Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Well folks, I'm back in Belfast after a great break in Wales. Here's some of the photos from the holiday with more to come over the next few days interspersed with exciting tales of moving house...

The Usual Suspects

We spent the first two nights in Cardiff and on Saturday afternoon we made our way to the festival in the park where we drank, ate dodgy burgers and saw the likes of De La Soul, Badly Drawn Boy and Snow Patrol.

Breacon Beacons

After being chased back to our car by a hoard of flies akin to the plague not far from the reservoir, we made for a forest park and sat above a waterfall and tucked into our lunch basket of cheese, pate, salami and other treats - all very civilised!

Reservoir Station by Talybont Reservoir

Talybont Reservoir

Lizard aka "The Crawling King Snake"

St Davids Cathedral

Chris and Eva are getting married here next year and it was great to check out the place without wedding nerves [at least on my part!]. The location is beautiful as is the cathedral and the inside is decorated with amazing ceilings and glass windows.

Inside St Davids Cathedral

Outside the Farmers Arms

Cliffs of St David

We actually swam in the sea here but the photos did not come out too well from such a distance so you will just have to take my word for it! The ocean was damn freezing though it did wake us up as we took a dip at 11am. What were we thinking?

Cliffs of St David

Carnival Day!

There's a carnival every year complete with marching band and floats with this year being very heavily decked out in Pirates of the Carribean themes. Everybody follows the procession to the local rugby field where there is stalls, rides and alcohol!

A great time was had by all with the weather remaining dry and sunny for the most part. There should be more photos to come over the next few days so I hope you all had a great week and I'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The House Is Empty & So We Go On Holiday

A week from now will be our last night at our current abode and it's strange looking at the place with nothing in it - it always makes you think how brighter and bigger dwellings can be without the confines and clutter of material goods.

So I was down on my knees scrubbing the kitchen floor, cleaning the windows, Mr Muscling the oven and hoovering all the nooks and crannies. Good excercise. More people should do it. Why hit the gym for an hour instead of paying nothing to hoover your house from top to bottom? It will benefit you and make your place look great.

Another good idea for the next few months is to keep all personal belongings in a box and if you take it out to use it then hold on to it and if not, give it away. It will certainly save whittling down a mountain of crappola for the big trip to New Zealand next year as I have it in mind to travel with but a ruck-sack of personal belongings.

Alas this will be my last post until next Wednesday when I will return to speak of all things Welsh but in the meantime I leave you in good hands.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Square Sunday: Barren Carousel Family Sideshow

This was my last Square Sunday event as I will be in South Wales next week but it was certainly one of the most memorable, not only due to the skill involved in the act itself but because I used to go to school with the man in the middle.
Behind the rouge and false moustache I recognized that it was not just Colonel Finch and his unbreakable skull but a fellow named Simon Llewellyn from my Methody days.

I had heard he had performed at the Millennium Dome on NYE 1999 and was spotted outside Castle Court peforming a few years ago so I assume he has spent the last few years putting together this trio.

The show began with some childish humour for the benefit of the front row consisting mainly of familes with young children before proceeding to something we could all enjoy. The girl in the left of the picture, Ruby Barren, performed some excellent body contortion pieces whilst the girl on the right, Tulip Barren, performed on the aerial ribbon and was equally good. Simon juggled some footballs before they all performed together either on the trapeze bar or a skit in front of the audience.

The fantastic weather certainly helped and I hope it remains dry for the last of the events on Sunday. If you have never been, I highly suggest you come down at 2pm or 4pm and check it out. It's free and well worth the effort. I am keen that Belfast City Council enhance these performances in terms of running them throughout the year and that next year is bigger and better than before.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Snakes On A Plane

Unless you have been living on a remote island for the last couple of months, you should probably have heard something about Snakes On A Plane.

