Saturday, July 30, 2005

My Eyes!

Here's some optical illusion to mess with your head this weekend:

Stare at the moving but non-moving beans!

Marvel at the moving non-moving cogs!

Check out this picture for an excellent illusion and this site for more cool colour optical illusions!

Now go and lie down in a dark room for five minutes.


Friday, July 29, 2005

The Big Easy

After finishing work yesterday at 12.30, I walked home and pottered about for a while. I tidied up my finance folder. Yes, I have one. I'm a bit of an organised neat freak when it comes to this sort of thing. Just incase the tax man wants to play ball, I have everything in sections dating back to the last financial year - anything before that gets shredded - you can't be too careful these days.
Then I whisked Lou off for lunch at The Empire. We both ordered the steak baguettes. There's nothing like a long lunch, especially if you don't have to go back to work.

On the way back home I stopped by the off-licence and picked up a bottle of vodka to go with the kahula for white russians. Both bottles went into the fridge for later. In the meantime I played some Far Cry. I enjoy the game but can only play around 30 minutes before I get killed and have to start at the last save point. It's frustrating to sneak around, snipe a few guys off and then get a bullet in your head from an unknown position after a long session and then you're forced to do it again. I prefer my games to have on-demand saving.

I watched the second episode of Extras on BBC2. So far it's heating up to be quite the damp squib. The jokes are third rate and any humour comes from the guest stars rather than the episodal characters. I hope that it doesn't get a second series as it would be interesting if Merchant and Gervais can come up with anything else besides.

I also managed to arrange a poker game for tonight in a record time of 5 minutes. I think that's the fastest I've ever arranged something with 100% of friends agreeing to my proposal. A game of poker has been long overdue so I'll let you know if I scoop the pot or go to bed empty handed.

Have a great weekend - I'm off for a dinner party in Bangor tomorrow so if I remember the camera there will be literally something to look at on Monday.

See you then.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Baked Chicken with Peaches with Lemon Horseradish New Potatoes

Last night Brian made:

Baked Chicken with Peaches
chicken breast halves
brown sugar
fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
ground ginger
ground cloves
fresh lemon juice

Lemon Horseradish New Potatoes
small new potatoes
lemon juice

Bill's Blue Cheese Dressing.
Ingredients: blue cheese
sour cream
Worcestershire sauce
dry mustard
garlic powder
ground black pepper

It was washed down with a bottle of Errazuriz Pinot Noir and several Kahlua based white russians.

Am I suffering this morning? You betcha!

Was it worth it? You betcha!

Am I taking a 1/2 day? You betcha!

See you tomorrow!


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Man Without A Past

Last night Lou and I watched The Man Without A Past. It is the second film of Aki Kaurismäki's "Finland" trilogy. Unfortunately I've never seen the first film but I will certainly try and track it down.

This film begins as our main character arrives off the train in Helsinki. He carries a suitacase and walks slowly from the station and sits on a nearby park bench. He falls asleep and whilst embroiled in slumber is knocked unconcscious by one of three gang members wielding a baseball bat. They then steal his wallet, go through his suitcase and proceed to give him a total kicking. He is taken to hospital and his face is wrapped in bandages. His prospects do not look good and he dies on the bed. However, once the doctor and nurse leaves he sits bolt upright and rips the wires from him and takes off.

He does not get far before he collapses again by a dock area and when he wakes up he is taken in by a couple living in a steel container. The film portrays him getting his life back together, finding a steel container of his own and falling in love with a lady from the Salvation Army. Will he ever remember who he is?

This is a great film with some great comedic dialogue very subtely weaved into the narrative. At times it is quite surreal but I think it adds to the charm of the film and it reminds me in some parts of Pierrot Le Fou [reviewed last month]. There are other characters that interact with the main character who have their own nuances and humour which work very well for the film.

In all this was a very enjoyable movie to watch and I recommend tracking it down.

I would give this film 4 juke-boxes out of 5.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Cabbage with Bacon, Apples and Cider

Last night I made Cabbage with Bacon, Apples and Cider. The dish is intended to serve 4-6 as an accompaniment to a main but I doubled the bacon so that it makes a main dish for 2 people. It takes around 30 minutes to prepare and cook so it's great for dinner if you need something quick and easy but also tasty. I also suggest serving the meal with cider as it's a component of the meal so why not buy some more to wash it down?


Saturday, July 23, 2005


Here are the photos from the weekend when Chris and Eva were back from Cardiff earlier this month.

