Contending with the Colonel: Liverpool’s Yardbird reclaims REAL fried chicken

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Fried Chicken is one of those foods that can either envelop you in a warm embrace of salty, crispy home-made goodness or leave you spasming out of disappointed guilt, depending on how it’s cooked. Such fits of despair may have left you indifferent. Apathetic. Maybe numerous sub-par late-night takeaways have caused you to lose faith. If you’re at this tenuous stage in your relationship with fried chicken now, I beg of you to listen. Open your eyes. For Yardbird is the answer you’ve been waiting for.

After flirting with us for a few months offering sneak peeks on twitter and opening at the arse-end of June 2014, the Yardbirds have perched themselves at the corner of Berry and Duke st in Liverpool (in the formerly derelict building where Banksy’s Rat Mural used to be). And I’m so glad they did.

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Yardbird specialises in fried chicken, doughnuts and cocktails. With other surprises thrown into the mix. See their menu here.

Getting right down to it the ‘Fried Chicken with biscuits & gravy’, one of the most humble sounding dishes on the menu, is where you should start if you’re a rookie. I’d say it’s their baseline by which you can measure the vibe of the rest of their food so if you like this, you’ll love Yardbird.

IMG_2695Offering a real taste of old-school southern soul this dish won’t disappoint. The chicken is crispy on the outside and tender within but they really smash it on the gravy, which is superior by far to any other chicken joint I’ve visited (yes even the Colonel’s). Probably something to do with it being made on chicken stock, cream, pepper and bourbon… Oh yeah, I asked the man.

The biscuits are savoury by the way, if you’ve had breakfast biscuits in America they’re like those. If not, I’d say they’re kind of close to a savoury scone, but more bready and substantial.

Top Tip: (if you’ve got your head screwed on) when your scran arrives, cut the biscuits open and lay them face down in your gravy to let them soak in. Trust.

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The wings are superb, with a range of sauces and I’d recommend trying both slaws (pictured below). As with the rest of the menu the portion sizes are generous (which is what we like to see), and the salads are fresh and inventive, with fruit and nuts for added textural yumminess.

IMG_2717Another innovative must-try is their ‘Chicken or the egg’, a fried chicken breast fillet in brioche bun with deep fried egg, pancetta, & cheese w/pink sauce… I was confused on reading the menu but there’s actually an egg deep-fried into your burger. You’ve got to see it and taste it to believe it works really.

Next onto their shakes. Again, they’ll beat your mainstream fast food chains hands down. Just try them, how lovely do they look? (see below an Oreo and a Strawb shake). They also do ‘Hard Shakes’, deliciously alcoholic and dangerously moreish. Mother dearest chugged down two of their Pina Coladas in record time.

Defo try some of their Collins cocktails too. Featured below are a raspberry and a blackberry Collins, but they also have four other flavours. Sweet and light, but beware they go down far too easily.

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The only thing I’d have to say about Yardbird that is not-quite-really-almost-negative-at-all is that the burgers are hard to handle without having to pull your sleeves up (unless I’m just being drammy). Other than that the service is swift, staff are friendly and you get a lot of bang for your buck.

It’s also really cool inside: they draw on the windows and tend cactuses (cacti?) but if you’re an Alan Partridge fan beware they ‘like American things’. 

Definitely give them a look and let Yardbird redeem the hallowed art of fried chicken for you. If you’re able to tear yourself from their talons I’ll be surprised because they’re finger lickin’ boss.

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Yardbird is situated at the corner of Berry St and Duke St, opposite the Arch in Liverpool’s Ropewalks district at 60 Berry Street, L1 9DU Liverpool.

They don’t have a phone number, just turn up and they’ll seat your party. If they’re chocker they’ll take your number and ring you when a table is free (as they’re only small inside).

Follow them on twitter for updates and food porn @Yardbirdsrgo.

More updates at @KateMenear

Header image URL here.

All other images are my own.

Are we afraid of feminism? Emma Watson, the UN and the HeForShe campaign.

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Hermione Granger was and will always be one of my favourite modern literary heroines. As a child I connected with her thirst for intellectual success (often over her male counterparts) which was seemingly unbound by gender stereotypes. She was sensitive AND strong AND a girl; the perfect role model for gender equality.

So Emma Watson’s real-life speech yesterday at the United Nations publicising the HeForShe campaign, as UN Women’s Goodwill ambassador, gave me the same twinge of excitement and joy that I felt when pre-teen Hermione punches Draco Malfoy in the face.

