Monday, June 30, 2008

7

Sunday/Monday thoughts

Just had a rather wonderful weekend in Kilkenny, the centre-point of which was watching a stunning performance of Trainspotting with some ridiculously great people. It deserves a post in itself and will get one when I have a little more time/energy/caffeine coursing through my veins.

I’m a little introspective tonight. Earlier this evening I received a cheque paid from the will of my grandmother, who died in February. My grandfather, still very much kicking, had included a brief letter with it in which he spoke of my grandmother’s great love for me and pride in me, as she held for all her grandchildren. I’m not sure I have ever heard the man say the word ‘love’, apart from when he was reading at his wife’s funeral, but he has a way of expressing the concept beautifully in very few words when setting his thoughts to paper. He did it once with a short note accompanying a gift to me of his own framed copy of the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling when I was at one of the lowest, most shameful points of my life. And he brought an unexpected moistening of the cheeks to me tonight, at a point where I suddenly realised how badly I needed the affirmation and love of those I respect and respected.

And it dawned on me that sometimes, when you don’t feel much love and pride in yourself, the major reason to keep striving for good and for better is to hopefully inspire that love and pride from those who matter most.


Disclaimer: I do realise what a strong element of cheese there is about this post but sometimes cheese, as in the case of a very fine Camembert, is just the goddamn truth.

Friday, June 27, 2008

17

Dr. Dre Muthafucka

Had a lovely evening out yesterday at a popular music performance for young people courtesy of legendary 2fm DJ Dusty Rhodes. I also had the pleasure of being accompanied by my old mucker Warren, the delightful Cerys, the utterly charming capturemonkeys, and the insanely chatty Nacho. The entertainment by the young minstrel Dr. Dre was wonderful, though I don't remember ever noticing an entertainer make quite such frequent reference to female canines before. Must have a burgeoning interest in veterinary medicine. Could be a worthwhile career change for him if the music thing doesn't work out, as the venue appeared to be only a little over half-full.

Sadly most of my new found friends had to work the next day (do young people have no stamina any more?) so I finished off the night with Warren in Eddie Rocket's and then with sex on the beach in Greystones. Lottie mixed it beautifully. We listened to 90s music 'til about 5am and felt all nostalgic. They really don't make 'em like they used to. My mission over the next few days is to find out what all the members of Mansun are up to now.


More reliable reports of the gig are available here and probably here by the time I have this finished.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

6

Free Indie

I have lots of lovely links on my sidebar which are all worth checking out, but if you haven't taken a gander at Free Indie yet then it's high time you did.

The site re-launched itself recently and, oddly enough, I find it harder to navigate now than it was before. So i'm gonna put a couple of links directly to a couple of bands I've found on the site that I love, to save you having to meander around too much, if you care not for such things.

The Decemberists are an absolutely cracking band, with melodic tunes and clever lyrics. All three songs available here are good, but if you feel incredibly pressed for time and hard-drive/iPod space you should go with 'Engine Driver'.

Beirut are pretty well known at this stage, but if you don't own any of their music I highly recommend you download these tracks. Again, if you only choose one go for 'Postcards from Italy', one of my all-time favourite tracks by anyone, ever.

For those who like their music performed by earnest, sensitive men with acoustic guitars Jeremy Fisher is worth checking out. No one track here stands out, but I do like 'Jolene', simply because its title reminds me of Dolly Parton. The songs bears no resemblance though, and I can't quite work out if that's a good thing or not.

Here ends my foray into music blogging for now. If free, legal downloads are your thing (and why on earth wouldn't they be?) MP3 Hugger is another blog worth checking out.
3

Venting extreme frustration

Christ almighty you wouldn't believe how fucking long I've just spent trying to fix up the picture in my previous post so the text beside it doesn't look stupid and yet the stupid fucking thing still won't do what I want. I assume I'm not alone in wanting to smash up pieces of technology that piss me off. I was trying to hoover earlier using a badly cracked nozzle because I was pissed off a couple of months ago that the hoover bag needed emptying again. If my girlfriend wasn't asleep a couple of feet away from me and if this wasn't her laptop I'm using it would be out the fucking window by now.


Angry moment over, sorry about the way the bottom picture in my Henman post intrudes into the text. I doubt it'll upset you too much. I, on the other hand, may require therapy because of it.
3

Thing I Don't Miss #2: Henmania




When I decided to start a series called ‘things I don’t miss’ I may have bitten off slightly more than I can chew because, come to think of it, most things I don’t like are still around, as I’m not really that old. But the advent of Wimbledon has reminded me of one of my favourite little pet-hates: Tim Henman.

This silly little shit was never good enough to win Wimbledon as a player competing in the era of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Goran Isanisevic and the young Roger Federer. Yet, year after year, because he had recently made it to the semi-finals of the fucking Uzbekistan Open the British media would have you believe that their boy was “in sparkling form” and ready to reclaim the trophy for good old Blighty. Some poor sap from the States like John McEnroe would be wheeled onto BBC and, halfway through assessing the chances of realistic contenders, asked fawningly by Sue Barker, her eyes dewy with optimism “How do you fancy our boy Tim’s chances, could this be his year?” To which McEnroe would smile a smile that everyone who wanted to understand would understand and say “Yeah, he’s got a great chance this year, if things go right for him.” The implication being that the “things” which needed to go right mostly involved every other player and their granddad catching the Ebola Virus.





