Friday, October 28, 2005

Childhood Horror Top 10

hor·ror (hôrr, hr-)

1. An intense, painful feeling of repugnance and fear.
2. Intense dislike; abhorrence.
3. A cause of horror.

It's been a long time since a film has scared the bejesus out of me. Perhaps because my brother and I would spend Saturday afternoons watching these "video nasties" we became anaesthetised by them. Since we were born, our parents would go shopping and we would be forced to tag along by their side gently kicking their shin and asking "Can we go now?" or force us to sit in the back seat of the car and punch the crap out of each other. Somewhere down the line they decided that it would be best to leave us in the house, aged 10/11, and rent 18 only B-Movies where blood and guts reigned supreme and some evil beast devoured lost souls or some psycho nutter broke out of a high security wing for stabby revenge. Hell, it kept us quiet.
I therefore bring to you 10 horror films I recall watching at a young age that brought a chill to my spine. They are (in no particular order):

Evil Dead
Friday 13th
The Thing
April Fools Day
Childs Play
Nightmare On Elm Street
The Omen

Honourable Mention: Video Dead [Remember this Keith?]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Lou's Birthday Dinner

Last night we had dinner at Pizza Express on Bedford Street.

They had an unusual but appealing selction of wine [no cabernets or merlots] and of course, a huge selection of pizzas. Lou opted for a chicken styled pizza whilst I opted for the goats cheese vegetarian. I think Lou got the better deal although mine was still tasty and there were a great selection of other vegetarian options too.
For dessert Lou had strawberry sorbet and I had hazelnut and chocolate ice-cream which was devine.

Of course, the main celebration will take place this Saturday so I'm looking forward to seeing everybody recovered from Fridays Beer Olympics out at the Northern Whig for some good birthday cheer. See you all there!

Links #10

The links this time around are quite eclectic so I hope you enjoy them too. They are:

Levers - Make everything balance on the hangers. I'm not sure if this has a point but it's strangely alluring and good for wasting 10 minutes ;)

Everybody Dance! - Cool flash animation (Requires sound)

The 86 Rules Of Boozing - Pay attention. [Taken from The Modern Drunkard]

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


With Halloween fast approaching, Lou had a great idea to dress up as Ghostbusters, so whilst at the folks last night, we proquired two boiler suits and then spent the better half of an hour when we got home making our backpacks. I have to say, they look pretty cool. Also while cutting through cardboard with the "World's Sharpest Knife" [claim subject to 307423 other companies stating the same] I stabbed my left hand and it barely bled but damn does it smart - right on the bend of my finger! I guess if you're making the "World's Best" Amateur ghostbustin' backpack, you have to suffer for your art. Unlike this years Turner Prize entry from Tomoko Takahashi where you just walk along a beam and get drunk. In that case, the competition should be open to all inner city delinquents. "I call this piece 'Gary Throwing Up After Too Much White Lightning'".

Today is also Lou's birthday so we'll be spending tonight wining and dining and celebrating her 26th year. We went shopping on Saturday in town and I bought her a beautiful coat after hitting only 10 or so shops. It was easier than finding shoes for myself so no complaints with regards to traipsing around in vain. Now all she has to find is some matching gloves, hat and scarf and she'll be set for winter! I have an art school scarf from last winter that's pretty toasty but for late October it's still fairly mild. However, with the MET Office predicting a bitter winter, it's only a matter of time before it'll be hanging it up beside my coat.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Since I've joined LoveFilm, I've been on an 80's bender, picking up movies from my childhood that I wouldn't have seen because I was still in nappies. This theme continues [films, not me wearing nappies] to watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High starring a young and very stoned Sean Penn along with brat pack staple Judge Reinhold and a very young Jennifer Jason Leigh alongside a very tall, lean Forest Whitaker.

The film revolves around their antics as young teenagers dating and discovering sex for the first time and also the woes of life in general i.e. working crappy jobs in fast-food outlets and getting fired by your boss or just quitting because you don't want The Man putting you down.

Although the film is dated, it's still highly watchable as well as mostly forgettable but as coming-of-age teenage 80's comedies go, it's right up there with other movies of the genre.

I would give this film 3 childhood memories out of 5.


