Irish Is Everything For the Love of Ireland, This Site Is For You <![CDATA[ The reader will enjoy this tale]]>
Their mother, with whom they both live, will never be nominated for Mother of the Year. Her parents and grandparents are all deceased, so no one taught her how to be a mother. The duo's teenage carnal needs were taken care of by the town whore, who asked for payment in Guinness Stout. They live in a place called Lissoy, which is not on any map. Consisting of little more than a bunch of cottages clustered around one road, Lissoy is the sort of place that, on a good day, might just reach the level of being a village.

One day, in their 40's, Ma sends Milligan and Murphy to a neighbor's farm, a couple of miles away, for a day of work. Along the way, they reach a literal crossroads. There is no grand declaration, but the pair decide that they would like to see the sea (which neither of them have ever seen). Maybe they can get a ride on a boat to England or France. Therefore, they take the road away from the neighbor's farm. Potential obstacles like their total lack of money, their lack of any sort of camping equipment and having no idea how to reach the coast are not considered.

After they are away for a few weeks, Ma hires a local detective to find them. It's less out of any parental concern for their safety, and more because the neighbors will expect her to make some sort of attempt to find her children. The detective is successful. Again, there is no grand declaration, but the pair tell the detective that they are not going home, and are continuing with their quest. Are they successful in gaining ship's passage away from Ireland?

As you might have guessed, not a lot happens in this book. What it does have is a unique tone of narration, and unique tone of conversation between the two brothers. The reader will either enjoy this tale, or think that it is a boring waste of time. I enjoyed it (maybe my Irish ancestry has something to do with it).]]> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 23:51:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hauntingly good]]>
Cormac Maguire is an archaeologist working at the National Museum and is asked to examine the head to see if a crime has been committed. He asks Nora Gavin, an American pathologist to help.

The reader learns that other young women have been disappearing from the area, including the wife of a wealthy landowner, Hugh Osborne.

After finishing their examination, Hugh asks Cormac to help in an archaeological survey, which Cormac agrees to and again asks Nora to join him. That way, they can do their own investigation into the girl whose head they found.

This is a wonderfully descriptive novel full of the emotions of the locals, the music that gives meaning to their lives and the history of the bog which has provided the livelihood of many of the people for generations.

When Cormac and Nora continue their investigation, they learn something that tells them the date of the girl's death, 1652. They ask a teacher what was going on in this area at the time and are told that this was when there was an ethnic cleansing in Ireland similar to modern Bosnia.

The characters are memorable as is the setting. The reader hopes that Cormac and Nora will return in another novel to follow their romance.]]> Sat, 1 Dec 2012 20:15:13 +0000
<![CDATA[ "Anyone can look at another person's eyes... lovers can see each other's souls through the eyes."]]> Set in Belfast, a young woman from Lithuania named Gayle is coerced into coming to Ireland for a chance at a better life. She believes she will be working as a nanny. However, she's sent to do hard labor at a farm and then sold into prostitution. When the people running the group attempt to force her into a sex act and one of them is attempting to rape her, she kills him in self defense.

Two men were in the home with the attempted rapist, Tomas Stazdas. They fear what his brother will do so take the body to dump into a waterway planning to drown Gayla there too.  Gayla is a fighter who never gives up and she escapes.

Tomas's elder brother is Arturas Stezdas. When he learns that his brother has been killed he orders anyone responsible killed in retaliation.

Meanwhile, a man named Billy Crawford had befriended Gayla while posing as a customer. He informed her that if she could get away from the house of prostitution, he'd help.

She calls Crawford who brings her to his home, telling her that he's a Baptist minister without a church. He tries to save women who haven't lost their souls.

Investigating the case is Det. Inspector Jack Lennon. Soon after being assigned to the case he learns that there have been additional murders.

The author, Stuart Neville, writes in a style reminiscent of fellow Irishman, John Connolly. In Connolly's "Every Dead Thing," revenge is the center of the story as the protagonist searches for the person responsible for killing his daughter. In "Stolen Souls" revenge is also central to the story as Arturas wants revenge at all costs.

Not for the squeamish, this is a story that is so dramatic that there are times when the reader needs a break to catch their breath from the tense action. I enjoyed the novel and feel it demonstrates that Neville is a master story teller.

]]> Tue, 13 Dec 2011 21:18:37 +0000
<![CDATA[ Leap Year... almost leaps into your heart]]> When in Rome - modern update to Roman Holiday), we had the romantic comedy with Taylor squared and a collaborative with other great actors (Valentine's Day) which I thought lived up to it's hype. However if I had been part of the decision making process, I would have waited to release Leap Year on an actual leap year. The gimmick is there of course, but for me I need a little extra something. Maybe it is the cynical single girl within lashing out after sitting through yet another romantic comedy on my own, unable to prevent that horrible little thought that creeps into every single girls mind of "I wish I was here with someone". But this is where I drew the line and applied one of my new years resolutions... (to not let the sight of happy couples make me feel bad about being single)... So putting my single feelings aside I ventured out and enbraced yet another rom-com.

Leap Year is a cute story with a little bit of Irish luck. From time to time the story did begin to drag, but it helped that there were a few good actors to keep the film afloat. Amy Adams is a triple threat with in her ever growing career, shining on screen as an actress, singer and dancer. Her comedic timing made her adorable to watch, and even with several weak lines throughout the film she shinned with her Irish look and strawberry blond hair. I guess I'm just a sucker for the Irish, but the pairing of Amy Adams and Matthew Goode was a cute on-screen couple. Matthew Goode may not be a "McDreamy" or "McSteamy", or even a Bradly Cooper, but his charm, gorgeous green eyes and to-die-for accent makes up for all the rest. It was refreshing to see a film where the leading lady realizes she has a thing for "the guy she's not supposed to like" when he has ALL of his clothes on. The chemistry was fun to watch unfold throughout the film. At times it reminded me of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, when all you wanted was the "fall of the wall of Gibraltar".

