Friday, August 29, 2008

5

Learn to be real

OK, while I'm in the mood for short wee posts with no particular merit to them, check this out.

Just ask yourself these questions:



"Are You Ready For Reality TV?
Every week thousands of people audition for Reality TV shows, the competition is fierce and the odds of making it past the first round of submissions are slim.
Do you know what it takes to get noticed?
And if you are fortunate enough to be called in, will you be able handle the pressure of this once in a lifetime opportunity?"

If you think the answer to any of these questions might just be 'no', then get yourself over to the New York Reality TV School right away and learn how to turn yourself into the kind of personality who will succeed on reality TV and make it through 'casting'.

Surely 'reality TV' and 'casting' in the same sentence ought to be a massive oxymoron.

I think I might leave the world now.
2

I am powerful and competent

Apparently Grannymar and I are pretty much the same person. I had previously thought that these things had a mystical understanding of your personality, largely divined from the way your fingers caress the keyboard whilst typing in your name. Devastating.




What Andrew Means



You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.



You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.



You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.

You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.

People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.



You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.



You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.



You are very charming... dangerously so. You have the potential to break a lot of hearts.

You know how what you want, how to get it, and that you will get it.

You have the power to rule the world. Let's hope you're a benevolent dictator!

0

Ffffound



I love this picture. It's from www.mikemillsweb.com but I discovered it on www.ffffound.com, which is really very cool.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

10

Electric Staying at Home

Is everyone else in the world fecking off to the Picnic tomorrow?

I'm not, as I'm a teacher and it's really not good timing for us. Which is a crying shame because it's not good timing for students either. How many of you had the discomfort of some smiling brat saying "Hey Sir!" at Oxegen this year as you stumbled around on your own trying to locate a friend, slightly the worse for rum?

I've never made it to the Picnic, they tell me it's a complete love-in compared to the nasty shenanigans of Oxegen but I do wonder how long it'll be till that bubble bursts. At the first festival I went to, back when Oxegen still went under the eminently more sensible moniker of Witnness (yes, two Ns, naturally), I remember walking around in a haze feeling enchanted by how many people were there to listen to the same kind of music that I liked. I had previously thought I was the only one, and my faith in humanity was restored. I remember the Irish Times reporting it as being "a remarkably sober event" and, to a point, they were right. Obviously everyone was locked (Paddy's whiskey was my poison that year, if I remember correctly) but it did seem to manifest itself in singing, dancing and hugging rather than the puking, public-pissing and arson that pervades the whole thing now. There were drugs then, too, but even this seemed more light-hearted. I had a good chuckle when a nordy guy asked if I had any 'Donaghdees', a piece of rhyming slang I found particularly enjoyable as Donaghdee is a small town in Antrim where a venerable great aunt of mine was closeted in a retirement home.

It was when they let the Black-Eyed Peas play that I noticed everything changing. I had to make my way to the mainstage sound-desk to collect my bottles of beer off a friend with a backstage pass who had snuck them in for us. Unfortunately this coincided with Fergie and co. subjecting the whole place to 'Where Is The Love?' It certainly wasn't anywhere near me as I fought through wave upon wave of skobie, skanger and skumbag givin' it fookin' loads and raising their arms, quite literally, in ecstasy. I should have heeded the warnings of a friend who had told me N.E.R.D. had exactly the same clientele at their slot. And my eavesdropping of the two morons in front of me in the queue to get in: "Dis is fookin' deadly, wha' time are Outkast on at?" "Eh, I don' tink dey're playin' bud." They weren't playing, the first guy just imagined that a festival meant you could turn up and expect to see whatever band you really liked.

This is rapidly turning into a snobbier-sounding post than I intended it to be, but I just wonder how long it will be before Electric Picnic goes the same way. Or is it far away enough from Dublin to be safe?

I think I'm just bitter. Have fun.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

5

Six of the best

Whilst meandering around the lovely raptureponies' site earlier, I noticed she'd added me to her list of tags for this meme, with only the subtlest of nudges from me in her direction.
It's basically just a list of six things that float your boat. I'm in lousy form today so having to think of the things I like most in the world sounds like the perfect antidote.