Gamespot #30

Bowman is a nifty little game where you can play against the computer or another human player and try and pierce their body with enough arrows to kill them. If you can work out the trajectory and pull of the bow. Admittedly once you get the angle right, killing your opponent is only a matter of time - depending who gets there first!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Social Outings & Suzy's 30th Birthday


Friday night was our first social outing in work and after a couple of pints in Morrisons, we moved next door to Belfast Superbowl. We split into two teams of 4/5 each which was done by the school process of picking your best friends and leaving others feeling dejected. Why we couldn't have arranged this ourselves I'm not sure but it made the decision process quick and painful for some. I was the captain of one team and thought I would make it seem fair by picking the 3 people closest to me which meant my co-worker being shunted into the other team which she gave me a scolding for but it was only in jest and we began to roll.

Needless to say our team had superior bowling skills and we won both games. Nevertheless, everyone really enjoyed themselves and we decided to make it a monthly event. Unfortunatly bowling really takes it out of my arm and it's still sore on the forearm with a myseterious bruise that only a drunken night out can provide. Bruising is a drunken badge of honour and the more unkown its aquisition, the better story you can make up as to how it could have happened.

After our victory, we moved back into Morrisons again and continued our drinking unabated. Clare mentioned that her and boyfriend had recently purchased a 6 berth yacht and we would all be invited onto it next summer - w00t! A lot of nonesense was also talked about both work and non-work related. It's a difficult juxtaposition when on a work outing. You spend more time awake in work than you spend awake at home and therefore spend more time sitting beside your work collegues than your partner at home which makes it difficult to frame outside references in for any sustained period of time before recomencing work-related conversation.

The hardened few that remained moved on for pizza and Fibber Magees for a final pint. I staggered off home and after a glass of white wine, hit the sack quicker than a baker.


I awoke on Saturday morning feeling slightly worse for wear and after swallowing two Ibuprofen, returned to bed for another few hours. I resurfaced around mid-day and took another two pills and curled up in a ball and moaned for a while. I had to be at Kings Hall at 4pm to meet up with Suzy, Ian, Don, Keith and Heather for Planet Fun but once again I had partied too hard the night before and if thrown about would no doubt spew yesterdays slice of pizza over some poor bastard - upside down. Unfortunately when I phoned Suzy, I got through to her answer-machine and when asked to leave a message, Lou gave me a fit of the giggles making my excuse look weaker than 20 cups of tea made from the same bag.

By around 5pm, I broke through the phase of feeling sorry for myself and managed to eat a slice of toast to quell the rumbling stomach syndrome. I climbed into the shower and washed away a few sins from the night before and felt much better.

Lou and I made our way to Ulsterville and picked up Colin and Brian and headed to the Jharna for the birthday meal. It was good to catch up with people I hadn't seen for a while and then Suzy was surprised by a very lovely cake and a huge bunch of flowers that nobody could see her through. Afterwards we headed back to Ulsterville and partied until 3am when our collective eyelids became heavier than a tonne of bricks. Time to visit the sandman under the influence again!


Sunday morning was spent lying in bed but fortunately in a better state than the day before. The afternoon was taken up playing our game at Ulsterville where my character was blind but still managed to kick ass before having his sight restored and getting killed only to be revived by Keith to fight another battle. Sunday evening consisted of watching some Scrubs and a bizarre film called Cannibal Holocaust which was a faux-documentary/horror film about a group of renegade film students coming into contact with cannibal tribes in the Amazon jungle. It was truely bizarre and unsettling to watch. [2/5]

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Sea Inside

Few films move me to tears. As a man, I can hold back the trickle of eye leakage at certain heart-wrenching moments of cellular poignancy. However, with certain films, I can't hold back the tears. I cried at Saving Private Ryan regarding the utter hopelessness of their situation and when Private James Francis Ryan still needed convincing years later that he had been saved for a just cause - that he had done something with his life worth the sacrifice of other men. I cried at The Lord of The Rings When Boromir was lampooned with arrows after realising his true part in the Fellowship and when Gandalf fell fighting the Balrog and they ran out of Moria with Howard Shores music reaching the heart-strings and gently tugging the chord for crying like a kid with a skinned knee. And I nearly openly wept three times when I watched The Sea Inside. If a film can reduce a grown man to swallow hard to stop him wailing, it has truely attained a unique status in cinema.

