Archive for July, 2008

Jul 31 2008

My Week Offline

Published by under Blog

This evening’s DART journey was thankfully far less eventful than this morning’s. After an eye-opening and boundary crossing shopping trip with Maybury, I’m heading towards home and can take the time to look back over my week.

I got set up with the O2 Broadband last week and since then, rather than blog incessantly, wherever I am, all’s been quiet on the webbery front. So, what have I been up to?

Well, work’s been very busy and while I try to avoid spending my working day online anyway, this last week has seen me spend particularly short periods of time online. Short of answering emails and playing the odd word in Scrabulous on FaceBook, I’ve been actually doing my real work. A few people lately have asked me what I do for money in this big bad world. I usually say that it’s not that interesting and move on, but trust me…it’s not that interesting, so I really don’t want to bore you or me talking about it. Move on.

So, this week, when I’ve managed to get home from my stressful days’ work, I’ve been so tired that I really haven’t wanted to write about anything, least of all my life. Instead, I’ve been listening to Tom Waits and doing some tidying up around the apartment.

The cleaning up is an absolute necessity following last Saturday night’s cocktail party, thrown by Miss Lottie. Such a fun night I have not had in ages, considering I’ve had some brilliant nights in recent times. I apologise now to everyone who was there for hogging the SingStar mic for the whole night. You all need to learn to say “No Darren, No”.

Many songs, many cocktails, many odd conversations later, I found myself on the sitting room floor at 9am staring at D2‘s laces. Yes, his laces. I did what any other rational, sane, intelligent person would do. I stole his laces and tied Anto to Orpies. Orpies managed to free herself rather quickly (she’s a bright girl). Anto – not so bright.

Anto with His Ass Tied to His Face

Monday night brought us back to see the Dark Knight for my second time and Lottie’s first. It really is awesome. The truest Summer blockbuster since Jurassic Park. I will go again…and again.

Tuesday came and I still hadn’t recovered from Saturday night/Sunday morning, but I was due to go to dinner with the other volunteers for the Dublin Writers’ Festival. We ate in Eden in Meeting House Square and had a really nice evening. The company was great, the food was beautiful and the service was excellent. Thank you to Lean, Jack and everyone in the Arts Office for arranging both this night and the Writers’ festival itself.

Wednesday – finally, I get the opportunity to go home, chill out, sit down and recover. With Waits on the iPod, I sit back relax and read through a small portion of the three billion posts in my feed-reader. I need to trim some of these down.

A Humble Return

Which brings me to Thursday. I return to the Blogosphere and I am shocked at how much I missed it. I love writing about what’s going on with my life. It’s not so I can entertain and enthrall you lot (because I’m undoubtedly wide of the mark if that’s my aim). I do it for me – it’s fun and entertains me. I enjoy writing and I enjoy looking back over the day, over the gigs I’ve been to, over the nights out I’ve had, over the conversations and altercations I’ve had with the people I’ve met. I hope I don’t over-analyse, because I’m constantly telling Doyle to stop that, but I do enjoy clearing my thoughts and doing post-mortems on the things I’ve done and said. It pains me to sound this American, but I find it therapeutic.

Anyway, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who reads my blog and a massive thank you to all who comment. The comments are the icing on the cake for me – cheers.

Update: After publishing I noticed Raptureponies has given her thoughts on Blogging at the moment. Check it out.

 

10 responses so far

Jul 31 2008

Get Off Me

Published by under Blog

I got on the DART as normal this morning. I sat in my usual seat. I had my usual journey (the train was running a few minutes late). I got up to stand at the train doors and Grand Canal Dock, so I can get off quickly at Pearse Station, as usual. What was not so usual was the strange middle-aged woman who had no concept of personal space.

I had my hand on the poll beside me and she moved through a few people to come to a stop right beside me and the poll. She then proceeded to rub her middle-aged breasts against my arm. At first I assumed she hadn’t noticed and the cramped DART forced her into this compromising position. So, I moved slightly. Problem solved!

Nope – she followed me and continued to rub her middle-aged breasts against my arm. The DART was not that packed. There was plenty of space. There was no excuses – this woman was rubbing herself against me on purpose. And to make matters worse, the DART had now come to a halt just before Pearse Station.

There is a term, according to the urban dictionary, ‘frotting‘, which is when men rub their genitalia against women on busy public transport to get a sexual thrill. Can the term be used to describe women who do something similar?

A short while and a small move later I notice that her middle-aged breasts have two very obvious, very protruding middle-aged nipples. It’s at this point that I panic and run to the corner to cower like a frightened animal.

I feel violated!

Is this a common thing? Do middle aged-women do this a lot? Do younger women do it? I’m not sure I’d have such a problem if the rubbing was being done by two breasts who were not middle aged. I’m just sayin’!

23 responses so far

Jul 26 2008

Memetics

Published by under Blog

Doyle will be on Newstalk this evening discussing Memes. A couple of months ago I was tagged to perpetuate the ‘Six Things About Yourself‘ Meme and it got me asking, where the hell is Matt and what the hell is a Meme.

True to form, I went off on a vicious reserching expedition, scaling the heights of Google Mountain and trawling the Seas of Wikipedia in search of meaning, truth and, of course, Matt. What I found was very interesting (I use this term loosely, because I found it interesting doesn’t mean everyone else will).

