Holiday Eats and Paddy’s Day

Latimer eating
Food, glorious FOOD!

Latimer: Where am I now? I’m not too sure really, but I bet I am eating my own weight in noodles, at least I hope so or I will be so very disappointed in myself! (Don’t disappoint me future self!)

IMG_20130820_123835

It’s also Paddy’s Day today (Lá Fhéile Pádraig) – the first one that I’ll be spending off of the auld sod! It’ll make me smile if I see some shamrocks and a bit of green in China today!

Hope you all have a good day 🙂

st-patricks-day-dublin-green-trinity-college


Get Animated!

Latimer: We went to an event in the Science Gallery on Friday night (the Science Gallery is located in Trinity college). It was held by the PEGBAR Irish animators network. I was late… and word to the wise, DO NOT try and run on wet cobblestones (of which there are many in Trinity) – it doesn’t end well!

Ridley: While she was slipping and sliding her way to the event, I was already there waiting for her, with a name badge on and surrounded by very friendly strangers. Picture, crowds milling around with glasses of wine at the reception, everyone grinning, laughing and waving towards people who they hadn’t seen in ages, it was like one big reunion. I think the animation world, in Ireland anyway, is a small one. And then there was me, not even a proper hobbyist animator never mind a professional, trying to look like I belonged. I was doing the ‘Im texting lots of people and looking up important things on my phone, not desperate for anyone to talk to me, nope nope‘…in the corner! I was going for busy but still approachable look! It worked in the end, I randomly made a new friend who was also waiting around near me. It turned out he was a freelance animator, so I got to pepper him with questions and see some of his cool artwork. It was really great to get an insight into the job by someone ‘in the biz’ and to hear what he thought of it.

Beware the cobblestones! Beware!

Latimer: I arrived for the talk, which started with a colourist from Marvel comics, Jordie Bellaire (she worked for DC and others, very lucky :)).

Marvelous Marvel 🙂

She was talking about the importance of colours and mood, and this can also be seen in movies. She was so enthusiastic and animated about her work; even when she wasn’t ‘working’, her mind was fixed on colours. She would watch movies and list out the colours in the scenes. It’s always really cool to see someone so inspired by what they do 🙂

Ridley: Really inspiring! She seemed like a really cool person too. Her talk opened my eyes to seeing films and images in a different way! Who knew the use of colour could have so much impact on a scene and on the feelings of the audience, really interesting!

Latimer: Then there was a talk from Nora Twomey, she is a director from the Irish animation studio, Cartoon Saloon. (Ridley: One of my favourite Irish studios! I love their work! I was dying to hear what she had to say!) She was showing some of the short films she had worked on and talking about getting them funded and the compromises you have to make with scenes and moments you have to leave out.

It made me think of when you’re writing and there are times you want to say more and show another scene, but in the end, the story is better off without it (no matter how in love with the moment you were!). It’s hard to cut them out, but it makes a tighter story in the end. (Ridley: Very true!)

There was this one film she showed; it really stuck with me, it was really atmospheric and drew me in. (Ridley: Creepy too…in a delightful way…is that possible, to be delightfully creepy? haha) 

The studio also did some work for TG4 (that’s TG Ceathair, an all-Irish-speaking TV channel we have here in Ireland). The cartoon studio were asked to do some short animations to Irish songs, the series called Anam an Amhráin (Soul of the Song).

This song is about a young 9 year old girl who is in love with a shoemaker, wants to marry him and runs away from home to be with him! In the actual animation, they felt this was a bit too much, so instead they made her dream of the shoe maker when she slips on the hill! (Ridley: It’s an absolutely gorgeous song. This is Irish at it’s best and most beautiful.)

I got caught up with these and wanted to know what other songs had been animated… this is what I found…

This one is about a woman to wants to be Paddy’s wife and wishes his actual wife ill… her struggles are desperate but pretty funny! (Ridley: Haha, this is good, she even wishes a broken foot and hand on the wife!!)

