Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Happy Christmas folks - regular visitors, occasional readers and those that just happen by while bloghopping or Googling (even that person contemplating a meal of testicles). Regular service will resume in the new year.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Well Mr. Trimble, you may call our country pathetic but we think your party is 'dysfunctional'. Some Irish civil servant has dropped our government in the shit by accidentally leaving a confidential briefing document lying around in a room full of press men. No doubt www.sluggerotoole.com will have the latest on the craíc with this.
Jane's Addiction to release a new Album in 2003. What are the chances that they will take off from exactly where they left it after 'Ritual De Lo Habitual'?

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Oh look - maybe this explains the recent surge in interest in 'Recipes for Human Testicles'.
You might find them boring but I love year end best-of lists - none of that year in review type stuff, just the plain top ten of things that matter so I can quantify and compare with years past. And whats a blog for but for posts like this?

So here are my top ten favourite albums that I bought this year:-

1. Lambchop - Is a Woman
2. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
3. Bob Dylan - Live 1975
4. The Microphones - The Glow Pt 2
5. Jim O'Rourke - Insignificance
6. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
7. Neko Case - Blacklisted
8. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
9. Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
10.Tift Merritt - Bramble Rose

Okay - not sure about the last couple, maybe Aimee Mann's 'Lost in Space' or Sonic Youth's 'Murray Street' should be there and James Yorkston's album was pretty good too. Anyway it was a pretty average year for music (or at least for the kind I like) with most of the best stuff released by March . Not a classic by any measure I think.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Too busy to blog. Cruising along nicely all year on the wash of the Tech implosion then flat out busy in December - just in time for Christmas. And not a present bought or a card sent. Am I too late now to send one to the States? I've an idea for a movie - it's called "Termination". It's about a man who has disproportionate emotional reactions to events, experiences, and things in general coming to an end. It's not going to be a Hollywood blockbuster.................

Monday, December 16, 2002

Top ten Critical Flaws.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Some one found this site after running a search for "human testicles recipes" onYahoo. Hope you found what you were looking for Sir (or perhaps that should be Madam?).

Friday, December 13, 2002

Despite all my rage I'm still just a rat in a cage....Right. Whatever. Funny how I had forgotten just how good some of those old Smashing Pumpkin's songs are. Even if they are lyrically ridiculous. Isn't that the beauty of Rock n' Roll?

Thursday, December 12, 2002

New edition of The Evil Gerald.
The political point scoring has started already over the failure of Ireland/Scotland to land the Euro 2008 championships. Of course, it was mostly Ireland's fault that the joint bid failed - what with no actual stadia in place for it, but I didn't see the opposition rowing in behind Bertie Ahern when there was a real chance of the 'Bertie Bowl' being built.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Popular Galway cleric Fr. Dick Lyng makes the national newpapers today over his comments in last Sunday's parish newsletter describing car clampers as "miserable, mean-spirited little Hitlers". It may seem extreme but there isn't a person in Galway who doesn't know someone who has had their car clamped - often for leaving a car in a illegal space for a few minutes only. While nobody denies that clamping is essential in order to ensure orderly traffic in the city, a certain level of flexibility should be expected - particularily in the case of cars which aren't actually proving an obstruction or a hazard. Our elected representative in the City Council don't seem to care too much about this situation - indeed it suits them to claim that they have no control over the clamping company who are merely following the terms of their contract. The fact that interests in said company also alledgedly control several of the paid multi-story carparks in the city would be ironic if it were not a conflict of interest that stinks to high heaven.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Last night, after a gap of 19 years, I went to see a new Bond film in the cinema. I shouldn't have bothered - el cheapo special effects, embarassing attempts at humour, product placement to beat the band - it had it all. It may well be 20 years before I go to another one.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Thursday, December 05, 2002

This seems to be doing the rounds on email:- Thinkzoo. Unusual insofar as it's an Irish effort.
Mathematics unravels optimum way of shoe lacing. Scientists have discovered that "criss-cross lacing came out on top for a short, wide set of eyeholes - that is, when the vertical distance between eyeholes is low, and horizontal distance is high. Straight lacing came out tops for a long, skinny set of eyeholes."

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

My faith in the record industry has been restored. Yesterday I took receipt of the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Vol 5 - Live 1975 - A record of the first leg of Dylan's legendary 'Rolling Thunder Revue' tour. It is without doubt the best live album I have ever heard - even better than the extraordinary Dylan Live 1966 set. Originally, I had not expected it to be so awesome - primarily on account of 'Desire' being one of my least favourite Dylan albums and also being fairly non-plussed with the 'Hard Rain' set (recorded in 1976 on the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue Tour). But here we have radically different versions of several of his songs, Mick Ronson and T.Bone Burnett playing a stormer on guitar, Roger McGuin and Joan Baez popping up on a few tracks and the fiddler girl from Desire playing a blinder. The band is incredibly tight. There isn't a weak track on it but highlights include an awesome heavy boogie take on 'A Hard Rains a Gonna Fall', the harp playing on 'It ain't me Babe', the intense full band arrangement of 'Hattie Carroll', the incendiary 'Isis' (different to the live version on 'Biograph') and the beautiful duet with Baez on 'Mama, You Been On My Mind' - and all that is only on the first disc! I won't even attempt to list the highlights of the second CD.

Columbia/Sony must be congratulated on this release. The sound quality is peerless, the accompanying booklet is wonderful and even the DVD included with the limited edition version provides a rare video take of 'Tangled up in Blue' and 'Isis' in full 5.1DVD surround sound. I'll even forgive it the fact that it plays black and white only on my DVD player. Roll on 2003 and the release of Bootleg Series Vol 6 - Live 1964.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

In defense of data privacy - Karlin Lillington's page of resources for the protection of Irish data privacy.
Kevin Spacey's pet project - the TriggerStreet online short film festival.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Strange but true. North Korea Adopts Euro.
Paul A. Fitzsimmons in The Blanket responds to Ruth Dudley Edwards' support of David Trimble's offensive assertion that "if you took away Catholicism and anti-Britishness, the [Irish] state doesn’t have a reason to exist".
Could it be true? Tallaght Likened To Switzerland.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

In today's Galway Advertiser - a woman alleges that she was held down by two men and forced to watch while a swan was killed. No evidence of swan killing has been found at the scene.
I just heard someone here say that the word "gaudy" comes from comparisons to the work of the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi...
Michael Heraghty has 'half' a story today on his typically sublime blog. If he didn't bypass Tubbercurry it would never have happened.
Reviews of Steven Soderbergh's Solaris. The SF Chronicle rates it a 3/10 but the Village Voice gives it a perfect 10.
Flak Magazine Review of Volume 5 of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series. I've ordered my copy.
Today Bertie Ahern launched the National Spatial Strategy for Ireland - the framework for development of the country's infrastructure and population centers over the next 20 years. It's primary objective is to address the development and investment imbalance which currently exists in Ireland where almost half the country's population lives in or around Dublin. Over the last ten year's it's become apparent that we cannot continue to support the expansion of Dublin at such a rate that the citiy's infrastucture is creaking under the strain when traditionally bouyant rural population centers are dying for want of inward investment and job creation. I used to live in Dublin, and yes it's a great city, but if I was to move there now from Galway not only would my quality of life take a serious hit but it would probably cost me 30% more at least to live there. Anyway, I welcome the fact that the Government now has a strategy - it won't keep everyone happy and the development of the country is bound to be influenced by many other external factors over the next couple of decades but it's a lot better than nothing at all. Perhaps, the next step now is a complete overhaul of the system of local government.
Apologies for the flaky postings these days. I'm hyper busy at work and getting more stressed by the hour. You know when you're working to a deadline and you really, really need things to go right only for everything possible to go wrong. That's how it feels. I nearly threw this pc out the window yesterday...but that kind of anger externalisation would have been unproductive I guess. Still, it's not off the hook yet....