Words

Allow me to digress a moment. Mulley, a long while back, asked people what they were ambassadors for (another Meme, btw) and I realised that in my reply I neglected to mention my love of, my passion for, my obsession with words. I love, I an enamoured with, I am smitten by, I adore, cherish and am devoted to words.

ScrabbleBeing the odd youth that I was, I remember getting a set of encyclopedia for Christmas one year. Believe it or not, this was not my main present. I may have gotten a bike or computer game or some such thing, I don’t quite recall, and my parents felt the household needed some edumacation (sic.). Actually, it was my first non-Santa year and I was completely shocked and overwhelmed to arrive down on Christmas morning to find this big ugly brown box in the middle of the sitting-room floor. I didn’t know what it was and nearly cried when I opened it (I’ll direct you to this wonderful video at this point to illustrate how I felt). I was, shall we say, bookish as a child and this was the ultimate present, as far as I was concerned. In the set of Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, there was a two-volume dictionary and I’m pretty sure I spent half of Christmas Day dissecting it. I remember bringing it out to my Granny’s house with me when we collected her for mass. Who brings a dictionary to show off? Me, apparently.

Well, one of the things I loved most about the dictionary was not just discovering new words, but discovering long words and longer words and the longest words. To this day I can, with ease, pronounce words like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and floccinaucinihilipilification, both of which I just spelled without the use of a dictionary or Google. To me these words are fun. The way they bend around the tongue, the pointlessness of them and yet they exist.

Words and their usage are an example of real life Memery (you see, I did have a point).

Memes

Darwin proposed the evolution of species and memetics similarly examines the evolution of culture and pop-culture in particular. Words and language are a perfect example of memetics in constant flow. On a daily basis new words are invented as old words fade into the ether, words are compounded and accepted as normal very quickly. The word Meme is beautiful. It encompasses so much and sums up an entire sub-culture of the internet in one mono-sylabic utterance. Common sense, familial traditions, political concepts, fashion are further real life, offline Memes. The process is organic.

Lolcat

So too is the proliferation of online memes. The obvious memes are those that appear on people’s blogs. Someone lists their favourite books and asks other to do the same. They in turn make their list and pass it on. It’s a big game of chinese whispers. Other memes such as Matt and his travels begin life as simple experiments and soon take on a life of their own. The LOLcat phenomemnon has almost become a badge of honour among nerds and geeks the world over. Outsiders just don’t understand. And what about the propogation of Star Wars lightsaber videos. Even Matt has been copied.

Over the years I grew to love all sorts of words. I expanded beyond the dictionary and learned the joys of odd sounding phrases and slang and made up terms. Anti-disestablishmentarianism is an old favourite, logophilia (love of words) is great, repudiate is one I like. But there a silly word which I use a lot. It doesn’t even mean anything and it is a perfect example of a meme in everyday life. Pinky and the BrainYears ago, there was a cartoon called Animaniacs (those who know me already know what word I’m referring to). In Animaniacs, there was two characters called Pinky and the Brain. Pinky was an odd little mouse who, looking at it retrospectively ,probably had some kind of OCD. The few odd tics that Pinky had included sporadically saying words like Poit, Zort and, of course, Narf. I love the word Narf.

Good luck in your radio appearance this evening, D. I’ll make efforts to listen in, but hopefully it’ll be podcasted. Narf! Oh, and here’s Matt:

5 responses so far

Jul 25 2008

Good News Friday (2)

Published by under Blog

A few things that made me happy this week (apart from the unbelievable Dark Knight):

  • After catching the wonderful Juliet Turner last Friday night, I discover she also blogs a wee bit. Here’s a video she posted with her interview on The Den in 2004. Awww! Watch all the way to the end to hear the worst but funniest version of Everything Beautiful is Burning ever.

  • On Sunday, Greystones Educate Together will be holding a Teddybear’s Picnic to raise funds for the new school. This is a great cause and almost makes me wish I had kids (I said almost!!). More info on the event here and more information on the new school project is here.

The Big Lebowski

Wantsies!!! So, if you are feeling generous, please buy this for me from Amazon.

  • The Templebar Chocolate Festival starts today. Woohoo! Being the chocoholic that I am, I hope to sample much of the delicacies, particualrly at tomorrow’s market.


4 responses so far

Jul 23 2008

Dark Knight: Dissecting The Film

Published by under Movie Review,Movies

After The Dark Knight last night everyone was on a high (admittedly I was the only one jumping around the place like a jackrabbit on drugs) and a group of us gathered outside the Savoy first of all to give out overwhelmingly positive post mortems. The buzz and the vibes outside the cinema were a great experience.

The Joker

Mr Rick ran off (apparently he has to get into work a little earlier than usual for the next few weeks) as did the Mulley (Sir, it was a pleasure finally meeting you properly, if ever so briefly), but a group of us headed for Grand Central to further autopsy the film. Anto, Maybury and his far better half Debs, Doyle, Niamh, Lady Anon and myself spent the next hour pouring over our favourite moments, our favourite lines, our shock moments and our best bits.

David then asked the irritating question “So, who’s better – Nicholson or Ledger?” Why would you ask such a question, Sir?

I don’t know. Nicholson’s Joker was perfect for Burton’s Batman. In the late eighties his OTT mania was considered frightening while today, as Lady Anon suggested, it is almost parodic. I think Ledger’s performance was better but I’ll have to watch The Dark Knight a few more times before I can call him better than Nicholson.

