Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Duke Special, Ulster Hall

Six of us booked tickets for Duke Special a few months ago and we were glad that we did because he sold out the place within weeks and I would imagine, given a larger venue, he would have sold that out as well. It's always great to see a local lad come good and last night was a joy to watch.

I caught him last year at the Empire and I didn't know any of his material but a few weeks after I quickly familiarised myself with his short but excellent back catalogue. Late last year he released a full length album 'Songs From The Deep Forest' which took a few listens to get into but now I think every song is a gem and a handful are minor masterpieces especially in a live context.

Great song after great song was played from the get-go and just when you were wondering how it could improve he pulls out the rabbit in the hat - a fabulous cover of 'Tainted Love' with Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy.

As usual he finished his double encore by moving into the crowd and getting everyone to sing 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' by Dylan.



Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oscars 2007

I watched the shortened version of the Oscars last night after spending the entire day away from the TV and internet so I wouldn't learn of the results. The short version is much more easier to take in because it lasts too long and is, frankly, boring. Abigail Breslin, the 11 year old up for best supporting actress spent the entire time squirming in her seat and I'm sure she wasn't the only one that would rather they just announce each statuette in turn and go straight to a party.

The acceptance speeches also lacked any oomph this year and, as always, the songs were awful and stage performances woeful. The shortened version did a good job of cutting out everything inbetween so I can't judge the hosts Ellen DeGeneres performance although looking at post-award articles, it was a good job.

Now on to the winners. I've listed the nominees, the winner in italics and my preferred choice with an asterisk.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Departed*
Letter from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Forest Whitaker*
Leonardo DiCaprio
Ryan Gosilng
Peter O'Toole
Will Smith

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Helen Mirren*
Penélope Cruz
Judi Dench
Meryl Streep
Kate Winslet

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Arkin
Jackie Earle Haley
Djimon Hounsou
Eddie Murphy
Mark Whalberg*

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Jennifer Hudson
Adriana Barraza
Cate Blanchett
Abigail Breslin
Rinko Kikuchi*

Best Achievement in Directing

Martin Scorsese
Clint Eastwood
Stephen Frears
Paul Greengrass
Alejandro González Iñárritu*

It was also great to see Pan's Labrynth picking up awards in Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Directionand Best Achievement in Art Direction. Another deserved winner was Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth which was referred to by other winners of category's in relation to the feature.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz is the second film by writers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the first being the hilarious 'zom-com' Shaun of the Dead.

The premise of Hot Fuzz is that Nicholas Angel, the London Met's finest officer, is moved to the sleepy town of Sandford because he's making the other cops look bad. However, under the belly facade of quiet country life is murder, plot and intrigue which doesn't go un-noticed by Angel, whose hard-hitting London Met attitude and by-the-book persona doesn't go down well with his new squad.

The style of Hot Fuzz is different to Shaun and welcomes the return of camera shots and sequences last seen in Spaced. The laughs are also more in your face and expletive-ridden and action-sequences are lifted straight from 80's and 90's blockbusters with, at time obvious, references to certain flicks - namely Point Break and Bad Boys 2.

Despite the plot being formulaic in terms of the action genre, it's tongue and cheek style and intended comedy, poking fun at itself makes the film highly watchable and enjoyable. It is full of well-known English actors popping up throughout without detracting from the substance. In all, it is a very well written action-comedy set in a quiet English town that doesn't take itself seriously and has many laugh-out-loud moments. I recommend catching it in the cinema.

I would give this film 8.7 detective moustaches out of 10.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Something New To Look At

As promised here's some pictures from the rooftop of our new premises. Notice the typical Belfast skyline of dull, grey skies with the possibility of continual drizzle.

Here's the view from the balcony looking down. Notice the drug deal going down.

Here's the view looking right:

And the view to the left:

And finally some feedback we recieved from an induction session we ran recently. I found this feedback funny for some reason:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gamespot #57

KGB Hunter

You may remember an early 1980's game called SpyHunter.

The object of the game is to travel the freeways and hunt down and destroy as many enemy vehicles as possible, while protecting and not harming innocent civilian vehicles.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Can Two Wrongs Make it Marmite?

We seemed to catch a glimpse of summer yesterday before winter pulled the sheets from us and brought us back into the wet, dullness of pre-spring.

