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.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


MockingbirdThe wonderful 'Mockingbird'

Set in what could be humanity's dying days, Walter Tevis's 'Mockingbird' is a delicate retelling of the Genesis myth and a beautiful hymn to reading.
In a world where privacy is a religion and drugs a sacred tool, the art of reading has all but been lost. Dean of Faculties at NYU, and melancholy robot, Spofforth, sees no reason to change this. But then lowly Ohio professor, Bentley, investigating some ancient porno films, discovers "Roberto and Consuela and Their Dog Biff"....
Full of humanity, authentic wonder and sincere passion, Tevis rarely puts a foot wrong throughout the novel. He makes Bentley believable as a middle aged man suddenly growing up and finally learning what it means to live. If some of this sounds sentimental, there is enough grimness to leaven the mood, with group immolations and a palpable sense of loss. And who would have thought that a conversation with a bus could be so uplifting!
Not a million miles from '1984', 'Fahrenheit 451' and other dystopias, Tevis's book is probably closest to Bradbury's in its tentative optimism. Considering half of his novel output has already been turned into film ('The Man Who Fell to Earth', 'The Hustler' and 'The Colour of Money'), one hopes someone has the good sense to adapt this for the screen. It is a story we could all do with right now.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Catch-up on Books, Movies, etc.

Lots of books read and films watched which, if I muster up the enthusiasm, I will review properly soon. For the moment:

Jonathan Carroll - White Apples - dreadful.
Philip Roth - Nemesis - heart-wrenching.
Octavia Butler - Fledgling - disappointing, if interesting.
Willa Cather - Alexander's Bridge - Wannabe Henry James.

Currently reading Walter Tevis's 'Mockingbird' and assorted pieces by Twain.

Rawhead Rex - so bad, it's bad. A demon wearing a cabbage patch doll for a head.
The Forbidden Zone - bizarre, but it does show how much of an influence Danny Elfman was on Tim Burton.
Harry Potter Yadda Yadda Yadda Part 2 - Far better than Part 1, but then what's left of last week's kippers are too.
The Green Lantern - Strangely slow-moving and dull, but a nice human slant. Better than 'Thor', but then what's left of last week's....
The Tree of Life - as close to a prayer in mainstream cinema as you'll get. Bizarre for many, mesmerising for me.
Unknown - A lot of what you've seen before done pleasantly again.
Paul - Pleasant with some nice sci-fi references, etc..

There was some advertising slot for 'Cars 2' masquerading as a documentary on Pixar shown on BBC3. Is anyone immune to the first ten minutes of 'Up'? They showed a few moments and I had to immediately chop up some onions to maintain some semblance of self-respect. Hell, I'm welling up now!

I finally got to see the Family Guy Star Wars trilogy. Much better than watching the real thing all over again, though they are right with their apology for the third one; it ain't as good as the first two.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Evening with Clive Barker

Well, 25 minutes anyhow.
Advertised as a chat with horror auteur, Clive Barker, with a few early short films thrown in, it soon became apparent, after a late start, that the emphasis was to be on the short films. Unfortunate as Barker proved to be a very amicable guest, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who would gladly have spent the full 90 minutes allotted just listening to him. As it was even the interviewer seemed hell-bent on centering the chat around these two films, despite having this very rare opportunity to discuss a far more interesting oeuvre, and life, with one of horror's most respected practitioners. It was Barker himself who had to bring up his other work and other issues, such as contemporary Hollywood horror.
Needless to say he doesn't like the sanitised rubbish that is regularly issued as franchises (a very dirty word in his mouth). Instead, and despite his enormous success, he emphasised passion based work, ignoring the 'experts', and making movies with a washing up bottle and a piece of string as long as you make them (or indeed any piece of art; he himself is a director, writer, and painter). There were, as you can tell, a lot of platitudes spouted ("Follow your bliss!"), but he did seem sincere.
Apart from the entertaining conversation though, the years have not been kind to Clive Barker. At 58, he did not look a well man, hunched and apparently helped a little as he left. It's not very long ago that he hosted a BBC show on 'The A-Z of Horror' and looked remarkably youthful. Not so now.
Returning to his youth, we were then shown those infamous early works. 'Salome' and 'The Forbidden' were made with friends before Barker was twenty and for all their limitations have a lot of potent imagery. As with his later 'Hellraiser', we were treated to a man being flayed alive, though at a far more leisurely pace. Indeed, given that the films were silent, and often unintelligible, they were both a little too leisurely. And whatever I had planned for a Wednesday night, watching a young, naked Clive Barker spin his erection in every direction (a prominent dance scene from 'The Forbidden', I kid you not) was not really something I'd considered, nor particularly cared for. For curiosity value then, they were interesting if not especially satisfying productions.
If only they had let him talk!

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Other Stuff to Write About

The Art Institute.
The Field Museum.
The Swarm!
The Storm!
The Jazz.
The Blues.
"White Apples"
Stained Glass at Navy Pier (and how it doesn't impress me)
Volare and that girl behind the bar (oh, that pre-Raphaelite Beauty!)
The Tour Bus.
Hand-painted movie posters from Ghana.
And other stuff....



Forget that other sushi place; Ginza on Ohio is the place! Not amazing sushi, just very good stuff, with a great selection. When I asked for Natto Squid (fermented soy beans and squid) the waitress said,"Nah, you don't want that. Try edamame." No, what is Natto Squid and why won't I like it. "Well, it's sticky and slimy and...wait, the chef will show you." He shoed me some sticky slimy brown beans and said few people can stand the smell. Hell, I'll give it ago! As it happens the sliminess is to do with a raw egg thrown into the mess, but not only did I eat it, I liked it! "Oh, you ate it all!"
The sashimi dinner was not as big as that in Palo Alto, but there was a very good selection of fishes. Apparently I had white tuna (and it was lovely) and the mackerel was wonderful! But it wasn't enough for me, so I had a nice yellowtail and scallion maki roll. Lovely!
I was checking the window when I left for the Sunday opening times, but sadly it's closed.
All in all where I'm going when I get back to Chicago! (That and Volare)


No Killer Instinct

I'm sitting talking to this beautiful Canadian Economics student (Robin) from Winnipeg and all I can do is be paternal. Lots of paternal advice that she honestly seems to consider (she wants to get into wine), but all I want to do is be courteous and considerate. I'd feel creepy otherwise (though I'm not that old and she was in her final year). No wonder I'm single. I even offered to walk her home for the right reasons! (Safety, she expressed worry about this part of Chicago.) The village idiot.