As if this wasn’t bad enough there was the spectre of ‘Henman Hill’, a mound of earth covered in Union Jack-waving loons watching Timmy the Tool fight his losing battle on a big screen. These people only make their other public appearances at royal funerals and the Last Night of the Proms. If everything I’m saying here appears to be Brit-bashing, let me assure that it isn’t. I have far too many friends and relatives from or in Britain to indulge in such a thing. I simply despise the bias and jingoism that oozes out of certain sections of the British media, and ‘Henmania’, as some twisted genius referred to it, summed up all that is worst about it. The infinitely-more-talented Andy Murray thankfully doesn’t attract anything like the same level of fuss from the very Anglo-centric and therefore we’ve been spared a month or so of horrible of flag-waving nonsense what with Timmy’s retirement and the absence of the England football team from Euro 2008. And that is something I will never miss.

Monday, June 23, 2008

1

What others were feeling like today #5


1965



There has been another high-flown debate in the House of Lords about (idiotic) amendments to the Homosexual Bill, in the course of which Lord Montgomery announced that homosexuality between men was the most abominable and bestial act that any human being could commit! It, in his mind, apparently compares unfavourably with disembowelling, torturing, gas chambers and brutal murder. It is inconceivable that a man of his eminence and achievements could make such a statement. The poor old sod must be gaga.


The Beatles have all four been awarded MBEs, which has caused considerable outcry. Furious war heroes are sending back their bravely-won medals by the bushel. It is, of course, a tactless and major blunder on the part of the Prime Minister [Harold Wilson], and also I don't think the Queen should have agreed. Some other decoration should have been selected to regard them for their talentless but considerable contributions to the Exchequer.



I don't think a member of the House of Lords could make a statement about homosexuality like that nowadays and get away with it, but I wonder if the view among many high-ranking politicians has changed all that much.
Coward's statement about The Beatles is interesting, given the deification of them in recent times. I suppose it's understandable that some war veterans would view the awarding of the same award to a bunch of hairy musicians as they received for massively courageous acts as a bit of an insult. coward's dismissal of them as 'talentless' is obviously ridiculous, but then there weren't amny more talented people than old Noel. I wonder what he and the war heroes would have made of
The Corrs getting an honorary MBE in 2005?



1973
I have decided that the reason one keeps a diary is the compulsion to write something, anything. Secondly, all intending writers are well advised to keep diaries, for pratice, like doing scales. mine are absolutely unstudied. I never pause for an instant to consider whether I write grammatically, or not. No doubt diary-keeping is also a kind of vanity. One has the sauce to believe that every thought which comes into one's head merits recording.

I wonder how many bloggers use their blogs as 'scales' for aspiring writers? Probably quite a few. I started out thinking it might be that way, but I'm not sure anything I've posted so far brings me any closer to being a writer than I've ever been.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

21

Whose line is it anyway? (plus copious link-lurve)

I did something I’m really not proud of the other day.

No, not that.

Not that either, I do have some morals.

Thing is, as a blogger I felt an automatic instinct to post about it. It might be therapeutic in some way. If I wrote about it half as well as it sounds in my head then it would be a great post and people would be interested. It might improve my hit count. It might put new flags on my Feedjit thing. People might link to it. If I was very fortunate someone might even nominate it for post of the month.

But I would have given away a little part of me that I might otherwise only share with those who really know me best. It would essentially be out of context.

Where does the line of what’s appropriate for a blog begin and end? There are many bloggers out there who I read that reveal a huge amount about themselves through their words and pictures. These include my real life friends Darren and Liz, along with the likes of Darragh and Annie. I admire what they do and their courage in doing it but it’s not for me. I have already abandoned my ‘no pictures of me’ policy by putting a little one beside my profile. It’s small and relatively unclear but I’m already unsure as to whether I should leave it there. I’d rather if there was a way it could only appear to those who actually click on my profile.

A lot of the blogs I like are done more or less entirely anonymously, such as Bock, Twenty, Arseblog, Shadows at Sunset, raptureponies and Positive Boredom. I’m sure those who know them in the real world could work them out easily enough but they ain’t giving too much away.

