Monday, September 24, 2007

The End Of The Working Week

Today signifies my last working week before heading to New Zealand and it feels pretty good. I'm looking forward to sleeping in and eating brunch and packing my suitcases and lounging around reading, watching TV/Films and playing computer games. That is the life my friends.

The weekend got off to a bad start as Ireland put on another terrible performance against the hosts France and now face an uphill struggle and will require every ounce of luck to scrape through - only to play the All Blacks. This means that Ireland need to win and deny the Argentina a bonus point and France need to win with the bonus against the Georgians in Marseille next weekend. A betting man wouldn't put any odds on either so it looks like we're back to hard reality and the majority of a team that is unlikely to see another World Cup.

We phoned for a taxi before the game finished as it was only rubbing salt into the wound and made our way to Jenny's house for a wine and wig party. The photographs can be found here.

On Saturday, Lou and I had a great evening at Sinéad and Tony's house in Downpatrick and talked into the night over several bottles of wine and we'll certainly miss nights like these when we leave.

Sunday was a day of recovery and was largely spent reading a new book by writer/director David Mamet entitled "Bambi vs Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business" which is an insightful look into the inner workings of Hollywood. It's an enjoyable book and is refreshing as much as it is honest and scathing. If you're into films, it's worth picking up.

I'll try to make a few more posts throughout the week and will finish my random warblings before this blog turns into a tour guide of New Zealand. Hope you had a great weekend and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Looking Glass

I missed these views from my bedroom window when I moved out and I will miss them when I leave for New Zealand. It's a fantastic panoramic view and you can pick out everything in the city skyline. However, for some reason I neglected to take a picture straight in front so you can only see to the right and left which leaves out the City Centre and the new addition of the Victoria Centre with its dome. I shall try to rectify this should I get a suitable weather permitting day in the near future.

This is the view to the right and you can clearly see the dockland area with the two most significant pieces of Belfast skyline - Samson and Goliath with Cavehill in the background.

This is the view to the left and you can see all of south Belfast including City Hospital.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tries & Tribulations

You'll have noticed a slight drop-off in postings curiously mirroring the beginning of the rugby world cup and my decision not to bore you with details of tries, conversions, sin binning and sendings off.

If you're following the competition you'll know that Ireland's performances have been lackluster - and that's being too kind. Near wins over second-rate teams and failing to secure a bonus point against Georgia on Saturday put them in a precarious position when we come to play France on Friday since the home nation showed us how one plays such a side (beating them 87-10 last night).

Our soon to be country of residence, New Zealand, has been showing the world just how elevated their side is with comfortable thrashing of smaller teams and it is difficult to see how they would fail to reach the final stages unless they have a complete turnaround which looks very unlikely.

In other news, the folks have returned from holiday and Sunday was a day for readjusting to life in the house with lunch at odd times (3pm) and retreating to my bedroom for rest and relaxation, pouring over the Sunday papers and playing the DS.

This is Lou's last week in work which must feel great for her and I look forward to my last week next Monday and begin the gradual wind-down before the great adventure begins. Already I have been noting that certain things are being done for the last time and I think it will only hit on the last day when I tidy my desk and remove my personality in physical form before I leave in both body and mind.

I should warn you that I may not make as many postings over the next few weeks but I will be making a journal on my travels around New Zealand which will make its way here accompanied by many pictures which I hope will prove interesting for everyone.

I trust you had a great weekend whatever you got up to. Let me know if you did anything exciting and I will catch you tomorrow for some pictures I took of Belfast from my bedroom window as there has been a fair change to the landscape of the city since I last spent time enjoying the view.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September Summer

Monday, September 10, 2007

Deforesting For Nature

Friday was a perfect start to the weekend as all staff were out of the office to volunteer at Colin Glen Forest Park. I had no idea where the place was to begin with and was surprised how big it was.

After a quick cup of coffee at a briefing session, we made a pleasant half-mile walk to an area of young woodland that required forest management in the form of clearing certain trees to allow sunshine to reach the floor to allow natural growth to take place.

I was a deft hand at cutting down trees and a dozen or so fell to the ground ready to be piled up and re-used. Those of the right size were dug up to be replanted later in a nursery.

As we made our way back to the centre for lunch, the sun came out in grand style and filtered through the branches in streams giving the forest that mystical glow.

After a decent lunch and a good rest we made our way to the back of the centre to weed the plots and replant the trees we had dug up. It was hard but satisfying work especially when you could see the fruits of labour and knew that it was important work on a small scale.

It was still a glorious afternoon at this point and a group of returned to Yvonne's house for refreshments. We all sat outside in the blazing sunshine, enjoyed a few well deserved glasses of wine and talked until it was time to go. If only every Friday was like this it would be the prefect end to the working week.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


1408 is based on a short story by Stephen King written as the twelfth story in the collection 'Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales'. It's also the number of King's short stories that have been turned into a movie. Not really, but I imagine it's pretty high. There have been many great adaptations over the years: Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, The Shining etc. Unfortunately, there have been more horrible interpretations and 1408 is certainly one of them.

