Sunday, February 14, 2010

VD Musings

Romance walks in metal boots. You can hear the change jangle in its pockets, too, as it steps over the houses. It takes out adverts in magazines, peers against the foggy windows, and hums on the bus but you can't tell where its sitting. Hums and hums. You'd hum too, but it'd make you blush. That's romance for you. Its one of those tunes.

One day you see it in the restaurant, cuddling, moist and flacid. Two people sit across from one another, the man playing on his wife's Nintendo DS, complete with pink and sparkles. She just watches him, watches the back of her Nintendo DS. Its her DS, but she isn't playing. She's just watching him punch buttons. His face is scrunched like he's taking a shit. Is that sensual? Taking a shit? Playing a DS? She watches him, waiting, bored, listening for the jangle of change. The fire burns, in its own way.

It flickers, and gets summoned, and it rejects you when you call the loudest, but it never really dies. It gets displaced, maybe, or forgotten. Some couples bicker, others chatter politely, both parties sure of their loins' inattention. Until that glass of plum wine arrives, or that caberet fondue, and drinks are shared and saliva too, and so on. Until the cab ride.

And still it watches, after you've paid, slathering on its winnings, watching you close the door, until the energy saver bulbs wink on, and then off again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Airport Shaving - Philishave Regret

I was walking down to gate 43, halfway along the narrow, crowded, airbus pier in foggy Stansted airport, scowling and checking my watch like there was a snake up my sleeve. Some days I'd sit and watch how girls position their handbags when they sit, or how men stare when their girls leave them to browse. But today wasn't a day for watching. I wanted a shave and I wanted it now.

Bzzzz. Having a shave in an airport, like any public faux pas, makes you feel both rude and important. Having finished my beard I decided to continue, that is, to shave the rest of my head as well. Not only would I be more shiny upstairs, but I'd also be sticking it to Time, Destiny and any other incarnations of the Short Haul Pantheon.

It was only when the motor for my Philips Coolshave sizzled into defeat that I realised I'd made a bad call. Batteries.

Now it was time to make it look like I'd done it on purpose. I made some washing gestures, took a hat from my bag, and exited the bathrooms.

Bing. Bong. This is final boarding call for all stoopid, impatient retards on flight FR155 to Dublin. Please make sure you learn all lessons before embarking and have your pride ready for inspection at the gate.

DIARIT: 3/10

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Carmen, National Concert Hall

The people’s Opera, Carmen is a sassy tale of envy and passion.  Lane productions produced a 3 night show in the National Concert Hall (NCH) last week.  I forked out €36 for a balcony seat and put on my Tuesday best.

From the red balcony, on the left hand side, there was a yawning view of the stage, much less dressed than the Amphitheatre (Ellen Kent) rig I was used to.  What it lacked in theatrical attention it made up with the promise of ‘class’.  Or so I thought.  Markings on an enormous, knee-height dais intimated the changing of props, and it took up two thirds of the stage.  Black drapes, peppered with faerie lights hung like stars on the wings, while directly to the rear there was a false wooden arch and inky horizons sketched on canvas.

I sat next to a family of Dubs.  The guy beside me was a late adolescent in a  Liverpool jersey wearing wrist supports like the ones they use in my boxing gym.  He snuffled heavy phlegm and barked in deepest Dublinese.

‘Is that a bleedin’ clarinet?’


Something that’s lost in the stalls (the main seating area) is the humanity of the orchestral tuning before the show.  From the balcony, the usual cacophony translates into purpose, like tuning a radio, reminding me of the people behind the music.  Normally I’d strain to pick out individual instruments, but when looking down form the lofty balcony, I spied each performer, their gentle movements, their concentration, and I could match each to the sounds of their instruments much more easily.  It reminded me that I am not going to be listening to my iPod, or watching the cinema.  This would be a performance.

