Sunday, December 31, 2006
2006 Movie Review
10. Good Night and Good Luck: An intelligent, stylish movie, George Clooney’s work treats the audience with respect and is a powerful affirmation of the important role of journalism. For almost its entire running time the movie never leaves an enclosed TV studio, yet the story is multi-layered, the group of characters feeling reverberations from the national political climate, impacting on their professional and personal lives.
9. Children of Men: A raw foreboding movie, which is merciless in portraying a story of humans having abandoned all hope. In the midst of seeming self-destruction a new born child struggles to survive, the odds stacked against her yet she brings with her birth the solution to every fear driven power struggle going on around her. The violence and tension halt for only a minute and the outcome is as unsettling as the novel premise and its execution.
8. Munich: Having watched this movie last February I thought I had seen the movie of the year, don’t let its placing undermine how this movie masterfully gels the tenets of a thriller, an emotional drama and a politically sensitive tragedy. Revisit this film, (the Amsterdam set assassination is a standout) it’s genuinely gripping, Spielberg never compromises on story, delivering a well-constructed movie and an ode to the victims.
7. United 93: Looking through the list it’s largely demanding viewing. United 93 though trumps all these movies for instilling sheer fear and nerve in the audience. Empire Magazines Movie of the Year it is a resoundly powerful movie. Using a cast of unknowns, the film shells the story of 9/11 to a claustrophobic, harrowing core.
6. Junebug: I have described in Part 2 a scene from ‘Junebug’ as one of the most effective of the year, it leaves the audience frustrated as to how close Amy Adams is to having her doubts quashed as to her boyfriends feelings for her. Not since ‘Secrets and Lies’ have I seen a more earnest, exposed movie with such scenes saying more in 2 minutes than pages of dialogue in other dramas. The characters are identifiable not because they are stock movie characters but because they are resoundly real and so too the story offers no easy answers and stays with you long after you leave the cinema. Such movies serve more as an insight into others lives and you don’t feel like you are watching people act.
5. The Science of Sleep: Every romantic comedy has dirt kicked in its face by this movie; finding genuine love involves letting someone into your world and finding they can live there easily and in attempting to put this struggle in story form Michael Gondry has delivered a visual treat, full of evolved characters, familiar and obscure humour and effortless performances. Other than being an informative reviewer it never occurred to me that it might be an issue this is a foreign language movie (shot partly in French), there are no limitations on how much you can enjoy this movie.
4. Superman Returns: Why should one of the string of blockbusters perceived as being unsuccessful at the box office this year be placed so high. 'Superman Returns' distinguishes itself from the others by being more artful, visually arresting and respectful than any other mainstream film this year. The most mature comic book adaptation ever made, it flips comfortably from seamless action sequences to sombre brooding. Its themes at times mean the film teeters on the fringe of melancholy, but always the film serves to reaffirm the iconography of Superman going to far as to even create allegories with Christ. Brave enough not to attempt a revisioning, Bryan Singer steeps the movie in reference and homage to the Christopher Reeve films and equally creates an innovative film, fully realising Superman’s potential and weaknesses, lifting Superman Returns out of ever merely being listed as a comic book adaptation.
3. The Departed: So rarely do you find a perfect movie, The Departed though encroached on flawless territory for the bulk of its running time. The movie encompasses a truly mature turn from DiCaprio, scenery munching from Jack Nicholson, the least stylised but best looking of Scorceses recent work, a riveting story- intrigue, cat and mouse chases and an unhealthy dash of violence. Its fuse burns out towards the end but not to the effect that it will not be included in any top 5 of the year’s best movies.
2. Pan's Labyrinth: A late and unexpected arrival on my cinema conscience, this movie is outstanding. The expectation is that the film will be the story of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type escape from her difficult new life, however the bulk of screen time is actually devoted to the upheaval in the young girls real life as it slowly descends into suffering. The fantasy scenes are only sporadic inserts but importantly they never serve as a release from the girl’s worries. Both worlds are full of danger and terrifying ordeals and images. Equal parts tragedy and thriller, it is at its heart a real world fairytale, only the girl at the story’s centre finding any solace through an escape that is all but fleeting. Beautiful and heartful.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
2006-A Year at the Movies
Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio are obvious choices for acting kudos ('The Departed') and despite creating much more interesting characters Meryl Streep is being showered with praise for her turn in the over rated ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. I would contend, Gael Garcia Bernal gave the most complex and eclectic of the year – light hearted, personable and clumsily funny in ‘The Science of Sleep’, he couldn’t have been more heartless and unnerving ripping apart the lives of all those around him in ‘The King’. Eric Bana shone, noble and conflicted in ‘Munich’ while Brandon Routh stayed off the vultures and established himself firmly as a fitting actor to play the Man of Steel. As for actresses, Abigail Breslin stole the show in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, a world away from the over-acting of Dakota Fanning. In the spirit of even-handed consideration of all genres it seems Anne Hathaway is the new rom-com name to watch. ‘Junebug’ escaped under the radar for many people but Amy Adam’s performance was flawless and truly deserved her Oscar nomination.
