Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Fear of the Known

I tell you this much, you'll never see a bus inspector on the13A. He'd be far too likely to catch someone smoking, like the crowd behind me as I write. The whole upstairs of the bus is crowded up the front with spare seats between them and us ('them and us', don't you just love that!).
Anyhow on my way into town to meet Janet for a screening of 'Willy O'Reilly and the Coleen Bawn', a 1918 silent movie with live accompaniment.
After this week I couldn't leave without a pint or two in The Slipper. Some research money must have come in, as there was a small group of bigwigs and their group in drinking. I can see the attraction of the research circuit; they do their own thing without interference as long as the money comes in. Nice. Of course, the money has to keep coming.
The smokers have just gotten off. It's not the smoking of course, not for them. It's the finger to society, that they're offering. The thing is it's such a small finger and in place of so much lost. For those of you unaccostomed to the 13A bus route, there is a contingent of users who wouldn't have too many opportunities nor too much self-belief nor too much cop-on. They tend to fill the absence of belief with whatever substance is to hand, and nicotine is the mildest of those. (Of course, for me alcohol is the same answer on those frequent occasions when the belief is absent). Ironically I look at them and I look at the weary bigwigs and outside of the bellies, there is little difference. In a way. I am not so naiveas to ignore the obvious advantages one enjoys over the other. I suppose I just mean in the grand scheme of things we all die and even while we live, it ain't worth a hill of beans how big your wig is. Trite tripe for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What a Gas!

"I'm a tough guy. I used to be a Wells Fargo dick." So says Kuvalick, the fat, bald house detective with a seal-coloured toupee, after and before he puts paid to some bad guys in Chandler's 'Nevada Gas'. And he's only a bit player! Some people can just write them!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sushi Soulfood

That Old Deserted Barracks in the Phoenix Park
That Old Deserted Barracks in the Phoenix Park

I had a comment from someone at work about the arbitrary pictures I have been putting on my blog of late. He said that he was intrigued by the picture then disappointed to find nothing about it in the text. Sorry James, but as I explained earlier these photos are miscellaneous pictures I downloaded recently from my phone and are here purely for colour. However, just for you there's a Dublin shot (dull, isn't it?).
I treated myself to a big sushi feed tonight. Aya has improved their selection slightly, though still not enough to bring me back every week. Still I hadn't been there in months and needed my fish fix.
Work is hellish right now with registration just around the corner and no let up in the problems, tweaks and updates caused by rogue updates and capricious customers. Add to that a streaming web conference (haven't we already done enough of those?), that no will give a crap about, and then those other big projects that won't go away, and you can understand that I need sleep. Those big problems (redesign, redesign, redesign!) watch me smugly every day, peeking out from the paper pile and other mess I keep on my desk deliberately to keep them out of my sight. The Blue Letter day cannot be far around the corner! (Sorry, I have some Carter Burwell playing).

Herk Harvey as The Man!
Herk Harvey as The Man!"
Last night I watched 'Carnival of Souls' again. Blasphemous though it might sound, I see some similarities to Kubrick in this low-budget horror flick. The high contrast, 'realist' look of the piece puts me in mind of 'Killer's Kiss', while the amusement park by the salt lake has more than a hint of 'The Shining'. Some
bad dialogue and atrocious acting (witness the doctor who is far more hysterical than Candace Hilligoss's tormented - and dull - heroine could ever be) cannot disguise a real eerie originality. I have pointed out more than once how Peter Weir's 'Fearless' owes more than a small debt to 'Carnival of Souls', ( as do other films like 'Dead End' and 'The Survivor'). Herk Harvey, the director and 'The Man' who stalks through the movie, deserved to have more than this shot at feature film making. Ironically he spent his whole life making movies, well documentaries, for the Centron Corporation, but 'Carnival of Souls' had to be made on his own time, during a two week vacation, and on a shoestring budget. I mean anyone who can make a ballroom of dancing Goths frightening must have some talent. Think what he might have done with a budget, and even some actors!!!!! It still seems far more European to me than any horror being made in America at that time (1962). Hell, I'm too tired to do it justice! Suffice to say for all that it's cheap, it is still by turns beautiful and scary and as memorable an indie as you'll come across. I mean if you have seen it, could you ever forget the zombies coming out of the water, the world going quiet on the heroine until that spooky birdsong, or the funfair, or the wonderful organ music, or Herk Harvey as The Man! Classic!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

End of the Road

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Sartre once claimed that 'Hell is other people,' but I'm a little more inclusive than that. I guess it's my innate sense of fairness.

I finished 'The Road'. Sad to say, I feel McCarthy is getting away with far too much on this one. Apparently it won the Pulitzer for Fiction, but as I mentioned before the tale has already been told many times before (and better). Yes, it gets across the atmosphere of a dead planet, dead in almost every respect, very well, but that is not enough. His dialogue, such as it is, is constituted of the phrases: "I'm scared", "I'm really scared", "Okay" and "Of course you can." This doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid. And I don't believe in his characters. I am not sure how old the child is, but he is very much something made up by an adult. I don't care how devastated the world is, an 'innocent' like that simply doesn't exist and would be dead far before the book ever got started if he was how McCarthy paints him. The father-son relationship too is simply too idealised, certainly within the context of the ruined world. Outside of the 'beautiful' relationship of father and son, almost every other character (and there's not that many) is an extreme vision of evil. I am sorry, but in a world as grey as the one in 'The Road', the moral landscape should be a little less black and white. "We are the good guys," the central duo continually chant, but the reality is that there are no 'good guys', not in real life, just people trying to get by. Shades of grey is the norm. As I pointed out with "No Country For Old Men", McCarthy's novels suit his moral take on our world and 'The Road' is no exception. I can forgive him a lot, but not on this occasion.

Contast that with 'Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General', the last horror movie made by Michael Reeves, a young British director, who died after just three movies. It tells the tale of an infamous witchhunter prowling through England during the Civil War. Taking a shine to Ian Ogilvy's missus-to-be, he sexually exploits her until his assistant rapes her, at which point he casts her aside and kills her uncle and guardian, a priest, claiming that he is a witch. Ogilvy, a soldier in Cromwell's army then sets out for revenge. Things aren't that simple though, and a lot of nasty torture and witch burning is inflicted before the end. Like McCarthy, Reeves liked to use gorey violence to show how repulsive, morally and physiologically, it actually is*. The bizarre result then is some truly beautiful, postcard type country scenes (and the cinematography does ample justice to the landscape) juxtaposed with hangings, burnings, dunkings, beatings, rapes and very bloody deaths. A lot has been made of this movie (particularly in the documentary on British Horror and Fantasy that preceded it), but personally I think it is a little too languorous for a true classic. Nevertheless as a picture of the darker side of humanity it is as powerful as most of McCarthy's work. The difference though is that Reeves is completely unforgiving; no idealising of the 'good guys' here. He understood that we are all capable of the most horrible crimes and so the hero becomes contaminated by the villain.

