Interview: Kelly Marie Tran (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”)

Kelly Marie Tran’s enthusiasm is infectious. It’s great to talk to someone who is totally in love with what they do and appreciating and being in every moment!

We spoke about being a Hogwarts girl, falling in love with the Star Wars universe, why she calls herself Hannah Montana and the invaluable advice she received from the late, great, Carrie Fisher.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is in cinemas now.

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Interview: Adam Driver (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”)

Adam Driver is back as Kylo Ren in the latest Star Wars film, “The Last Jedi”. I caught up with him to chat about the global impact of Star Wars, his initial fears when taking on the role and the power of his costume and the light sabre.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is out in cinemas tomorrow.


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Review: “Brigsby Bear”

“Brigsby Bear Adventures” is James’(Kyle Mooney) favourite TV show, unbeknownst to him, made for his eyes only. When the adventures come to a sudden end, James life is forever changed. How will he let go of Brigsby and connect to his new life? Can Brigsby, and James’ quest to see how Brigsby’s adventure ends, be the tool that brings everything in his life together?

The start of the theme tune to the fictional TV series “Brigsby Bear Adventure” is the perfect summation of this wonderful film. “There’s magic and wonders and mysteries in store. A hero whose mission is to learn and explore. He’s daring and caring and oh so much more. It’s Brigsby Bear.”

“Brigsby Bear” is such a wonderful heart warming film. It is an adventure in film making, creativity, embracing your passion and being you. Differences can often scare people, but it is these differences which make the world an interesting place and often enrich other people’s lives.

In what has been a lacklustre year at the cinema, it is films like “Brigsby Bear” that remind us what a wonderful place the world of cinema can be. When you let creativity and originality reign supreme – a thing of beauty can arise.

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Christmas Card Cheer

I love Christmas for so many reasons. One reason is because at this time of the year my post box is usually filled with letters/cards rather than bills. Well, that used to be the case. Over the past few years, the amount of Christmas cards I receive has seriously declined.

Usually by the 5th of December, there’s at least a dozen cards hanging in my place. This year, there’s only one. This isn’t unusual as many people have stopped sending cards, preferring to send emails or texts.

To a lot of people it doesn’t make sense to send something that could take up to two weeks for someone to receive (if sending internationally), when a digital message can be received instantaneously.

The thing is, while the intentions behind the digital message is the same as the written one, it doesn’t feel as special.

There is something intimate about seeing someone’s handwriting and knowing that they have gone out of their to send you a card. It’s not just opening a laptop or picking up a phone. That person had to go out and buy (or make) the card, write it, get stamps, and then find a post box in which to send it. This seems like a lot of effort for a little message. But it is that effort, and the knowledge that someone is thinking about you, that makes it so very special. It feels like a gift in itself.

Many people say that cards are  old fashioned and sentimental but if you can’t get sentimental and traditional at Christmas time when can you? Isn’t that, along with goodwill and spreading the love, what Christmas is all about?

I don’t base my Christmas card list on who sends me one. It’s who do I want to send one to? A Christmas card, to me, is a way to tell people how much they mean to me, thank them for being a part of my life, and send them my best wishes for a great festive season and beyond.

So this Christmas, why not get back into the art of letter writing and surprise some of your nearest and dearest with your handwritten message?

The last posting dates, in Ireland, to ensure that your cards get to their destination in time for Christmas are:

07th December – International Post (excluding the US)
12th December – USA
18th December – Europe & Great Britain
19th December – Northern Ireland
20th December – Ireland

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Ditch the list!


Christmas seems to be all about lists. Lists of presents to be bought; lists of people to meet; lists of food for Christmas day; lists of presents we would love; and the list goes on.

These lists can alleviate the pressure that some people feel at Christmas time but they can also take from the heart of Christmas – especially when it comes to presents.

Present lists can make gift giving so clinical. You hand your list around to your people and then you are given lists from your people and you just buy what’s on them. No thought has gone into buying the present.

I know Christmas can be very hectic, because unlike birthdays, there is more than one present to be bought. There are usually quite a few and the thought of having to think of unique presents for each person can be very stressful and time consuming at a time when people are time poor.

However, if you are finding that you are getting stressed at having to buy for so many people and life would be so much easier if they told you what they wanted, then maybe, as harsh as this may sound, it’s time to scratch that person off your Christmas list. Buying for someone should be a pleasure not a pain. And if you’re thinking that Christmas is the time you can get people to buy you exactly what you want – then we have forgotten what presents are. When did receiving a present become a right rather than, as corny as it sounds, a beautiful privilege to receive?

This year my girlfriends and I (both the Australian and Irish set) decided to do KK and the rule was no lists. There was some stress around this but when it came time to unwrapping the presents there was much excitement as none of us knew what we were getting. And, do you know what? Everyone loved their gifts. Why? Because we all know each other and went out of our way to get something we thought our friend would love.

A present isn’t meant to be a need. It’s supposed to be something frivolous, something you wouldn’t buy yourself but would love to have.

This happened with my KK presents. I would never have bought them for myself as I couldn’t justify it. That said, I loved my gorgeous earrings; my awesome “Australiana” throwback tea towel (there’s no way I’d spend that money on a tea towel but I can’t wait to hang it in my home!); my bag (I couldn’t justify buying myself another bag – but when it’s a gift there’s no need to do so); and my fabulous turquoise beret (which I never would have bought for myself, as I didn’t think I could pull it off, but it hasn’t left my head since I received it!).

Going off list can be risky because the recipient may not like it but nine times out of ten, people get it so right. The one time out of ten that it might not be to taste, it still brings a smile to your face because someone has thought of you and gone to all of that effort to buy you something they think you’d like.