The 'Vertigo' Award for Best Movie Poster
'Walk the Line'
The ‘Independence Day’ Scene/Sequence of the Year Award
A scene that stuck with me is from ‘Junebug’, where Ben McKensies character, introverted and hostile throughout the film shows he truly cares for his pregnant girlfriend when he rushes to record a segment from a nature show for her. The tape doesn’t work and his temper flares up only for Amy Adams to investigate why he is so upset, he of course lashes out and she is never to know his kind motives. It seamlessly drags the audience into the story, giving us information we wish the characters could share with each other. Also, the Super Freak dance routine at the beauty pageant in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ is a wonder. The scene is a lyrical end to what is at times a patchwork film and I honest to God wanted to get up and dance with them - an absolute highlight of the year.
No high profile film this year amounted to more than the sum of their parts however there were a number of standout money shots particularly Magneto using The Golden Gate Bridge to access Alcatraz in ‘X 3: The Last Stand’. The most beautiful scene of the year has to be the burning oil wells lighting the oil-drenched desert in ‘Jarhead’. However the popcorn scene of the year though well and truly belongs to the rip-roaring space shuttle rescue in ‘Superman Returns’, thrilling, tense and immaculate to look at, the cinema and baseball stadium audience witness an overwhelming return.
As with animated movies documentaries are increasingly being considered on a par with movies, here though to keep some homogenity to my Top 10 they are considered separately. Clearly ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was the most influential movie of the year, ably focusing on key elements of climate change but other than its dramatic trailer it was lacking in production value. ‘Enron: The Smartest Men in the Room’ too was comprehensive and intelligent but ultimately did not engage. 'Dave Chappelle’s Block Party' is an outright pleasure to watch but I am giving the best documentary award to ‘Grizzly Man’. Its flaws, the clear biases of the researcher and the questions he casts over the motives and actions of its subject character intrigue and serve as a great case study in examining the purpose of documentaries as well as making sure we bring a critical mind to these films.
Steve Carrel (Voice of Hammy in ‘Over the Hedge’)
Neither eloquent nor poetic but dam funny, lines from the midst of a Star Wars/Lord of the Rings debate in 'Clerks 2':
"There's only one "Return" ok, and it ain't "of the King", it's "of the Jedi."
"Maybe we should start calling your friend 'Padme' because he loves 'Mannequin Skywalker' so much, Right? (imitating robot) Danger...danger...my name is Anakin...my shitty acting is ruining saga."
Randal Graves: [describing the Lord of the Rings Trilogy] Here's the first movie. [walks a few steps, staring blankly] Randal Graves: And here's the second movie. [walks a few steps again, pretends to trip] Hobbit Lover: He is way off, loser. Randal Graves: You ready for the third movie? [walks yet again, stops, pretends to throw the ring into the volcano. Shrugs his shoulders and turns around]
Far removed from the vampy noir of Sin City, Rosario Dawson is effortlessly gorgeous in 'Clerks 2' and was winning this award hands down until Marion Cotillard appeared like an apparition in ‘A Good Year’. Pity about the film!
Friday, December 29, 2006
Chavez showing how true democracy works
Thursday, December 28, 2006
2006-A Year at the Movies
The year saw only a slight reversal in the box-office slump which marked 2005, most obviously broken by the phenomenon that was ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest’ which broke the all-time record for an opening weekend and is the third film in history to break the billion-dollar mark. The film though it was a great adventure, let its story ramble and was not as well received as its predecessor. Otherwise, blockbuster movies barely registered as peaks on Hollywood’s heart monitor. ‘Mission Impossible III’ barely made half the profit of the inferior ‘Mission Impossible II’, the 19 year wait blunted rather than heightened anticipation of ‘Superman Returns’, ‘Snakes on a Plane’ by no means built on its pre-release publicity online while ‘Happy Feet’ pipped ‘Casino Royale’ to the post on its release. 2006 also marked the year the animated movie bubble burst, with ‘Cars’ from Pixar under-performing as well as disappointing critics and there were marked failures, particularly ‘The Ant Bully’ and ‘The Wild’.
The year has been branded that of the great performance in mediocre film. This is overly harsh and without solid basis. Impressive films emerged from left of field. Main stream cinema braved traditionally taboo topics, thankfully avoiding issue of the week type movies to bring rich stories, characters and truly cinematic experiences (‘Capote’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘Breakfast on Pluto’). Richard E. Grant and Tommy Lee Jones made directorial debuts - ‘Wah-Wah’, an autobiographical look into Grants youth was very unfocused but littered with good performances while Tommy Lee Jones, starred in and directed ‘The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada’ a truly poignant and atmospheric movie. Michael Gondry brought us the contrasting ‘Dave Chapelles Block Party’ and ‘Science of Sleep’. Oliver Stone and Spike Lee both broke from form, Stones ‘World Trade Centre’ devoid of politics and conspiracy while Lee filled ‘Inside Man’ with white middle class New Yorkers. The Wackowski brothers felt brave enough to show their faces after the Matrix sequels offering ‘V for Vendetta’ as a consolation, Nick Cave put pen to paper for ‘The Proposition’ while George Clooney acted in, directed and co-wrote the masterful ‘Good Luck and Good Night’.