The Sea Inside is based on the true story of Ramon Sampedro, who fought a 30 year campaign in favour of euthanasia and his own right to die following a diving accident leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. The story begins near the end of Ramon's struggle when he meets the lawyer that will fight in the courts for his right to die, and who has her own physical problems to deal with. His testament is broadcast on television which is seen by a divorced wife, Rosa, and with her two young children, they visit Ramon and she becomes infatuated with him.

There then begins a fascinating story of the lives of everyone that shares Ramon's life, specifically his brother and wife and their son who have looked after Ramon since his accident in 1968. They each have differing opinions on Ramon and his wish to to have the right to kill

This is a must-see film and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I would give this film 5 tears out of 5.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chicken Breast Stuffed With Mozzarella & Fontina Basil Wrapped In Serrano Ham With Watercress & Basmati Wild Rice

Last night Colin served up a sumptuous dish of Chicken Breast Stuffed With Mozzarella & Fontina Basil Wrapped In Serrano Ham With Watercress & Basmati Wild Rice. This was also served with roasted vegetables of yellow & red pepper, aubergine and red onion.



Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Music For A Jilted Generation

I visited the folks last night for the first time in a few weeks as they were in Spain on holiday. They were good enough to bring back presents including an mp3 player for myself. However, there was a problem with it in that it came with two free mp3 "songs": Barbie Girl by Aqua and My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. Why the hell put these ear cancer songs on an mp3 player? I imagine it's a test so you have to learn how to reformat the removable drive and put some decent tunes on it. However, it still troubles me that these merchants of aural disease are still making money from their back catologue.

We had our Staff Team Meeting this morning which was notably absent of the usual danish pastries and chocolate muffins which is the only real reason everyone turns up. I have got a new Social Slot put on the agenda which is neat and drew everybodies attention to the 10-pin bowling event this Friday and also the upcoming 'Bonkers for Conkers' event which should be good fun.
Alas, when it is typed up, it sounds dull and boring:

"Phil confirmed that 10 pin bowling has been arranged for Friday, after work.
A Halloween event has been scheduled for the 31st October."

Notice, "after work" added as an afterthought. Don't even be thinking about playing 10-pin inside working hours or it's straight to the chamber of horrors for you!

Check back tomorrow to find out what Colin cooked for Wednesday Dinner and what movie we had for dessert!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

I watched Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit last night with Lou and we were both unimpressed with it. The concept of most Wallace & Gromit films is similar and has worked in the past largely due to the running time coming in at around 30 minutes. However, it's move to the 'big time' and the full Hollywood treatment does nothing but make the plot look thin and cover the same ground over and over again when we all know what is going to happen [i.e. they will save the day and everyone lives happily ever after].

Nick Park is therefore in a quandry. No doubt kids will love the film and a sequel will be demanded but I don't think the world needs more Wallace & Gromit. I hope that he instead concentrates on new and original characters and returns to making short films where his style suits rather than throwing out a bad full length feature every 5 years.

I would give this film 2 wabbits out of 5.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow


On Friday after work a few of us checked out a new bar in town, the Spaniard. It's very small inside and the ground bar must only accomodate around 20 people. We were about to leave when the barmaid told us there was an upstairs bar. We made our way up the staircase which was adorned with retro posters of blues and jazz. The second floor bar was marginally bigger, capable of holding 40 people. There were tables free but they all had 'reserved' on them. However, on further enquiry, they were free until 7pm which was grand by us. Several pints later, that Friday feeling was a shared one of minor exhaustion and we made our way home.


Saturday afternoon was spent playing Area 51 and cutting my hair using the shaver on a low setting. Personal grooming is a long boring process, especially when you don't have a spare mirror and use a DVD to check the double reflection to see what the back of your head looks like in red or blue, dual layered plastic. After 45 minutes, I was ready to leave the rest for Lou to tidy up and proceeded to clear up the mounds of hair that had fallen at my feet. Unfortunately there was a communication breakdown and after a slight altercation, more of my hair was removed than previoulsy indicated. The only course of action was to take it all off. I was now ready to play Edward Nortons body double in American History X 2: Soul Brother.