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Jeff Tweedy, Peter Buck, Ken Stringfellow and Sean O'Hagan all on one album. Sounds good, doesn't it?
In today's Irish Times we have more evidence that Ireland has a third World health service - €8,250 for girl whose hospital bed was infested with ants.

Monday, November 25, 2002

This will make you smile.
Six people were hospitalised suffering from gas inhalation in the Venue niteclub in Galway on Sunday. I've never been there but all reports suggests it is a shithole of the highest order.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Seamus at Taylors bar in Galway accused of racism. Richardsons is now the watering hole of choice for the do-gooders of Galway. It's their loss I say.
A new volume of the Dylan bootleg series is being released in a few days. This is news to me. It appears to be a live concert from the 'Rolling Thunder Revue". Don't we have the 'Hard Rain' live album for that already?

BobDylan.com has audio samples and links to this positive review of the album in the New York Observer.
By criminey. Man burns penis with Laptop. Apparently the offending machine was a Dell Latitude.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Last night's film on TG4 was one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen screened on prime time television. Released in 1974, 'Seizure' is notable for marking Oliver Stone's debut as a director. I must admit I didn't watch all of it (Celebrity Big Brother put paid to that) but what I did see looked like a 1970's film school mix of Hammer Horror and 'Twin Peaks'. It looked like a soft porn movie without the tits. The guy who's responsible for programing the films on TG4 is doing a great job; the channel consistently screens brilliant (often little known) movies from the 40's and 50's but with this one he was either taking the piss or intent on pushing the proverbial 'envelope' of evening TV.
RCA Secret postcard exhibition. Spot the Damien Hirst?

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Hoax Photo Test.
Lots of Black Holes in the news this week. First this and now this.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

This makes for an interesting read. Pitchfork - Top 100 Albums of the 1980s. I can't say I agree that The Pixies are the most influential alternative rock band of all time (unless all time means any time after 1990 or we exclude the Velvets on the basis that 'alternative rock' wasn't invented until 1982). However, with the exception of 'Pauls Boutique' I have little argument with their top ten list and indeed 'Daydream Nation' is a worthy selection for No.1. Where though is Dinosaur Jr's 'Bug' or the Sugarcubes' 'Life's too Good' or etc. etc. etc.
Safety Tips from Anubis - via 3 Bruces

Monday, November 18, 2002

On Saturday afternoon TG4 showed a great (and extraordinarily moving) old movie "Pride of the Marines". The film - somewhat of "Born on the 4th of July" for the WW2 generation - is based on the true life story of one Al Schmid, blinded in the defence of Guadacanal in 1942.
There'll be a spectacular meteor shower tonight. Unfortunately, we in Ireland will have to get up early (or stay up late) to see the best of it at 4:00 in the morning, assuming of course that it's not going to be another cloudy night.
This weeks fiendishly addictive flash game: Cyber Mice Party.
TIME magazine's best Inventions of 2002.

Friday, November 15, 2002

DePalma's new movie 'Femme Fatale' gets a rave review from Flakmag.
Who want's to be an cosmonaut these days? Boyband has-beens and bored billionaires? Not young Russian kids anyway.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

I see that the html link to this story in the Irish Time about regulations for the alternative medice sector is ...%QUACKS.html.
Salon has a new interview with Steve Earle. All you need to do to read it is get a free day pass by watching a Mercedes ad. In relation to noted left wing commentator Christopher Hitchens recent outing as a pro-war advocate , Steve is of the opinon that Hitchens drink problem has totally clouded his judgement. Steve should know, I guess.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

U.S. gay magazine, The Advocate interviews Sinéad O’Connor. Link via brand new blogroll addition, Submeat.
This one has come in under my radar. French Canadian drone rock collective Godspeed You Black Emperor! have a new album "Yanqui u.x.o." out soon. If it's anything like the second disc of their last double album it'll be good. If it's like the first disc, it'll be just plain boring.
This is great. The California Coastal Records Project. I'd love to see a similar photographic record of the Irish coastline.
In other news. Vladimir Putin suggests circumcision for a French journalist. Which reminds me of my favourite ever circumcision joke:-
Did you hear about the blind circumcisor?

He got the sack....
This morning's piece by Tom Humphries in the Irish Times about the FAI report. I agree, after reading the report (or rather the summary version that was made public - surely that cannot be the full report as submitted by Genesis), it seems clear that the majority, if not all, of the FAI officers should tender their resignations.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

The Genesis report is available online now. Enjoy!
www.SoccerCentral.ie is reporting that Brendan Menton has already resigned.
It's a big day for the FAI today what with this afternoon's publication of the Genesis report on their performance/f*ck up at the World Cup. However, no sign of it being posted on their website yet even though it's promised for 5:30. No doubt the media will be all over it this evening/tomorrow morning. It's resignation season in Merrion square again I think.

Update - Oh look, they've taken down the link. So no promise of the report being published online on their site after all.
Eh, excuse me. Is her fifteen minutes up yet? Meanwhile, back in Derry, women aren't what they used to be.
Listening to two new albums today - Badly Drawn Boy's "Have you Fed the Fish" and Steve Earle's "Jerusalem". Suffice to say that neither disappoint.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Debate at leisure over a few pints:- The Ladder Theory of Male Female interaction. Via 3 Bruces.
This is good news. 13 Golden Eagles brought to Donegal from Scotland last year are about to enter their second winter here. Hopefully in a few years they will start to breed, which would be the first time a pair of of eagles has bred in Ireland since 1912. So now, when can we see the re-introduction of the animal that was once Ireland's largest land predator - Canis Lupus - which went extinct here sometime in the 18th century, largely as a result of the efforts of top ten Briton himself, Oliver Cromwell?

Friday, November 08, 2002

There's a bit of a seat sale going on at Aer Lingus. Chicago from €99 - not bad at all.
I saw "Changing Lanes" in the Omniplex the other night. The premise on which the story is built is brilliant - what happens when a fundamentally moral man who has nothing left to lose come up against an antagonist who is a immoral man with everything left to lose? Unfortunately, the resolution acheived in the film is a total cop-out and dramatically, the final 20 - 30 minutes falls totally flat. So, while it's definitely one of the more interesting films released this year, ultimately, like 95% of Hollywood movies these days, it's a disappointment.
Dinky Bomb is the latest timewaster of choice.
Recipes for Potions and Poisons. Just in case you needed any.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's new video!
History lesson of the day:- The Fenian Invasions of Canada.
A real-life super hero from Gotham city is looking out for young ladies. She goes by the name of Terrifica. Will someone tell her that Halloween is already over?
Poor Winona. Is she a victim of the Hollywood establishment or the emotional vacuum that comes with fame and celebrity? Be that as it may, here's one for the ladies:- Which Winona are you?