A number of ‘grown-up’ movies demanded our attention this year. Five years on ‘World Trade Centre’ and ‘United 93’ braved the topic of 9/11, remaining markedly apolitical but nevertheless effective. As well as these, movies such as ‘Munich’, ‘V for Vendetta’, ‘Children of Men’, ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ and ‘Syriana’ each created resonating parallels with real world fears and political tensions with varying degrees of subtlety and style. Documentaries continue to impress, appealing to wider audiences by covering a broad fusion of topics. They informed us as much with what they told us as with what they didn’t, tackling everything from climate change (‘An Inconvenient Truth’) to conflicted characters (‘Grizzly Man’) and good old fashioned nature (‘Deep Sea-3D’). A highlight of the year, ‘A Cock and Bull Story’ used mockumentary style to great effect in putting the difficult source novel to film and ‘Borat’ of course in the midst of disgust, repulsion and humour laid claim to being a documentary.
Aside from the Palm D’Or win for ‘Wind that Shakes the Barley’ at Cannes, the Irish impact on cinema this year was low-key but solid. Stephen Rea and Sinead Cusack played key supporting roles in ‘V for Vendetta’ and Ciaran Hinds was excellent as one of the assassination team in ‘Munich’. Cillian Murphy cemented his impressive turn in ‘Batman Begins’ (2005) by seeing in the year with ‘Breakfast on Pluto’ - a film that name checked the best of Irish actors and some less obvious choices such as Gavin Friday. Colin Farrell found his way back from being tabloid fodder with subtle turns in the divisive ‘The New World’ and disappointing ‘Miami Vice’, though we still await his great performance. How many more great directors can he produce lacklustre work with?
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Sweet Chilli Smoked Salmon timbales.
This was inspired by a Darina Allen thing but I made a few changes namely the chilli.
Smoked Salmon 400g
150 ml Cream
3 Tablespoons Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
Lakeshore Whole Grain Mustard with Whiskey
White Wine Vinegar
Next take the a table spoon of the oil , 2 table spoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon mustard. I used Lakeshore and stir all together. Use this as a vinegarate when serving. Be liberal with it. Darina say serve this with thinly sliced cucumber surrounding the salmon parcel. So who am I to argue.
Serves about 6.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Herod was assigned a territorial rulership by the Romans, making him a "client king." His area covered from Gaza to Masada in southern Israel, north beyond Nazareth, and then a section east beyond the Golan Heights into what is today Syria. If Herod had not died while Jesus was still an infant, he certainly would have been a problem later because this is the very area that Christ lived and conducted His entire recorded ministry.
The House of Herod was a player in some other events in ancient history. Herod's father had given crucial help to Julius Caesar when he was down in Egypt, cut off from his supplies, and Caesar rewarded him handsomely for that. Herod himself shrewdly advised his friend Mark Antony to drop Cleopatra and make peace with Rome (advice he should have followed). And once Augustus emerged victorious from the civil wars, he was so impressed with young Herod that he allowed him to become one of his most trusted friends.
Of Jewish heritage Herod undertook substantial construction projects yet was nevertheless disliked by his subjects. He was considered a tyrant, taxed his subjects heavily and his allegiances seemed to rest with Rome. Herod is believed to have died at his Winter Palace in Jericho around 4 B.C., not very long (perhaps not more than a year) after Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus into Egypt.
Monday, December 18, 2006
For all my McFly fans
The People v Nally
Nally stated that he was demented with fear and this was the basis for his loss of control and killing of John Ward. The reason he was demented was that 9 months earlier a chainsaw had been stolen from his shed and the drawers in his house were ransacked. I would not begin to undermine how serious a violation this must have been for a man in his early 60s, living alone in south County Mayo however, Nally was not burgled again nor were there were no other burglaries in the area and neighbours testified that they were not afraid for their security. Evidence was put forward that strange cars passed through the area and 3 weeks beforehand two travellers stopped in a car to ask Nally directions. It was nothing more than long hours spent alone that drove this man to feelings of paranoia and fear- he spent most evenings in his shed, shot gun ready. He commented to Gardai after the shooting that he had felt something was going to happen and hadn’t slept at all the previous night. Neither his sister who spent the weekends with him or any of his friends were aware of or had any concern for this fear.
He shot Ward, a traveller with a string of convictions, as he saw him trying to gain entry to his house, proceeded to beat him with an ash plant giving him serious head injuries and then out of fear he would return reloaded his shotgun with 3 cartridges and proceeded to shoot him as he lay slumped or crouching on the ground.
At the original trial in Castlebar Judge Paul Carney directed the jury that any finding of not guilty would be perverse and the jury unanimously found him guilty of manslaughter. This was the basis upon which Nally’s defence team successfully sought an appeal leading to last weeks full acquittal. The jury could hardly have avoided the pre-publicity surrounding this trial yet they were still directed to adjudicate on the facts. Judge O’Higgins stated “If Mr Nally was frightened, scared, obsessed, and if he used no more force than he thought reasonable or appropriate, but more than what the objective person thought reasonable then he is guilty of manslaughter’. The first part of this test, the subjective element, could reduce murder to manslaughter, but not lead to a full acquittal. Only on the satisfaction of the second objective element, that the jury themselves believed Nally’s actions to be reasonable could he be found innocent. This is clearly what happened.
