Friday, March 31, 2006

Gamespot #35


With over one hour of gameplay, this is a full RPG developed in Flash. Play a bipedal amphibanoid as he makes his way around the World of Azeroth.

Related Wikipedia - Murloc

The Squid & The Whale

Last night Colin, Brian and I went to a free showing of the Noah Baumbach film The Squid & The Whale. It was a sponsored event by Viacom of which I can only remember their jingle at the end of Roseanne, the 80's America sitcom. After a brief spell of faux hob-nobbing, we took our bottles of Stella and found some seats and grabbed at trays of which passing waiters were offering tasty treats inbetween inane banter until the film started.

It may be worth noting that Baumbach also wrote The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, which also has idiosyncratic and characters and unhinged dialogue although as he is also directing this film it seems to gel a lot better in terms of fluidity and character development. It is also hilariously funny and I can't recall a cinema audience laughing out loud and continually throughout a movie in either so many years I've forgotten or it has actually never happened. The secret that Baumbach has found is not so much in the dialogue but how his characters deliver it and how he captures the momment. There is some excellent use of the handheld camera which adds a realism and also surrealism to certain scence which heightens their impact and draws the audience in.

It is also worth noting that the film is based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother which has allowed him to add a secret and meaningful depth to the boys characters and draw from a wealth of childhood memories adding a super-realism into each character whilst portraying the touching story of how these boys deal with their parents divorce. At times very forward and frank and at times intimate but always ludicrously entertaining, The Squid & The Whale is a comedy drama gem of a movie and worth picking up.

I would give this film 4 firm handshakes out 5.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Toad In The Hole

Last night Don made Toad in the Hole served with creamy potato mash and it was incredibly filling as it was delicious. Here's the science!

Toad In The Hole [Serves 4]


100g Plain Flour
1/2 level tsp Salt
1 Egg
270ml Milk
225g Pork Sausages


1. Preheat the oven to 200C and grease a shallow ovenproof dish.

2. Place the flour, egg, milk and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth and lump free.

3. Place the sausages in the greased dish in a single layer then pour over the batter. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until well risen and golden.

He also made a Raspberry & Strawberry Cool which can be made by blending strawberries and raspberries and mixing with plain yogurt and a little milk. Delicious!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics

At War With The Mystics, the 12th and latest offering from The Flaming Lips is surely their most funky to date. Before hitting the big time with The Soft Bulletin in 1999, they seemed quite content with continuing their cachaphonic bewildering squalid noise which was intriguing to a degree but never serious weight. However, they took all the right ingredients from their cauldron of sound and found a new sound and made it their own. That's not to say that they still don't experiment and on Yoshimi Vs The Pink Robots, this experiment paid dividends and The Lips had another winner on their hands.

At War With The Mystics continues the experimentation in a different direction but is probably their most accessible album even though under the surface there is still a lot going on and with each new listen, it adds depth to every song. Album opener 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song' bounces along nicely and is very catchy as Coyne asks the serious question: "if you could make everybody poor, just so you could be rich, would you do it?". Second track 'Free Radicals' continues the funk geist and if the radio played this they might have a serious hit on their hands.

Throughout the rest of the album they mix it up with some great mellow tracks like 'My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion'and 'The Wizard Turns On' clearly stylizing with the theme of the album which is very spacey but each track held together with the Lips on brand of cosmic glue. If you're looking to start your summer early and get that good-feeling going then slid this baby into the stereo, sit back and chill-ax. The Feel-Good starts here.


Buy it now from ShopIreland.
Official Flaming Lips Website.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Links #18

The Daily Show: Bush Speech - A mesh of four Bush speeches from The Daily Show showing him to be a bumbling idiot.

Related Wikipedia: George W Bush

South Park: Chef Dies - The week after Isaac Hayes left South Park over Scientology related concerns, Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to make it very final.

Related Wikipedia: South Park

Official South Park Website

Super Furry Animals: Not the End of the World - Sweet animation video for the Super Furry Animals' song 'At Least it's not the end of the World'.