In my opinion, Ogilvy's character does not suffer enough to turn him into the monster of the ending, but there is no doubt the end is powerful. His two friends burst into a torture chamber as Ogilvy beats Vincent Price to death with an hatchet. One shoots Price putting him out of his misery, only for Ogilvy to turn on them screaming, "You took him from me! You took him from me!" Beautiful! Reminds me of that wonderful scene at the end of "The Black Cat" where Lugosi flays Boris Karloff alive. They really don't make them like that any more.

And still on the horror theme, 'Jeepers Creepers 2' was ending when I flicked on to Film Four. I don't usually have time for sequels, but I'll have to give that a go sometime. The Creeper must be up there as one of the most unrelenting of movie monsters. Straight after that 'Nightwatch' began and I would have loved to stay up and watch that again. Looking forward to 'Daywatch', the second in the trilogy. Again I won't make any great claims, as I believe the first movie dips a little in the middle, however it shows far more originality than anything coming out of Hollywood in a similar eh, hem, vein (contrast with the woeful 'Underworld' films). It's almost 'X-Men' as Dostoyevsky might have written it.

Music-wise I got Air's 'Pocket Symphony' and Richard Hawley's 'Cole's Corner' last week. The jury is still out on them both, though I see nothing spectacular about the Air album, and with Hawley I just can't shake the feeling that I'm listening to something that my grandmother could and would listen to. Tonight I dusted down Ann Scott's 'We're Smiling', her second album as I recall and though not as immediately enjoyable as her debut, not without its fair share of great music. Certainly far more interesting than the other two.

Last Friday was Eoin from work's wedding. Sound character, as is his beautiful bride, Nicola. As they both deserved, the day was one of our very few sunny days. Can you believe we had to seek out a shaded table when drinking outside at the reception! Great day. Sticking to the G and T's, I managed to keep the hangover to a minimum.

While the apocalyptic events are still on my mind (heh, heh!), another book well worth reading about a post-apocalyptic planet Earth (albeit from a non-nuclear catastrophe) is George R. Stewart's 'Earth Abides'. A fantastic book that also features a father-son relationship. Marred only by some 50s-style attitudes to matriarchy, it tells the tale of a humanity trying to rebuild itself after a plague wipes out 95% of the world's population. The ending is a litmus test for the reader and your reaction will tell you a lot about yourself and what kinds of things you hold dear. Sorry, Cormac, but read this before you continue on your road.

* Reeves apparently wrote: "Surely the most immoral thing in any form of entertainment is the conditioning of the audience to accept and enjoy violence...Violence is horrible, degrading and sordid. Insofar as one is going to show it on the screen at all, it should be presented as such - and the more people it shocks into sickened recognition of these facts the better."

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Darwin Just Didn't Get It Right!

I said 'Copying Beethoven' wasn't a date movie, but maybe I was wrong. The couple who sat down a seat away from me certainly seemed to think so. I kept wracking my brains trying to think if 'Farrelly Brothers' or 'Leonardo Di Caprio' had been mentioned on the poster, but I just couldn't remember seeing either. Well, these two had come prepared anyhow. They kept pulling bags of corn snacks from the air and letting the rest of us know about it. Ultimately they made a bad movie intolerable. I mean surely the clue was in the title, this was a movie about Beethoven, and as such, it might have a little music in it. In fact whether the movie was good or not, at least we could enjoy that music. Right? Nope. Crunching couple thought the music bits were the intermission. The centrepiece of the movie is a kind of highlights performance of the Ninth. I kid you not, they talked through the whole thing. Naturally, and inevitably, I had to shhh them, but to no avail. Why the Hell were they there? I mean why the Hell were they there? Anyone with even a couple of brain cells would suspect a little bit about the movie, yet they had no interest whatever. Darwin couldn't be right. How could genes like that still be floating around the 'survival of the fittest' pool? When abortions go wrong.
To be fair, the movie didn't warrant too much attention anyhow. Ed Harris , bizarre in brown contact lenses, and Diane Kruger, not just a pretty face, are not too bad. However, they are saddled with a director (and a screenplay), who feels the need to 'explain' the joy of music with shaky camera moves and hazy 'ecstatic' shots. Even that hoary old cliche of the closed eyed hand gestures gets a thorough outing. Music does not require an explanation, and certainly not that of Beethoven. You either get it or you don't. No half-assed music video with a bad line in spiritual mumbo jumbo (about God's language) is going to change that. Certainly it shouldn't be the raison d'etre for a fictionalised account of Beethoven's last year. One way or the other, if you are in the audience you have presumably 'gotten' Beethoven already. Presumably. Well, maybe not afterall.

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The Long Road Home

Long day at work trying to develop someone else's PHP scripts. They didn't do a bad job, they just weren't aware of well, a better way. If the university had forked out the money to keep them on, I wouldn't be wasting my time like this. Instead I've been chasing my tail all day trying to figure out and rewrite their work.
I'm tired and hungry but 'Copying Beethoven' finishes today at Cineworld, so I had to make the last screening if I was to see it on the big screen. I asked warily if it was 'assigned seating', but there was a snowball's chance in Hell of that, thankfully. Besides the fact that the reviews haven't been great, it's not exactly a date movie, or, let's face it, of much interest to any but those with a taste for classical music. The cinema was empty when I arrived and now with ten minutes to go, not much better.
Started 'The Road' last night. Great writing, of course, but the jury is very much out at the moment on the story. Post-apocalyptic stories are ten a penny. McCarthy's story bears more than a superficial resemblance to a novel by my creative writing teacher, Sheila Barrett, a book called 'Walk in a Lost Landscape'. Then there's 'A Dog and His Boy' by Harlan Ellison, or 'Damnation Alley' by Zelazny. Anyway later.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Long Bright Day of the Hangover

That last post went online a day late (email trouble again).
Eoin, from work, is getting married on Friday, so, after work, we all went over to the local, The Slipper, for a beverage or two. Too many were consumed. Then Eoin and Jules - both of whom had today off - easily persuaded me into joining them for more in town. Well, I had to go there to get home anyway. I finally made it home after 3, so today has not been one of my more gloriously shining days. My brain has been in a state of painful hibernation. I made off just after 4.
Mention should be made that we have finally had a summer's day. Let's hope it stays this way for Friday.