Darragh seemed to find the finale and the Joker’s ending all too easy, but I don’t think many agreed. Without going down the route of spoilers, it’s clear there was so much mystery, madness and violence prior to his ultimate downfall. To me, it didn’t seem too simple at all.

The Dark KnightOne thing that definitely divided the group was the character of Rachel Dawes, played by the adequate Katie Holmes in Batman Begins, but by a far more rounded Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. One issue that came up was that, though Gyllenhaal was a better actress, the character departed so much from the Dawes of the first movie that it was difficult to buy into her role. I personally loved her as the torn love interest, but I can see the point.

One thing I definitely differed with some on was my adoration for Aaron Eckhart. As Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent, he stole the screen whenever he was on it, even earlier in the movie. He was the truest heart of the movie and to watch his downfall was the most riveting dramatic plot point. Any fans of the franchise will know that Dent is destined to ruin, to be disfigured and driven mad to become Two Face. Interestingly he begins the movie as the White Knight, the perfect symbol of truth and justice, a man who believes in order and does not leave anything to chance. The symbolic use of his perfect coin, with the same image on either side, which later becomes disfigured at the same moment Dent goes through his most traumatic experience, is one of my favourite moments in the film.

Speaking of favourite moments – when the Joker blew up the hospital, but it didn’t go according to plan, his reaction, the childish disappointment, was brilliant. It was that very moment that showed how truly incredible Ledger was in the role. It was both hilarious and frighteningly monstrous in the same moment – and that is the Joker.

Anyone else have any favourite moments? Anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet might want to avoid reading the comments.


9 responses so far

Jul 23 2008

The Dark Knight

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

11.45pm Tuesday 22nd July 2008

The Dark KnightThis is going to be my least considered, least thought out, least clinical review of a movie ever and I may come back with a second more critical review next week. This is all emotion and gut reaction as I write off the cuff having just seen the movie mere hours ago. And damn my guts are reacting like crazy right now.

It’s years since I’ve come out of a movie on such a buzzing high. The Dark Knight, follow on to 2006’s Batman Begins, lived up to all the extensive hype and then surpassed it. I am ridiculously happy right now and it’s all because of a movie. I literally came bounding out of the Savoy on O’Connell Street, propelled by the pure adrenalin The Dark Knight pumped into my veins.

The Dark KnightFrom the opening scenes when a group of the Joker‘s hoodlums rob a mob bank we are immediately sucked back into the world created by Christopher Nolan in Batman Begins. And it is a world far more real, far darker and far more exciting than the previous Gotham incarnations by Joel Schumacher in particular, but also by Tim Burton. The reveal of the Joker in the opening few minutes will be remembered as one of the greatest entrances of a movie character ever. His utterance, “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you……stranger. ” is probably the most memorable line from the movie.

Ledger

It is, of course, Heath Ledger playing the role which was seemingly impossible to follow after Jack Nicholson‘s interpretation in Burton’s Batman. But we do not see Ledger on the screen – we only see the Joker. The Joker doesn’t look like Ledger, doesn’t sound like Ledger, doesn’t even move like him. We’ll never know but I suspect had he not died, he still would be gaining an Oscar nod for the frightening role. As it is, it’s almost guaranteed.

As crazy and out of control as he is a the start of the movie, he descends further into a startling madness as the film progresses towards a brilliant stand off near the end when he almost pleads with Batman to hit him, to hurt him. Ledger nailed this part. There is a lot of humour in the role but at many points it’s difficult to know whether to laugh for fear of how far the Joker will take the crazy. It’s the unpredictability that makes the character so menacing and amazing to watch.

Unpredictable

The JokerIn fact, the unpredictability is one of the strongest themes throughout the movie and it is probably the unpredictable nature of the film that makes it so tense and magnetic. Everyone I spoke with after the movie said they wanted to see it again, some wanted to go right back in and watch it again – I was one of those.

Throughout, the chaotic Joker is unpredictable, and so too is Wayne/Batman, as he learns what he must become in order to defeat his nemesis, but even moreso, we witness this unpredictable leave-it-to-fate side of Harvey Dent (I won’t reveal anymore about his storyline just yet).

Aaron Eckhart, as the incorruptible District Attorney Harvey Dent is, for me, the single best piece of casting in the film, and I include Ledger’s Joker in this. He is a pivotal part of the Good versus Evil theme of the film, where the Joker represents the darkest evils of human nature and Dent stands for the truest good, the hope and beacon of humanity. Far more epic in scale than the cataclysmic action scenes is the drama that unfolds between Dent’s seemingly unfailing goodness and the Joker’s desperate desire to corrupt all. The dark tragedy that presents itself is shocking and gives pause for thought. The question of whether the White Knight of Gotham will turn dark is as important to the film’s title as the reference to Batman is.

The Dark Knight

While the theme of good versus evil plays out with Dent and the Joker, the strong theme of order versus chaos plays out both in the hearts and minds of Gotham’s citizens (most notably where the citizens are presented with some monstrously difficult choices), but also in the mind of Bruce Wayne. The Joker has no moral code, he has no rules and seems to act without rhyme or reason except to corrupt and destroy the moral fibres of everyone he touches. Bruce Wayne learns how far into chaos Batman must descend to maintain order. In one of the darkest moments in the movie, Batman breaks the legs of a mob boss to get information. At one point he beats up the Joker while in custody, revealing to the joker how far he is prepared to go.