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Zoe Williams in the Guardian has her suspicions about the Posh Spice kidnap story. I concur - why would dedicated kidnappers want to kidnap one of the highest profile women in the UK when they could have gone for someone rich but unknown, like Roy Keane's wife for example? Surely keeping the profile of the victim at a minimum would ensure less chance of a media circus occuring and would facililate the chances of a ransom actually being paid. Also, wasn't it interesting that the story was broken by a News of the World undercover reporter who happened to infiltrate the gang and who with impecable timing broke the story just in time for the 6:00 news on Saturday evening, thus ensuring maximum exposure for his 'scoop' in Sunday morning's edition of the paper?
The Troubles - as seen through the eyes of Sean Hillen.
Via First Monday. How to defeat the computer-assisted passenger screening system used in U.S. airports. So simple it's scary.
I know we're in an economic downturn but this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Mick is gone. The way is now clear for Roy's return. Great news.
Cute baby and talented to boot.
Twenty years after the war, the carnage returns to Goose Green.
According to this review in Flakmag, it sounds like the new series of "24" will be even better than the first.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Yesterday I vegetated in front of the TV and watched two of the greatest movies ever made. Both were released in 1948 and would have been considered the big budget blockbusters of their day, each filmed on location and each costing about $3 million - an enormous amount in those days. First up was John Hustons's wonderful 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre', followed by Howard Hawk's mythic 'Red River' about the first cattle drive over the famous Chisholm trail between Texas and Kansas.
The Blair Witch Project scuppered my plans for the weekend. Not directly of course. You see they thought the wee girl was suffering a brain hemorrhage (indeed they had good reason to, as this was the Doctor's diagnosis) but after a traumatic high speed ambulance journey from Mayo to Galway it transpired that the dizziness and seizures and screaming were a manifestation of a psychological rather than a physical ailment - it was still scary though, three doctors had to hold her down such was the violence of her convulsions. It appeared for all the world like a case of demonic possession but in this secular and scientifically enlightened age a more rational explanation was required. One young doctor deduced from the utterings between screams that the child was recounting the story of the Blair Witch - her terror was that of one who was convinced the demon in that movie was about to kill her. And indeed upon further investigation it was confirmed that the child had spent the day watching videos with her older cousin including the aforementioned low budget cinematic phenomenon of 1999. The girl calmed down and was comforted and now seems perfectly okay (still under observation by child psychologists), but all involved conclude there must be something seriously wrong somewhere in her life that a movie (one that admittedly did scare the bejayus out of many adults let alone a eleven year old child) could produce such a physical reaction in her. Those who know her fear that her nightmare may be far from over yet. For me, I can only comfort the comforters - those who were there holding her hand while her mother was elsewhere. And who have suffered this trauma as if it was their own child in that ambulance.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Pitchfork reviews the reissue of Pavement's seminal 'Slanted' and Enchanted' - probably the best record released in 1992.
My favourite 'hangover' song:-
Instant Coffee Blues
By Guy Clark

He washed all the road dirt from his face and from his neck
And sat down at her table and she picked up his check
And she took him home for reasons that she did not understand
And him he had the answers but he did not show his hand
For him he knew the taste of this wine very well
It all goes down so easy but the next day is hell

"Man was I drunk", she whispered in the shower
While he lay there and smoked his way there through the final hour
And she felt wholly empty like she felt it every time
And he was feelin' just the same 'cept he's trying to make it rhyme
Time was of the essence so they both did their best
To meet up in the kitchen feeling fully dressed

She just had to go to work and he just had to go
And she knew where and he knew how to blow it off and so
They shot the breeze quite cavalier to the boilin' of the pot
And sang the Instant Coffee Blues and never fired a shot
And him he hit the driveway with his feelin's in a case
And her she hit the stoplight and touched up her face

So you tell him the difference between caring and not
And that it's all done with mirrors lest they forgot
I said it's all done with mirrors of which they have none
To blend the Instant Coffee Blues into the morning sun

A modern dance interpretation of Billy Joels 'Goodnight Saigon'? Who allowed me to do that to myself at 5 o clock in the morning? I blame those present who were more sober than I. May their shame live with them forever.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

There were a couple of interesting programs on the telly last night. Human Instinct on BBC (presented by Dr. Robert Winston - the man with the biggest soup strainer in England) was all about sex and very interesting it was too. It didn't feature too many tips about on how to score with the ladies (apart from revealing that thirtysomething women from LA correlate a mans attractiveness with the amount of cash he flashes), but I did learn that human testicles are the size they are - smaller than a Chimp's but larger than a Gorilla's - precisely because human females are inclined to cheat on their partners every once in a while (particularly during ovulation). You don't learn stuff like that every day.

Also on the beeb last night, was Patricia Cornwell's fairly unconvincing attempt to convince us that the real identity of Jack the Ripper is the British painter Walter Sickert. I must say, I am impressed with Sickert's work. One can hardly deny that it is very morbid but just because some of the guy's paintings were inspired by the Ripper's and others' murders, plus the fact that he lived in London at the time, hardly makes him the no.1 suspect.

Michael Heraghty's unbecoming web diary. I like.
Filmmaker Kevin Smith (aka Silent Bob) is keeping an online diary from the set of his new movie, Jersey Girl. Via Rex.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The stories that may be forever untold. So many family histories have been forgotten in the mists of time; lives remembered solely by at the entries from that census. But for some lucky ones, thanks to the work of local historians and amateur genealogists, enough information exists to allow us to piece together the part they played in the great adventure that was the building of the United States of America. This record pertains to the household of a particular James Twigg who happens to be the son of Timothy Twigg, an Irish emigrant. This same Timothy Twigg married a woman named Catherine Mason in 1803 and subsequently fought with Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. Catherine Mason was a daughter of Issac Mason and Parthena Hall - whose family is the subject of this genealogical study originally published in 1886. From this we learn that Issac Mason fought in the colonial army under General George Washington and was present at the surrender of the British at Yorktown in 1781. After being discharged from the army, he embarked on a perilous journey taking his family and all his posessions down the Ohio river to the settlement of French Lick, Tennessee - a fort which after the efforts of settlers like Mason and the generations that followed, eventually became the city of Nashville.
The complete 1880 U.S. census is now searchable online. We have the good volunteers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to thank for it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Pat Freestone has moved on.
Tonight's entertainment will be Aidan Dooley's one man show about Tom Crean in an Taibhdearc theatre. As it happens, I noticed that the Sunday Tribune is following the BBC's lead with a competition to nominate the ten greatest Irishmen (or Irishwomen) of all time. Crean easily makes my list for his feats of endurance and heroism on the great Antarctic expeditions of Scott and Shackleton. I'm still working out who my other nominations are. More about that some other time.
We're back in business after the long weekend. Mighty craic was had by all - which I won't go into detail here as it's not really that type of blog. Apparently a big storm hit the country on Saturday night. Can't say I noticed, seeing as I was ensconced in a pub for most of it...

Anyway, to get us started, here via Scaryduck, is the very amusing account of the trial of a man accused of stealing a ridiculous quantity of hotel clothes hangers:- Part 1. Part 2.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

According to this website, Waterford is Irelands oldest tourist destination, having been first visited by the Vikings in 852AD. Somehow I suspect the purpose of their trip was more business than pleasure. Nevertheless, I'm heading down there tomorrow for an extra long weekend that most certainly will not involve any raping and pillaging - unless of course the pillaging is of the type involving creamy pints of stout. Don't expect any further postings here till Tuesday.
The Microphones (basically Phil Elvrum and chums) are one of the most interesting bands around today. Pitchfork reports on the unusual process Elvrum has used to create their new album 'Mt. Eerie', which is due out next year. Bit of a 'Trout Mask Replica' vibe about it all I think....which, of course, is a very good thing indeed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Facial hair resources on the web - All about beards.
Scaryduck has a great story about the go-kart building antics of his youth. I too, spent many happy hours with my friends constructing daredevil death machines out of pram wheels and nail studded planks. Kids these days don't know what they're missing - how can a Playstation provide the natural high of walking away from a spectacular high speed crash, uninjured but for two skinned palms and a hole in your trousers?
The Nick Hornby top ten songs he couldn't live without. Apart from the LL. Cool J track, I cannot fault his taste. Indeed, 'Your Love is the Place Where I Come From' would probably make my list too.
Are they serious? Two Towers Protest. According to this website -
"The movie is intentionally being named The Two Towers in order to capitalize on the tragedy of September 11. Clearly, you cannot deny the fact that this falls under hate speech. We believe that if they will not willingly change the name, the government should step in to stop the movie's production or to force a name change".
Yes...next please.
Unqualified Offerings is a good blog for info about what's happening with the Washington Sniper.
This is ridiculous. The Guinness volcano ad has been banned because of complaints received and upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland. Some lug complained that the lava walking scene in the ad implies that Guinness is being promoted as a source of power. Hello? And if that wasn't bad enough, the v. funny Carlsberg 'holiday' ad is being banned on account of it depicting a holiday likely to be "of particular appeal to male minors". Yes, but unfortunately holidays like that exist only in teenage boys' and advertising executives' imaginations.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

One of those logic tree inference engine thingies. I wrote a simple program like it for the ZX81 back when I was a mere boy. It wasn't as fun as this though: Guess the Dictator or Sit-Com Character.
Every home should have one: A Homebrew Lava Lamp. Via Cruel.

