Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Perfect 10....Music

Quick question for ye! What album/s in your collection would you give a perfect 10 out of 10 to? If honest with yourself it's a slightly more difficult prospect than you'd initially imagine. What album can you turn on, listen to from start to finish and love each song just as much as the last? What album are you always in the mood to hear? I can only at the moment think of two perfect albums, I'm sure I have more, but at this moment these are the ones that stck out. 1 'Sea Sew' by Lisa Hannigan and 2. The Soundtrack to 'Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain' by conductor Yann Tiersen....Perfect perfect CD's both of them.

On a separate point...remember the good 'ol days of the cassette tape, (I imagine if I were old enough that last sentence could equally have read "the good 'ol days of the vinyl record") when you'd play an album from beginning to end. When the only thing capable of snapping you out of your wonderfully glorious self inflicted music coma was the crickety click of the tape as it wound to a stop? Now with my mp3 player. it's just too easy. I can litterally listen to anything I want. Any album, track or playlist. I occasionally find myself with itchy fingers, it's almost as if the mere knowledge that I can skip to any other song fills me with the urge to do so! Is it necessarily bad, or just a new way to experience music? I consider it a '6 Degrees of Separation' kind of thing. I'm listening to one song, which reminds me of I scroll around and click PLAY. This song then reminds me of a third, then a fourth, so on and so forth. Before I know it, Muse's 'Knight of Cydonia' has led me to Norah Jones. Is this the way of the future? I mean with the dawn of digital downloads one can buy any single track on an album they want. Will future generations miss out on the joy of listening to an album of songs, created in their entirety by the artist, as an emotional response to a specific period of their lives? I'm not sure. It seems we are editing our music collections before we even buy the music, granted some tracks are destined for the B-side, but that's all part of the journey. 

So whats your perfect 10 out of 10 album or albums? Do you still listen to albums from begin to end or is your mp3 player chock-a-block with individual tracks, and carefully crafted playlists?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bent Objects

Neen and I recently discovered the artwork of the truly amazing artist Terry Border. He was featured in a 'Rhett and Link' video and the minute we saw his work we were hooked. As a surprise Neen tracked down and ordered me his book, which arrived today. I LOVE IT, and highly recommend it, this guy is seriously talented and has a super sense of humour. You should check out Terry's blog, or even better buy the book >>>BUY 'Bent Objects' You won't regret it I promise! I haven't been this in awe of a single artist since I first read one of Bill Watterson's 'Calvin and Hobbes' collections.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cat Tales

Yesterday morning as per my usual I fed the cats and turtles, made a cup of coffee, checked and answered any new emails, then set up the desk to start watercolouring. As I walked back and forth preparing, I could see Hope sitting on a pile of rubble in the garden, roughly 20 feet away. I walked from one room to the other, losing sight of Hope for at most 10 seconds. When I came back in she was lying in the middle of the table, sprawled in all her three legged glory, I can't imagine how she got through the window so quickly. Thought it was funny so snapped a photo. She chilled on the table for an hour or so while I drew then went back out to bask in the morning sun.

Today one of the local strays was sitting on the window quite pleasantly watching me work. I decided to take a couple of pictures while he was in such an amicable mood. Although somewhat alarmed he posed quite generously. I remarked to my wife it was unusual that he was behaving in such a friendly manner and for the first day ever hadn't made any attempts to sneak in even though the window had been left ajar for the entire afternoon. At 7:30 I finished work and went into the next room to watch the Japan-Denmark Game (Go Blue Samurai's!)...10 minutes or so later over the drone of the Vuvuzelas I could hear a slurping noise. I looked down to see the black and white cat (3 feet away) staring up at me with a big ol' milk mustache. Shocked by his candor I stared back blankly for a moment before standing up to shoo him away. Very funny and cheeky but as my wife always says, "God loves a chancer"