Aside from the story, the beautiful Irish country side is a sight to see. Aside from the single girl cynicism of the "I wish I had that...", I could not contain the awe feeling of watching this traveling film. By the end of the film you will want to rush out and purchase a ticket on the next flight to Dublin, jump in a car, and just drive around Ireland just to see the lush greens and history of these shires and villages. It's true that it is all about location, location, location...

Leap Year may not be your choice for top films, but I would recommend it for a little cuddle time with your special someone on a snowy or rainy day.]]> Fri, 20 May 2011 15:56:13 +0000
<![CDATA[U2 Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Tue, 17 May 2011 01:57:54 +0000 <![CDATA[Gate Lodge Guest House Quick Tip by GlassofWin]]> your home away from home in Dublin, Ireland!]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 20:04:50 +0000 <![CDATA[ Gate Lodge Guest House, Dublin: Your Home Away From Home]]> Believe it or not, Dublin was not a high priority on my places to visit in Ireland. It was the Place Everyone Visited and therefore I wanted to go in a different direction. However, the one stipulation of Steffie’s agreement in tromping around Ireland with me was that we go to Dublin for tours at the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery. So I had to figure out our route and the best place to stick a visit to Dublin was in the days after our arrival but before our trip up to Clones. Now, we could have just landed in Dublin, but since I wanted home base to be in Cork that is where we flew into and spent one night at the Bru Bar Hostel. So I had to figure out how to purchase train tickets from Cork to Dublin and find a place centrally located to crash for two nights during our Dublin stay. Since we were going to be in a hostel our first night, a tent during Clones, and an apartment during Cork I figured to have a truly well-rounded experience we may as well stay in a Bed & Breakfast/Guest House.
After scouring the internet for various B&B’s, I finally came across the simple but straightforward website for Gate Lodge. Not only was “the world famous Guinness brewery and the Irish whiskey corner are within strolling distance” but Gate Lodge was located just around the bend from Hueston Station, the train depot we would be arriving into from Cork.

We arrived Wednesday, June 2nd (2010) just after noon and made our way to Gate Lodge. It is a tall, late Georgian style brick house dating from 1838 now owned and operated by the Sheehan family.

Dublin Lodgings
Gate Lodge Guest House


I couldn’t tell you how many levels this house possesses, but I’m figuring five including the ground level. These sort of homes have a kind split-level thing going on with half a flight to the next level, then a full flight. There are seven rooms available to board, plus the rooms the family uses so you can imagine the level of awesomeness this house has.

Gate Lodge Guest House - entrance
Entrance Hall – Gate Lodge

We were given Room 1, which is the first room, directly on the right-hand side of the above photo. At first we were nervous that it would be too noisy or bright since this room faced the street. I took the bed closer to the window, which may have been larger but definitely would take more noise as the wall Steffie’s bed was pushed up against was only shared with our en suite bathroom. The room came with an overhead TV and an electric kettle with tea, coffee, sugar and cream. As nothing was caffeine free, I knew I’d be making a stop at a convenience store to grab me some decaf Lyons tea bags.

My Bed - Gate Lodge Guest House
My Bed – Gate Lodge Guest House

Steffie at Gate Lodge - Dublin
Steffie on her bed – Gate Lodge

I really did not have much to worry about, though, because as soon as I pulled the shutters and drapes across the windows our room descended into peace, quiet and darkness. We rarely heard a peep from the outside world. They surely do not make these kind of quality houses here in the States anymore! It should be noted that everything was clean and comfortable. I slept very soundly in that bed.

In the morning we were treated to a full Irish breakfast. Though I knew what to expect, I can’t say that I wasn’t a little more than frightened. Fried egg, beans, tomato, mushroom, sausage, white pudding and rasher to start the day off with. It was tasty, and served in a realistic portion. We had to go for it, of course, just at least once. OK, maybe twice since we were there for two mornings.

Traditional Irish Breakfast
Irish Breakfast

The dining room was down a flight or so of stairs, adjacent to the kitchen and a closet-turned office where I was able to access the internet and email my mom to alert her that I was not dead. I really adored the dining room. It was large, with country carved furniture, a Grandfather clock in one corner and a massive fireplace on one end.

Breakfast Buffet


Bed & Breakfast: Breakfast
Folk Country Furniture


It was in the dining room where Steffie and I chatted with Edmond Sheehan the most. He’s a warm, welcoming fellow who made us feel like we were more like visiting relatives than patrons at a business. He told us about the Luas, the Dublin light rail. AMAZING transportation system. Most of his other guests at that time were Irish businessmen living there for conferences or their work week, although there was a group of teenagers he gently scolded for not telling him they would be late to breakfast.

Best of all, Gate Lodge Guest House has a mascot:

Ivan the B&B Cat
Ivan the Cat

In Summary:
Gate Lodge Guest House Pros:
- Located near major Dublin attractions, shopping centers, parks and museums.
- Short walking distance to the Luas light rail and the Hueston train station.
- Friendly, inviting atmosphere
- Clean, private and quiet facilities.
- Breakfast included with cold/hot and vegetarian options.
- Internet access available, but don’t go bananas because it is the home computer.
- Spacious rooms with comfortable bedding.
- Hot shower with toiletries if you forgot yours.
- Secure front door (you have to be buzzed in or have a key) and your own room key.
- Great neighborhood filled with delicious pubs and restaurants for any price range. Including Juno’s Cafe
- Mid-week special rates and discounts for kids up to age 16.

