Arts

How to make the perfect Ragu

By George Ware

Always a bit of a treat in my family, my dad makes the best Ragu. There is nothing better than a big family meal and this Ragu was always the centrepiece. It is really suitable for any occasion. It can warm you on a winters day and bring bickering families together round the table. Perfect with a glass of red, I’m sure you will enjoy this gem of a classic.

Before we start though, here is what you will need:

  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 500g of Minced Beef
  • 3 Sprigs of Rosemary
  • 1 400g Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 200g Tube of Tomato Puree
  • 1 medium sized glass of Red Wine
  • Cubed Pancetta (Lardons will suffice)
  • Oregano
  • Dried Pasta of Choice

 

To begin with you will want to heat a deep pan or pot. Once the pan is up to temperature you will should add a splash of the Olive Oil. Remember that oil expands as it heats so don’t add too much. While the oil is heating, chop the rosemary and add it to the pan. Following this you should chuck in the pancetta cubes. While waiting for the pancetta to fry to a golden-brown colour, peel and finally chop the onion. Remember to stir the pan periodically. Once the pancetta how browned off, add your onion. You could cook your onion until soft and translucent before doing anything else otherwise your Bolognese will be filled with unpleasant crunchy pieces of onion. Next, you will want to add the mince. Keep the mince stirred until all of the beef is browned. Then you will want to add two teaspoons of oregano. While letting the juices and fat from the mince burn off, finely chop the garlic and add to the pan. Following this, add the glass of red wine. It is up to you which wine you choose but make sure to pour a glass with you meal, it really complements the Ragu sauce. With the wine in the pan, simmer until the alcohol evaporates. At this point the smell is glorious. Next, empty the tinned tomatoes in to the pan and stir until thoroughly mixed in. After this, add the entire tube of tomato puree and stir. Don’t be afraid to add the whole tube as it really gives the sauce a kick. Allow the sauce to simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes. While this is happening, boil and drain your pasta of choice. Spaghetti is the most popular choice but I personally prefer Penne. Serve the pasta and then before serving the Ragu, tear in some fresh basil. And the you have it, the perfect Ragu. Enjoy.

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What Happened to Music?

By George Ware

I envy my parents. They may not have had mobile phones or flat screen TVs but the one thing they did have in spades was great music. Growing up I used to love family car journeys because my parents refused to listen to the 2000’s pop music that, still to this day, is relentlessly jammed in to your ears by radio stations. They used to delve in to their music collections because they couldn’t stand modern pop music. This meant that, instead listening to Girls Aloud, I grew up with the sounds of the 70’s and 80’s.

The music of my youth has influenced what I like today, which is quite a broad range, but there are some modern genres that I find so heinous that I wouldn’t play them to my worst enemy, it would just be too cruel. Most popular genres at the moment like Grime, RnB and regular generic pop make me sad in a fundamental way. Gone are the days when actual musical talent was needed to be a musician.

The mainstream of the previous generation was a smorgasbord of variety. You would have rock numbers from bands like Led Zeppelin, infectious pop songs from groups like ABBA, and straight up classics from artists like Fleetwood Mac, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Police, Dire Straits and Cream. The mainstream of today just sounds so samey. Most artists today seem to have forgotten what an instrument is, relying on electronics and synthesisers, and auto-tune, to make a song. You’re not going to see Nikki Minaj do an acoustic set. If you still need convincing, who would you rather spend a while week listening to, Michael Jackson or Kanye West.

The problem at the moment is worldwide. More and more short-lived acts pop up, make a couple of forgettable songs, and then disappear only to be replaced by the next. Rinse and repeat. Being at university, your supposed to enjoy music on a night out but I just can’t. I find my self only going to retro nights because they are the only places that paly good music. That being said, its not impossible to find good new music. Bands like Royal Blood and Queens of the Stone keep on pumping out good album after good album and even manage to dent the mainstream juggernaut that is the modern music charts. There are talented musicians out there but they just can’t catch a break on the mainstream without conforming to mainstream tropes. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, music listeners like myself are just going to have to put up with it and wait to see what comes along next. Lord

L.A Noire Remastered – Is it worth it?