John Cusack plays Mike Enslin, who writes non-fiction works based on haunted places and ghostly occurrences. However, as it becomes quickly apparent that he does not believe in anything paranormal and his career is not driven by his personal beliefs.

As part of his research for his next book, Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Hotel Rooms, he decides to spend a night in room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York, which has been responsible for 12 suicides and 30 natural deaths over a span of 68 years.

Samuel L Jackson plays a small role as the hotel manager who explains the grisly details to him and attempts in vain to dissuade Enslin from spending a night in the room.

As you may imagine, once inside the room, strange things begin to occur which makes Enslin re-evaluate his preconceived notions about spirits and eventually things take a turn for the worse.

Although there are minor interesting twists on the take of the evil room, 1408 is not scary and gradually bored me up to a plot point in the film which downright irritated me.

Worth a watch if it's on TV but otherwise avoid.

I would give this film 3.7 false endings out of 10.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Half Light

Half Life stars Demi Moore and is written and directed by Craig Rosenberg who will, as is the norm these days, be releasing a remake of the excellent Korean horror film Janghwa, Hongryeon or A Tale of Two Sisters, which will be released in 2008.

Half Life itself seems like a remake, not of one particular film but a collection of horror films pieced together to make something new but unfortunately it spends its time retreading familiar territory.

Demi Moore plays Rachel Carlson, a best selling novelist and is married to her editor and husband Brian who is also a struggling writer envious of his wifes success who believes their roles should be reversed.
Their marriage seems to be walking through the motions but the central plotline is Rachel's young son from a previous partner who drowns after being neglected by Rachel in her attempt to finish a chapter and, eight months later with a book deadline looming and an overwhelming sense of guilt, she decides to move to a remote Scottish cabin to clear her head and finish the novel she was writing before tragedy struck.

It is here that she finds herself unable to shake the past and is seemingly haunted by the ghost of her dead son. Luckily she finds solace in a lighthouse keeper on a trip to research the island for her novel but is it all too good to be true?

That is not the question you'll be asking yourself however, as you'll be able to guess what's around the corner before it happens. The real question will be how long until the film is over.

It's probably not the worst horror film you've ever seen and you could do a lot worse believe me but if you like to watch horror films late at night, you'll struggle to stay awake. My recommendation is to watch Janghwa, Hongryeon, then try and sleep.

This film gets 4.2 double nightmare sequences out of 10


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Don's Birthday

Here's some pictures from Saturday night where a group of us went out to Indie Spice for Don's birthday. We were last here in March for Keith's birthday and had a great meal so decided to return.

The food was fine and the wine was flowing and complementary Baileys were handed out at the end of the meal. The conversation was great and it's a shame we weren't at a round table so we could all talk to everyone but there would be plenty of time for that later.

After settling the bill, we made our way across the road for some beers before heading back for a house party where a good night was had by all!

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum is the most eagerly anticipated closing trilogy I've been aching to see since The Return of the King. Whilst the Lord of the Rings suffered a finish with multiple endings in an effort to tie up loose ends, there was talk of the Bourne films finishing with an open ending to create a possibility for an unnecessary fourth film. However, not only are all the loose ends tied up but what you are left with is an awesome action film that never lets up from start to finish and a very satisfying conclusion that craves a place in your DVD collection for consistent rewatching.

At the end of The Bourne Supremacy, we left Matt Damon in Moscow following a jaw-dropping car chase sequence in order to apologise to Neski's daughter for killing her parents. In keeping with realistic-style continuation, Bourne is still suffering from an injured leg sustained from jumping off a bridge onto a moving boat. This is great aspect to the Bourne films in that although there is the obvious Action-Man heroics in that Matt Damon finds himself in situations that most hardened soldiers would be clearly dead, it is more grounded in reality so that when he does get injured, it lasts a more believable amount of time than other films of similar nature.

In the final part to the trilogy, Bourne travels to more countries than an episode of Holiday Destinations in pursuit of the truth behind who he is and why they wont leave him alone. A new unit is searching for Bourne and Pamela Landy reprises her role as CIA agent assigned to track him down. As usual, there is more going on in the CIA than meets the eye and the back story to the trilogy would make a neat film in itself which keeps the pace of the film in between the action perfectly balanced.

Each film for me tends to have a particular stand out action sequence and there is one filmed in Tangiers which will have you dropping your jaw for a full twenty minutes. However, the action throughout the film is first class and Greengrass' use of handheld cameras would have you believe that you are a fly on the wall lucky not to be kicked in the gut or have debris flying into your face.

If you have not seen any of the Bourne films, go and rent them or order them on the internet right now. You won't regret it.

I would give this film 9.4 out of 10.


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