Related Wikipedia: Super Furry Animals

Official Super Furry Animals Website

Monday, March 27, 2006


My copy of Oblivion arrived in work on Friday at an (in)opportune time as I was leaving to go home suffering from flu symptoms. Needless to say I soldiered on for a few hours when I got home, wrapped up warm, got some Beechams in me and installed the game. However, I nearly had angina problems when the install screen hung and I had to reset my PC. Nevertheless it worked beautifully when I ran it on startup and the adventure began!

I chose a dark elf called Drizzt after the R.A. Salvatore books and custom designed the character to be a fighter/mage with theif capabilities. The introduction is amazing and the graphics are better than any game I've seen on the PC. The gameplay is much the same as Morrowind but with most of the annoying quirks removed ensuring a faster and more involved adventure. The NPC's AI has improved and they now move out of your way and talk amongst themselves and get on with their daily lives rather than stand about looking silly.

So far over the weekend I've clocked up 15 hours worth of gametime and I've hardly made a dent in the quest. I've been side-tracked on branch quests set by NPC's and investigating the countryside around the cities, caves and tombs. I've fought wolves, rats, zombies, atronachs and goblins and I'm sure that's scratching the surface too.

I've been checking out the forums on official and non-official sites and a lot of people seem to be having problems with the game as their PC is not up to scratch. I'm running a GF6600GT with an Athlon 3200+ and 1GB of RAM and the game is running smoothly at 800x600. I'm already thinking about upgrading RAM and installing a second 6600 to upgrade the graphics as this is really something that makes the game so realistic.

All in all, I'm very impressed so far and look forward to immersing myself in Cyrodill and closing all the gates of Oblivion. Yes, there are some small bugs I've spotted within the game but I believe these will be fixed with imminent patches. Another success for Bethesda and no doubt when the bugs are fixed they will begin work on a much sought after expansion pack.

I would give this game 4.5 Mage Guilds out of 5.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Gamespot #34

I thought I would treat you to two games this week since I couldn't decide on which two to use. They are:


This is very simlbe but addictive game. Use your LEFT and RIGHT ARROWS to guide your small ship through a land full of cubes and avoid any collision with them. The aim get as far as possible and score as much points as you can.

Kitten Cannon

Just aim the cannon using the up/down cursor keys and use space to fire. The red bar on the cannon indicates the power of your shot. Leave the rest to gravity and the objects that are on the ground.

Have a great weekend and catch you Monday!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Colin made a tasty ratatouille last night and here's how to make it in his own words:

"it was in one of my cook books. basically fry the onions and garlic in butter and oil for a bit, add the aubergines, courgettes and peppers and cook for a bit then add the tomatoes, thyme and parsley and simmer for 45 min/1 hour or whatever."

Simple but delicious. Here's a recipe I found in case you need more.


Just Plain Crazy

Looks like I've picked something up because my nose has been running like a broken tap all morning. The receptionist was sickly yesterday and so I figure he's passed it on to me. He was kind enough to give me some Beechams powder to make a hot remedy drink although 3 people commented on how it smelt like cat pee but since my nose is blocked up I can't confirm or deny it. I have since treated myself to a Mars bar in the hopes of the chocolate having some effect on me - it's scientifically proven to help - honest!

It's my Dads birthday tomorrow and my brother and I are heading up tonight for dinner so I hope I don't infect him and everyone else with my disease/man cold. I suppose I should be grateful that I didn't come down with it yesterday as I always seem to cop it when I take time off work like the cruel mistress of worldly things is preventing me from relaxing. At least spring seems to be making an appearance which can only be a good thing because the last week has been baltic and I don't fare well in cold climates - for some reason a cold wind makes me cry in the left eye and my face screws up in protest so who knows how I look walking down the street. It's no wonder I get straight passage as people move out of my way lest the come into close proximity of a lunatic who looks like he's just squeezed lemon juice into one eye and ate it.

I remember there used to be many crazy people walking around Belfast. There was one guy who was always sniffing glue and had his arm raised and attempted to get on buses on the Lisburn Road. Another man around Botanic would have his radio blasting out on one arm and a 3 litre bottle of White Lightning cider in the other informing those that passed him what he thought about them in crude mannerisms. And finally there was an old lady who walked around town covered head to toe in notes and pushed around one of those granny bags. The first two had drug and alcohol problems but I think she was just plain crazy. I imagine they're either dead or in an insane asylum now.

