Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Episode! The Amazing Story of Podcast-Red and Podcast-Blue

It's been a long time, we shouldn'a left you / without a dope podcast to step to...

Yes, we're back! Despite my slight backwardness in updating this blog, James and I have actually been recording the occasional new episode of Unified Review Theory lately! The latest episode goes a little something... like... this...

In this Amazing Instalment of Unified Review Theory, Neill and James discuss the hottest talking point of, um, two weeks ago: the London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony! LEARN what Neill has against the nation of Comoros and the reasons why Sir Melvyn Bragg is a filthy, filthy animal.

ALSO: we look at a comic from 50 years ago, and talk about its merits. Join us for mermaids, biblical exoduses and the dangers of performance-enhancing kryptonite as we look at The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue! Will we find it amazing? There's only one way to find out!

(SPOILER: we will.)

And we've also recently covered subjects as diverse and as devastatingly well-researched as Mongolia, the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and that movie they made about the Avengers! Why not go and listen to some of them? You can subscribe via iTunes or follow along on the podomatic podcast page!

We've been kind of warming back up, in the hopes of at some point getting to some kind of a semi-regular update schedule. If you've enjoyed any of these, why not say hello to us or indeed suggest ideas of Things We Should Review; we're on twitter over at @urtheory!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Marks and Spencer Turkey, Ham, Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce Baguette

(Christmas Sandwich)

JAMES says:

Expectations were high for this one. The buzz in the office had been positive, and there was genuine excitement when it was first spotted for sale. These things literally happened. However something happened to undermine the expected M&S dominance, and that something was plucky newcomer Wenzel. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the baguette. They had overdone the cranberry sauce so it rather overpowered the other ingredients, but it was a competent little sarnie. But whilst I was eating I couldn’t help but mentally compare it with my former baguette. Whereas Wenzel’s turkey had been moist and fulsome this was a little on the dry side. And do you remember how the crispiness of the bacon melded with fruity cranberry? I’m sorry M&S baguette. I thought I’d moved on but this really isn’t fair on either of us. I don’t know if Wenzel’s will take me back, I have no right to expect it, but I have to try. In fact, I’m pretty sure they will.

I’m sorry Marks and Spencer Turkey, Ham, Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce Baguette. You deserve someone who will appreciate your rather uninspired attempt at a turkey sandwich and it’s just not me.

I hope this doesn’t mean I have to stop seeing your Liebkuchen?


Monday, December 13, 2010

Ginsters Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry Pasty

(Christmas Pasty)

NEILL says:

Ah, Ginsters. It is an inconsequential but pleasing side-effect of having this blog that I know to the day the last time I was foolish enough to eat a Ginster's pasty. (Wednesday, February 18th, 2009. The "New York Style" Steak & Cheese Pasty. Bloody awful, 4/10.) But upon seeing this festive offering on the shelves of our local Londis, how could I resist? Cleary, my duty as a reviewer outweighed all considerations of taste, common sense or intestinal safety.

So, first impressions: cold, flavourless pastry with a texture the word "claggy" could have been coined for. And inside, that unidentifiable grey Matter so familiar to afficionados of the Ginsters range. The packaging claims this to be composed of 'Turkey, Bacon and Cranberry', so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and agree that that's what it was. I didn't see any cranberries in there, that's all I'm saying. The overwhelming flavours one is left with are of Cold Turnip and Cheese, which is slightly worrying as neither of these ingredients are actually listed.

Mmmm, Matter.

More than simply being an unpleasant eating experience - although it was certainly that - this pasty left me genuinely depressed for humanity. Whilst eating it, a vision formed. Of a man, perhaps in his late forties, unshaven, stumbling across a frozen petrol station forecourt somewhere in Britain. He is dressed in stinking, unwashed clothes, but there is no-one left in his life to comment on the smell, and he is too far gone to notice or care himself. He has children, but he has not seen them in years, and indeed between the drinking, the substance abuse and the onset of mental health problems, he can now barely remember their faces. He is alone, forgotten, uncared for by all and certainly by himself. And he staggers home now from the petrol station, back to his frozen, empty bedsit, clutching his reward, this pasty... his Christmas Dinner.