Sora the Explora never ceases to make me smile, she is and has always been interested in watching me work, as a kitten she'd follow me every where. If I was outside collecting turf she'd come too, If I was running the bath she'd sit next to me on the tubs edge and watch the bubbles rise...(Sora is fascinated by water). Today as I was watercolouring she came in through the now infamous open window and sat her self down on the table right in front of me. I was concentrating too carefully to move her so I instead let her be while she was behaving herself. For a while she just watched as I dipped the brush into the paint, applied the brush to paper, rinsed in the water etc. I continued these steps dip, paint, rinse. Over and over. She sat there intrigued. With the jar of water in particular. Eventually curiosity got the better of her and to my amazement she submerged her entire furry five-toed-paw into the narrow glass jar, soaked she pulled it back out, sniffed her dripping appendage and lay back down satisfied with her discovery.

In this picture below she is sleeping on the window sill in between the narrow gap between the window pane and an ajacent box, quite snug and cozy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Me like should!

There aren’t a huge amount of products or companies I would ever choose to review, but this morning when I received my new Proporta Neoprene 10” Netbook case in the post I was so impressed I thought why not!

Let me preface by saying I have owned one Proporta product before this. A leather and aluminium case for my old Sony NW-A3000 Walkman. I used that mp3 player everyday for years and because of the case it never received a single scratch or dent. It survived many a bus journey to and from college, trips to Paris, Krakow and Manchester, three hurricanes, two tornadoes...well not the hurricanes and tornadoes but no doubt if faced with them it would have bravely endured unscathed. I only updated to a new player because the battery on the old one eventually gave in.

My first Proporta case

I looked everywhere for a decent sleeve for my Asus Eee PC Netbook, I knew if I didn’t get some sort of protective layer it would eventually become terribly scratched, dusty or even damaged. I’m a fond believer in buying the best product your budget will allow and taking care of it. My grandfather taught me that. Speaking of budget’s in this case mine was stubbornly tight. I really didn’t want to/ nor in truth could I spend more than €15 on said case. I initially considered Belkin, but the fit wasn’t at all snug, and the neoprene layer was thinner than I had hoped. I didn’t think it would take a knock or fall, should it be subjected to one. It was also €20+ for their 10” version, more than I was willing to part with. I kept looking but none of the models I tried fit to the level I wanted and I encountered ever thinner levels of neoprene protection.

I eventually decided to just wait. One night last week while meandering aimlessly through the deep dark depths of web, I thought...”I must check Proporta”. A couple of clicks later I was on their site, had found exactly what I was looking for and well within budget. I ordered with a smile of contentment that could rival that of primitive man after a successful hunt.

Moments later I received a confirmation email from Proporta thanking me for my custom “particularly at the moment within the current climate” and offering me 10-25% off my next order. Although generic in conception the email was very personal and charming and got me thinking other companies could learn a lot from Proporta regarding the area of customer care.

Well as I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, the case came this morning, on initial inspection I assumed the case was deceptively stuffed (like all the others I tested) with a removeable foam insert. But it wasn’t! The case was as thick and sturdy as it appeared. Also included where this years product brochure and rather strangely a sachet of English Tea. According to the Proportas FAQ page the teabag was included "Because we are nice and everyone loves a cuppa tea" A great surprise, and super idea.

So guys if you are looking for protective cases for your valuable pieces of tech, iPad, iPod, mp3 player, camera, laptop, netbook etc check out their site or alternatively their blog which is also pretty darn cool too!

All in all I give the Proporta Neoprene 10” Netbook Case. 9 out of 10. Very high quality product, super fast shipping, well packaged and great company…I’m quite confident the case will outlive the netbook itself. I’m dropping a single point because the black colour fabric used will inevitably be a lint magnet, and a few other colour options for this product would have been a bonus.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"The Archive" by Sean Dunne

Stumbled upon the work of this director today via /Film I watched a number of his documentary shorts and was immensely impressed, so far this film is my favorite. Well worth the watch!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers that a mouse or a shrew?

