Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Muppet Madness

I just found a few muppet videos that are worth sharing with all of you! It seems that the Henson Company very recently (July '08) went and did a few videos featuring the muppets for YouTube! Nice.

"The Blue Danube Waltz" by Gonzo and the Perfectly Pitched Poultry
"Ode To Joy" by Beaker
"Habanera" by Swedish Chef and Beaker, with the assistance of Animal
"Stars & Stripes FOREVER!" by Sam The Eagle and Company
All of the above have a short piece with Statler and Waldorf at the end, but everyones favourite hecklers get four of their own short videos as well, including the one embedded above.

And of course, no Muppet show would be complete without some bloopers, so here's one of the best.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Seattle: Helping Me Ease Back To Ireland

Our first day in Seattle went well. Cian brought Claire and myself down into the heart of the city and through the market area. We wandered and shopped, bought more trinkets, more junk, more stuff.

But we stayed indoors as much as possible. This is because it was raining. Lots.

And lots.

And lots.

When we did decide to wander home, we got soaked. As soon as we hit the apartment, we changed clothes and made a fresh pot of tea. Just like being home.

So, in closing; thank you Seattle.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Seattle: Race For Home

We arrived late last night into the city of Seattle. Getting here was a bit of an adventure. Originally we planned on booking the train, but that turned out to be rather expensive, at $360 for the both of us. Plus, the trip was going to be 22 hours long! Not something either of us really wanted to look forward to. So we tried some alternatives. Renting a car in San Francisco and dropping it back in Seattle was going to be $360 as well, plus the cost of gas on top of that. And it would mean driving for 12 hours for Claire, again, not an ideal situation. The bus was a 20 hour journey, was cheaper, but we'd be stuck in our seat for the whole time.

And then Claire, being the genius that she is, checked out the obvious alternative.

Thanks to the simply wonderful Alaska Airlines, we flew San Francisco to Seattle in under three hours, had comfy seating, loads of leg room, free beverages and snacks, excellent staff, spectacular views and an all-round pleasant and relaxing trip north.

Leaving San Francisco was tough. Leaving San Diego was tough, but we were heading to Vegas in a Corvette, so that lessened the impact some-what! Leaving Vegas wasn't too bad. It had been fun, but we had another long drive in the Corvette to look forward to, and far more importantly, we were on our way to Karen's! But leaving San Francisco... leaving Karen and her friends that we met. Leaving a great city, packed with places we had yet to see. That was tough.

But now we're with Cian in Seattle! We have time to explore yet another new city, and have PAX to look forward to! We have a good length of time left in our Epic Holiday(TM). But we are also in the closing stretch, heading for home.

And even with six weeks here, home has come too early.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nutshell Review: Death Race

Here's the problem. Most of my regular readers, of which there are but a handful to begin with, are Irish. This movie will not be getting an Irish cinema general release. It's a straight-to-DVD-er. How do I guess as much?? Because I've seen it. It was in a tiny cinema on it's opening night because no-one else was screening it, but I've seen it. And, boy! Are you gonna be missing something special!!

The trailer has everything you need to know about this movie. Big guns, ridiculous explosions between cars, a threadbare plot (at best), and Jason Statham. That's it. Expect more, and be bitterly disappointed. Expect this, and it's awesome. Even more awesome is the trailer for yet another Statham movie right at the start! You can't get enough of that wonderful actor.

Death Race, for those who do not know, is a remake of a 1975 movie, Death Race 2000 produced by Roger Corman. The Roger Corman. Which Roger Corman?? This one. Unbelievably, he serves as producer on the remake as well!!

All that aside, Death Race is awesome. I can't stop saying that. Because it is! It just is. So much violence. So much death. So much fun.

Edit: Oh boy!! Not only do I suspect that this might have a slim chance of getting into Irish cinemas (if it shows up near you, go see it!), but I just discovered Tom Cruise was a producer as well! Tom and Roger. Nice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

San Francisco: Zombie Mob

One of the very, very cool things that was happening during our trip to San Francisco was a zombie mob. Karen asked if we were interested in going, and of course, we jumped at the chance. This is one of those things that we've heard about before, but never thought we'd get to see ourselves. Things like this don't happen in Ireland.

