Festive cheer

This is an authentic press release put out by the Garda (Irish police) press office in Dublin this afternoon. I didn’t receive it personally, but obviously every journalist working on a news desk today immediately forwarded this to all their mates.

Gardai from Kevin Street Garda station, Dublin are investigating the theft of 180 Kegs of Guinness, 180 Kegs of Budweiser and 90 Kegs of Carlsberg from the Guinness Brewery on Victoria Quay, Dublin 8 yesterday. A man drove into the yard in a truck and took a trailer containing the drink which has an estimated value of 64,000 Euro. Any person with information is asked to contact Kevin Street Gardai on 01-6669400.

On one hand this isn’t at all funny and a real crime has been perpetrated. On the other . . . well, you’d never guess it’s Christmas party season in Dublin, would you? Only in Ireland . . .

Are you hot or cold on climate change?

Like a lot of people I don’t know what to think about the issue of climate change. This is what happens when a public debate continues for some time but you weren’t paying attention at the outset. People are now arguing about the data without presenting a ‘beginner’s guide’ style of introduction. It’s hard to form an opinion. I’m heavily inclined towards thinking that it would be stupid to ignore the risk of climate change, but some people I know and respect argue against it.

Hmm.  Someone sent me this video this morning and it presents an interesting case.

Italian fantastic

Went to Italy last weekend. The wife had to go on business, so we paid for me to go on the cheap with Ryanair. Ryanair sucked (Seriously, the decent into Forli airport prematurely aged me. The pilot took four goes to land the plan, aborting each at the last second to go around again. We were in the air for an extra hour due to “adverse weather conditions” but the sky was clear and there was no wind on the ground. Not funny at all. All that was missing was a hysterical woman standing up and screaming “we’re all going to die!”)


Anyway, Italy rocked. I’m a major foodie, much to the detriment of my waistline, and this was a great trip to a place called Campofilone around two hours south of Forli and two hours north east of Rome. A very nice place that’s totally off the tourist trail. We spent a fantastic two days stuffing ourselves silly with fantastic cheeses (various pecorino and scarmorzi served with different honeys), deep fried artichokes, stuffed olives, broadbeans in garlic oil and the best pasta I’ve ever had.


We visited a pasta workshop where some very skilled women hand made different kinds of fresh egg pasta such as tagliatelle, pappardelle, spaghetti and the regional speciality macaroncini – a sort of thin vermicelli-like pasta. This place was incredible and extremely cheap. I also learned quite a bit about pasta that I didn’t know. The place we visited makes a pasta dough using tipo 00 extra fine durham wheat, and then hand rolls the pasta out on large marble slabs using long wooden rolling pins. The lady there told me that the reason this is better than factory produced pasta is that in factories, the pasta is made using teflon moulds and as such is perfectly smooth. Handmade pasta has a rougher texture which allows it to hold sauce better than the mass produced version.

She’s obviously doing something right because her pasta is fantastic, and also, she is extremely busy supplying restaurants in her area – they all buy from her rather than make it themselves and having tasted it, I know exactly why. Fantastico!


In the local restaurants we had spaghetti in lemon sauce, tagliatelli with truffles, gnocchi with sage and butter and a sort of risotto made with radicchio lettuce. The carnivores had 101 different types of sausages and hams, steaks in greenpepper sauce, pork chops in prune and congnac and lots of excellent wine. Fantastic. Anyway, more anon.


It’s Trek Jim, but not as we know it!

So I’m wandering around the web this afternoon, and a friend directs me to Star Trek New Voyages

What the . . . ? “These are the new voyages of the Star Ship Enterprise, boldly going yada yada.”

This is an incredibly complex web-only fan created TV series, set in the original Star Trek universe with amateur actors playing Kirk, Scotty, Uhuru and the others. Bizarre!

My first thought was how were they able to do this without having 17 different kinds of hell reigned down on them from Universal’s legal department! However, it seems to be a web only thing, and presumably because of it, doesn’t infringe copyright (That sounds increasingly unlikely as I type this . . . Anyone out there know the deal?)

They’ve got some of the original Trek actors to reprise their roles in the early episodes, so it’s obviously got some industry goodwill behind it. The effects are good – easily on a par with anything from The Next Generation series, and the space scenes are spot on. Some very nice CGI work has gone into this. In addition, the sets look fairly well made – replicas of those from the original series abound, and the whole thing is surprisingly convincing.

However, the acting is just awful. Bad actors, with ill fitting costumes, dodgy wigs and lighting that’s just . . . off somehow, contribute to making it look like what it is, a fan-created facsimile of the original with a tiny fraction of the budget. The few real actors that appear in it show up the bad acting shockingly. (It makes you realise how much of the acting we all watch on TV every day is actually quite good. If it wasn’t, you’d notice!)

However, do you know what? I actually really enjoyed it. Let’s face it, the acting in the original Trek series was pretty ropey to begin with, so it’s not liking they’re charting brave new waters with this one. The stories seem to be mostly well written, and there is obviously a LOT of passion in this. For all it’s faults, I realised after about ten minutes, I was watching an incarnation of Trek. Not as polished as the big budget versions, but the spark is there.

Very cool (in a highly nerdish uncool kind of way.) Check it out.