27 February 2008

Falling Slowly

Yesterday, The Irish Times featured a cartoon that brilliantly synchronized two facets of Irish current events: the Oscar award to Glen and Marketa and the Mahon Tribunal.

All I know about this Mahon tribunal is that it has something to do with the Taoiseach (pronouned "tee-shook" for you non-Irish - he's essentially the Prime Minister of Ireland) accepting money 10 or 20 years ago that he shouldn't have accepted and that this "tribunal" is going on and on and on and on.

As for the Oscar award for the film "Once," what a moving experience to see Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová performing that simple, beautiful song from a simple, beautiful film on Hollywood's biggest stage. People here in Dublin who are tuned in to the music scene have always known that Hansard is a brilliant song-writer. Too bad that the YouTube video of Markéta's little speech has been pulled, but props to Jon Stewart for bringing Markéta back onstage to share.

23 February 2008

Playing Tour Guide

Had a chance to play tour guide to my younger brother who was here for a week. Here's a video of some highlights.

12 February 2008

Fun with Population Statistics

Came across some figures from the Central Statistics Office today. In the 2006 census, there were 12,475 American expatriates living in Ireland. Seems like a lotta Yankees, until you consider that it's only about .3% of the entire Irish population. Given that just under 10% of the population are non-Irish, that means that Americans make up about 3% of all non-Irish people.

UK citizens (of which there are 112,548) make up about 2.7% of the population in Ireland and 26.8% of the non-Irish population. The CSO website doesn't seem to indicate how many of those UK citizens are from Northern Ireland versus Great Britain, but it would be interesting to find that out. Personally, I think I've met about 3 or 4 Northern Irish folks and about the same number from other parts of Britain living here in Dublin (2 English, 1 Welshman, and a Scottish girl).

The next largest group of non-Irish are Polish with 63,276 (including fellow Dublin Blogger, Oskar, and a lovely family of 4 living across the street from us), making up about 1.5% of the population in Ireland and 15% of the non-Irish population.

I'd say Ireland is becoming a pretty international place, though probably not as much as England or other parts of Europe just yet. And this international flavour is much more pronounced in Dublin. (On a side note, my wife and I had an interesting conversation with a young man from Iraq serving tables in a classy little restaurant in Cashel last summer.)

09 February 2008

Gourmet Fish 'n Chips & Lighting Up the Docklands

Last night, I took the family in to the town centre to have a look at the public art installation in the Docklands. On the way, we decided to stop by somewhere new for dinner. We'd been curious about The Dandelion across from St. Stephen's Green, so when the LUAS dropped us off, we strolled over to have a look at the menu. The early bird special seemed decently priced, especially in comparison to the all-American TGI Friday's next door. Two courses were €15.50 per person and included a few simple dishes like a hamburger, fish and chips, and a stir fry dish.

As we were escorted to our table, it was hard to miss how extravagantly retro the place was decorated. Didn't seem like we fit in, pushing our pram along with our 4-month-old sucking away on her soother, though at the same time it was relaxed. I walked around to have a better look at the restaurant a little bit and noticed that it could be rented out for private functions. It seemed very conducive for parties and celebrations. The food was amazing. I ordered the fish and chips and my wife ordered the stir fry. I hadn't realized how elegantly and perfectly balanced fish and chips could be! And my wife loved the stir fry.

Then it was off on the long trek over to the Docklands. Below are a few pictures from the Docklands installation called Lightwave 08. Our 4-month-old daughter is particularly captivated by lights, so it was fun to see the look of wonderment on her face as we strolled through Grand Canal Square.




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07 February 2008

A Brand New Film Festival with Potential

While it’s good to know that there is a tight community of adventure sports fans in Ireland, it’s unfortunate that none of them seem to own a computer with decent video editing software.

Last night, I attended half of the Wee Adventure Film Festival in The Sugar Club. I had planned on making my €10 entrance fee go all the way, particularly to see Shakinda’s VJ mashup of the film highlights at the end. However, I decided during the break, after having watched the first 8 films, that being forced to stand for another 2 hours through dodgy home-made movies was just not worth it. It seemed that virtually all of the seating at tables in the club were reserved for the 16 teams of people (and their friends and family) who had submitted films. The rest of the space in the aisles and at the back was filled to capacity with the rest of us, holding our beers close and apologizing to others around us anytime we shifted our weight or brought our pint to our mouth.

While most of the films were given minimal time in cheap editing software, much of the footage was indeed an adrenaline rush. In particular, the second film portrayed skydivers falling backward out of a perfectly good hot air balloon. Despite the shoddy camera work and annoying, deafening sound of the wind in the microphone, a collective gasp swept over the room as the festival audience obviously caught a glimpse of what it’s like to free-fall into wide open spaces.

Other highlights of the first half of the festival included the poetic way in which the first rock climbing film was narrated. Also, a kayaking film shot in Norway was probably the closest thing to a professionally produced adventure documentary and an orienteering film included some quality filming and artistic presentation.

I’m sure the organizers of the event were well-pleased with the turnout to this festival debut. I can only hope that the buzz and excitement from this year will motivate the organizers to give incentive for more quality offerings at the next festival, should there be one. I imagine there could be endorsement deals from various equipment/clothing companies as a result. Best of all, a growing, ever-improving festival such as this could go a long way in promoting adventure sports in Ireland.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t let the athletes themselves shoot or edit the films. At least not without sending them to some sort of adventure filmmaker’s seminar first.

04 February 2008

Dublin Goings On

Always lots going on in Dublin. This week in particular, I'm hoping to stop by an art installation in the Docklands. On Wednesday night, The Sugar Club is hosting an extreme sports film festival, featuring guest VJ Shakinda, whom I had a chance to meet a few months back through some mutual friends. Also this month, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is on from the 15th - 24th. Last year, Once was all the rage at the festival, after gaining popularity at other European film events. In fact, it sold out within hours of the Dublin film festival box office opening up.

On the 14th, my brother is over for a week. Always enjoyable having family over to visit and give us a chance to show off this beautiful part of the world that we live in. Aside from just strolling through St. Stephen's Green and down Grafton Street, I usually also enjoy taking people to the Book of Kells and the Guinness Storehouse. However, with my li'l bro here, it'll be a unique opportunity to stop by some pubs that I haven't had a chance to visit yet. The Blue Light, The Porterhouse, and Grogan's are at the top of the list.