Gate Lodge Guest House Cons:
- If I were being really picky, I’d say that not having access to a mini refrigerator was bummer because Steffie and I like to buy food on the cheap from markets rather than eating out all of the time. Since we were only there for a couple of days, however, this was not really a problem. Plus, I bet if one asked nicely, The Sheehan’s wouldn’t mind storing one or two small items for ye.

Would I stay at Gate Lodge Guest House again? Absolutely! I wouldn’t even look anywhere else unless I needed a refrigerator. I really believe that it is the personal touches made by the Sheehan family that make places like Gate Lodge a home away from home.

Would I recommend Gate Lodge Guest House? I’d insist!

Gate Lodge Guest House
3 Conyngham Road,
Phoenix Park,
+353 (01) 6771685/ 6771735
+353 (01) 6771736

]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 19:43:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ A brutal, sad, powerful film of the Irish rebellion in the Twenties]]> The Wind That Shakes the Barley, two brothers at first made opposite decisions. A group of Black and Tan British soldiers arrive at a farm where the brothers and a group of other young men are resting after a hurling game. The British terrorize everyone there, the men, the women, the aged and the young. They beat and kill one man for refusing to give his name in English. When they roar off, one brother, Teddy (Padraic Delaney), immediately helps form the men into armed resistors. Damien (Cillian Murphy), a medical student, decides to go on to London to a prestigious medical school where he is has enrolled to finish his studies. At the train station he witnesses another group of soldiers attack and beat the train's conductor and engineer. The attacks are filled with screams and rifle butts. Damien returns to the village and joins the armed resistors.
From then on we're in the middle of a rag-tag guerilla war, driven by a stern sense of justice and a determination to force the British out of Ireland. The British use wide-spread intimidation, brutality, imprisonment and executions by courts martial. Some of the men we've met die, British soldiers die, hostages die, traitors die, a young friend of Damien's who gave information is executed by Damien. He slowly moves from a reluctant fighter to a man who has become single-minded in what he does. When a truce is declared and a peace treaty is finally agreed upon in 1922 between the British Government and Sinn Fein, the stark reality of compromise splits the fighters. On the one hand, there will be an Irish Free State with British troops withdrawn. On the other hand, it will be a member of the British Commonwealth, an oath of allegiance to the British crown will be required and Northern Ireland will remain an integral part of Britain. Is this what we fought give allegiance to the British, many ask? What we fought for was independence and in most regards we have it, say others. Ireland must be whole, say some. If we don't agree the British will flood the island with their troops, say others. We watch a civil war begin, with Irishmen taking up arms and killing each other. For the brothers, who once fought the British together, it means a crucial split. One fights to put down the rebellion against the newly independent Irish state, the other vows to fight until all Ireland is completely free.
One critic of the film said that "there isn't much nuance to either side." That's probably because, nurtured by terrible actions and long memories, there wasn't much nuance in real life. The Wind That Shapes the Barley is a sad, powerful and emotional film. It doesn't shy away from the brutality and torture by British soldiers or the ruthlessness of the armed response. Most of all, we come face to face with both the courage and the grime needed by the Irish to finally, after centuries of ruthless, condescending oppression, rid most of the island of the British. The acting is uniformly persuasive, especially by Murphy and Delaney as the two brothers. Cillian Murphy, in particular gives a subtle and mesmerizing performance. The brothers' fate may not be tragic but it is so sad it makes you reflect on what you've seen. That's not a bad thing. Each brother in his own way pays for the choices he makes.
And the title? It's from a 19th Century poem that tells of a young Irish boy who soon will leave his sweetheart to join others fighting the English in the 1798 rebellion. They would carry barley in their pockets as provisions on the march. When they were slain and their bodies pitched into unmarked mass graves by the English, from their bodies the sprouting barley came to symbolise that Irish resistance to the British would never die.
I sat within the valley green, I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove the two between, the old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glen and shook the golden barley
'Twas hard the woeful words to frame to break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame of foreign chains around us
And so I said, "The mountain glen I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold united men," while soft winds shake the barley
While sad I kissed away her tears, my fond arms round her flinging
A yeoman's shot burst on our ears from out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love's side in life's young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died while soft winds shook the barley
I bore her to some mountain stream, and many's the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green about her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse then rushed o'er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak while soft wind shook the barley
But blood for blood without remorse I've taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love's clay cold corpse where I full soon may follow
As round her grave I wander drear, noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e'er I hear the wind that shakes the barley.]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2011 21:23:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ The book of Kells - Trinity College]]>
It's also fun to just hang out at the college itself and have a bite to eat at the cafeteria and listen to the young minds that will shape Ireland. 


]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 02:39:38 +0000
<![CDATA[What's missing in the best of Irish reading Quick Tip by Penelope11]]>
Of course, a more current writer would be Roddy Doyle. Several of his books have been made into movies. The most notable being the movie called "The Commitments."

Once in Dublin you will need to do a literary pub crawl to learn more about their writing and living habits in Dublin for a fine evening.]]> Tue, 5 Apr 2011 02:08:01 +0000
<![CDATA[Juno's Cafe Quick Tip by GlassofWin]]> If you're thinking about heading to Dublin (or you're already there, lucky you!) give Juno's Cafe a whirl! Best bangers and mash I've ever had!]]> Fri, 18 Feb 2011 01:55:42 +0000 <![CDATA[ Juno's Cafe (Dublin, Ireland)]]> The day after our arrival in Cork, my pal Steffie and I had to high-tail it to Kent station to catch a train to Dublin where we would be checking in at the Gate Lodge B&B. The train ride was peaceful, and I had made sure to reserve us both window seats so we could enjoy the idyllic scenery. Even though I was so tired, I tried my best not close my eyes for more than a blink; I didn’t want to miss anything.

After we checked into our guest house and rested for a bit, we decided to take advantage of our Guinness Storehouse tickets that day since we scheduled our Jameson distillery tour the next day and didn’t want to be lushes about it all.

