rare crops such as cocoa, vanilla, organic shrimp, and lychees,” Delphyne Dabezies told AFP. “We thought we could add caviar.” Elsewhere in the world, the lucrative market for caviar continues to threaten wild populations of sturgeon, according to a new report published in February by TRAFFIC, a nonprofit that monitors wildlife trade. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies 16 of the world’s 27 sturgeon species as critically endangered. Many are threatened by illegal poaching. To help preserve their crop’s wild counterparts, some caviar farms, such as the Florida-based Sturgeon Aquafarms, release farm-fertilized eggs into the wild to help bolster endangered populations. “A lot of people laughed at us,” Dabezies told AFP. “But we took the time to prove that this is serious.”
  22. those synthetics were horrendous at the time (i'm still no fan) but we have seen the comparison between corks and screwcaps so many times to have completely removed doubt. any winery not using them does so for marketing reasons - which will hopefully change though in some countries, it will be a very hard slog. there was a batch of wines put under screwcap in the late 70s. when one compares those to wines under cork from the same era, the difference is so massive that it is impossible to defend corks. of course, even if the world swapped today, there are still many many bottles in all our cellars still under cork with all the potential problems to come. fully agree re 97. cracking year. i pulled out a 1997 Pertimali recently - that Brunello lunch - and it was up against another Pertimali, their Riserva 2010. and yet the 97 showed much more colour - amazing purples - and more. the 10, a higher ranked wine as Riserva, was good but the 97 was spectacular.
  23. the lunch was pretty good though. a couple of the best. the 89 rayas was utterly spectacular. the old solera madeira from 1864 pretty special as well.
  24. we had a brilliant brunello lunch recently but with a couple of corked bottles. then this week, another lunch (not specifically brunello) and this was horrendously corked. if i ruled the world, i'd jail any winemaker not using screwcap. what a waste.

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