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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reading while Drinking

Pampering myself, I spent the night in a pub reading Chabon's 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union'. Obviously given the effect of alcohol I will be speaking from one extreme of the spectrum, but the sheer craft on display is astounding. Incredible writing. Literature is one thing, but ability is another, and boy, does Chabon have ability!

Labels: ,

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Long Weekend

A long weekend, the kind that leaves me needing another one. Lots of reading, writing and arithmetic; well, reading, drinking and watching old '80s tv series. Throw in films, funerals, Lebanese meals and a strong need for sleep and yes, it's been a long weekend.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Dream Life of Snooze

I awoke only to incorrectly reset my alarm clock this morning (I was trying for snooze). I fell straight back asleep only to awake an hour later and damn late for work. Still in that time I had a vivid dream where I was travelling south by train across France. The train stopped at a station where the conductor took my ticket. There was something wrong with it, or my destination, and I had to get the train back north, but before I could board he let my ticket go in a breeze. I got it back, but only as my train started back the way it came. I'd missed it and had to wait in that town. Somehow I got involved with some toffs ending up at a party where the conductor turned up again. Sneezing into his hands he then shook hands with some not very pleased society dames. Still the wine was nice. Pity I had to get to work. There was sunshine over there.

Darren Sutherland: A Sad Loss

Very sorry to hear of the death of boxer Darren Sutherland. Only 27 years of age. He was a graduate of DCU so they made a lot of him at work (I'll be removing photos from the site tomorrow, I'd imagine). It's cliched, I know, but he was so young with a very bright future. Sad.

A lot of Gulags

A news report had a brief snippet from an American commenting on Obama's new health bill.
"We have looked at the health systems in other countries, like Canada, Europe, Britain and they have all become gulags!"
Gulags! Well, sure I have accused Josef Cowen of many things, but last time I looked around I must have missed those old work camps! Actually no, maybe that explains my job dissatisfaction. I've been working in a prison camp all along. Hell, this is Siberia! That's why we got no summer! Explains a lot.
Actually it doesn't.
What the hell does that actually mean?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coincidence No. 111119

Last week I recorded a documentary, 'The Beatles on Record', and enjoyed it immensely. So much so that when it came on again tonight I watched it all over again. Say what you want, but how one band did so much I'll never know. A happy social evolutionary accident. I mean one minute it's 'Please, Please Me', the next 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. Mind-boggling! That's not the coincidence. With a spare half hour at hand I turned to series four of a crumby horror series from the '80's, 'Tales from the Darkside'. Fun, it was, but so low-budget, it made 'Tales from the Crypt' look like a blockbuster. Anyhow first episode series four was 'Beetles'.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ode to Joy

BBC4 broadcast a performance of Beethoven's Ninth at the Proms tonight, one of my all time favourite pieces of music. Tonight they had subtitles for the choral movement. I am ashamed to say I had never read Schiller's Ode to Joy (the lyrics) before. What fantastic poetry! Woodstock for the 19th Century (though the ode was composed in the 18th)! Really beautiful, beautiful stuff. What struck me was the very modern view of God adopted. Not my strongest topic, but with its 'His suns' hurtling through space, and the egalitarian tone of the whole piece, it could be Olaf Stapledon's 'Starmaker' for all it matters. The combination of science and theology was surprising, yet still expansive. Of course the hope of the whole thing is more appropriate to Woodstock than the early 21st Century, but combined with Beethoven's glorious music, you just have to go along with it. Aye, there wasn't a dry eye in the house (well, my apartment anyhow)!
The performance, by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, was pretty fine too. I particularly liked how conductor Ilan Volkov brought some discipline to the occasionally lolling third movement (bizarre, but it reminded me just a little of Mahler at times). Not to say there's any sloppiness on Beethoven's part. The Ninth is still a summation of so much that went before Beethoven and a prefiguring of much that was to follow. And isn't it great how Beethoven does a little recap of the previous movements before bursting into that choral finale, movements that have hidden in each the germs of the final big theme!
A lot of people have criticised that last tune, and it is used everywhere now, but one of the commentators at the break, a composer no less, called it 'rubbish' while explaining how the symphony called for people to get together. Hmmmm! If it is 'rubbish', so be it, I still love it, but the truth is he's on the wrong track if he's calling for unity! You're messing with something really heartfelt to many, many listeners. And Beethoven knew what he was doing. He prefaces the choral movement with words to the effect that we've had enough unhappy sounds, let's have some joyful music now, and that's what it is; music everyone can enjoy. What's more if Beethoven didn't have faith in the power of that last melody, why use it as the base for all that has gone before. It's far from rubbish. It's something from above the canopy of stars, something from beyond....
Enough! I'll just creep tearfully away from this circle.

Labels: ,