They are from a BBQ at the Rees household on Saturday followed by a Sunday run up to Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. Any hang-overs from the night before were put on hold crossing the ropey bridge. Thank god we hadn't had lunch yet!

We managed to catch a gander at a shark off the rocks which was cool. We met up with Peter, David and Michael in Ballycastle for lunch. Unfortunately on the way in we had a puncture and had some problems taking the tyre off. Fortunately an RAC man came out quickly enough and put on the spare. Unfortunately it was a 80kph tyre so we cruised along in the slow lane home. Fortunately some asshole driver overtook us and gestured wildly at us and 2 miles down the road was in the process of being pulled over and talking to an officer of the law. Sweet karmic revenge.

Katherine and Susan

Lou and Chris

Lou and me on Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

Coastline at Carrick-a-rede

Shark fin

Chris, me and Lou

Gamespot #24

It's time to get retro. Arcade classic Defender came out the year I was born and like myself, this game ages like a fine wine.

Defender combines the creative spirit of New World game-making with the distinctive pixels and best traditions of 1980. This is an excellent game to serve at a barbecue or alongside a tangy lasagna or pizza.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Chicken Mustard Crumble

Last night Tony made a great chicken mustard crumble with garlic potatoes and side salad. It was a cracker meal and nods in agreement were made inbetween second helpings.

Ongoing talks are still focusing on whether it's possible to construct some kind of spit to roast a pig on. I suspect this will never get off the ground and will be lamentable throughout autumn and the bitter winter months...stay tuned!


Fantastic Four

It's a shame that Stan Lee has to see years of creative hard work turned into and hour and half of total farcical nonsense. Yes, last night I saw the film train wreck that is Fantastic Four.

Perhaps it depends on the director. Sam Raimi was ideal to direct Stan Lee's other creation, Spiderman. He has talent behind the lens and knows how to command action scenes. Tim Story on the other hand managed to take a good little french franchise of Taxi written by Luc Besson and make a total fudge of it. However, he didn't have much to work with in the acting department. There's only so much you can polish a turd and Jimmy Fallon is an acting turd.

What really lets Fantastic Four down is three things: shoddy plot, corny dialogue and dated CGI. I find this incredible. You have a classic comic with oodles of issues from which to draw a top drawer plot and yet it boils down to something we have seen too many times. Comics aren't known for their commanding use of the english language but there are better puns on the front page of The Sun than in this movie. The CGI also looks like it was pre-production and they rushed it out in time for summer. Avoid at all costs.

I would give this film 1.5 things out of 5.



Do you ever get bored at work? Of course you do. Over many years I've noticed certain office symptoms of boredom. It gets worse around summertime because your boss is off on holiday, incoming work slows to a halt and the humidity makes you sleepy. Here's 5 I've caught myself doing today.

1. Your chair suddenly becomes very uncomfortable and you start shifting around doing the Karma Sutra of buttock positions. It is impossible to sit straight for more than 30 seconds.

2. You'll get a drink from the water cooler even though you're not thirsty or offer to make everyone in the room a cup of coffee. You know this can be stretched to 10-15 minutes.

3. You'll want to have a conversation with your co-workers but you can't think of any subject to kick off with. Your mind wanders. Two minutes later you realise you've been staring into space and your visual focus looks like you've smeared baby lotion in your eyes.

4. You've been to every concievable website and clicked on every link. You've checked your horoscope, the latest news, completed quizzes and even got half way through an article about GM crops before your body tells your mind to quit it and you sigh and wearily slump over your desk.

5. You tidy or re-arrange your desk. Depending how messy your desk is and how anal you are about it being super neat, this could take up anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour.

If this sounds familar then let me know what you do to waste time in work.

Catch you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Descent

Lou and I watched The Descent last night.

It is directed by Neil Marhsall who directed the somewhat lamentable Dog Soldiers.

The Descent stars no-one famous, although Lou tells me that Nora-Jane Noone is in Cornonation Street. So, as I was saying, there are no famous actors in this film.

The film is based around a group of 6 adreneline seeking women that get together to explore a cave. It is set a year after tradegy befalls one of the group members family who now suffers from panic attacks and associated illnesses. The trip is an attempt to get them back together having fun but, of course, this is a horror film and that's not what happens at all.
The horror genre has had a great run over the last few years. However, they are usually copycats from bigger ground-breaking horror movies. Nevertheless, a film comes along once in a while that renews your faith in the genre and carves (hur hur) it's own niche. This is such a film.