Originally called 'Venom', it was turned down by over 30 Hollywood studios in 1995 and it would take a decade later until it started garnering interest after a screenwriter, Josh Friedman, blogged about it after being asked to work on the script and Samuel L Jackson was onboard after only reading the title of the movie.

"Sam Jackson's pretty sure he's doing a movie called SNAKES ON A PLANE. And if Sam Jackson thinks he's doing a movie called SNAKES ON A're doing a movie called SNAKES ON A PLANE."

We all know how the internet can turn a small thing into a phenomenon and even though the film wrapped up principal photography in September 2005, due to the overwhelming internet fan base, New Line Cinema incorporated feedback from bloggers and websites into the film. The studio ordered five days of additional re-shooting to raise the MPAA rating from a PG-13 to an R. the film any good?

Yes and No. No if you haven't been swept away by the wave of interest over the film, have not been waiting eagerly to see it for months and if you were expecting something like Executive Decision. If, however, you have been cruising websites for the latest news and information, have created your own t-shirt and know exactly what the film is about then you bet your sweet ass it's a great film. Let's read on shall we?

The film begins when Sean Jones, a free-wheeling biker witnesses the brutal murder of a prosecuter by Eddie Kim, a famous gang land leader and becomes a target of the gang. His only way out is to testify against Eddie Kim which involves a flight from Malibu to Los Angeles which is where the real fun begins.

A crate opens midway through the flight and dozens upon dozens of poisonous snakes make their way throughout the cabin killing numerous passengers along the way. The death scenes are hilarious and grotesque. The lines of dialogue are hilariously bad. The plot is hilarious and unbelievable. It has all the ingredients of an absolute stinker but the fact that it is pulled off in a rather over-the-top pseudo-serious manner just adds to fun. This is a film to drop all pretensions, sit back and enjoy the flight. After all, it's called Snakes On A Plane!

I would give this movie 4 muthaf--kin' snakes out of 5.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wet Hot American Summer

I decided to rent Wet Hot American Summer after reading this short diatribe on Collider:
"If you’ve been wondering just what David Wain’s been doing since he wrote and directed the funniest movie of 2001, Wet Hot American Summer, then you’re a real asshole."
'Damn, I better rent me this movie' I thought.

I mean, look at the poster. It screams National Lampoon yet it stars David Hyde Pierce. I thought it seemed out of place yet he did play Emperor Zombie in the funniest cartoon I've seen in a long time, The Amazing Screw-On Head.

So what's it all about? Well, as you can tell from the poster, it's a comedy set in a summer camp. Actors too old to play late teens compete with each other to get laid, barely look after the kids they're responsible for and the camp director tries to hold everything together whilst romantically involving herself with a local astro-physics professor.

Thus the stage is set for for an oddball parody comedy that is half styled towards obvious gross-out and half subtlely placed laughs. Janeane Garafalo's comic timing is cause for convulsive laughter and there is a hilarious continuous scene in an arts and crafts hall where the children console and build up the charcter of a crushed divorcée. Everywhere else is chaos with camp leaders having their own dilemma with each other and getting into and out of trouble as the last day of camp forces them into action.

I can see why some people wouldn't get this kind of humour which is a shame and while some of the humour is hit-and-miss the laughs have a great batting average and when something is funny it's always gut-busting laughter that is forced out of your lungs.
I would certainly recommend this for a group watch with some friends to perk up the evening.

This film get 4 long summers out of 5.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gamespot #45


I used to love playing Xon for the Gameboy and now it's been modified with Pac-Man. Your task is to wall off the ghosts in order to reach your target filled-in quota.

Simple but fun!