However, we’re smart drinkers and knew we would be best prepared for our Guinness tour (never mind I loathe Guinness and ended up trading my free pint in for water) if we had food in our bellies to better cushion any alcohol we may consume.

Just down the street from our B&B we found Juno’s, a quaint cafe featuring organic, local fare at reasonable prices.


Juno’s has a modern take on classic food in a comfortable, bistro style setting. Steffie had the Roast Roll of the Day (corned beef) on cibatta with red onion jam and dark greens. The corned beef was moist, tasty and even sweet; not at all salty like what you find here in the States come March 17th. We ended up eating most of my lunch and taking 1/2 of her sandwich with us to be eaten for dinner. Yum Yum Yum.


I had the Cumberland bangers over gold mash (potatoes) with onion gravy. Holly Hannah, what are those bangers seasoned with? Fennel & rosemary is my guess, but whatever it is ~ perfection! The mash was delicious and the onions sweet and complimentary.


The portions are generous, the service friendly & well-versed on their menu, and the cuisine cooked with the kind of mastery you’d expect to find at high-end posh eateries. My only regret regarding Juno’s is that we didn’t pop in again the next day!

Juno’s Cafe
26 Parkgate Street
Dublin 8, Co. Dublin, Ireland
01 670 9820

Breakfast Hours:
Monday – Friday
8am – 12pm
Brunch Hours:
Saturday & Sunday
10am – 4pm
Lunch Hours:
Monday – Friday
12pm – 3pm
Dinner Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday
5pm – 9:30pm

]]> Wed, 22 Dec 2010 23:03:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ Pioneering, unique stout]]>
Guinness is one of those underrated beers which is great in part because of how it subtly differs from other stouts.  Folks either love stouts or hate the burned bitterness that characterizes them.  But Guiness goes a step further by adding a signature tanginess which comes from a small portion of the wort being left to undergo a separate, different sort of fermentation.

Guinness is brewed using a somewhat unusual method whereby a small portion of the wort is set aside and allowed to undergo a lactic acid fermentation before being skimmed, boiled, and added back to the main wort.  If you taste Guinness, you will note that it doesn't taste like a stout:  it has a tangy sourness that's not normally present.  That's the lactic acid from this secondary, "sour wort" brewing.  This is similar to the tang you expect from a nice sourdough bread (and actually it's an analogous process).

Sour worts are not generally favored by most breweries and home brewers because there is a view that they are hard to control (and hence consistency isn't as possible as it might be otherwise).  This is true, but Guinness has managed to master it.

So if you are looking for a unique, bitter, and tangy beer, Guinness is one of those you cannot ignore.]]> Mon, 8 Nov 2010 17:58:37 +0000
<![CDATA[Miller's Crossing Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> Tue, 19 Oct 2010 17:02:40 +0000 <![CDATA[ This "chairman of the board" will never be fired!!!]]> I just saw a great review about Frank Sinatra's album "Songs for Swingin' Lovers" which prompted me to mention a few reasons why "the chairman of the Board" will never get fired as long as I am around!!!

I am a huge Sinatra fan!!! I am listening to him at least once a week. "Songs for Swingin' Lovers" is a great album. Nelson Riddle really knew how to get the best out of his crooners. I loved what he did with Linda Ronstadt on "Lush Life." For me, Sinatra exudes suave and debonair.

I am equally impressed with his movie work.  Two of my musical favorites are "Guys and Dolls" with Marlon Brando, and "On The Town" with Gene Kelly.  Pretty impressive since I am not a big musical fan.  Of course many would not be surprised that Sinatra could shine in musicals.  However, he was very impressive as a dramatic actor as well.  I loved him in "Von Ryan's Express", and "The Manchurian Candidate."

One of my all time cherished memories is seeing Sinatra live in concert in the early 80's in Seattle. Although not in the prime of his career, it is a night I will never forget!!! Red Buttons opened for him and was hilarious!!!

My faves are: Strangers in the Night, Summer Wind, You Make Me Feel so Young, I've Got The World on a String, Love and Marriage,... oh I could go on!!!]]> Thu, 2 Sep 2010 20:26:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ One chairman of the board that will never be fired!!!]]> Michael has written a great review about Frank Sinatra's album "Songs for Swingin' Lovers" which prompted me to mention a few reasons why "the chairman of the Board" will never get fired as long as I am around!!!

I am a huge Sinatra fan!!! I am listening to him at least once a week. "Songs for Swingin' Lovers" is a great album. Nelson Riddle really knew how to get the best out of his crooners. I loved what he did with Linda Ronstadt on "Lush Life." For me, Sinatra exudes suave and debonair.

I am equally impressed with his movie work in "Guys and Dolls, On The Town, Von Ryan's Express, The Manchurian Candidate."

One of my all time cherished memories is seeing Sinatra live in concert in the early 80's in Seattle. Although not in the prime of his career, it is a night I will never forget!!! Red Buttons opened for him and was hilarious!!!

My faves are: Strangers in the Night, Summer Wind, You Make Me Feel so Young, I've Got The World on a String, Love and Marriage,... oh I could go on!!!