Today was a blisteringly sunny Father's Day. This morning Neens mum, dad and sister dropped by for a quick visit and a cup of coffee, Neen gave her father a cool Darth Vader t-shirt that read 'I Am Your Father" which he loved.

We then spent the afternoon at my parents house, and enjoyed dinner outside...I got to wear my 3/4 length combats, flip-flops and sunglasses a rare treat in our all too inclement isle.

My dad is a tricky fellow to buy presents for, his father was also. They don't want much, aren't materialistik in the slightest...have everything they need and can buy for themselves anything they want. As Fathers day loomed I was quite honestly stumped. Upon reflection and after a number of difficult shopping hours in town I eventually decided on a pair of really nice brown swued gloves for the garden. Ones that would last a lifetime. After much searching I also tracked down some of his favorite sweets, Scots Clan (which rather strangely were sold out everywhere) and picked a card. We didn't have any wrapping paper in the house so I instead took a scrap sheet of thin cardboard and drew in pen a leafy pinstriped pattern.

He seemed to really like everything and the gloves...well the gloves "fit like a glove." : ) Dad and I then watched some football and half of a hurling match, while Neen mom and Gen chatted in the kitchen. We would have loved to have watched the Galway v Offaly match but alas it wasn't being broadcast.

At one stage while myself dad, Neen and sister Genevieve were relaxing in the sitting room my mother came in with something furry cupped in the palm her hand. "I saved this little guy from the cat" she proudly beamed! My fathered bellowed in reply..."Elizabeth he'll bite! Put him outside" "No he wont, he's just a shrew, poor little fellow...should I get him some cheese?" "Elizabeth he WILL bite be carefull!" No he won't Thady he seems happy, and shrews are friendly" By this stage I had gotten up from the couch, on closer inspection I was able to confirm it was indeed a mouse, of the field gave him some cheese, which he gobbled down with glee and set him free to fight another day.

Speaking of animals our cats are really loving the mini heat wave, Hope loves the sun, but due to her pale complextion if not carefull gets sunburned so we often find her lying with one half of her body in the shade, the other gingerly basked in sun. Sora on the other hand is suffering, Sora is a long-haired tortoishell and still has what seems like her full winter coat. She rarely molts and her coat is so so thick...she too loves basking in the sun but every couple of hours trundles through the window or open front door and just collapses in a sickled-shaped heap on the nearest cold surface, for a much needed cool down.

World Cup 2010

So are you guys watching the World Cup? Are any of ye in the blogger-verse fans of the beautiful game? I'm really enjoying this years tournament, at first I found the persistent drones of the vuvuzelas painful to say the least but now I'm actually learning to enjoy and appreciate them for the culturally significant artifacts they are!

So after the controversy of Henri's handball Ireland unfortunately didn't make the final 32! This entry will not be a rant about the aforementioned 'event', I bear no anger or resentment towards Henri's the actions of FIFA that annoy me!

Any way Ireland's absence begs the question...who to support this year? Well I lived in the States for years, and both my sisters and mother are american citizens so I will and have been shouting with pride for the US of A. I am also quite proudly lending my support to the English team, a certain minority in Ireland remain very bitter towards Brittan. In my opinion irrationally so. Our troubled history is behind us, I believe to move forward it's important to promote a higher level of solidarity between ourselves and our nearest neighbours! So public-ally for all fellow Irishman to hear, I hope England go all the way! Although based on their last two games that's not looking very likely, the British media coverage of the teams journey thus far is fantastically overbearing I'm not surprised England are feeling the pressure.

A third team I have always had a strange affinity with are Japan, all of which stems from the fact that I love their football kits, whether it be Asics or Adidas they always come up with something unique and special. I really hope the 'samurai blue' make it at least out of the group stages, I'm eagerly looking forward to their final group match against Denmark.

This brings me to the final part of this entry, my favorite kits of this years tournament. By far the award for most beautiful kit goes to the design team at Umbro for their entire England range the all white home kit in particular. Stunningly refined and elegant design with wonderful attention to detail make for a truly inspiring shirt.