Hype

The Dark KnightThere are a number of shocks along the way relating to many of the main characters and that’s where this movie excels. I was on the edge of my seat from very early on, right up to the incredible closing monologue. There was so much hype surrounding the build up to this movie, aided in part by the untimely death of Heath Ledger by accidental overdose. The many movie posters, the ‘leaked’ viral clips, the piece-of-a-puzzle advertising websites. All of this lead to an anticipation that could not meet expectations…and yet The Dark Knight has met expectations and exceeded them. I will be going to see this movie again next week, maybe more than once. I suspect a large proportion of the preview audience will do the same.

Does it deserve to be number one on the IMDb top movies list? Maybe! I’ll get back to you with my answer.

Well Deserved Pimping:

I have to say a massive thank you to Anthony for giving me his spare ticket to the Movies.ie preview (I doubt I could bare to wait another few days to see this film) and I, of course, would like to thank Movies.ie for supplying the preview tickets in the first place. In recent times I’ve been lucky enough to get ticktes to Wall•E, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Indiana Jones and Wanted and I am very grateful to the guys at Movies.ie for this.

 

9 responses so far

Jul 21 2008

I Don’t Want To Be In Any Club That Would Have Me As A Member

Published by under Blog

It’s very many years since I first saw Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s classic masterpiece, and I was looking forward to catching it again as part of the Jameson Movie in the Square season. I was not prepared, however, to enjoy it as much as I did. I laughed so much and went away feeling uplifted by a very non-Hollywood ending.

Annie HallAnnie Hall is an exercise in relationship study. While charting the rise and fall of the relationship between Alvy Singer and Annie Hall, we are given insights into all relationships looking at the previous two marriages of Alvy and the altogether more successful (but no less self-destructive) Annie/Alvy years. There is no strict plot and the movie seems to play out like Allen is telling us a story where he remembers a number of other tangents as he’s going along. It works. It works beautifully where each tangent seems to give insight and clarification on the preceding scene. It is evident that Allen worked without fear making this movie – it does not conform to Hollywood (particularly not the Hollywood of 1977) and the movie’s structure and ending probably didn’t look great on paper. It is a mish-mash of ideas thrown together to try to explain a failed relationship. But it really does work.

Perhaps, all these years on (I think it’s about eight or nine years since I last saw it), I have a new perspective on the movie. I can now appreciate Allen‘s commentary on relationships; I can understand his obscure references (I didn’t know who Fellini or Freud were when I watched it as a teen). With my new point of view I felt I appreciated this movie far more than when I was younger. Don’t get me wrong, on Saturday night I still laughed uproariously at the sex jokes and the cocaine scene, but I found the subtler comic moments just as funny this time around and this time I could enjoy the sweeter moments where Alvy and Annie were falling in love and where he encouraged her singing career. Annie HallWith this watching, the ‘lobsters in the kitchen’ scene was to be one of my favourite moments, where the natural life comedy played out, allowing the general joie de vivre take over. It is in these seemingly spontaneous moments that Allen‘s comedy always excels. From Gene Wilder‘s lost-in-the-moment over-the-top acting along side a sheep in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) to Mira Sorvino‘s Oscar winning Minnie Mouse/Miss Piggy knowing naivety in Mighty Aphrodite, Allen has always managed to allow the actors’ natural sense of comedy and comic timing to come before his script.

But that’s not to belittle his writing. Without a doubt, Allen has written some of the finest one liners in American movie history and Annie Hall contains some of his best.

That sex was the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing.

Hey, don’t knock masturbation! It’s sex with someone I love.

I remember the staff at our public school. You know, we had a saying, uh, that those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach, teach gym. And, uh, those who couldn’t do anything, I think, were assigned to our school.

Lyndon Johnson is a politician, you know the ethics those guys have. It’s like a notch underneath child molester.

Oh my God, she’s right. Why did I turn off Allison Portchnik? She was beautiful, she was willing. She was real intelligent. Is it the old Groucho Marx joke that I’m – I just don’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member?

Annie HallThose lines are delivered with an understated wit by Allen himself in the obviously self-autobiographical role of Alvy Singer. Something that Allen learned much later was to let go of some of the best lines, to give them to the other actors. In Annie Hall he clearly has the best script and one feels he only named the movie Annie Hall because “Me Me Me Me Me Me Me” would have seemed too self involved. I say this half jokingly because when he did release the reigns (particularly in recent years) the results have been middling to say the least. Jason Biggs could not pull off the quintessential Allen-esque character in Anything Else and the dire Melinda and Melinda was plunged into the further depths of the bargain basement by an awful performance from Will Ferrell.

With the rare exception of Match Point (a very non-Woody-Allen Woody Allen movie) his movies and his scripts work best in his own very capable hands and when he is surrounded by actors which he trusts implicitly. Alan Alda, Mia Farrow, Sydney Pollack, Angelica Huston and, of course, Diane Keaton ‘fit’ in Allen‘s movies and this is most evident in the classic Annie Hall.

Keaton is wonderful in the title role and shockingly beautiful. Though told from Alvy‘s point of view, the movie charts the growth of her character from a young lost hippy to a well-rounded confident woman by the end of the movie. Though not on purpose, she uses Alvy to go on a voyage of self discovery that sees her educate herself, examine her life and ultimately learn that she needs to put her own needs and feelings first. This is best seen in the ‘psychiatrist’s couch’ scene where the screen is split in two and we see Alvy with his therapist and Annie with hers (as paid for my Alvy). They each give their views on their sex life, on the therapy sessions, on their life together and while hilarious it is also a pivotal dramatic moment in the movie.

