Saturday, August 26, 2006

Yikes!

Dispite being very excited about the prospect of returning to college, I did not intentionally post that four times! I was having minor problems with Blogger, which kept telling me the post had failed to upload and eventually told me to get lost and try again in a few hours.

Three of the four have been deleted now, so that looks much cleaner.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Victory

Today I received a letter from UCC confirming that I have been accepted back into college. Yay! Now that I've gotten this, I realise just how nervous I am about the upcoming year. I really don't know what to expect, even though I've been through all of it already. I just have to work hard and pass everything this time around. Umm... brain not working. Want to write more, but can't. Later.

Friday, August 18, 2006

R.I.P. Tony Jay

Anyone that's played a few computer games or watched Disney cartoons should know his voice. Tony Jay was a great voice actor, and I got to know him mainly through his computer game work. He was the voice for Magneto in X-Men: Legends, The Elder God in the Legacy of Kain series and the narrator for World of Warcraft, to name but a few. His cartoon work includes voicing Shere Khan in the Jungle Book spin-off Tale Spin, Galactus on Fantastic Four, Sul-Van, Jor-Els father-in-law on Superman: The Animated Series, Chairface Chippendale in The Tick and Dr. Lipshitz in Rugrats. He made appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Twin Peaks and Matlock.

Even if you didn't recognise the name, you probably recognise the voice.

He passed away on August 13 at the age of 73, after failing to recover from micro surgery for a non-cancerous tumor in his lungs. May he rest in peace.

Just Wow

From America's Got Talent. Previously I'd only seen rubbish and joke acts from this show. This clip proves that not everything is bad.


Wow.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fota Wildlife Park And After

Making use of the bank holiday Monday as only a dysfuntional family unit like ours can, Claire, Bob, Sinead, Noel, Jp, Dave, Hazel, Mark and I all went to Fota for the day. Though Mark arrived seperately later, the rest of us all packed into the train and headed out at 1pm.

Once again, it was great. This is my third time there in a year, and I love it. It's just so much fun. It was a bit too crowded for my liking today, but that had to be expected.

The sun was shining, there was a cooling breeze and the animals, particularly the monkeys were in a very active mood. We even got to see the staff feeding the animals before we left. The monkeys were quiet critical of what was offered them, but the penguins were happy with everything they got. Those guys just love to show off for the cameras every time I've been there. It's insane how obvious it is that they seem to play-up to the cameras and all the attention.

After we all got home everyone hung out at our place for the evening, just chatting, playing PS2 and late even a game of StarCraft. God, I suck at that game. I got wiped in both games. Without Bobs help it would have been an instant victory for the enemy. I am so bad. But it's still a great game to play.

A great way to spend a great day. And not too expensive either. Woo! Bonus!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

London In July: Day 3 of 3

Note: The entire day is summarised at the end with just the highlights. These might get long.

Because we wanted to make the most of our last day in London, as well as get to the Eye before the queues got crazy, we were up super early on Sunday. As we'd seen the sights on Saturday, we took the underground into the centre and walked to the Eye. Claire headed of into the city to meet up with some of the Warcraft guys again while Karen, Jp and I joined the much shorter queue for the oversized Ferris wheel. We were in a pod in about 15 minutes, while the ride itself last about half an hour for just one revolution. It was great fun, if a little expensive at £13, about €20.

After the Eye the party was split again. Karen wanted to go see Camden Market while Jp and myself headed for Picadilly Square and Hamleys Toy store. We got there before noon and the store had yet to open. Two staff in pirate gear were outside with bubble guns entertaining the children, both young and old.

At noon the store opened and in we went. Starting in the basement we worked our way up through all the floors, each one having a different focus. The basement was computer games and gadgets. Four consoles were set up to play a variety of games including a PS2 with two guitars for Guitar Hero.

We avoided the Girls Toys and Preschool floors and skipped right to the Boys Toys section, including radio controlled cars and miniatures. The very top floor was entirely action figures.

After wandering the store for over an hour and a half Jp bought some stuff but I resisted the urge. By this point in the weekend I was all but broke, even owing Karen £20 already.

We texted the others and decided to all meet back at Trafalgar Square. When we got there an anti-war rally was in full swing, so we waited for Claire to show up before heading to a nearby pub for a snack. We headed back to Trafalgar Square after to meet up with Karen, who I'm sure only left Camden because she was running out of money. We sat out in the sun under Nelsons column for a while before Karen reappeared, gushing over how awesome Camden was. I would have loved to go, but there was no way we could all have done everything. Maybe next time.

Grabbing the underground back to Victoria Cross we got some food in a Japanese restaurant. It was one of those ones with the plate all moving around on the counter-top and you just grabbed what looked nice. At the end of your meal the bill was totalled based on the colours of the plates you have left! Very cool.

Next it was on to Gatwick by train and into the airport. I took a nap on the train journey and felt much better afterwards for doing so. Check-in was painless and departures was huge, filled with all kinds of store, from Boots to Dixons. Upstairs there was even a food court and a small arcade! Once our flight was eventually assigned a gate it took us about 10 minutes to walk from the main departure area to the gate itself. A very short wait and we were onboard the flight home. Once again I enjoyed a window seat, this time beside the engine. We lifted off around 9:30 and including a quick cab ride, were back in our own homes by 11ish.

While I can't speak for the rest of them, I slept like a baby that night!

In Brief:

Got up early, went to Eye, had a blast. Went to Hamleys, hung out in Trafalgar Square, got Japanese food in Victoria Cross. Took train to airport, flew home safely, slept for 10 hours straight.

Read London In July: Day 1 of 3
Read London In July: Day 2 of 3

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

London In July: Day 2 of 3

Note: The entire day is summarised at the end with just the highlights. These might get long.

