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, June 27, 2008

Good Deed Done for the Night

Phil wants Nice Cave night on BBC4 on July 4th, so if anyone records it let me know; the poor guy is stuck in Germany and they don't do Nick Cave.

Spice Burgers! Don't You Just Love 'Em!

The bread was mouldy but I needed Walsh's spice burgers. Thankfully the cellophane wrapped crackers saved the day! Thank you Jacob's!


Someone queried "O'Leary burger king" and got me. I ask you!

A Comment

Oh, by the way, Nigel Place and Naoise Brennan were excellent and Nigel has far more range vocally than Decaln O'Rourke. Both were good, but I was surprised at the limitations of O'Rourke.

I wish I had a ticket for Tom Waits.

I Have No Mouth, But I Must Scream

God bless Harlan Ellison.
I tried to explain the history of music in these terms: Bach wrote words, Mozart wrote sentences, Beethoven created poems, Mahler etc. wrote novels. This is wrong and unfair if only because Mozart wrote at the very least poems and Beethoven was more the Wordsworth of his time musically.
I tried then to explain language in terms of cloud and rain; we have our concepts - clouds - and these are condensed into words which we can use in short hand terms. This applies as much to music as to language in the verbal sense. I was in the company of musicians who knew little musical theory. You need to understand what has gone before - in abstract terms - in order to use it properly. I also tried to explain the band-audience dynamic, but again I spoke unintelligibly. I have no mouth, but I must scream.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Mist

The Mist
The Mist

After 'The Shawshank Redemption' and 'The Green Mile', writer/director Frank Darabont returns to Stephen King territory with 'The Mist'. After a mysterious mist descends on small town, Castle Rock, bringing with it a multitude of strange man-eating creatures, shoppers find themselves trapped in the local foodstore. Soon, as in the Twilight Zone episode 'The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street', they find that they have as much to fear from the monsters lurking inside than the CGI ones stalking the car park.
I won't begin to spotcheck the variety of sources this movie, or rather the novella it is based on, references; it doesn't really matter. King's strength has never been his originality, but how he uses common genre tropes to achieve contemporary, socially relevant ends. (I will note, however, that there is an interesting contrast between this film and Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead'; one has a small number of people in a huge mall, while the other, representing small town America and all its prejudices, sees a large group of people trapped in a relatively small store.)Despite a little too much talk, this is a fascinating, and brave, horror. Indeed given that the norm in contemporary horror is to sacrifice character in the service of plot, it is refreshing to have something to think about while you squirm, and the characters - stereotypes one and all though they might be - are deliberately used to give us a microcosm of America. (It's also good to have a kid behave like a kid, even if that means being annoying; better that than the precocious beasts we more often have to suffer.)
Trapped in the store, prejudices (often centering on those who are not 'local') soon bubble over and create sides when everyone should be uniting. Fear, as the characters themselves point out, on the one hand puts us in the hands of monsters, and on the other, and indeed as a result, makes monsters of us all. Marcia Gay Harden's Christian fundamentalist is the primary source of the polarisation. Beginning as a figure of fun, she rapidly becomes a mini-Hitler. She is just the most visible human monster though; no one really survives the onslaught.
On the outside an impressive, but often very familiar, array of beasties keep the pressure on the survivors. I am not one for CGI appreciation, but though the pixels do sometimes show, the inter-dimensional monsters do their job, instilling terror in shoppers and audience alike. We are never in any doubt that what lies in the mist is best left there. Again though, they are something of a McGuffin, or rather a mechanism, to set the real monsters loose.
The movie had a lukewarm reception in America and probably won't break box office records here either. It's far from perfect. Certainly the damning portrait of the silent majority could not have helped in the US. The real reason audiences might baulk though is undoubtedly the ending. If what has gone before was Lovecraft, what finishes proceedings is pure Ambrose Bierce ('THE COUP DE GRÂCE' anyone?), and if the movie were tighter, this would be one of the best contes cruels of recent times. But contes cruels are an acquired taste and that ending probably won't help here either. Neither will the frequent longuers. However, for the cynical among us (and there's still a couple of us), the film's negative view of humanity, and indeed Fate, cannot but appeal. Yea, as Hobbes put it, 'Life is nasty, brutish and short'; and then there's those damn tentacled, inter-dimensional thingies. We just can't win!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't Go Into the Light!