Annie Hall in the Meeting House SquareAnnie Hall is a classic in the truest sense of the Hollywood term. It was the beginning of a brand new genre – the Allen-esque relationship comedy. Though it is a style often repeated (most noticeably by Allen himself) it has never been so perfectly done as in Annie Hall.

Rent this film, download this film, buy this film. It really doesn’t matter how you get it, just make sure you see this movie. You will laugh and you will be very impressed by the wit, the beauty, the real life drama that makes Annie Hall.


The Jameson Movies in the Square continues next Saturday night with Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, but the next film I am most likely to see next is Stranger Than Fiction on the 9th of August, a modern day classic with a role-of-his-career Will Ferrell and an ever perfect Emma Thompson. For more information on the series go here or here, but if you miss the movie, I hope to review Stranger Than Fiction in a few weeks.

Sidenote: Lottie also gives her impression of the movie, seeing it for the very first time.

8 responses so far

Jul 19 2008

Juliet Turner In Greystones Theatre

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review

Darren and a BumpRushing down to catch the DART this morning to head into the City Centre for something that ended up being canceled anyway, I was distracted by a neighbour and in our chatter I didn’t notice the lamppost right in my path. WHAM! I knocked myself to the ground and produced a lump the size of an orange on the side of my head. The neighbour brought me in to her house and gave me tea (the Irish cure for anything) and an ice pack. So, now that I’ve recovered from the bump on my head, I feel up to writing a bit about last night.

Greystones Theatre

Greystones Theatre is open a matter of weeks and last night was our first time setting foot inside, despite the fact that we live exactly 32 seconds from the front door. The venue is beautiful, the acoustics are perfect (the best of any venue I’ve been in and that really surprised me). It is a new venue and, as such, isn’t well known yet. So, sadly, Juliet Turner did not get the turnout she deserved. The half empty/half full theatre still managed to make her feel very welcome as our small group were strong on whoops and applause.

Greystones Theatre

Gentry Morris

Gentry MorrisLottie talks about the supporting act here so I won’t write much about him, except to say he was yet another excellent choice of support for Juliet. In the past we have been lucky enough to hear a number of great support acts, not least of which was Duke Special a good number of years ago. Last night Gentry Morris played and was brilliant. Slightly nervous and sporting a chest infection, none of it showed as he played a few beautiful songs and a couple of songs that I already find myself singing along to. Check out his MySpace page or his own website.

Juliet Turner

When Lottie first introduced me to the music of Juliet Turner eight years ago, I gave it a swift listen and dismissed it as the audio equivalent of chick-lit. It was not until I was dragged to one of her gigs that I truly learned to appreciate what an amazing artist she is.

Her music is hard to define. To describe it as folk is to do it a sincere disservice. To call it jazz or soft rock is pigeonholing it because it is so much more than this. Alternative Irish probably means nothing to most people. Juliet Turner is all of this and more. Her songs are imbued with personality and emotion that seem to tell the story of her life. From her early Pizza and Wine (see Lottie’s video below) to her more recent offering Invisible to the Eye, she reveals so much of herself. Not that she is a particularly guarded or circumspect person. In between each track she is happy to chat and joke with the audience, telling us stories of her tours, her experiences and her inspiration for the songs she writes. And her voice is a thing of beauty. Her Northern Irish twang permeates through her songs and it is a joy to listen to her chat away. If she didn’t sing a note, she could still keep the crowd captivated for hours.

Pizza and Wine is one of my favourite Juliet tracks and it hails from her first album, Let’s Hear it For Pizza. Juliet TurnerThough the song is a number of years old now, she still sings it with the same joyful reflection that she did when I first heard it eight years ago. The first Juliet album I was heavily exposed to was Burn the Black Suit which has some wonderful tracks such as Belfast Central, Rough Lion’s Tongue and the ultimate Tom Waits cover, I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You (which I haven’t heard live since she dueted with Brian Kennedy at the Point Theatre and Kennedy fell over onstage – how we laughed 😆 ).

We seemed to be waiting decades for her follow up album, Season Of The Hurricane (2004), which did not disappoint. The brilliant track Everything Beautiful is Burning got a lot of radio play and the extremely sexy Vampire is one of my favourites. She also overjoyed fans by putting the crowd pleasing Sugartown on disc for the first time.

People Have Names

Her current tour is promoting her new album, People Have Names (iTunes link), and last night she mixed a number of new tracks in with her older established set. They fit in seamlessly and add a new vigour to the performance with tracks like Girl With a Smile and Tuesday Night Ladies wowing the crowd. She also played a wonderful rendition of Joy (also from the new album) which she claims is sung without cynicism – I don’t believe her for a second.

One of the excellent things about Greystones Theatre’s new website is their GTTV section where they have uploaded a number of performances from shows and gigs that have been on at the venue. The following is a recording of Joy from last night’s show:

The also whipped the crowd into a frenzy with the title track from her third album, Burn the Black Suit:

Juliet will be playing in Whelan’s on the 25th where I expect she will get a bigger crown than last night. We hope to be there and if you want tickets they are available from Ticketmaster. They are a mere €22.50 and it will be a great night.