I seem to be veering into the middle ground occupied by folks such as Mulley, Sinead (Gleeson and Cochrane), Rosie and Grandad. You get a very good sense of who they are through their work, but not many personal pictures or anecdotes. Some things are definitely held back, or at least it seems that way.
So I think I’ve just learned where my line is. Funnily enough, my story wouldn’t make for great reading on either Postsecret or The Lives of Others, but it’s still too much for me to share. At least right now.
3

Bizarre day at Baldonnell

I’ve never been much of a fan of the military forces but a sense of friendship and curiosity brought me to the commissioning ceremony of a friend of mine into the Irish Air Corps. Strangely, it coincided with the posthumous awarding of the distinguished service medal to the families of four Irish airmen who were killed during the course of a rescue in 1999 (only in Ireland would it take nine years to acknowledge what was a fairly open and shut case of bravery and going beyond the course of duty). What was a day of great celebration for eight young men and their friends and families was blended rather incongruously with the re-opening of wounds for others, as the two things were shoe-horned into one ceremony, each half having an audience who probably didn’t need or want to be there for the other half. It was somewhat like mixing a funeral with a wedding.

So, why the need for this? I am reliably informed that our glorious Minister for Defence, Willie O’Dea, wanted to kill two birds with one stone. How very sensitive of him. Towards the end of the ceremony he made a short speech which included mention of his recent trip to visit Irish troops stationed in Chad. Apparently they are doing great work to help the situation in Darfur. This intrigued me greatly as Darfur is in Sudan, quite a different part of Africa from Chad. It’s a little like saying that forces stationed in Bulgaria are of great assistance to the people of Ireland. And my poor old mate had to salute this little fucker.

Still, seeing this wee girl (only eight, so born after her dad’s death) running around happy as Larry would bring a smile to anyone’s face.




Picture from www.ireland.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

23

Ch-ch-ch-changes

That would have been a cool heading for this post but Bebo ruined it by getting there first and thereby making it eternally uncool. Like Rod Stewart or Sting. Anyway, this post is massively unimportant, it's just to inform those of you who read my blog in braille that I have made a few cosmetic changes. You're missing very little really. The previous template was decided upon swiftly while I was in the throes of setting wanting to set the fecking thing up and get going. It was ugly. The new one is not ugly. It is called Minima. It suited my output up until tonight, when I appear to have had a bout of blogorrhea. Read the shite below instead.

I'm going to bed.
2

Some Europeans still like us

As the fallout, controversy and confusion continues to reign (how could no-one have made any sort of plan as to what might happen next if we voted 'no'?) Check out the comments that came flooding in on the Pricewatch blog on the Irish Times site. Don't think Conor was really looking for that at all. It is pretty funny though. My favourites are from the over-enthusiastic Germans and the slightly confused members of UKIP who just aren't quite sure if they should love or hate Irish people right now and seem to be of the notion that we have rejected the E.U. entirely and that the whole thing will crumble now.

My God, maybe it will. What have we done?
6

"Oh my gaawwwd, this is such an amazing place!!!" Here's a link...

On Saturday evening I made my first ever visit to Johnnie Fox's pub, despite having now lived in Wicklow for a sizeable portion of my life. The food was great, the service was excellent and the craic was mighty. But I'm not here to sing their praises, they do well enough already.

No, what made the night interesting for me was the sight of a couple, tucked up in a wee snug snug whilst a trad band was belting out tunes and the place was thronging, staring - not at the band or lovingly into each other's eyes - but at a laptop screen. I don't think I've ever seen anyone, aside from one or two lone businessmen in quiet hotel bars, use alaptop in a pub before but I figured they might just need to send or check an important email. However, they were still at it 20 minutes later. So I leapt to two swift conclusions, based on appearance and demeanour:
1. They were American 2. They were blogging about their night.
I can't be certain about either of these things but you shoulda seen them.

Now, I'm hardly in a positionto sit and sneer at people for choosing to recount their experiences through the medium of a publicly accessible weblog, but does it have to be done live? I've only been in the blogging game a matter of weeks but I do find myself thinking about what I might write about a situation even as it is still unfolding. I imagine every blogger does. Yet I feel that any blogging over the length of a couple of lines needs to be done with hindsight. This couple were not really engaging with what was going on around them, they were just snatching glances, then typing it up.

Perhaps they fancied themselves of travel-blogging's answer to war journalists:

"As I survey the desolate scene in front of me I am confronted by the sight of literally dozens of people indulging in their second, or in some extreme cases their seventh, pint of Guinness. there has been a vicious outbreak of singing in one or two quarters and a strong suspicion of merriment in one area. Yet the merciless bodhran-ing of these citizens continues unabated. Further afield, many folks sit huddled at tables with their loved ones, anxiously awaiting news on whether or not the swordfish is available this evening..."

Perhaps this is the future and I'm already an old curmudgeon but I'd like to think that if I ever catch myself blogging about the experience I'm having rather than just having it then whoever is beside me will give me a mighty slap and throw my laptop into the nearest lake.

Monday, June 16, 2008

4

Sigla later...

The always excellent Sinead Gleeson is hanging up her blogging boots. She deserves an outcry of rage and disappointment over this blasphemy. Or at least a message of goodwill.
What with the retirement of Shane Hegarty a few weeks ago I feel personally affronted that I have been deprived of two of my favourite blogs. Anyone want to take their place?

