I came across Guy Delisle‘s travelogue(-ish) graphic novels on one of my recent trips to The Smoke. No prizes for guessing, but the bookstore where I found this gem was the St. Pancras’ branch of Foyles[1]. I am a sucker for graphic novels, as they are much faster to finish and having a row of books on the shelf makes me look more erudite. Heh.

Delisle’s a Canadian Québécois author and the book that I found was called Pyongyang, which was about, well, the capital of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK lah senang[2], captured during his two-month stay whilst doing some animation work. I have a vague fascination[3] with this isolationist state and it was great to see Delisle describing the bizarre state of affairs that goes on in the city – from propaganda-filled tours of the sights to the obvious brainwashed state of the populace, as seen from the author’s conversations with the guides that sticks to him like leeches wherever he went. This is quite a great read if you like graphic travelogues[4]. In fact, I am currently reading his take on Jerusalem in his book entitled… Jerusalem.

Dang. Which reminds me I’m yet to get Mimi Mashud’s Beijing In 5 Days!


At first, I wasn’t going to. But, I recently got an e-mail from Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena that there are extra tix being sold for Black Sabbath.

Yup. 75% of the original four is still well worth it, especially when it’s a lower tier seat just next to the stage on Iommi’s side. Can’t believe it was 16 years ago that I went to see the first night of their reunion tour in Brum.


The latest opus by SCANDAL arrived via DHL last Monday and I gotta say this is has to be their best work yet. The band sounded more refined and their playing sounded more polished. Understandably some of the punters loved their rawer sound from the first couple of records, but I feel that STANDARD is SCANDAL’s ‘Black Album'[5]. The three singles 会わないつもりの、元気でね, OVER DRIVE and 下弦の月 are great, but they do have some great non-single tracks on this. Brand new wave, メトロノーム and 8月 are great rockers (especially メトロノーム), and the more easy-going Weather report feels like a departure from their obvious J-Rock/Pop leanings.

The girls kick off their longest ever Japan tour come this Saturday. Like watching Pearl Jam at the Showbox in Seattle, I’d kill for a tix to see them on their home ground!


Last but not least, two makan places worthy of note in Sheffield.

One is Palmyra, a quiet[6] Lebanese eaterie that serves lamb mandi. I had initially thought that with Sheffield having a sizable Yemeni migrant population that this was likely a Yemeni place but I was wrong. Regardless, I’ve never had mandi before so I took this golden opportunity to try it. The table was covered with a plastic sheet before our orders arrived which made me wonder if we were meant to makan bersepah-sepah to show our appreciation of the food. Kinda like slurping your soup in Japan. Heh.

It was okay lah. It was lovely taste-wise, but was a tad disappointed with the presentation of the pieces of lamb in the rice, probably because of the photos I had seen on the net (just Google lah) where you get the basmati rice bathed in the oils and juices of a whole kambing. Mandi, geddit geddit? Whilst lacking the ambience of Tassili (which unfortunately is now closed), the food’s pretty good for the price that you pay.

79-81 Wicker
Sheffield S3 8HT

The other is Smokey’s Diner, an American-styled eaterie in Attercliffe that had recently opened selling pretty much burger bakar. The beef patties are freshly made and each beef patty is 6 oz in weight. The basic burgers have one patty (I’ve tried the Rodeo and Mafia burgers), but they also do Towers with two, and Monster ones with loadsa other stuff with the two patties, and I am talking potato waffles or onion rings in the burgers, not as sides.

Very reasonable prices for great tasting burgers that could give Tinseltown a run for their money. Smokey’s have also started doing shakes although currently it’s only the three basic flavours of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Expand the shake repertoire and if they do apple pies – we have ourselves an American diner! There used to be another great burger place, albeit emulating a McDonald’s as opposed to serving gourmet burgers, on London Road but it closed down after being in business for less than a year. Let’s hope Smokey’s is here to stay!

539 Attercliffe Road
Sheffield S9 3RP

[1]Largest bookstore on the planet at one time. The main store on Charing Cross Road, that is.
[2]Okay, NORTH Korea lah lagi senang.
[3]I had done YouTube searches of Kim Jong-il in the past and got some, err, great results.
[4]My fav had always been those done by Lat.
[5]As in Metallica’s self-titled 1992 record. Strangely enough, STANDARD is white although I won’t try comparing the girls to The Beatles just yet.
[6]It was when I was there.