1. Dumb 80s comedies, particularly the Police Academy movies.

Zed was something of a hero to me.







I nearly started jumping around in joy about a year ago when I walked into a Virgin Megastore and found a load of the movies on DVD in a '3 for €30' deal, as I only had dodgy video recordings off the telly. The sales assistant told me that they'd been flying off the shelves, which pleased me immensely.


2. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith.

I've always meant to post about these books and here is the perfect opportunity to do so. When I first heard of them the 'ladies' part of the title made me dismiss them as chick-lit. How very wrong I was. Having finally persuaded to read them, I think by my big sister (thanks sis!), I was made happy in a way no book has ever managed before. These books spin enough of a yarn to keep you interested, but it is the central characters of Precious Ramotswe, Grace Makutsi and Mr. JLB Matekoni and their inherent decency and humour that keep me coming back to learn more of their lives in the the Botswanan capital of Gaborone.

Having lived for several years in an African country I think I simply recognised the writer's supreme skill in capturing the values, pace of life and optimism that are unique to Africa. There are now nine books in this series and I've read and loved them all.

The Guardian has one of it's very clever digested reads done for one of the more recent books, Blue Shoes and Happiness. It summarises the book in one line as being "much ado about nothing". In many ways this is an accurate assessment, as these books are often concerned with the very ordinariness of daily life and it's trivial concerns. Of course, the books also heavily touch upon AIDS, domestic violence and the emergence of womens' rights in Southern Africa. Just not in a bombastic way. Which is nice.

The books have already been turned into a TV series, the pilot of which was shown on BBC on Easter Sunday. The rest of the series is due to be shown fairly soon, I think.


3. The Sea

No, not the book by John Banville, I'm not that pretentious. Just the sea. I've been reminded of just how much I love it this summer by probably spending more time in it than I ever have before. When I was a young fella I was a skinny little whippet and found swimming in the sea in Ireland too much to bear for more than a couple of minutes. I was fortunate enough that some of my childhood was spent in a country on the Indian Ocean, which is like a warm bath at any time of year. And as I've got older and fatter I've learnt to tolerate the Irish Sea and have grown to like it (though I would maintain that swimming in the Atlantic Ocean in Cork or the west coast is marginally warmer). this summer I realised that if you go to the beach at around six or seven in the evening there is unlikely to be anyone else there and it's still reasonably warm. If it's very calm and there's no-one else around you can swim out quite far and feel like you are the only person on the face of the earth, which can be a lovely feeling for a couple of minutes. Then, one's reverie can be broken by a curious seal popping it's head up to suss you out or one's handsomely enthusiastic dog swimming out to join one.

Last Sunday morning I had a new experience of the sea when, after a night of merriment in Darren and Lottie's place, several of us headed down to Greystones beach to watch the sun rise. of course, sunrise occurs when it wants to rather than when Lottie says it should but 'twas still glorious. I will now steal photographic evidence of this event from McG's page.


At this point I am the one closest to the camera and the only one not in the sea. Moments later clothes were shed and I joined two other eejits for a full-on swim. Thank Christ Anthony has chosen not to post the evidence on his blog.

So, yeah, the sea definitely floats my boat. I imagine there's a lot of boats floating on it.


4. Cups of tea and chats with my bro.

I now come to the more sentimental half of this post. I've never quite fully broken away from home in the manner a man of my age ought to have done. There are various reasons for this but one of them is definitely the fact that my younger brother hasn't either. He's my best friend and the hours that we have spent late at night having a cup of tea and a chat are running into the gasquillions at this stage. It's a mix of talk about sports (ones we play and ones we watch), stuff we like on TV, how handsome the dog is, people we've met and liked (those we don't like aren't important enough to be mentioned) and whatever needs to be brought up. There is less talk about ladies and sexy time than one might imagine. The conversation is often not particularly personal but it can swing from being about the majesty of Police Academy 3 to matters of intense regret without a discernible change in mood or a clamming-up on the part of either one of us. And it always feels essential that we have these chats.