This next one is about the Irish pirate queen Gráinne Mhaol, or Grace O’Malley… ‘Óró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile’ is an interesting song, it started out originally about Bonnie Prince Charlie and was a Jacobite rebel song.. then later in the 1900s it became a rebel song about Grace O’Malley coming to Ireland with her warriors to free the land from English rule. In the video it seems mostly about Grace’s life.

All and all, pretty interesting, particularly because the event made me look for these videos :)! 

Ridley: It was a great night, I loved seeing all the Irish language work that’s being done! Not to mention, we went for yummy Korean food afterwards, it was so tasty *happy sigh*.

Bram Stoker Festival 2012

Spooky, ghoulish goings-on, in the courtyards of Dublin Castle this bank holiday weekend… welcome to Bram Stoker’s imagination!

Ridley: The Bram Stoker festival was packed with things to do all weekend, from talks by Patricia Cornwell, writing workshops for children, plays and discussions on vampires. Christopher Lee was even awarded the Bram Stoker Gold Medal by the Philosophical society in Trinity College for his past role as Dracula. Bram, in his time at Trinity, was the president of this society.

So many of these events were ticket only and sold out quite quickly!

Latimer: We didn’t realise until too late that you had to have tickets for these events! So we really missed out. Derek Landy (author of Skulduggery was talking in one of the theatres) and there were lots of talks about vampires and vampirism in Trinity College (as Ridley says, Bram’s old Alma mater). There were a lot of interesting talks, and I was really disappointed that we didn’t get to go to them! 😦

Ridley: Well, no matter, we did manage to get tickets to one event at least!

We attended a night time, outdoor performance by the award winning street theatre company, Spraoi, in the Grand Courtyard of Dublin Castle. It was held there as Bram used to have a tedious desk job in one of the offices in the castle.

Latimer: I like to imagine Bram sitting at a desk inside the fantastic building that is Dublin Castle, daydreaming about Romania and vampires! I wonder did Dublin Castle spark off any dreams of Vlad’s castle? You can just picture vampire’s roaming the darkness of the Castle courtyards…

Our good friend Orbie joined us on this night of terror! She told me that there was a Bram Stoker App (made by the Science Gallery), that was devised for the festival. The App uses your phone GPS to tell you if you are in a hotspot for vampires or ghosts in Dublin. When it tells you, you are, you take a photo of the street or area, and a ghost will appear on your image! Or so Orbie told me… While we waited in the queue to go into the Castle courtyard… we tried to find some ghosts!

Then we got bored and the queue started moving, so we were swept inside and pretty much forgot until now about this App!

There was the chilling sound of people moaning like ghosts… The idea of the event was scenes and characters from Dracula. As the crowd moved forward under the arch into the courtyard, we were met with a massive moon display, against the backdrop of a dark and eerie courtyard. There was a man sitting within the moon, screaming and shouting…

We were pulled into a dark world, filled with vampires and ghouls. There were performers wandering around the cold courtyard, screaming and hissing.

As I was standing staring at an eerie display (wedding dresses hanging off a man-made tree) a ghoulish performer came up to me and started pulling at a plastic bag I was holding (it contained a proof copy of our book, which I was handing off to Ridley). I gave a nervous laugh, “you’re really getting into this” I said, there was absolutely no break in character, she raced off to pull at some of the other people (some of the crowd was also dressed up for the night as vampire’s and devils – she was particularly fascinated by these people, me in my north face jacket didn’t do much for her! Boring I guess!). 

As we walked from display-to-display, a rock band played Gothic sounding music under arches lit in an eerie green glow…

Vampire girls dressed in haunting white dresses stalked through the crowd. They came together at one display (a bench lit by a single street lamp) and performed a strange struggle – pulling out of a young girl dressed in white (eventually turning her into a vampire). I think these girls were Dracula’s vampire women!

As Orbie was talking her photos of this performance… this girl crept up behind her!