But it's not all bad news: Sinead is keeping up the consistently brilliant Musical Rooms on a separate blog. I'm not exactly sure if that's staying at the old site or moving somewhere else so I'll keep you updated. Sinead also does bits and bobs for Slate magazine and the Irish Times so her enthusiastic yet critical style of reviewing will still be around.

From me and from lots of others, all the best Sinead.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

8

Spanish Exposition

This has been linked to several times already by bloggers with a far larger readership than I but if you haven't read Rosie's critique of Irish blogs then you ought to do so. It's already set a couple of high profile noses out of place but that is probably no bad thing.

Apologies for my lack of humour in recent posts, I'll be back posting stupid jokes and puerile stories soon.
Yeah, and probably putting up pictures of nice ladies too. I'm still taking thousands of hits for young Megan. The title "chancing my arm" may have slightly different connotations for American teenage boys.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

1

What others were feeling like today #4

More extracts from The Assassin's Cloak - the book that saves me from having to think about how I'm feeling today:


1850

Once again I have taken up my diary, and once again with new fervour and a new purpose. How many times is that? I can't remember. Never mind, perhaps I'll drop it again; but it's a pleasant occupation and it will be pleasant to re-read it, just as it was pleasant to re-read my old ones. There are lots of thoughts in one's head, and some of them seem very remarkable, but when you examine them they turn out to be nonsense; others on the other hand seem sensible - and that's what a diary is needed for. On the basis of one's diary it's very convenient to judge oneself.

Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy, in case you haven't heard of him, was a famous Russian author, whose works include 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina'. If you haven't heard of him you need to stay in more.



I like the idea of analysing and judging oneself on the basis of a diary. Wouldn't most of us come up short? I certainly would. I wonder how many bloggers keep a diary and then harvest the best parts of it for their blog entries. It would avoid the tricky habit of completely pouring one's heart out onscreen to anyone who might stumble upon your site and could act as a kind of quality control. So many of the diarists featured in this anthology express thoughts that frequently run through my head and I find it strangely reassuring to note that a man as great as Tolstoy found that many of the thoughts that occurred to him turn out to be nonsense. He is also something of a hero in the field of beard-growth and this picture confirms that I was right to all but get rid of mine yesterday. Grandad could give him a run for his money though.


1962

Went to park. Full of girls who sit up, bending over their male companions who are lying down, receiving their kissings & caressings. It is disgusting to watch. No wonder Billy Graham thought our parks so foul. but I'm sure Hyde is the worst. There is so much riff-raff living near.

Kenneth Williams







Mr. Williams is somehing of a comedy idol to me, but his life is laced with sadness - including an inability to deal with his own homosexuality, which led to proclaim himself celibate, leading to outbursts such as the one above. Yet it is funny, albeit unintentionally, when he expresses concern for the opinion of Billy Graham, who most likely holds fairly strong anti-homosexual views.



This may, additionally, be the last recorded incidence of anyone using "riff-raff" in a serious way.

Friday, June 13, 2008

1

Ireland says 'No'

So we've said NO.

Interesting.

The Irish Times website has a breakdown of how exactly the voting went in each constituency. If you live in Dublin just click on the county and it will break the different constituencies down.

I think I was the 0.2% who meant it was rejected by Wicklow.

Grandad has a great post about it here.

It remains to be seen what'll happen now, my bet is we'll be voting on it again in about six months and we'll probably say yes. Perhaps people will understand what exactly they're voting on then and misinformation won't be able to gain such a foothold.
2

Lisbon latest

As I write now, it appears likely that the Lisbon Treaty is going to be rejected by the Irish people. I don't quite know how this makes me feel. Having played Devil's Advocate a little bit in my last post, I got to the polling booth, briefly considered scrawling "Fuck off you incomprehensible bastards!" and then looked again at the wording of the referendum: "Do you approve of this amendment to the Irish Constitution?" And I realised that it made it very easy for me. I can't possibly approve of something I don't understand and it would be irresponsible of me to do so. So I voted 'No'.

And it looks like plenty of others did too. It felt like the right thing to do but let's hope it doesn't come back to bite us on the ass.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2

Go on, spoil me...

Ah Lisbon Treaty, I hardly knew you.

And there lies the problem. I am blogging late at night, still uncertain as to what way I will vote when the polls open in a few hours but determined to exercise my franchise - as I have always done since I turned 18.

The debate has been raging over at Darren's blog for a while now and he has done a good job of explaining what exactly the treaty is about. Yet he makes the point, and I have to agree with him on this, that we don't really have any idea how the changes the treaty will bring about are going to affect Ireland in the long-term. Or even what exactly the changes really mean.

I find it hard to trust a thing that comes out of the mouth of Brian Cowen or Enda Kenny, so I don't subscribe to the the view that we should vote Yes because "all the major parties are saying we should". The idea that "we owe Europe" doesn't hold much water with me either, as I don't hink this country signed up to Europe in the first place safe in the knowledge that in later years we would have to bend over and do what it likes.