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YOU GO HERMION-er I mean EMMA!

Watson speaks eloquently and with a sense of conviction which, as a young woman of a similar age, is inspiring. She strikes the perfect tone between self-assurance and confidence without being, as she says she has been called as a headstrong (female) child, ‘bossy’. Which as Watson tells us in her speech is a common struggle for a lot of women who talk about feminism.

When talking about ‘women’s issues’ (because gender equality, domestic violence, rape and other such social issues have become too synonymous with being female rather than gender neutral) women have to tread carefully for fear of being dismissed. This is because, as Watson puts it, “fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”

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She goes on to say that, “Feminism has become an unpopular word…isolating, anti-men, aggressive, unattractive even.”

No sentence in her speech rang more true for me. Feminism IS an unpopular word. Feminism, sadly, is very unattractive to a lot of people, male and female. I can’t count how many times a conversation with a man has been shut down at its mention or how even amongst my closest friends I have felt I ‘can’t go there’ just to keep the peace. Or to spare myself those familiar eye-rolls or groans which often accompany the discussion of gender inequality or sexism.

For me, feminism has become synonymous with defending myself because of my beliefs. In a Pavlov’s dogs kind-of-way I have become conditioned to expect a negative reaction when voicing an opinion on gender equality or feminism. This is of course, very off-putting at times.

I am overjoyed that Watson has been able to speak openly on this powerful platform about these institutionalised and socially-ingrained issues of sexism and gender inequality. As Watson said herself of being appointed as a UN ambassador for women, “the chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly.”(1) She voices the beliefs of so many like myself who, for want of a willing audience, often feel powerless to exact change.

The HeForShe campaign advocates gender equality and neutrality. Solidarity and the unifying of efforts from both men and women, “bringing together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.”(2)

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Although I agree with the message of inviting men to the party, I don’t know whether the ‘He-FOR-She’ message could raise some issues in the opposite direction. Yes it is archaic that such issues as I have mentioned before are labelled as ‘women’s issues’ as, according to Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism project, “to call gendered violence or domestic abuse a ‘women’s issue’ is to absolve perpetrators of responsibility while equally alienating and discounting male victims” (3).

But conversely labelling these problems as he ‘for’ she, asking male counterparts to condescend to repress their privilege to ‘help’ us women, ‘for’ us, could have an equally marginalising and adverse outcome. This is only a thought that I’d be interested to open up into a discussion. Overall I agree with the message that the HeForShe campaign is spreading:

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.”

The unifying message is positive and strong. I believe it is a close as we have come to a truly progressive movement on gender equality and reforming or redefining the binary opposition that is male and female (or currently still; male>female) in a long time.

But just because we haven’t found a ‘uniting word’ as Watson puts it, doesn’t mean to me that we should stop using ‘feminism’. Just because for some it is a dirty word doesn’t mean that it should be unspoken. After all, (on another strange Granger/Watson doubling note, in the Harry Potter series) Hermione herself uses the name of Lord Voldemort rather than ‘you-know-who’ because, as she fiercely states, fear of a name leads to the fear of the thing itself.(4)

We must keep calling it feminism because it scares us.

Watch Watson’s speech here:

 

Visit the HeForShe website and find out more about their campaign for gender equality here.

 

(1) –Selby, Jenn. ‘Emma Watson named as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador’, The Independent Online, 08/07/2014, URL http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/emma-watson-appointed-un-women-goodwill-ambassador-9590993.html

(2) – Bates, Laura. Everyday Sexism,(Simon & Schuster: London, 2014), 70-1.

(3) – Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) film.

(4) – Taken from the HeForShe campaign homepage at http://www.heforshe.org/

Images:

Header image URL here.

Hermione punching Malfoy gif URL here.

Feminists are image URL here.

HeForShe logo URL here.

Social Media Etiquette: The (un)humble-brag:

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I went on a run today and managed not to Facebook/tweet/instagram it immediately (I realise I’m now blogging about it but before you let that destroy my credibility let me assure you this time it’s different). When I finished my run I obviously reached for my iPhone, after enduring a good half hour of real-world time out in the fresh air, to check on the crying tamagotchi-baby that is my social media presence.