Beyond Blood and Toenails, or The White Wail

The terrible toenail struck again. Ingrown again! Before I let it progress I set an appointment this morning to see a chiropodist this evening. There was no hurry. 7.15. I worked a little late and still had time to enjoy the bus ride.
There was pretentious me, reading Nietzsche and listening to 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', the glory of a new sun burning a halo around my head. Suddenly up the stairs come the Bonny and Clyde of druggies, he saying quite loudly,"I'll ride ya when we get home!" In a voice that levels mountains she told him to 'SHUT UP!' She told him to 'SHUT UP!' quite a lot, far more loudly than he said anything (though he could be heard at the back of the bus too). She said 'THERE ARE PEOPLE COMING HOME AFTER THEIR WORK. THEY DON'T WANT TO HEAR YOU!' Damn right, chucky! Ubermensch up the front was especially not wanting to hear YOU, but everyone still got an earful. About THAT TWENTY LAST BANK HOLIDAY, or how they PAY YOU WHEN YOU ATTEND, or just NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Strauss kicked in on the organ, but it was no use. The ubermensch was settling into a syphilitic bout of deafness, then paralysis, and finally ranting death. As I got up to leave I cast a glance down the aisle and stood a moment transfixed. Four words from Conrad came to mind (and 'Apocalypse Now', probably more appropriately); 'The Horror! The Horror!' The being was attired in a green and white tent made from the material Captain Fantastic must use for his outfits. She/It lounged across the obviously otherwise deserted (except for the rider) back seat, looking like Ken Russell in drag, or Moby Dick on a bad hair day. It was truly a test of ubermenschen aesthetics. I realised how lucky I was to have only been exposed to its voice for most of the journey. What that 'rider' must be exposed to is something only Lovecraft could imagine. I threw my cross-eyed philosopher's stare to the ceiling, stroked my imaginary moustache and fell down the stairs. Oh, for the sight of a cart horse being flogged!
The chiropodist first removed a mighty shard of razor sharp nail from the side of my big toe. Without giving me time to think about the two needles of anaesthetic he then pumped into my foot, he told me he wouldn't feel right if he let me go without taking out the huge stiletto that lurked at the root of the nail. I lay back and thought of Ireland. I tell a lie; I thought of that bloody scalpel cutting through my bloody toe ('Eh, I'll just put this tourniquet on your toe to stop the blood squirting in my eye'). It was over in no time. Unfortunately he had a problem with his pc I had to spend an hour looking at. My own fault, I volunteered, but he was good, and I didn't actually solve the problem. I left the pc with spybot, but no updates, a thing beyond good and evil.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Not Again!

The Royal Palace, Bangkok
The Royal Palace, Bangkok

I just saw a poster for the new Daniel Craig/Nicole Kidman movie. No, not 'The Golden Compass'. 'The Invasion'! I checked IMDB and sure enough it was what I suspected; yet another version of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'! Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of 'Body Snatchers', all three of them, even Abel Ferrara's lesser 90s version. And the new one may even be good; early indications are that it is. With such a strong story behind it, it would want to be a pretty crap director to mess it up (the director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, made the excellent "Downfall"). But why again? Why? Surely Hollywood's pursuit of money must some limits! Well, apparently not. Really three remakes is too much. And then bear in mind all the unofficial ripoffs ('The Faculty', etc. Even Donald Sutherland, star of the 1978 version, appeared in 'The Puppet Masters'). To add insult to the whole injury, they try to disguise its origin (Finney, the original writer, not to mention the original movie, aren't mentioned on the poster), they use the only part of the original title not used in isolation before (Ferrara's version was 'Body Snatchers', I believe); 'The Invasion'. People should speak out! (I know I'm being melodramatic.) But if the only thing Hollywood understands is money, let's tell them a thing or two. Avoid this movie. Don't go. Watch any of the other versions if you are tempted (Siegel's and Kaufmann's are brilliant), but boycott this movie. Please, don't be a pod person! Keep your humanity! Stay away! They're coming for you, and you. They're coming for everybody! Watch the skies, keep watching the skies!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Me and Universities, Huh!

A couple of quotations from Benson that have relevance to the current university situation in Ireland. Although they are of some relevance to science (it has more freedom than these quotes suggest), I think they mean more if you replace the word 'science' with 'academia'. And in thinking of 'academia', there's no harm thinking of the humanities....

"We accepted the idea that science was like other areas, where you make a product and the whole thing can be run from the top down."

"But the real diversity in science comes from below, not from innovative managers above. We narrowed the compass of science until nobody saw anything but the approved problems, the conventional wisdom. To save money we stifled imagination and verve."

"To see you must have vision...All this talk of bloody 'socially relevant' work assumes a bureaucrat somewhere is the best judge of what's useful."

Okay, not quite as on the button as I might like to think, nevertheless there is a viewpoint here that's worth considering. The 'Top' are not always in the best position to appreciate what really has worth or what may some day yield real value. We have gotten as far as we have by letting people experiment and research areas out of a love for the knowledge, not necessarily the practical application. By dwelling on the pragmatic we ignore the visionary and possibly that which gives value to the whole enterprise.

"Can't We All Just Get Along?"

Half Moon party on Koh Phangan
Half Moon party on Koh Phangan

Just looking at some of the "pay-for-article" sites online; it might be nice to get some recompense for what I do anyway. Anyone out there had any experience? From what I can gather, the three big players each have their issues: Associated Content seem to be only for Americans, Triond just your standard ad-click payers, and Helium very dodgy (as in they don't always pay you). But any feedback would be appreciated.

Leaving work early yesterday (a growing habit), I went to 'The Bourne Ultimatum', but more on that later. I was not in the mood for alcohol after the night before and ended up going home and reading 'Timescape' for the evening. Very readable stuff, it has to be said.

Today has been the usual summer day of rain, so I stayed in to watch 'Gandhi', again. It's hardly saying anything new to point out how remarkable he was. If his vision of a peaceful, independent India wasn't realised, he didn't want it, and rejected the half solution, at personal pain, for his higher ideal. What does come across though, is the inevitability of sectarian violence given a nationalist struggle. It is the vent for all the uncertainty, guilt and suspicion that independence breeds in a people. Even there his stubbornness almost reined in such a natural force. Almost. Still he, at least, showed in his own life what humanity was capable of, even if everyone else was/is too weak to follow.

