Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wake Up Dead Man

Supposed to go to The Simpsons tonight but it's way too nice to be sat in a cinema, which makes a nice change! The reviews seem to be universal in that it's just like an extended TV episode, some past plotlines have been rehashed, there are some very funny bits but, overall, it continues the show's decline.

There are two clear things wrong with the show today - the storylines are loose, lazy and guest star obsessed and Homer has been turned into a complete oaf as opposed to an oaf with a heart of gold that ultimately shines through.

I own the first 9-series on DVD, up to 1998, but have stopped buying it at that. I can finger the exact episode that the show lost it for me - Monty Can't Buy Me Love in Season 10, where Mr Burns wants to be loved (wtf?) and decides he'll be loved by capturing the Loch Ness Monster (wtf?!?!) and bringing it to Springfield. The monster ends up as a bouncer in a casino. Lazy, lazy nonsense.

Anyaway I'll go see it, maybe.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Somebody Got Murdered

I can't link to the piece but Matt Cooper, in his column in the Sunday Times, wrote yesterday about crime figures - the fear and the facts. He talked about how many of the listeners to his radio show claimed to keep weapons for fear of being 'murdered in their beds'. He then went on to point out the very real fact that if you don't mix in dodgy circles, and if you can trust your relatives not to kill you, the chances of being a random murder victim in Ireland are minute. In fact it's somewhere around the 1-in a million chance. Still more likely than winning the Lotto with a €12 quickpick, though! And of course you are still a hundred times more likely to be killed in a road accident. So all well and good.

But the question I have for Matt is why he reads the witless scaremongering comments of his listeners live on air without making any attempt to correct or address what are utter falsehoods? I imagine it's to avoid alienating his listeners. After all nobody likes their wild perceptions of crime/health/politicians/teenagers/corporations/whatever corrected by some know-all (i.e. someone sober armed with facts) - it can put a right downer on a good rant about how everything is going to hell in a handcart. But by not doing so surely he, with his widely listened to radio show, is as responsible as anyone for perpetuating the fear of crime among the populace?

Friday, July 27, 2007

I'm So Bored With The USA

In the news today: 'The United States has accused Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, of blatantly trying to shut out criticism ahead of elections next year.'

In other news: bears still aren't Protestant and the Pope continues to shit in the woods.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Silver And Gold

The Irish Lottery wasn't won again last night, meaning the jackpot will be yet another record of probably in excess of €16 million on Saturday. It's not really a surprise that no one is winning it though. As I pointed out when they upped the number selection to six from 1 - 45, the odds of winning are now in excess of one in 8 million in a country with an adult population of what? 2 million? It's such a tax on stupid people it's not funny. I'll admit I entered for the first time in years last night, though! The other theory that can't be discounted, however, is that the organisers are deliberately ensuring no one wins in order to whip up interest and free publicity.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Indian Summer Sky

Lessons in advertising:
  1. In order to highlight the merits of your product / service, be sure to take the piss out of a small Irish town or village with your 'humorous' ad for said product / service.
  2. Spend just enough money to ensure the ad is seen by a sufficient number of people to create the desired furore.
  3. Sit back and relax as newspapers and radio stations supply all the oxygen of publicity you'll ever need as people queue up to denounce your gratuitous insult.
  4. Count the profits as precisely no one withdraws their business on account of said insult and hundreds, if not thousands, of people (who never saw the original ad, but heard or read about the subsequent row) decide to splash the cash on your product / service.

Case Study (as if it's required...)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stories For Boys

I don't really like watching golf for any length of time. I usually watch for a little while but find that I started flicking around after a few minutes. The odd time you'll see a few minutes of quality play that gets you all excited, and where you might even learn something, but those moments are fairly rare.

I do like playing golf, however, but I wouldn't play as much as a lot of other blokes I know. I'm not as bad as a couple of my friends who only seem to get a round in when they go abroad, but I still don't play as often as I'd like. In fact I find that I'll play a few rounds on a few courses in the space of a few weeks and really enjoy it, then not play again for months.