Lottie, Darren and Juliet Tunrer

Also, if you know any Radio DJ’s (ahem!) please beg, pester and threaten them until they play Juliet’s new single Trickster, which can also be heard here.

10 responses so far

Jul 19 2008

Cute Sesame Street Song

Published by under Blog

Rick has been trigger happy with his Sesame Street songs this week, so when I saw this on Travor’s blog, I knew I had to put this up. It’s bleeping hilarious!!!

6 responses so far

Jul 18 2008

One Funny Night In July

Published by under Blog

Diet of WormsWednesday brought us to Doyle’s on Dolier Street to see the free gig by Diet of Worms. We recently went to a table quiz where this comedy troupe were raising funds for their impending trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This week they have been practicing and honing their act in preparation for Edinburgh.

Diet of Worms are a group of 5 comedians who’s comic stylings have been likened to the young Monty Pythons. Granted their act is frivolous, raucous and often surreal, but they are a far cry from Python at the moment. But that does not make them bad. Far from it , in fact. Their often very clever and always varied act is a lot of fun. We were all laughing from start to finish. A few cringe-worthy moments aside (which will undoubtedly be corrected – Wednesday was the first night of their three ‘preview’ shows), they having the makings of a very solid ‘sketch show’ on stage. Their musical interludes, their zany characters and their hit-and-miss use of video/cartoon footage on the projector behind them does have us wondering throughout, what will these crazy kids do next?

Diet of WormsIt took them a few minutes to get into their stride. The cramped upstairs venue of Doyles can’t have helped their performances and I can already imagine the timing improve with some logistical corrections such as better lighting, sharper music cuts, better sound effects, etc. But once they were up and running they revealed some very original ideas and had us all laughing riotously.

One sketch saw two advertising executives (I think) discuss a new project while vigorously stuffing apples into their mouths. I’m not sure why it was funny, it made no sense, but there were tears rolling down my face from laughing. Orla and VincentThe instigators of this scene were Niall Gaffney and Phillipa Dunne, who have such a great connection on stage it’s a shame we don’t see their two brilliant characters, Orla and Vincent, more often. In a scene that may require minor tweaking, Orla and Vincent are at mass, bored and waiting for their moment to sing the ‘hymns’. When they finally have the opportunity to sing their Gloria, the result is fantastic.

The video and cartoon footage is, as I said, hit-and-miss. Darragh‘s suggestion on the night that the troupe perform the voices on stage during the video would probably have added to the comedy. The troupe spend too long off-stage and it interrupts the fast paced rhythm of their show. That said, when the onscreen sketches work, they are excellent. The Famous Five bit had us in hysterics and the rather odd Puffincat tattoo story was hilarious, although Diet of Worms may be a bit off with their satirical timing by lampooning the Great Soviet Nation.

All in all, they were funny, they were very funny and that’s all that really matters. I hope they do well in Edinburgh. If they tighten up the show, remove some of the fluff around the edges and give some more stage time to the brilliant Amy Stephenson and her Kate Nash musical impersonation, they’ll be a success.

Diet of Worms

Tonight is the last night of their free preview gigs. So if you want to catch them before they become big famous comedians who don’t have time for the likes of us anymore, do to Doyle’s tonight at 6.30.

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Jul 18 2008

Good News Friday

Published by under Blog,TV

A few things that made me happy today:

Firstly, there is a new series of Heroes starting on September 22nd. If we just ignore the last series, this has the potential to be the greatest thing this year. Ever. Ahem, here’s the trailer:

Secondly, and sticking with TV, there’s a new series of 24 starting next year, but on November 23rd there’s a made-for-TV movie that will bridge the gaps between series 6 and 7. Bauer is back! It’s called 24: Exile and here’s the excellent trailer:

As I surfed around the Interweb I came across something that makes every cat owner go “Oh my God that’s so true“. It’s a new episode of Simon’s Cat:

Pure genius!

Anyway, sorry for the excessive Video-linkery. Normal longwinded ramblings will return shortly.

Update: The musical, Wicked, is being made into a movie. More happy news here.

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Jul 17 2008

Oxegen 2008 – A Guide For Festival Virgins (Part Three)

Published by under Blog,Music,Music Review

Be Prepared to Run the Gauntlet

GladiatorsAs the Sunday sun beat down upon our milk-bottle white frames and we lay by the tents praying that the inevitable redness that would colour our skin would metamorphose into something resembling a light healthy brown, we watched the campers a few tents down engage in something that resembled the Gauntlet from Gladiators. They had a big blow-up armchair and were standing in the main thoroughfare challenging anyone who dared to pass. A few people scoffed and walked around, but there was many a brave soul who took on the challenge. How no one broke a bone is beyond me, as everyone from a 20 stone rugby player (clarification: he looked like he may play rugby. This might be a stereotype but I really doubt he pirouettes down the local ballet hall in his spare time) to a frail but nippy teenager, smashed through and lept over the two-man one-armchair blockade.

Bring Some Wellies, Yes, But Also Bring Comfortable Shoes Too

I tried my best to find some wellies for the weekend but those shops that weren’t sold out had sizes that wouldn’t fit me. I am a size 11 but size 11 boots were too big and size 10 were too tight. I gave up and settled on an old pair of hard wearing runners. It ended up being the best thing I could have done. They had a strong grip, were reasonably water-tight and they weren’t too warm. So, while everyone else was cooking their feet, I was in complete comfort. See if you can spot my feet in a photo from Mr Rick‘s N95:

Bring Money, Not Bank Cards

I will direct you to this post as a perfect reason to bring enough cash with you.