The main light in the sitting room has posed a problem for me since the beginning. One out of three bulbs was working, though when I bought replacements I discovered some sort of corrosion over one of the fittings and the other bulb wouldn't budge. The landlord made it a condition of his repainting the place (something he hasn't done) that I replace the light. I have and tonight I set about installing the new fixture. Of course, as I set to work I realised it would be wise to wash the glass fittings before putting it out of reach, so time passed. And it passed. And though I got the lamp attached I wasn't happy with how it fitted against the ceiling, or didn't as the case may be. So down it came and more fiddling. By the time I finally was attaching the wires (and I will not outline the many fears messing with a 'live' wire has for me, even with the electricity mains off) the darkness was closing in. I realised I was in danger when I was attaching the neutral wire to the live connection; not wise. Then the screwdriver kept falling, my hand got cramps, the ceiling refused to rest against the fitting as snugly as I wished, the fire alarm suddenly took to beeping, the DARKNESS WAS FALLING! Ultimately I left things as well as I could get them and turned the mains on to tremendous applause. I took off my drawers. No, kidding. I took a look at the old lamp and discovered a.) te bulb that wouldn't budge now would, and b.) the corrosion was actually part of the remains of a bulb someone had left in the fitting. Once I removed that the old lamp was as new and a new lamp was born (me). Still the new light is nice. And did I mention one of the bulbs is dead?

If anyone's interested Nigel Place will be supporting Declan O'Rourke in The Academy at 7pm this Thursday. Tickets are nearly gone, with standing room only, so run, Forrest, run!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Survival of the Fittest?

The problem with Darwinism is that Creationists are still around.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


You know that life has taken a turn for the gutter when - not having played much before - you find yourself taking to the Lotto two weeks in a row.

The Incredible Hulk

The only thing incredible about 'The Incredible Hulk' is how unincredible it actually is. You would think that after countless graphic novels, a television series, several tv movies and a big budget feature, that someone would have learnt to tell the story of a guy who turns into a jolly green giant (minus the jolly) whenever he gets angry. But with 'The Incredible Hulk' they fail once more.
There are many villains in this piece to point the finger at. Norton in the main role is badly miscast; just because Bruce Banner is Jeckyll to Hulk's Hyde doesn't mean he has to be nondescript. Bana was bland enough in the first film, but Norton takes all the anger management stuff a little too seriously and stifles any emotion. If we are to care about his predicament we have to care about him, and we don't. Liv Tyler, on the other hand, gives the furniture a run for its money. To be fair to both though neither is served well by bland dialogue and a messy storyline. The real 'Abomination' is the unadventurous script.
There is some confusion as to whether this is a true sequel to the last movie or a standalone attempt at re-igniting the franchise. Granted the film starts in Brazil where the last film ended, but the credits sequence contradicts any connection and details, such as the use of Culver University instead of the earlier Californian institute, imply an alternative backstory. I can't see the reason for this; as Hitchcock said if the audience are confused, they're not emoting. i wasn't emoting.
And then there's Hulk.
Ang Lee's 'Hulk', for all its faults, looked beautiful, making almost a surreal virtue of the obviously animated CGI monster at its core. The new movie can't even claim that. Its attempts at more 'realism' are fatally sabotaged by the Green One himself who is even more artificial here than in the original. It almost had me wishing for Lou Ferrigno (who refreshingly does pop up in a cameo, but sans green makeup).
There is some humour and an unexpected cameo from another movie superhero, added no doubt to pave the way for hopefully better things in future installments. 'The Incredible Hulk' though is unlikely to win many more fans to the franchise, so it's questionable how many more installments there will actually be. By my reckoning it's time to call it a day; let Bruce salley forth along the highways and byways, rained upon and alone, but with at least a shred of dignity. But since when has Hollywood had any dignity?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stan Winston Dies at 62

Just read this sad news:
Special-Effects Pioneer Stan Winston Dies at 62
Definitely one of the good ones. A lot of the film going of our childhoods (and later) were moulded by his special effects.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Out of the Oil and All Around Fire

I flicked on the City Channel or Channel 6 or something to see one of many Lisbon Treaty debates. On it Yes-man Garreth Fitzgerald interrupted No-man Richard Boyd Barrett. From there I switched to RTE's Primetime where Yes-man Pat Cox interrupted No-woman Patricia McKenna and Yes-man Íñigo Méndez De Vigo interrupted well, everyone, but especially No-man Jens-Peter Bonde, who wondered aloud why everyone was picking on him (because 'we like what you say' answered De Vigo). Is it just me or are the entire Yes-camp basing their arguments on shouting down everyone else? I am, and have always been a committed European, but something stinks here and it's not just in the state of Denmark. It's hardly an argument to vote 'No', but I am getting pretty damn sick of the main Yes-men.

