Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Spirit of Romance Is ???

So I was sitting at my desk during the week, trying to finish a report, and happened to glance out my window at the street below.

There was a guy in a bizarrely-bright yellow coat and blonde curly wig walking up and down with a sign pointing to a shop further down the street. But he was also wearing a sort of sandwich-board advert style of thing, upon which was written

"Show your Valentine you love her with a ring from Cash Converters..."

I believe the community expression is


Although LOL seems, also, strangely appropriate...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A New Era...

In between other things, however, I, like a sizable percentage of the world's population, also tuned in to see what will be remembered in years to come as a pivotal moment in history, as the Kennedy inauguration was for our parents (or grandparents, depending on how young you are).

My colleagues and I struggled with the inadequacies of IE6 in an attempt to find a channel that would stream the event, before Firefox and BBC finally saved the day and we could see the man in his moment.

Many people believe that today begins a new chapter in world affairs; that things will now be better, that a capable man now sits in the most powerful office in the world.

I am one of them.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


I'm a reasonable man.

I ask for no more than I need.

I've waited patiently for over eight months for the second half of season 4 of Galactica, and avoided spoilers, trailers, commentary, etc., and it looked like everything was working out fine.

Tonight, I sat down at 2059hrs and watched the first episode.

Thrilling, shocking, poignant - words to be ascribed to the best in drama, and all of which apply here.

With five minutes remaining, my cable went out!


Tigh was talking with D'Anna on the planet surface. She was saying something about Cavil when the screen went black, and stayed that way for eight minutes! The signal came back in the middle of a commercial for Toilet Duck or something!

To quote Charlie Brown,

"Good grief!!!"

It brings me back to a time in Catholic Ireland when TV would inexplicably go out during what might be considered 'controversial' programming - call me cynical, but it happened on too regular a basis to be coincidental.


The only saving grace is that Sky will repeat the episode at least twice, but I'll probably have streamed it by then...

Saturday, 17 January 2009

I'm Conflicted...

Many of you out there will be waking up to the knowledge that the final season of Battlestar Galactica started on US TV last night.

I trust the first episode was everything you hoped for and expected.

However, like the incoming US Administration, Galactica doesn't begin here until next Tuesday, which leaves me in a dilemma - do I stream it off the web in advance, or hold out until Tuesday and watch it on my new, purpose-bought 40" LCD TV?

I have in the past been described as a 'hot-headed idiot' (Hal), 'impetuous fool' (Jonn), 'lacking in self-control' (Wally), and so on, not that I can imagine why*, but I'm determined to do this properly - so I'll be avoiding reviews and spoilers for the next three days and simply waiting.


*unless they mean that time when that planet got eaten...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Who Is Number Six?

Well, I am, as it happens, having account No. 6 at Forbidden Planet in Dublin.

I always got a kick out of the fact that most of the staff there never seemed to know my name, and that the absence of any other such store in town effectively made me a 'Prisoner'.

However, I see from the news that the original Number Six, Patrick McGoohan, has passed away at the age of 80, reportedly following a short illness.

His roles often unusual, I first saw McGoohan in Danger Man, as British agent John Drake, however I was too young to really appreciate the show and reruns have been few.

I didn't get The Prisoner at first, (but then again who did?) but grew to appreciate it through repeat viewing. There was something strangely compelling about knowing Number Six was never going to escape The Village, but you thought he might just make it in the rerun. If only he'd remembered to carry a pin...

Other roles included a shadowy double/triple(?) agent in the movie version of Alastair MacLean's Ice Station Zebra, an Emmy-winning role as Lt Columbo's quarry in the episode 'By Dawn's Early Light' (as well as three others); King Edward in Braveheart, opposite Mel Gibson, and The Warden in Escape From Alcatraz, opposite Clint Eastwood.

His characters were usually quirky, irascible or eccentric, played in a style that I cannot imagine other actors bringing to such roles.

Trivia on Wikipedia and IMDB suggests he turned down roles such as Gandalf and Dumbledore, Simon Templar and James Bond, something I never knew.

I would like to have seen him in a cameo on the remake of 'The Prisoner', perhaps even as Number Two, but sadly this will not happen.

Thus another giant leaves the stage...

Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009)

I Need A Bigger Living Room...


I hear you ask.

Well, Fred, it's like this - today I bought a 40" Samsung LCD TV (on which I'm watching Doctor Who right now), two-and-a-half times the physical size of my old telly and about €400 less than I would have paid if I hadn't travelled north to Newry, Co. Down to buy it.

There's a story there; a story of recession, of government panic, of the sudden death of the Celtic Tiger, of government short-sightedness, of people prepared to travel to do the weekly shop for half the price...

But I digress.

It's brilliant! Picture is sharp without being eye-watering, contrast is superb, pixellation on a normal digital signal is hardly noticeable, DVD playback - Ahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!!!

Pretty good.

I'm going to put in cinema seats, get a popcorn machine and charge admission.

I'll be rich beyond the dreams of avarice...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Question Of The Week...

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Answers on a postcard to the Mother Superior, Benedictine Convent, Salzburg, Austria...

Friday, 2 January 2009

Gods Bless Eva Mendes...

I just got back from seeing 'The Spirit'.

There was a matinee show at my local cinema, and I sat in an audience of about fifty people of ages ranging from 12 to about 70.

It was interesting to note that the first people to walk out were three teenagers, followed shortly afterwards (and independently) by two senior citizens. Five more people left before the end, but one returned, so given an audience of fifty that meant that eighteen per cent of the audience hated it enough to go out early into the cold.

I remained, if only out of morbid curiousity, and was never so happy to see a movie's end credits in my life. By the end of the film, I was actually able to predict the dialogue before it was spoken (and I'm good, but not that good).

But surely there were some high points? I hear you ask, your pre-booked tickets awaiting collection.

Well, yes there were, but sadly not enough. Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes were excellent as Silken Floss and Sand Saref, Ms. Mendes every bit the femme fatale of Will Eisner's vision, and who stole every scene in which she appeared.

Dan Lauria was his usual solid self as Commissioner Dolan; Louis Lombardi as the cloned henchmen added some good comic touches.

Samuel L. Jackson was, well, Samuel L. Jackson, only in funny clothes. Stana Katic, Paz Vega and Jaime King, though pleasing to the eye, were superfluous characters who didn't advance the plot in any meaningful way.

And then there's Gabriel Macht. Hero-shaped, he fit the role of The Spirit as well as could be expected.

If anything, the cast were let down by the material. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Frank Miller as a graphic novelist and artist, a medium to which I hope he'll return, but this story did credit to nobody. Where it should have been a darkly-comic noir, it opted instead for an almost camp tone, with occasional bouts of introspective flashback.

And I never knew The Spirit kept cats (a metaphor, perhaps?)...

All in all, it's not a movie I'll be seeing again, nor adding to my DVD collection.

I leave the rest to your judgement.

I'm On My Way...

I'm going to see The Spirit this afternoon.

I hope it's good.


(Note: I had planned on posting this last year, but somehow couldn't bring myself to click on "Publish"). My dad passed in...