As long as I don't fuck up the tea.


5. The comfy spot

There's a point, right where my chest muscle meets my left shoulder directly above my armpit, where my lady loves to put her head when I'm lying beside her. If I stroke her hair she can be asleep within seconds, no matter what time of day it is. And when she falls asleep, I will inevitably follow. The great thing about this spot is that, no matter what problems we may have encountered, a few minutes of her head resting on the comfy spot will always put things into perspective.


6. Baxter


This is Emanuel, or Ema, an orphan found abandoned in a bush and taken to Newlands orphanage in Moshi, northern Tanzania. I call him Baxter because our conversations were much like the ones between Ron Burgundy and his dog of that name. He speaks much wisdom but I couldn't always understand it. Among a group of wonderful, life-affirming children Baxter stood out for his brightness and character and for the plain and simple reason that we bonded in a big way. He is a truly special child and if it were in any way possible and I thought it was the right thing for him then he would be here with me right now. But I think about him every day and I'll see him again.

Right, I think I'm supposed to tag people at this point but I think most people I like have been tagged already. Little Miss, do yours now. Darragh, I can't remember if you've done one. Rosie, feel free to give it a go if you like. Mary, have you done this one? And my dear cousin, get your blog groove back on again and give this a stab.

That was fun.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

3

Summer blogging had me a blast

Well, I'm back to work proper tomorrow after a fairly long summer of staying in bed till 3p.m., some fairly easy-going TEFL work, a lot of TV football, some sunburn and some soddenness, and a rekindling of my love of the Irish Sea (including a dip yesterday morning with other lunatics).

And it's occurred to me that, having started blogging in mid-May as the school year was winding down, that pretty much all of my blogging has been done in summer months. I'll be going back to college this year to learn how to be a proper teacher and it's dawning on me that I really won't have as much time as I'd like to devote to the blog. Or, at least, I shouldn't have as much time to devote to the blog. I hope I'm able to keep it going in some respectable way but there is a fair chance it'll be a bit more sporadic in nature from henceforth. Of course, there's every chance I'll be logging on every day to let off steam. I ask your forgiveness in advance if this becomes a bit whiney occasionally.

I started this blog simply because I realised I was spending lots of time on other blogs and commenting all over the place. occasionally my comments went off on a bit of a tangent and I was basically just using them as a mini-post, a stolen forum for my own views. Blogging looked easy and it turned out to be even easier so I now put my stronger views in their rightful place: here. In the last few days I entirely unwittingly began a debate as to the importance of blog-rolls. Rosie took it and ran with it and I've been very interested to see what other people have thought. But to her more militant defenders (and she does have a few) I must stress again that I was not criticising her or Darragh's lack of a blog-roll, I was simply curious as to why they don't have/like them. Having a go at someone for the things they choose to include or omit from their sidebar would be absolutely crass. And then some.

I choose to have a blog-roll because I don't use Google reader or anything like that so it simply provides a handy link-list for me to check up on. I'll be honest and admit that I don't read them all every day but I do check them all pretty regularly. There's nothing on there that I don't like, though I naturally like some more than others. Several of them are my friends but if I thought they were shite then I'd take them off. You have been warned. And I'd like to think they'd take me off theirs if my already patchy quality deteriorated much further. Some haven't reciprocated and it doesn't bother me in the least. That would be petty. I'll persevere with mine in the hope that passers-by will occasionally click on something and discover someone well-worth reading.

The nicest and most unexpected side-effect of blogging has been meeting new people. They've all been lovely. I won't name names or link to them now because you all know damn well who you are. And I'm better off for having met you all. So, if the Irish blogosphere is a bit like social-networking at times (and I think it is), it's definitely a higher form of social-networking than anything else I've come across before.