You see a lot of my friends are already members of courses but I've never wanted to join one particular course - if I did I could play as much as them. But I've had opportunities to join clubs a few times and after a couple of rounds on them I've usually gotten bored and decided to move on. For some reason I'd rather not play at all than play on a course I find boring.

The thing is I've gotten a fair few rounds in recently on four different courses, which isn't like me at all. Normally I'll exhaust one before moving to the next one. One course was good fun but it's in Derry, so there's no point in joining it; I had one round on a course in Cork I'm just not interested in and two of the courses are in Dublin. I thought I liked one of them but got pissed off with it after a couple of rounds, whereas I'm hoping to play the other a few times over the next few weeks to see what the story is.

The problem is there's one course I've been gagging to join for nearly two years but membership is full and they don't seem interested in green fees. Because of that, however, I'm feeling it hard to move on and join another for fear that I just won't want to be there and that I'll still want to be with the one girl I want more than anything. I should just get over it but, well, sometimes you can't.

Dilemmas.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Sort Of Homecoming

The mini-odyssey is finally over for the Land of Legends. We ultimately ran out of steam against a Cork team that, frankly, either didn't like or didn't expect it up 'em on Saturday. Still, it has been the most entertaining summer of Championship football for me for a long number of years.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stories For Boys

It's Melissa Theuriau's birthday today so breithlá shona dí!... Who's Melissa Theuriau? Whaddya mean who's Melissa Theuriau...



THIS is Melissa Theuriau...





*sigh*

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Overpowered By Funk

After a bit of a lull I've been on the cd-buying trail again:

Editors - I saw them in a small venue in Cork in September 2005. There was maybe 100-people there. I fell in love with their polished up Joy Division / Echo and the Bunnymen sound from the off, and I've seen them live three times since. Yet there was one song on The Back Room that had me worried about the future - the dreadful Camera. Well my fears are starting to be realised. There was one Camera on their debut, but there's at least four on their new album, An End Has A Start, with the 6-minute Push Your Head Towards The Air being particularly appalling. Some of the songs are dangerously close to Coldplay-esque rubbish but at least there are two or three tracks where the tight guitars and rhythm section aren't drowned out by stadium rock pretensions - Escape The Nest being one of the best songs they've done.

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank: A great album if a tad too long, Dashboard and Florida are class tracks.

Interpol - Our Love To Admire: The best gig I was at in 2005 was Interpol at the Olympia in Dublin. This is their third album and, like Editors, sees them move from tight post-punk to something more grandiose. I think they've managed it better, though.

The Hours - Narcissus Road; I've only just got this but I already love it. Up-tempo piano and guitar power pop. There's a touch of Joe Jackson going on.

The National - Boxer is just fantastic. Turn the lights down, turn off the tv, sprawl out with a beer and drink the beer and music in! There's even a bit of Unforgettable Fire era U2 in it.

The Twang - Love It When I Feel Like This: Very different to the others. Like Happy Mondays circa 1989. Almost rapped out in a brummie accent but some great lines and great hooks.

Monday, July 16, 2007

If Music Could Talk

So there have been loads of complaints about the organisation of the Barbara Streisand gig in Kildare over the weekend - traffic, mud, seats being nicked and so on. And yet all I can think is: "Are there really 17,000 people in this country willing to shell out at least a couple of hundred euro to see Barbara Streisand?"

When the revolution comes and the guillotine is getting wheeled out I'm starting with those 17,000.

Drug-Stabbing Time

When it comes to Science reporting, the media has an awful lot to answer for. The media, no matter how highbrow individual parts think they may be, consistently mis-represent and mis-report matters of scientific enquiry. It often doesn't matter if hundreds of quality peer-reviewed papers lead to a particular conclusion on a topic. Instead all you need is one dodgy study, one maverick denier (often referred to as a 'skeptic', which is insulting to all real scientists who are the genuine skeptics) or one scare story to generate sensational headlines, good copy and a subsequent debate fuelled by ignorance and misunderstanding.