Naturally, I started snapping photos, THEN, I said “Orbie… behind you!” and she turned and jumped out of the way with a yelp, “JAYSUS”!

The crowd started to move then over to a macabre display of an autopsy table… two vampire ghouls were pulling at the body… Afterward I got some photos and it looks pretty creepy… The face… the face! Very scary!

All the while, a carriage was working its way through the crowd… the man inside looks like he could be someone important… eh? Well, yep, as it turns out, this guy was playing Bram Stoker…

He was heading towards this large wooden construct;

Once he reached the top he read to us, telling us to stay in the light, and out of darkness… away from the shadows…

He then sat back, writing at a typewriter.

Nearby, there was a display in the corner that looked important.. 

There was a massive coffin beside it… Dracula making his way from the port (as in the book… which for me is actually the Gary Oldman movie… I remember the port from the movie!)

Out of it came this massive skeleton! Dracula!

A performer dressed up as a more manageable-sized Dracula, made his way to Bram in his wooden tower, along with all the hissing vampire ladies!

Dracula looks like he’s smiling here, haha, going, ‘this is great! look at me Mammy!’ haha

Bram brought the night to an end, with a brief final reading from the book. It was pretty cool.

Ridley: The event was really interesting! (Though it was wet and absolutely freezing!! Our hands were red raw, time to buy some gloves, me thinks!).

Latimer: Yea! My hands felt like I’d stuck them in a -80 freezer! The pain traveled right up my arms! It was so cold! God bless my north face jacket (the best buy ever!) – it did save me from the cutting breeze, I just needed some gloves!

Well, afterward everyone made their way home, out of Bram Stoker’s dreams and back to reality… Which took the form of a woman dancing in the window of her apartment (which faced an entrance to Dublin Castle)! She had the lights on, the curtains pulled back and was going wild dancing. Everyone stood there laughing (of course she knew everyone could see!). Then she jumped away, leaving her two flatmates (who were sitting down on the couch) staring blankly out at us! 

The festival was fun, hopefully they’ll make it a yearly thing! It would be pretty interesting. We’ll hopefully be more prepared next year! 😦

TED x Dublin = Fantastic

Ridley: I was at a full day of TEDx talks on Saturday. I don’t know if anyone else ever watches the TED videos online (they can be found, funnily enough, at ted.com) These video clips are recorded at TED talks carried out all around the world, they can be inspirational, funny, sad, pack to the gills with techy/sciencey/ fun information from world renowned experts. This year, (though not for the first time ever-supposedly we’ve had small TED talks before this that I never knew about) there was a talk held in the Grand Canal theatre. (‘Twas Latimer who sent me an email to let me know they were on, I booked it immediately-she knows me well!)

I was really looking forward to it; the geek in me continued to give little shivers of excitement all week. (It was sort of creepy)

But I anticipated that I’d learn loads.

Even just from the last few Ted video clips I’ve watched on their website, I came away knowing what a snollygoster was (some words sound more exciting than their meanings) that animals can show moral behaviour like humans (very interesting, confirms my beliefs that animals are very smart. And the end bit with the monkeys, the cucumber pieces and the grapes is hilarious.) and I’ve watched Steve Job’s Stanford University commencement speech quite a few times (really really inspiring).

Considering I get such enjoyment out of seeing these clips all online, I could only imagine how great it was going to be with TED presenters in real life.I wasn’t disappointed! Even when I spent much of the few days before it daydreaming about what it was going to be like. I pictured myself at the theatre wearing round glasses, in a pin striped skirt suit thing, conversing with the informed important people on stage about their findings. In my head, I imagined I had an intelligent ‘tell me more’ frown and my nods were slow. I also often paused in thought, before I jotted down comprehensive notes for later. I dreamed the speakers’ jaws would drop at my fantastic insight into their fields of study and I’d sit back and cross my arms with a smug expression and the words, ‘oh, I know’. I had an image of a stunned audience gaping at me as I got up to leave the room. I’d marched away from the building, slipping on a pair of expensive sunglasses, shaking out my (suddenly) long blonde hair, as two helicopters battled it out overhead, while I slid into the leather front seat of a black sleek sports car with a James Bond type man waiting for me at the wheel. He’d have very white teeth…

(Ahem….yes…well being fairly quiet in large groups of more than six people, I don’t think this scenario will ever play out quite like this. It’s a pity as, in my head, that helicopter gun fight was pretty epic….and his teeth really were quite sparkly.)