Continuing the theme of visting new places in Belfast, a few of us headed out to the Stiff Kitten for a couple of beers before returning to the flat for a film and more beer. The Stiff Kitten initially had more bouncers than punters but after an hour it was packed leading me to conclude that Belfast needs at least 10 more pubs because demand far exceeds supply, especially ones that aren't up their own hole of trendiness and designer beers.

Our film of choice was 48 Hours and it surprisingly lived up to what I remember: a gritty buddy cop movie with as much plot as action but still fun to watch. Shame about Nick Nolte these days though. [3.5 calypso beats out of 5]

The rest of the night is blurry and revolved around 101 topics of which I no longer recall except that it was around 4am before my head hit the pillow and it would be 12:30pm on Sunday before it lifted again resulting in an afternoon of curling up on the sofa and rocking back and forth.


When Lou and I were feeling more human, we walked around the corner to watch A History of Violence. It's definetly a contender for an Oscar and Viggo Mortensen puts in a very understated performance as Tom Stall, a small town worker who becomes a local hero after foiling a robbery in the café he works in. His actions gain the attention of the media and his life is turned upside down in the aftermath of unwanted attention from his past.
The film takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion and keeps your eyes firmly fixed on the screen until the credits roll.

I would give this film 4.5 small towns out of 5.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gamespot #29

Escape from Rhetundo Island - Latest game from the Hapland series.

Links #9

Here's a few comedic laughs to keep you going over the weekend:

Robot Chicken - Full episode. Bizarro fun.

Mitch Hedburg - Great selection of stand-up routines by the late great Mitch Hedburg.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sufjan Stevens

"Sleep in peace when day is done". Those were the words of the great Nina Simone and although they were the words from the first song heard that night, it adequately describes how we were feeling (good) as we left. Turned out that the support for Sufjan Stevens was none other than half of his band and they put on a good set of songs themselves after this initial cover.

When Sufjan hit the stage himself, he was wearing a Evil Kinevil stars and stripes outfit and his band was suitably attired in matching outfits with the letter "I" for Illinois on the front. After a little routine they launched into their set and the crowd were loving every minute. A personal favourite was "The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" amongst other gems from Illinoise and Michigan, the first two albums of an over-ambitious project to create an LP for every American state.

The place was heaving and cheered on each little routine in between songs. The band themselves looked truely happy to be there and honoured us with an excellent encore set. Let's hope they come back.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

African Curry with Black Bean & Salsa Soup

Last night Brian outdone himself with a gorgeous meal of Black Bean & Salsa soup followed by African Curry.

Black Bean & Salsa Soup

Ingredients [Serves 4]

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup chunky salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion


In an electric food processor or blender, combine beans, broth salsa and cumin. Blend until fairly smooth.

Heat the bean mixture in a medium saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated. To serve, ladle soup into 4 individual bowls and top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of the sour cream, and 1/2 teaspoon green onion.

African Curry

Ingredients [Serves 4]

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3lbs chicken, bones and skin removed, cut into pieces
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced


Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, and bay leaf, and saute until onion is lightly browned. Mix tomatoes, curry powder, and salt into the skillet, and continue cooking about 5 minutes. Mix in the chicken, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear.

Reduce skillet heat to low. Stirring constantly, gradually blend in the coconut milk over a period of about 10 minutes. Mix in lemon juice just before serving.

Afterwards we degraded ourselves with a Chuck Norris film, An Eye For An Eye. It's hard to describe how bad this film is. So bad, it's not worth the effort. When you can't act it's best to avoid a plot heavy film and stick to kicking ass. Unfortunatly the only asses kicked were our own.

Tonight, a few of us are off to see Sufjan Stevens at the Spring & Airbrake. Catch you tomorrow for a gig review and potential peanut re-run debacle!


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Days Like These

Yesterday was one of those days that is best forgotten. As you may be aware, we are short staffed in work and as such are stretched to the limit. Now add to this two members of staff off sick and it reaches breaking point. I am not the only one in work that is under pressure but I have the additional labour of having deadlines to meet on a project that resembles an old donkey that should be taken out the back and shot. The receptionist was off sick yesterday and we have a rota in work that lists our names under "First-Line Cover" which is updated every month. This means that when the receptionist is off, whoever is on that week must cover reception. Yes folks, that name was mine and therefore additional duties fell into my over-burdened lap.