Unfortunately, we had no idea just how awesome it was going to be, and being cautious, when Karen asked if we wanted to dress up for it, we decided not to, instead just going along to observe. Knowing what I know now, I really wish I'd worn old clothes and duct tape.

Instead, realising how much fun this was, I started to make my own fun, and ensure I stayed in the middle of the mob. I began to film little reports using my digital camera, along with taking a bunch of photographs. These can be now found on my YouTube page and Flickr page, respectively. The videos need editing together and cleaning up somewhat, but for now, they are available raw. Better than nothing, right?

Check out EatBrains.Com for more about this extraordinary event.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Las Vegas- A Special Guest Post

Driving the Space Shuttle, by Claire Ryan
I expect the first thing I'll be asked when we get home is "What was it like to drive the Corvette?" Well, as I am ever ready to anticipate the needs of my fans, I've asked Denis to let me do a guest post all about it.

The Corvette is about 12 feet long and barely comes up to my waist. It has only two bucket seats and a small, limited space just behind that serves as the boot - this is not a vehicle for serious touring, unless you fancy doing it at 200mph and you're traveling light. It's an automatic, naturally, and has a sport mode for extra acceleration. The air conditioning and satnav are essentials in America, this being the land of blistering heat and an Escher-esque road system. Everything in this car is either adjustable or motorised, which was pretty cool; I especially liked the little switch that moved the seats forward and back. On the outside, it's yellow with a black racing stripe, has four exhausts, and looks like it's about to take off at any moment.

So - there is a single button to start the engine. Press it, and you are rewarded with a growl like a mildly annoyed Siberian tiger.

I am not kidding. Go annoy a Siberian tiger, record the sound, and compare it to a Corvette.

But what is it like to drive? The answer is simple - it's like driving a $60,000 sports car that can get from zero to sixty in the time it takes me to blow my nose. All comparisons break down. You might as well ask what it's like to drive the Space Shuttle - there's nothing like them and we don't have any in Ireland anyway. But if I must try to describe it... it's an amazingly smooth ride, more like you're flying instead of driving. In sport mode, the acceleration and response is nothing short of terrifying - I haven't tested it, but I'm sure I could make it turn on a dime. Even when you're just cruising along a street, the power of the V8 engine is scary. It feels like it's just waiting to take off like a rocket, and only your foot on the pedals are holding it back. I did not once put my foot all the way down; this car is a beast, and you do not want to just let it go.

That said, I did get up to some serious speed on the freeway - and that's when you can really appreciate the price tag of this thing. Get to sixty, seventy miles an hour and it just purrs away, but push it up over a hundred... You'll feel the big V8 suddenly shift to sixth, and be rewarded with a sudden surge of acceleration that'll carry you up to a hundred and twenty and beyond. The first time I did it was just pure gold - I remember laughing like an idiot, it was so incredible. And it roars like nothing on earth.

Having the opportunity to drive this car has been one of the best and easily the most terrifying experience of this trip. By this stage, I expect that Denis has put up that video of the first few moments of my driving the Corvette (I haven't, but it's coming- Ed.), which should give you some insight of how it feels to sit behind the wheel of such a car. The power and style of this machine is beyond anything I have ever driven; no car in Ireland will ever measure up to it, which leaves me in the unfortunate position of having to save all my pennies and possibly changing the motor laws so I can get one imported.

If you're planning to rent a vehicle in America anytime soon, go to the nearest Hertz place and just pay whatever they ask for this car. It's worth every second of pure awesomeness that you will spend behind the wheel.

San Francisco- New Post City

Well, after driving for six hours from Vegas to San Diego, then taking a combination of bus and train all the way to Oakland, we've arrived at the next leg of our journey, Oakland and San Francisco city.

We had two full days enjoying the city, as well as enjoying two days doing stuff with Karen and her friends, and I already have loads of stuff to write about. Of course, I also have more to write about from San Diego and Vegas, though most of you probably already know the big news out of Vegas. So there's so much to write, and so little time to do it.

Plus, I've been uploading photos from San Diego, which takes a lot of time. I'm still not through the SDCC sets!