And didn't Kingsley give the performance of a lifetime?

I thought I was seeing things earlier on, but did you know that the Catholic Church has withdrawn its support for Amnesty International? I'd almost laugh if it wasn't so sickening. Oh, I understand it's reason (abortion), I just don't understand it's reason. Is there any Reason in the Catholic Church?

I'm being willfully provocative here. Of course, the Catholic Church are going to object to Amnesty. The Church has never been in any way less than clear on where it stood with regard to abortion. It's against it, full stop, no exceptions. Correct me if I'm wrong on that. Amnesty International, in actively endorsing abortion, albeit in very particular cases ('if their [women's] lives are in danger or if they have been raped'), have put themselves in opposition. Given that each should be working for the same causes (whether you support the Church or not), this is unfortunate, and doubly so that some compromise can't be reached. By asking Catholics to withdraw support, the Catholic Church is actively working against Amnesty and so indirectly supporting the enemies of Amnesty. A foolish state of affairs.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Drink and emails from phones!

Hangin' at the Hangi!
Hangin' at the Hangi!

The Gregory Benford stuff got me flowing in the pub. Tachyons, causality and grandfather paradoxes. 2 hours turned into 6, but good alcohol-fuelled 'philosophising'. I put a lot of music on my MP3 player last night and as a result I am listening to the second movement of Gershwin's Piano Concerto now. Haven't heard it in ages!

By the way, wonderful Vodaphone wouldn't take my email from my phone so I had to retype and resend everything from a regular browser. So much for technology! So much for Vodaphone!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Holy Tachyons!

I watched Richard Dawkins' 'Enemies of Reason' programme last night, an attempt to debunk religion and superstition. Whatever one's own beliefs might be, I felt he took a lot of fairly easy potshots at easy game (mediums, card readers, astrology, etc.), and dismissed some very large topics very cavalierly. For someone making a case for Science bringing an open mind to the world, he himself very definitely did not. Granted his view may be the result of years of 'open' consideration, but without proper background it came across as almost as much fanatical ranting as the subjects he was trying to debunk. Whether I agree with him or not is neither here nor there; he did himself a disservice.
Still on the scientific front, I didn't pick up reading the new McCarthy as promised, but instead started Gregory Benford's 'Timescape', a book on many a '100 Best SF' list. Concerning an ecologically ruined Earth's (set in 1998) attempts to contact the past, it is not as hare-brained as it sounds. Benford is a physics professor at the University of California, so he knows what he's talking about. Skipping from very lucid descriptions of theories by Feynmann to 'science' appropriate to his story, it's hard to see where one leaves off and the other begins. To get a better grip on this I looked up 'tachyons', the subatomic 'particle' at the heart of his thesis, in Wikipedia. They're everthing he said they were! If they exist! (And they don't, claims Wikipedia resolutely, because even if they did they couldn't (!!!!!!!)). They still have given rise to much research for things that don't exist. Incredible stuff! And then just when I was getting euphoric on tachyons, he introduces closed geometry universes, and how they might be within our own (and our's within others). Crazy stuff, and worth exploring. And to cap it all off, he is great at creating characters, and the lives to go with them. Hmmmm.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

If it looks like a turkey, and gobbles like a turkey...

Just saw a poster for Catherine Zeta Jones' new film, 'No Reservations'. I had the misfortune to see the trailer the other day too. Expression through food, orphaned kid on professional woman's doorstep, wacky new man in the kitchen. If this movie isn't a turkey, I don't know my poultry! Having said that people went to 'The Holiday', so what do I know!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stage Struck!

Fountains at Darling Harbour
Fountains at Darling Harbour

A boxset of six Hitchcock films was on sale in HMV for €19. How could I refuse? Granted I already had the two best ones in the box, 'North by Northwest' and 'Strangers on a Train', and three of the others were 'minor' Hitchcock, but so what! I hadn't seen 'Stage Fright' in years. So I watched it tonight.

Yes, minor Hitchcock. There is too much humour and too little suspense for it to be a classic, but two things struck me about it, both linked; the dialogue and the characters. Although the story - an 'innocent' man on the run, girl who loves him tries to establish his innocence - is weak, the dialogue is often very funny, certainly very knowing. Delivered, as it is by an excellent cast (Wyman, Todd, Sim, Dietrich, Wilding, to name a few; I mean, Andre Morell has a bit part!), it often seems very modern, even though it is still very much of the 40s (made in 1950). A lot of credit must go to Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville, credited with the adaptation. It is a movie of likeable incidents and the little bit of 'Hamlet' with the bloody doll and the boyscout is wonderful.

But the cast, the cast! Alastair Sim, always excellent, is even more excellent than usual. Marlene Dietrich out-Madonna's Madonna. Micheal Wilding, not someone I usually have a lot of time for, has just the right mix of geekiness and professionalism. Richard Todd, the man on the run, has a limited amount of screen time, but makes the most of it, while 'mousey' Jane Wyman holds her own at the middle of all this thespian spendour (contrast Wyman's job with Ingrid Bergman's similar role in 'Spellbound', with only Gregory Peck to share the screen with). All in all, a 'minor' work certainly, but not without its pleasures.

Actually I just read a comment on the movie on IMDB ("Superb..... Hitchcock's most underrated talkie, 23 June 2004" by Author: drednm) and it says it far better than I ever could.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Carry On Ken!

The Lake of the Monster, Rotorua; it's there, honest, behind the trees
The Lake of the Monster, Rotorua

I caught the last hour of the Harry Palmer flick, 'Billion Dollar Brain', directed by Ken Russell. Obviously all the computer stuff is very cute nowadays. However, it reminded me once again of Russell. I wouldn't make any claims for him being a brilliant director in the manner of a Kubrick, for instance, but his work is always interesting, and frequently a lot more than that. He is very consciously an auteur in a way that very few directors are, particularly today. Last time I saw him he was on the news talking about Bergman. Before that though I saw a supremely sad documentary about him making home movie-style features literally at home, and trying to raise the capital to keep on doing it. Britain should be a little more respectful to him. If Ireland had a director like him we wouldn't be trying to forget him so quickly. He deserves another chance. Even in the Harry Palmer movie, you could see that this was no ordinary hack at work. The close-ups of Ed Begley pontificating Hitler-style intercut with the burning of Soviet icons, the use of Shostakovich's 7th, the wild camera-work when Harry struggles with Tanya; Russell isn't afraid to push his personality into the picture. His work can be over-the-top and garish, but in a good way, like Fuller before him or Baz Luhrmann after. And I still love 'Altered States'. Anyhow with Ken Russell very definitely in mind, the film industry should respect its elders.