By George Ware

In 2011 Rockstar Games, in tandem with Team Bondi, released L.A Noire, a third person noir detective thriller that let the player step in to the shoes of a post war detective on the glamorous streets of Hollywood. The game received great reviews and many hoped for a sequel. While a sequel may not have been released, fans will finally be able to relive L.A Noire in its 2017 remaster for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

L.A Noire is a great game for an alternative style of gameplay. Rockstar fans will be used to the style of gameplay from their other, more mainstream, titles such as Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto series with their third person perspective running and gunning action. While L.A Noire does have a good amount of moments like this, the main aspect of L.A Noire’s gameplay is much more thoughtful. As a detective, you must visit crime scenes, interview witnesses, look for clues, and charge suspects. It requires a keen eye and patience, a far cry from the usual games of today, pardon the pun. It is a difficult game to master, especially when interviewing witnesses and suspects. The actor’s facial expressions and clues from your investigation are giveaways to tell if their telling the truth or lying and getting anything wrong can have a substantial effect on the outcome of the case. L.A Noire is a difficult game, no question, but is ultimately rewarding and offers you a sense of distinction if you solve the case. The game manages to strike a fine balance between thrilling action and challenging detective work, an experience unmatched by any other game.

The game takes great inspiration from noir fiction and real life. “Set against the backdrop of 1940’s Los Angeles… on a desperate search for truth in a city where everyone has something to hide”, L.A Noire uses real crimes and cases as the basis for the storyline while playing out as a genuine noir hardboiled detective movie. L.A Noire perfectly captures the tone of the genre and offers a story that could easily make a great TV series. A word of warning, the game tackles some seriously adult themes. These include gruesome murders while you work your way through the Homicide division and sinister drug cases while you work in Vice.

One sticking point from this 2017 remaster is the graphics. While the game is detailed, the graphics aren’t mind-blowing. The game was first released in 2011 and still looks like a 2011 standard game. The game also lacks for side activities. Outside of cases, there isn’t much to do, not like there is in Grand Theft Auto. This means that there isn’t much to do when you want a break from serious detective work. While you do a have a magnitude of real cars from the era to collect and random street crimes to respond to, that’s it. You do get the feeling that Rockstar could have added some new extra content.

Overall, L.A Noire is a fantastic game. The gameplay is captivating while also challenging and the setting is one to fall in love with. The genre is criminally underused and L.A Noire is perfect for anyone wanting to quench their noir thirst. The game does have its flaws but you can forgive this when you consider how much of a novelty this game is and how there is virtually no alternative for a game like this and of this calibre. The remaster is a great game to see Rockstar fans through to the highly anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2 which is expected in the not so distant future.

L.A Noire – 4.5 / 5

DonTV – A Non-Mainstream Media Outlet.

By George Ware

At this point in time, we live in a hotspot on the timeline of media history. There has never been so much choice and independent opportunity in the media community thanks to new technology. The Internet and new technology has been a huge enabling factor in giving the everyday person the means to start their own media outlet.

Sean Kennedy is a Doncaster native and has used the new technology and the Internet to create  his own local media company, Don TV. According to Sean Kennedy, Don TV is a “local community Internet TV channel… that’s centered round Doncaster, trying to promote Doncaster because there’s very little promotion bigging up Doncaster and what promotion there is it’s normally negative”.  Don TV charges anyone who wants to have a video produced and displayed on their website to help promote the local community. For example they’ve recently done a video about the local initiate for the re-homing of dogs.

One of the reasons Sean has been able to set up Don TV is thanks to the new technology and websites that have been introduced over the last couple of years. Mr Kennedy said: “Well if you think about it, 10 years ago, nobody used to watch YouTube like they do now. YouTube has now taken it’s place as a proper TV channel… so where that was once niche is now the norm and all the stuff that’s coming up now will be the norm in the next 5 years”.