And so it was in yesterday's Sunday Times Magazine where the cover story, Viagra Nation, was a horrendous mishmash of anecdotal stories: 'the only difference between him [Olly - a random] and previous generations of young blades is that the clubbing and girl-chasing favoured by his coterie is spiced up by plentiful supplies of Viagra. Olly says he and most of his friends are “hooked” on it'; ad hominem attacks on the big, nasty pharmaceutical industry (and medical professionals in the same sweep): 'Armies [?!?!] of doctors, sociologists, sex therapists and counsellors warn that the drug encourages couples to buy into a “McSex” model of a “correct” way to have sex.'; and nonsensical scare stories: 'there is growing concern that for some users it may be psychologically addictive. In America, Jerry Springer [?!?!] was one of the first to go public with a claim of dependency on Viagra...'; 'Rates of sexually transmitted disease in pensioners are increasing in affluent retirement communities where invigorated elderly men finding themselves shunned by their elderly wives are picking up prostitutes.' [?!?!?!?!?!]

In fact that's only a tiny sample. Apart from the total absence of anything resembling data, the anecdotes and the quotes twisted to give them a sinister slant, the piece is also incredibly sexist the whole way through: 'For many women, it [Viagra] has merely highlighted the incompetence of their lovers'; 'The Viagra revolution has proved that although super-charged erections do a great deal for the self-esteem of men, for women they often create a trail of disaster.'; 'Female partners of Viagra users in her research voiced standard complaints: doctors prescribing Viagra to men rarely asked about the relationship.'; 'Women are being told they must have a male attitude to sex. It is becoming procedural and technical, and if you are not having lots of penetrative sex and reaching a climax, you are dysfunctional...'

And on it goes. A classic shambles of science reporting - anecdotes, scare stories, a faceless bad-guy drugs industry, non-descript 'experts' whose opinions serve to re-inforce the author's slant, the invocation of a 'celebrity' name no matter how tenuous the connection. It's all there. And it's all quite depressing.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rebel Waltz

Oh me of little faith! Two weeks after writing my county-men off they have regrouped, won twice and now face my adopted ho... no, I'm not having that... the place I live in the third round of the Championship Qualifiers. An interesting couple of weeks down here for me, methinks.

Would you believe this summer is the 50th anniversary of Louth's last All-Ireland? The team we beat back then? Cork.

Hmmm...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Twilight

I don't go to the flicks much for some reason I can't fully explain. Maybe I'm just not in the habit of going or I don't like the whole sitting still and saying nothing for the guts of three hours thing, but I figure I've seen no more than a dozen films in the cinema since I saw Pulp Fiction in 1994. Usually I decide I want to see something, then don't go, then rent the dvd whenever.

Anyway never mind that. One film I have to see is TransFormers. They were my favourite toy as a kid and I still have a couple of them in working order. I gave my Optimus Prime away, though, like the gobshite I am.

The film is out in a couple of weeks but it was nice of IMDB to make me feel like I've been grouped with the geeks in the meantime. In their 'Goofs' section for the film they've highlighted the fact that 'The movie states that it is the present day. However, the aircraft carriers of the naval battle group are still shown to have F-14 Tomcats parked on their decks. The F-14 was retired in March of 2006'.

Now THAT, surely, is the biggest comic-book guy moment in sci-fi cinema fandom history!

Egg Chasing Time

Tag Rugby is for dorks.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Beautiful Day

I love Argentine football and, by extension, I have decided I love Argentina. I'm gonna go there real soon. And I'm gonna watch football when I get there. And in the meantime goals like this last night in the Copa America Semi Final leave me anticipating more:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Deny

Back in March Channel 4 in the UK ran a programme called the Great Global Warming Swindle. It was awful nonsense. However one of the claims they consistently made, that solar activity and not human activity was responsible for the acceleration in global warming, was seized on by the flat-earthers for use in subsequent debates (including a ludicrous op-ed piece in the Irish Independent by Kevin Myers).

Well now that theory has been debunked (again):

'A new analysis of data on the sun's output in the last 25 years of the 20th century has firmly put the notion [increased solar activity causing accelerating global warming] to rest. The data shows that even though the sun's activity has been decreasing since 1985, global temperatures have continued to rise at an accelerating rate.'

