Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Dean Winchester Award: Leo Burdoch's Takeaway

Award

It's that time again!

This time, I'm going to award it not to a single individual, but to an organisation. I think there are very few of you that will disagree that Leo Burdoch's Takeaway is probably the finest franchise with which we Irish have been able to associate ourselves.

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The service is reliably excellent with staff who are always friendly (even at obscene hours in the morning) and the food is so freakishly delicious and plentiful in its quantity that you never, ever regret forking out the customary €2.95 for a bag of chips. Not to mention, the place always looks incredibly clean, especially when you take into account the fact that there are crack-dens that are cleaner and more well-kept than Supermacs and Abrakebabra.

Last night, after three post-work pints in Winter's, I was feeling quite a bit peckish so my jolly old buddy Kevin Corcoran and I opted for this fine Irish establishment (after initially considering McDonalds as the better option). The gentleman behind the counter asked if I would like "Chunky Chips or even chunkier chips?". I responded as any monetarily-impaired capitalist would: "How much extra does that cost?"

His answer? "Nothing. It's just something different we're trying out, at no extra cost."

The chips were indeed chunkier and quite a bit different, but no less delicious and well worth the money. Truly, the work of badasses. Enjoy your award, and my continued, post-pints custom in the future.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Retro Movie Review: Darkman

Even though I promised at the start of the semester that I was going to avoid DVD-buying at all costs and focus all of my financial energy into saving for my Canada trip, I've still slipped up here and there when I really wanted to watch something. In the last month or so I've bought (500) Days of Summer (which is one of my all-time top ten), The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Star Trek XI, Once and one or two others all at decent enough prices. I say 'decent enough prices' because I'm trying to justify how little self-control I have when it comes to buying DVDs.

The other day, I bought 'Darkman' having never seen it before, beyond this trailer...



...as well as my good friend Parker praising it for years. It was directed by Sam Raimi (who recently directed the Spider-Man trilogy, which while popular when it was released, is starting to get retroactively mixed reactions from a lot of fans) after he tried and failed to get the rights to make a movie based on either Batman or the Shadow. So, he made his own character.


The basic plot sees handsome, youthful, pre-Schindler Liam Neeson play Generic McScientist whose plot device is 'a synthetic skin' formula he's developed. The skin is designed to replace scarred or destroyed tissue for burn victims, etc. Except (and here's where it gets awesomely corny) it only works for 99 minutes when exposed to light. However in The Dark, it works indefinitely!

Of course, The Bad Guys trash Neeson's lab for some reason and set the place on fire, leaving poor Liam Neeson scarred beyond recognition. He's saved by a bunch of yuppie scientists who perform experiments on him to dull the intense agony he should be under and end up giving him super strength at the cost of his sanity. Out for revenge, he sets up a lab in a stereotypically abandoned warehouse and uses his skin formula to disguise himself as various members of the gang who destroyed his lab.

So what did I think of it?

Honestly, for all of its hype (and it was hyped, a lot) it's a pretty bland film. Its plot is pretty derivative, none of the characters are particularly interesting and Darkman's 'master of disguise' shtick is kind of lame, because it means we never actually get to see 'him'. Just other actors playing him-in-disguise. The love-interest stuff is obviously referencing the Phantom of the Opera and The Beauty and the Beast, but again it just feels like it's all been done before and the actress playing Darkman's girlfriend is neither attractive nor talented.

The movie certainly isn't really bad by any means, but unfortunately it's just not very good, either. It's one of the hundreds of films just like it that fall in the vague, purgatory in the middle. It's not terrible enough to be funny and it's not great enough to be awesome.

Bizarrely enough, this film spawned two direct-to-video sequels sans Neeson. In spite of my disappointment with this first film, I kind of have to see the sequels. Especially the third film in the franchise, which is so terrifically called:


DIE, DARKMAN, DIE!

 Here is a movie I have to see...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rob's Re-Introduction to the Rag

First and foremost, I would like to heartily apologise for the lack of furious updates around these parts. The fact of the matter is that I was bogged down with electoral duties in college (long story) and I was up to my eyes counting ballot papers, citing inane (and partially fictional) sections of the DCU Students' Union Constitution at drunken blondes and having my every move calculated and analysed by journalists, right down to what I was having for lunch. Needless to say that blogging didn't really fit into my schedule.

Anyway, as basically all of you will know, I've been repeatedly harping on about how I'd given up the booze for the guts of the semester in an effort to save money. Well, I'm happy to say that it's over now and I more or less did what I set out to do. It's interesting to note though that while I did manage to save a lot of money, a lot of that money has already been spent on various deposits, accomodation and flights, so my credit union savings account is still worryingly south of the €1000 mark. But I'm happy with the amount that's there and hopefully I'll get enough hours in at work to be safe enough.



The number one thing people kept telling me throughout my sabbatical was that the drink would hit me harder than ever once I started again. Funnily enough, this didn't happen at all. I went through about seven beers and several glasses of champagne on my re-introduction night and I was no worse than usual. So that's that theory out the window.

In terms of things I've learned while socialising sober, I have a lot to say. First and foremost, I think it should be re-iterated how annoying it is when people pressure you to drink. Alcohol is a personal drug and people need to stop pretending like it matters whether or not everyone's drunk at a party in order for it to be any good in retrospect. If you like drinking or doing drugs, fine. That doesn't mean everyone else has to in order for you to be justified. It's really ignorant and off-putting and they act as if there's something terribly wrong with you for avoiding their over-arching wavelength of awesomeness. Some of my best friends and some of the wisest and most sensible people I know really let me down in this regard and showed me a side of them I never knew existed. On the other hand, there were people who I thought were going to be complete assholes about the whole thing and showed nothing but support. Basically, the experience really showed me a lot about the friendships I have with certain people and the respect people have for me and others.

Secondly, if ever you find yourself in trouble with money, give up alcohol. Seriously. You save so much money, almost straight away. Even if you don't drink that often, you won't believe how little you spend in a week when you cut it out of your life.

Finally, I think I realised more than anything else that I really just don't care about spirits. They're really nasty and filthy-tasting and if you drink too much of them, getting sick feels like getting tortured by Zombie Nazi Ninjas. If you get sick from drinking too much beer, it ends in about five seconds, with little or no pain, leaving you ready to get straight back into drinking. Give me a beer, any day, I say!