Monday, October 21, 2002

In one of those cooincidences that happen all the time in a small country like Ireland, it appears that the Leptard and I used to live in the same house in Lower Salthill at different times during the early 90s. The ground floor flat that myself and three other students occupied has the distinction of being the most decrepit, flea-ridden firetrap that I ever had the misfortune of living in. But with rent that was about five quid (i.e. three pints) a week less than anywhere else, coupled with fact that the landlady was unlikely to sanction us for making a mess of the place given the condition we found it in, it seemed like ideal student accomodation. Plus, as any good auctioneer would tell you, ultimately it's all about location, location, location and this place was perfect as it was right across the road from two of the best pubs in Galway - PJ Flahertys and The Cottage. Okay, there was no back door and the kitchen windows were suspiciously barred up, but after a few terms living in various matchbox sized two roomed flats I wasn't prepared to complain too much. The layout was quite odd as well - the bathroom door opened directly into the kitchen-living area - as did one of the bedroom doors. And in that bedroom there was a window that looked directly into...the bathroom. Signs of architectural design or for that matter, any planning whatsoever, were conspiciously absent. And the bedrooms were so mouldy sometimes I think that I still get the taste of the place every time I cough.
Still, we did nothing to enhance the living conditions ourselves - we used to keep a shopping trolley parked in the bathroom and the kitchen area was constantly steamed up with the earthy smell of boiled spuds and turnips (one of the lads used to bring large sacks of them from home every couple of weeks - we more or less lived on them, again saving our punts for the liquid pleasures of the nearby hostelries...). There was no TV, but for entertainment we had the rehearsals of the rock band upstairs to listen to ( The ? cowboys I think - the Leptard probably knows them).
I have many memories of that place but none more miserable than the couple of weeks of darkness and cold we endured after the electricity meter got jammed with a dodgy 50p piece on the same week that the landlady fucked off on a two week holiday. At one point I nearly burnt the place down with some 'candle's that I improvised from cooking oil and old rags exploded (after which, the others decided to veto my proposals for doing a bit of rewiring around the meter) - and I guess it was only through the charity of friends and perennially warm welcome of PJ's barstools that we came though those dark days with our health and well-being intact. Alas, the original house is now gone - recently replaced by a new more gleaming gray construct of investment favourable apartments. Let's hope the damp-proofing is flawless because the bricks and mortar may have been leveled and replaced, but mould like that which I encountered there may live for ever.
Pitchfork: Desert Island Discs by Colin Newman of Wire. He likes the new album by Liars, a track of which I am about to listen to on MP3.
Life in the Freezer. A blog from Antarctica of all places. Interesting.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Derry community worker Oliver Green has appealed to joyriders who crashed through the fence of a house in the city on Wednesday to come forward. "Most importantly I want to have a word with these young people," said Mr. Green. "They have got to know that if they continue joyriding that someone will eventually be killed." Mr. Green of course is a prominent member of Sinn Fein in Derry - what are the chances that the lads will call him up for a chat?
I had a late night last night. Drinks, dancing and cream cakes. Also some guy who was apparently supposed to be crashing on the couch tried to get into my bed at about 6:00 this morning - sleep walking I guess. Anyway, I'm so shattered now I could really use one of these.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

A joke fowarded to me by an American colleague:-
Saddam Hussein was sitting in his office wondering whom to invade next when his telephone rang. "Hallo, Mr. Hussein!", a heavily accented voice said. "This is Paddy down at the Harp Pub in County Sligo, Ireland. I am ringing to inform you that we are officially declaring war on you!" "Well, Paddy," Saddam replied, "This is indeed important news! How big is your army?" "Right now," said Paddy, after a moment's calculation, "there is myself, my cousin Sean, my next door neighbor Seamus, and the entire dart team from the pub. That makes eight!" Saddam paused. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have one million men in my army waiting to move on my command." "Begorra!", said Paddy. "I'll have to ring you back!" Sure enough, the next day, Paddy called again. "Mr. Hussein, the war is still on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment!" "And what equipment would that be, Paddy?" Saddam asked. "Well, we have two combines, a bulldozer, and Murphy's farm tractor." Saddam sighed. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 16,000 tanks and 14,000 armored personnel carriers. Also, I've increased my army to 1-1/2 million since we last spoke." "Saints preserve us!" said Paddy. "I'll have to get back to you." Sure enough, Paddy rang again the next day. "Mr. Hussein, the war is still on! We have managed to get ourselves airborne! We've modified Harrigan's ultra-light with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four boys from the Shamrock Pub have joined us as well!" Saddam was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've increased my army to TWO MILLION!" "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!", said Paddy, "I'll have to ring you back." Sure enough, Paddy called again the next day. "Top o' the mornin', Mr. Hussein! I am sorry to tell you that we have had to call off the war." "I'm sorry to hear that," said Saddam. "Why the sudden change of heart?" "Well," said Paddy, "we've all had a long chat over a bunch of pints, and decided there's no way we can feed two million prisoners."

The Leptard has upgraded to Blogspot plus. Call over and say hello. He has beaches, barstools and sunsets to beat the band.
Jimmy Carter - Former US president, this years Nobel peace prize winner and hand carver of country furniture the 'old-fashioned' way.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Major medical breakthrough announced - Duct tape can remove warts!.
'Cleaners', the World's first online team-written sitcom - via 'News from Elsewhere'. (An Irish blog which is new to me).
Hemlock: An amusing blog from Hong Kong by a man who appears to be devoid of sympathy. It's a good read though.
What has happened to the new Elliott Smith record? It was supposed to be released in spring this year but there's no sign of it yet. The likelihood is that Elliott's tack of planning to self-finance it and release it on an indie label has backfired. Somebody must have run out of time and/or money. Or maybe he's back on the H.
Islamofascist apologist Robert Fisk suggests Ireland as a possible target for a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda. Of course it is. Our government and the vast majority of Irish citizens totally oppose what Bin Laden's wicked organisation represents. And irrespective of our support of American military operations through allowing refueling at Shannon, as a Western Christian democracy we certainly feature somewhere on the Al Qaeda 'hitlist'. All the more reason for us to support the neutralisation of this threat in whatever way we can.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Spacewoman Stuck in Orbit with Too Much Shrimp. Who ever thought the space-race would turn out like this? Where's Dan Dare when you need him?
I'm pretty sure this isn't endorsed by Lego. Via Koi.
The Kuta Beach bombing - an attack against America the concept. (Flakmag)

Friday, October 11, 2002

Apparently, Coca Cola wants the women of the World to have larger breasts. The evidence is presented in the first item of this article from TheStreet.com.
Famous Irish Quotes via FARK.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Who was I fooling? I struggle with song lyrics even without three pints on board but there I was in Tigh Neachtain on Tuesday night thinking I should be able to remember the words of the last verse of Lenny Cohen's 'Hallelujah' :-

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Yesterday, Cormac at The Plastic Cat linked to a pretty straight faced alien abduction survey. For comparison, here's another hi tech one. Please take it's advice very seriously indeed.