So what really happened (I hear you sigh in exasperation)? I went and I frowned alright, but it was more of a grimace of confusion. The only thing I used my pen for was to scratch my head and any ‘notes’ started with ‘Whaaaaat’ and ended with a lot of question marks. Haha. Nah, this only really happened during one talk filled with statistics on urban settlements, my blonde brain followed along surprisingly well with everyone else! However, there were no smart-looking glasses or flashy suits anywhere near me! Try jeans and a t-shirt, turns out this smart casual was the dress code of everyone else too! I lucked out there! I was also seats and seats away from the stage. The only way the speakers were ever going to know I was there was if I’d been forcibly removed by security for setting off a fire cracker, or from falling down a long row of steps and landing in a heap at their feet (this is more likely than you could ever realise! My feet hate me. ‘Hello right foot, I’m bored. Want to play?’ ‘Sure, leftie, I’ll come over!’ Ridley frowns down in slow motion, “Noooo…” *thump*).

Anyway…yes, I loved all the talks! They touched on topics like genetics, civic pride, comedy, art, the environment, architecture, public transport (I’d never have believed I could find learning about bus routes entertaining, but I did! And no, I’m not insane-yet!). There was even a band, The Amazing Few, who made us all get up and do a dolphin dance. I didn’t quite resemble a dolphin, more like a flopping dying fish. It basically involved a lot of awkward wriggling, jerking and bending while you tried to stay well clear of the strangers beside you in case they got the wrong idea!

I learned there’s an important link between bats and the advancement in genetics, health and agriculture. Despite this, the only bat I like is the one who sounds like he suffers from laryngitis; Batman! (The music always plays in head when I say his name. Daah na na na na na naa…now you can hear it too, can’t you? Mwhaa.)

In another talk I found out that a chance meeting of two men over a second dinner, because the spot-on-the-plate-just-give-me-a-bag-of-chips nouvelle cuisine of the 1980s still left you hungry enough to eat your arm, could lead to the establishment of one of the most important research endeavours carried out by the genetics department in Trinity College, Dublin.

I gained insight into great minds of the world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind (the man behind the master plan at Ground Zero in New York and even the designer of the very theatre I ended up listening to his speech in) and visual artist Kevin Abosch (whose photographed some of the most famous people in the world, including Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Scarlett Johansson…)

All in all, what could have been a day of absolute hell for some people was my idea of a grand ole time! I spent hours in the same room as the movers, shakers, thinkers and leaders of different fields. (Comedian Dara O’Briain was in the audience with us too, you know. I found this out via twitter from someone else who was there, technology is amazing really. He studied mathematics and theoretical physics in University College Dublin, you know. A very funny and extremely smart man! And I quite like watching his show ‘School of Hard Sums.’)

TEDx Dublin was enlightening, fascinating and in a way made me quite jealous, the speakers were all so passionate about what they do in their day-to-day lives. They clearly loved their work.

And personally, I think we all search for that, don’t we? To be inspired and in turn inspire others?

So it was nice to be inspired for the day!

(Of course when I came out of the theatre to find my car was clamped (street clampers, me ole foes. We meet again!) because I got the free times for the on-street parking wrong, that dimmed the inspirational surges for a time.

The scene of the clamping! My traumatised car is behind me

But I just did an about-face, figured my car wasn’t going anywhere and I went for food instead. And I found out you can’t be upset when you’re chomping down on a crunchy prawn cracker! 😀 )