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.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lost in the Amazon

Searching for a gift online, I came across what I wanted on Amazon. It soon became evident that Amazon does not want Irish custom. Firstly the lack of Euro prices up front (an easy service to provide, especially as they provide it when you enter 'your account') is annoying. Then there's the postage! Unlike a site like that seems to be a lot more Irish user-friendly, the postage is pretty astronomical. Of course I only found this out when I got to the final payment screen. At which point I abandoned my purchase. I'm only sorry I set up an account with them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland

Watching Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" is like immersing oneself in a compendium of almost every fantasy tale you can think of. Using the frame of "Hook" (realworld grown-up gets drawn into a fantasy world of their youth), the main narrative of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (reluctant hero must save fantasy land from tyrannical queen), the doubt of Thomas Covenant (hero must believe in the reality of the Land) and bits and pieces of George and the Dragon, Excalibur, "Spirited Away", to mention but a few, the movie somehow manages to lose sight of one of the greatest stories of them all; "Alice in Wonderland". And in its maniacal determination to appeal to a new audience by speeding ahead with its derivative narrative, it forgets to develop any characters, apparently trusting to our previous love of the original books' cast. You can't have it both ways. If you want to appeal to an audience unfamiliar with the more leisurely and cerebral delights of Carroll's original stories, you can't also depend on their familiarity to flesh out 'iconic' characters. It's a disappointing mess of a movie with Burton squandering what should have been a golden opportunity to shine in a genre he is meant to excel at.
And what's with "Underland"??????????? Going from 'Wonder' to 'Under' pretty much sums up the movie.
Curiouser and curiouser.

P.S. Some quarters may have thought Burton would bring a 'darker edge' to the tale. Well, if that's what you want see Jan Svankmejer's 'Alice' (still gives me nightmares) or the Dennis Potter scripted 'Dreamchild' (creepy in far too many ways to mention;could have sworn I already wrote on this).

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Emerging from a Political Mire

After much drunken chatter, two facts about Irish society have become abundantly clear:
1. The pubs need to be shut down.
To mangle Marx, alcohol is the alcohol of the people. Pubs act as an unhealthy safety valve for all righteous anger and effective political will. In a pub we live out in imagination all that should be put into practice. Obviously banning alcohol won't work, but pubs should be curtailed encouraging as they do a detrimental culture that stunts this nation.
2. Being taken over by Europe is no bad thing.
For all that Ireland has shown brilliance in so many areas of human endeavour, politics is not one of them. All creative political thinking seems to have expended itself with the foundation of the state. The past ninety or so years have been a parade of mediocrity with some downright unpleasant embarassments like De Valera and Haughey. We have allowed a closed network of small, dynastic thinking to develop that stifles all brilliance in the political sphere. I do not say that the Irish mind is incapable of political excellence; I just say we have created a culture that prohibits it. Like Italy we learnt the superficial lessons of Machiavelli without seeing the patriotism and pragmatism that underlay his thinking. Despite all the ideas of self-interest that have grown up around Machiavelli's myth, the man was a Republican (I mean in the real sense not the corrupt Irish meaning of the term). His methods were meant to be in the service of a true ideal. Ireland took the lessons and put them to use for self-interested ends (and often without much skill). Maybe we will learn from the Germans, and I hope it is the Germans, for, much as I admire French culture, they are too self-interested nationally to give a shit about Ireland's future. Europe is France in France's eyes. At least with Germany, Europe is just their's. All their bailouts are the cost of ownership.
I sincerely hope we learn from our new masters no matter what their configuration.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Get Happy!

Isn't "Get Happy" the mosty wonderfully blasphemous song ever? Especially as Ella Ftitzgerald sings it. Beautiful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Innovation Ireland?

Tonight I attended a seminar on Innovation organised by Inventorium. Chaired by Kevin Myers, 19 people with "experience" gave five minute presentations on what should be done. All this in the context of a new report (yes, another one) on Innovation Ireland and our "Smart Economy" (LOL). Besides the distraction of live tweets being projected behind the speakers (is that really innovative?), the main thing I left with was an observation by Silicon Republic's John Kennedy. Apparently in the whole report there was only one page (one speaker claimed one sentence!) that mentioned broadband. That's a particular drum I have been beating since the mid-Nineties, but it puts the lie to any validity that report might have had. Obviously those writing the report were simply fulfilling a commission; no serious thought seems to have gone into it. Depressing stuff.
A view I espouse, and one also expounded by John Handelaar, is that we can expect very little innovation from our Government and should concentrate on fixing things from the ground up. The best thing the Government can do is fund many initiatives with small amounts of money rather than a few with a lot. And we are going to have to generate a more positive attitude than the current climate of doom and gloom if we are really going to get out of this mess.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Judge Roy Bean and Me

I really don't mean to be getting all draconian in my old age, but I just saw that a drunk driver, Anthony Long, who killed two young fathers, "had consumed 13 beers at home before heading to a fancy dress party in a pub in Midleton, where he drank a further seven pints, two vodkas, three 'aftershock' cocktails and did a line of cocaine." He then tried to drive home (on the wrong side of the road) crashing into and killing the two men and injuring their partners. He got 5 years. 5 YEARS! That idiot should have gotten life! Anyone who gets into a car to drive in that state is pulling on the trigger of an automatic weapon. Life. He should have gotten life. (RTE News)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Go Bronzino!

There's a Bronzino exhibition in Florence (Palazzo Stozzi)! I want to go. I want to. I want to!


Wednesday, November 03, 2010


For what it's worth, I just finished Stevenson's "Kidnapped". Telling of poor young David Balfour who firstly gets kidnapped and then is chased across Scotland for a murder he didn't commit, it's a quintessential adventure narrative and obviously a big influence on so much popular entertainment that was to follow (particularly movies). For instance in its use of a wild landscape to backdrop fugitives on the run, you can really see where a far inferior work such as "The Thirty Nine Steps" comes from. More obviously, it is one of the first great 'buddy' stories; you know, the "Midnight Run" kind of thing where chalk and cheese types forge a bond as they're chased across country. This is one of the first, and best, examples of that particular staple.
As Stevenson fiction goes, I personally prefer "Treasure Island" (a real childhood favourite) as a young person's adventure story, and "Jeckyll and Hyde" is my all-time favourite Stevenson novel, but "Kidnapped" is a good 'un. Now if only they'd told me there was a sequel!