Wikipedia - Pac-Man

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Cram Before The Storm

As Lou and I near the end of our time at our current abode I have to say that I do not have any mixed feelings about leaving for pastures new. The place has served us well and was a huge leap forward from our previous dwelling with insufferable downstairs neighbours and an idiosyncratic upstairs resident. I also remember looking at several housing potentials before we found our near perfect present accomodation which varied from run-down shacks with dust, mould and built-in depression to great places that were agreed to other renters before we arrived. The drawbacks of our current residence include people using our private car-parking, a loud yapping dog courtesy of our downstairs neighbour who will be getting a call courtesy of an anonymous call to the RSPCA as I have occassionally heard said animal yelp in a manner of mistreatment and never once seen him take it for a walk. Apart from the dog which is out of our control, it has therefore been a pleasant stay with the bonus of location to work and city centre far outweighing any downsides. Neverthless, it has reached the point of natural conclusion where a change of lifestyle is welcome and there are no ill-feelings within this process. It's the perfect break-up scenario I suppose.

Another good thing to come out of the move is the process of shedding months and years or accumulated bunkum. Our key is to bring as little as possible with us this time as our next destination is New Zealand. A lot of things have been thrown out including old clothes which have been deposited at a clothes bank and an old computer desk that has passed its MFI lifespan thrown with gusto into a skip. Where possible things have been sold such as the microwave and VHS/DVD player. Still up for grabs is a 17" widescreen TV, DivX player, PS2 and drumkit, the latter probably being the hardest to sell. It will probably appear in the local ads section of the newspaper in the near future. If you're a budding drummer in the Belfast area ad reading this then now would be a good time to contact me for a bargain.

Thanks for your patronage. Have a good day and see you tomorrow.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated is Liev Schreibers directorial debut surrounding Jonathan Safran Foer, an abnormal young Jewish American who collects artifacts from his family which leads him to Ukraine in search of the woman who appears in a photograph with his grandfather and helped him escape from the Nazis when they decimated their village.

When Jonathan, played by a freaky looking Elijah Woods, arrives in Ukraine he is met by a quirky family-run tour guide involving Alex and his grandfather Safran who claims he is blind but seems to get around just fine especially with the help of his insane dog Sammy Davis Jr. Alex, who occasionally narrates the plot, has an unhealthy passion for American pop culture and wears off-kilter bling clothing and broken English which often involves hilarious but diplomatic translations between Jonathan and his cranky grandfather.

At first it seems that Jonathan is in the hands of the tour guides from hell and one can only sympthaise with him although the characters bond during their journey and their stories intertwine to a dramatic and heartfelt conclusion which is an unexpected series of twists and pulls of the heart-strings surrounding the Nazi destruction of Jonathons village during World War II.

Everything Is Illuminated is nothing like I expected and there were rich rewards to be found within the facade of a comedy adventure drama. Incidentally Schreibers parents are of German heritage, his mother German-Jewish and himself a practicing Jew was perhaps one of the key factors behind his decision to turn Jonathan Safran Foer's novel into his first movie as a director.
Jonathan Safran Foer himself travelled to Ukraine in 1999 to research his grandfathers life which turned into his debut novel so the book and indeed movie itself is semi-autobiographical for the author.

Everything is Illuminated is an outstanding film and I would give it 4 sunflowers out of 5.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Links #27

Sebben and Sebben New Employee Orientation

From the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law series on Adult Swim, here is your training film for your first day.

Wikipedia - Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law

Bill Hicks: One Night Stand

Bill Hicks' HBO special from 1991.

Wikipedia - Bill Hicks

Bear Fight

Classic John West Salmon Commercial.

Wikipedia - Salmon

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sea Bass with Puy Lentil Salsa & Mashed Black-eyed Beancakes with Ginger Onion Marmalade

Last night Colin divvied up Sea Bass with Puy Lentil Salsa & Mashed Black-eyed Beancakes with Ginger Onion Marmalade. The beancakes and ginger onion marmalade was delicious. The sea bass was good but I feel lacked a sauce such as a parsley and caper sauce to set it off. I would also pan fry the fish with a knob of butter and a little white wine rather than cook it under the grill. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable meal and everyone left a clean plate. Here's the break-down:

Sea Bass with Puy Lentil Salsa

[Serves 2]


2 sea bass fillets, each weighing 7-8 oz (200-225 g)
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ lime, cut into wedges
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the lentil salsa:

40g Puy lentils, rinsed
1 large tomato
¼ medium red onion, peeled
1 small red chilli, halved and deseeded
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
juice 1 lime
salt and freshly milled black pepper


1. Place lentils in a small saucepan with 120ml water and some salt, bringing them up to boiling point and then gently simmering for about 30 minutes until

2. While the lentils are cooking, skin the tomato, then halve it and squeeze out the seeds and chop it into small pieces.