Friday, August 22, 2008

8

Bronze is for losers

Did anyone see Paddy Barnes' Olympic boxing semi-final at noon today? Most of you will have been at work or busy with other stuff so there's a report and video of it here. The poor little fella (I call him that not in a patronising way but because I am literally twice his weight and would still get my ass kicked by him so it makes me feel better) lost 15-0 to a Chinese boxer but stll gets a bronze medal for having made it to the semis. Interviewed straight after the fight by that irritating Marty Morrissey a clearly gutted Barnes gave out about the judges having failed to give him a single point (he was probably right but all the generosity in the world wouldn't have changed the outcome of that fight). Morrissey tried to console him with a sentence of along the lines of "Sure, you've got a bronze medal anyway, haven't you done terribly well?"

Barnes' response endeared him to me hugely: "Sure they can keep that for all I care." At this awkward point the embarrassingly bad Morrissey asked him to repeat what he'd just said and he goes "Bronze medals are for losers." Morrissey insanely pursued his line of telling him how great it was too get one, clearly unaware that only 20 minutes earlier the young man would have been standing in his dressing room dreaming of a gold medal around his neck and a welcoming ceremony on the streets of Belfast. He may well get that last part anyway. But, in this context, he's absolutely right about bronze medals being for losers. Both beaten semi-finalists get one. If ever there was a good example as to why there should be a bronze medal pay-off in boxing it was that. Wounded and beaten semi-finalists would get a chance to avenge their honour and proud sportsmen like Barnes would be able to feel like they had earned that bronze medal. Or not, as the case might be. How can you be third if there are two of you? Plenty of Olympic sports, such as football, hockey and tennis have bronze medal play-offs so why not in boxing?

And when will TV channels learn that it is unfair to interview athletes straight after a devastating defeat (and devastating is the nature of all defeats to real competitors)? Barnes will almost certainly learn to be thankful for his bronze medal but why did RTÉ have to help turn it into a moment of shame for him?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

1

Worst Postsecret Ever



9

Who are ya?

I like this post by Darragh a lot.

I probably have much the same readership (only smaller) as Darragh so I'm not sure if there's any point asking people to do the same thing here, unless they really want to. But do go to Darragh's page and add your little bit if you haven't already.

The fecker doesn't actually have a blogroll so this is the best way to earn yourself a few hits through his page.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

12

Oxegen and toothbrush smuggling

Just checked my email and saw that tickets are already on sale for Oxegen next year.

Seriously?

Who buys tickets this early without so much as a single name on the line-up announced? It's not even that much cheaper to buy them now. I guess the whole thing is just a brand now, with a huge proportion of people just going for the piss-up in their tent and not really bothered with what's happening on the musical end of things. If anyone feels this way then allow me to offer you the service of getting pissed in your tent in my garden for only a hundred quid, less than half the price of the 'early-bird' Oxegen tickets. I'll promise to openly piss in front of you and jump on your tent in the middle of the night to ensure you get that authentic festival experience. I'll even set your tent on fire before you leave. And I won't charge an extra 6.35 handling fee (I never really wanted to be handled by anyone in Ticketmaster anyway).

The offer's there.

In other news, I'll be coming home from Egypt on Wednesday and am unsure as to what kind of crap I should be bringing back. I'm not one of those people who will happily bring back thousands of dirt-cheap cigarettes for every single smoker they know. And you don't really want a load of obelisks made out of clay or some such shite do you? Then it dawned on me the other day: toothbrushes! Toothbrushes must be something we fork out a ridiculous amount of money for every year. Even if you don't want one with a tongue-scraper, a flexible neck and feckin' go-faster stripes on it they'll still brand it as a 'classic' toothbrush and charge far too much. I reckon they probably cost about 10 cents here and they're not exactly heavy.
This is surely a genius idea unless they're are some legal restrictions I'm not aware of. Imagine being busted in Dublin airport by some grumpy customs guy saying "Sir, I'm sure you are well aware that under International Law #347 it is prohibited to carry more than 1.2 kg of dental hygiene products from one nation state to another..."

I'll take my chances. Anyone for a toothbrush?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

5

Tuneless

It turns out I have absolutely no music on my iPod suitable for soundtracking a sunset over the Nile.