Shaun also noted on the way in which traditional media is adapting as he said: “Radio stations now, there not just Radio stations there also a TV streaming service because you can watch their webcam. They also go out and do live stuff on Facebook Live and Periscope and it’s just the normal thing now”. Sean agreed that we are definitely seeing a shift from traditional mainstream media outlets like TV to the Internet.

It’s clear to see that modern day media has seen a substantial shift from traditional news media. Independent, non-mainstream media outlets seem to be on the rise and it all has to be attributed the Internet and helpful technology like computers and mobile phones. What they’re doing wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago and there is nothing wrong with having more helpful, local media outlets.

Visit Don TV – http://dontv.co.uk/

Colchester Beer Festival

By George Ware

January 27th 2017 played host to the 10th annual Winter Beer Festival at the Colchester Arts Centre. As a copious beer drinker, this festival presented itself as the perfect opportunity to wet my pallet with all kinds of beers and ales from all across East Anglia.

After paying the fairly reasonable fee of £20 for a drinking card and a glass, I was presented with barrel upon barrel of beer from wall to wall with a crowd of slightly sloshed seniors mingling and tasting what the festival had to offer.

The venue that accommodated the event was the Colchester Art Centre. Formerly the St Mary at the Walls Church, the building is very archaic and suited the festival very well. I had an overwhelming feeling of being in a small village somewhere in East Anglia rather than the centre of Colchester.

Over 140 real ales were on offer, along with ciders other beers, while one section of the festival presented only Belgian beers while another showcased different wines. After a bit of a search, the strongest ale I was able to find was a porter called the Good King Henry. Coming in at a whopping 9.6%, after only half a pint it practically blew my head off. After this I decided to call it a day.

To sum up, the festival was really good fun for both experienced ale drinkers and people like me who were trying new drinks for the first time. It was a great time, especially with friends and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who fancies a good laugh and drink next year.

Venue – http://www.colchesterartscentre.com/

The Movement of the People

By George Ware

The Essex University art gallery is currently playing host to the Movement of the People art exhibition from September 29th to December 10th displaying art of many mediums created by Syrian artists.

The Movement of the People is all about to the conflict in Syria, dedicating pieces of art to those who have died in the conflict as well as sending a strong political message. The exhibition has been split in to three parts. While the first may have already passed, part two lasts until November 26th and the third opens on the 1st December and closes on the 10th of the same month. The event’s brochure describes it an event that “brings together work by internationally renowned artists and street activists to focus on the war in Syria and the effect of conflict on a shifting, often displaced, population”.

From what I saw, the main target of the artist’s activism was Assad’s regime in Syria. In the form of posters and paintings, Assad was depicted as a murder and a butcher. One such poster showed a silhouette of Assad, clutching a butcher’s cleaver behind his back, while a long line of children look up, expectantly. It’s certainly a striking poster and it sets the tone for everything else to come. The artists want to send a message to the anyone that will listen that the situation in Syria at the moment is dire. On one side, President Assad is persecuting the population, on the other ISIS is carving up territory and preaching hate. I think that the art in this exhibition does a good job in expressing these issues. All of the art on display garners a response from those who look at it, whether that be of shock, awe or respect and admiration. The art is extremely clear in that, whomever looks at it, knows what the artist is trying to convey.

One of the most surprising pieces was that of a recorded puppet show series called “Top Goon”. This takes a much more satirical view of President Assad. One of the curators told me that the best way to damage the regime in Syria would be to simply “make fun of it”. The ability to take a serious topic like Syria and turn it in to a comedy full of political satire, I imagine, would take some serious doing, especially when you consider the danger. After all, the reason these views are being expressed through art is not just to create a rousing feeling among many people but also because if they were to go out on to the streets and protest there would be consequences if you were caught. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of Ali Ferzat, a political cartoonist, who had his fingers broken for drawing cartoons damaging to the Assad regime. The artwork is certainly well made and entertaining but it is also very sobering.

From my experience at the art gallery, I can confirm that it was an eye-opening experience and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what happens in Syria. The art is great and it’s definitely worth your time.