They as a sample of our society, peers of Nally, deemed that fatally shooting a man because of a break in that occurred 9 months ago, as he either crouched on the ground or was crawling away was a reasonable action. Ward was not a threat- he had been driven from Nallys home and was seriously injured. Irrespective of his criminal record, no man can be judge and executioner of anyone else. The only provocation or trigger for his loss of control (not enough to make an insanity plea) was that he found a traveller on his property.
While travellers representatives has expressed their dismay they have been markedly mute during these proceedings, representing a complete loss of confidence. Local community groups however have been outspoken, claiming this trial is a warning of the vulnerable position rural dwellers are in and legislation is needed to ensure their right to protect their property.
I am flummoxed they have the audacity to build on this verdict to turn Nally into a victim and claim that the execution and vicious beating of a father of 11 when he enters onto your property on the ground that he is a traveller should be a legislative initiative. This is a terrifying commentary on the value of life in this country.
McWilliams on the money
Thursday, December 14, 2006
15 minutes of Youtube
Bill O'Reilly responds
German Fork lift instruction video.
One of the great Irish Bands. Ash (Far better then the bloody frames) . From 1994 Uncle Pat
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed, Then one day he was shootin at some food, And up through the ground came a bubblin crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas T.
Sadly for us no one in Ireland is going to find some bubblin crude about the place so we have to make do with what we got. One of the big issues for a nation now a days is energy security. While renewables need to be a bigger part that picture we also can not ignore the benefits gas/oil supplies would give us. So we really need to maximise our resources. So how is the best way to do this. Is it the present system, or were we had, ripped off by Ray Burke and his Fianna fail Cronies.
One off the points many people make is that we should have had our own gas exploration company and that everything should be in national hands. And that does sound really good. Image all that money being put into schools, health tax cuts. It would be savage. However there is a but.
First off there is only 1 successfully operated gas operation in Ireland. That is the Kinsale Gas field (It is actually 3 locations all near each other). And it has paid in royalties about 150 million euro to date. Now the royalties from the Kinsale field are charged at about 6%. So that means that the total value of the field is to date about 2.5 Billion. Now about 121 test drillings have been made on Irish territory. Now the cost of a test drill in the Atlantic is quiet high due to the water depth (the North Sea is a lot shallower thus cheaper). It is about 20 million to drill a test hole. So that means the cost of drilling that many test holes would be 2.4 billion. Now those calculations are quiet crude really. Obviously inflation has meant that the cost of drilling has increased. But also as technology has improved the drilling is probably more efficient and thus cheaper in relation to inflation. Also some of the drilling has taken place in cheaper to drill places like shallower waters and Cavan (Seriously ) but more or less the cost would be well into the Billions. Also the value of the royalties are also effected by inflation (i.e 6% now is greater then 6% in the 80s) and indeed the current high prices of gas compared to low 80s/90s prices when Kinsale was at it’s height. So I can’t really say what the actually money spent on drilling in Irish waters is, but it probably was quiet substantial also the royalties figures do not include the value of money gained from corporation tax which was first at 50% and later at 25%. Which means we got more then 150 million.
So the calculation needs to take in a lot of different values and amounts of money. But I would wager that the actually money that it would actually require to drill 121 test holes compared to the money made from Kinsale is probably not that much different. Certainly not a country changing windfall, indeed when you throw in the value of royalties and corporation tax take and the cost for a Semi-State to develop the technology, expertise and platforms to explore that the shells of this world have, I have to wonder does the cost of Kinsale cover the cost of exploration? Remember the 121 test holes were split over many companies each with equipment and expertise. If Bord Gais was out drilling holes would we be much better off? Also would political pressure come to bear? Would people be saying “Why is there so much drilling in Mayo, my constituency should have some drilling too”
Now we also have the Corrib Gas field which is about 60% the size of Kinsale. (Kinsale is not particularly big by international standards.). Since the royalties were got rid of we will not have the equivalent income of €150 million that the Kinsale brought in. So why were royalties got rid of?
Well when the royalties (1987) were removed the oil market was quiet low. Thus lowering demand and lowering prices. In 1982 the UK removed royalties in 1986 Norway did for new fields. Denmark and Holland also did. Now these countries have far far better strike ratio’s then Ireland. So does it make sense that these countries charge no royalties and Ireland to charge royalties? Where would you invest. A place where you had a 1 in 30 chance of striking and have to pay royalties or a place where you have a one in three chance to strike and pay no royalties? That is why Ireland had to get rid of royalties in the 80s, it was a competitive environment.
Now back to the Corrib Field as of 2005 Shell has spent 500 million euro on developing the Corrib Gas field which has yet to yield any gas. But as you can say that this would produce a profit for a semi-state body as the above calculation I did was up to the present day. But what happens if we continue to drill at the same rate as we did before. With the same 1 in 30 strike rate (we have had 4 commercial strikes 3 of them off Kinsale the other Corrib hence some say we have a 1 in 50 strike rate) eventually we are going to come to the same situation where the gain vs expense is not clear. So then we come to the high taxing and high licensing idea.