Adidas took a huge gamble this year by developing tech fit jerseys, personally I don't think it payed off. The jerseys were optional and most players preferred to don the standard fitting kits they are used to. Personally I think the TF kits look like the players have been wrapped in electrical tape...not too flattering. Possibly a premature venture for Adidas, Tech fit it definitely the future but not quite yet...I love this kit though the Japanese Home (Standard Fit), I'm actually wearing it as I type...

Nike too developed some very simple stylish kits, in my opinion only let down by the unnecessary horizontal panel on the sleeves. I do however love these two shirt designs... USA (Away) and South Korea (Home)

Saturday, June 19, 2010


On super lazy Sunday mornings I love to (when I have them) read graphic novels in bed before I crawl out at some ungodly hour (Mrs.Wolowitz...He He!)...tomorrows book of choice is 'Ladytron' by Joe Casey, Eric Canete and Jason Johnson. The origin story of Maxine Manchester, (a character arguably Alan Moore's greatest influence on the Wildstorm World) looks on first glance pretty darn cool, I'm a fan of Casey's maniacal run on Version 3.o and the artwork by Canete and Johnson is refreshingly unique and vibrant.

Movie Review....Karate Kid (2010)

A bunch of us went to see 'Karate Kid' this morning in the Galway Omniplex. I won 10 tickets for a special out-of-hours preview before it's Irish release next week. The cinema was packed to the rafters with young and old alike...on our team we had myself, Neen, Neen's brother and sister Antony and Shauna, Shauna's friends Kelly and Brendan, my cousin and godson Mark and Ethan, and finally Neen's cousins Tommy and Christopher. Ages ranged from approx. 8-15. As for Neen and I we are naturally a smidge older.

I am a fan of Jackie Chan and proudly one of the many who simply love his particular brand of kungfuey goodness! 'Rush Hour' was a favorite of mine as a teen. As for Jaden Smith. He and his father rocked 'Pursuit of Happyness'- a film I highly recommend, so I was looking forward to this film a lot...

Gotta say I was really impressed with both the movie and the respective performances from Chan and Smith. Granted the film was predictable, but in truth most children's films are. There is a very strict formula to follow and only the brave or ignorant stray very far from the standard story arc and pace.

I am very aware that films of this nature, unnecessary remakes in particular are bombarded with negative reviews throughout the web immediately upon their release. As if their very existence is an insult to the movie going public. In truth the director Harald Zwart didn't stand a chance which I believe is unfair!

This version of 'Karate Kid' was devised for a young modern audience. It's their opinions that truly matter, and our group loved it. Neen and I were sitting in the row behind the munckins (with the benefit of high ground and 2 pairs of eagle eyes, we were prepared to step in should there be any tomfoolery!) Bar two emotionally "gooey" minutes before the third and final action packed act all young eyes were firmly fixed on the screen for the the entire picture. I was shocked, no toilet breaks or restless bums. They loved it! Films of this sort serve two primary purposes... 1. Update (not replace) the original and 2. Introduce a new generation to the wonderful art of Kung Fu. In that crowd of 200+ I am quite confident that at least 1 kid was inspired. At least 1 kid went home bright eyed and punching the air shouting "Please mom can I learn Kung Fu...I promise I wont practice on my sister"...

My advise. Give the film a chance. Bring the kids, buy some over priced popcorn you might just be surprised. Rent the original too if you fancy, make a family night of it...

And to ye skeptics out there, you know who who are... you with the Atari t-shirt sitting in your moms basement illegally downloading all eight seasons of Magnum P.I. Remember you were once a kid too so go easy with the rotten tomatoes. Nothing will ever beat moms home cooking, Christmas as a kid, or the films from your child hood. This is a new film for a new generation and we loved it! 8 out of 10!

And the Winners are...