Anyways, I'll be back tomorrow for more inane banter. Catch you then!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Half Day

Half days are great because you know you only have to put in enough effort to clear half your work load and then it's home time. It's even better when you spend it wisely. Lou and I met up for lunch in the Empire. I had the fish and chips and she had the chilli bowl. I remember that their food a few years ago was pretty decent although I might have been looking through student eyes. Either way, it's sub-par today. We both agreed that the meals looked like they came from a packet and could have been microwaved as far as anyone could guess. So the advice is look elsewhere for a pub lunch unless you're going for a burger and chips - they looked pretty decent and you can't go wrong there.

After that it was up for pool in Lavery's and it's great to have the place pretty much to yourself as it was a Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately Lou won 2-1 despite some solid potting on my behalf. I think a pool table would be near top of the list if I had the money and space. I must have used up all my luck on St Patricks Day so it's on for a rematch next time we're playing. They also do a lunch deal that looks better than the Empire. 12" pizza, two sides and two bottles of stella for a tenner. Score. If I had went there I might have swung the match in my favour, perhaps 5-3 or something. Ah well, I'll be back there next week for a work social so hopefully with all this practice recently I'll rise to the top.

From there it was off to the Moviehouse to watch Syriana. It was as interesting as it was confusing and it was worth it in that I didn't feel cheated when it was over although I would have liked to know more about the characters actions. From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the film's multiple storylines weave together to illuminate the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power. I would give it 3 oil fields out of 5 but I think it would have notched another point if the plot was less tangled. Nevertheless worth checking out as it's probably one of the best films in the cinema in the spring lull running up to the summer blockbusters.

So there you have it. A half day well spent. Hope you had a good day and check back tomorrow to find out what the Wednesday dinner of choice was.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Proposition

The Proposition is Nick Cave's first screen-writing outing since his 1988 debut Ghosts...Of The Civil Dead. The Proposition is set in 19th Century Australia and begins with the tail-end of a shoot out where we meet two of the four Burns brothers, Charlie and Mike. They are captured by Captain Stanley, played by Ray Winstone, as he makes a proposition to Charlie, played by Guy Pearce, that if he brings back his two outlaw brothers, he will let himself and his brother Mike go free as Mike is an all but innocent teenager caught up in his brothers life of murder, rape and pilage and possibly believes that Charlie is a man of redemption. If he does not return with his other two brothers, however, then Mike will hang on Christmas Day all but nine days away.

There is a great cinematic feel to this movie with some beautiful shots of outback Austrailia and direction by John Hillcoat, also responsible for directing Nick Cave's debut screenplay. There is also an outstanding bit-part by John Hurt who plays Jellon Lamb, a bounty-hunter out to kill Charlie's brother Arthur, played by Danny Huston. The movie covers a time in Austrailia when local garrisons in the outback would mount punitivie expeditions to anihilate whole communities of indigenous people. A time when people in a town would gather to watch some captured outlaw be flogged to within an inch of his life or worse. It was a time of brutality and this is captured with the context of the story itself.

It is a well told and excellently directed story but I should also mention some minor drawbacks. Although Nick Cave is an accomplished muscian, the film soundtrack that he has composed does not fit well with the movie and is occasionally distracting from what is going on onscreen. There is also a role of Captain Stanley's wife played by Emily Watson that is simply untenable at times and this also detracts from the story as I believe her role could actually be removed without any difference to the storyline or possibly enhanced had it been portrayed in a different light or even by a different actress. Nevertheless, these minor quibbles that dampen segments of the film do not take away the overall enjoyment of the movie and it is well worth tracking down.

I would give this movie 3.5 floggings out of 5.


Donegal Pictures


View from Sand-dunes

Mount Muckish

Phil & Brian


Doe Castle

Dunfanaghy Bay

Cheers to Brian for these - I forgot my camera on this outing and although I took some myself over the weekend, they are of Horns Head which I've hosted before so at least you get some new hotness with the above.