I just learnt that 'Watchmen' is finally going to be made. All my friends who love graphic novels have been telling me about it for years, and anything I've heard about it seems to suggest that this is the 'War and Peace' of graphic novels. It just strikes me as a shame that Terry Gilliam, who has been trying to get this project made for years, has been passed over for the director's honours.

I picked up the second volume of Chandler's Collected Works, and a volume of Leigh Brackett's Mars stories earlier. It only struck me now that they are connected. Brackett worked on the screenplay (with William Faulkner, no less!) of the film adaptation of Chandler's 'The Big Sleep'. So there you go.

I had been thinking of going in to the free outdoor screening of 'Manhattan'. The heavens have just opened, as usual. Guess I'll stay in and read.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Why I Write Such Crap Stories

Ushuaia in the Good Old Summertime
Ushuaia in the Good Old Summertime

Just got call from Jules for more drink, but I am resisting. I've been out with Jan from 6 and want to leave it at that. A good night. Myself and Peter, Janet's housemate had it out over Dr Ledbetter, a play I'd seen him in in Edinburgh last August. I wasn't complimentary at the time. He is too nice a guy to criticise me, though it has to be said I didn't criticise the production, just the script. Anyhow sound guy, and I look forward to the new plays he and Janet are in. Janet needs more publicity and I offered to help, but any producers out there look her up on IMDB; Janet Moran. Great actress. They're both in a new version of Berkhoff's 'Metamorphosis' and an early play by Chekhov coming up soon in the Theatre Festival.

Picked up McCarthy's 'The Road' for 4.99 in Chapters. God bless Chapters. There's my next reading project.

Went to 'Waitress' earlier. I won't be disrespectful to the dead; Adrienne Shelley's debut (and last movie) holds together. However, it is as sweet as any of the lead character's pies. Once upon a time there were many 'independent' American movies, safe as houses but with a bit of quirkiness just to show they'd seen a European movie. The Sundance Institute bred a lot of these (eg. The Spitfire Grill). 'Waitress' is very much in that mould. It will not offend anyone. It pretends to wisdom. It tries some mannered scenes to be quirky. But at the end of the day it is a slight story with little to say. The old 'cookery as inner expression' ploy is used again and nice but shallow characters try to win us over. Just why Keri Russell's character does not argue with her husband sooner is a mystery known only to Shelley. It suits the story, I guess. It passes the time and hints at a future career for Shelley, but it's far from being a masterpiece.

I printed off some stories I wrote a while back to have Janet read, but reading them on the way into town, I got depressed. The stories were schlock, but I knew that. The problem was that they were badly written. Of course, I was close to them, so it's difficult to say how bad they were, but I wouldn't rate them. Even schlock has to have grace.

Anyhow it heartens me to think I can still have a day like today, even with work looming in the background. If anyone wants a schlock writer give me a shout. I can still improve.

The Strange Case of Boy George and the Dentures

With hours and hours of flexitime built up (and to be used by Monday), I took a half day. As my cousin, Janet, was doing rehearsals for a new play in town, we agreed to meet for lunch. It was at lunch I learnt the following curious fact: my aunt, Janet's mother, had recently sung a duet with Boy George. This is curious for many reasons including:
a.) She can't sing,
b.) Actually there's no need for a., b., c., d., etc., the idea is just preposterous!
And they sang 'Kevin Barry', which I can't recall right now, but not quite a Boy George song.
After lunch, I went for my ticket for 'Waitress' (I'm in the cinema now), and then for a coffee. In the cafe, or rather outside it, I saw a girl I went to college with and with whom I once went out on a date. After the guy she was talking with left, she remained, so I joined her. She is a lovely girl; attractive, intelligent, sweet. But it wasn't long before I remembered why I never asked her out a second time; talking to her is like pulling teeth, though not nearly as much fun. I made my case for dentures and moved on.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lucien's Light

Melbourne by Night
Melbourne by Night

I took off an hour early and headed to the Irish Museum of Modern Art for the Lucien Freud Exhibition. There were around fifty pictures - mostly paintings, but also etchings and drawings - and, obviously, mostly portraits. It is very interesting to see the progression of his style over the years. In his 80s now, he is just as vital as years back, though I must confess to preferring his work from the Seventies and early Eighties. There is a stunning portrait of his daughter, Esther's head on a pillow from 1983 or so. How he achieves so much realism using such long brushstrokes is incredible, but the keys here are light and tone. The white highlight on the forehead was common to many a picture. The rich and varied use of colour on his subjects' faces, unrealistic though the colours may be, convey the sense of shading and tonality intrinsic to the human face, and so breathes life into each portrait. In my view, the unnatural colouring and the element of charicaturing links him with the poster art of Thirties pulp magazines (like Dali) and somehow I also see en element of Bacon. His most recent work is characterised by a heavy use of paint on the subject's skin, very layered and rough. His earlier works from the late forties and early fifties in contrast have an almost Renaissance or even medieval feel to them (the small portraits of a boy, for instance). Certainly in the 'Boy' pictures there is a Botticelli-like delicacy, very different from his later pieces.

A documentary on Freud was showing as part of the exhibition, interviewing some of his many subjects and showing much of what was shown at Tate Britain in 2002 as part of a retrospective. Good though the video was, it had the unfortunate effect of reminding us just how much was not on display in this particular exhibition Still worth seeing, and there was a good retrospective of Ann Madden on too.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Eternal Recurrence

After writing my last entry, I picked up McCarthy and read the following line:
"I think sometimes people would rather have a bad answer about things than no answer at all."
Compare that with what I read in Nietzsche earlier this evening:
"First principle: any explanation is better than none at all."
Explain that!

God's Not Dead, He's Just In Texas

Walking to Bondi
Walking to Bondi

Exhausted again! This work malarkey really doesn't agree with me, though I was in until 7. Oh, and I updated over 3,000 webpages. No joke. Must take some time off. Certainly I'm hoping to go to the Lucien Freud exhibition tomorrow.

