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, April 30, 2010

As If I had Free Will

When confronted in a bookshop by one of those lovely Everyman hardback editions of 'The Short Stories of Ray Bradbury', what would you do? I mean what could I do!
Now I did have a second thought or two - I read one of his later collections ('Quicker than the Eye', I think) and was hearthily disappointed - and it wasn't a complete edition of all his stories (though there are some on the market). However, it did contain a hundred stories. And I do have if not exactly fond then wonderfully unpleasant memories of 'The Jar', which has haunted me since childhood. So I ask again: what would you do? It's damn obvious what I did.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For No Reason...

... other than that I came across it in some holiday snaps from a few years back and thought it was spookily good. Well, spooky anyhow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's a Hard Life for the Hard Drive

After stops, starts and glimmers of hope, the old laptop finally died. I tried, I tried, but a Frankenstein's monster already, there was little that could be done to save the old girl. May she rest in peace.
And so now a new age begins with a new model and an annoying operating system. But for how long, how long?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sounds Like...

One of the good things about Scorsese's "Shutter Island", is that its wonderful soundtrack brings a lot of exceptional composers and exceptional music to the wider public. Take the Mahler Quartet used in the film. Di Caprio's character identifies it immediately as if it were one of the standard classics. It's not. All the Mahler I knew was his symphonies and songs (and a couple of piano pieces). When I heard the piece used in the film I thought there was a big black hole in my musical education. I have a limited knowledge of classical, but I did think I knew my Mahler. Then I went looking for it. Not many recordings out there. The Penguin Guide doesn't even mention it. Not much on it at all really. Yet it is a wonderful piece, and the snippet used in the movie is pretty much all there is to it. It is less a piano quartet than a single 11 minute movement. For bringing that alone to my attention I am grateful.
Then there's the Max Richter piece, "On the Nature of Daylight". This probably signals the heart of the movie. Its poignant gentleness highlights the heavy-handedness of the rest of the movie, great music aside. Sad to say, I was not familiar with Richter's work though I remembered the piece from "Stranger than Fiction" (the best thing about an otherwise weak movie). Tracked him down a little now. A sadder, more sentimental version of Gavin Bryars with a good dollop of Nyman thrown in, he's well worth checking out.
Robbie Robertson, of The Band fame, is credited with bringing all this music together (quite literally in the case of the final track, mixing Richter's music with a Dinah Washington song). Hats off to you, Robbie.
As an aside, one of the composers featured, Morton Feldman, is the thread behind an exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art at the moment. The catalogue proclaims proudly that this is the first exhibition ever devoted to Feldman. Well, he was a composer, you know. He may well have hung round with a lot of artists, and dedicated music to them, but personally I think it's stretching things to devote an art exhibition to a composer. What we get are works by his friends, oriental rugs that inspired him and the copies of the scores to his music. Still it's nice to see the few Rothko's, the Guston's (one reminded me of an impressionist painting without the subject), De Kooning, etc.. And if you look at that Pollack really closely you'll see a mosquito caught in the paint, still perfect after over 60 years.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Jack O'Connor, Fianna Fail Representative for Ireland Ruined

What on earth does Jack O'Connor of SIPTU think he's negotiated? This public sector pay and reform deal is nothing but carte blanche for the Government and one has to wonder, as so many already seem to wonder, whether Jack O'Connor is simply a corrupt stooge in the Government pocket. There are NO pluses for public sector employees and many and major negatives. The union gives up its right to strike! Contracts are renegotiated! Redeployment (aka redundancy) is at the whim of management! The so-called pluses, eg. freeze on further cuts, repayment to lower payed workers of money already taken, are nebulous at best (no amounts nor dates outlined for the latter) and a joke at worse (it's all subject to any 'unexpected' deterioration in the budget - ha,ha,ha,ha,ha - while repayment is conditional on gains saved locally). Why should anyone support that deal? And simply saying there is nothing better is not enough. Anything is better! A lot better. Just because we need to make sacrifices does not mean we should sacrifice our integrity or our sense.
Fair dues to UNITE! Oh, and by the way, what do we unfortunates who are members of SIPTU pay our dues for?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I Wanted to Lick Your Knees

Song of the Day: Take the Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven. Okay, so it's another song when I said no more. Be grateful! I was going to rant against the Government's public sector deal, or talk about some dallying with Fichte's notion of the Self's understanding of its own limitation, or rant about work (oh, don't go there!), or even discuss an old blues album from my teenage years, but instead I thought I'd post these old fogies singing a song of their's from the 80s. Pass it on to all your Fascist mates.
Still that Cowen is some idiot if he thinks there is ANYTHING to agree to in that deal, and shame on SIPTU for even putting it forward, and stop making us scapegoats, and....
Got big lanes! Got big lanes!


Saturday, April 03, 2010


NovecentoDon't forget your red flag! - Novecento

With cinematography by the legendary Vittorio Storaro, Bernardo Bertolucci's '1900' (aka Novecento, 1976) features some of the most beautiful images ever committed to celluloid. Bertolucci being Bertolucci, the direction is often pretty wonderful too. To continue the credits, the cast includes De Niro, Depardieu, Sutherland, Lancaster, Sterling Hayden(!!!!), and even Italy's first lady of film, Alida Valli. Music is by Ennio Morricone (well, it had to be really, hadn't it?). So why is five hours of socialist propaganda so uninvolving? The clue might be in the question.
I make no secret of my political leanings, but there is only so much Internationale one can take, and in such an uncritical manner. Even Beatty's 'Reds' showed more critical engagement than this. Telling in rural microcosm, the history of Italy in the first half of the Twentieth Century, things seem to go downhill when the Fascists make their appearance, and I don't just mean for Italy. I understand that the some Fascists were sociopathic, or certainly can be handily treated that way, but Donald Sutherland's character, Attilla, the local Blackshirt leader, and his partner, Regina (Laura Betti), seem straight out of a particularly nasty Brothers Grimm tale. It doesn't help that Sutherland is all sneers and googly eyes, but smashing a kid's head against a wall (after raping him) while being cheered on by Regina is just a step too far for me. Meanwhile the opposition to the Blackshirts is so omnipresent, and just so plain nice, as to make you wonder who the hell supported Mussolini in the first place. The Fascists were voted in, you know, whatever about their regime becoming a dictatorship. Instead the film makes the easy case that the Patrones, or landowners, were the real cause, or prop for the Fascists, and it was their patronage that almost exclusively made Mussolini possible. I don't buy that. And I didn't buy the film overall.
As an Italian, Bertolucci no doubt felt the need to exonerate his countrymen, but I have no such simple faith in human kind, or need to excuse. All races and nationalities, all people are capable of horrendous things (including the Irish as we well know). And no people are simply right or left, good or bad, regardless of how the early Twentieth Century polarised them. A film of over five hours should allow for some of this complexity. '1900' didn't.
Ironically the ultimate message that the Patrone didn't and won't die is the truest point the film makes, though one the movie makes no real attempt to explain. It's just given as a sad fact. It left me sad, but hardly energised. A pity.