Sunday, November 26, 2006

China Sichuan

We went out for a meal with Padraig and Mary last night. We went to the China Sichuan restaurant in Stillorgan, one of our favourite places to eat out. There is always a great buzz there, the food is delicious, service is good, and it's close to home. Last night, I had a tofu and sweetcorn soup (just like chicken and sweetcorn, with tofu instead), squid shreds (cooked to perfection - soft and chewy, not rubbery), and salt-and-pepper prawns - a very simple dish, with no sauce, but the taste of it is just right for me. And then, I had to have my banana fritter with ice-cream. I had been looking forward to it even before looking at the menu, and it didn't disappoint.

I had to rush eating my dessert a bit, as we felt we had to free the table (though there was nobody that seemed to be waiting for it at that point, and there was no pressure from the staff). We had been a bit slow at the start of the meal - we were chatting away, with our menus open. It wasn't until we all closed our menus that the waiter came to our table to take our orders. This is one to remember - if you want to get quick service, close your menus over as soon as you've decided what you're going to order!

There is a rumour that they will be relocating to new premises. A website says this will happen in late autumn 2006 - well, that's come and gone and they are still in Stillorgan. Mary had heard that they were moving to Sandyford. She asked the son of the owners, who replied that she knew more than he did, to which he added "Let me put it this way: by this time next year, we won't be here anymore" (or something to that effect - I would make a terrible witness in court - I can never remember what people said).

By the way, we were not sure when the China Sichuan first opened. Brendan, Mary and Padraig thought it was between 1982 and 1985 that they first ate there. The website I looked at says 1986, but it's the same website that got the date of their move wrong, so we're none the wiser.

We had a drink in the Mill House before and after the meal. It's amazing how quiet it was, for a Saturday night. We got seats no problem, there were several tables to choose from. Quite a different scene from pubs in Ireland 10 years ago, or even just 5 years ago!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mark

.... a few days late! We were working non-stop this week, so I forgot to publish a post on your birthday. I know that's no excuse!

At least, I did make sure that your godfather rang you on the day to wish you a happy birthday!

I hope you have a great party today with all your friends!

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Prestige

I've been to the pictures a lot lately! The simple reason is that there are a lot of good movies out at the moment. Mind you, I don't seem to have time for much else these days. I'm working on my Christmas cards, but progress has been very slow. I'll have to start moving faster if I want to send my cards in time!

On Sunday night, we went to Dundrum Movies to see "The Prestige", a movie about the obsessive rivalry between 2 magicians at the turn of the century in Victorian England. I have to say it's nice to see how well that cinema is doing. It's great for us to be able to walk down, though the weather was so bad on Sunday evening that we decided to drive instead.

I really enjoyed the movie, despite a gang of 14-year-old boys who were chatting the whole time. It's the kind of movie where you need to pay attention or you feel you'll miss something essential. Mind you, I had guessed "the trick" before it was all revealed, so it wasn't so hard really (I'm one of these people who is generally the last to figure out the twist in movies !) . From the reviews I had read, I was expecting something much more complex and subtle.

A bit of trivia: David Bowie makes an appearance in the movie, as Nikola Tesla, an inventor who was competing with Edison in his research on electric current.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Little Children

If you're looking for a movie to cheer you up, Little Children is not the one to go to. But if you want a movie that will keep playing in your head for days, then this is a good one to try.

I found it really bleak and chilling and disturbing, and I have very mixed emotions about the various characters. I had read in a review that it was a comedy - it isn't! There are some funny bits in it and there is a satirical voice-over commentary, but it's a story about a small American town, one hot summer (and you can almost feel the oppressive dead heat), where a bored housewife and a bored househusband are having an affair, while the town goes into panic mode when a convicted paedophile comes home after 2 years in jail for indecent exposure. Definitely not a comedy! There is a reference to Madame Bovary in the movie, and it's a very good parallel - the feeling of boredom and oppression with their lives, and the desperate, futile, attempt to break away from it, did remind me of Madame Bovary.

