Thursday, March 24, 2011



The External World from David OReilly on Vimeo.

I realise that people don't tend to watch 17 minute videos on the Internet. You can shoot your load much quicker than that. But, should you have the time and inclination, this award-winning film by Irish animator David O'Reilly is well-worth a look. There's also a good interview with him here (and check out the link to his King's Speech pisstake acceptance speech). It may not be to everyone's liking, but it'll certainly stay with you: the "punch in the brain" that he refers to. It's frustrating that an artist like David has to live in Berlin to be able to do what he wants, but hardly surprising. Whenever I encounter people who can't see the value of art and of novel ideas in society I want to point out that even the purveyors of utilitarian entertainments like Fair City must have harboured loftier creative notions, once.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When i wanted to buy broom handles today to use for some sort of a protest that i won't be going to the man in the hardwareshop made me feel like less of a man because he could see in my face that i do not own a saw, even though i had liberally sprayed the word 'timber' around and i thought 'you don't need to do that, man in the shop, because i have gotten this far in life without owning a saw and i'm alright with it and you are good at your job and i am good at mine'. and then, in the way that these things occur it occurred to me that i might not even be very good at my job at all and that that really should have occurred to me before, that i have no right to assume i might be decent at anything. i am, i suppose, reasonably good at carrying things of moderate weight but then, most likely everyone else is too. you are only really a weak fellow who is subject to controls like everyone else and though you know that a government is much like a referee in that you shouldn't really notice them if they are doing a good job you will continue to notice them and just think that it would be really nice if they could just tiptoe around you and your wife and not be quite so fucking noticeable the whole time because you never really did anything to them, did you? and that, today, it's harder to feel sad about 10,000 than about one because it's just not a multiplicable thing, sadness, probably.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Like it shines on me

In the lead up to Rosie turning 30 I tried to tell as many people as possible that she was going to be 40. Or else made sure that everyone knew she'd be 30 before me. She was less than amused, which surprised me at first as she has a very self-deprecating sense of humour and is well used to me. Getting upset over jibes about your age has always struck me as pointless, as it's a bit like being slagged for existing. But, just as the only birthday freak-outs I ever had occurred as my 24th and 28th birthdays saw me unemployed, so are there expectations and disappointments that can attach themselves to any number. And sometimes these things just remind us that the worms'll come for us all.

We decided to go away for the occasion; it being preferable to getting drunk in Dublin and raiding the burger vans of Camden Street on the way home, and well-deserved after the austerity of honeymooning on gift vouchers and special deals around the south-east of Ireland last year. New York was the spot we chose, she still carrying a torch for it from a previous visit and me unacquainted. Unacquainted, that is, only in the flesh - for no other city could possibly seem so familiar to a new visitor, rich in both pop-culture and real events. The looming Manhattan skyline as we approached from JFK looked like somewhere I already knew. Woke up this morning, got yourself a gun I hummed . And - Bleecker Street, Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, Grand Central, SoHo, Times Square, Madison Avenue, Broadway, Harlem - Jesus, the weight behind them! The neon, the subway, the hotdog vendors, the yellow cabs, the showy screaming at each other on the streets, the pancakes for breakfast: it's all there like they said it was. There were a hell of a lot less white people than TV and movies would have you believe, but I'd heard that before. I quickly came to feel that New York, in the same way that cities like London, Paris and Rome were the epicentre of past epochs, was the city that embodied the 20th century. But it's a century that, for me, began with the arrival of a young Vito Corleone on Ellis Island in 1901 and ended on September 11th 2001.

We had ourselves a time, of course. When you come home everyone seems to have a list of things you ought to have done in NYC, and there's every chance that you did none of them, and they've done none of yours. We saw museums and parks and skyscapers and shops and we ate ourselves silly and slept like sweaty logs every night as it blustered and dusted snow outside.

On our last night there, Rosie's birthday, we wandered up Eighth Avenue uncharacteristically late looking for a decent spot to chow down when Frankie and Johnnie's Steak and Chophouse lured us in with an unprepossessing exterior before we choked over the numerals on the menu. If the sexagenarian waiters in tuxedos hadn't tipped us off that this wasn't just any old steakhouse then the woman coming in to book a party of ten for Tom Selleck soon did. We shared the Porterhouse Steak For Two over an agreeable, affordable Malbec, with sides of cream spinach and fries. I may never eat a finer meal.

"We should come back to New York for all significant birthdays," said Rosie.
"Mmmfffyeah, and eat here" I gulped through a mouthful of medium rare.
"I suppose if they've been going since 1926 they'll still be here in ten years."
"So, 40, then," I said wistfully, "Just think, we'll be sitting here having dinner and we'll remember this conversation." It is, invariably, me who injects a note of sentimentality into such moments.
"Stop," she said, "you're making me cry."
I was in danger of the same. Because making plans for ten years up the road is the most married I've felt yet, because life feels so good lately that ten years away can surely only be worse, because the future is always terrifying. Because the worms suddenly edged that inch closer. Because I do not want to wait ten years.