Monday, March 20, 2006

St Patrick's Weekend

The weekend started early as Friday was St Patricks Day and a group of us headed up to Dunfanaghy on Thursday afternoon. We arrived shortly after 6pm and after lighting the fire to warm up our bodies, we cracked open a few beers to warm the soul. We settled down to watch Uzumaki, a bizarre Japanese horror film. The plot consisted of a small town coming under a curse causing villagers to become obsessed with spirals so much so that they turned into spirals themselves or giant snails. Half WTF, half OMG and all OTT, the film collapsed under it's own inertia and was watchable insofar as you wanted it to end as much as you wanted to see what bizarro thing would happen next. I would give it 2 centipedes out of 5.

After a sweet lie-in on Friday, we spent the early afternoon getting in some shopping for the weekend before playing some poker of which I won nothing but my own money back. After grabbing a bite to eat we hit the pubs and ended up playing pool with some local who dominated the table until I took the cue and won some Belfast pride back. By then it was leaving time and we headed back to the house to continue assaulting our liver. I hit the hay around 4am.

I awoke on Saturday afternoon with little to no hangover which was a good thing because we were due back in the pub that afternoon to watch the Ireland vs England rugby match. Beforehand we went for a long walk over the huge sand-dunes just outside of Dunfanaghy and the weather was amazing. We took some sweet footage of Keith rolling a dozen times down a steep incline which I will try and host somehow. The photos will go up tonight as I haven't had a chance to download them yet. After grabbing a bite to eat, we walked the short distance to the pub watch if Ireland could win the triple crown, having been denied the 6 Nations champions earlier because Wales couldn't hold their own against the French. We were lukcy to get seats by the TV because with half an hour to go before kick-off the place was packed. There was really good craic during the match with every Ireland try cheered, every England point boo-ed and every contested tackle jeered or rallied against. It was a closely fought game and we had the match in the bag until the 70th-odd minute when England scored a try to put them ahead. The camera kept focusing on a smug-faced Dellagio until with minutes to go, Shane Horgan put the ball over the line taking Ireland to its 2nd triple crown win in 3 years. After he scored the place went freaking electric and there was a taught two minutes until the whistle blew and everyone cheered. I would have to say it was the best match I've seen in years and will be something that will be talked about until next years 6 Nations. Of course, the England side have blamed the luck of the Irish and even the BBC seems slightly biased. Poor diddums.

By Sunday we were all pretty pooped and after wiping the cobwebs from our eyes, tidied up the house and headed for home. By early evening I had my feet up watching TV and lookinb back on a great weekend. I hope you had a good one yourself and see you all tomorrow for photos and more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Gamespot #33

Ever thought about buying a dream house? We've all had that fantasy so why not make fantasy into uber-reality [i.e. total fantasy] and slave at the property ladder to buy that mansion on top of the hill you've had your grubby little eyes on!

Mansion Impossible will turn that dream into ficticious property! Try it today!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

16 Blocks

I felt like a no-brainer action movie last night and got it in the form of 16 Blocks, the new Bruce Willis flick.

Willis plays Mosley, an alcoholic burnt out cop who has to escort Bunker, a convict played by Mos Def, 16 blocks to a courthouse so he can testify against some bent cops. Funnily enough, these cops don't want Bunker to reach the courthouse and Mosley chooses going against his peers rather than shop Bunker in for the kill. Cue 90 minutes of chase sequences, shoot-outs and tiresome dialogue as Mosley and Bunker attempt to reach their goal.

With a slight Willis renaissance going on since last years Hostage and Sin City, there's no reason that he should sign up to such MOR action-flick nonesense. Check it out, the dude has EIGHT films coming out this year. Perhaps he should choose roles more carefully so he doesn't find himself back in the doldrums. To be honest Willis' acting is decent enough but the script is a cut and paste from scores of action films preceding it. Then there's hip-hop artist-cum-actor Mos Def. Here's a guy that should stick to playing cameo's. He just doesn't have enough weight to play a supporting role and his voice is wincingly irratating. Granted, it's tolerable by the end but by then, you've had enough of the plot. I mean, why walk when you can just jump in a goddamn taxi?