The girls find themselves stranded in the caves after a tunnel collapses and they are not alone. Who is with them and what do they want? I recommend that you go and find out as the film should really be seen on the big screen.

I would give this film 4 single white females out of 5.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Oh The Horror!

I'm going to see The Descent tomorrow night so I thought I would compile my own list of top 20 Horror Films over the last 5 decades. They are (in chronological order):

Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Jaws (1975)
The Omen (1976)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Halloween (1978)
Aliens (1986)
The Shining (1980)
The Thing (1982)
Poltergeist (1982)
April Fools Day (1986)
Bad Taste (1987)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
Dead by Dawn: Evil Dead 2 (1987)
Event Horizon (1997)
Ringu (1998)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
28 Days Later (2002)
The Eye (2002)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Lough Neagh

Lou and I were invited out on her Dads boat today.

The weather was fantastic and we had a great time. We sailied from a little harbour in Glenavy to Rams Island. Rams Island is the largest island on Lough Neagh. It's roughly one mile long by a quarter of a mile wide. It has a round tower which is the remains of a Celtic Monastic Settlement about a thousand years old.

It also hosts the ruins of the O’Neill’s’ nineteenth century summer house.

The Island was last permanently inhabited in the 1920s by the Cardwell family who were caretakers for the O’Neill’s. Although overgrown, its remote, it has a great wilderness quality giving it lots of character.

Lou and I had plenty of time to swan around.

We took the boat past Hog Park Point into Johnnys Bay and had lunch at Gawley's Gate in an upstairs pub restaurant. Lou and I both had the crispy cod which really hit the spot.
By the time it was nearing 6.30pm and I was certainly feeling sleepy with the sea air.
Hopefully it wont be too long before we can get ourselves another invite!

Alas it's back to work tomorrow. Although Lou and I have only been off for a week, we have been up to so much it's felt like two. The weather has been fantastic and hopefully the rest of the summer will be more of the same.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Gamespot #23

There's nothing like playing computer games high morning when you're off on holiday over some coffee and good music.

Today I played The Adventures of Bob with the sound icon off and put on Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Please Describe Yourself. [See, there's a reason I don't talk about music!]

Today I'll be heading to my aunt and uncles BBQ as their son [my cousin] is over from New Zealand visiting and I want to pick his brains about moving over there sometime in the near future.

Anyways, hope you're enjoying the week and take a minute or two to let me know what you've been up to or listening to RIGHT NOW!


Thursday, July 14, 2005


Lou and I have been in Sligo this week relaxing and sightseeing. We left Belfast on a humid Monday morning and arrived at Greenlands Camping Park around 4 hours later in a sweltering 30C heat.

We set up camp and had a walk around. There are two blue flag beaches and they were both packed with swimmers, sun-tanners, small boats and sundries. Time to relax!

After a long walk accross the beach with a rest at the sand dunes for a romantic cuddle overlooking the picturesque landscape and taking in the balmy sea air, we dined at Austie's seafood restaurant. I had sea bass and Lou had steak. They were both delicious and at at £15 a touch, you'd expect they would be. All washed down with vino you understand.

After swelterning inside for what seems like an eternity, we finally caught a waitresses attention and paid for the meal. We took a stroll along the seafront and stopped at Paddy's Bar on the way back for a Guinness and enjoyed the surrounding views.
(Click on pictures for larger image!)

On Tuesday we travelled around the south-western area of Sligo taking a long drive through the Ox Mountains:

Road Leading into Ox Mountains

Ox Mountains

View of Lough Easky in Ox Mountains

We headed west to Lough Talt:

On our way back to the campsite we stopped off at Court Abbey which now lies in ruin:

We cooked a mini fry for oursleves on the stove and watched the world go by with some chilled beers and a mini radio. This was the view this morning:

It was slightly overcast but by dry. We cooked the remains of our fry food for breakfast, packed up and drove the car to outside the tennis court just down the road from the campsite. After aten games the sun was up and starting to get very warm so we drove to the beach and the sea was perfect for for a swim. It felt great and quite invigorating. We snuck back into the campsite and had a shower before heading back home stopping off along the route:

House Ruins, Rosses Point

Lough Gill

Killery Mountain

We really enjoyed ourselves and are looking forward to our fuller Ireland tour this August. I just hope the weather is just as good!
Hope you all had a great week. Normal blogging should begin again on Monday as I'm still on holiday!
Chao for now!