I found that, as I’d been running, so had at least 5 other people who vomited out various speed/distance stats about their physical prowess on a plethora of social media platforms whilst I lay sprawled on the kitchen floor in the foetal position.

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Thinking about it a little more it’s not just subtle exercise humblebragging either. It’s the new job you were too inexperienced, but nevertheless still headhunted, for or the compliments you keep receiving about your figure that you don’t agree with (but still want to tell us about). Or basically any way in which somebody you knew in school shoehorns the tasty details about their amazing lifestyle into a status update, deftly under-cutting their self-admiration with a small degree of self-deprecation to keep it subtle.

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And as much as we all hate it, we all do it.

I instantly remembered recently splitting my sides watching Jerry Seinfeld’s video for Wired magazine about etiquette in the digital age (watch here).

The video casts a great light on the things we all know and love to hate about social media such as the afore-mentioned Humblebrag, as expertly explained here by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University:

“Can’t believe I finished that Ironman in the top 50—it was my personal worst.” Nope, that dash of humility doesn’t disguise all that self-promotion. Jean Twenge … co-wrote a book about people like you: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. “Bragging alone makes you sound like a narcissist,” Twenge says. “Humblebragging makes you sound like a narcissist who is also being deceptive.”

Source.

Of course I realise by blogging nonchalantly about my own fitness habits I’m kind of humblebragging but I feel I had a better reason to than many others I see on my feeds. I wanted to share Jerry’s video because it made me laugh.

Twenge’s comment on the deceptive narcissist stood out to me though. I like my narcissists out and proud, filled to the brim with self-indulgent public vanity and an over-inflated sense of self-importance. That way, at least, we all know where we stand.

Share the good stuff and don’t pretend you haven’t fallen in love with your own profile picture when you obviously have. That sh*t gets annoying fast. Alternatively we could all just sit back down and keep fake-liking eachother’s updates in hidden disdain in order to maintain the social media equilibrium.

After all, you wouldn’t want your drunken ‘I look awful but ❤ my BESTIES, last nightaaaaa’ weekend mobile uploads to go embarrassingly ignored and un-‘liked’ by everyone except your hip Facebook auntie would you…

 

 

Read more about Twenge’s The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2009) here.

 

 

 

 

Header image URL here.

Morpheus meme URL here.

Humble-brag image 1 URL here.

Oh Paolo don’t be hasty: Nutini’s dystopian vision in Iron Sky.

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Paolo Nutini’s been off the mainstream radar for a few years now. Whatever he’s been doing, he’s been doing it right. I’ve taken recently to listening (and sobbing) to his latest single Iron Sky from his new album ‘Caustic Love’. Beginning with simpering guitar and building up into brilliant blasts of brass accompanied by lamenting lyrics, (which of course, the dashingly disheveled Nutini belts out in that shouty way that only a handful of mainstream artists can get away with), Iron Sky grabs you by the ears and doesn’t let go. For 6 and a half minutes.

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The orchestral music behind Nutini’s raw and unkempt vocal stylings makes for a high-impact, goose-bumpy, listener experience. Add to this some climactic excerpts of Charlie Chaplin’s powerful anti-war speech from The Great Dictator (1940) and I think you’ve smashed it Paolo. Listening to Iron Sky for the umpteenth time it’s still hard to accept that this is the same guy who was once buzzing off his new shoes… (although New Shoes is definitely still an absolute tune).

Not only is Iron Sky a cracking track, it is also accompanied by an (almost) 9 minute long, and equally as intense, short film. The film is directed by Daniel Wolfe whose other directing credits include Plan B’s video to Prayin’ (2010) and French electro-pop group The Shoes’ 2012 music video Time to Dance (a horrendously overlooked short starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a hipster-slaying psychopath).

“They say it’s a power, a ‘thing’. How do we know this? How do we know this is not the will of God?”

Depicting a world which is frighteningly similar to our own, Iron Sky appears to express a dystopian eventuality where people are tortured by splitting head pains sent by some higher power.

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People look to drugs and religion for salvation and comfort. Numbed by these opiates society manages to survive but not thrive.

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Distressing images of people in apparent agony, despair, numbness and solitude as well as beautiful inky shots of colour which look like mini A-bomb explosions, (yes these are the totally technical terms in case you were wondering), accompany Nutini’s foreboding lyrics.

Untitled1Nutini 7With some slightly gratuitous, but redeemingly arty, nudity thrown in, Wolfe’s and Nutini’s collaboration is pretentious at worst and darkly cool at best.