3. Chop the onion, coriander and chilli finely and keep to the side.

4. When the lentils are cooked, empty them into a bowl and squeeze in the lime juice mixing well and leave aside.

5. To cook the sea bass, pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Line a grill tray with kitchen foil, brush the fish on both sides with oil and place them on the tray flesh-side up. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then grill for 5-6 minutes, turning halfway through until cooked through.

6. Serve straightaway with the salsa and some lime wedges to squeeze over.

Mashed Black-eyed Beancakes with Ginger Onion Marmalade

[Serves 4]


110g black-eyed beans
110g green lentils
1 bay leaf
1 level teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 2 sprigs
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 level tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
2 level tablespoons wholewheat flour
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the ginger onion marmalade:

1 rounded dessertspoon freshly grated ginger
350g onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 rosemary sprigs
225ml dry white wine
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 level tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
salt and freshly milled black pepper

1. The black-eyed beans will need soaked – this can be done by covering them with twice their volume of cold water and boiling for 10 minutes and then leaving to soak for 2 hours. The green lentils won't need soaking.

2. The marmalade is made by peeling and slicing the onions into ¼ inch rings. Then taking a medium-sized saucepan and heat the olive oil. When it's hot, add the onions and the rosemary, stir well, and toss the onions around till they're golden and tinged brown at the edges.

3. Pour in the white wine and white wine vinegar followed by the brown sugar and the grated ginger, stir and bring everything up to simmering point. Add salt and pepper, then turn the heat down to low again and let everything simmer very gently for 60-75 minutes until all the liquid has almost disappeared. Remove the rosemary, pour everything into a serving bowl and you can serve it warm.

4. To make the beancakes, once the soaking is done, take a medium-sized saucepan, add the drained beans and the lentils, then pour a pint of water, add the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme, then bring everything up to a gentle simmer and let them cook for about 40-45 minutes, by which time all the water should have been absorbed and the beans and lentils will be completely soft. If there's any liquid still left, drain them in a colander. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Now you need to mash them to a pulp and you can do this using a fork, potato masher or electric hand whisk. After that give them a really good seasoning with salt and freshly milled black pepper and put a clean tea cloth over them to stop them becoming dry.

5. Take a really large frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then heat it over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot, pepper, chilli and garlic. Sauté them all together for about 6 minutes, moving them around the pan to soften and turn golden brown at the edges.

6. Mix all the vegetables into the mashed bean and lentil mixture, add the chopped thyme and tomato paste, then dampen your hands and form the mixture into round cakes measuring approximately 2-3 inches in diameter. Then place them on a plate or a lightly oiled tray, cover with clingfilm and keep them in the refrigerator for 1 hour minimum.

7. When you're ready to serve the beancakes, coat them lightly with wholewheat flour seasoned with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When it is really hot, reduce the heat to medium and fry the beancakes in two batches for 3 minutes on each side until they're crisp and golden, adding more oil if needed.

8. Serve garnished with sprigs of watercress and the ginger onion marmalade.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006


A few of us took off to Dunfanaghy in Donegal for last weekend for some late summer antics leaving the working week behind. We left after work on Friday and arrived by sundown just in time sort outselves out in the fading light before settling down with a cold beverage.

Colin & Foot.

Keith & Ninja Foot.