Ginsters Christmas Pasty: The Taste of Human Misery.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pigs in Blankets Flavour Pringles

(Christmas Crisps)

JAMES says:

It must be tricky to recreate the distinct flavours of both streaky bacon and cocktail sausages in crisp form, which might explain why Pringles have instead decided to recreate the distinct flavour of bacon flavour crisps.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wenzel’s Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry and Bacon Baguette

(Christmas Sandwich)

JAMES says:

You may not have heard of Wenzel’s, if you don’t spend much time between Popiandy’s and the old back entrance to Woolworth’s where the homeless people hang out in Watford. In fact, if you haven’t heard of Wenzel’s it seems unlikely that you will know what Popiandy’s is. Think cut price Wimpey’s. But I digress. The point is, if you don’t spend much time hanging around the grimy end of the Harlequin centre you are missing out on one damn fine Christmas sandwich. The bacon is crisp, the stuffing squidgy, and the authenticity of the flavours can only lead me to think that Mr Wenzel is having daily Christmas dinners just to produce the leftovers needed for this most awesome of baguettes. And all for £2.50!


Friday, December 03, 2010

The Pret-a-Manger Christmas Lunch Sandwich

(Christmas Sandwich)

NEILL says:

On paper it all looked so good. A Christmas Sandwich from Pret - a place where 'making nice sandwiches' is pretty much their whole deal. And indeed, early bites delivered on this promise. Moist, flavoursome turkey and a generous wedge of stuffing, combined with the wholly welcome textural innovation of a scattering of crispy onions. Unfortunately, all of these fine ingredients end up being rather drowned out by the port & cranberry sauce. I don't know if there was slightly too much of the stuff, or if it was just a bit too sweet, but halfway through I was struck by the unpleasant realisation that what I was essentially doing was eating a chicken salad sandwich that someone had put jam in. And there is a reason that 'chicken and jam' is not in the pantheon of classic year-round sandwich combinations.

And, again with the spinach. Who even has spinach as part of their Christmas lunch? NOBODY, THAT'S WHO.





Monday, November 29, 2010

Morrisons’ Christmas Dinner Pizza

(Christmas Pizza)

JAMES says:

Only 2 reviews in and already the rule book is out the window! Not that there is a world of difference between the modern sandwich and pizza, both being doughy arrangements existing to showcase the ingenuity, or lack thereof, of the additional ingredients. The Unified Review Theory overview of Christmas snacks is a broad church and does not discriminate against any as long as they contain turkey and stuffing.

It must have been an exciting moment in the Morrison’s food labs when they squared the circle of how to combine Christmas with pizzas. This they did by adding the key ingredients of a Christmas dinner, namely cooked turkey, stuffing, bacon, cranberry, cheddar cheese and tomato sauce, to a pizza base. The genius, you see, is in the simplicity. The finished article is maybe less than the sum of its parts, and those parts are fairly lacklustre to begin with, but you have to reward their demented genius.

Better still was the cheese board pizza, but that is a whole other review.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Starbucks 'Turkey Feast' Sandwich

(Christmas Sandwich)


December! When the shelves of our nation's supermarkets, coffee shops, petrol stations and pharmacists fill up with that most deliciously festive of foodstuffs, the Christmas Sandwich! Indeed, the sheer preponderence of competing Christmas Sandwiches may seem bewildering to the uninitiated consumer. If only - if ONLY - there were some way to gain an objective and thoughtful comparison of the numerous varieties of Christmas Sandwich available, in order to make an informed and correct decision about which Christmas Sandwich to eat.

Thankfully, Unified Review Theory has returned for it's latest and most socially useful undertaking to date - The Grand Christmas Sandwich Review, 2010. As part of this project, Neill and James Cameron will set about the difficult and thankless task of eating a whole bunch of Christmas Sandwiches, from all the leading high street retailers, and telling you which one is best.

