First picture of Heath Ledger as the Joker →


Okay, so he may not have been my first choice of someone to play the Joker in Christopher Nolan's follow-up to Batman Begins, but I never though Heath Ledger would make a bad Joker. Now they've released the first picture of Heath Ledger in Joker make-up, and... my goodness, this is shaping up nicely, isn't it? I really like the move away from the traditional demented clown look into a more gritty, Ichi the Killer-style scar.

Although I still think it's a shame we'll never get to see what Vincent Cassel could have done with the role.

(via empireonline)

Trailer for 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles' online →

My girlfriend has a little lady-boner for Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. It's where she gets her hard-ass attitude from. Except I can't imagine she'll be too thrilled about this - it's a TV show based around the life of Sarah Connor between T2 (where she was awesome and kick-ass) and T3 (where she was dead). Full of embarrassing throwbacks to the movies, including "Come with me if you want to live".

More clips here.

Breathtaking Irish short movie released online

Lonely Sky Nick Ryan, producer on Ruairi Robinson's "Silent City", has released the full version of his film "A Lonely Sky" online. Starring Keir Dullea (of 2001: A Space Odyssey) it tells the story of a pilot in 1947 trying to break the sound barrier.

As with Silent City, I'm completely blown away by the amount of work everyone seems to have put into this short movie and the scale and quality of the results. Congratulations to everyone involved.

While you're at it, you should check out Nick Ryan's portfolio, for videos of the ads and other short films he's directed.

Danger: Diabolik →

danger_diabolik.jpg Danger: Diabolik could be the greatest movie I've ever seen. Click on the image above to check out more stills from the film and tell me if you don't wanna see it immediately. Is it a spy movie with a lot of kissing? Or a softcore porno with a really good plot? Either way, it's features one of my favourite actors, Terry Thomas, so it's okay by me.

And what's more, it's directed by Mario Bava and filmed in Dino Di Laurentiis' Roma studios, so it counts as part of my Italian cultural learning! Bonus!

Spatial Dissonance

On my first trip here, I experienced what I guess I'd call a sort of temporal dissonance. I was in a taxi, heading up the Gianicolo towards my hotel. The Gianicolo is a hill that sits in the south-west part of the city, meaning that from the top, you have a perfect view of historical Rome on the one side, and a fantastic view of the Vatican from the other. Now, maybe it was just the jetlag, but sitting back in that taxi, I had an of out-of-body experience: I realised that I would soon be living in Rome, a place I always thought of as almost fictional, a mythic place where all the history happened. The rational part of my brain decided this was my only chance to feel overwhelmed by the city before I would have to get on with day-to-day life, and so I sat back, reeling at the weight of it all.

Strangely, this is the only time I have felt this way. Now, I'm cutting across St. Peter's Square - a magnificently opulent, overwhelming place - on a daily basis and only when I'm halfway across do I gain any sort of awareness; holy fuck! I'm cutting across St. Peter's Square!

I'm blaming this on everyone's favourite scapegoat: videogames. When we first visited the Pantheon, I wondered what was up on the second level of the building. In my imagination, I saw a dark place, filled with wooden crates, lever-puzzles and bad guys with Uzis. But hang on a second... Wooden crates don't actually exist in the real world, not really. They only exist in videogames as containers for ammo and/or health. And bad guys with Uzis? Jesus. Then I realised, I had seen the inside of the upper levels of the Pantheon. Or, at least, a Pantheon. In a videogame. (Tomb Raider perhaps?) And in the end, a tiny part of me was disappointed by the actual Pantheon because I didn't get to go exploring all its dark corners.

Gears of War has affected my experience of Rome more than any other videogame. The look of the game, the so-called "Destroyed Beauty", was heavily influenced by Romanesque architecture. For the most part, the game takes place in wide streets flanked by marvelous, oppressive buildings and everything in a massive state of disrepair. Well, this being Rome, there's no shortage of Romanesque architecture. Or wide streets. Or marvelous, oppressive buildings. But there's more to this than simple generalities. On Via Nazionale, there's a building whose long, winding entrance I would swear is the direct inspiration for the Fenix Mansion part of Gears of War.

I'm still blown away by Rome on a daily basis, especially when I stumble across some particularly beautiful place. But still, a tiny part of me is waiting for the moment that the Locust Horde comes pouring out of the ground. Where's my Lancer?

Point - Counterpoint →

Point: Wearing helmets 'more dangerous'

Cyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be knocked down by passing vehicles, new research from Bath University suggests.

The study found drivers tend to pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than those who are bare-headed.

Counterpoint: Helmet saves cyclist after truck runs over his head at Milwaukee intersection

The truck wasn't going to stop, Lipscomb said, so he slammed on his brakes, flipping his bike and landing in the street.