I have extremely little tolerance for Sinn Fein and if I ever have the misfortune to meet Mary Lou MacDonald I won't turn my back on her for a second. That woman would sell her grandmother's one remaining good hip if she thought it would benefit her politically in any small way. At the start of the Iraq War Sinn Fein did their best to hijack the anti-war movement to their own ends and it sickened me. SF should not be allowed to comment on issues of war or neutrality in order to avoid a serious outbreak of racial abuse upon kettles by pots.
That slimy little bugger Declan Ganley of Libertas is not much better. I don't like to stoop to the level of mentioning his accent but I will say that I suspect he has spent a sizeable portion of his life outside this country he claims to be so concerned for. His agenda is also purely about business and protecting his own neck and that of American businesses. talking of America, their military appears to be about to help him become a billionaire. Which is nice.

So, I don't trust any of the major palyers in htis debate, and I imagine I'm not alone. Who do I trust? Well, Tony Gregory, David Norris and Joe Higgins don't like it and I've always respected their opinions. Yet my lack of understanding of what will happen if we accept the treaty has the flip side of not understanding what exactly will happen if we reject it. I suspect the government will foist it on us again (probably without any changes to it) and again until it is accepted. It is virtually inevitable that we will accept this thing eventually.

I am now in the unenviable position of not having a notion which way I should vote. So I ask, 'Is spoiling my vote a responsible course of action in this situation?' I don't want to do it, but when I really don't know how to vote it seems the best thing to do. Of course, not turning up would seem the obvious solution, but I wonder whether spoiling your vote really does make a point to the government, as I have heard some suggest it does. True, if I wrote a long, articulate and pointed missive to Brian Cowen on my voting slip he would never receive it, but spoilt votes are counted and announced. Hence we always hear figures about how many people voted for Dustin or Mr. Tayto in general elections. Imagine if there was the highest total of spoilt votes ever in today's referendum. Would that not say something to the major parties and the anti-treaty groups about how people feel about the way we've been informed?

I'm gonna sleep on it now, but I've a feeling I might just be a spoilt brat later.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

3

On Marriage

I was at a wedding last week that didn't really strike me as the kind of joyful affair that weddings are expected to be. The bride and groom have been together for quite a few years and already have a house and a mortgage together, so perhaps marriage just seemed like the inevitable next step for them. Its very bitchy of me to say this, but despite all their efforts in making sure that bridesmaids, dresses, honeymoon, reception dinner, transport etc were perfect, they omitted the "and together for all our days" -an obligatory part of the vows - on their marriage ceremony service sheet. It was clearly the element of the process which was least important to them.

It all set me thinking about something Salman Rushdie said in the June edition of Word Magazine (you'll find the magazine website on that link but the article seems to only be in the printed mag):

"I don't see any reason for marriage at all, truthfully. In fact, I have always thought it's more of a proof of commitment to each other when you don't get married than when you do. If you stay together because that's what you want to do every day - that's true commitment. Writers are not easy to live with, but then nobody is easy to live with. If you could walk out the door anytime you want and you don't - that's powerful. I'm not sure there's any value to the contract of marriage. But women like it. I honestly don't regret anything, they're not failures, but the idea of there being one person for life hasn't worked out for me. I'm impressed by those for whom it has."

Before considering Rushdie's opinion it is worth noting that he has recently undergone his fourth divorce, so it has obviously been a long and bitter road that has led him to this conclusion. Nevertheless, I found myself nodding in agreement when I read the words "If you saty together every day beause that's what you want to do - that's true commitment." Then I stopped and thought about it and realised that there are more things holding people together than expensive rings on their fingers and a piece of paper. In countries like America where divorces can be quickly obtained it is surely easier to dissolve a marriage than it is to sort out what happens to the remaining mortgage payments a couple were intending to share for another 25 years or so. Having children together is naturally a bit of an obstacle to the old "I'm fecking off now, love" attitude that Rushdie appears to assume all dissatisfied unmarried partners carry toward each other. It is indeed a powerful thing when a couple stays together simply because they want to, but that is surely what the contract of marriage is intended to imply. Couples staying together when they are making each others' life a misery is not a good thing, but neither is one of them bolting at the first sign of trouble.
Mind you, I don't think many people do that. I'm sure I'm not the only person out there who has found it extremely difficult to break up with a girlfriend despite the lack of children or a mortgage to complicate the issue. Feelings of love and responsibility are pretty tough to shake off and it is surely those that keep couples togther long after the wedding photos have faded. There are now plenty of things that bind two people together more tightly than marriage certificates but I still find the process a valuable way of celebrating your love with the people who matter most to you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

5

An Appeal

I have a younger brother who has just finished college after 4 years of studying Transport Technology in DIT Bolton Street. He's now more than a little unsure about what to do with his life, having made it through several stages of application for a graduate job in Brussels with Toyota that he ultimately missed out on.


I reckon he simply needs to broaden his horizons and get out of this country for a while, as he is currently unfettered by such things as girlfriend/children/ mortgage/job-with-good-prospects-if-you-give-ten-years-of-unbroken-service.