As we stayed up until 3am we deserved a lie-inon Saturday and after rising in the late morning and getting our fill of pastries and bacon-wrapped sausages we set off to Portnablagh for a swim and to work off the meat-fueled brunch.

Portnablagh harbour

Surrounding scenery from Portnablagh.

The easiest way to adjust to Atlantic sea temperatures is to immerse yourself fully from a Baywatch-esque run and take the plunge. Thusly:

David Hasselhoff look-a-likes.

Brian surrenders to the momment.

After regaining our undercarriage, we returned to Dunfanaghy in time for the August Games where Keith and Brian got shown up by a bunch of children. Still, it was all in good jest and fun was had by all if you could avoid getting soaked by flying sponges and buckets of water.

Keith instructs Brian on the fine art of wheelbarrow waterbucket running.

Keith launches forward as Lady In Red looks on nonchalantly.

The dogs use this human distractment to make a clean getaway.

As the games came to a close we retired to the house to consume alcohol, play card games and prepare for our midnight beach expedition of which there are no photos.

A great weekend was had by all. You can find more pictures of the weekend here which were taken by Jenny. The above photos are courtesy of Don. Tonight is food-night so come back tomorrow to find out what sumptuous meal was laid on by Colin.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I had a hankering for a chocolate bar last week and it gave me food for thought about what my favourite chocolate bar was. According to a 2003 industry poll, the top 20 chocolate bars in the UK were:

1. Cadbury's Chocolate Milk
2. Mars
3. Galaxy
4. Kit Kat
5. Snickers
6 Malteasers
7. Milkybar
8. Twix
9. Aero
10. Cadbury Flake
11. Smarties
12. Bounty
13. Buttons
14. Milky Way
15. Cadburyland
16. Starburst
17. Bassetts & Beyond
18. Twirl
19. Crunchie
20. Yorkie

I find this list incredible, not only because it leaves out obvious delicious treats [which I will come to] but the fact that a plain chocolate milk bar is top of the list. Do people have no taste? I also hadn't a clue what a Cadburyland was but it's this which looks surprisingly like a chocolate dip with bread sticks. I also have no clue what a Bassett's & Beyond is but apparently it's two long pieces of nougat put together - one side is pink, the other side white - and sometimes has pieces of nut placed into it. Here's my interpretation of the above list:

1. Bounty
2. Milky Way
3. Snickers
4. Mars
5. Smarties
6. Malteasers
7. Crunchie
8. Aero
9. Twix
10. Flake

And my own top 10 list adding chocolate bars that deserve to be in a top 10 list:

1. Topic
2. Picnic
3. Double Decker
4. Bounty
5. Boost
6. Milky Way
7. Macaroon Bar
8. Lion Bar
9. Revels
10. Snickers

Let me know if I've left a favourite out and what your own top 5 chocolate bars are.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Gamespot #44


This is a cool Worms-based game of calibration and attack.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Warm Provencal Vegetables With Melted Goats Cheese On A Toasted Ciabatta Bread, Salmon En Croute with Potato Dauphinoise

Last night Brian made Warm Provencal Vegetables With Melted Goats Cheese On A Toasted Ciabatta Bread, Salmon En Croute WIth Potato Dauphinoise. The vegetables were delcious with melted goats cheese and I suspect could be made without the ciabatta if you're looking for a lighter starter as it was very filling on its own. The Salmon En Croute with Potato Dauphinoise was top notch and was also served with a side of vegetables. It is an extremely easy dish to prepare but looks and tastes like great. Here's the knorr-how:

Warm Provencal Vegetables with Melted Goats Cheese On A Toasted Ciabatta Bread


ciabatta bread
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 aubergine
1 courgette
Goats cheese log
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil

Marinade for the Provencal vegetables:

290ml extra virgin olive oil
100ml balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, sliced
3 sprigs of thyme
10 basil leaves