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But, although the lyrics and the visuals match wonderfully, according to Wolfe, “I was sent the track with no explanation from Paolo.” Nutini and Wolfe are merely exacting their work on the same wavelength.

Wolfe continues, “as a child I stared at the planet Jupiter and had a vivid hallucinatory experience. A feeling of abject terror. In bondage to an omnipotent machine. When I heard the Chaplin quote I remembered this clearly. So the video became a dystopian vision of the future as imagined by a child in the 80s.

Nutini 6Nutini 3I’d love to ask Paolo to confirm his vision of the film but he has yet to release any explanation. Another one of those ‘find your own reading’ artists. Damn you loosey-goosey creatives you. (Although as the message behind the song is to rise through the iron sky of your mind, maybe spoon-feeding us his own meaning would be a tad regressive…)

The underlying message of Iron Sky seems to be to resist ‘them’. “They want us functioning in fear. Functioning at a basic level. Like a horse or a pig,” explains a man at the start of the film.

Who are ‘they’?

Who are the machine men with machine minds and machine hearts that Chaplin chimes in with 6 minutes in? The music industry could easily embody this machine so you could argue that Nutini is full of hot air if he is trying to send us a message about non-conformity whilst raking in loads of cash.

But at 6+ minutes for the track alone and 8 minutes 48s for the video, (or two and a half hours in high-speed-internet-Starbucks-Youtube-world terms), I think it’s safe to say that Nutini has prioritised artistic flow over music-industry function here.

It just so happens to be a belter of a track bound for success.

Watch Iron Sky for yourself right now and try to decide what it all means for yourself. Pretentious or not, the film is beautiful and the song is even better.

Watch Wolfe’s Prayin’ and Time to Dance here and here if I’ve sparked your interest.

Sources:

Header image URL here.

Album cover URLs 1 and 2.

All other images are screenshotted from here.

Daniel Wolfe interview here.

Are the Princesses doing it for themselves? Disney joins the quest for gender equality.

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I’m not a fanatic, but I’ve not yet reached a mental age (if there is one) where I don’t still enjoy the occasional Disney film. But despite enjoying them on a surface level, as a little girl with male siblings, I struggled to stomach some Disney films and the wretched way in which they portrayed their female characters.

sexist disney

This is a blog-tired subject by now but Disney and Feminism are usually mutually exclusive concepts. At least they are in Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty etc…

Why do the Princes always save the Princesses? Where are all the book-learnin’ damsels?

And don’t get me started on why they’re always pining for a man, because teaching little girls to need a partner to define themselves (male or female) is why so many of us twenty-somethings are subjecting ourselves to the trials of Tinder right now…

So when Disney released Frozen (2013) I was surprised and elated.

As well as upping their game in the comedy stakes, (as Olaf the snowman’s comic asides make the film almost palatable for tired parents subjected to ‘Let it Go’ on repeat), Frozen is the first Disney movie where *SPOILER ALERT* the guy doesn’t come to the rescue. In fact, Prince Hans is a totally abhorrent character even in his sickly-sweet nice guy persona which precedes a shocking double-crossing at the close of the story.

The two sisters, Elsa and Anna, save each other in a life-affirming, second-wave feminist, ‘girl power’ moment which is heart-warming and totally kick-ass if, like me, you’ve been waiting for the day that the sisters started doing it for themselves. Not only this but Frozen’s climactic ballad ‘Let it Go’s pro-homosexual subtext catapults the film into new realms of social progression and equality.

Elsa and Anna reject the quest for marriage, babies and the shackled-ever-after ending, and in doing so, show impressionable young children that it’s okay to be yourself, by yourself.

The film gets a bra-burning 5 stars from me in terms of sending out the right message to kids.

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And if you thought Frozen might be a one-off nod to gender equality to temporarily satiate a feminist audience then read on. Disney animators are in production of a hardcore hand-drawn feminist-friendly short called Hullabaloo where the female protagonists are brilliant engineers.

According to the Independent online, Hullabaloo, “delves into oft-overlooked science fiction sub-genre steampunk and paints women as anything but damsels in distress.” A Disney movie where the female characters are scientists?! I can’t wait.