Update: er.. looks like an extraterrestrial jamming signal may be intefering with the operation of the Abductalizer today.
Isn't the web wonderful? My binman even has a website.
In praise of mongrels. I have to say I agree. Why the hell would you want a purebred (e.e. deformed) mutt when you could have a mix n' match mongrel who was subject to at least one round of natural selection in it's recent parentage. Having said that, my opinion hardly counts as I generally dislike dogs anyway - some noisy aggressive beasts in my early childhood assured me of that.
I'm listening to disc 3 of the Magnetic Field's '69 Love Songs' at this very moment. I was reminded to revisit this fantastic album after hearing 'Papa was a Rodeo' playing in Tigh Neachtain the other night. Interestingly, there's even a local connection to the album with the song 'Abigail, Belle of Kilronan'; Kilronan of course being a village on the Aran Islands off Galway bay. My favourite song of the 69 however, is 'Queen of the Savages' ,which always reminds me of an ex-girlfriend.
Two Cheers for Jeff Tweedy; a critique of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot from what appears to be a member of the punk intelligentsia.
The news net has become a powerful drug - The NRO's Dave Shiflett on Internet news sites and opinion blogs.
What do Brendan Howlin and Spongebob have in common?

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

"Man who bared bum to lady motorist refused Judge's request to give repeat performance in court."... ah yes, there's nothing quite like a circuit court report from rural Ireland to brighten up your day. Here it is in full:-
Do you think you have a particularly attractive rear end?", Judge Mary Devins asked a 20 year old youth at Kiltimagh Court.

Alan Sheridan, Cleragh, Kiltimagh had been issued with a public order summons for lowering his trousers and showing his bottom to a female motorist at Circular Road, Kiltimagh, on May 26th.

Judge Devins then posed a question to the defendant which left him speechless.
"Would you like to show it (his bottom) to the court?", the Judge continued.

The defendant demurred.
The court was told the lady motorist was upset by the incident.
Mr. Charles Kelly, solicitor, said it had been a foolish prank.

After hearing evidence of previous public order offences, Judge Devins said it seemed to be part of a pattern.
She fined the defendant a total of €630 with three months detention - the detention not to be imposed on condition that he not re-offend within two years.

Sheridan was also bound to the peace for two years on his own bond of €200.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Teen trendy shocks gran. Well that's what teens do. What bother's me is that in my day, when I was 14, the fashion was all about sexless baggy jumpers and goth-lite long skirts. The schoolgirl belly top boom of the late 90's happened years too late for me. Kids these days don't know how good they have it....
Indie music wanker gets nabbed at Sleater Kinney show. The Stranger reports.
Normal service resumes today. I'm just back after a long weekend. Tipperary on Friday for a wedding and then another one in Dublin on Saturday. At this rate I'll be the only single man left in my circle of friends ... Sunday I chilled in Dublin before driving back West - whereupon I got stuck in the traffic at Moate, most of it coming back from the U-21 All Ireland final in Portlaoise. Yesterday, I chilled in Galway, watched the shoal of Mullet near the docks at low tide and later at high tide - the highest for several years apparently - I said hello to the one eyed seal at the Claddagh and helped a couple of Japanese chaps catch some fresh Mackerel. Much excitement was had by all....

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Think you know your movies? Try the invisibles quiz at FilmWise.
Dr. Richard Wiseman has revealed the World's funniest joke. It's shit of course.
A breath of fresh air. The Sexy Losers comic strip has to be among the sickest on the web, dealing as it does with compulsive masturbation, necrophillia and incest - Here's one of the cleaner episodes in the 'Mike's Right Hand' series.
I'd be lost without it...or rather, I'd almost certainly get lost without it - The AA: Route planner. This served me well on a drive from Galway to Wexford a couple of weeks ago (did I mention I was gobsmacked by the beauty of the Nore valley? - that river must surely be the loveliest in Ireland) and tomorrow I'm heading into uncharted territory in the Galtee Mountains in Tipperary. But with my AA route plan by my side, I fear no man nor beast nor Irish road signage....

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

The guy whose legacy to the World is a plethora of jokes like this is expected to give Tony Blair a 'boost' today when he speaks at the Labour Party conference.
This should appeal to undergrad students the World over:- The Traffic Cone Preservation Society.
Flakmag: Obit for Warren Zevon - who announced recently that he has inoperable lung cancer.
I enjoyed the second episode of the new series of The Sopranos last night. I was afraid, after the slow start last week, that this series would lack bite, but last nights episode was as good as I've seen. So, nothing to worry about then.

Meanwhile, in Belfast, Northern Ireland's own version of the Sopranos is gearing itself up for a bit of bloodletting.

The Smoking Gun: Arresting Images. ...even includes Bill Gates.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Remember Tron? Here's the game. Cool...ish.
Busy, busy, busy this week...postings will continue to be scarce I think.
I'm currently listening to the new Ryan Adams and Aimee Mann albums which I took delivery of yesterday (courtesy of cdwow.ie which saved me €10). First impressions:- The Ryan Adams album is weak; only a couple of the 13 tracks would have been good enough to make it onto his 'proper' albums. Fair enough, it's an album of demos, but for a guy that was originally threatening to release a box set of three albums this year it is pretty lightweight on quality songs. In contrast, the Aimee Mann album, 'Lost in Space', is great and easily stands up to the quality of her previous work. I don't think theres a weak track on it. No doubt my opinions on these records will change - often stuff that sounds good straight out of the box can become boring very quickly, and likewise, many songs which are dull and flat on first listen can subsequently reveal hidden depths.

Monday, September 30, 2002

The incorrect statistic on internet growth that ultimately led to the loss of several hundred thousand jobs and wiped out billions of dollars of equity.....and the number originated from poor old Worldcom.

Friday, September 27, 2002

This girl had a better night than me last night. Not to say that I didn't have fun. I did. Pints in the Living Room, then some moshing in Cuba - they even played QOTSA - 'No One Knows'. I almost put my back out...dancing like it was 1991 all over again. Unfortunately the shots came out, and even a post-nightclub camomile tea and a smoked salmon sandwich in Java's couldn't counter-act the effect of three sambucas. Predictably, I ended up sleepwalking again...luckily, this time I was reasonably decent and only did a harmless tour of the house - down the stairs and into the kitchen and, unlike the last time, woke up in my own bed...nearly two hours late for work.
Scary Duck's hilarious blog has won the Guardian's silly 'Best British Blog' competition. Well done Mr. Duck.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Ronan, Keith, Mikey, Shane and Steven: Is this what they have been reduced to?
Steve Earle's new album gets slammed by Slate.
Lewis Carroll Puzzles.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