He worked with me at an orphanage in Tanzania last summer (which I referenced here) and was brilliant at that, contributing in all kinds of ways - mostly by fixing, mending and building anything he could, but also by playing with the kids. But what we did in Tanzania would not be financially viable over a long period, and I think he wants to try something else anyway. Something a little bit different, that might last for about a year or so, and might have food and board covered.
Naturally, the internet is the best way to reserach this and plenty of options keep popping up, but I'm curious as to whether any of my readers or passers-by have done such things, or know anyone who has done, or who runs an organisation that could help. Genuine advice would be so much more helpful than a profit-making website. It doesn't have to be particularly altruistic work, just something useful and a bit different. He could be good at pretty much anything he puts his mind to, teaching English is more my bag than his but I wouldn't rule it out for him, particularly if its within a specialised context.
So, if you're reading this and can think of anything at all please click on the wee comment link and let me know. Cheers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

6

Saturday at The 'Head

Darren has already posted some of his thoughts about Radiohead and my good friend Pissy Guy in a clever post that moves quickly onto more important matters so I'll take the angle of talking about the music and the average Irish concert-goer.

Over at Jim Carroll's blog I've already fallen victim to the biting wit of a couple of posters whose sarcastic comments about the lack of Creep I mistakenly took seriously. But, you see, when Iwasn't fending off the advances of Pissy Guy, I was having the quieter songs ruined by a couple of lads behind me banging on about the fact the band were just "playing all their new shite, none of the classics". I imagine they would have been happier if there had been some sort of 'text-your-request' number scrolling along the bottom of the big screen. Of course, we might well have ended up with Creep 12 times, a handful of Karma Polices and a High and Dry or two as the entire setlist. Personally, I felt disappointed not to hear Paranoid Android or Just, not because I felt I have any right to hear those songs, but simply because they have been playing them on this tour. No matter though - Idioteque worked superbly as a closer and a re-worked Planet Telex was just brilliant. Bangers and Mash was also a highlight for me, though the blank looks from the majority of the crowd showed just how few people shelled out for the In Rainbows discbox, which featured that song on a second CD.

My point really is, does the average Irsh concert-goer now think they have a divine right to a greatest hits set by whatever artist they're watching? A common complaint I heard after Bruce Springsteen's phenomenal gigs was that he didn't play Born in the USA. Well, how very dare he?

Two of my favourite concerts I attended last year were REM's live rehearsals at The Olympia, where they played all their new and unreleased songs, along with some really early, more obscure ones. They were fan's concerts and I didn't pick up on anyone saying 'Ah Jaysus, they coulda given us Losing My Religion'. Concerts are for fans and people who wnat to hear new and interesting things, and those who just want all the songs that got lots of radio-play should just invest in a greatest hits CD and look up a couple of old live clips on Youtube. It'll work out a hell of a lot cheaper than the 60-100 euro that most big acts charge for a show now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

3

Give up on TV for the summer

About an hour and a half before this monstrosity swings into action for another year, I'm launching a quick pre-emptive strike on the most horrible cultural phenomenon to evolve during my lifetime: Big Brother.
I remember watching some of the first ever series in 2000 (I think it was then) and finding it interesting in a kind of socio-scientific way. I wondered how long people would really tolerate looking at a load of strangers sitting around a house doing very little, but it was mildly entertaining in a voyeuristic kind of way. The people who featured in that series could not have predicted how successful the show would become and the fame, wanted or unwanted, that it would bring to their lives.
Now, the show is a fast-track to celebrity status, thankfully short and sweet for most of them. It attracts massively deluded folks who believe that their "like, totally fackin' mental" personalities will endear them to the British public. mostly it leaves them derided, but still able to make a quick few grand out of it, even if they are voted off early. I wonder where most of these people end up if they fail to make a living from TV presenting, column-writing or "getting their baps out for the lads" in Nuts and Zoo. Are there support groups for these people?
So, before this series' line-up is unveiled to those waiting with baited breath, a quick guess at how the contestants will roughly be made up:
At least two gay guys, preferably one of them a cross-dresser. (I have absolutely no problem with this, I just feel that gay people are probably the most exploited group on this show.)

A couple of kerrrr-razy chicks, one from Essex and one or two more with regional accents that could make your ears bleed.

At least one lager-lout, football hooligan type, likely to come to blows with another guy in there.

Two people who hail from Scotland, Wales, Ireland or N. Ireland. This guarantees good viewing figures and plenty of those money-making phone votes coming in from all those patriotic Celts.

Someone with a good university education and slightly upper-class accent. This person will be cast as the posh snob and their contribution will be edited thus, regardless of what they do. If its a guy then lager-lout will talk behing his back about how he's "gonna fackin' nut 'im" but will fail to do so for fear that the upper-class twit may have played rugby.

There will be fights, there will be live stripping, there will hopefully be someone saying fuck or bugger on the eviction show. There will be tears, hard-luck stories (someone is always doing it for a sick relative), 'love' stories, and often the scenario of two mainstream channels simultaneously showing the same person, asleep, for hours on end.