We made the most of our newly aquired roof terrace and spent a serene and welcome coffee break sitting against the sun-soaked wall getting some much needed and sorely missed Vitamin D. Interesting fact that only ten minutes of daily exposure to sun supplies the body with our the RDA of Vitamin D that we need.

However, it was difficult to catch any sunshine on the way home yesterday because a) it was dark and b) Lou and I were trapped in the car coming back from the gym because some guy got ran over by a bus causing thousands of cars to seek alternative routes which back-logged urban routes coming in and out of the city centre for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. We were in gridlock for 30 minutes which allowed me to get out of the car, cross the road, pick up groceries and get back into the car 10 feet down the road. The inquest as to why this happened and the ensuing chaos should prove interesting.

Another distasteful event, at least in culinary terms, puts two items that many, myself not included, find entirely disagreeable. Limited edition Guinness Marmite!

I can literally see some of you screwing your face at such a mix but I firmly intend to purchase it and try it out.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Last King of Scotland

The Last King of Scotland is very loosely based on Idi Amin's reign of terror over Uganda focusing on the relationship of his personal doctor, who Amin turns to for advice on current events that are unfolding due to his increasingly militant and erratic behaviour and it's deadly consequences.

Dr. Nicholas Garrigan's character, played by James McAvoy, is also very loosely based on Amin's English-born associate Bob Astles. He initially comes to Uganda to work in a small rural hospital but after Amin visits the town and requires medical attention, he makes such an impression that he is lured into becoming Amin's personal physician and is slowly up to his eyes in Amin's world of moral corruption and with blood on his hands.

Whilst the film is intriguing and excellently acted by both McAvoy and Forest Whitaker [Amin], it lacks the wider picture of what happened in Uganda with the death of 300,000 people being a footnote at the end of the movie, which is also a horribly Holywood ending to boot. Indeed, the book differes hugely from the film and even the director, Kevin McDonald, disuaded the actors from reading it because of this fact.

It would be interesting to see a more direct translation of the book or indeed a documentary on the genocide itself rather than a watered down version of a truly horrific real-life event. Nevertheless, it is an entirely watchable film which will hopefully pave the way for a more ground-based and true-to-life adaptation of Amin's reign or provide impetus for viewers to find out more for themselves.

I would give this film 6.4 despot rulers out of 10

Find out more about Idi Amin here.


Monday, February 19, 2007

You Are The Bear In Your Own Cave

I was looking forward to the weekend like an Yukon bear-trapper's annual trip to the brothel. Following a turbulent few days half-settling into the new premises, the floor my desk now occupies still requires a bit of work and I have not settled into the new guise of an open-plan working environment.

My journey into work has also changed with a jaunt along the banks of the river Lagan now featured in the final stretch which has provided scenery for the eyes which walking through the concrete jungle of May Street cannot provide - although one may argue of the beauty that is the river Lagan especially during the grey mornings of February.

There's a snugness about walking along in dull blustery day with your hood wrapped around your head. It's like being in a small cave and looking out with a feeling of secureness. It's almost like retreating to the warm confines of the bed that you left not more than an hour before and the journey becomes an automation of the body with a slight detachment from the mind because it has still to fully awake.

I'm off to give my system a jolt with a lethal dose of caffine. Catch you tomorrow for more musings and ramblings.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gamespot #56

Something Amiss

A really beautiful looking point and click escape game.

Hold the left mouse button pressed over an object to interact with it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


One has to wonder that if 20th Century Fox gave Mike Judge the opportunity to finish Idiocracy, it could have been a great comedy instead of a film so full of potential hilarity. Of course this isn't the first time that Fox has fiddled with one of his films. Office Space grossed a tiny $10 million at the domestic box office but several years later it was a comedy classic for anyone who's ever put in serious time in an office.

This time around the studio has once again done nothing to promote his movie. There were no posters or trailers released to theatres, television, or even press kits for media outlets provided. This has led to speculation in some quarters that 20th Century Fox may be actively trying to keep the film from being seen by a large audience, while fulfilling a contractual obligation to release the film in theaters before releasing it on DVD.