The Gods were certainly looking down on me and thought "That's not enough, he needs to be broken!" and thus the Director waltzed in first thing in the morning and dumped another piece of work on me. This took until 11am as I was constantly having to pick up the phone to direct calls. Why is it never this busy when the receptionist is here? After the 20th call, I dropped the formalities and just stated the Agency I worked for and transferred their call. In between all this and for the remainder of the day, I recieved emails from my boss from home [lucky for some] regarding the website and changes of plans and re-drafting.

I'm also arranging the order for jumbo paperclips with the logo of this new website on one side and our logo on the other. I ask you, jumbo paperclips as a promotional tool? What is she thinking? Who is going to hold on to a giant red paperclip? I mean, a ruler I understand. That will stay on the desk and be used. Who's going to keep a giant red paperclip on their desk in case they have to keep together a jumbo stack of paper? Nonetheless, I struggled through the day until 20 minutes before leaving when I recieved an "urgent" email requesting additional work be done. I felt like deleting it and pretending I never saw it but that only comes round and bites you on the ass.

I stayed a little late and started into the work before deciding to throw in the towel, go home and chill out. I needed to pick up a few groceries so I stopped at the Spar around the corner, on my way home. Amongst the items purchased included a jar of Chicken Tonight. Whilst I was at the counter, the bag handle broke and I requested a new bag. As I left the shop, the bag broke again and the contents hit the floor with an explosion of sauce. I, god knows how, calmly picked up the bag and, extracting the other items covered in sauce, threw the broken glass sauce bag into a nearby bin and walked straight home. A few people moved out of my way so I must have had a face on me like a son out to revenge the man who shot his daddy. I dumped all the stuff in the kicthen, walked into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed.

It was around 10 minutes later before I finally had the will to get up and begin pottering about. Nothing like a bit of pottering to soothe the nerves.

Later that evening, I watched Hitch, a romantic comedy with Will Smith. Boy was that a cheesy piece of crap. It was like a ROM-COM Ferris Bueller with Smith talking to the audience throughout the movie dishing out useless advice. It was very clichéd: Man woo's woman using a technique. Woman finds out and fight ensues. Man wins back woman by being himself. Awwww.....bleugh! Even the jokes were clichés but I'll not bore you with details.

I would give my day and this film 1 out of 5.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Feh Effect

I don't know about you but with the onset of shorter days, I'm finding it harder to get motivated in the morning. It could be an increase in melatonin. Melatonin is linked to sleep and the body produces this hormone in greater quantities when it's dark or when days are shorter. This increased production of melatonin can cause a person to feel sleepy and lethargic. No longer does my morning mug of black syrup-like coffee that should wake up the dead have any affect on me. I should also note that there are no windows in my office so any light that does come through during the day, I don't get to see it. Apparently all this affects your social life as you may lose interest in participating in social events. This hasn't affected me from participating but I have noticed what I call the "Feh affect" settling in whereby it reaches a certain time in the evening and the bed is more appealing than the craic. Damn you winter!

Last night was mainly spent playing the computer and watching a new series called Weeds which is like a grittier, more realistic Desperate Housewives without the sex and convoluted plotlines. Worth checking out.

Check back tomorrow to find out what I think of Commander In Chief, the new series where Geena Davis is the first President of the United States(!).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Good Food & Good Company


Following the afternoon spent curled up on my bed, I began to feel better late in the afternoon and spent a few hours playing Dungeon Lords. The game is quite difficult and I will probably give it up to play Heroes of Might & Magic IV.

By the evening I had recovered from excesses and settled down with a Indian take-away to watch Four Brothers.

It's an action/drama concerning 4 grown up hoodlums who return home to bury their mother who was shot dead at a grocery store robbery. However, all is not as it seems and the plot thickens as they discover the dark underworld and its connection to their mothers murder and their quest for veneance. It has fine performances all round and is well worth checking out.

I would give this film 4 brothers out of 5 [har-har!]


