Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Visitor in the Night...

At about 1 o'clock last night Neen and I went to bed. She hopped in first and I followed shortly afterward. While I was brushing my teeth Neen was convinced she could here a rustling noise on the bedroom floor, but when she turned on the light the noise stopped and we couldn't find evidence of anything. Minutes later as we were both lying in the dark talking the noise started again.... Neen grabbed her phone, turned on the flashlight and scanned the ground....

(At this stage I should add one important detail, our cats have on occasion brought live mice and shrews into the house to play with and eventually kill. It's cruel behavior I hate to see, and when possible I intervene, rescue said victims and release them outside. It was not beyond the realm of possibility we were dealing with a mouse.)

Cont. Neen nervously pointed the light towards the ground and shakily explored the darkness. A second later she screamed, the light was thrown and she leaped to the other side of the bed in hysterics. At this stage I didn't have a clue what we were dealing with. I clambered for the phone, turned the flash light back on and quickly pointed it in the direction of the floor.

Sitting atop Neen's yellow croc was a massive spider. I mean huge. At least 3 inches (7.5 cm) in length. Large enough in fact to be the source of the mystery noise. Neen at this stage was in palpitations behind me. I however was relieved it was just a spider. I sat at the edge of the bed and for a second or two pondered how and where I would move it. I realized I only really had one go at picking it up. If the spider jumped from my hands and ran under the bed, I wouldn't be able to recapture it easily and their was no way Neen would be able to sleep.

In one swift movement I opened the bedroom door. Lifted up the spider shoe and all, and made my way in the dark to the front door. I opened the door, squatted down and released the spider on the doorstep.

Now that my hands were free I turned the flashlight back on only to see my cat Sora leaping out of nowhere towards the spider. The spider scurried desperately back into the house towards my bare feet...I dropped the light in shock and for a few seconds stood frozen in the dark without any idea where either the spider or Sora had ended up. I flicked on the hall light only to see the spider running under my legs towards the sitting room with Sora in hot pursuit. Sora grabbed the spider by the leg and ran back out the front door with her catch. I truly wish I could have saved him but I fear it probably ended up in Sora's belly...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Leonard I'm Sick!

Neen and I are sick! This is the first time in the ten years we've been together that we were both unwell at the same time. We watched a bit of 'The Big Bang Theory' last night around 3am. Season one, episode 11....so so funny

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Listening To...Juno Soundtrack

Listening To...Amelie Soundtrack

Wedding Speakers

A day or two before our wedding last October during the rehersal in the church we discovered the sound system available to us for the ceremony wasn't going to work. It simply wasn't loud enough. No one in the top half of the church could hear the music, (and that was with the building half empty). At that stage we were literally out of money, and renting or buying expensive equipment wasn't in all honesty an option. I decided in the end to transfer the wedding songs to my mp3 player at the highest quality possible. I then went down town to buy a set of high quality but cheap portable speakers. I needed the speakers to have a standard 3.5mm jack and have as high a wattage as possible given our budget. In the end Expert Electrical in shop street Galway very kindly directed me to another shop 5 minutes away that had these JBL speakers on sale for €24. They worked a treat. My mp3 player at the time a Sony S Series allowed me to fine tune the settings so that the music would play at very high volumes without any crackling or interference at all. In the end the 12 watt speakers worked perfectly. I'm writing this because they were misplaced after the wedding and I just today got them back. I have them set up in the studio to use with both the computer and my mp3 player the sound quality is fantastic.

On the morning of the wedding It was down to me to install the sound system and make sure it was working properly and was ready for the musician. 45 minutes before launch time I was in the church with Keith one of my groomsmen. At that stage I hadn't changed into my tux and was wearing jeans and an Italian rugby jersey. Long story short I by no means looked the part. The groundsman came up for a friendly chat. After a few minutes he asked in passing whether I knew the groom...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Watching...The Big Bang Theory

I love this show, I can't tell you how many times I have watched and re-watched series one and two. The characters are great, the dialog fast paced and witty. Due to our serious lack of channels Neen and I haven't had the opportunity to see any of Season 3 yet, I can't wait for it's release on DVD in September.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Desk

This is the table I do most of my drawing and watercolouring on. I have always liked working on flat surfaces, even after years of animating on an angled animation desk I still prefer working flat. This is pretty much everything I use when creating a drawing or watercolour Illustration.