Hey Guys, it's very late Friday night/Saturday morning.....the competition is officially closed. I would like to thank everyone who not only took the time to drop by but also take part in the give-away! I had a fantastic response, so thank you sincerely again....with out further ado the winners are as follows:

First Place: Katie Gallagher

Runner Up: 'Kai' Kaitlin

If ye both email me at: with your addresses I will send ye out your prizes asap! : ) Congratulations!-Morgan

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Competition Time!! Free Art Give-Away


Hi Guys It's Competition Time! All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is...

1. Leave a comment below


2. Be a follower of this blog!*

Easy Peasy! Up for grabs are the following:

First Place:
2 Signed Prints,
4 Postcards,
AND an Original Watercolour Illustration!!!

Runner Up:
4 Postcards
AND an Original Watercolour Illustration!!!

Closing Date is Friday the 18th of June 23:59 UTC/GMT. I will choose at random two winning comments and the winners will be announced here the following morning, Best of Luck!

*If for any reason you are unable to follow a Blogger blog but would still like to enter feel free, if you are a fellow member of deviantART 'watching' me on deviant will more than suffice, just leave your user name along side your comment below!

First Place
Runner Up

Origami, Bread Stories and Pigeons!

Don't know about you guys but sometimes it's kind of hard to figure out what exactly to write a blog about, I mean mondain and boring stuff happens every day to all of us, the first barrier is naturally what has happened recently or otherwise that I am actually interested enough to relive...the second problem: who really cares enough about said event to want to hear or read about it themselves.

Neen and I have a name for these types of stories...when I come home with some excruciatingly boring tale for example: about a pigeon I saw staring at his reflection in a puddle, (something only I would ever find interesting)...we call these 'Bread Stories'. This name stems from my habit to often when in town buy bread for lunch, no butter or filling just boring ol' bread...why....because I like bread, I don't think it needs all the extra stuffing to be tasty!

The following lines are suitably bromidic!

This is what's happening right now, a glimpse into my world riveting or otherwise. It's just shy of 1a.m. I'm blogging, just answered a few comments on deviant. My wife is next to me on the other side of the couch giggling to videos on youtube on her very girly, very pink Dell laptop.

Our internet providers have reduced our broadband speed for the next few days to a snails pace, because according to them we have exceeded our monthly download allowance. I'm not buying it, I think they are chancing their arm, hoping we'll pay for the extra GB's...I'm stubborn and am not planning on giving'l be back to normal on the 14th. Generally it's only around 1mb/s anyway, although I think at the moment they've capped it at approx 0.15mb/s!! It's so so slow, everything Neen is buffering is taking 10 times longer than usual!

Our three legged cat Hope is lying on my lap, in fairness where my netbook should be, instead it has been relegated to the armrest and typing is anything but comfy. Sora our other cat is in her usual spot on the arm chair, sprawled in a furry lump like a failed, crumpled piece of origami. I'm going to head to bed now because I'm seriously over heating, Like I said I have Neen on one side of me, the netbook air vent on the other and Hope in the middle....I'm melting like an m&m!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Music and Growing Old

I have a theory regarding music and growing old. To begin with I consider having a varied and eclectic taste in music of the utmost importance. Growing up I noticed with some bemusement, that people around me tended to develop strongly biased opinions towards particular types of music.

Things have changed somewhat over the years but music snobbery still persists. To many Pop music is crap and too commercial, Classical is pompous and old fashioned, Electro Punk, just noise. As we grow up we tend to hold on to a period we are comfortable with and rarely move past it. I like to call this 'Old Rocker Syndrome' There are I'm sure many exceptions to this generalization and I'm sure many a Granny rocks out to Snow Patrol but I think it should be the norm not the exception.

My late grandfather was a great man, but a serious creature of habit. He was born and bred in Kerry but started a family in Galway 200 km away. All his life he listened to one station... Radio Kerry. Even though the reception in Galway was terrible still he persevered. At times he would be driving to nothing but white noise. Bar checking local traffic reports he would not change that station. I felt both admiration and confusion towards this most unusual of habits. Knowing my own stubbornness I also knew if not careful I would undoubtedly end up the exact same way!