As my parents are currently holidaying in Spain, they asked if we would pop up and clear the mountain of mail from the hall and boy was there a lot of it. They get more correspondence in a week than I get in the entire year. My mother is in more mailing lists than is concievably possible. After manually sorting out spam from real letters, I needed treatment for RSI.

Five piles sat on the floor: Mum, Dad, Mum/Dad, Catologues and Spam. Royal Mail would have hired me on the spot. We took advantage of the situation and settled down to watch the Northern Ireland vs Wales match on their new TV. It was a great game and I was naturally disappointed that we didn't win but it's not like we didn't try, we were just unlucky. The recent wins have bolstered support behind the team and I look forward to future matches with the team having more confidence in themselves.

Saturday afternoon was spent tidying up the flat and tinkering with the computer. Ian and Suzy called in around 6pm and we headed to Bar Twelve for a swift pint before moving to the Sun-Kee for dinner. A few weeks previously the place was named and shamed for having unsanitory conditions so now was probably the best time to avoid being poisoned. I ordered the salted chilli squid for starters followed by duck in orange sauce. Whilst it was delicious, it didn't come up to the standard I expected or recieved previously when the restaurant was located accross the road. Nevertheless, it was great to catch up with Ian and Suzy as juggling a 6 month old baby and a social life doesn't work too well but I'm looking forward to Suzys 30th birthday party in a couple of weeks.


My head was a little worse for wear on Sunday but it soon cleared up and I settled down to read the papers. Lou gave me a lift up to Ulsterville for gaming in the afternoon and picked me up again around 6pm as we had to put a duck in the oven. Lou made gravy from the fat whilst I made a peanut sauce. It was delicious. Over dinner we watched Gosford Park.

I've seen the film twice before but you always find something new on repeated viewing. Lou didn't enjoy it as much as I did but I still think it's a great film.

I would give this film 4.5 upper class twits out of 5.

And there you have it. It's now Monday morning and I could see this online work far enough but if I keep chipping away at it, hopefully I'll soon see the end of it and I can return to normalacy. Hope you all had a great weekend. See you tomorrow!

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Day In The Life


Training at Stormont today. Had to get up an extra 30 minutes early which really makes a difference. I was quite tired but the gentle autumn breeze woke me up as I made my way down Donegal Pass to catch a lift. The traffic was all heading the opposite way as we fired on up the Upper Newtownards Road and we made it on time. We were in the Craigantlet buildings which was new in 1953 and the only change has been placing a widescreen plasma TV on the second floor which looks really out of place and unesscessary for telling people the latest news such as fresh buns in the cafeteria. Needless to say the canteen is a soul-destroying testament to public sector workers. Food provdied by SodexHo [haha - their website is laughable] and eaten by zombies. It was depressing enough to sit in for a days training nevermind day after day but since Stormont is in the middle of nowhere like a great industrial estate, there's nowhere else for people to go.

The training itself was straight forward but staring at a screen all day was enough to bring on a migraine. It's OK when you can get up and leave your desk on your own accord but is frowned upon mid-lecture. Typically they were brand new 17" TFT screens with DVD drives but the only thing they are ever going to be used for is looking at an excel spreadsheet. Money well spent.

We finally got released around 4pm and made our way back to Belfast. I was conveniently dropped off at Direct Wine Shipment and wandered inside to procure a few bottles. I decided to treat myself with a Pinotage. After all, it was a tiring day and Wednesday is food night.
I wandered through the Cathedral Quarter to get home and there's an amazing amount of redevelopment going on. There's a lot of new pubs and clubs that I passed by and I made a mental note to visit them sometime soon: The Spaniard in particular, the Potthouse less so as it looked like a wannabe trendy piece of shit worth avoiding.

The meal that night was provided by Keith and Tony, Keith being a new addition to our cook-night and therefore the meal was strictly vegatarian. We had roast marrow and assorted vegetables follwed by rhubarb crumble which really hit the spot and then watched Batman Begins which was good on repeat viewing and I definetly look forward to the next installment.
Unfortunatly my Pinotage was unpalpable considering it cost £9 so I certainly wont be buying that again. It was South African though so perhaps that was the problem or perhaps it was just a bad bottle. I wont be taking the trouble to find out again if I was correct as there's many bottles that deserve my attention, but we'll get to that later.