We begin our noble humanitarian undertaking with the Starbucks 'Turkey Feast', an appropriate starting point in that it exemplifies perfectly the standard attributes of the typical British High Street Christmas Sandwich. The basic elements of Christmas Sandwichiness are there - Turkey breast and stuffing, along with a selection of standard sandwich ingredients to round out the proposition - in this case mayonnaise, beechwood smoked bacon and baby spinach leaves. And there in a nutshell you have it all; both the glory of the Christmas Sandwich and the inevitable mild disappointment of these prepackaged homogenised commercial versions. The True Christmas Sandwich - the sandwich you actually make with leftovers of your Christmas dinner - is, as all right-thinking gourmands realise, the Single Greatest Foodstuff God Ever Bequeathed Onto His Creation. The sheer glory of the True Christmas Sandwich makes me indirectly grateful for the existence of Christianity. And yet all commercially available Christmas Sandwiches can only ever be a pale reflection of this glory. In an attempt to pander to the mass market, they tone down the sandwich's noble excesses and substitute bland conformity. For example, what is mayonnaise doing in this sandwich when everyone knows that Cold Leftover Gravy makes a far finer condiment. And I submit that no-one has ever made themselves a nice sandwich with the remnants of their Christmas dinner and thought, you know what? This would be better with a bit of spinach in.

Still, for all that: it was okay. Better than most Starbucks sandwiches, but doomed by its nature to remind one of the far, far greater sandwich that awaits us all in a mere month's time.

Bit dry, maybe. Could have used a little extra seasoning.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

URT Podcast 007 - The Dark Prince of Froot Loops


In this special grim and gritty edition of Unified Review Theory, Neill and James brood their way through reviews of The Dark Knight, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and, um... Froot Loops. Neill also attempts to break the record for the number of times someone says “Batman” in a podcast, whilst James’s family attempt to kill each other.

Download mp3 | Visit podcast page

Show Notes 007:

  • The Dark Knight was 2008, James was right
  • Heath Ledger was in Home & Away, so that’s almost Batman
  • James would like to apologise to everyone else in the world for calling them chumps. Though, y’know, if the cap fits.
  • Nestor Carbonell played the Mayor in the Dark Knight, as well as that guy in Lost and the love interest post-Judd Nelson in Suddenly Susan. Check out his work and eye-lashes here!
  • Neill has never marked the Dark Knight, once more he is misremembering.
  • James REALLY needs to get a better microphone.
  • The angry background shouting is Debbie (Mrs James) berating Lex (James Jnr) for violence.
  • Hamlet was based on the 13th Century Viking legend Amleth, apparently.
  • Froot Loops do not seem to be available in France, but are in Germany.
  • You can follow URT on Twitter! Tweet-sized reviews at @urtheory, Neill at @neillcameron, and James at @pretzelsncheese.
Final Scores-
  • The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller 5.75/10
  • The Dark Knight 4.6/10
  • The Cowboy Wally version of Hamlet 9.5/10
  • Hamlet 6/10
  • Froot Loops 7.5/10

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


"There were some terrorists, which was bad, and then there was Doctor Who, which was good."

In this VERY SPECIAL New Year's Eve-recorded episode of Unified Review Theory, Neill and James are joined by special guests Mrs. Neill and Mrs. James (or "Di" and "Debbie" as they seem to prefer being known) for an in-depth round-table discussion in which we not only review recently-completed decade The 2000s in their entirety, but also contrast and compare them with The 1990s, and also The 1810s for good measure.

Join us for a fascinating and only slightly exhausting debate which covers such diverse topics as the unexpected outcomes of the Last Great Time War, Opium Eating and why it is 'a boy thing', why Neill is clever and the other three are idiots for not liking Harry Potter, and whether the global climate of fear, tension and hostility precipitated by the rise of international terrorism was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. You'll be surprised! (Note: you probably won't be surprised.)

Download MP3
Visit Podcast Page

Show Notes:

  • 90's BBC sitcom Mulberry did in fact really happen. We didn't dream it.You can read about it here.
  • Yeah, sound quality is appalling again. Sorry.
  • To begin to list the errors, omissions and factual inaccuracies contained in this podcast would be a herculean effort, but if you feel you'd like to have a go, please go ahead.
  • Look, we were a bit drunk.
  • You can follow URT on Twitter! Tweet-sized reviews at @urtheory, Neill at @neillcameron, and James at @pretzelsncheese.
Final Scores:
  • William Wordsworth (romantic poet): 2/10
  • 2000s (decade): 5/10
  • 1810s (decade): 8/10
  • 1990s (decade): 8.5/10