Like I say, if you're looking for a no-brainer action film then this is your best friend for 90 minutes. Just don't look for a revelation.

I would give this film 2 burnt out alcoholic cops out of 5.


Monday, March 13, 2006


A group of us went to see Hidden at the QFT last night.

The film begins with a static shot of a house which we eventually realise is a videotape being watched in a living room by Georges and his wife Anne and it is their house which is shown on the tape. They do not know who sent it along with an accompanying drawing which is symbolic but whose meaning is obscure to the viewer and not comprehended by the victims. As the film progresses, more tapes and drawings are left and they become more personal to Georges. Tensions mount and it begins to affect the couples personal relationship, which is already tenable, as they try to work out the meaning from the clues presented to them.

I found the film to work as an excellent slow burning thriller but the film also contains, and perhaps is really about, political allegory regarding Frances past which may not be too obvious to those oblivious to it [myself being one]. Only after reading this forum did the pieces begin to fit [Warning: Major Spoilers]. The film won Best Director at last years Cannes Film Festival along with other awards in subsequent cermonies. Few films today leave you thinking about it hours afterwards and I would certainly wish to watch it again at some point now that I'm clued up on the hidden context. However, with this deeply imbedded subterfuge, I can understand if some people are turned off by the films slow pace and seemingly superfluous scenes. Nevertheless, as a fan of French cinema, I found this to be a unique and refreshing change from mainstream offerings.

I would give this film 4 roosters out of 5.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Titanic Quarter

So I don't know if you've heard much about the development ideas laid down for rejuvenating the Titanic area in Belfast but here is some information about it.

I love those architectural designs showing what the building and surrounding area is going to look like because they must use a delusional pen of dreams to carve out a ficticious image in a vain attempt to attract business and property seekers. I have my doubts about yachts sailing around and tall beautiful women cooking meals. Seems like a Carlsberg advertisement. "Carlsberg don't do Titanic Quarter revitalisation...but if we did." I believe we'll end up with a Harp reality. The Titanic Quarter sparkles bright....but leaves a nasty taste in your mouth after a few sips.

Have a look at their interactive map. Nothing like mixing high design flats with huge commercial parks and light industry "providing the environment for both new and existing companies to grow and develop". The scheme's lead architect, the American Eric Kuhnethe stated that the development will contain a pattern of parks, streets and gardens and the localised retail, healthcare, and educational facilities will be designed to build a community centred on genuine social interaction and shared values. Shared values? Surely he must have the wrong city? With half of Belfast and thousands of tourists walking walking through the district to enjoy these new main attractions of a science park of which there seems to be very sketchy details, more pubs, cafés and clubs, is it really going to result in genuine social interaction?

In a recent Belfast Telegraph article Simon O'Reilly of London based global real estate consultants Cushman and Wakefield stated that Belfast's economy has transformed over the past 10 years and continually punches above its weight when it comes to promoting the city's investment opportunities. But the question is, can it deliver?

Call me ultra-pessimistic but I'll believe it when I see it. Belfast has come along way in a very short time and the city really needs this so I hope in 10 years time I will eat my words. The scheme is expected to provide about 3,000 jobs during construction and 3,000 permanent posts upon completion would be a great thing. I hope.

Watch that space!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Chinese Stir-fried Prawns with Broccoli and Cashews served with Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats' Cheese

Last night I made Chinese Stir-fried Prawns with Broccoli and Cashews served with Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats' Cheese.

Chinese Stir-fried Prawns with Broccoli and Cashews
[Serves 6]


400g prawns
500 g purple broccoli cut into 1 x 2.5cm florets
150 g unsalted cashews
3 level tablespoon cornflour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 fat garlic cloves peeled and chopped
3 level dessertspoon grated fresh root ginger
150 g shiitake mushroom caps thickly sliced
12 tablespoons rice wine
6 spring onions, cut into 2.5 cm shreds


1. Place the cornflour and cayenne in a bowl. Mix well, then toss the prawns into the bowl and mix well until all the prawns are well coated. Now mix in the soy sauce and stir in until they've all been coated. Then cover the bowl and leave in a cool place for about 30 minutes.