So this Christmas, why don’t we try to ditch the lists and go back to the core of it all and use our hearts to decide on what we are giving to and receiving from the people we love most.


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The Santa Experience

Whether I am in Melbourne, or in Dublin, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a trip to see Father Christmas. It’s always be one of my favourite things to do at Christmas time – whether I was a child, adult with no kids, or an adult with kids.

The Santa experience is pretty much the same thing world over. You go in, see the man with the white beard and the red suit, either burst with excitement, or burst into tears (whatever mood you’re feeling that year),  have your chat, get your photo, get your present, wave goodbye and then you’re done.

While this is, usually, a fun experience there can be a painful element associated with it (besides the astronomical price, if you’re living in Australia). The pain comes in the form of the waiting time to see Santa.

Thank goodness things have improved and you no longer have to spend hours in line waiting to see Santa. Now you can go to you preferred Santa, buy a ticket and come back at an allocated time.

The problem is, this system doesn’t always work. Some days, you can’t see Santa for at least a couple of hours, sometimes it’s longer (so you have to put in some time wandering around wherever you are) – if you’re lucky! If you’re one of the unlucky ones, even if you have turned up with hours to spare, if it is a busy day, you can miss out on the experience altogether, and you have to try your luck another day.

I don’t understand why in this day and age, there is no option to pre-book and pay online. Hopefully that is something that will be sorted for next year! But don’t let that put you off because it’s an experience – be it magical or somewhat traumatising.

Today, we had our annual family visit to Santa. Our preferred Santas are the ones in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre and the Powerscourt Centre.

When we turned up to Santa’s Grotto at Stephen’s Green, we were told the next available appointment was in three hours time. We decided to try our luck with Father Christmas’ Workshop at Powerscourt, as when the same thing happened last year, we found there was no waiting time at that one. We were in luck again this year.  When we walked to the ticket booth at the Powerscourt one there was no-one there, we were seen to straight away.

I don’t know why not many people know about this Santa (he, his helpers and the whole experience is great), but the fact that many people don’t seem to know about it means there’s no great wait time (usually) – which is a massive advantage in my books.

We paid €15 per child (although the website says it’s €18 per child). That included a photo with Santa, a present and we were also allowed to take as many personal photos and video as we wanted.

What I love about this Santa (besides the fact that he didn’t make me wait) was the fact that a portion of the fee goes to the Dublin Simon Community.

This Santa is only available on weekends, and doesn’t usually open for business until 12pm. You can find out more about Father Christmas’ Workshop at Powerscourtther here.

If you do want to go into town for your Santa experience the other two Santa experiences that I have never been disappointed by are:

Santa’s Grotto at Stephen’s Green (packages range from €9 – €20)

Santa’s Grotto at Arnotts (it’s a €5 donation – 100% of the donation goes to the Laura Lynn foundation. At an added cost, you can also purchase professional photos of your visit and gifts).

Wherever you go for your Santa Experience, enjoy it! Great memories come of this and that’s what Christmas is all about.


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An Ode to My Sisters (From Other Misters)

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. The best gift I ever received wasn’t wrapped but has given me so much joy, love, great times, gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life and is one of the best cheer squads anyone could ask for. This gift comes in the form of four of the most wonderful girls I have ever come across in my life – my Girlfriends,  or, as I like to call them, my chosen family, my sisters from another mister.

In an episode of “Sex And the City”, after Aidan breaks up with Carrie at Charlotte’s wedding, Carrie says, “It’s hard to find people who would love you no matter what. I was lucky enough to find three of them.”

I cry every time I hear that line because I, like Carrie, have been lucky enough to find “four of them”. Four girlfriends who love me no matter what – even when I piss them off; when our opinions differ; and even when I move to the other side of the world.

I have lived away from my girls for 11 years now. You’d think at this stage I would feel less connected to them but this couldn’t be further from the truth. As the months and years go by my love for them gets even stronger and they become even more important in my life. They are the first people I want to call when I have the best news ever and are also the first ones I turn to when things aren’t so great.

Thanks to Facebook messenger we are in contact daily. We talk about everything and anything (I really hope no-one else gets their hands on these conversations!). In one conversation we could have gone from talking about a work frustration, to cracking each other up over the smallest of things, to discussing our fears and planning new adventures.

I have always struggled to understand when people say they grew apart from their girlfriends when partners and kids came into the equation. I don’t get it. Why would you want to give up something that enriches your life like nothing else can? Why wouldn’t you want your partner and/or kids having these phenomenal women in their lives too?

Why would you give up people who make you feel strong, have your back, push you out of your comfort zone; are there for you no matter what (even if the decision you make isn’t one they would necessarily make, they are in your corner and will even get in that ring for you if needed); call you out when need be (harsh truths aren’t always easy to hear but are just as important as the celebrations and the compliments); go on magnificent adventures with you; make you laugh so hard that you’re in pain and have tears streaming down your face? Why would you give up people who are good for your soul? Why would you give up people who make you a better person? Who make your world a better place to be in? I know I wouldn’t want to.

One of the lines that I have always loved in Moulin Rouge is “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.” I agree. There is nothing like the love of, and for, a girlfriend. Anyone who has an amazing girlfriend in their lives is truly blessed.

I have “four of them”. I miss my girls like crazy but am so thankful that I have them in my life and I know that no matter how far apart we are or how our lives may change, their friendship is something that never will and we still have many adventures ahead of us.

Love you like crazy Dan, H, Mel and Nance!

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