Be Prepared for Rain, Mud, Cold Weather But Also…

Bring light clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses and light shoes. Sunday’s incredible weather took us completely by surprise. Waking at 6am on Sunday morning I was drenched in sweat, it was like someone had moved us out of our tent during the night and placed us in a kiln. Tired and uncomfortable, needing to use the toilet, I attempted to unzip my sleeping bag. I squirmed and became exasperated but finally located the zip. I tugged too hard. It got caught up in the fabric. I wriggled and pulled and ripped and kicked, but to no avail. I was stuck. It was no use. I closed my eyes and suffered through it.

Me at OxegenI must have passed out because I awoke again at 11 with a renewed yearning to escape my prison. I tried to open my eyes but they were glued shut, it seemed. I located the zip again and took some deep (warm) breaths while I tried to calmly undo the zip. It came loose. I was free. Now I just had to put on some clothes and get out of the tent.

A half an hour later I found freedom. The cool air, the fresh air was manna. I looked up and saw not a single cloud in the sky. Apparently we hadn’t been transported to kiln at all, but to the South of Spain. I was first sad that I would be missing the rest of the festival, but then resigned myself to the thought that Spain was the next best thing. I think the heat had gone to my head.

I returned from the toilet to deckchairs, crisps and a beer. Ah, heaven! We talked for hours about the possibility of going into the festival arena to catch some early acts, but it was just talk. Instead we sunbathed. I can’t remember the last time I just lay out in the sun for the sake of it. Luckily, both Lottie and T had brought sun cream (it wouldn’t have crossed my mind) and we didn’t get too sizzled. Still, Lottie is quite red, even today, and my rudolph-like nose has looked better.

Save Some Batteries for the Last Day

No, I’m not referring to Nickel Cadmium cells for your torch or walkman. Make sure you keep enough in your own system to make it through the final day. When we finally emerged from the sunbathing, we staggered to the arena. It was not a drunken stagger. We were just wrecked tired from the previous night’s dancing (less dancing, more aimless jumping) and our legs and feet were in pain.

Mick PyroIt did not stop us from getting right back into festival mode, however, thanks to Delorentos. Sunday was to be a day of Irish acts for Lottie and myself. Beginning with the incredible Delorentos, who seemed more overwhelmed by the gig than us, it was to be a brilliant day of quality music. As the bassist departed the Pet Sounds stage he looked across the crowd and gave us a wave of sincere appreciation. It’s great to see a band enjoy a gig just as much as the fans.

One of the most anticipated gigs of the weekend, for us at least, was the Republic of Loose gig up on the O2 Stage. Lottie and I, Lady Anon, RP, and others gathered a good distance back from the stage and were still close enough to experience the energy and charisma of the bigger-than-life Mick Pyro. They played a set with more power and intensity than anyone else at the festival. Pyro wanted to be remembered and went all out, pushing the crowd, demanding as much from them as they wanted from him. As an exercise in audience participation, it was a masterclass. Singing, screaming, swaying, clapping, jumping and hanging on every word of the powerhouse lead singer, the crowd loved every minute of it.

Bring Water

Darren and AndrewAnd don’t forget to drink the water you brought. Seriously, we brought bottles and bottles of water and yet I only drank occasionally from them. For this reason I was beginning to lag midway through Sunday evening. I was getting a headache and needed to buy more water. The headache was not helped by the quandry of the next gig choice. The Raconteurs were playing at the same time as Róisin Murphy. In the end we headed towards the Pet Sounds Stage for Murphy. We had seen so many live bands over the weekend, we thought a change (in the form of Murphy‘s pop-dance act) would be good.

Roisin MurphyShe was more than good – she put on a show where she had no less than 6 outfit changes, where she wildly flirted with her backing singers, where she toyed with the other band members, beating up the lead guitarist, and all of this before we even think about her powerful voice. We caught Róisin at the Choice Music Prize in Vicar Street earlier this year where she performed a couple of less energetic tracks. Utilising her voice instead of the theatrics and big band, it was clear that she had an amazing voice. But seeing her at Oxegen, it was brilliant to see the full package: great voice, great songs and an unbelievable performance – a show worth catching. Again, it was a shame that the gig was so short.

Choose Your Last Gig Wisely

It will be the one that leaves you with lasting memories. Finish on a high. We chose to go to the Swell Season in Pet Sounds. Who? It was Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s first performance as a group since the Oscars and they did not disappoint. It was probably the happiest gig of the entire weekend. Lottie managed to get some great footage on her camera here.

Bring Deodorant

Nah – don’t bother!

Bring Pills

No, not those – I refer to hayfever tablets, Imodium, diorylyte. Even if you don’t end up using them, someone else will be happy you are well stocked. I actually suffered really badly with hayfever on Sunday. It didn’t ruin the day or anything, but it definitely took something from it.

Be Prepared for the Impossible

You may be ready for everything – you may have enough food and drink, you may be prepared with a first aid kit, you may have a variety of clothes and footwear, you may have ear plugs, you may have a blow up mattress, you may be ready for rain, hail or snow, you may be ready for almost any eventuality……and then a tornado rips through the campsite and takes your tent a fe hundred feet in the air and miles away. This is what happened to two or three tents on Sunday afternoon. Two twisters zipped through the red campsite and left chaos, disruption and rubbish in their wake. So, what else could we do only applaud and cheer.