In the comments of this post. William referred to the ability of companies not to pay tax as they can transfer the profit out to tax havens and Keith mentioned that extraction rights are given away for free. So I will deal with those 2 points. Firstly I don’t have knowledge of Irish tax law but maybe someone can help me why is it that they would transfer their profits in Ireland where they do not in Norway where according the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate the corporation tax and special tax, accounts for about 90% of the tax from oil? What would be different? And also from that link it can be seen that the remaining royalties (phased out this year) combined with area fees (extraction rights) account for only 4% of the tax take from oil. Indeed not only do the Norwegians allow for companies to write off costs against the corporation tax (like in Ireland) but they can also write off their area fees against the corporation tax (same link as phasing out). So going by the country that most people put up as the beacon of how to use oil money. The most money you are going to get is from Corporation tax. So why should we be different?
The main difference between the Norwegian and Irish example is that along with the corporation tax (28% in Norway with write off of area fees so similar to 25% here) you pay 50% the special tax ( they are considering halving it to encourage more exploration.) for non-marginally profitable fields (marginally profitable fields get an uplift of 30 % of investments whatever that means, to shelter from the special tax.) And the Carbon tax which is another debate for another day. That 50% is the difference between the 2 countries. So companies pay 50% to get a 10 times more probable big strike. Are put another way. Say ever field is worth 7 billion after corporation tax. In Norway you will earn 70 billion minus 35 billion special tax i.e 35 billion vs 7 billion earned in Irish waters. For the same initial investment. (Actually shallow waters in North Se amake the initial investment cheaper).
There is also the argument that we should leave it in the ground until the price rises so high that we make more money. But when the price of gas rises (and we can already see this happening) the market is going to move to renewables and the gas will stay in the ground, it is not oil it can not be used in cars (We have tried) it is replaceable. The market for gas probably will not exist in 25 years time. We might as well cash in when we can.
The Celtic tiger owes its self to competing with tax rates. We under cut other countries because it was the only thing we could offer that they could not. And it worked spectacularly. We are in the same situation right now. Drilling in Norway is like trying to find a Daniel O Donnell fan in a bingo hall, drilling in Ireland is like trying to find a Daniel O’Donnell fan at a Metalica concert. We cannot expect to get the same treatment for an inferior product. We have to under cut and that is what we do. Considering that many of the big companies Elf, Total, BP et al have left Irish Shores maybe this not the time to ask are we giving away resources to cheaply. Maybe the question is are we too dear? Because in the end of the day it is better to tax something low then tax nothing high.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
AntiSemitism in the Dail
Mr. Flanagan: I cannot for the life of me see why those men should be interned because of their views. Their views are the views of Wolfe Tone, or Pearse and of Connolly. Deputy  Dillon, a member of this House, says that this nation should be at war with England—that it should join in with her. Senator MacDermot, a member of the Oireachtas, in a broadcast from the United States some time ago said: “Shame on Ireland because she is not in the war with England, her best friend and ally.” That man was one of the Taoiseach's nominees in the Seanad. I wonder will he appear on his list for the Seanad this time? There was no Act to intern Deputy Dillon, and no order to arrest Senator MacDermot the moment he arrived here. I am surprised to see Deputy Dillon free, because if I said the things that he has said I would have been in jail long ago. The Guards in Mountrath tried to put me in jail. They had no case against me or I would be there. I want to ask that the Emergency Powers Order which prevents the division of land from taking place, be immediately lifted. The Minister for Lands wrote me some time ago to say that there was not sufficient staff in the Land Commission to deal with the division of land. How is it that there are thousands of well educated young men being forced to take the emigrant ship, not from Galway Bay or Cobh this time to take them to the greater Ireland beyond the Atlantic, but to take them from Dun Laoghaire and Rosslare to the land beyond the Irish Sea, the land of our traditional enemy, to help England in her war effort against Germany? There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair's breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are there is the honey, and where the Jews are there is the money. I do not propose to detain the House further. I propose to vote against such Orders and actions, and I am doing so on Christian principles. The Minister for Justice could not give me a straight answer a few moments ago. I am sorry that I interrupted him in the heat of the discussion. Of course, one needs great patience to listen to what is going on. I know very well that even the clergy in the Minister's constituency are up against him.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Steven Segal Cheese Cake
It is a Chocolate, Orange and Rum Cheese Cake with a Baileys Chocolate Brownie Base.
First things first the base. In essence it is the Murphys Brownie Recipe. Now that recipe makes to much for the cheese cake which you make in a 8 inch cake tin. So you can reduce the recipe by 1/3 rd. Or as I did. Just make brownies with the left overs after you have filled the cake tin to a significant level. For details of how to make it please check it out on Ice Cream Ireland.
This is what you need for the base.
250 grams Chocolate (55% cocoa content)
165 grams butter — at room temperature
3/4 tablespoons Coconut.
300 grams sugar
135 grams flour
3 each egg100 mls of Baileys
Now for the moose. You need.
1 pack of
150g of Dark Chocolate.
3 capfulls of Dark Rum ( I used Captain Morgan)
150 ml Double Cream
100mls of Squeezed (NOT CONCENTRATE)
To top this off if you really want to be fancy you could serve it on a coloured plate with some white chocolate sauce.
Tenacious D in the RDS
Warning this section contains some details of the show, so if you're going to see them in the U.K or beyond, best to skip this part
The comedy stylings of Neil Hamburger opened the show with a set of horribly un-PC jokes that were very poorly recieved and don't bear repeating here. In the end he was booed off stage, although that was likely his goal.