More training today but of ferent nature. This time it was Equal Opportunities & Sexual Harrassment. The trainer fired through the legislation before splitting us into two groups to review some scenarios. One in particular was about a homophobic in work, who after seeing a gay co-worker drinking from his mug, made a show to the rest of the staff by throwing it in the bin as "unsafe" to drink from again. We were asked how we would respond. I suggested that we buy a pink mug for the homophobe and everyone laughed except for the trainer who thought I meant a pink mug for the gay guy and probably thought I was an asshole but who cares what someone who you're never going to see again thinks of you?

We finished up around noon and decided that our best option was to go to Ginger Root for lunch and treat ourselves. They do a buffet for £5.95 and it's worth it if you're hungry but overpriced if you're looking for a quick snack.
After a half days training, no one is in the mood for doing any work back in the office. Fortunatly my computer was on the blink and IT spent most of the afternoon tinkering at it while I sat chatting to other staff by the water cooler.
I was glad to get home and decided to open up bottle 2 of 3 of my purchases. What a great find too - Los Cardos, a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. At £6, I'll certainly be buying more. Like drinking velvet!

Thursday being last night, Don, Colin and myself went to the Spring & Airbrake to see Caribou AKA Manitoba. The warm up band was The Russian Futurists and although they sound good on record, there's only two of them and the live set is very synth heavy. However, they did play the one song I knew and loved so no complaints really. Then the main act. I caught Manitoba at the Leeds festival two years ago around 1am and they kicked ass. It was the same format again: guitar and two drummers. I wont bore you with details but they were awesome. Don took a few photos of the gig:

After the gig, Don bought a DVD from the drummer and we moved next door to Katy Dalys for more pints. What happened next was legend. A huge beefcake half giant was standing beside us talking to his mate but his right pocket was "ajar" if you will. We had peanuts. I threw one of them and it landed hook line and sinker right in the pocket. 3 pointer! As any drunk men would do, we spent the next 20 minutes throwing nuts into this poor buggers trouser pocket. It became a game. We must have landed around 15 nuts before he left for the john and we decided to move table and hide the empty packets of peanuts lest he pound us into dust. A drunk pacifist who has an allergic reaction to getting hit is no good in a bar fight. "Damage - my only weakness!".


And there you have it. A rough guide to the last two days. I'm in no mood for work today so as soon as I walked through the door, I brought my leave card to my line manager and made her sign a half day so in less than 3 hours I'll be back home curled in a ball ready for a nap attack.Have a great weekend folks and I'll catch you Monday.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Money In The Bank

Today was a good day for reward points. I buy my lunch a few times a week from Boots as they have a good range on offer to choose from and it's just across the road. As I only get half an hour for lunch, it doesn't leave much time to pussy-foot around town limiting me to a few sandwhich bars serving up the same old panini's or the Spar which wouldn't know fresh produce if it hit them in the face. I know I could always make my own lunch but then I'd be limiting myself to a week of the same old crap so why not pay £2.99 every day for a meal, side snack and drink?

I usually try and go for the "Shapers" meals which are low calorie and actually quite tasty but today they had a new range of "Seasonal" sandwhiches which I couldn't resist. Anywho, I was at the checkout and paid for my lunch of which I recieved 11 points [1 point = 1p]. I was fiddling with my wallet and the cashier asked the man beside me if he had a Boots Reward Card. He said he didn't and then turned to me and asked if I would like to use my card for his purchase. "Sure thing" I replied and handed my card over again. He purchased £45 worth of goods and £1.65 was added to my account. Certainly worth the effort.

[Warning! Tangent paragraph commencing]
After returning to work for coffee break, the kitchen topic turned to people who keep unusual pets in their house. While everyone was discussing the finer points of keeping ferrets, Fidelma, who was sitting beside me, told me of a friend of hers that kept a pitbull. It turns out that these animals get lock-jaw when biting which is an attack mechanism for not letting go of prey. Unfortunately when other dogs "play" with the pitbull and it retaliates, an awkward social momment can occur. Therefore the owner always carried a lighter with him. When the dog bit into anything and lock-jaw commenced, he would take a lighter and lightly waft it around the dogs genitalia which would cause it to yelp and therefore release its grip.
God knows why other aminals were allowed to "play" with it and vice-versa in such a manner and it's an unusally cruel method of release. Anywho....
[Returning to normal broadcasting]

Later that morning, I was asked if I would like to take a walk to Boots again to purchase disposable cameras. I was helping Hazel out with her marketing work as our internet was down and that somewhat hinders my work on the ONLINE governance website. £16 later I was another 55p up making a tidy "profit" of £2.20. Score.