A moment later the truck rolled over his head.

"I didn't see it coming, but I sure felt it roll over my head," he told The Capital Times newspaper. "It feels really strange to have a truck run over your head."


A couple of minor breakdowns aside, I think I'm finally starting to get a handle on life in Rome. I'm not exactly homesick, just finding some things really hard. The language barrier has been a lot more of an obstacle than I was expecting. And combined with the distinctly unique Italian way of doing things (which I'm sure I'll complain blog about in due course), I've found myself struggling just to get some stability.

But the stability is slowly arriving. I'm learning my way around, and I finally know where the essentials are, like the supermarket and launderette. I'm even starting to cope with the weather. At the beginning, I would head out and arrive home in a horrible, sweaty mess. Now... well, it's not as bad. I've just been observing the Italians and seeing all the little things they do to deal with the weather. Like not leaving the house between the hours of 12pm and 4pm. Under any circumstances. And always walking in the shade, even if you have to cross a busy street to do this.

There's another huge factor in coping with the heat: pace. Last week, I was out walking when Toots and the Maytals started playing on my iPod. With this, my pace dropped to a slow, relaxed strut (I challenge anyone to listen to Broadway Jungle and not feel like the baddest motherfucker on the planet). Strangely enough, this change of pace helped a lot, the heat wasn't as much of an issue. That's when I noticed that the Italians walk at a similar pace, and with a similar strut although theirs seems to come naturally.

'zombieattack' on Twitter →

A zombie attack documented, one message at a time. Like Orson Welles' War of the Worlds, only nerdier.

When is Dublin 7 NOT Dublin 7? When it's Dublin 8

Did you know that, despite being on the north side of the Liffey (where the odd numbered post-codes live), the Phoenix Park is actually in Dublin 8? And it's not for the reason you might think. Thus spoke Wikipedia:

"There is a very simple, practical reason why the Phoenix Park is in Dublin 8 and it has nothing whatever to do with snobbery but with practicality.

Long before there were postal codes the James's St Postal Sorting Office looked after the Phoenix Park because it was considered to be closer and more convenient than Phibsborough (Dublin 7). James's St continued in this role when the postal codes were introduced so Dublin 8 it had to be."

This interesting fact courtesy of a 20-minute argument in Morelli's chipper on Thomas Street that almost ended in a fist-fight.

Hello, I’m a Mac. →

Macbook signed by Mitchell & Webb David Mitchell and Robert Webb (PC and Mac in the UK adverts) were in Dublin promoting their new film, "Magicians". After the screening, they were taking photos with people and signing autographs. So, naturally, I asked them to sign my Macbook.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Five days to go!

Some things are still up in the air. When we land in Rome on Sunday, we'll be going into temporary accommodation until we can find somewhere to live. This means that when the movers come on Friday, they will be taking all of our stuff and putting it into storage until we give them a call and say "Yes, we are living at this address now, please bring all our worldly possessions to us." And since we don't know when we'll actually have a place to live, this means that we might not see our stuff for anywhere between two weeks and six months.

So right now, I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

What does that mean? Well, it means that I'm reassessing everything I own and think "can I live without this for six months?" While everyday clothes are cheap and easy to replace, I have to think about all the possibilities. I should bring formal clothes, because there will inevitably be some function where I will be required to scrub up nice. So that's a no-brainer.

But what about the other stuff? Movies and games? There's no way I can live without those.

This is a tough decision. I'm totally addicted to my Xbox 360 now, and what better way to keep in touch with my nerdy Irish friends than by kerb-stomping them over Xbox Live? And what better way to maintain a sense of accomplishment than increasing my gamer score? But as much as I love the 360, it's far too heavy and takes up far too much space for me to bring on my own. It will have to come with the movers.

I've decided to only take my PlayStation 2 with me. I've dumped the boxes for the games so that the actual disks are in a couple of CD wallets and I'm bringing my PlayStation 2 in my carry-on luggage. This means that I'll at least have a couple of games to play when I get there (Final Fantasy XII, God of War 2).

We're taking a Macbook, so we'll have something to watch DVDs on. But what DVDs? I've got a CD wallet especially for movies, and now I have to decide what I should fill it with. This isn't an easy task. I mean, how do I decide what movies to bring? How do I predict my tastes and moods for the next six months? I realise that there are people who could fit their entire DVD collection in one of these 72-disc wallets, but there's a reason I have as many DVDs as I do - I'm a fussy, temperamental little shit.

And this leaves us with a little thought-experiment: if you were moving to a foreign country and you could only bring one DVD, one game, one book and one CD with you, what would you bring?