I will not watch it but somehow I will be aware of these things, and will most likely know the names of at least 4 contestants by this time next week. I will hate myself for it and will desperately try to fill my time with books, walks and maybe even work.

Probably not though, I'm a teacher.
4

What others were feeling like today #3

I'm starting to really regret trying that stunt with the Megan Fox picture now because the amount of hits I am getting is stunning but they all just feck off elsewhere in disappointment pretty quickly and never say hi.. I feel like a used nappy - cheap, dirty and of no further use.

Anyway, here's today's extracts from The Assassin's Cloak. There's three this time so its gonna be a long old post. One is very relevant to yesterday's post, one has historical merit, and one is just funny.



1938

Saw today in an English paper a notice of somebody's journal, recently published, containing a sort of daily account of the year's events described from a personal angle: which led me to reflect that, considering the extraordinary and momentous nature of 'the times', (apart from the fact that this is a quite different type of journal in its intention), these pages contain singularly little reflection of contemporary history. Demonstrations in London, Spain, and Anschluss do appear, but only in passing. It's true that I've lost most of my former interests in politics during the last year, but I've never been at all unaware of, or indifferent to, the things that are going on; and I have a very strong general sense of the present state of the world. I've never altogether been able to decide whether or not I wanted this book to be published some day. I suppose it's not uninteresting to read, but quite what its interest is I find it difficult to say: a record of the late 1930's; or a 'mon coeur mis a nu' sort of confessions? Perhaps not quite either one or the other: there's not enough general contemporary detail on the one hand, and it's not really sufficiently intimate on the other. I've given most of my most 'hidden' self away, I think, but have confessed to singularly little of my factual life, so that the self-portrait, insofar as this is one, tends to be rather too flattering. I ought to force myself to be much more painful about money and love, for instance - In the end, perhaps, the real reason for keeping a journal is vanity or narcissism, unless one is absolutely determined that no one shall read it: which I am not.



David Gascoyne

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gascoyne



I find Gascoyne's extract extremely relevant in the light of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's assertion that writing a journal would make her less vain. Darren queried that in his comment, and I'm inclined to agree with him. Presenting one's thoughts and creativity to the wide world is definitely a little vain, but what kind of arts and culture would we have if the world didn't have plenty of show-offs? Regarding Gascoyne's comments on the lack of wider-world perspective among the journals of the time, I would have to suggest that blogs today follow much the same pattern. We live in interesting times, but most of us aren't really talking about them. o r perhaps people are just being too oblique about it. Personally, I can't even bear to mention US politics right now, out of the morbid fear I have that the idea of a black man and, maybe, a woman running the show might just be enough to spur Middle America to vote in the Republicans again.

My point is, how many of us couldn't hold our hand up and admit that our blogs often fit Gascoyne's self-deprecating "not enough general contemporary detail on the one hand...not sufficiently intimate on the other"? My hand's up.



1968

The whole day made unreal and horrible by the shooting of Robert Kennedy. The senseless mad awful act has resulted in him being operated on, for a removal of a bullet from the brain. Everyone seems utterly stunned by it.



Kenneth Williams

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_williams



If you are unfamiliar with Kenneth Williams please rectify that immediately by buying a boxset of the Carry On movies or else leave this place in shame. As for Robert Kennedy, I'll be interested to see if today being the 40th anniversary of his shooting gets much news coverage. He died on the 6th. I must admit that his name has never hed any particular resonance in my life, but I recognise what a big deal it was at the time. I rented that movie 'Bobby' once at great expense (fucking Xtravision) and fell asleep within the first few minutes. I bought an incredibly cheap pirate DVD which included it in Tanzania and someone nicked it off me. I'm just not destined to find out what it all meant at the time. I remember when I heard about Princess Diana dying though. I thought my dad said "Mrs. Tyner just died in a car crash in Paris" and I wondered how he'd heard so quickly and what the fuck the old bat was doing in Paris in the first place. True story.



1982

Up early. I went into one of those Korean produce stores and there were about 15 people in there, it was mobbed, and I listened to this guy rave about a pineapple for ten minutes and by the time he was through, I was dying to get one, too.

He was saying, 'I want it ripe and ready! Juicy! Luscious! Ready to eat, right off the bat!' and then I turned around and it was Richard Nixon. and one of his daughters was with him, but looking older - maybe Julie, I think. and he looked pudgy, like a Dickens character, fat with a belly. And they had him sign for the bill. There were secret service with him. And the girl at the cash register said he was 'Number One Charge'.



Andy Warhol

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_warhol



This post has gone on more than long enough now and there's not too much I can say about this one. I like Koreans. I like pineapples. I like Richard Nixon. I like Andy Warhol, I think.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

2

What others were feeling like today #2

Carrying on from a post I did a couple of weeks ago, here's another extract from the book The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists. This was written on the 4th of June.