Of course, Pat Cox is hardly a recommendation to vote 'Yes'. I had to clean my television screen after the programme, it was so smeared with his oily presence. The best argument he seemed to come up with was that the 'No' camp were supported by 'Gerry Adams and his Neo-Marxists'; hardly a constructive comment there, Paddy.

I still wonder how Eamonn Gilmore and the Labour Party can be so fully behind the Treaty when the main worker friendly elements, such as collective bargaining, have already been rejected as being definitely adopted by Brian Cowen. How come our Government can suddenly cherry-pick what they want? I thought it was the Treaty or nothing? And why do we reject one of the few obvious bright spots?

I'm definitely a maybe and probably will be until the very last moment.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This is Living

We started travelling from Castel Gandolfo at 10.30. It was raining hard and had been for quite some time. Our host not only drove us to the train station, he gave each room a bottle of wine only asking that we didn't drink it on the train. The ticket office was closed so we expected to pay our fares on the train but in the event we met no inspectors,, ticket sellers or problems and got to Rome for free. of course, the fare for Naples was far from free. The Express was initially delayed, but we kept our eyes open and, avoiding the baggage buggies and the hordes of disembaking passengers, we eventually made it to our carriage (a train would have helped to get us there). We had booked adjoining seats (there were five of us), but they weren't so adjoining when we found them. even then an irritable Italian couple tried to oust us from them, but brandishing our ticket we stood our ground. The Italian man went off to rob some guy's magazine.
(As I write an American couple are talking about how they are moving room because of the howling of a local dog. Concidentally the dog is howling; it ain't that bad.)
Getting to Naples a friendly tourist office guy helpfully sold us higher priced tickets, but I think t was all sincere. We will probably save on Pompeii tomorrow, but we still had to buy additional train tickets.
Waiting for the Sorrento train was no fun. Warned of pickpockets we didn't have to look very hard to find them. We had a twenty minute wait and all that time we stood on the platform circling the wagons while a kid in a red t-shirt tried to talk to us about football. Then tiring of us he participated in a very staged shouting match with an old man in an open shirt. Neither boarded any train, nor did the scary gnome with long hair who prowled every which way. Eventually still circling, we got our our train.
The Sorrento train stops everywhere; thirty-three or more stops. It was hot and tiring, but I got some anonymously sent text abuse to entertain me. Anyhow finally arriving the first port of call was a bar for a couple of bottles of Italian beer. then I organised my pick-up and eventually, at nine, i checked in. My hotel is laughably far from the town centre, but what a view and what a place. I have just had a dinner, on the balcony overlooking the christmas tree lit bay, a dinner of octopus salad and veal in white wine sauce for a ludicrously cheap price. I didn't even have to pay for the American entertainment the proprietor apologised to me for. They really aren't that bad, but a sixty something chatting about his Harley is fun. (We're on to 'refinancing' issues right now and the son is 'selling a sports drink on his site right now'. 'No idea' what the sports drink is though. Red Bull's the big thing now, especially in San Diego. Sorry all my American friends. You can send me abusive texts if you want. )
By the way this bloody PDA capitalises every sentence, but I do that anyway so I end up lowercasing everything. Sorry. I'll change the settings soon.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Simon and Lorna get Hitched

According to Al Mick Byrne Irish physio was on our bus to the church. He wasn't. it might have helped; the heat was crazy. The church was cool though. Founded by a knight who nearly got squished by a rolling rock and built on the spot, it was small but beautiful. So was the wedding. Great stuff!

Bird with the Crystal Knockers

I come back to a quintessentially Italian hotel after being snared by two strange English sisters to hear a baby suddenly cry out far too audibly at 1.30 in the morning. If that ain't Argento-esque there isn't a masked schizophrenic psychopath behind my curtain, and there is.