My collection is endlessly useful for soothing my passage on a packed Luas into town, accompanying me and a cigarette on a mosey down Dame Street or keeping me amused as I shiver at a bus stop on Merrion Square. It adds an extra punch on a drive over the Wicklow mountains and gets me to sleep when my head wants to tell me a thousand different things.

I've discovered on my previous travels that Powder Blue by Elbow is exceedingly good when you're feeling a bit sad at a subway station in Seoul, that Postcards From Italy by Beirut works majestically well when thundering along a bone-rattlingly rough road in Tanzania, and that Springsteen's Thunder Road is cracking on a day trip in Turkey.

But as I watched the sun sink ridiculously slowly over the Nile as I travelled parallel to it on a train with the young lady sleeping prettily beside me there was nothing in my fairly extensive collection that seemed to fit the mood.

I've yet to work out whether this is a simple shortcoming on the part of my musical taste, or whether there are just some things in life that can't be enhanced by anything.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

10

Less than Luxor-ious

Well, Darren says he wants updates of my hols as I go along and, for some strange reason, Darren seems to get what he wants.

What can I say? It's so fucking hot here it makes books fall apart if you read them while lying in the sun. Literally. I was busy thinking how superior I was to the missus because my book wasn't haemorrhaging pages when suddenly every page I turned fell away from the spine. It seems that the heat dries out the glue and it becomes entirely redundant. Which is annoying.

Our hotel is something of a hovel but it's still working it's strange charms on me. The noise from the air-conditioning starts off with a pleasant whirr but builds in five minute cycles into a deafening crescendo that conjures up a powerful sense of dread. Thankfully we brought left over ear-plugs from Oxegen. Back at that Kildare sludge-fest Lottie told me how she doesn't like to wear them because it made her "hear her own head", or words to that effect. I figured she was just suffering a wee bit of schizophrenia at the time, but I now know eactly what she means. Turns out the inside of my head has some really irritating bastards in it.

I'm taking this opportunity to sting the shit out of my over-chlorinated eyes in this smoky net cafe (they call it that but there doesn't seem to be much danger of getting a coffee here) and check up on my blog, but also to check those of others - those who keep me amused during the hours when I should be working/sleeping/making human friends. And I've discovered that Mary has finally got her own blog up and running at Invisible Toast. Mary is fucking deadly altogether in every way so if you haven't already seen her blog then get over there and say hi. Of course, if she starts getting more hits and comments than me our friendship will be severed. Not a nice severing either, I'll make sure it's hacked and gory.

Anyway, sure, no-one could really be that interested in what I'm up to on my holliers. I do have a good story or two to tell about a trip on a sailing boat down the Nile but it can't really be shared here so I'll leave it for another time. Little Miss also appears to be in Luxor by some strange coincidence so head over to her blog if you want to see what she's been up to. Nasty shenanigans, I'll warrant.

Time to get packed for a cruise tomorrow, then get some sort of an early night.

Be good.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1

Waiting...

Well, the missus is the slowest packer in the world so I'm doing a little mental meandering here as I wait to be allowed go to bed.

My roguishly handsome dog went to see a shrink earlier to see if we could get some kind of a handle on his behavioural issues, or at least work out where they're coming from. I wouyld have thought it was obvious: He never even knew who his father was and his mother was a complete and utter bitch. from the age of about three (of his years) he was expected to fend for himself and figure out what the world was all about and where you can and can't piss. Then his balls were taken from him whilst he is constantly subjected to the sight of his masters scratching theirs.

I'd nip at strangers' ankles too in those circumstances.


It'll be strange not blogging for two whole weeks, it's become a wee bit addictive for me. I imagine I'll be sneaking into net cafés now and ago for a quick look at what everyone else has been talking about and maybe even posting once or twice. Though it's just dawned on me that I've left my camera sitting in the glove compartment of my car in Wicklow (fuckity fuck!) so there's no chance of photos being added anyway. I don't tend to take too many shots while on holiday as I find it can get in the way of just actually having a good time, rather than recording other people doing so. Still, I'm pissed off about that now. Anyway, I think the point I wanted to make is that if you notice me writing too many posts or leaving heaps of comments on other blogs then please leave me a nice abusive comment instructing to get the hell away from the screen and back into the sunshine. I've already blogged about how sad I think it is when tourists blog their every move.