1831


I wonder if I shall burn this sheet of paper like most others I have begun in the same way. To write a diary, I have thought of very often at far & near distances of time: but how could I write a diary without throwing upon paper my thoughts, all my thoughts - the thoughts of my heart as well as of my head? - and then how could I bear to look on them after they were written? Adam made fig leaves necessary for the mind, as well as for the body. And such a mind as I have! So very exacting & exclusive & eager & head long - & strong & so very very often wrong! Well! But I will write: I must write - & the oftener I know myself to be, the less wrong I shall be in one thing - the less vain I shall be!



Elizabeth Barrett Browning



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Barrett_Browning



I find this to be an astonishingly articulate expression of what must go through many people's minds (certainly mine) when it comes to putting one's more intimate thoughts on paper, or screen - as many now do. It certainly touches on why my blog is not particularly personal in nature: having to read back upon my own thoughts is bad enough, the idea of others doing it is just excruciating.



I particularly love the line "Adam made fig leaves necessary for the mind, as well as for the body." That is just perfect.



A few years ago I made my first serious adult attempt at a short story, in which I alluded to the feeling of nakedness that comes from writing down your feelings for others to see, and, I think, went so far as to suggest that its almost a form of self-harm. And I mostly intended the thing as a comedy! Today I can hardly bear to read that story, despite the fact that I half-assedly entered it into an online competition at the time. Tellingly, I found it incredibly difficult to show it to anyone I actually knew.



Thankfully, Ms. Barrett Browning obviously found a way to deal with her literary self-consciousness, as 19 years after that diary entry she published this little cracker:



How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.




I'll probably be back with another of this type of post tomorrow, as there's a couple of brilliant entries for the 5th and I have fun writing about them.

Monday, June 2, 2008

0

Top 50 radio rock songs

Via mog.com, a website I've recently discovered which I am absolutely starting to love, check out the list of the top 50 radio rock songs of all time: http://mog.com/loganlenz/blog_post/164773

If you're too lazy to do that here's the top 10:

10. U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
9. Radiohead - Paranoid Android
8. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
7. The Clash - London Calling
6. Pixies - Where Is My Mind?
5. R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe
4. The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?
3. Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun
2. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
1. Radiohead - Creep

I'm not going to quibble too much with any list that features plenty of Radiohead, Nirvana, REM and Pixies but, let's face it, there ain't a whole lot of imagination shown on this one.
I find New Order's Blue Monday at 23 slightly surprising, given that it contains a long electronic intro and could easily not be classed as a rock song, but that's about it. And the absence of a personal favourite of mine, Motorhead's Ace of Spades is rather galling, but must surely have landed fairly close to the top 50.

Radiohead hold the number one position with Creep, and also feature at 9 with Paranoid Android and 32 with Karma Police. Now, I adore Radiohead as much, and a great deal more, than the next man, but these are odd choices really. Creep contains the refrain "You're so fucking special", ruling it out of daytime airplay unless in its watered-down "very special" format, which massively reduces its impact. Paranoid Android is about six and a half minutes long, which made radio stations notoriously reluctant to playlist it upon its release in 1997. I also wonder what the band themselves think about having two songs in the top ten, given that they have made strident efforts to get away from producing rock anthems in recent years. I love both of these songs, but Creep in particular is sounding a bit dated at this stage.

However, being dated doesn't seem to much of an issue for the compilers of this list given that, as far as I can work out, absolutely none of these songs were released within the last 10 years.

So here's a few more recent songs, strictly off the top of my head, that I think might be worthy inclusions in the list:

Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
Morrissey - Irish Blood, English Heart
Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 and Antichrist Television Blues
Band of Horses - Is There A Ghost
White Stripes - Fell in Love With a Girl
Wolf Parade - Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts
The Strokes - Reptilia
Bruce Springsteen - Radio Nowhere
Ash - Lose Control (I'm cheating now with this one cos its from 1995 but it still sounds fresh and I just love it, Ditto their entire 1977 album, all of which is worth cranking up the stereo for.)

As always, I'd love to know what other people think. Is the list a load of crap? Is it just too predictable? What do you make of my choices? Is there anything you think should be in there?

Update: Here's the link for the full listing of the top 500 http://woxy.lala.com/blog/2008/05/27/the-2008-modern-rock-500-final-song-listing/#more

I've just checked it out and am delighted to see that Take Me Out made it to number 83. Songs written in the past ten years seem to start at 68 with the massively over-played Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes. Its riff is now chanted ad nauseum on football terraces across Europe so I find it difficult to tolerate.

By the way, expect more talk about Radiohead this week, given the week that's in it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

5

Thoughts recorded at a disgusting hour

This accursed blogging has destroyed my already fragile grasp on any sort of a decent sleeping pattern. Although I have not been all that productive recently, rest assured that I am constantly awake at ridiculous times of night, thinking about things I want to talk about on this here blog. And unless I scribble them down on a sheet of paper (as I am doing now), they have entirely left my head by the next morning- when it might actually be somewhat logical to be thinking stuff and writing it down.

I wonder to what extent other bloggers suffer this problem.

I call it blogsomnia.


And I do not like it.