Clock wise: from left to right

My phone, which scares the bejesus out of me when I’m concentrating and it rings. I need to change the ringtone. Currently it’s the theme tune to ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and it starts really loud.

Water and Coffee in my favourite mug.

Sony X-Series walkman and portable Nokia speakers. (When I took this photo I was listening to the soundtrack to ‘500 days of Summer’.)

Tissue, and Water Colour paint. I currently use pans but I’m considering changing over to tubes soon enough, at least for larger works.

Coffee Jar with water.

Box full of pencils and stuff. Generally I sketch with a blue Col-Erase pencil or a regular B lead pencil. I use a small steel ruler and steel pencil sharpener. Staedtler Mars eraser and a make-up foundation brush for cleaning the drawing as I go.

Kolinsky Sable Watercolour Brushes, sizes 0, 2 and 4.

Faber Castell Polychromos, I love these colouring pencils I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Bristol Board, my favourite surface to draw, ink and watercolour on.

Cutting board, I use this cutting board for everything. It’s easy to clean and durable. I find it handy as a drawing surface because I can rotate the drawing without having to touch the page and risk leaving marks.

Finally the original pencil sketch. I’m about to transfer this image to the bristol board.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

DVD Goodness

I dropped into town today to post a package. While there I traded in a bunch of ol' CD's I wasn't listening to and bought 'Jack', (Francis Ford Coppola) and 'Hamlet' (Kenneth Branagh.) 'Jack' is great, I'm a big Williams fan so I'd watch anything he was in anyway. Hamlet however is a masterpiece. I highly recommend it. Branagh did a wonderful job both in front of and behind the camera. Looking forward to re-watching all 232 minutes of it.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I went out Saturday morning to put the clothes on the line, I was wearing my grey hat as it was quite windy. When I came back inside and took off my hat I found this little guy who had obviously come along for the ride. He was pretty friendly and allowed me to photograph him at very close range. I now know it is was a Green Shield Bug from the family Pentatomidae, quite common in Ireland and Britain.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Friends DVD Box Set

After months and months of watching a couple of episodes a night before bed I finally reached the end of the Friends Seasons 1-10, 15th Anniversary box-set. I picked this up after the honeymoon, using a very handy voucher Neen and I received as a wedding present. I love box-sets, the more seasons the better. Unfortunately I need to find something new to watch now! In the mean time I'm re-watching 'The Big Bang Theory' Seasons 1 and 2.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon Review

Neen and I went to see 'How to Train Your Dragon' in 3D this evening in The Eye Cinema Galway

Based on the book by Cressida Cowell and written and Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBloise 'How to Train Your Dragon' is by far Dreamworks most accomplished film to date. The new partnership with the creative team behind Disneys 'Lilo and Stitch' has brought a new maturity to Dreamworks and has finally bridged the growing gap between themselves and rivals Pixar.

Set in the mythical world of burly vikings and wild dragons,...the action comedy tells the story of Hiccup, a viking teenager who doesn't exactly fit in with his tribes longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccups world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges he and his fellow vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view.' source HTTYD.com

From the offset it's easy to tell you are being treated to something new and unique. The set and character designs are wonderful. The animation is confident, yet retrained. (Thankfully the wild flailing arms of 'Madagascar' have been abandoned.) The world although mythical in origin is grounded in a strong sense of reality. This filters through to the story itself. This world is harsh, and each character owns their own reality. Actions have consequences and Hiccup learns this quickly. The various dragon species featured in the story are colourful, original and unique. The Night Fury, Toothless especially is an absolute joy to watch. The relationship that develops between himself and our hero Hiccup is tender and full of humour. The story arc deserves particular respect. The film makers, confident in their craft allow the audience to simply enjoy the journey without relying on buckets of crude or slapstick humour. The story ebbs and flows perfectly. In a cinema full of children and adults alike, attention never seemed to wain. 'Dragon' unfolds in a fashion unlike any other Dreamworks Picture and I was genuinly surprised by a number of twists and turns that take place is the closing scenes.