Kate Winslet is one of the main characters in it and she is wonderful in her role, so absorbed in herself and how miserable she is with her life that she doesn't see her daughter, who is longing for her love and affection. Very different from the Kate Winslet in Titanic! I love it that she does such offbeat movies. I loved her in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I'm finding it hard to describe this movie, but I would highly recommend it. Just don't go on a day you're feeling in any way low or emotionally vulnerable.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Shalimar the Clown

If you want a good read, that's going to take you to Kashmir, Strasbourg and California, from the war years to the present day, a story of passion, daring adventures, deceit, love, hate, I recommend you read Shalimar the Clown, by Salman Rushdie. I've read a few of his books (I haven't read "The Satanic Verses", though), and I think he's a very good story-teller. This book is definitely the best of his books that I've read.

Before I picked up the first Salman Rushdie book I read (The Midnight Children), I thought it was going to be heavy-going, heavy on religion and stuff, but I discovered to my surprise and pleasure, that it was just a good story, and I wanted to read more. I've also read "The Moor's Last Sigh" (I can't remember much about it, so I think it was a bit too convoluted a story) and "The Ground Beneath Her Feet", which I enjoyed. By the way, if you know the U2 song "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" - that's a song about the book, or rather a song around the story in the book.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My best drawing so far

These days, the little bit of time I have for art, I tend to experiment with watercolours and acrylics. But, a few weeks ago, I decided to go back to drawing. One good reason for this is that you can do a little bit of drawing every day without any big effort- all it takes is 1 piece of paper and a pencil. And also, I felt I needed the practice - I did a few doodles when we were in New York (Bryant Park is great for that - you can be sitting at a table and draw someone who is sitting two tables down without being noticed), but they were not very good.

So I set myself the task of doing a drawing of Brendan - I find that's the most challenging task, drawing someone you know and love. Or so my left brain keeps telling me, at least. The right brain just sees interesting lines, shadows, patterns, and doesn't care what it is looking at.

If you're wondering where this Right Brain/Left Brain stuff comes from, it's from Betty Edwards's book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". This book was recommended to me by Máire, and it was the best art-teaching book I ever got. Thank you, Máire! Like most adults, I thought I couldn't draw, until I tried this method. I might not be very talented, but I've learned a lot from this book.

Anyways, judge for yourself - here is the drawing of Brendan (without the glasses - I didn't do it as a live drawing - I'm a bit too slow to ask anybody to sit down and pose for me. I did it from a picture I took on holidays. And I decided not to draw the glasses. I'm not Louis Le Brocquy, but I can use artistic licence all the same.):

Monday, November 06, 2006

Birthdays this month

Birthdays this month are: Hilary (whom I haven't seen in years - actually we've lost touch completely, but it would be great if I could track her down. A quick google is not giving me any relevant results, unfortunately), Mark, and Kay.

Happy Birthdays!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Conor James

Congratulations to Kelly and Jim on the birth of their beautiful baby boy, Conor James. Conor James was born on 24 October at 7:56 p.m. in Lafayette, Colorado, weighing in at 7 lb, 0.5 oz, and measuring 22 inches.

Mother and Baby are doing well.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Departed

Two movies in a week! On Tuesday evening, we decided to avoid the trick-or-treaters, like we do every year, and went to Dundrum movies.

The Departed is a cops-versus-villains movie, with a good story and good actors. To quote from one of the movie websites: "The Departed tells of moles within the Boston State Police Department and the South Boston Irish-American mob". It's really the fight of good versus evil - although it's not always clear who is with the police and who is not, it's very clear who is good and who is bad. It's quite gruesome - if you don't like to see someone being shot in the head, this film is not for you (though some episodes of the Sopranos are worse in terms of gore).

It got very good reviews, and it was a good movie. There are two things that nag at me, though:
  1. The "love interest" is too nice. It seems that every shot of her is in soft focus, and she seems to float through the whole thing without understanding what's going on.
  2. There are a few loose ends, which I was expecting to see resolved by the end of the movie, but they're still hanging there.
It was good, but would I watch this movie again? Probably not. Whereas "Little Miss Sunshine" will definitely be on my shopping list when it comes out in DVD. Does that say a lot about me?