2. Heat a tablespoon of the vegetable oil in the wok over a high heat. When it's really hot, add the cashews and stir-fry for 30 seconds or until golden, then remove them to a plate. Now add the prawns and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Then remove them to the plate, too, and keep warm.

3. Add the remaining oil to the pan, along with the garlic and ginger. Let it cook for 30 seconds, then add the broccoli, mushrooms and 1/2 level teaspoon of salt. Stir-fry these over a high heat, again tossing them all around, for about a minute.

4. Return the prawns and nuts to the pan, turn the heat down to medium, add the rice wine and 2 tablespoons of water and sprinkle in half of the spring onion shreds. Then put a lid on the pan and cook for a further minute. Serve with the rest of the spring onion sprinkled over.

Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats' Cheese
[Serves 6]


400g Puy lentils
100 g walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fat clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the dressing:

150 goats cheese
2 fat clove garlic
1 level teaspoon sea salt
1 heaped teaspoon powdered mustard
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
50 g rocket leaves
freshly milled black pepper


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and when it's hot, lightly fry the chopped walnuts for about 1 minute. Then remove them with a draining spoon to a plate and keep them aside for later.

2. Add the onion and crushed garlic and let these cook and soften for about 5 minutes. After that, stir in the lentils, bay leaf and thyme and make sure they all get a good coating with oil. Next add 400ml of boiling water, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and let the lentils cook for 30-40 minutes or until they're tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.

3. Prepare the dressing. Use a pestle and mortar and crush the garlic with the salt until it's creamy, then add the mustard and work that into the garlic paste. After that, whisk in the balsamic vinegar, followed by the oils. Then season well with freshly milled black pepper.

4. As soon as the lentils are cooked, add salt to taste. Empty them into a warm serving bowl and while they're still hot, pour the dressing over. Give everything a good toss and stir, then crumble the goats' cheese all over and add the rocket leaves, torn in half. Give everything one more toss and stir, and serve straight away with the walnuts scattered over.

I also made a quick and easy Apricot Crumble which is made by using 2 cans of apricot halves, pouring off the liquid and serving it equally into 6 water glasses. Then crumble 15 oat biscuits with 500g greek yoghurt and 500g double cream combined with 3 tsp cinnamon and 2tsp of sugar. Pour over the apricots and sprinkle with chocolate powder. Simple but delicious.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Gamespot #33

Remember that old arcade game Snow Brothers from the 1980's? Well this is exactly the same only for legal/ripping off purposes, it's called Snowy.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Trivium - Ulster Hall

On Sunday night (March 5th 2006) I went to see "Trivium plus guests" at the Ulster Hall in Belfast. Usually you would expect "plus guests" to mean "crap local group(s)", but we were wrong. Very wrong.

The guests happened to be God Forbid, a well-known name in the metal genre in their own right and ironically the band that Trivium supported last year before they became so famous.

Now I've been to many gigs - more than I can easily count - but I felt that God Forbid were probably the best group I had ever seen in terms of audience interaction. They were very personable and everyone in the band was obviously having fun and really enjoying themselves, which made them so much easier to enjoy in return. I haven't got any God Forbid albums yet, but they played such a blinder of a set that I will certainly be seeking them out at some stage in the not too distant future.

My only complaint would be that they played a very short set: they started close to 8:30pm (after a 1½ hour wait from the "Doors open at 7pm" rubbish) and they were off by 9pm. Other than that I couldn't knock them at all and I recommend that you check them out if you are able to.

Then it was on to Trivium and they were worth every penny. How cheesy would it be to open to Queen's "We Will Rock You" at a metal gig? Not at all is the answer, especially when you have a packed Ulster Hall's worth of fans chanting along with it! I don't know how many thousands of people were stamping their feet and clapping to each verse, but if you know how the song goes (and I'm sure you do) you can probably imagine that the poor Ulster Hall's century-old foundations were being very heavily tested!