Sunset

The Aftermath

After the dust has settled and I open my eyes to greet the real world anew, I truly feel as though I’ve been through a ‘rites of passage’, one I perhaps should have braved 10 years earlier. I trudged through mud, I basked in the rain, I ran between gigs and endured sanitary conditions that make the term ‘sanitary conditions’ a misnomer. I have no regrets, not one. I will return, I will definitely go to more festivals, but I somehow doubt anything will compare to the incredible experience I have had at Oxegen 2008.

Previous Posts:

Oxegen 2008 – A Guide For Festival Virgins (Part Two)

Oxegen 2008 – A Guide For Festival Virgins (Part One)

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Jul 17 2008

Where’s Wall•E

Published by under Blog,Movie Review,Movies

Where’s Wall•E? Well, he showed up in Cineworld on Monday evening and I was lucky enough to get to see him, thanks to movies.ie and their preview screenings.

I’ve enjoyed most of what Pixar have had to offer over the years. I’ve watched the company grow as I have gone from being a child to an adult and I remember seeing the cute Pixar shorts with Luxo Jnr in the late 80’s with the bouncing lamp (they still use this lamp in their logo).

Over the years they have teamed with Disney and have produced cartoon instant classics, such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Ratatouille, but though I enjoyed them and laughed along and though I was highly impressed with their style and cartooning, none of them ever managed to reach the heights of Disney‘s The Lion King (and other earlier Disney cartoons), in my opinion, in creating a movie that truly crossed all the divides and made you forget that you were watching a ‘silly cartoon’ and just appreciate the great story, the strong emotion and characterisation that gave life to the blobs of colour on screen. Until now.

I was nervous about seeing Wall•E. The premise isn’t particularly easy to swallow. Essentially, the humans have destroyed Earth through pollution and overconsumption and in an effort to save humanity they have gone on a space voyage, leaving robots behind to clean thing up. Many years later, the humans have not returned and there is only one little robot left, Wall•E, who goes about his day tidying up and collecting trinkets and listening to show tunes from early Hollywood musicals.

An obvious set up for a movie, yes?

Wall EWell, I didn’t think so, and was dubious as to how they could make good story out of it. There’s minimal dialogue throughout as Wall•E can only make a few limited sounds and the only other main characters in it are another more modern ‘female’ robot (presumably Wall•E is a male ‘robot’) and a cockroach Wall•E keeps as a pet.

It turns out that this odd premise lends itself to some hilarious slapstick and visual comedy, it raises some very current issues such as the global warming crisis, the problems of consumerism and the dehumanisation of the masses, and it also allows for some truly moving, beautiful scenes that had this grown man, at least, wiping a bit of dust out of his eye more than once.

Notably this movie does not pump the ‘humans are ruining the world’ vibe down our throats. Unlike 2006’s Happy Feet that seemed to batter the viewer over the head with the guilt stick, Wall•E is more interested in the prospect of hope for reversing the situation. It was refreshingly light on selling the moral message, but still had a fable-like ending all the same.

Wall EFrom the start the comedy does not let up and this is the movie’s strongest suit. Right through to the predictable love story and onwards to the crisis points of the film the comedy is relentless and it is mostly down to the expressions of the main character. Indeed, these expressions are what make the movie so great.

With minimal dialogue every emotion, every quizzical look, every exasperated glance must be timed to perfection on the ‘faces’ of the robots and Pixar nails it. Even the more minimalist styled robot, Eve, the love interest, shows rage, frustration, love, laughter and sadness through a few subtle changed in her ‘eyes’. Wall EThere is a truth in the unspoken dialogue between the two main characters that could not be revealed through words. That is the genius of the movie.

I went to see this with three other blokes and no kids. If we can do it, so can you – don’t worry about it being a cartoon, don’t worry about people looking at you oddly. This brilliant movie is well worth a few stares.

Thakns again to movies.ie for tickets to the screeneing. My movies.ie account can be viewed here.

Wall•E Trailer

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Jul 16 2008

The Camino De Santiago

Published by under Blog

Camino de SantiagoA good friend of mine is going on a voyage of self discovery and is hoping to do something worthwhile for Barnardos along the way.

Gary is walking The Way of St. James, The Camino De Santiago, starting on Monday next, 21st July, and he hopes to blog about the journey here. He will be using the opportunity to raise funds for Barnardos and has set himself a modest goal of €500. If you would like to give him a bit of boost, you can give a donation through MyCharity.ie or maybe just drop him a comment to wish him good luck.

Very recently I have decided to walk the Camino de Santiago. The Camino, or Way of St James, is an age old pilgrimage towards the majestic city of Santiago de Compestela and the wonderful cathedral it contains. The pilgrimage starts for me in Bordeaux and from there I will travel to St Jean-Pied-Du-Port where I will then start my walk towards Santiago. I will hopefully walk with and confront some of my own demons along the way.

I’m not sure if this will give me any answers to life’s great questions, or if I will ever transform into the person that I once saw myself becoming but I do know that this will give me some much needed humility and time to think.

G, best of luck with your endeavour and I look forward to reading more about how you get on. I hope you find yourself, but if not, come back home and I’ll help you search in every pub in Dublin.

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Jul 16 2008

She & Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

Published by under Blog,Music

Following on from my review of the She & Him album, Sentimental Heart, here is the band’s new video:

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