Friday, July 08, 2005

On The Turn

I was reading this story about the Belfast Metro placing poetry on posters and on bus tickets. It got me thinking about how this city has come on leaps and bounds since the 1994 ceasefire and the subsequent Good Friday Agreement.

New links are opening up and there are now regular flights to and from New York and various cities around Europe. £14 million is being invested in giving the city centre a facelift and over a billion pounds has been invested in regenerating the Cathedral Quarter. What I'm really looking forward to is the redevelopment in and around Victoria Square with £300 million being spent on creating one of the largest retail parks in Europe:

Belfast is fast becoming the epitome of a modern European city. There has been a continual increase in tourism over the last few years with 2004 experiencing an 11% increase on the previous year. 37,000 tourists are expected this summer and you can't fail to notice their presence in the city.

We've come a long way baby.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London's Calling

I was going to write about the London 2012 Olympics. It was a fantastic coup d'état and I'm looking forward to the socio-economic reprecussions not only in London but more importantly for Northern Ireland, such as investment in our infrastructure as the Maze prison is turned into a 30,000 all-seater arena to host the Olympic Under 23 Football Tournament. It will also see investment into todays youth who will be Olympic contenders in seven years time.

Unfortunatly all this has been overshadowed by todays events as Al-Queda carried out a terrorist attack in the heart of London.
It was a wicked act of atrocity and I pass my deepest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones because of it.

Dead Meat

Last night we ordered some take out and watched Dead Meat, an Irish zombie horror film. It was made on a budget of £125,000 and shot in Co. Leitrim.
It was a hilarious nod to films such as Bad Taste, Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre with its own inimitable Irish humour in spades.
An outbreak of "mad cow disease" spreads to humans who, when infected, causes them to turn into flesh eating zombies. Caught in the middle of this are two tourists who run over one of them accidently and that's where the film kicks off.
The genre is nothing new but the fact that it's firmly tongue and cheek with heavy doses of swearing and Irish humour certainly had us laughing although if you're not Irish you may have a hard time understanding the accents as the audio quality is not great.
So, if you enjoyed the above referenced films then you cannot fail to enjoy this.

I would give it 4 mad cows out of 5
[3/5 if you can't understand the accents]


Green Risotto

We're taking a break from the cook night this week but, fear not, I've been busy in the kitchen and here's a recipe for green risotto I made last night!

Green Risotto
(Serves 3-4)

1.25 litres vegetablestock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
250 g spinach, roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
400 ml rIsotto rice
75 ml flat–leaf parsley, washed and chopped
Freshly grated parmesan
250ml white wine

Heat a pan and sauté the onion and celery in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile place stock in a saucepan, add water and bring to a simmer.

Add the garlic and rice to the onions and celery with half of the wine stirring well to coat. Add the rest when it has evaporated.

Add 125 ml stock and stir constantly loosening any grains of rice from the sides and bottom of the saucepan. When the liquid has evaporated add another 125 ml stock. Continue to add stock only when the previous amount has evaporated. Stir constantly, adding more liquid until rice is tender (kernel of a single grain is al dente), which should take about 30 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add the spinach and parsely and season with salt and black pepper. After leaving to stand for 5 minutes, sprinkle pamesan over and serve!


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

G8 (Too Little Too Late)

The G8 kicks off tomorrow at Gleneagles just outside Edinburgh. The key question is: will it make a difference to all that people have been campaigning for on behalf of Africa?

I don't believe it will. Besides most of the leaders saying they will do their best, it is their own countries that they will support before any other. Bush said "I go to the G8 with an agenda that I think is best for our country", which means that he will oppose anything that might hinder economic growth such as when he rejected of the Kyoto treaty on emissions in 2001.

The G8 leaders have also talked about development programmes and debt-relief schemes. However, this is dependant on democratically controlled countries and visible distribution to the people. In the past such funds have remained in the hands of dictators and their people have seen nothing. According to Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, head of giant mining group Anglo-American, 100% debt relief and doubling of aid will do nothing until the "growth in Africa [is] up from its very low levels, to six or seven percent otherwise poverty will not be addressed."

Source: BBC Website: Africa's Economy, Poverty, 2005

North Africa fares better than the rest of the country due to better trade routes, higher tourism and a lower spread of AIDS affecting the working population. Rich countries "dump" low cost products on African nations which undercut home grown products preventing growth. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been accused of forcing developing nations to open their markets to the rest of the World but failing to lower rich countries' tariff barriers in return. If nothing changes, it would take Africa 150 years to reach the poverty reduction targets agreed in the optimism of the UN Millennium summit five years ago.