Luke Wilson plays Private Joe Bauers, an amazingly average man, who is used as a guinea pig for a secret military project to place him in hibernation for one year alongside prostitute named Rita. However, the man in charge of the project is arrested and the containers are carted off to a rubbish dump and left forgotten for 500 years. By this time, stupid people have outbred the intelligent population and IQ levels are at an all time low. Mankind is in a sorry state of disrepair. Can this average joe save the world before it totally destroys itself?

In watching Idiocracy, you can see that there are great ideas that fail to manifest into effective satire and much of the comedy is overlooked as the film progresses. This is a real shame but that does not make the film unwatchable. However, there is none of the quotable dialogue that is found in Office Space, nor a fondness for any characters which makes a second viewing unesscessary and a shame for Judge.

Worth renting if there aren't any other goof-ball comedies on the rental shelf.

I would give this film 5.6 IQ out of 10


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

For Your Consideration

I'm a big fan of Christopher Guest films and over the years I've laughed out loud numerous times to his lines of dialogue, many of which are quotes taken from the now classic mockumentary of This Is Spinal Tap. Over the last few years, he's made more of my favourite comedies such as A Mighty Wind and Best In Show. So I was looking forward with much anticipation to watching his latest output, For Your Consideration, based upon a small independent film that ruffles its cast when the Holywood rumour mill starts taking about one of them winning an Oscar.

However, I have the unenviable task of stating that this latest film, from my perspective, was totally unwatchable in that it was devoid of any of the usual quirkiness and sliding-off-the-couch funniness of Guest's previous films. I could only stomach about 30 minutes of it before could bear no more.

The reason for this, perhaps, is that For Your Consideration is not a mockumentary as such but a more straight-laced film which lays out the pitfalls and behind-the-scenes look at how movies can be made in Holywood. We see how the writers are forced to change their story, how the director loses vision of the project and how the actors turn on each other when they smell the whiff of a statue. But the problem with all of this is that it is just not funny because it is clearly not meant to be taken seriously and therefore creates a small window for itself to work properly and I am sorry to say, it does not.

If you are a fan of Guest's work, this is one to avoid. If you enjoyed Spinal Tap but have been unaware of his other films mentioned, go and rent those. Sadly this is one film that deserves only to win a Razzie.

I would give this film 1.5 knobs that go to 11.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Green Chicken Curry

I made this some time ago but never got around to posting the recipe. It's a delicious spicy chicken curry which is ideal for warming the cockles on a winter evening. Enjoy.


[Serves 4]

1 tbsp vegetable/groundnut oil
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
2-3 tbsp green curry paste
400ml coconut milk
150ml chicken stock
4 kaffir lime leaves
4 skinned boned chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp thai soy sauce
Grated rind of 1/2 lime
1 tsp of soft brown sugar
4 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped to garnish


Heat the oil in a wok and add the onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add the curry paste and stir for a further 1-2 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, chicken stock and lime leaves and bring to the boil and add the chicken and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is tender.

Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, lime rind and its juice and the sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes and serve immediately with rice and garnish with the coriander.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Tenacious D in The Pick Of Destiny

I doubt many people would have believed that a film about Tenacious D would ever have been made. Then again, not many people think highly of comical rock music. However, Tenacious D holds a special place in people's hearts which elevates the band from the level of which the music stands. Also, their music does, in a way, kick ass. Who doesn't love 'Tribute', 'Wonderboy' or the hilarious balladry of 'F**k Her Gently'? No? Well, I feel sorry for you!

In many other ways, a film about Tenacious D isn't all that unlikely considering that they had a short series before they even recorded an album and the material in that series comprises most of the album itself. The series itself is rather amusing considering its low budget but what makes it work is the continuing theme of Jack Black and Kyle Gass believing they are the greatest band in the world and the material nature of the songs which, thanks to Gass's ability to actually play combined with Black's theatrical vocals and unique sound, make Tenacious D worth listening to.

Sadly the film itself doesn't work too well when extended to a long format. Although in its six short episodes, the mini-series manages to keep you coming back, stretching that same format to 90 minutes doesn't do the 'D' any favours.

As you might have guessed, they are on a search for the pick of destiny which will bestow upon them magical capabilities to propel themselves into the rock arena and live the lifestyle that such a career extends to rock and roll stars.