The most revealing part of the piece, however, is this:

'Even though there is almost no argument among scientific circles about the role of human activities as the main driver of climate change, a recent poll suggested that the public still believes there is significant scientific uncertainty. Despite the efforts of government and campaigns such as Live Earth to educate the public, the Ipsos Mori poll of over 2,031 people, released this month, found 56% of people thought there was an active scientific debate into the causes of global warming.'

And why is that? Journalists and media that are too lazy and/or stupid to report science and scientific study properly, perhaps?

Four weddings down, three to go; three stag weekends down, two to go; two thirtieth birthday parties down, two to go...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Silver And Gold

A report on the news this morning said that house prices are not, in fact, dropping on the basis that asking prices are up 1.4% since March but that there are currently more houses on the market that at any time in recent history, possibly ever. I was incredulous listening to it. They can ask for as much as they want - doesn't mean they're going to get it!

If you go into a clothes shop and see the racks stuffed with gear for outrageous prices all you have to do is wait for the inevitable cash flow problems and go back a couple of months later for the Sale. Despite the laughable notion that asking prices have 'rallied' (so what?), the RTE website report is slightly more realistic.

I'm off up to Donegal today to a wedding. 250-odd miles. In the rain. It'll be worth it, though! I am now halfway through my March to September stag / wedding odyssey (7 weddings and 5 stag weekends). No wonder I'm broke!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Drug-Stabbing Time

'Yesterday, more than 1.5 tonnes of cocaine were removed from the waters off west Cork in what was the largest seizure of cocaine in the history of the State...' reports RTE. I got down there before they got all of it:


Egg Chasing Time

A new Riverdance for Wife-Beaters was unveiled at the weekend, apparently. I shouldn't take the piss I suppose - it's great to see players like Collins, McAlister, Woodcock et al celebrating their Maori heritage:

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Sort Of Homecoming

Dunno if I ever said this on here before but there's something about a GAA jersey that just screams 'redneck'. Now I'm all for wearing the county colours up to the match (i.e. twice a year in my case) but, unlike football and *swallow* rugger shirts, GAA shirts are pretty much all dreadful looking and impossible to wear casually. They're way too elaborate - with bits of colours and stripes and those ridiculous patterns all over them; the sleeves are mostly daft looking - especially the ones with renditions of the crest on them (as if one on the breast wasn't enough); and the majority of them carry the logo of agricultural producers ('Wexford Cheddar' gave me a chuckle yesterday), and usually across the belly instead of the chest due to the aforementioned terrible design.

Anyway you can be absolutely guaranteed to bump into hundreds of people at a festival in their county shirt or, if they're feeling particularly parochial, their local club jersey. You can even play a game with your friends called Redneck Bingo where you can attempt to spot all the counties on a drawn-up list. It's tremendous fun!!

Last Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass was celebrated from Sydney and broadcast live in Ireland. Now I don't know if it was deliberate, but there was barely a person in the congregation not in a GAA jersey. From the aerial shots it looked like a truck full of wine-gums had exploded.

Certain counties are worse than others. Cork people, naturally, are very quick to throw on the shirt regardless of time of year, day of the week or location in the world. The sight of a Tipperary jersey is very common... a bit like Tipp people in general, and Mayo shirts are also ten-a-penny. When I was in London on St Patrick's Day I passed four or five Irish girls in a Tube station and they were all in Mayo shirts, which brings me to my next point - it doesn't matter how attractive a girl is, a GAA jersey will make her look fat and ugly.

My own personal bugbear is, however, Armagh. Armagh people don't buy clothes, they buy Armagh jerseys and they wear them everywhere. You could go into Dundalk on a pissy-wet Wednesday afternoon in November and a family from somewhere in Armagh will be down doing their shopping all clad in dayglo orange. It's a sight to behold. I laugh with some of my friends that it doesn't matter where you go in the world you'll meet some numpty in an Armagh shirt. The only jersey I saw when I was in Edinburgh was an Armagh one and I've even seen them in Philadelphia.

So after all that you might be wondering what the hell my point is. Well this is the point:

'View photos of GAA fans from Sydney to New York in our first ever Fans' Gallery. Paudie from Armagh, on a year long world trip, during a 10km trek of the Great Wall of China.'

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