The key is securing an agreement on fairer trade terms for Africa. The aim is to cut world farm subsidies, so that African farmers could trade on fair terms, while lowering tariffs, and improving capacity in Africa to compete. But will the key fit the deadlocks?

War of The Worlds

Watched War of the Worlds on Saturday evening. There's been quite a lot of hype surrounding this film and it lives up to some of those expectations. It stars Tom Cruise as a useless father who gets his kids dumped on him on a weekend when his ex-wife and her beau take off for Boston. He's doing his usual trying too hard, expecting too much from too little fathering when the alien invasion begins.
Then the film begins its rollercoaster ride through the next hour or so as he defends his children and takes them on various paths to escape destruction from the invaders. The ground covered is nothing new. It all just looks cooler than previous action films because of sweet CGI effects. Then the usual Spielberg ending - family are re-united. Wow. A Spielberg film with a happy ending. He doesn't do that much.
In my opinion the problem is that he makes only good films when he gets involved in childrens action films i.e. Jurassic Park, Evolution, Men In Black etc. It's only when he does adult orientated films that he makes great classic films i.e. Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List etc.
But if you're looking for a good action film with happy ending, he's your man.

I would give this 3.5 invasion fleets out of 5.


Gamespot #22

Here's a quick game to play called Ant City. The worlds largest magnifying glass has gone missing and you have it, only to burn everything you can!

Any suggestions of games you've found please e-mail me at the bottom of the page!


Monday, July 04, 2005

Style Over Substance

I'm not sure if anyone reads the Sunday Times regularly but they have a supplement called "Style". It breaks down like this:

1. Front Cover - usually some attractive model wearing a 1950's swimsuit which is supposedly back in fashion or a celebrity middle page interview where they wear expensive clothing surrounded by a collage of images that represent said persons profession. This will also come with an attached headline worthy of a Sun front page.

2. Inside front index page - The opposite page will always flog hair and beauty products (a given since this is of course a glossy written by fashionista's). The index itself will show a well-groomed model wearing uber-stylish clothes that would only look good on 1.32% of the population not including the model that is actually wearing it.

3. Page informing you what is hot and what is most certainly not cool - the latest fad given in diagram form with brief description of why it is the latest must-have with no actual clue as to why it's hip except that's what all their rich cooler friends are wearing.

4. Page showing you what was the daddy-o in 19XX. Watch this space - it'll be next year’s winter fashion.

5. Interview with front cover celebrity - This obviously depends on who is being interviewed but there's always a quote in large font depicting the most lurid part of the conversation of an almost otherwise straight-forward and non-indulging Q&A over lunch in a fabulous hotel restaurant just so you can fill the first 4 paragraphs and final narrative about what said celebrity ate.

6. Page showing you the must-have fashion accessory by Hoity-Toity for £129 or from Tesco's for £9.99 with 2 for 1 offer on bog roll.

7. 10 pages of clothes that you wouldn't be seen dead in or wouldn't wear for depicted use. On a beach frolicking in the sand with £255 Dior sandals and getting seaweed in your £295 Armani swimsuit but it's OK because your child is wearing £90 GAP jeans and a £185 Harvey Nichols printed top.

8. Random article about something. Last weeks suggested that "the bush is back" and pubic hair was in. How do they know? Employ people to stand beside you in toilets? CCTV in cubicles?

9. AA Gill reviews a restaurant - He never gives anything over 3/5. He spend the first half of the section talking about anything but food or the restaurant in question, then insults the food and in the final paragraph culminates both in mocking riposte.

I've glossed over the main sections of the supplement but the rest is invariably stuffed with OTT extravagance which only £100,000 a year Londoners could make use of.

And yet I read the damn thing every week.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

BBQ at Ian & Suzys

Here's the photos from a kick ass BBQ we had at Suzy & Ians last Saturday.

Thanks for a great time!

Ian "I Dropped My Toy" Doherty Posted by Picasa

Suzy "Oh My God" McElwaine Posted by Picasa

Suzy & Heather Posted by Picasa

Ricky Posted by Picasa

Phil, Lou, Keith, Suzy, Heather Posted by Picasa

Lou & Phil Posted by Picasa

Ian Fires Up The BBQ Posted by Picasa

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