]]> Thu, 2 Sep 2010 20:12:50 +0000
<![CDATA[Frank Sinatra Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> Sun, 15 Aug 2010 04:51:42 +0000 <![CDATA[Pierce Brosnan Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> Thu, 12 Aug 2010 03:15:14 +0000 <![CDATA[Guinness Draught Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> Thu, 12 Aug 2010 02:34:31 +0000 <![CDATA[Leap Year Quick Tip by MichaelN]]> Tue, 10 Aug 2010 13:15:45 +0000 <![CDATA[The Quiet Man Quick Tip by donna_r]]> Wed, 4 Aug 2010 20:28:23 +0000 <![CDATA[Leap Year Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Sun, 27 Jun 2010 16:03:31 +0000 <![CDATA[Van Morrison Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Sun, 27 Jun 2010 16:01:30 +0000 <![CDATA[Bobby Flay Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Sun, 27 Jun 2010 15:59:36 +0000 <![CDATA[U2 Quick Tip by Laur32]]> Tue, 1 Jun 2010 16:24:59 +0000 <![CDATA[Guinness Draught Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2010 21:57:28 +0000 <![CDATA[Guinness Draught Quick Tip by thomasknoll]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2010 07:21:25 +0000 <![CDATA[ Guinness Draught: Nothing but hype]]> Everyone's heard of Guinness. even if you don't drink beer, you've heard of Guinness.  As the gentleman in the TV ads would say, their marketing is, "brilliant!" Unfortunately, their beer is awful!

The Pour

Upon pouring this into a pint glass, the first reaction is, “This is one beautiful beer!”  When you first pour it, it looks brown in the glass as it comes alive in the glass and releases bubbles into a gorgeous very light beige (almost white, really) thick pillowy head.  When the beer settles down, the beer itself is almost completely black in the glass with the most beautiful head you can find in a beer. The contrast in the beer and the head is striking!

The Nose
This smells lightly of roasted malts, but without any hint of sweetness.  It is an Irish stout, after all, which is a drier stout than some other sweet stouts.  It smells somewhat clean, and there are definite hints of coffee beans.

The Taste
This has a very clean, smooth and refreshing mouthfeel and is lighter bodied than you would guess from the pour alone.  There is a very slight roasted flavor profile and it is somewhat dry on the finish.  Sounds good so far, but despite the previous descriptions, the flavor leaves me literally with a sour look on my face (something akin to the old bitter beer face).  It tasted metallic and just unpleasant to me.  I had to  follow it with a bowl of Lucky Charms to get the taste out of my mouth.

I hate Guinness. It can’t be more clear than that. It tasted metallic and just bad, and was not a pleasant beer.  If you like the flavor, for some weird reason, it is very drinkable. To me, it tastes like some sort of chemical, and Guinness’ success can be directly attributable to a job well done by their marketing folks. All hype and not much else.

Recommended: Not to my worst enemy.

Visit my blog for this and other beer reviews.]]> Fri, 19 Feb 2010 04:54:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ Nobody knows anybody. Not that well.]]>
Saying that Miller's Crossing is "a gangster movie", or is "about gangsters" is like saying that War and Peace is "about" Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Yes, the story involves Gabriel Byrne as a smart-mouthed young assistant to the head gangster (Albert Finney)--and who just happens to be sleeping with the boss's main squeeze (Marcia Gay Harden). But the movie is really about honesty--a question of ethics, as the head of the rival mob complains when he is undercut by a third rival--and how well can we really now someone. Byrne's character throws off the line that serves as my review title in his typical hard-boiled delivery--but we come to realize that it is a serious question for him when he is faced with killing the brother of the boss's--and his--mistress to prove his loyalty to his new boss. Byrne can't do it; as his mark (John Turturro) begs for his life:

"You don't bump guys! You're not like those animals back there. It's not right, Tom! They can't make us do this. It's the wrong situation, they can't make us different people than we are."

While we learn more about each character, as we look through Byrne's eyes, we never really do know them not that well.

We do learn that in the 30's, men looked good in hats, gangsters had free reign of city streets and governments, and their armament consisted of everything up to and including tripod-mounted machine guns! The violence can be sudden and harsh, but is softened by the sharp dialogue and beautiful directorial work of the Coens. Don't miss the scene involving a small boy, his dog, and an askew toupee. The camera angles, framing, cuts, and timing are perfect, and turn a throw-away scene into a 30-second gem. The movie is full of little moments like this.

In the end, Miller's Crossing works as gangster movie, as comedy, as character play, as period piece, and as a glance in the mirror at someone we may not know. Not that well.]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2010 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Abraham Stoker (Bram Stoker) Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2010 20:59:33 +0000 <![CDATA[ A Taste of Dublin]]>
On entering the pub you’ll be shocked by how awesome it looks.  According to their website the interior of the pub was “hand crafted” in Dublin which I don’t know if I really believe but that’s what the website says. The pub is relatively large for a pub with the restaurant and seating area surrounding the bar in the middle. The size was good because it allowed for the band to not be ridiculously loud.

At first I was somewhat frustrated trying to buy drinks at the bar because it felt like there was no bartender but a bartender did show up and he explained to me they were short staffed that night. For some reason the people working at the Auld Dubliner were really nice which it’s very typical in the “bar” setting. After we sat down at a table a waitress came over to us for drink orders and gave us Jenga to play if we wanted to, which we did!

The best part of the Auld Dubliner for me was the live music.  The band they had playing was great, playing a wide range of songs from traditional Irish music to the typical Flogging Molly songs as well as some Country/Bluegrass music. They have live music every evening and the bands play until late at night.

Overall the atmosphere at the Auld Dubliner was great. The people were friendly and if you are looking for a classic Irish Pub setting with good food, all the beer you can think of and great live music I highly recommend checking out the Auld Dubliner!