Despite their vocalist having throat problems (he'd been singing day after day for weeks now due to a heavy touring schedule they still managed to open with my second favourite song from the album and close with my favourite an hour and a half later. They only have 2 albums out so far, so they played most of their new one and the best of their last album as well as some songs they were creating for their next release.

Some could say that the down side to Trivium's performance was the fact that their vocalist Matt Heafy had to stop singing half-way through but, like he said, "Trivium have never and will never cancel a gig unless we die". But how to you continue when your vocalist isn't able to sing? You find a fan that knows your songs and can sing, and you get him to take over of course! While he was choosing a new singer the rest of the band broke into a few minutes of Dio, Guns n Roses and a few other classics, followed Pantera's "Domination" – a very cool tribute to Dimebag Darrell , the Pantera guitarist who was shot dead during a gig last year. It was amazing to see a band so young (Heafy is only 19) pay so much homage to so many other established bands.

Speaking of which, our local lad hand-picked to sing with Trivium did a spectacular rendition of Metallica's "Master of Puppets". A very cool way to remember a gig by from an audience point of view, but obviously the most memorable concert of your life if you're hand-picked to sing for the band you love!

All in all I don't think I could really fault this gig on any front. Sure the 1½ hour wait from doors opening to the music starting will have irritated a few people, but that's a management issue. It was a pity that Heafy lost his voice, but getting a local person to take over was a stroke of genius and it really improved my opinion of Trivium and my enjoyment of the night.

Both bands played so well and obviously loved their jobs and the crowds they play to. I would be lying if I said I could give Trivium/God Forbid anything less than the full 5 headbangs out of 5 for providing me with the best gig of my life. If you get the chance to see them you will be doing yourself a disservice if you don't check them out.

[Article by KA. PA will return tomorrow]


Monday, March 06, 2006

Let Me Take You Down 'Cause I'm Going To...


A group of us went to see Trainspotting at the Grand Opera House on Friday evening and although we could only get tickets right at the back, I could still see the stage clearly and hear most of the dialogue which was made easier because I had seen the film and 80% of the words comprised of a variation of "fuck" and "cunt" before or proceeding it. Unfortunately there were two teenagers sitting in the row in front of us who were most likely drunk, conversed throughout the performance and played with their mobile phones. They also had to loudly express their crass observations when the actress showed her breasts or full nudity in the case of one actor i.e. "Oh my god, you can see her tits!". I can only hope they were involved in some sort of tongue removing accident over the weekend.
I also have to register my angst at those who haven't a clue how to arrive on time and waltz in 5 or 10 minutes after the play has begun. "Has it started yet?" one lady queried as she bufooned her way into the stalls. No dear, the acting on stage is a mere illusion and everyone else is not talking as part of a bet. Besides all this however, I enjoyed the play and was glad to see some scenes from the book that perhaps should have also been included in the movie. All in all, a good performance and you should check it out if it's in a town near you.


I was up bright and breezy on Saturday morning as I met Keith and Brian to hop on a bus for Dublin. After a minor altercation regarding which bus we were taking, we were on our way. After a beautiful nap somewhere between Newry and Dundalk, I awoke just outside Dublin airport and was ready for some pintage. Unfortunately we had a problem locating the hostel and after deliberating for an hour, managed to locate it somewhere off Parnell Street. It looked like it would do the job and we set off for the Porterhouse. By this time it was 3.30pm and I was famished. Brian and I ordered the blue Hawaiian burger and Porterhouse Red which apparently makes Caffrey's taste like Tizer and it was indeed a tasty beverage!

We met up with some of Keith's friends from Belfast and after several hours of drinking they left for Belfast and as we continued shooting the breeze and ordering more beers. Around 9pm everyone else that was due to hook up arrived at once and from there until 1am, we had a great time chatting and getting drunk until we decided to leave for pastures new after putting up with quite possibly the worst pub band in living history although we did just talk over the top. After running around half of Dublin we found our way to Fibbers and made last orders. Some poor sod collapsed on the floor beside me on the way to finding seats as everyone stepped over him to avoid tripping over the still body. He'll be OK. I think.
I made it back to the hostel around 3am and collapsed into bed and fell fast asleep. It was a great night out and met a lot of cool people which I hope I will see again when I'm next in Dublin.