After a wait of 25 minutes it was time for the D, who began their set by waking up on their living room sofa. From there a Rock Opera on a biblical scale unfolded, which included the untimely death of the hard rocking amigos and their descent to the depths of hell. However even death couldn't stop the D and they quickly joined forces with some of the residents to form the greatest band in Hell; The Anti-Christ on electric guitar, Charlie Chaplin on bass and KFC's Colonel Sanders on drums. Before the show finished they even had time to duel with the Devil in a rock-off for their souls.
All the old favourites were there, Tribute, Wonderboy, Keilbasa, F**k her Gently etc. as well as much of the new album. The set also included a number of covers including Queen's Flash and The Who's Pinball Wizard. As the band came out for the encore the crowd greeted them with a rousing burst of The Irish Anthem, Ole Ole Ole, which the duo genuinely seemed to be taken aback by.
Kyle Gass and Jack Black take a bow. The greatest band in the world came to rock our socks off and they delivered just that with a properly awesome show. I loved every second of it.
Blacks in the Jacks
Sunday, December 10, 2006
As per an official website, free-running treats the urban landscape as an adult playground. It treats man-made structures as an obstacle course that participants negotiate by daring feats of graceful gymnastics. It was invented by a group of childhood friends in Lisses, near Paris - Sebastien Foucan and David Belle created what they call le parkour. The sport grew out of attempts to imitate ninja feats and is heralded as an alternative to the vices on offer to young people as part of inner-city living. Unlike other extreme activities, it has developed a philosophy. “It is not just a game,” Sebastien Foucan is quoted as saying, “it is a discipline because it is a way of facing our fears and demons that you can apply to the rest of your life.”
“Free-running is essentially cat-burglary without the larceny—and with a hefty addition of Gallic philosophising.”
[Independent, 10 Sep. 2003]
“A new urban sport which emerged from the southern suburbs of Paris, free-running uses gymnastic skills to find alarming new ways of navigating the urban landscape. It is the free-runners’ fondness for catapulting themselves at dangerous heights over anxiety-inducing distances that has brought them notoriety—initially within the confines of their mayor’s office, but more recently on an international level.”
[Guardian, 21 Aug. 2003]
I feel old and boring in that writing a post about free running is how I strive to occupy my spare time and avoid any form of delinquency.
And the Spitting Image clip that many said brought her demise
Friday, December 08, 2006
Why I Blog.
I have been blogging for over a year and a half now. And I am not sure why I still do it. I started when I lived in Barcelona. I was doing an experiment and well to cut along story short. The cavity of my ND-YAG laser was misaligned so I could not do anything. So I sat down and started my own Blog calling it the Dosing Times as I was basically dossing. Now if you type into Google the term dossing. I am second.
I worth a few posts for a few weeks and when it was time to leave Barcelona I decided to pack the blogging in. It was fun and I got only 4 or 5 readers a day. So I posted this message.
Alas my project here has come to an end. So I no longer have the easy access to keep this blog running at the speed I normally do. So with the reason for dossing gone. I am not sure if I will be posting much here anymore. But if I get to a place where I have the time and the connection to the internet the Dossing Times will rise again. If anyone wants to contribute to this Blog by the way just drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you to the contributors list. Till I write again slan go foil. simon
And that was it the end of the blogging. However 5 days later this happened. I got quoted on the BBC website. The post was about Irish Bloggers response to the IRA ending the Armed campaign it said
“The Dossing Times made a Harry Potter analogy“
The point I made was not very good but I still got the mention. I wonder if that had not been mentioned I would I still be blogging. I don’t think so. That piece in on the BBC really made me think. Maybe I am not wasting my time maybe somebody really is interested in what I say. Or maybe it just gave me an ego boost.After I finished my Masters I was unemployed. And that is a depressing time. It is all fun for the first few weeks. Getting up at 3, watching Yu Gi Oh, watching TV until late at night. Living the dream. But that feeling does not last for long. Soon you are struck by an almighty sense of uselessness. Of extreme boredom. In Nick Hornbys about a Boy. The character does not work but splits his day up in to little segments. And that is what you do. You assign your self tasks to do. Nothing major but just time slots. When watching Yi Gi Oh changes from being “ha-ha I am watching Yi Gi Oh instead of doing something” to watching Yi Gi Oh is the highlight of my afternoon depression hits.
But for me I had something to occupy my mind something that in a kind of sad way gave my days a meaning. I have the blog. I would get up in the afternoon. Switch on the computer. Listen to the radio. And find something to write about. From the merits of an A Manned European Space Program to Drinking Hours to the Duplicity of Political Correctness to the state of the Irish language Gaeilge Inniu
And this occupied my day. And slowly my readership increased I got to know people who also blogged, and who commented on my site. And the months went on job application followed job application, but the one thing that kept me sane in the long lonely afternoons was that I had a purpose in an evening to write something. Maybe I should have learned a programming language or read more books. But I didn’t.
Just encase anyone is wondering the biggest post I had was when I posted details of the Dublin riots. I got linked to by one of the top 5 world bloggers. Instapundit and got thousands of hits over a few days.