Map:]]> Mon, 4 Jan 2010 20:55:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ He was "The Chairman of the Board" and his amazing body of work has stood the test of time.]]> Francis Albert Sinatra sure packed an awful lot of living into his 83 years on this earth.  During the course of his remarkable career Sinatra would evolve from the handsome young singing idol of swooning bobby-soxers in the1940's to an Academy Award winning actor and ultimately into superstardom on the glittering Las Vegas Strip.  All the while Frank Sinatra was one of the most successful and prolific recording artists of the 20th Century.  Throughout his 60 year career  in show business Sinatra worked with just about every big name you can think of.  He could sing, he could dance and he was a splendid actor to boot.  There can be no doubt about it.  Frank Sinatra was an American Master

When you take a look at Frank Sinatra's long and prolific recording career the numbers are simply staggering.  Frank had his first big hit as lead vocalist of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 1940 with "I'll Never Smile Again".  Sinatra would go solo just a couple of years later.  Over the next four decades Frank would amass an astonishing total of 145 hit singles including such memorable hits as "Witchcraft" , "Come Fly With Me", "Strangers In the Night" and of course his signature tune "My Way".  But Sinatra's success was not merely limited to singles.  Frank Sinatra also sold albums by the tens of millions as well.  In fact, between 1955 and 1980 Ol' Blue Eyes released more than five dozen albums!  So just how many records has Frank Sinatra sold?   Current estimates are in the vicinity of 150 million units!    Meanwhile Sinatra was also in demand as an actor.  Over the years he appeared in an impressive total of 56 motion pictures including such silver screen classics as "The Manchurian Candidate", "High Society", "Carousel""Guys and Dolls" and "From Here To Eternity" for which he snagged an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in 1954.  Quite surprisingly, Frank Sinatra was as much at ease in dramatic roles as he was in musicals. 

During his long and distinguished show biz career Frank Sinatra was the recipient of numerous awards, citations and honors.  He was also one of the most recognized people in the world.  Frank Sinatra really did live life his way.  He rubbed shoulders with Presidents of both political parties and reputedly had numerous contacts in the underworld.  He married four times and was the father of three children.  Throughout his life Sinatra had mood swings and fought bouts of depression.  He attempted retirement on numerous occasions but found that his missed performing too much.
Ol' Blue Eyes passed away in 1998 of an apparent heart attack at the age of 83.  And what of his legacy?   Writing in the "Rolling Stone Record Guide" Steven Holden put it this way: 
"Frank Sinatra's voice is pop music history. Like Presley and Dylan — the only other white male American singers since 1940 whose popularity, influence, and mythic force have been comparable — Sinatra will last indefinitely. He virtually invented modern pop song phrasing."   I would certainly concur.    Very highly recommended!]]> Mon, 7 Dec 2009 22:47:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ My Secret Garden]]> If the Grand Canyon is where one sees God, then Secret Garden is where one hears God ...
(well, at least it is 100% true for me)!

I chanced upon the music of Secret Garden more than a decade ago while browsing at the music store. Yes, those days we did a lot of that before iTune was invented. It was one of my greatest finds in life. It still is.

Through Fionnuala's beautiful rendition of Løvland's incredible compositions, the duo made it possible to get in touch with our souls. I don't know about you, but I find it amazingly easy to get in touch with my own soul when I listen to the music of Secret Garden. Incredible, isn't it? How often can one actually truly says that one has seen God, or has heard God, or perhaps more believable for most people, to have been touched deeply by something external? Ok, it's true there are some like my mom who got emotional (like crying crazily, trust me, i'm not exaggerating!) over some soap operas... but me, hehe... nah, when I'm truly touched by something or someone, it's like the earth moving underneath one's feet! So, yes, Secret Garden did it so subtly and yet so poetically, I've been moved beyond tears (many times...).

Am I making sense to you? Probably not... oh well, why don't you just listen for yourself and try to describe them in words if you were impressed with their works? Otherwise, stay away from me! :-) We're from different planets!

Secret Garden's latest album features: Inside I'm Singing
Listen to Songs From A Secret Garden: Soundclips

My favorites of Secret Garden's compositions:


For more of Secret Garden albums:
  • Songs From a Secret Garden (Ode to Simplicity)
  • White Stone (My favorite: Passacaglia)
  • Dawn of a New Century (My favorite: In Our Tears)
  • Dreamcatcher (My favorite: Adagio)
  • Once in a Red Moon (My favorite: The Promise)
  • Earthsongs: Tracks
  • Inside I'm Singing: Tracks
" ]]> Sun, 9 Aug 2009 12:12:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ "Oh Danny boy, the tommy guns are calling!"]]>
To me the Coen Brothers have made some of the best and most unique films out now.  Focussing on crime but delving into comedy and drama, almost every one of their movies are different and unique and many of their movies simply look astounding.  To have them make a gangster film is a treat.

It's the prohibition and an Italian Gangster's presance in town has grown and he has tracked down the leaks in his gambling activities to a bookie who he wants "rubbed out" and goes to Irish party boss Leo O' Bannon to make sure the hit doesn't interfere in his business.  It would since the bookie pays for protection and the bookie's sister is dating Leo.  Leo's confidant, Tom Reagan advises against the move since upsetting the rival mob would only lead to trouble, that and Tom is sleeping with the same woman.  Taking these events into the movie we see both mobs come to violence and Tom staying ahead of everyone else on both sides to keep peace.

A little more violent then the Godfather movies and with characters who explain their motives out loud to know where they're going, the characters may lack subtlety but make up for it in depth.  Gabriel Byrne's Tom Reagan is always thinking and plotting out moves and keeps his mouth shut to not let anything out.  A particular scene however shows him staying shut for other reasons.  Albert Finney's Leo is a compassionate man who can hold his own in a fight but wouldn't have to fight so much if he'd use his head.  John Turturro's Bernie is a weasely little toad.  He'll change the color of his fur if it will keep him out of trouble, or if it will put him in a better position.  J E Freeman's Eddie Dane casts a big shadow as Johnny Caspar's main heavy.  Smarter then the average goon and he packs a wicked revolver.  Even minor characters like Frankie and Tick Tack have their defining attributes.