Considering we had been drinking all day I awoke with little or no hangover but with a roaring appetite and need for liquid. After a quick breakfast at the hostel, we walked towards Grafton Street for seconds and stopped in at a bar offering a full breakfast for 6 Euro's after which we made our way back to the station and hopped on the bus back to Belfast.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent in front of the TV and an early night to make up lost hours.

Brilliant weekend and a great time had by all. Hope you had a good one and catch you tomorrow!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Go Go Gadget Friday

Was at the Arcana yesterday for Keith's birthday and to be honest it was a bit of a let down. The place was rather grotty and the food was sub-standard. I ordered the Balti Tikka Masala and boy was it hot. I spent 90% of the meal blowing my nose and wiping sweat from my brow. Now this was what I ordered so I've no qualms with that but the food itself wasn't anything better than you could pick up from a takeaway and that makes the difference. It also came in a hot-pot surrounded by a basket which was neat but no plate to place the dish and mix it up with rice so they only alternative was to chuck rice into the dish until it appeared from the depths like an iceberg which isn't how I want to eat the food. The naan bread was also disappointing and somewhat flavourless and slightly overbaked. In essence this is not a place I would ever go back to which is a shame because I was looking forward to it as I had heard good things about it.

Afterwards we headed back home and hooked up with others and watched Raw Deal, that archaic Arnie flick. It got off to a good start with an hilarious one-liner and a dozen guys blasted up with a shot-gun before spiralling into choppy waters and apathy towards the characters.

In other news I was successful in an ebay bid for Capcom Classics on the PS2 which should keep me busy until Oblivion is released on 20th March. Keith and I spent a lot of 10p's playing Final Fight when we weren't playing Double Dragon and I can't wait to play through the other classic games too.

Work has slowly been sucking the life out of me all week and I'm glad today is Friday or I would be using up some annual leave to get some relief. We're heading off to Dublin tomorrow for Keith's birthday which is great because it's been too long since I've tasted the greatest beer in the world - Porterhouse Oyster Beer. The place also does a kick-ass Irish stew and if the snow keeps up we'll be trapped in the pub all day - nuts!

Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday for a weekend report.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Polenta with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola

Last night Keith bammed up a kick-ass Polenta with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola. The sauce was delicious. Here comes the science:

Polenta with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola [Serves 6]


200g quick cook polenta

salt and fresh ground black pepper

5 tbsp Olive oil

6 Shallots

2 garlic cloves, chopped

12 large field mushrooms, sliced

225g assorted wild mushrooms

2 thyme sprigs, finely chopped

75ml dry white wine

350ml double cream

175g Gorgonzola cheese, cubed

100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

juice of 1/2 lemon

4 tbsp chopped flat-leafed parsley


1. Pour 1 litre of cold water into a large saucepan. Season well with salt. Bring to the boil. Add the polenta. Cook, stirring continuously, until the polenta has absorbed all the water and is coming away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the polenta to a greased, shallow dish, patting it flat. Leave for 1 hour to set, then cut into slices. Brush the slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large wide saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic and cook gently over a very low heat until softened. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, increase the heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring now and then.

3. Add the thyme to the mushrooms. Pour in the wine and cook over medium heat until reduced by two-thirds. Once reduced stir in the cream.

4. Bring to the boil. Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce has reduced by a third. Lower the heat so the mixture is simmering very gently, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, lemon juice and parsley. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the cheeses have melted.

5. While the mushroom sauce is cooking preheat the grill. Grill the polenta slices until golden-brown.

6. Transfer the grilled polenta to a warm serving dish. Pour over the mushroom sauce and serve.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Links #17

This weeks links are hilarious episode clip from the Simpsons and clips from Look Around You, a farce of 80s educational videos.

Moe's Lie Detector Test - I love this clip as poor Moe reveals what he's really getting up to when he lies about having a hot date.

Look Around You: Water

Look Around You: Iron

Look Around You: Germs

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