My challenge is this. Buy/listen/relate to at least one album every year from the charts. If every year of your life just one single album peaks your interest, you're on the right track. (Plus you will have a music collection to rival your grandchildren's by the time you are 70!)

This applies to other areas also. Every year, make sure at least one item of clothing in your wardrobe is something funky and new. I know I definitely want to be the Granddad who wears beneath his tattered tweed jacket this seasons newest Liverpool shirt. Staying true to yourself is of course important, and growing old gracefully is an art in itself BUT there is a balance.

I'm proud to say my first three albums as a child were as follows: 'Beethoven's Symphony No. 9', 'The Beachboy's-Greatest Hits' and 'Ace of Base-Happy Nation'. This was 1994.

I'm also proud to say that this week along side 'Florence and the Machine' and 'Regina Spektre' I will also be listening to the soundtracks to Glee...CD 1 and 2!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Movie Review...Robin Hood (2010)

Ant and I went to see 'Robin Hood' Friday night. We were having a guy's night out and simply wanted to turn our brains off for a couple of hours.

Plot Synopsis: Birth of a legend. Following King Richard's death in France, archer Robin Longstride, along with Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale and Little John, returns to England. They encounter the dying Robert of Locksley, whose party was ambushed by treacherous Godfrey, who hopes to facilitate a French invasion of England. Robin promises the dying knight he will return his sword to his father Walter in Nottingham. Here Walter encourages him to impersonate the dead man to prevent his land being confiscated by the crown, and he finds himself with Marian, a ready-made wife. Hoping to stir baronial opposition to weak King John and allow an easy French take-over, Godfrey worms his way into the king's service as Earl Marshal of England and brutally invades towns under the pretext of collecting Royal taxes. Can Robin navigate the politics of barons, royals, traitors, and the French? Source

As the story progressed my initial impressions were that Ridley Scott would have been better served making a movie based on the life of a random soldier, an unknown. He seemed to have had a story he desperately wanted to tell but was forced to make it work within the Robin Hood Universe.

I had strange image in my mind of a young Ridley Scott. It's his 9th birthday...he's sitting cross legged on the floor, surrounded by torn shreds of wrapping paper. "What the..." he thinks as he gazes blankly at the newly unwrapped box in front of him. "A Robin Hood Lego set? What am I going to do with this" he thinks...Ridley fains a smile! "I love it!"

All the hints he'd left were for naught, "I told them I wanted the Knights Lego Castle, I left countless hints, I took out the garbage, fed the dog...did my homework, well not my homework but y'know what I mean. How can I hold the worlds greatest battle with a friar, an archer, a few lousy merry men and a girl!!"

All in All 6.5 out of 10. A definite fun night out but I would have been happier watching a Discovery Channel special on the legend of Robin Hood, or even better the 1973 Disney classic.

Movie Review...Sex and the City 2

Let me preface by saying that when we woke up that faithful morning, neither myself or my wife had even the slightest idea we would be seeing this film later that the time we got to the cinema their was simply nothing else on.

I'll Keep this brief, 'Sex and the City 1' was terrible, the second installment was worse. To begin with it was gloatingly disrespectful of Middle Eastern culture and customs. I also felt many of the jokes, aimed however in jest towards modern Gay culture to be blatantly disrespectful. I wouldn't be at all surprised if in years to come this film in retrospect is considered quite homophobic.

My wife insures me there was at least one funny line in the film, a joke concerning Jude Law...alas I must have missed it. I was probably counting the ceiling tiles or contemplating what to have for dinner....

I'll never get those two hours back...1 out of 10, and I'm being very generous!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Watching...The Next Generation Season 1

As a child I loved Star Trek The Next Generation, I watched the show, had the figures...I was just given all 7 box sets for my birthday, can't wait to get watching! Neen and I will be watching Season 1, episode 1 tonight!