Saturday started early. A quick shower to freshen up and then a beautiful walk into London's centre. We passed Buckingham Palace, through a gorgeous park, stopped to enjoy an almost pigeon-free Trafalgar Square and reached Leister Square around 12. We hung out in China town for a bit and had a snack in a delicious Japanese place called Samurai Sushi. We picked up the tickets for Avenue Q from the theatre before we split up the group a bit. Claire had organised to meet with a huge group of people she games with on World of Warcraft, so we dropped her off at the pub she was looking for before the rest of us started into a busy day.

Karen, Jp and I immediately headed in the direction of the London Eye, an attraction all of us were interested in doing, except Claire who is nervous about heights, so this was a great time to do it. Along the path to the Eye we saw a bunch of Living Statues, so we took our time. They were great to see, with some looking better than others, but all entertaining. There was a tin man that offered a cup of imaginary tea when I gave him some change and this incredible bronze looking statue that had us debating the state of his eyes. I still say they were closed and painted to look open.

We got to the Eye around 1:30 and the queue was just crazy. In fact, there was a queue to get tickets that allowed you to join the queue that was queueing to get into the queue to get on the Eye! Too complex for us, so we decided to come back early on Sunday. While walking around I saw loads of Stormbreaker posters and banners everywhere, as the Eye features in the big finale. Since then, I've really, really wanted to see the movie. Probably go see it this weekend.

With the Eye now relegated to Sunday morning, we headed off to the British Museum and spent some time educating ourselves. The central reading room was our first stop just inside the main door. It was awe-inspiring to see, and while the rest of the museum proved to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and scholars discussing the artifacts on show, this area was refreshingly peaceful. Continuing into the rest of the museum we got to see the Rosstta Stone, something I've wanted to see for years but never realised it was kept so close. Other highlights included the rather creepy mummy exhibit and a cool Japanese and Asian cultures exhibit, though the majority of the Japanese section had yet to open.

After spending a few hours in the museum our group split again. Karen continued on to the British Library to oogle some more old books while Jp and I headed to our own library, the Forbidden Planet comic store. Thankfully, we didn't spend to much in there.

Karen met us outside Forbidden Planet and the three of us headed back to China town to pick up Claire. We all got a great meal in a nearby Chinese restaurant (what else!) before going down to the Noel Coward Theatre for the show.

Avenue Q is the first show in the theatre since its refurbishment. The theatre was amazing, with comfortable seating and great air-conditioning. The lighting, sound and effects throughout the performance were great. The only thing about it was there was no legroom what-so-ever, thought that's probably mainly because we got the cheapest seats in the house! Whatever. We didn't mind, or even notice once the show started. Because we booked so far in advance we got the best seats in our section, front row, dead centre.

The show was astounding. Better than I ever could have expected. It was funnier than all heck, and the performers were simply amazing. The voices for the puppets were very close to the ones I heard months ago on the original cast recordings, even though these were a different set of performers entirely. The effects were superb and unexpected. As this was my first taste of any theatre on this scale, I was blown away by some of the pieces. The giant head of Kate Monster looming over the building was inspired and had me rolling with laughter. The TVs showing Sesame Street style animations were ingenious and a great touch.

There isn't much more I want to say about the show. I'm not going to describe any of it, as this is definitely something you have to see for yourself. It is incredible. I want to go see it again before it leaves the theatre, but I doubt I'll get the chance. I picked up a "I'm not wearing underwear today" t-shirt which has become my prized possession for a while. Ironically, I also picked up a pair of boxers that say "I can make you feel special", another Avenue Q quote.

Despite all the other cool stuff we did in London this still stands as the unparalleled highlight of the weekend. Heck, this stands as possibly the highlight of my year! I still get emotional thinking about it, especially the fact that I may never get to see it again.

After the show we just went back to the hotel and crashed. Saturday had been a busy day and we wanted to get going extra early to cram everything we could into our last day in London.

In Brief:
Walked into city centre. Claire went to meet WOW friends. Karen, Jp and me went to British Museum. Karen went on to British Library while we went to Forbidden Planet. Met up again to get food. Saw amazing, incredible, stunning and awesome Avenue Q. Collapse into bed once back in hotel.

Read London In July: Day 1 of 3
Read London In July: Day 3 of 3

London In July: Day 1 of 3

Note: The entire day is summarised at the end with just the highlights. These might get long.

Last Friday my darling Claire, my not-quiet-as-darling friend Karen and my totally-not-darling-in-any-way friend Jp and myself all went to London for the weekend. Our main goal was to see the excellent Broadway production Avenue Q, but we packed in a lot more besides.

The weekend started Friday evening with the flight from Cork to Gatwick. While the others had all recently flown and spent the trip reading I had not been flying since I was 14 or 15. Because of this I was fascinated with everything! It was such a thrill feeling the power of the engines, the sudden acceleration and the take off, as well as the landing. Claire and I were in the front row and the two stewards at the front of the plane got a kick out of seeing my face on take-off. I was like a baby! It was awesome.

We arrived in Gatwick after a 45 minute to an hour flight and got a train into Victoria Cross. Due to a mistake entirely my fault we ended up getting the underground from there further into the city only to realise that the hotel we were in was back near Victoria station. We got a taxi back to the hotel, passing the station on the way. Once we got checked in we popped out briefly for food and brought it back to the room to eat. Tired and full we collapsed into the beds, with Jp taking the sleeping bag and none of us stirred until the alarm clocks rang the next morning.

In Brief:
Flight from Cork to Gatwick was great. Got to hotel after a minor misadventure, had food and slept.

Read London In July: Day 2 of 3
Read London In July: Day 3 of 3