So, have fun and I'll talk to you all in a couple of weeks and hopefully not too much until then.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

6

Chewsday




10

I read books because I'm smrt

I'm heading off with my young lady to the land of Eejit tomorrow. I call it that not with any disparagement of the character of it's people nor with any malice toward ancient triangular tombs, but because it's clearly too hot (current temperatures reading somewhere around 972 degress celsius, I think) to exist there at the moment and I am, therefore, an eejit.



Still, I imagine I'll do a fair amount of reading out there. In my air-conditioned room with my back against the open fridge. I've a few books already lined up but could probably make room for one or two more. The ones currently about to be breaking out the factor 40 include The Liar by Stephen Fry which I've just bought (excited about that one), Schopenhauer's Telescope by Gerald Donovan (think it's about genocide or something - that's the kind of fun guy I am to be on holiday with), The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy (a series of speeches and essays concerning the Iraq War and global justice, wa-hey!) and A Pelican at Blandings by P.G Wodehouse (who isn't a sucker for British upper-class humour from the 1930s?).



I reckon there's probably room in the suitcase and time enough for one more book and I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations. I'm open to pretty much anything except dodgy chick-lit. Cecelia Ahern is welcome to come as long as she leaves her laptop, her notebook, her vocal cords and her dad behind. It's rare that I come across a book that I immediately think I should recommend to just about everyone. If anyone feels they have come across such a book please recommend it to me and I'll try to pick it up at the airport bookshop in the morning. Absolutely anything at all.



Of course, if you mention the Da Vinci Code I will hunt you and I will find you.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

6

A Picture

I'm not inclined to put pictures of myself up here at all, as I find it a bit vain to be honest. Blogs are not Facebook profiles. But I was looking through some old pictures earlier, and was thinking of how most of them never really represent the experience you were having at the time when the photo was taken.

For me, things like songs, sounds and smells are far more visceral in terms of reminding me of a certain time. To this day, if I smell Physio Sport anti-perspirant I am instantly transported to the back of a Landrover travelling along bumpy roads in Kenya in 1999, as that was my choice of deodorant for a trip there. Listening to certain songs from Ash's '1977' album reminds me of being miserable on a French exchange trip, nursing my first broken heart as I tried to figure out why everyone there kept speaking French to me and asking if I wanted to eat 'the crap' (I later discovered what a 'crepe' was).

Yet I found one photo that, above all others, captures the essence of a moment beautifully.

Would you like to see it?



That's me in Seoul, South Korea where I taught on a one month contract in January 2006. Given how I was only there for a short time I decided it would be best if I went out every single night and sampled as much Korean culture as possible by eating and drinking anything I knew the Korean word for, indulging wildly in karaoke, smoking (because you could) in weird little private cinemas which only accommodate 2 or 4 people, and telling taxi-drivers I was a swedish popstar. I also worked 9-5 six days a week and had a 2 and a half hour round trip to work so sleep wasn't really a high priority. There's only so long one can sustain that kind of tempo and for me it was about two and a half weeks before my body crashed. I coughed violently all the time and found myself unable to stomach the school lunches of rice, octopus, fucked-up miso soup, more octopus and kimchi (the national Korean dish, best summarised as pickled fermented cabbage). Which meant there was nothing to eat. Other colleagues also fell ill around the same time, and the school weren't best pleased with them needing time off so I had no choice but to work through it. I recall one class where the 6 year-olds I was teaching reading to would calmly take it in turns to read out loud before waking me politely at the end of each round.

This photo was taken on my worst day, and that's why it encapsulates the experience so well. I look like a piece of boiled shit, completely lost in a surreal country and yet giving enough of a smile to betray that I was loving every minute anyway. The way the kids turned out blurred just heightens the effect.

I still prefer to have other triggers to important memories in life but I'd love to think that everyone would have at least one photo that captures a complicated feeling in the way this one does for me.