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". 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
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 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.