Only a few pages left in 'No Country...', but I have my doubts as to whether I will go to the movie. I know, given that it is the Coen Brothers, I will eventually, but I have no yen for it. That book is bleak and nothing that can happen in the final few pages will sweeten this particular bitter pill. As a consummate craftsman, McCarthy knows exactly how to achieve the effects he does. I am not sure then if he is heartbreakingly honest, gut-wrenchingly sadistic, or indeed both. Given that he is a right-wing so-and-so, it breaks my heart to say he is definitely one of the finest novelists there is, and a right-wing so-and-so I will always have time for. He even has the audacity to have his sociopath compare himself to God and seem credible. But it is a tough, tough book, and bleak, bleak, bleak. For lots of reasons, one should never forget that it is a fiction, and one written by a man with definite views. No character within those pages exists outside. By that I don't mean there are not people who do the things done in the book. There are. I mean the book's characters behave the way they do because it suits McCarthy, it suits his views and his purposes. That all sounds obvious, but it should not be forgotten. Every text is a political statement.

It's kind of ironic that I should be reading Nietzsche at the same time given that the Ubermensch and Chigurh have a lot in common. Still in a chapter on causality Nietzsche writes practically word for word, even if they are slightly flamboyant words, my own thoughts on our creation of 'reasons' to explain away the unknown and fearful. It's just a shame that being mixed up with a lot of iconoclastic tripe the good stuff gets obscured and tarred with disreputability.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Batty Nietzsche

Flying foxes in Sydney
Flying foxes in Sydney

I meant to tackle my 'Dali and Film' visit tonight, but I'm exhausted, so no go I'm afraid.

Not too far off the end of 'No Country for Old Men'. For the bus though, I've started reading Nietzsche's 'Twilight of the Idols'. For the laugh. My Nietzsche phase has been and gone many years ago. There's no doubt he sets you thinking and has some good points (Plato is the Great Deceiver!), but all too often it's childish ranting and unrealistic prescription. He is best when he is being critical, though the criticisms he levels at Socrates in 'Twilight' are absurd (though, honestly, good for a laugh). On the plus side, it is easy to see how a whole generation of phenomenolgists might have come out of his dismissal of 'Being' and espousal of appearance. However, it's also somewhat ironic that in lumping mathematics in with metaphysics in order to dismiss them both, he compromises his ready advocacy of empirical science (the result of our heightened reliance on the senses), surely something heavily indebted to maths. (And then Democritus with his silly 'atomic' theory!) His diehard advocats might defend his inconsistencies and contradictions with some claim to artistic license, or by claiming that his truth must encompass all such oppositions. I just think he was finally starting to suffer from his syphilis (his earlier 'The Birth of Tragedy' is just as artistic, but more finely argued). And please don't try to explain Nietzsche's problems by pointing out how he pooh-poohed reason and so naturally wouldn't abide by reasoned argument! Puh-lease!

All the same, it brings me right back to my old days.

Just came across this picture of an iceberg in Antarctica (ultimately from Abroad: Irish Photographer Dave Walsh's weblog
). As much as I wish I had of taken the photo, I really wish I had of seen the iceberg itself. And he's right, it does put one in mind of 'Isle of the Dead' by Bocklin.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Phone Pic of the Day

Well, here's the phone pic of the day:

Making sandcastles, Adelaide style
Making sandcastles, Adelaide style

When I saw the sunshine this morning, I was worried we weren't going to get any rain today. I need not have suffered any such anxiety.

Seeing the current state of India puts things in perspective though.

Just saw a cool timelapse on this guy's blog, Riemann's Cut. The making of it is cool too, using a mobile phone, a sponge, a python script and his own composition. Well done to him.

Seraphim Falls

As a piece of filmmaking, there is nothing wrong with 'Seraphim Falls'. It is an old-fashioned western, slightly bloodier than most, but old-fashioned, and in the best way. The cast are uniformly fine, with Brosnan and Neeson excelling in thei hunter/hunted roles. The traditional mirroring of each is expertly handled and the simple chase plotline a great opportunity to run over the genre's standard tropes (pilgrims, wagon trains, railroad building, etc). It looks well and sounds appropriate, with an old-style Hollywood score by Gregson Williams. In the gore and amorality, it takes into account the revisionism popular since 'Unforgiven', and the only real Indian to make an appearance - for in such a catch-all movie they must - is a savvy water seller played by everyone's favourite, Wes Studi.
So what's the hitch? Well, given all the box ticking that's going on, it is probably inevitable that it feels like we've seen it all before. And we have. From the 'Jeremiah Johnson' opening scenes to 'The Outlaw, Josey Wales' motivation for the whole cat and mouse chase. There is sadly nothing original here, even down to the echo of Von Stroheim's 'Greed' at the end. In truth though, the storyline is probably far too simple to support the film's fine aspirations. It shows how a tragedy can live on long after the event and drag in far more people than the original protagonists, but given the ending, it is ironic just how much mayhem has been inflicted on everyone but the protagonists. In the end the simplicity and familiarity of the tale stops 'Seraphim Falls' from being the classic it aspires to be. It is tremendous entertainment, and a welcome - successful - new addition to the Western genre, but unfortunately far less than the sum of its mostly fine parts.

Tales from Earthsea

40 minutes ago I was at 'Tales from Earthsea'. Not quite the beautiful animation of 'Howl's Moving Castle', though it's from Ghibli Studios too. Still interesting. As with the Potter movies, if you have a strong novel at the back of it, it's hard to make a complete mess. Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea novels are very well regarded (though I'm sad to say I've read none of them, yet). 'Tales' is absorbing, though not without many faults. It spends a little too much time on farmyard life when it could be explaining a bit more about dragons, for instance, but screenplays have not always been Ghibli's strong point. Certainly the ending came out of nowhere. Nevertheless the Japanese take on things, in contrast to Hollywood's, is always refreshing. So who cares about a little narrative incoherency. What Hollywood elements there are are appreciated though. Timothy Dalton makes a fair stab at Sparrowhawk, while Willem Dafoe is unmistakable as bad guy, Cobb. Messy, and perhaps not up to Ghibli Studio's high standard (it is the debut film of director Goro Miyazaki, son of the more famous Hayao), it's still a worthwhile effort.
Better stop now. 'Seraphim Falls' is about to start.