What’s an Irish Traveler? via MSNBC.
Belated update on my TV career....the back of my head appeared briefly on the otherwise woeful Ask Anna show last Thursday....now you know why I was less than enthusiastic about helping poor Carol with her self esteem issues.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Alabama 3 announce Dublin show. I've just remembered I met a guy in Carrick on Shannon a couple of weekends ago who claimed to be a back-up drummer with them....he had a stash of the strongest weed I have partaken of in quite awhile; I guess that explains the memory loss....
Listen to Badly Drawn Boy's new album "Have You Fed The Fish" online here.
The Romans used urine as a mouthwash with imported Portugese piss being superior to the homemade variety...now thats something I never knew before. Read more about the history of toothpaste at www.americanheritage.com.
Pitchfork has a few words with Joe Pernice. I had a few words with him myself a couple of years ago when he played a gig in the Roisin in Galway - a really nice chap and a great songwriter too.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Kentucky Fried Chicken really is going to pot. This of course, wouldn't have happened at their (recently whitewashed) Shankill Road branch - what customer would call the police and risk the attentions of UFF thugs?
TIME magazine on the set of Tarantino's 'Kill Bill'. You know, it might actually turn out to be a great movie after all.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Terry at Fenian Ramblings is calling for a boycott of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in protest against the support for the UFF/UDA displayed by the KFC outlet on the Shankill Road. There isn't one in Galway but if there was it wouldn't get my custom.
Hooray! It's war! There's a new edition of The Evil Gerald out. Check out their piece on the candidates for the position of new Irish Time editor - it's a gem.
Broken Newz - Ben Kingsley admits he is Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
This is interesting. Scientists have identified the part of the bain which triggers out of the body experiences. I used to have them all the time..sometimes even seeing demons and the like when I was floating above my body. It was quite scary actually - until I drew an imaginary pentagram around my bed for protection from evil spirits....that did the job, so now I look forward to the experience whenever it happens. Still, it's comforting to know it's all a hallucination anyway. I prefer not having any superstitions....
Good news for Galway today. NetIQ Corporation is setting up an operation in the city with the creation of 180 jobs. They are badly needed - the last year and a half must have seen at least a couple of thousand job losses here through major cutbacks in the large tech companies plus almost weekly layoffs of smaller numbers which have generally gone unannounced.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

570Bars.com A blog about a Seattle pub-crawl. I could do this for Galway yet....
I've been listening to Queens of the Stone Age "Songs for the Deaf" this week. I love it. There'll always be a place for hard riffing, rawwwk n' roll in my house - we all need to kick out the jams every now and again, so this guy should pull his head out of his arse and loosen up. While I'm at it, what do you think happened in Hull when the band played there a few weeks ago?

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

An album of Black Sabbath songs covered by medieval music band Rondellus and sung in Latin.. It sounds lovely, but I'd rather buy a Black Sabbath covers album of early medieval folk songs. Oculi Filioli....!
Stylus Magazine interview with Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley.
Ms Dynamite wins Mercury prize. No quibbles from me about that. I figured she was in with a great chance.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

In the news today. The United States deports illegal immigants from Ireland, while Ireland deports illegal immigrants from Romania.
I saw that movie 'Signs' yesterday. My God, but the dialogue in it was terrible - you know it had to be bad when the little four year old girl got all the good lines. And the numerous story set-ups and pay-offs were so clumsy they made the plot of the average Scooby-Doo episode look like a model of elegance and sophistication...and Scooby-Doo was less cliched. On the plus side, the film looked great, was adequately scary, and managed to create a sense of genuine dread even though the aliens had to be the dumbest race in the history of cinema ever to achieve the capability for interstellar travel. In the meantime, in a strange case of fact mirroring fiction, Pravda reports that Israel has been occupied by aliens. Good Lord.
Meanwhile, over on this side of the pond, the winner of the Mercury Music Prize is to be announced tonight. I've a tenner on The Streets to win. I suspect Ms. Dynamite will be the main challenger.
The ten finalists for the Shortlist Prize for Artistic Achievement in Music have been anounced:- Aphex Twin's Drukqs, The Avalanches' Since I Left You, Bjork's Vespertine, Cee-Lo's Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, DJ Shadow's The Private Press, Doves' Last Broadcast, The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, The Hives' Veni Vidi Vicious, N*E*R*D's In Search Of..., and Zero 7's Simple Things. I'm not sure how this will go but in my opinion, of the albums on the list which I am familiar with (everything except Cee-Lo and DJ Shadow), Bjork's narrowly pips The Flaming Lips for top spot.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Secrets of the Mexican Wave revealed. Tomorrow, a cure for cancer....

Friday, September 13, 2002

The Wanderly Wagon Web. Wasn't it the best TV show of all time?
Jerry Bruckheimer's Groin.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Business as usual in the Middle East:- Israel threatens war with Lebanon over water while Hizbullah sends fighters to guard the pumps.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

I went along to see the latest movie adaptation of 'The Importance of being Earnest' on Monday night. The film features Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and the ubiquitous Judi Dench, but the real star of course is Oscar Wilde's base material. As a movie, it provides for an entertaining 90 minutes but purists will find much to gripe about. Indeed much of Wilde's original dialogue has been excised from the film and any film that can afford to leave out material as sharp, witty and insightful as Wildes needs to be damn sure of itself.

Incidently, as an example of the timeless quality of Wilde's work, the following passage from the play is one that has relevance to a large proportion of the blogs in existence today...

Algernon: Do you really keep a diary? I’d give anything to look at it. May I?

Cecily: Oh no. You see, it is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication. When it appears in volume form I hope you will order a copy....