All in all, 'How to Train Your Dragon' is an absolute winner. A huge leap forward for Dreamworks Animation. 'Dragon' is a solid, mature and well-rounded film. A true gem for all the family, I highly recommend it! 9.5/10

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Liverpool Kits

Liverpool Football Club and Adidas released next Seasons home kit today. The adidas strip represents a modern interpretation of the one worn during the triumphant 1989-90 campaign, in which the Reds won title number 18. The release of this kit got me thinking about my favorite Liverpool Shirts.

This is the first football jersey I ever bought on the day it was launched. I was travelling up to Dublin on the City Link Bus towards the end of my first year of college. I had a small amount of money left over from my grant, so decided to splash out. I really loved the simple design. Liverpool ended up winning the Champions League in this jersey. Liverpool vs AC Milan, Istanbul 2005, by far my favorite Liverpool game. I watched it in a hotel room in Paris. At half time we were 3 nil down, dead and buried. Second half we scored three goals and ended up winning on penalties. Best game ever!

I didn't start supporting Liverpool until 1995 when my family and I moved home from America. My cousin and a few close friends supported Liverpool and Irish players McAteer and Babb were on the team so it was an easy decision. That year I broke my hand playing Hurling and needed to go to the hospital. After a couple of x-rays and the application of a cast we stopped in town for some lunch. At the time Liverpool were due to change technical sponsor from Adidas to Reebok so there was a massive sale mid season. My mum bought me this jersey for 10 pound that day, reduced from 35 and I literally lived in it! I loved it so much. It was my first football jersey, first Liverpool jersey and probably my first item of sports clothing as well.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Blind Side Movie Review

Neen and I went to see 'The Blind Side' today in The Galway Omniplex. The 2009 film was writen and directed by John Lee Hancock and based upon the book by Michael Lewis. 'The Blind Side' stems from a true story and the plot is as follows:

The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family. source IMDB.com

To keep it short and sweet, we both really enjoyed it. Sandra Bullock in my opinion deserved the Oscar nomination and win. I lived stateside for a number of years and her portrayal was as accurate as it gets. Quinton Aaron was superb in the role of Michael Oher. Kathy Bates small but influential role as Miss Sue is also deserving of a mention. I love my sport movies, and could have easily watched 2 hours of American football but cleverly the director kept game time to a minimum, making for a more approachable movie for non sport fans.

All in all 8 out of 10, definitely worth the ticket price! Any hype around Bullocks performance is deserved.

How to Train Your Dragon Toys

Neen and I were in Smyths Toy Store today, and I picked this up. Lucky enough to find it as well. It was the last in stock and on the very very top shelf. I'm 6 4'' but it was a stretch even for me. That's the great thing about being an animator/children's illustrator, collecting toys is all part of the job! I was really impressed with the build and design quality. It's pretty much on model which is not always the norm in action figures. Boy was it hard to put together though. In order to sell such a large toy it was packaged in four pieces. Body, left wing, right wing and tail. Tail went on like a charm but the wings took a bit of elbow grease. Not complaining though it makes for a very smart and accurate replica. The rest of the series looked great also Spin Master did a fantastic job creating this range. Haven't seen the film yet, but I'm very much looking forward to it. I'm a big fan of the work of Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois . The writers/directors of both 'Dragon' and of course 'Lilo and Stitch'. We're planning on bringing Neens little brother and sister to see it in 3D as soon as we can! I'll pop a review on when we do!