The film starts promisingly with a hilarious flashback of a young Black rocking out to his unamused family eating dinner whereby his Dad, played by Meatloaf, drags his son upstairs for a sound spanking and a berating about the evils of rock music. However, what lets the film down is that each scene after is more ridiculous than the last and by the time we reach the climax, I was clock-watching every five minutes. The ending itself was poorly executed and sloppy and I felt totally cheated as a viewer.

If you're not a fan of Tenacious D, don't see this film. If you are, prepare to be let down.

I would give this film 4.7 cock push-ups out of 10.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

On The Move

Adventures In Sigh-Fi will be taking a temporary sojourn over the next week or so as we are currently moving premises in work and I will be unable to update the site every day although I will try updating the site at home so keep checking for new material!

In the meantime, please make use of the new site layout and amuse yourself with old links!

See you shortly for a full update with pictures!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Injuries & Ice

The last weekend saw the start of the 6 Nations rugby tournament and Ireland got off to a good start by beating Wales 19-9. We are currently 4th in the world and as part of the group, only France is higher. However, England seem to be back on form which is a worry and Johnny Wilkinson's kicking helped destroy Scotland 42-20 on Saturday. Even more troubling is Ireland's captain Brian O'Driscoll injuring his hamstring on Sundays match putting his position in doubt against the next match against, of all countries, France.

Injury has also struck against Northern Ireland's football star forward David Healy putting him out of tonights friendly against Wales. However, it should prove interesting how the team cope without him, especially in a friendly match which, according to reports, the team are taking seriously - which the should anyway - right?

The team will have to warm up before the game tonight as we see another day with temperatures sinking below freezing. It fell to -3C last night and the fire was a welcome joy in the living room. The icy conditions made the walk into work memorable as various characters shuffle-walked along the pavement avoiding the worst parts. For some this is an excuse to work on new forms of slow dance routines and pivot turns and I wonder how many extra injuries have been caused by kids using their wheelie shoes. I myself performed a half pirouette turning around the corner of St Georges market and luckily no-one was around to see.

I'll be back tomorrow with more goings-on and the result of tonights game. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Decemberists, Vicar Street, Dublin

“The world faces no shortage of hyper-literate American songwriters fashioning their book-learnin’ into ambitious, whimsical folk-pop, but few can spin a yarn or hone a melody as persuasively as the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy.”

And so we headed down south this weekend to catch the fantastic Decemberists. Originally scheduled to play a smaller venue, the band was shunted to the larger Vicar Street venue.

By the time we arrived the place was packed in like sardines and after a quirky announcement, the band took to the stage - perfect timing!

They launched straight into 'Crane Wife pt. III' from the similarly named latest album and the crowd behind them except for a few which falls under the banner of Pet-hates, subsection 'Live gigs', #1: 'People who pay to see a band but spend the whole time talking to their friends beside them and annoying the hell out of everyone else'.

Tried as we might, we couldn't push forward through the tight crowd and ended up halfway down on the right side as the band continued into 'We Both Go Down Together'.

It was a great gig despite the back-breaking position where we were standing which was also the thoroughfare for the bar and the rude expectation of people expecting you to somehow move out of the way when there was clearly nowhere to move. A larger venue would have been great.

Frontman Colin Meloy didn't say much to the crowd throughout the gig although at the end he managed to split the crowd into 3 sections to power into the chorus of several songs - the balcony faring worse and getting boo-ed by the rest of us!

In retrospect, it was an enjoyable gig which could have been truly memorable if we could have wormed closer to the front but I would certainly venture down to see them again despite their being an audience in Belfast to easily fill several venues.

Here's some more videos of the gig.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Links #31

Tom & Jerry - Heavenly Puss

Classic episode of Tom & Jerry.

Can Tom save himself from a life in hell?

Wikipedia - Tom & Jerry

Sealab 2021 - Stimutacs

Hilarious episode of Sealab 2021 when Captain Murphy starts using steroids.

"I have the strength of a bear that has the strength of two bears."

Wikipedia - Sealab 2021

Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Mayhem of the Mooninites

Brilliant episode of ATHF from the show that recently brought Boston to a standstill in the form of hoax bombs.

Wikipedia - Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Gamespot #55

Magical Kicks

I know. Football. But what an addictive game. I had this on in the background for hours.

Choose height level, direction, bend and measure against the wind.


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