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Reading Through My Fingers

You may be wondering, after all my enthusiasm, whatever ever happened with 'No Country for Old Men'. It can't be that long a book. It isn't. I have been reading it off and on, but the truth is that it is a difficult book. I don't mean in terms of language, or ideas; the novel is difficult because McCarthy makes you care too much. It's populated by some wonderfully drawn characters. Even those that could be a cliche, like Bell, win you over. Indeed from the moment I heard Tommy Lee Jones was in the movie version, I knew there could only be one character he could play, and Sheriff Bell could only have one face. With Moss though McCarthy has created a real character to root for. The difficulty then is that these likeable folks must face in Chigurh one of the most venomous sociopathic creations in literature. I remember speaking to a psychiatrist friend of mine about sociopaths and Chigurh accords with everything Peter described. I'm hardly surprised though, as McCarthy seems to really do his research (you know he knows his guns!). If there is a problem it is in the extremity of Chigurh's psychosis; how could such a person survive so long in the world, let alone function in any kind of an occupation, even a murderous one. McCarthy himself seems to see this and halfway through we have the entrance of Carson Wells to address (and so acknowledge) this issue. Still the character doesn't ring entirely true for me; it's a little like Hannibal Lecter cropping up in an episode of 'E.R.'. Sure he's a doctor, but.... Nevertheless I cringe a little whenever Chigurh takes centre stage; you just know something nasty is going to happen. Anyhow I continue to read it, even if from behind the couch and through my fingers.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

That Thing Invisible

Runt of the Litter
Runt of the Litter

The rain that began last night continued right through to this morning (and indeed the afternoon), but I braved it to see 'Harry Potter' and 'The Simpsons Movie'. More on them later, no doubt. I was going to make it a hat trick and go to the new Japanese animated version of Ursula Le Guin's 'Tales of Earthsea', but when the ticket seller said it was assigned seating I gave up the idea in preference for a coffee. Coffee and Carnacki.

'The Casebook of Carnacki - Ghost Finder' is now finished. With 'The Hog', the final story, it is very easy to see the seeds of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos; an evil force (one of the 'Outer Monstrosities') that once dominated the Earth, was banished, but seeks to return, finds a gateway back to our world through the dreams of a sensitive man. Carnacki even has his own Necronomicon; the Sigsand Manuscript. Unfortunately Hodgeson's insistence on the most ludicrous of supernatural agents - a whistling room, a crazy dagger, a spectral horse in a house, and now a giant pig's head - threatens to throw the whole thing over into farce. In this story, I think it does.

Sometimes Carnacki's 'scientific' paraphernalia doesn't help either. In the climactic experimentof 'The Hog', both Carnacki and the unfortunate victim of swine abuse are wearing full rubber suits, complete with rubber ear flaps. Snazzy! The grunting, squealing victim doesn't aid matters. I mean it could all be scary, it's certainly unnatural, but it has to be done right. And a giant pig's head emerging from a gate of Hell is questionable to say the least. At least Lovecraft left most of his indescribable horrors without description. To compound matters, Carnacki's constant querying of his audience - 'Am I making this clear?', 'Can you imagine?', 'Do you understand?' - also annoys. And while I am about it, what otherworldy version of Ireland did Hodgeson write of with placenames like Kraighten, Iastrae, etc..

And yet I am still a fan. Hodgeson's was a unique vision. Granted he borrowed from Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle and others, but what he took he put in the service of a very strange take on horror. 'The House on the Borderland', generally regarded as his best novel, is a bizarre mix of the far future elements of 'The Time Machine', an anticipation of '2001: A Space Odyssey', and the found manuscript stories of Hogg and Poe. It is way ahead of its time while still being mired in some very Victorian attitudes. Personally I love 'The Ghost Pirates' (I've been writing a film adaptation off and on for ages), while 'The Boats of the Glen Carrig' is a strange mix of Verne and Stephen King. And as for 'The Nightland'! I'll have what's he's having!

Nevertheless, for all their deficiencies, the Carnacki stories are as strange as anything Hodgeson has written. As the introduction points out, Dennis Wheatley couldn't have written 'The Devil Rides Out' without Carnacki's Electric Pentacle and Magic Circle. And in his sceptical, yet open attitude, not to mention his espousal of science, it's not hard to see Mulder and Scullys' great-great-granddaddy pottering around in these tales. Anyhow take my disappointment with a grain of blessed salt. I have high expectations when it comes to Hodgeson. Though it may not be great art, it is fun. Give him a try.

By the way, I have decided that rather than go through my past posts and populate them with the relevant pictures, I am going to post photos taken with my phone over the past year arbitrarily, hence the Adelaide photo above.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Polite Society

Dublin on a not so rainy day
Dublin on a not so rainy day

I came out of the cinema and into the rain. The temporary respite we have been experiencing over the last few days has proven to be just that; temporary. To be fair, the day had been fairly dry up to then. One of the advantages of pessimism though is that you're rarely disappointed. I wasn't; just resigned.
I made my way to the bus stop and stood in a doorway. A car drove past with a guy sticking his head out the side window. He shouted, 'Excuse me!' I looked up. 'Wanker!' he shouted at me and laughed maniacally as the car drove on.
At least Dublin's idiots are polite idiots.

The Hoax

Who'd have thought it, hey? Lasse Hallstrom finally makes another good movie. Despite starting off with movies like 'My Life as a Dog' and 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape?', old Lasse hasn't exactly set the world on fire of late, his last half-decent flick being the slightly stodgy 'The Cider House Rules' ('Chocolat' was far too sweet for me, and I'd watch Juliette Binoche in a fast food ad). But with The Hoax' he bucks the trend. It's great fun, and intelligent too. Of course, it helps to have a fine cast (Gere, Davies, Molina, Delpy), a score by one of the US's best film composers, Carter Burwell (though this is sadly underused), and a wickedly cheeky script by William Wheeler. Based on a real life case, the movie follows down-at-heel novelist, Clifford Irving, as he attempts to write and sell Howard Hughes's 'autobiography'.
Can he possibly get away with the hoax?
Set in the seventies, Hallstrom's approach to filming that decade is more workmanlike than David Fincher's in the recent 'Zodiac'. Stock footage of protests and presidents is used in a very traditional manner (like the 80's themed 'This Is England'), but it does work. Gere has transformed into a far more interesting (and haggard) actor than his pretty boy past might have given us reason to expect. He pins down Irving's Munchausen character perfectly. Molina too adds some substance to the comic sidekick role, while Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davies and Julie Delpy (haven't seen her in ages) make as much as they possibly can of the sidelined female parts. All in all it's an impressive show and shows the hoax to be part of the widespread culture of deception and lies that was Nixon's America. Indeed if we're to believe the film, the hoax actively fed this culture, making the fake autobiography the implicit reason for Watergate and so Nixon's downfall.
Good stuff all round.