More to come soon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

San Diego- Farewell

I still have lots to say about San Diego, but our time here is nearly up. I still need to blog about the zoo and SeaWorld, both of which as ace attractions, and reason enough for visiting San Diego.

But tomorrow we hire our rent-a-car and head out into the scorching desert sun, toward the jewel of the Nevada desert, Las Vegas. We'll be spending four nights sweating buckets in our hotel room by day, and then out and about on the Strip, still sweating buckets. Vegas at night is, by all accounts, no cooler than Vegas by day.

I think our hotel has free wifi as well, so we should have no problem sending mails and updating bogs. I might even get some time during the day to write the longer blogs that the zoo and SeaWorld require.

We'll see.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

San Diego- Some Observations

While walking or shopping in San Diego, Claire and I noticed a few things that Americans do differently to the Irish.

  • Pharmacies not only sell all the stuff our chemist sells, but also groceries and, wait for it... alcohol!! Seriously. A full section devoted to it. Weird!
  • You can continue driving through a red light as long as you are turning right, and the way is clear.
  • The bus and tram system is spotlessly clean! No-one litters or defaces the seats. Nice. And they are generally bang on time. Also, the tram system is called trolleys here.
  • Starbucks coffee is yummy, but their tea is not.
  • While most "Irish" pubs are hilarious, The Field on 5th Street is actually ok! It has a great "Ulster Breakfast", which consists of egg, scrambled or fried, rashers, sausage, pudding, roaster potato, Heinz beans and tomato, though I asked for no tomato. And it has ok tea as well! Not bad.
  • San Diego people love their sushi. I wish Cork people did as well, but I understand the difference between fresh caught fish in beautiful Mission Bay, and fresh caught fish in Cork harbor. Euck!
  • Toilet bowels are full of water and empty when you flush.
  • They use a weird powder called creamer in tea and coffee instead of milk far too often!!
  • They put all sorts of wierd stuff on pretzles, including mustard!!
Americans. An odd but nice bunch.

Nutshell Reviews: Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

After Mummy 2, I thought the franchise was dead. I really disliked the over-use of CGI effects, particularly during the final scenes versus the Scorpion King. I still can't understand why they didn't do an awesome fight between Brendan Fraiser and The Rock! That would have been cheaper to do than the atrocious fight we got instead.

But the trailer for the new installment, M3:TofDE, actually looked very, very interesting. It had action, humour, cool effects, a neat twist on the concept, a great cast and what appeared to be an interesting plot.

The opening 30 minutes are very boring. A good chunk of this is Rick O'Connell and the new chick playing Evey, who I really dislike, just being boring and very not funny in a "look how funny we are" kinda way. They make an awful joke at the start regarding the change in actress for Evey, and it went downhill fast from there for her. She delivered many of her lines with little flair, and seemed uncomfortable in the role. I really liked how Rachel Weisz managed to play the rough and tough, clumsy damsel, and make it enjoyable to watch. I was really hoping that this new Evie would be used as an example of how bad-ass the Emperor was and get killed. Early. On screen. With no chance for return. I would actually have preferred if Evey's character had not appeared in the movie at all, instead explaining her absence with a signing tour for her new book, or something. Her character did little in the movie to justify her presence anyway!!

But once Jet Li was brought back, things got exciting! The action kicked the movie into high gear, and it was a lot of fun. True, there were still far too many cringe-worthy, soppy moments, and it did get silly a few times. And once again, the CGI was in far too great a supply, but thus is the difficulty of bigger budgets. And the snow in the scenes in the Himalayas was terribly fake looking, particularly if anyone had to run through it, or step in it, or just interact in any way with it. It was clearly a non-sticky, non-melting, non-liquid based powdery stuff. And baddies were, while not quite immortal, ridiculously difficult to kill!

But despite all this, over-all, not a bad movie. It really was fun. I laughed out loud at a few scenes, and it was sufficiently pulp. I won't be rushing out to buy the DVD, and I might even recommend people to wait and watch it on DVD. Mummy 3: Rise of the Dragon Emperor is better than the previous movie in the trilogy, but not as good as the first one, and better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but still not as good as the trailer suggests. Pity. And there are just a few changes that could have made it much better! But that's a story for another time, as it requires talking about plot details and the finale.