As great as Millers' Crossing is, it stumbles in two places.  One, it is hard to follow.  Characters are talked about here and there and you don't see them very much and maybe not until later and watching Tom maipulate the powers that be gets confusing.  Another problem is the dialouge.  Written long before Tarrentino hipped up the dialogue world with colorful sentances and sililoques, many of the characters talk in ways that you would almost wonder why they are gangsters and not poet laurettes.  Theres plenty of tough guy talk to round out the characters but you wonder what schools they went to.

Miller's Crossing is arguably the underdog in the Coen's film canon with Blood Simple getting noteriety for being their first movie and other movies like Intolerable Cruelty getting by because of the stars that are in them.  Like the calm wind whipping off your hat onto the serene forest clearing at Miller's Crossing, the movie has a quiet charm and if you can follow the story cinch up to the end you will have witnessed one of those small miracles with nary a rumpus. ]]> Thu, 23 Jul 2009 02:01:28 +0000
<![CDATA[ I enjoy "Quiet Man" more each time I see it.]]> "The Quiet Man" some 20 or so years ago I was not all that thrilled with the idea.  This is one of my wife's favorite movies and I watched it just to make her happy.  I think I fell asleep about half way through.  Generally speaking I am not a big John Wayne fan and I don't care for his westerns at all.  However, over the years we have watched "The Quiet Man" perhaps a dozen times.  Well I've  changed my tune and become a huge fan of this film.

Set in rural Ireland, the story centers around one Sean Thornton (played by John Wayne) who is returning to his native land to live after sending much of his life in Pittsburgh.   Shortly after his arrival he meets the spunky and drop-dead gorgeous Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O' Hara) and falls head over heels for her.  However, Thornton is unfamiliar with certain Irish customs and this lack of knowledge certainly complicates matters and makes for some very comical moments.  Meanwhile, Mary Kate's brother Will (Victor McLaglen) is none too happy with the idea that this Sean Thornton fellow is hot on the heels of his beloved sister. 

While "The Quiet Man"  was not filmed entirely in Ireland the photography is stunning.  We recently purchased the digitally remastered DVD and this makes viewing this film that much more enjoyable.  Also, I would be remiss if I failed to make mention  of veteran actors Barry Fitzgerald who is superb in the role of Michaleen Flynn and Ward Bond who plays Father Lonergan.   A great script and superb acting make "The Quiet Man" a highly enjoyable and entertaining motion picture experience.  Great viewing for the entire family.      Highly recommended!]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2008 11:27:13 +0000
<![CDATA[ A challenging book that is well worth the time and effort.]]> "A Year In The Life of William Shakespeare: 1599" as a gift.  Although I am an avid reader of non-fiction I initially balked at reading this volume because literature is really not my cup of tea.  I have always struggled to understand Shakespearean plays and as such I felt I would get very little out of this book.  I expected the book to be dry and uninteresting.  I was wrong.  James Shapiro has done a splendid job of helping someone like myself to get a handle on who William Shakespeare was and more importantly what his plays are all about.

The idea was really quite simple. Shapiro chose what he considered to be the most important year of Shakespeare's life and paints a vivid portrait of just what was transpiring in England during that time.  It is a brilliant concept.  As a history buff I was pleased to discover the issues that were raging in England during this period.  And while I continue to struggle with the language in the many excerpts from Shakespeare's plays that are cited in the book I now at least have some clue as to what is going on and why.  By making the effort to read "A Year In The Life of William Shakespeare: 1599" I have gained valuable insight into a time and place I knew little about.  And if you are someone who is well versed in the works of William Shakespeare I suspect you would glean a whole lot more from Mr. Shapiro's book that I was able to.  It is in the end a book that is well worth your time.    Recommended!]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2008 02:16:46 +0000
<![CDATA[ Too much screaming, too little to care about]]> Pros: Decent acting

Cons: Everything else

The Bottom Line: I will reiterate the last line in the review: Finally I just didn't care.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley covers two parts of the struggle for the Northern Irish to gain their own state. So it is a political film.

The movie begins in 1920. The first part covers how the Irish Republican Army came to be. Considering how horribly Irish were treated by the British Army (which had some Northern Irish as enlistees). The idea is that if you take away men’s dignity, they will find a way to get it back. This section has the brothers Teddy (Padraic Delaney) and Damien (Cillian Murphy) on the same side, to the point of killing a young man who ratted them out. Then, after several guerilla type activities the British offer a truce to form a Free State. The problem is that it is free in name only, still British, still loyal to the King. This causes a rift between the brothers. Teddy becomes a Free Stater and Damien remains loyal to the idea of the Republic. This allows the story to tack on a family situation that it ignored for most of the film.

The actors all do well enough and Ken Loach, director, did well enough framing everything. The problem is that, when it isn’t incomprehensible, it’s dull.

About 20% of the time the British are lining up or imprisoning Irishmen and screaming while the Irishmen scream too. Then after the Free State is declared, the Free Staters take the place of the British and about 10% more time is spent yelling incomprehensibly. If this is supposed to be a metaphor, then I get it, I get it, I didn’t need to see it over and over again. If it supposed to make me feel sympathy for the Irish, then I get it too. When they aren’t screaming over each other, they are talking politics. YAWN.

The movie is a full 2 hours and I really couldn’t get into it because, despite the sympathy, there was very little else to care about. At one point Damien goes to see a “sick” child—the child isn’t ill he is just very malnourished. Instead of focusing more on this and more reasons why they would be willing to take on the guerilla tactics they do, they focus on training the boys how to crawl on their bellies without their butts in the air. In short, there was plenty of time and space to tell stories of exploitation and the other non-violent ways the British abused the Northern Irish in the years shortly after Ireland gained independence. But Mr. Loach decides to focus on training.

This is not a slam on Catholics, but the movie only covered Catholics. If the whole Northern Irish debate centered around Catholic only, it likely would have been settled long ago. Part of the Northern Irish problem is the Orangemen (Protestants who want to remain loyal to Britain and to remain part of it). Barley makes no mention of this at all as if the only people affected were Catholics.