Then eventually I got a job and no longer, were my afternoons empty. I had a job and a pretty nice one at that. But still I felt the need to blog. I knew many fellow bloggers and I felt part of the community. And that is what is best about the blogosphere is the community feeling. In Ireland the community is small. Like the sin boards people like to meet the others and have various meetups and awards. (Sadly I was not short listed last year for the Blog Awards but I am hopeful for next year). But even that I had something to do with my life. I realized how much of life is sat in front of the TV. Even someone with the greatest social life in the world will spend time in front of the TV watching meaningless tripe. And I thought to myself what is the point. Not only do I get more enjoyment from blogging, But also it is a lot better use of my time then watching friends re-runs.
Back in March I set-up with another Blogger Irish Election.com. Basically the idea was that there was so many political bloggers out there that it would be good to have them all in one place. So we set this up and asked others to join. And they did and the media picked it up too and we have got the occasional mention in some of the papers. And politicians actually reply to questionnaires we send to them. It is funny feeling me just a normal Joe public getting a TD to reply. Also quiet fun getting mentioned personally in the Irish Times. And being a group it gets more hits and has people of different opinions something that is hard to find in today’s partisan world.
Now that I am back in college doing a PhD I still blog. And I now blog here on mediasoc as well. I have no illusions that I will change anything with my bogging. While I might get the occasional mention in the Irish Times or get a thousand people to read something I write I am not going to change anything. And often I wonder why I do it?
Sometimes it is because I am genuinely angry at something. Like the Department of Educations recent court case over Dyslexic students. Mary Haffin or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Oppostion. Sometimes because I feel the need to supply for my audience. (Don’t I sound like a pounce) and other times simply because it is better then watching TV.
But anyone reading this I would say 2 things. Start a blog it is easy, you get to say what you want, you get to satisfaction when someone says “great post” or “well said” you may very well get quoted in a newspaper or even your own Sunday column. The other thing is it is hard to stop. I nearly managed to chuck it in the early days save I was thwarted by the BBC now I don’t think I could. So if you are reading this contact the powers that be here, get an account and start to blog trust me you wouldn’t regret it.
Bank of America Sings U2's 'One'
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
New Zealand - A Tribute
Wellington is a gem of a city. About the size of Cork, its location on a fault line has resulted in some stunning surrounds. Everything is within walking distance in the city center. The people are great. Friendly, helpful and always up for a chat. I lost count of the number of times a conversation started over my Munster Rugby jacket. Wellington is also the safest city I've ever been to. I've never felt safer walking alone through streets at 4am as I did in Wellington. Not once in 6 months did I witness a fight. Like CK I'm a bit of a cinema fan and if there's one thing New Zealand knows how to do its cinema. Imagine watching a movie slouched in your very own Laz-E-Boy chair with all you can eat popcorn and all you can drink soft-drinks for around 15 euro. Heaven.
Like Peter Jacksons trilogy the real star however is New Zealand's countryside. It simply is Middle Earth. Stunning. New Zealanders have made a massive effort to preserve their surrounds and it puts Ireland to shame. The best way to see the countryside is by car, however in doing so you run the risk of getting nowhere fast as you'll likely be pulling over every 5 minutes to take a picture. Places like Milford Sounds, Arthurs Pass, the inter-island ferry route (indeed all of the South Island), Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Queenstown, Wellington and countless others have to be seen to be believed. If you do come here don't fly, DRIVE!
I am not now, nor have I ever been associated with the Tourism New Zealand, but please, do yourself a favour and visit this amazing country during your time on this planet.
Of course pretty much every reader of this blog, save those from Australia, will be presented with quiet a trip in order to do this and this brings me to the only complaint I have; location. New Zealand is almost as far away from Ireland as it is possible to get, before you start to come back again. Thus, I propose that we swap the two islands of New Zealand with the British land mass. The South island would fit nicely in between Ireland and France whilst the North Island would have the entire North Sea to itself. The 4 Nations as it would become, would be very difficult to win I accept, but having Queenstown a 40 mintue flight away would be worth it.
I am but a computer scientist, so I'll let Simon, a real scientist, come up with the mechanics of it. That, or come up with some type of matter transporter that cuts 26 ohours or so out of the journey.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Bethlehem is most obviously the place the Holy Family travelled to on the order of King Herod to partake in a census and where the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. The town and Church of the Nativity are therefore among the most revered holy sites of Christians around the world. The city also is significant to Jews because it is the burial place of the matriarch Rachel and the birthplace of King David. Samuel anointed David king in Bethlehem. In Hebrew, the town is Bet Lehem ("House of Bread") and, in Arabic, it is Bet Lahm ("House of Meat").
For centuries, Christian pilgrims have made the 5 mile walk from Jerusalem to Manger Square, location of the Church of the Nativity. Manger Square is the focus of activity of Christmas celebrations not once, but three times a year. In addition to the traditional Western celebration which begins on December 24, the Greek Orthodox mark their Christmas on January 6 and the Armenian observance is on January 19.
In the 1947 resolution by the United Nations General Assembly to partition Palestine, Bethlehem was included in the special international enclave of Jerusalem to be administered by the United Nations. Jordan occupied the city during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Many refugees from areas captured by Israeli forces in 1947 - 1948 came to Bethlehem. This influx of refugees changed the demography of Bethlehem considerably.