As you can probably tell, BT fixed our connection and I'm back in business. I'll be out of office tomorrow as I'm attending an online community training course at Stormont and I'll be at a half day training course for Equal Opportunities & Sexual Harrassment on Thursday.

See you next time to find out how I got on.

Monday, October 03, 2005

You've Tried Once & Failed Miserably. The Lesson Is: Never Try

After attempting to build the PC by myself on Friday evening, I resigned myself to the fact that I needed help and called Ian to see if he could pop over tomorrow afternoon and have a look at it. I then did the only honourable thing required of a quiet Friday night in by myself [Lou was out with friends] which was to get drunk and watch some new American Dad and Family Guy. And at this I am a King. Sozzled and rapidly blinking off my hazy vision around 1am, I decided that it would be a good time to go to bed.

As I cannot sleep in on weekends, not through lack of trying, I usually watch the Saturday Cook Show slumped on the sofa sipping coffee. This week had a great recipe for Jambalaya by Charita Jones which I intend on making sometime in the near future. I used to rack my brains for a meal to cook on Wednesdays and now I have too many good ones to choose from but no complaints about that.

In the afternoon, Ian called round to have a look under the bonnet of computer. Everything looked to be in place but unfortunately it just wouldn't boot up. At first he suspected that the RAM I bought might be too good for the motherboard or else the graphics card was a dud. Unfortunately we had no way of testing out the theory as he didn't have an SLI machine. "I think Don has a new SLI machine" I said. "Really?" replied Ian. "Yes. Yes he does."
A quick call later, Don was more than happy to bring his PC around for swopping parts but Ian had to leave as Suzy and Ricky were suffering from flu-like symtoms. We tried the graphics card to no avail. Then the RAM. Whhrrrrr! It's booting! Turns out the RAM is to good for my motherboard! Luckily Don had 2 sticks of gig RAM and is currently lending me one until I get my own. The good news is that it runs new games at full specifications with no slow down. Huzzah! Victory, at last, is mine.

After a high five, we decided it was time to get some wine and watch a movie whilst the new PC was formatted and XP installed. I'm part of LoveFilm and this weeks choices left us with Evil Dead 2 or Audition to watch. We settled on the latter.

Audition is a very strange concept for a film and is part ROM-COM/Horror/Thriller/Drama. It is directed by the esteemed director Takashi Miike. The basis of the story revolves around a bachelor who, since his wife died and is egged on by his only son, decides to remarry and explains his situation to a friend in the movie industry. An audition is set up for a non-existant film and single females are called in to, well, audition. The bachelor, having looked through their CV's, already has made his decision and he invites his choice out to dinner to talk about the film but obvioulsy chats her up instead. They begin to date but she is not as she appears and there is a cavalcade of secrets and a dark past to unearth as the film progresses.
The plot is fairly straight forward until an hour in where it gets decidedly obtuse and difficult to follow until the secrets are revealed.
The film is certainly engaging and sets it apart from other films of similar nature due to it's merging of genre's that are not normally compatable or indeed made by Hollywood but this is Japanese film-making and this is Takashi Miike.
If you are looking for an off-beat and interesting film, I suggest tracking this down.

I would give it 4 needles out of 5.

As you can imagine, Sunday was spent tinkering with the new PC until the evening when The Wedding Crashers was popped into the DVD for the weekend wind-down. Unfortunately the film was a bit of a let down. The romance aspect is formulaic and the humour is sporadic and clichéd. Nevertheless there are some hilarious momments especially from Vince Vaughn and some [typically] great acting from Christoper Walken but not enough to keep this film afloat or worthy of a re-watch.

I would give it 2.5 hamptons out of 5.

Hope you all had a great weekend. See you tomorrow!

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