Still the movie was so lost that adding an extra dimension would have sent a runaway train speeding faster down the tracks to a bad ending.

Finally, and this is the worst thing I can say about any film, I just didn’t care.


]]> Thu, 13 Sep 2007 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ As Strong as a Pint of Guinness]]>
With beautiful scenery, desperate violence that make the battle scenes seem all too real, and a fragile comraderie amongst truly wronged people, 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley' harvests a rich viewing experience.

(The recent peace agreement among the Nationalists and Loyalists in Ireland is certainly heartening--the day after I saw this movie--even if the conflict in the movie is between the Irish and English.)]]> Mon, 7 May 2007 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Delivers a Knockout!]]>
"Cinderella Man" is a super movie. It has the struggle and heart of the best boxing movies (like "Rocky" and "Raging Bull") especially with a good story to go behind the scenes. The performances are formidable. Russell Crowe is brimming with toughness and decency as Braddock, and Renee Zellweger is nuanced as his nervous, but caring wife. Paul Giamatti is also in fine form as his manager. Director Ron Howard has accomplished much by zeroing in on every detail; every development and every punch line is embellished well in this movie.]]> Sat, 27 May 2006 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Excellent!]]>
As most people are already familiar with Jim Braddock's life, I will not give a synopsis of the plot. There are many heartwarming scenes especially when Rene Zellweger (Jim's wife) is helpless to take care of her child who appears to be sick with pneumonia. Another is when Jim is desperate to get his kids back, painfully goes asking for a handout and for government assistance. There are quite a few excellent supporting actors (the actor who starred in Sideways and the actor who played Jean Claude VanDame's friend in Time Cop) as well as the menacing actor who plays Max Baer. You can cut the tension with a knife when Jim has to step in the ring with Baer, knowing that he recently killed two fighters in the ring.

Not to be missed!]]> Mon, 22 May 2006 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Moving Story]]> Fri, 30 Dec 2005 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[ Brother can you spare a dime...]]>
In 1928 Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) was a top contender for boxing fame, supporting his wife Mae (Renée Zellweger) and three children, wisely investing his earnings form his winning fights in the reliable stock market, devoting his time to his family and securing their future. Then 1929 happened and the stock market crash destroyed his savings and damaged his ability to fight, plunging him into the mass of poverty accompanied by nearly all Americans. Jim and Mae struggle to feed and clothe their children, and Jim is unable to win at boxing, becomes a 'loser', loses his license, and survives by daily showing up at the docks for the negligible chance of work. The times are bleak, and there is a moment when Mae shifts the children around to family members because they have no food or heat. But Jim's fight manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti), himself surviving the bad times under a hollow facade, manages to gain Jim a fight. Despite his advancing age, broken hands, fallen reputation, and challenged ego, Jim manages to sustain his spirit and fights for the survival of his family. The rest is history.

Ron Howard directs this story of a man's indomitable spirit with a fine sense of pacing and manages to hold this two and a half hour movie together without a moment of wasted time. With cinematographer Salvatore Totino and musical score writer Thomas Newman he manages to recreate the gray brown mood of the Great Depression better than any film to date. There are small supporting roles that truly shine: the grossly underused Paddy Considine, Craig Bierko, and Bruce McGill among them are beautifully carved creations. Russell Crowe gives his most understated, credible role and truly inhabits 'Cinderella Man' (his moniker) as a desperately needed hero of the people of the Depression Era. Renée Zellweger once again plays, well...Renée Zellweger. The surprising acting comes from the solid support by Paul Giamatti. If he isn't nominated for best supporting actor then people aren't watching!

CINDERELLA MAN is a strong film, one that sweeps you up and carries you along - even if you don't care about boxing! Grady Harp, December 05]]> Fri, 9 Dec 2005 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Enjoyable and Listenable]]>
Neither of us were aficionados of Irish music until then. Coming from California, I equated 'Irish' music with the local "Celtic" groups at home that played a limpid New Age/folk pap --short on substance and no muscle at all --Ireland via Windham Hill, if you were.

A month in Ireland changed all that. In the pubs, we heard live, muscular music --it was energizing and great fun. We began experimenting with contemporary Irish recorded music --Christie Moore first, Hammy Hamilton, Con O'Drisceoll and Seamus Creigh, Mary Black (whom we heard live on our last night in Ireland), and, my favorite, KILA.

I left Ireland hooked on the music. Recently, I ordered three more albums by contemporary Irish groups: KILA: Lemonade and Buns --out of circulation, alas!; Lunasa: Otherworlds; and Sharon Shannon: Live in Galway.

In both Sharon Shannon's album and this one by Lunasa, I appreciate the verve that the musicians bring to the songs as well as the exceptionally high level of musical talent.

Lunasa is more adventurous and musically more diverse than Sharon Shannon, blending wood flute, guitar, bass or strings, and (occasionally) pipes. The best of the songs on this album--'Goodbye Miss Goodovich,' 'The Floating Crowbar'-- are exceptional music and every cut on this fine album pleases the ear. Sharon Shannon and her colleagues are more traditional but equally virtuosic. They provide first-rate foot-tapping versions of traditional Irish music.

If I were to differentiate among them, I would say that Lunasa and KILA are the groups I would most like to listen to on my iPod, and Sharon Shannon's is the group I'd hire if I were hosting a dance or party.

Lunasa is outstanding music. It satisfied me both intellectually and viscerally. Why isn't most American pop music as satisfying?

David Keymer
Modesto CA]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2005 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Atmospheric Irish thriller]]> Wed, 7 Sep 2005 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[ A dangerous intersection indeed....]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2004 12:00:00 +0000