But although Disney have come a long way from the faint-hearted fair maidens of fairytales past, by the looks of these initial illustrations:

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we’ve still got to wait for the Disney flick where the female characters waists aren’t narrower than their heads…

Here’s the Hullabaloo creators’ steampunk campaign video for a sneak peek at what the short will look like:

 

Sources:

(1) – Frozen image

(2) – Sexist Disney diagram

(3) – Frozen image 

(3) – Read the full Independent online Hullabaloo article here

(4) – Hullabaloo image

Some of the funniest Twitter reactions to Tony Blair’s GQ win…

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So yesterday the venerable old sage Tony Blair was awarded Philanthropist of the Year at the GQ awards. These days you can get arrested for making accusatory jokes on the internet about people you don’t like or agree with so I’ve got to be careful.

But I’m going to give that tumbleweed a little room to breathe as we all take in the irony that the words ‘Tony Blair’ and ‘philanthropist’ have appeared in the same headline. Without the words ‘is not at all a’ in between.

This is just a quick post to share some of the funniest twitter reactions to this wonderful news. Here they are:

My personal favourite…

 

And although this guy makes a good point about us all jumping on the bandwagon…

 

…I think twitter is righteous in its outrage. Tony’s win shows us that apparently you can do anything you want and as long as you do a bit of charity work (once you’re absolutely minted mind you), they’ll call you a Philanthropist and give you a pat on the back.

Well Done Tony!

 

 

Header image URL.

I give Emojli a big thumbs down (emoji).

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I love social media. I love the doors that social media can open up for people. Users can create and share their own and other’s content in a public or private forum where nobody is better than anybody else (unless you have no followers).
It’s a classless system which is something I admire. I love that I can write something, type it up and post it on my site and somebody in a different place (geographically or otherwise) can read it and even interact with me.

But despite my love for the social mobility of social media, I have a few issues which have recently resurfaced since the new social network app, ‘emojli’, went public. Emojli is an emoji-only website where there are no words, only, you guessed it, emojis. Even usernames will comprise of emojis.

hand emoji

Don’t get me wrong, as an iPhone user and ‘scousebird’ (sorry) I take great pleasure in using emojis as a way of expressing myself in addition to language. When my iPhone met it’s untimely demise and I couldn’t use the hand emoji for a few days (the ‘hang on, bear with, stop talking please’ emoji), I lost all of my online ‘sass’. I forgot how to snub online idiocy with my words. This was the scary realisation that I had a slight reliance on emojis for meaning. As an English major, this was terrifying.

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The foreboding clouds of the emojli logo are a dark omen hailing the eventual degeneration of language in a world where users (not people) are encouraged to revert back to cave-painting style of communication. Don’t get me wrong, cave-painting was a great idea in its prime but it’s definitely had its day.

That might sound a tad dramatic, but the introduction of this emoji…

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…makes cave-paintings seem far more cerebral and 21st century.

I’m not attacking emojli. Some users will argue that it stretches them to create conversation with limited materials and thus stimulates creativity. I see this logic but I sit firmly in the opposition.

What can be more challenging and stimulate more creativity than creating something out of limitless words or materials? When did we put a cap on how much self-expression is too much? When did there become a deficit on words? When did Twitter’s 140 character limit become too long?

As I write my blog posts I am aware of the benefits of being concise for fear of losing the interest of my readers. But I just wonder when did using actual words become insufficient in holding the attention span of so many people?

Poor books. Poor writers. Poor language. Poor people.

In writing, I have discovered something that means more to me than myself. Telling the stories I have inside of my head to anybody who will listen seems massively important to my continued existence, even if nobody is listening. But the idea that my words will definitely fall on deaf ears, lazy fingertips and emoji-numbed minds is unnerving for an aspiring writer. That mere words are too much or that I should have stop at 130 characters with room to shoehorn in a couple of hashtags is worrying.

I’m too verbose for this shit and you all should be too.

Send a smiley face to your friends to lessen the blow of a let-down text, don’t rely on them entirely for conversation or we really will lose the ability to speak.

 

 

Media Sources:

(1) – http://st1.bgr.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/emojli-social-network.jpg

(2) – http://pix.iemoji.com/sbemojix2/0130.png

(3) – http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tek9qgNnzwQ/UtLxu8_Vf4I/AAAAAAAAHYI/HuQtluYiUT4/s1600/tumblr_ly5e8oK3Go1qf0rpdo1_250.gif

(4) – http://a1.s6img.com/cdn/0022/p/8546148_14607576_lz.jpg