Jordan retained control of the city until 1967, when Bethlehem was captured by Israel along with the rest of the West Bank. Bethlehem was turned over to the Palestinian Authority as a result of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. Bethlehem has a population of approximately 50,000 people, with the Muslims holding a slight majority.
One of the most high profile events of recent years to occur in Bethlehem as a consequence of the Palestinian Israeli Conflict was the siege at the Church of the Nativity. On April 2, 2002 armed Palestinian Arab terrorists forced their way into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In the midst of over 200 nuns and priests, they sought refuge from Operation Defensive Shield, the Israel Defense Forces action against suicide bombing activity originating from West Bank locations. For 38 days, until May 10, 2002, the world watched as the gunmen refused to surrender their positions inside the Church. Only Israeli restraint and respect for the Christian shrine prevented the Palestinian desecration from turning into its destruction. The siege in itself serves as a microcosm for the differing version of events and conflicting stories that often emerge from so many confrontations and battles.
Bethlehem is currently surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks, with the main road to Jerusalem cut off at the border of Jerusalem's municipal area (at Rachel's Tomb). Bethlehem residents are only allowed into Jerusalem with special permits that are usually refused. Travel to other parts of the Palestinian controlled territories of the West Bank is also impeded and sometimes prevented. The city has periodically been placed under strict curfew, preventing residents from leaving their homes. Palestinians are not allowed to enter the Jewish holy site of Rachel's Tomb. Due to security concerns, Israeli citizens cannot go to Bethlehem without a permit from the Israeli military authorities.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
15 minutes of youtube
Cool Flash vid.
Dail Debate on Shannon and the CIA interesting put down of Sinn Fein by McDowell. But questions have to be asked why not check the planes.
Then again some 90s music was good. Slitskin Inside.
This video has been watched over 2 million times on You Tube how many people watch Killoscully.
New Harry Potter Teaser
2006 The Movie Year
I certainly have my favourites and there are clear contenders for a list but I have only arrived at this list after rummaging through my years viewing a number of times. Also I know there are a number of movies to be released during December which should be considered (Stranger than Fiction, Breaking and Entering among them) so maybe we might be surprised by a late entry. Otherwise I look to you Dossing Times bloggers for your impressions of the movies of 2006- has there been any great movies I’ve missed or hidden gems you’ve discovered and what have been your highlights and disappointments of the year.
Pissed Pigeon and Desert
I will do this backwards first with the Baileys Brownies basically the same recipe except as I have no Vanilla so I subbed in 2 table spoons of flacked coconut instead. Basically this is going to do me for a packed lunch for a few days (Still a student at heart) and keep my housemates from giving out to me for not cleaning the house much. But also it will do for my desert tonight. Which is going to be brownies with a few scoops of Irish Coffee with Whiskey ( I know) Ice Cream. The Brand of Ice Cream is Simply Ice Cream Homemade ice cream that I picked up in my local farmers market from a nice girl who asked me was Irish Coffee Coffee with whiskey. (I am not in Ireland so could not pick Murphy's Ice Cream).
Also I don't have a weighing scales so I used a yoghurt carton instead. Here is the conversion of what one yoghurt carton equals. From the Limerick Monetary advice agency
4oz/110g white flour
3oz/85g wholemeal flour
6oz/180g castor or granulated sugar
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
The verdict on the Baileys Brownies with Irish Coffee ice cream is well as a friend of mine would put it. Sexual Brownies
Now for my main course. Piss Pigeon. You need 1 Pigeon
2 Shots of Whiskey
3 table spoons Red Wine
1 clove of Garlic
1/2 Large Onion
First Preheat the oven to 180c
Peal and halve some potatoes, Place in a pot of water and bring to the boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Strain out the water from the pot. And rough the spuds up a bit. Put a few dolps of duck fat in a roasting tin and put into the heated oven. About 2 minutes later take the tin out. And bast the spuds in the duck fat. And put them into the ovenTake 1 shot of whiskey, a sandwich bag, the garlic (chopped), some thyme ( I used crushed don't be scared be liberal), black pepper, the pigeon. Cut across the skin of the pigeon and rub in the garlic, thyme, black pepper. Then place in the bag and pour over a shot of whiskey. Shake leave for about 15-20 minutes.
Next in a frying pan melt some butter. Once melted throw on the pigeon and brown the bird. Once browned but in the oven on the roasting tin.
De glaze the pan with some red wine and add some mushrooms onions and garlic pepper. fry until the mushrooms and onions have taken on the colour of the wine. Then add a shot of whiskey and a 2 tablespoons of honey. Cooks this through until the mushrooms look cooked. Then add a wee bit of cream and stir this up.
I am not sure how long the bird should take but about 30 minutes. Keep checking it and waiting until the juices run clear. (i.e. keep poking it with a knife until the blood is no longer red.
Once this is done and the spuds are roasted.
I have to say it was very yum. The sauce especially was yum. Whiskey is their nothing you can't do?
Saturday, December 02, 2006
McDara still in the leb
I would love to have read an Lebanese account of the troubles in the North. I think it would really show that for all the bombing and crap. In the end of the day living not flags or religion is what matters. You can see this via MacDara's take on Lebanon. Maybe some one in power there should read this. And see how all this shite fucks up a seemingly beautiful country.