September 11 already. Where has the time gone? This time last year I was in Florence, alone, relaxed. The first news of the WTC attack reached me four or five hours after it happened, garbled by the man in the B&B who had few words of English and minimal capability to string them into sentences. A bomb in New York? No..A plane crash? Not quite. What then? Later, out in the nightime streets, I noticed the concerned voices of American tourists, a group of people gathered around a TV moved into position outside a restaurant, and later still, in a busy internet cafe occupied by young travellers, I finally read the full horrific details of what had happened. An inflexion point in history? Indeed.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Congratulations to Peter Mullan for winning the Golden Lion award at the Venice film festival on Sunday with his film about oppression under the Irish Talilban. Not surprisingly, the Vatican isn't happy.
Anti-semitism in Ireland. The 'historical legacy' section makes for pretty shameful reading.
Sign the petition calling for the re-release of Neil Young's 1974 album 'On The Beach'. It's an amazing album which happens to feature one of my all time favoutite tracks 'Ambulance Blues'. For some reason, Neil has refused to sanction the release of this album on CD and original vinyl copies are very difficult to find (although MP3's are available on the web).
For some time now, telecoms companies have been marketing phobile moans on the back of the flirting possiblities of text messaging. So how appropriate to see that a new service has opened in Dublin. It's a rejection hotline that allows one to spurn the attentions of an admirer without going through all the messy stressful stuff. According to the website it's "the cultural phenomenon that's sweeping the nation" so it's obviously been quite successful in the U.S. I'd be surprised if it's a big hit here though - from what I hear, Dublin girls aren't in the business of turning men down :). If you're interested, the number is (+353) (01) 2194862 and apparently it's sponsored by a local tele dating service 'Minidates.net'. And no I haven't tried it yet - I'm happy in my singledom recovering from the trauma of my last rejection.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Yesterday's episode of the Simpsons on Sky featured a cartoon cameo from one time U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky. Apparently, Pinsky (who happens to be huge fan of the program) did the voiceover in LA on the week of 9/11 last year. Unfortunately however, there is no reference to Bart or Homer in his new poem written to commemorate that fateful day.
If like me you browsed around the www.screenwritersutopia.com site, I'm sure this review of the screenplay for Tarantinos forthcoming 'Kill Bill' would have caught your attention. It sounds like it'll be a load of shite. If you're interested, a copy of the script is available here.
I went along to see Christopher Nolan's new movie 'Insomnia' at the weekend. I liked it, the photography and performances are top notch and I thought the plot was clever and suspenseful. Definitely one of the best movies of the year. However this review of the screenplay (written prior to release of the film) suggests that it's vastly inferior to the Norwegian movie on which it is based. I'd love to know if the writer still maintained his opinion after watching the finished movie.
Something to look forward to. Jeff Tweedy, Glen Kotche and Jim O'Rourke's collaborative album 'Loose Fur' is scheduled for release next January. 'Insignificance' and 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' are two of the best albums of 2002 so far, so I've high expectations for this.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Thats it from me for the week. It was a quiet day on the blog front but I'll be back on Monday full of beans.
Paul Weller is previewing his new album in the back of a taxicab. Six of them actually.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Something for The Leptard: Bob Marley Footwear. I'm not sure which pair goes with "Stir it Up" though. Spotted on Koi.
A significant number, probably a majority, of Irish citizens support the constitutional position of neutrality. A much smaller number believe that our neutrality should be extended to preclude the stop-over of unarmed military aircraft at Shannon airport and the use of our airspace by those aircraft (most of which happen to be USAF). Of that number there is an increasingly organised group of people who without fail will turn up to publicly protest at the appearance of any USAF plane in Ireland. Yesterday, one of that number, registered his protest by spray painting a peace slogan on the fuselage of a USAF Hercules transport plane which had stopped over in Shannon. The protester is the main man behind the 'Refueling Peace campaign', and he has friends and supporters here and here. For the record, I no longer support neutrality, I believe it is a national cop-out, originating during the birth of our nation as part of the process of casting off the shackles of dependency on Britain.
Angelina, you're welcome to come over to my place and hang out anytime.
Sinead O'Connor is releasing an album of covers of traditional Irish songs next month. A strange prospect indeed. The Irish Voice has an interview with her in which she explains what she's about with this project.
A few weeks ago, the BBC released a list of the 100 greatest Britons of all time as voted by viewers. Unsurprisingly, the list is skewed towards show business and sporting personalities. It also includes a predictable smattering of royals plus the most evil tyrant Britain ever produced - Oliver Cromwell (A man whose legacy of genocide and persecution of Catholics is still being proclaimed by the Rev. Ian Paisley). Interestingly, five Irishmen are listed, Bono, Bob Geldof, Ernest Shackleton, The Duke of Wellington and most surprising of all, the founder of Irish socialism, James Connnolly. Obviously, I use 'Irish' in a broad sense here - Connolly was born in Scotland to Irish parents whereas that cheeky bugger The Duke of Wellington, upon being called Irish, once made the famous retort "Being born in a stable does not make one a horse." Furthermore, Boy George could also be classified as Irish under the same criteria as Connolly, as he too is the son of Irish emigrants. There's probably a few others that I am missing (Johnny Rotten maybe?). The list is the basis of a new series to be shown on BBC this Autumn and like other 'top ten' type shows I suppose it's not very meaningful but nevertheless makes for good conversation material.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Mick Fealty is a busy guy these days. Not only is he maintaining the excellent 'Letter to Slugger O'Toole', he is also a contributor to www.dailysummit.net - the high profile, on the spot weblog from the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
There are a couple of interesting bands playing gigs in Galway over the next week or so. Scottish outfit and Reindeer Section members Idlewild are playing Cuba on the 10th followed by the Colorado preacher-rock band 16 Horsepower in the Roisin Dubh on the 12th. I'm not too familiar with the music of either band although I've heard a few tracks from 16 Horsepower before and they definitely sound like they are worth checking out. As regards Idlewild, I remember hearing some of their first album and thought that it was pretty ordinary. However it appears that they've been garnering great reviews for their new one 'The Remote Part', and making respectable sales too, so this gig could be a good chance to catch them before they get too big to play here again.
Wow! No sooner than I had posted the last entry, I find this link on Fimoculous: "Twin Towers at Ground Zero™". It might yet be theme park theme day today on SmokeSignals.
The Titanic Super Slide - apparently it's the most exciting inflatable ride in the industry in the last 15 years. What's next? An inflatable WTC in which you jump out of the windows perhaps?

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Is there something in the water in Scotland that imparts the natives with the power to turn out effortless pop? Whatever it is, Gary Lightbody of The Reindeer Section must be mainlining it. I procured their latest album "Son of Evil Reindeer" - great title - last week. It's a real nice listen, pleasant, melodic, totally unabrasive but utterly charming. One of those records that'll never set the World on fire but which is flawless in it's own unassuming way. The section are a strange collective - more than 20 contributors but all seem to be more or less marching to Lightbody's tune(s) and the set-up undoubtedly works. Also, it's good to see that one of those contributors is Eugene Kelly, of the Vaselines fame. He played a really fantastic set supporting Evan Dando in the Roisin a few months ago. Talent like his shouldn't be wasted.
Rex at Fimoculous has too many good links in his last two posts to link to individually - there's a Sonic Youth concert pictorial, the new Flaming Lips video, an American names database, an amazing number experiment and news that Godspeed You Black Emperor! are soundtracking Danny Boyles forthcoming flick.
A conversation with Scott Frank - screenwriter of Minority Report and Get Shorty. Apparently the Philip K. Dick short story that was the basis for Minority Report was originally optioned by the studio as a sequel for Total Recall.
The Sun reports that Shane MacGowan wheeled himself around Killarney on a pub crawl prior to his gig there on Sunday night. Check out the article for the very cool photo of the indefatigable Shane.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Probably the highlight of the night for me was the support act "The Hook". A four piece from Sligo fronted by two brothers, both of who unusually play guitar left handed. Their set consisted mostly of their own material which was extraordinarily good - melodic guitar driven music with tight vocal harmonies (the basic blueprint for most of the best rock n'roll). I heard shades of the Byrds, Big Star, The Clash (why isn't London Calling more influential?) and maybe even Todd Rundgren in the efficient but sophisticated songs that they delivered; all of which came in under three minutes. I'd love to predict great things but who can say? On the basis of their short set they could well be the Irish 'Teenage Fanclub'. The drummer informed me that they will be playing a set in Cuba sometime in the next few weeks. I'll be there to see them.
(This should follow on from the last post - blogger refuses to allow me to post the complete lot together)

But Shane and the Popes eventually did show. Sometime around 1:00, the bouncers cleared a path through the crowd for the procession of Popes to make their way onto the stage. They were followed by a man carrying an empty wheelchair...and after several minutes of jostling and shoving as impatient punters struggled to get a good vantage point, Shane appeared being carried by three of four bouncer types. After he was carefully lowered into the wheelchair, a pint glass of a clear liquid with a lemon slice was placed in his right hand. His left hand was busy working a cigarette. The mike was maneuvered into position and the show was on.

Unfortunately I didn't keep a set list - suffice to say that he played many of the Pogues most well known material plus understandably several songs from his recent albums. The highlight for me was his rendition of "The Oul Triangle" a beautiful song which now unfortunately always brings to mind the mental picture of three owls in a tree as rendered by a comedian in the comedy club a few years back. The wheelchair bound Shane was almost totally motionless throughout the set - almost like a dying man plugged into a life support machine that consisted of The Popes, a stage and a live audience. At least five or six stone heavier than he was in 1991, he is starting to resemble Brendan Behan or even Elvis. Every now and again he would mutter something like a "thank you" but that was about it for his interaction with the crowd. I heard later that he believed he was in Kilkenny.

I should also mention that the audience was the rowdiest crowd I've ever seen at a gig. This was accentuated by the layout of the Quays; the small area in front of the stage meant that everywhere near it became a moshpit. I can't remember the last time I had as much drink spilled on me. It was a bouncers nightmare, but much fun was had by all - particularly the drunk.