According to wiki answers, Carmen is the fourth most performed Opera in North America.  It’s one of those Operas that appeals to everyone.  Why?  Because everyone with a TV or a radio knows Carmen.  I’d guess that half the themes have been used in advertising for some product or another.  Furthermore, Carmen is brazen.  From the opening scene, where soldiers perve over Micaela like bored construction workers, to the bar-room flamenco, to the quasi-rape at Carmen’s murder, this is the blockbuster of the classical scene.

It’s a big production, with big personality, so I was surprised at Lane’s success.  Earlier in the year they’d put on a timid La Boheme, and I’d figured the same calibre would represent.  Thankfully, there were a few improvements.

Imelda Drumm (Carmen) was sexy, throaty and vigorous.  From the onset you knew she’d need an alpha co-star.  Oops.  Unfortunately, Michael Wade Lee (Don José), who gave a technical recital, didn’t have the oomph to match.  Perhaps, however, he was playing to character, as Don José is a bit of a wind-bag chump (in which case, bravo!).  As usual, it seems, my favourites were in support.  Micaela (Claudia Boyle) was delicious, powerful and sweet - my favourite.  Toby Stafford Allen played a jaunty, winsome rogue (Escamillo, the bull-fighter who steals Carmen’s heart).  Odd casting, as we expect a monster when we hear Escamillo’s fanfare, and yet, despite his smaller size, Stafford Allen had machismo to match Drumm’s Carmen, and there was chemistry to taste.

After that, we were spoilt by the gypsy girls Mercédes and Frasquita, (Deirdre Masterson and Claire Kavanagh), and the soldiering perverts Zuniga and Morales (John Molloy and Eugene Armstrong).  The support was wonderful.  Everyone stayed in character, it wasn’t forced, and there was very rarely anyone looking for orchestral cues.  The stage spun with energy, from the whisking ballet to the bare legged table dances, from the snoozing gypsy guards to the trumpeting ceremonials, from the randy soldiers to the randier virginal cat-fight.  Awesome show.  This time, Vivian Coates did a pretty good job.  My faith in Lane is restored (though a few surtitles would have been handy).

‘All the singin’ was good an’ all,’ my neighbour acknowledged sagely, ‘’cept I don’ know wha’ de Fuck is goin’ on.’

DIARIT: 9/10

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Three Men in a Boat - Filming on the Grand Canal, Dublin

Walk it off.  That's what they say if you're upset, or if you've eaten too much.  Walk it off.  It's the solution for something fleeting.  A cure-all for the ephemeral grumps.  I'm a firm believer in the walk.  If you've got a problem, and it can be walked off, then it's not as important as you thought it was.

While testing this theory earlier on today, I was satisfied by the soft transition of my autumn glooms.  I left the house with a rain-cloud on my shoulder, and padded the canal run with a listless gait.  Despite the sun, despite the peace, I was melancholy.  I had gotten myself into the loneliness spiral.  This was all dashed apart, of course, when I spotted a barge stuck under a bridge.

Three Men in A Boat, I guess, has come to Ireland at last.  The show, originally aired in 2006, featured Dara O'Briain (pronounced breeee-un for those who aren't quite sure), Griff Rhys Jones, Rory McGrath and a dog called Loli.  They sailed from Kingston to Oxford in a skiff, matching Jerome's Victorian novel of the same name.  They broadcast a couple of sequels, and now it looks like there's a new one in the making.

How would I know?  I was stomping down the path and I passed a man in a brown suit, muttering to himself like a Thespian, one hand on his chin, the other pocketed, rocking back and forth on his heels.  Griff Rhys Jones.  On the return leg, I noticed the barge had become unstuck, there were cameras, many Londoners on walkie talkies and Dara O'Briain was standing on deck with a slim black hound leashed with a blue collar.  At that moment, the sunlight was showing off, dappling the canal through faerie brush, so it must have made for a grand shoot.  Not wanting to bother anyone, I continued on my way.

By the time I got back I'd felt much better.  Ahhhh, I breathed, and sat down with a cup of coffee.  Off it had been walked.