Romances with Scissors

Just had my hair cut. Once again I felt like Jean Rochefort in 'The Hairdresser's Husband'.  Not quite the haircutting experience provided by Barber Peadar Roche with his two sizes of bowl when I was 8 years old though.
From there I have come to the cinema to watch 'The Hoax' (on in 20 minutes). Unfortunately it's assigned seating, so I am at least 2 seats from my beloved central spot. I was tempted to leave it, but it may not be too packed, so I might get there yet. Besides Mozartian opera is playing (the best sort of Mozart).
'This is Spinal Tap' is playing in Meeting House Square, but the tickets (still needed though free) are gone.
'The Hairdresser's Husband' reminds me that Patrice Leconte has a new movie, I believe. I'll have to look into that.

The Power of Powell

BBC2 had a Powell and Pressburger double bill on this afternoon. I caught the last 20 minutes of 'I Know Where I'm Going' and then got sucked into 'The Red Shoes'. Stunning stuff! Naturally I've seen each one before and several times, but it's been a while. I couldn't help but really admire some of the beauty in 'I Know...'. The shot where Roger Livesey opens the door to the castle cannot but recall 'The Searchers' for anyone who has seen 'The Searchers', though here Livesey must enter not leave. (Powell's movie predates Ford's). Then the use of shadow and light particularly at the harbour when the damaged boat returns.
In contrast to the use of shadow in the first movie, the vibrant colour of 'The Red Shoes' is almost blinding. Jack Cardiff, the cinematographer, deserves a special mention. Powell, of course, is amazing (the use of whip pan, the incredible composition of shots, etc.). Where I think my problem lies with the films of 'The Archers', is in the scripts of Pressburger. The stories are wonderful, and the oneliners sophisticated, but often the dialogue is just too theatrical (although 'A Matter of Life and Death' is one of my favourite movies, Niven spouting Marvell as he is about to die is just too much). 'The Red Shoes' doesn't suffer from this to a great extent. Moira Shearer is radiant (and Cardiff gets a lot of mileage out of lighting her flame hair), Marius Goring just right as the callow composer, and Anton Walbrook incredible in the plumb role of Lermontov. He exudes charm and selfish insanity as and when required, alternating from friendly mentor to vampiric Svengali. I had planned to stay for the first half hour, but ended up watching it all. Sumptuous.

The Trouble with Lucien

The exhibition is in the Irish Museum of Modern Art at Kilmainham. I know that seems obvious, but I never really rated that place. The few times I was there I was disappointed (in contrast to the National Gallery which is fantastic). Guess I should give it more attention from now on.

Although I left the party early last night - yes, another night out - I felt the worst for wear this morning as a result of the last couple of snakebites I had. I do recall the nightlink leaving at 1 instead of 12.50 (yes, I do have a thing about Dublin Bus; for the most part it's crap) and using my new work toy, a Nokia smartphone, to update this blog. So far I've spent the morning reading more Carnacki. As a fan of William Hope Hodgeson, for the most part, it's disappointing stuff. Some good elements, but the storylines and the execution are lacklustre (in contrast to some of his other horror tales like 'The Derelict' or 'The Voice in the Night').

Oh, and by the way, I was downloading what snaps I had on my phone the other day. This is the kind of stuff I ate in Bangkok.

Grasshoppers, locusts and flies, oh, my!
Grasshoppers, locusts and flies, oh, my!

More grasshoppers, locusts and flies, oh, my!
More grasshoppers, locusts and flies, oh, my!

And I don't know where I ate this, but it was delicious
And I don't know where I ate this, but it was delicious

And while I'm about it here's the George W. Bush Appreciation Album again

More Workday Morning Griping

There is an upcoming exhibition of works by Lucien Freud somewhere in Dublin. I see the posters from the bus. I can see when it's on. I say somewhere though because for the life of me I cannot see the venue. Even when the bus slows I cannot read the small print that presumably indicates this trivial bit of information. I am guessing the Hugh Lane Gallery, but this is a guess.
Whoever did those posters might want to bear this in mind next time.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Dublin Bus: They Come in Nines

When going to work, my bus stop lies across a dual carriageway. Beating the traffic lights is something of an adventure sport. This morning I got to the centre aisle as the red light went green. I was joined there by a squat, little man in his sixties, cursing and puffing as three buses pulled up across from us (granted one was a 76A and not going to town. The traffic still formed an impassable barrier, so he got louder as another two buses appeared on the horizon. Then another two. Each either stopped or went on, but passed us, all except for the last. While it stopped a gap in the traffic formed and we both ran. And made it. A few girls went ahead, then the elderly man, but I dawdled on the step. A woman was running for the bus and was just there. Suddenly the doors closed on either side of me. I could push on or get squashed, so on I went. I said to the driver,'There's a woman just there!' He knew, but 'there's another behind'. I looked behind and there wer another two buses coming. All in the space of two or three minutes.
Now Dublin Bus may celebrate and boast of how many vehicles they have on the road, but personally I wonder about all those passengers who couldn't make that two minute window. Wouldn't it be preferable to have a consistent service, with buses arriving when the timetable advertises, instead of a glut followed by a famine. Many of those buses shared the same number. Shouldn't they be leaving at different times. For the record, the bus I got was fairly empty.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Future's So Bright...

..I've gotta wear shades.

Doing a little reading on 'productivity tools' and 'collaboration software' this afternoon. Gleefully I was told that our personal and professional lives will become progressively closer until the Facebooks, Myspaces, etc. will detail everything, work and life, and we will be using them with that in mind. Social spaces will be just another forum to network and pose, a new job being always on our minds. (Apparently IT people will change job at least 20 times in their lives). In fact, I shouldn't be writing about movies, books, travels or food on my blog at all; my blog is for business topics, my career, my skills. And with connectivity everywhere there's nothing to stop me working anywhere!

Hello??? Anyone home? Is this something we want? Is this the new world order millenia of social evolution has been driving towards? Work! All the time, everywhere? It's like we are hellbent on creating a machine/prison to fit ourselves into. Of course, the presumption throughout is that 'everyone' will be using these technologies. 'Everyone' that 'matters' anyhow. Stop! Let me off! I don't want to matter any more.


I study nuclear science,
I love my classes,
I've got a crazy teacher,
He wears dark glasses.
Things are going great,
And they're only getting better....

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture? 2

Well, now China seems to be getting in on the act. See:

While I was in China I saw many Beijing streets demolished in preparation for construction for the Olympics. This seems to be the price being paid by the ordinary people. Note that in one location "each family would eventually be given a small flat - but not for two years." So much for communism. Marx, I can hear you rolling in that grave of your's!

In Cambodia we have an Australian Embassy, in China the Olympics. Surely the word 'boycott' springs to mind.