1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. preheat the oven to 160C. Using a roasting tray, line it with aluminium foil to wrap the peppers.
3. Place the peppers into the tray, season with salt and pepper and pour some olive oil over the peppers. Seal them in the foil and place into the oven for 20 minutes, turning from time to time.
4. Once cooked, remove from the tray, place into a bowl. Once cool, peel and wash off any seeds. Cut into large, but even triangles and place into the marinade.
5. Slice the courgettes and aubergines into ¼ inch thick rounds.
6. Using a hot griddle frying pan, grill the courgettes and aubergines with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook both sides and then place into the marinade with the peppers.
7. Slice the ciabatta bread into thick slices. Brush with olive oil and toast both sides until golden brown. Now top with the Provencal vegetables and slices of goats cheese.
8. Place under a moderate grill and cook until the cheese has melted.

Potato Dauphinoise


150ml cream
1 large potato, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 lemon, zest only
55g smoked cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Heat the cream in a pan until just simmering.
3. Add the potato, garlic and lemon zest.
4. Gently stir through to coat.
5. Sprinkle over the cheese and season.
6. Simmer for two minutes.
7. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
8. Serve.

Salmon En Croute


110g ready-rolled puff pastry
60g skinned salmon fillet
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 free-range egg, beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Place the salmon in the middle of the pastry sheet.
3. Mix together the capers, red pepper and mustard and pile on top of the salmon.
4. Brush the pastry around the salmon with some of the beaten egg and fold in the pastry to seal to completely encase the salmon.
5. Brush the top with the remaining beaten egg.
6. Place on a baking-sheet and place in the hot oven for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
7. Remove from the oven and serve on a warm plate.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Links #26

Can Tossers

An impressive montage of great trash can shots.

Wikipedia - Aluminium Cans

Ultimate House of Dominoes

A bunch of Japanese guys make a huge domino tract covering their entire house made of everything in their house.

Wikipedia - Dominoes

They Live: Fight Scene

In this notorious scene from the John Carpenter cult-classic film "They Live", actors Roddy Piper and Keith David fight for an alarming 5-8 minutes (depending on the version of the movie you have - this one is around 5 or 6) over a pair of sunglasses.

Wikipedia - They Live

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Lindsay & Andrew's Wedding Part II: The Journey

Thanks to EasyJet shifting our flight schedule, we awoke at the ungodly hour of 6am. I despise anyone who can rise this early and conduct themselves properly throughout the day. I am most certainly not a morning person and even waking at 8am it takes me a few hours to shift up the gears to full pelt. Thankfully the requirements of operation did not go much further than getting to the airport and making our way to Edinburgh. The flight itself only took 35 minutes afterwhich we hopped on a bus outside to take us to the city centre whereby we spent a quarter of an hour trying to locate the then very obvious bus station to take us to Glenrothes. However, since it is a small town, the frequency of buses was minimal and we made our way to neighbouring Kircaldy where we stopped for lunch in a bakery who sold a wide and mouth-watering selection of pies and pastries. MMmmm. Pie.

After hopping on a local bus to Glenrothe and jumping in a taxi to take us to our B&B we checked in and collapsed on the bed to recharge the batteries. Despite the general small size of our room it came stocked with a mini library [perhaps the quaint Scottish equivilent of the mini bar] and I read a few pages of "Great Scottish Mysteries". No points for guessing the Loch Ness Monster was right up there but there was also a section on spontaneous human combustion which perhaps occurs with more frequency in Scotland due to deep frying everything and the body overcompensates in the burning of calories.

After some R&R we made our way to Dundee to meet up with some of Lou's old mates. Our first port of call was Laing's which has a huge beer garden although we found a spot on the balcony at the top overlooking Dundee harbour inbetween two houses. We then headed to The Globe for some dinner and hooked up with more folks and sat outside in the evening sunshine. There's nothing more pleasant than sitting outside on a summers day, eating good food, drinking beer and sharing laughs. And this would be the same the next day on Lindsay and Andrew's wedding day. More of that tomorrow - have a great day and see you then.

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