DIARIT: 7/10

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to Cheat the Lisbon Vote

How to cheat the Lisbon Vote? Tell the council that you've changed address. I rang them, emailed them and sent in a form stamped by the Gardaí. I thought I'd done more than what was required to keep things legal. Yet, just like last time, they ignored me. As a result, I can vote twice on Friday.

Perhaps they really think my opinion matters. Perhaps I'm the kind of guy they'd like to see over-represented. Trouble is, even if that were the case, they'd have picked the wrong chump. I'm Lisbon'd out, and I still don't know how to vote. The more I research, the less informed I feel. Opinions polarise like forks in the road. On the one hand I don't want to support the 'Get-Of-Our-Country-You-Smelly-Gypsies' Sinn Fein propaganda. I may not know what I'm talking about most of the time, but I can smell a pile of bullshit if you stick it in my face.  On the other hand, whenever I ask a Yes-Man for feedback, all I get is 'jobs.... free love... and... jobs..."  If it's so fucking important, why can't you explain in it less than a hundred pages?

4.5 million people in Ireland are deciding the fate of hundreds of millions of Europeans.  Is it right to vote yes for something you don't understand?  Tick.  Tock.

DIARIT: 2/10

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One More Tune - Heartbeat of the Dublin Songwriter Scene

I've got media indigestion. Every time I trip heavily into the broadcasting web, I feel I'm about to choke. There's too much for me, it's too broad, with too many curiosities. Either I click the power button and turn my head to vomit, or I spend hours trawling through nets and hooks of data to glean a useful message. Either way, I end up feeling stoppered, uncomfortable, and unsure if I've have had enough.

What I really need is some purity. Some organic media, if you will, with original content without an agenda. And I want it in bitesize, useful chunks. I want it to coax me, enlighten, charm and explore. I want a lot.

Luckily, there's One More Tune, a young website that hunts out coolness in Dublin so I don't have to. If you've never been, take a peek. The interviews are short, soft, heartfelt and warm. One by one you can find background intel on most of the songwriters in Ireland, and the list is ever expanding. From Gemma Hayes, to Mark Geary, Glen Hansard to The Spook of the 13th Lock, Roots Manuva to Dirty Epics, the interviews are engaging and honest.

When you watch, it's like you're peeking into a conversation between friends. There's none of the media punch. It's the living room poll, a comfy, tuck yourself in kind of operation, with the fire on and a cup of cocoa. Where MTV slaps you with a bareknuckled fist, One More Tune hugs you warmly and whispers something important in your ear. Yum.

So if you've had an overdose of media vindaloo and fancy a musical digestive, take 3 mins to watch something happy, honest and enlightening. It's the alka selzter of entertainment news.

DIARIT: 8/10

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How do you wear a groin guard?

Just finished lesson 2 in Krav Maga. I was worried my injury was going to slow me down. Oh, you didn't hear about my dice with death? Well, it's pretty short. It happened on Tuesday. My sparring partner advised me to do some shadow boxing. Not knowing how it was done, except from nostalgic clips of Steven Segal and J.C.V.D. punching the air with ruffled eyebrows, I was bound to get into trouble. Sure enough, 20 mins into practice I pulled a muscle. Luckily the only witness was staring at me in the mirror. It goes to show I'm already a lethal weapon.

Asked by the instructor what I'd do if I got in a fight if I couldn't handle shadow boxing, I replied 'quick uppercut to my own face. Down in one.' The crowd goes wild.

So, how do you put on a groin guard? Do you go into the changing rooms and come out with superman pants on? Or do you tuck it underneath and strut around like Hugh Heffner? I worked it out in the end. But, guys, this should give you an idea of my athleticism. It reminds me of the old adage, 'if you have to ask?'

Rough guide to this week's class:

4-hit combo, lunge punch, defensive punch, front kick and a little defence. In the end I was elected to be attacked by five assailants. I got a punch to the face and my hand is bleeding. Not as serious as it sounds. It was all accidental.

DIARIT: 8/10

If you can't be arsed reading, listen to the robot...