In a strange resonance with my post on Friday, while I was unabashedly making speculative conversation (i.e. chatting up) a girl at that gig, I was accused of being a negative person. I think I had just commented on how sad Shane looked...but it was hard to sound positive about him - maybe I should have said that it was great to see him still knocking out the tunes after all those years of drink and drugs...he's an example to us all.
I wasn't sure what to expect at the Shane MacGowan and the Popes gig on Friday night. I had heard he had sobered up and straightened out his life over the last while and that this was being extended to his live performances. I had last seen him in 1991 and at that time he was a disaster - stumbling on stage with a bottle of whiskey, incapable of delivering any song unaided. Neither I nor anyone else there that night would have expected that he would be still alive and performing 11 years later. Since the Pogues split, I haven't really kept up with his career but it seems to me that in that time Shane has ascended to a position that few others Irish musicians have ever attained in their lifetime - to the Irish of the generation that came of age in the Eighties he is a true Icon - a personification of a particular Irish spirit, a poetic romanticism born of the building sites, and drinking dens, loneliness, bedsits, emigration and persecution; a voice connecting directly with the spirit of Behan and numerous unknown working class Irish troubadours and barroom poets. And the drink, drugs, bad teeth and slurred speech are as much part of the MacGowan package as the music....tragic songs speaking to an audience that revels in a celebration of life and identity amidst the tragic; sang by a man prepared to chase down his own tragedy.

So the gig itself. Shane was preceded by two support acts - a lively folk duo (box and guitar) worked the crowd well before being followed by a splendid young rock four piece from Sligo (more about them in another post later). After that, we had a wait of what seemed like an hour during which we exchanged stories of shambolic concert appearances by Shane over the years. It was noted that the Quays management had refused to return the ticket stubs on entry, which we surmised was motivated by the very real risk of a no-show. ....

Friday, August 30, 2002

I've things to say but I don't feel like saying them, stuff to post but it's a struggle today - call it a hangover I suppose. Last night was supposed to be about a few quite ones, some socializing to keep up a Thursday night tradition. Save the big drink for Friday and the Shane MacGowan gig. It wouldn't be right to be too sober for that - songs written the under the caress of Whiskey and Gin are meant to be delivered and listened to under the same conditions. ..but that's tonight. Last night, 2 o clock in the morning, CP's nightclub; two bottles of beer in hand, the place was packed - as the man crudely put it "shaking with box, from ceiling to floor" and I am asking myself, 'what the fuck am I doing here?' Music is really really shit and I'm in no mood to be making shite-talk to pretty young ladies. No offence like but just not into it last night. I tried, found myself making smalltalk with a really lovely looking girl, against her initial judgment I'm sure, but we conversed easily. Couldn't bring it to the next level though, didn't really try I guess. Didn't give a shit in fact. Some other time it would have been easier... So last night I knew I'd be wrecked this morning and I wasn't wrong. Plus I got drenched on the walk home. Do I sound negative? I don't mean to but while we are at it:-

"The Sum of All Fears":- I saw this the other night. It's an awful, awful movie. It has bad acting, bad plot, really poor pacing and stupid story inconsistencies. For a supposed thriller it doesn't thrill for even one second. The whole thing was probably rewritten or maybe even reedited for the post-9/11 market... but that's no excuse.

Now for some positivity:-

Springsteen's new album "The Rising" is brilliant. Believe the reviews. I had expected that it wouldn't live up to the hype but it's been on heavy rotation in my place all week and I have to say it is a seriously impressive album. It's a work of real craft and a genuinely personal response to the ubiquitous 9/11. And the single 'The Rising', gets my vote for single of the year so far.

Starting to feel better already....

Thursday, August 29, 2002

America's new Mc'Carthyism - from this week's Sunday Business Post.
The Integrator:- Integrate your function on-line without going through all the messy stuff......now that's sure to make your day!
From Archie McPhee's online store:- Nunzilla. "This fire-breathing wind-up sister trudges straight out of a Catholic-school student's nightmare like a determined disciplinary force, with green eyes blazing and sparks flying from her mouth..."
Ireland is placed at no. 23 in the 2002 World corruption perceptions index published yesterday. Better than virtually all African and South American countries but worse than most of the rest of the EU (Greece and France are below us). Not surprisingly the trend is downward - Ireland was rated 18th last year. Finland tops the chart for the third year in a row.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

A good Irish history site thats new to me:- www.thewildgeese.com -- The Epic History and Heritage of the Irish.
Hard to believe but there's a law in Florida which requires mothers who wish to put their baby up for adoption, to publish details of their sexual history in ads in the local papers. The law applies equally to teenage rape victims. If they cannot conclusively identify the name and address of the child's father then they must publish names and descriptions of all men they have slept with. So while striving to protect the rights of the father and the child, the mother is getting shat upon - where have we heard that before?
An example of a recession-proof industry:- Traffic to Adult Web sites have risen 5% from year-ago levels.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

70,000 Aussie's claimed to belong to the "Jedi" religion in last year's census. The forces of the dark side in the form of the Australian Government may strike back with fines of $1,000 each.
A flash game of dubious taste:- Big J's birth game. Any resemblance to Jordan the model is purely coincidental.
As I discovered a couple of years ago when I was called for jury duty in Westport (about 50 miles away from where I live), Irish courts do not pay milage or expenses to jurors. At least in the U.S, jurors get $40 a day plus mileage. which initially, was not enough for computer consultant David Williamson. A court summons soon shortened his gallop.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Ireland's top lovely girls competition (I hate that word - pageant) concludes tomorrow. I like the look of the Cork girleen. Paddy Power is giving odds of 7-1 on her to take the crown. As they say on their website "personality genuinely does count but boggers tend not to win".
With the weather being good and a high tide in Galway this evening at 8:30 I'm thinking of taking down the rod and reel and heading off to Spiddal tonight for a bit of fishing. While checking up on fishing reports on the web I came across this interesting story about the first forays into big game fishing in Ireland. Check out the pictures of the monster tuna caught off Donegal. I'll be happy with something a wee bit smaller.
Thomas Pynchon paper dolls.
Now what could this headline be about? - 4,500-mile wild goose chase leads trackers to a chilling end.

Friday, August 23, 2002

New music of the Week: Tift Merritt's debut album "Bramble Rose". She has a voice to rival Emmylou Harris' or Shelby Lynnes, a band which takes its country music cues from 'Let it Bleed' and a set of songs that fit into the classic country template and do not disappoint. The real deal as they say. George Graham has a typically restrained and to the point review (including audio samples) here.
Last night I managed to avoid prostituting myself for some misconceived cheapo TV show hosted by a minor D-list celebrity. There I was in the Quays enjoying a pint with the lads when we were interrupted by a girl who claimed to be looking for a 'date' for next week. It turned out that she was being filmed for the "Ask Anna" (or is it "Help"?) show. Anna, of course, was helping her to find love. Suffice to say we declined her offer, at which point she asked if we would be so good as to move to an area in full view of the camera and pretend to be chatting her up. We were happy where we were and she wasn't the type of girl that immediately inspired feelings of attraction and desire (although I'm sure she has a lovely personality) so we stayed put and sent her on her way. All this while, Anna Nolan herself was sitting nearby looking as anonymous, unglamorous and bored as she looked during her long internment in the Big Brother house. Ten minutes later, another lady who I gathered was the producer of the thing sauntered over and pleaded with us again to do the chat up routine for Missy No Mates. Apparently the place was full of tourists so good looking (?) Irish lads were at a premium. But none of us had any desire to look like a bunch of sad tits on nationwide tv and no money or free drink was on offer, so it was not to be. I hope they have fun extracting what they can from their 3 hours of brilliant footage.
The U.S state department has released previously classified documents relating to Argentina's "dirty war" during the period of military rule there between 1976-1983. In that time, possibly as many as 30,000 people disappeared in the crackdown on leftist groups and political opponents. Some of the correspondence indicates that the U.S. government could have done much more to pressure the Argentine leaders over their record of human rights violations. 19 years on, we can only hope that lessons have been learned, and that sometime in the future, children will have no need to write letters like this.