Friday, December 29, 2006

It's beginning to feel a lot like not-Christmas

For me, Christmas has always come in two separate bits. There's the Christmas bit, and the New Year's bit. And since I no longer really celebrate New Year's Eve, there's just the Christmas bit. And I know that technically Christmas finishes on the 6th of January, but for me, this year, it finished tonight. Not in a bad way, you understand, but tonight was when we said good bye to Queenie and Himself, having already waved off all the brothers from the parents' house earlier in the day. Now I am back to work and ready to tackle my New Year's resolutions.

For Christmas this year, I got cool things, including a canvas Death Star print, new shelves, and a bluetooth adapter for my phone which is shaped like a very old phone receiver. The effect when I pull it out of my handbag is great, but is slightly marred by the fact that it doesn't work quite as well as I'd like it to. Apparently this is my fault. I also got some lovely necklaces and a nice tea set, and a fluffy blanket. Oh, and loads of yummy treats from Peckham's, as well as various marvels from elsewhere. Excellent work, Santa.

Monday, December 18, 2006

End of year meme alert

I'm not much of a one for memes. If I was, I'd be on LJ. But I like this review-the-year-using-the-first-post-of-each-month thing.

January: The kids on ILE are playing this Dead Pool, but most of the people I wanted to pick are not available and I'm too much of a luddite and a non-joiner to figure out how to add them.

February: .. that wasps are just the creepiest things on earth

March: An Fear Moncai's birthday present to me finally arrived.

April: Things are looking up.

May: Joe Bennett is an award-winning New Zealand columnist and this is his book about travelling around New Zealand.

June: Even though yesterday morning dawned grim and scary in Laytown, with white-suited forensics experts searching the ground outside Pat's supermarket and two young kids somewhere in Laytown missing their nineteen year-old mother, nothing stops the Irish summer juggernaut for long.

July: Daleks and Cybermen together could upgrade the world!

August: When are all my stories back on?

September: I'm not well.

October: I am not a pill-taker.

November: Here are the first 445 words.

December: Madam I'm Adam

There's not a lot we can learn from this, except that all the interesting things that happen to me seem to happen around the middle of the month and therefore do not fall within the remit of this study. I mean meme.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Monday's Panel

It was good to see Richard Dawkins on, particularly because he didn't claim at any point that women have 30% fewer connections between the left and right sides of their brains, like some "expert" dickhead was claiming the other week.

He was everything you want him to be. Unthreatening, charming, avuncular, and atheist. Good job, Panel.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I have ruined Christmas for everyone

I accidentally mailed details of Mister Monkey's Christmas present to a list that he is on.

I am surprised by how loudly I can shout "FUCK!" without warming up my voice.

Monday, December 11, 2006

God bless Newry

It's only a 50 minute drive away, and you can get the lovely English beer there. Like Adnam's Broadside. Strong (6.3 percent), chocolatey, yummy. Also with a picture of a ship on the bottle. Recommended. I'll just have a little nap now.

The true meaning of Christmas

With thanks to the kids at Freaky Trigger.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Trip to Paris

Because it is vital to blog about things that happened a month ago, I am now going to get around to talking about my trip to Paris. Some of you may remember that Mister Monkey and I took a trip there earlier this year, which was a little constrained by the needs of our travelling companion. Our solution was to go again ourselves, and so we did, booking a studio apartment in the Marais and spending a week there in November.

I heartily recommend Paris in November. It's cold but not horribly windy and not always raining like here. The cafes all have heaters outside, ensuring that the national pastime of sitting around and jawing while openly staring at people is still viable in the winter. This is, of course, the thing I love best about Paris. You can spend hours sitting with your lovely notebook and newly-purchased fountain pen (Parisians love their stationery), scribbling away, drinking your coffee and eating your pie and just gawping at the sheer range of people going past.

The other thing I love best about Paris is walking around. We did a lot of this on this visit. The first night we were there we went to the restaurant three doors down from our apartment, which is recommended by the Rough Guide, ate a lovely meal, and then went for a two-hour walk. Another night we took a walk by the Seine from our apartment up to the Champs Elysees, which took us a little over an hour and was great, except for the mice. In fact we bought a carnet for the Metro when we arrived and had tickets left over when we were coming home.

The other other thing I love about Paris is that although the big museums cost money to enter (best value on this trip: The Museum of Modern Art, which costs €10 to visit, but takes at least three hours to cover, and that's with one whole floor closed to the public, and has loads of space in it so you can look at things in comfort. Worst value on this trip: The Orangerie, which costs €8.50 to enter, is completely packed full of people, and takes about an hour to cover before you get sick of it), there are still loads of free things to do. Okay, these mainly involve being outdoors and mostly involve walking, but if you like those things, you're quids in. The nicest free thing (if you don't count the train fare) if you have loads of time is to go to Versailles and visit the gardens. They are extensive and beautiful and even if you forget to bring a packed lunch with you, you can buy a sandwich for only €4.50. Versailles is very romantic, for promenading around hand in hand and all that jazz.

Our eating out wasn't as extensive as we'd planned on this trip, because we were walking a lot so we got tired a lot, and also because we like to eat our dinner earlier than Parisians do. I am always amused by Parisian restaurants. They open at 6pm, are completely empty till 8.30pm, then everyone rushes out for dinner at the same time and sits in the restaurant till 11pm, and then they close. And most of them are tiny. How do they make any money? Ah, the mysteries of the continent.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

You can find the book here...

For some stupid reason, my Google account keeps telling me that I do not have access to this blog. For shame.

Anyway, I've published the document on the web for anyone to see. You can look at it here.


In a haze of steroids, I finished my 50,000 word masterpiece today. My intention is to put it up here, so if you want to read it, you can do so. However, I don't want to hear any criticisms of it, because it is, after all, a 50,000 word first draft written in 30 days, with only a week of prep time beforehand. And, because of the daft version of Word I have, I haven't even been able to spell check it.

So, don't expect too much. Nevertheless, it turned out a lot better than I expected, and writing it really was a lot of fun. I will certainly be having another go next year, although it would be nice if some people I knew in real life could be persuaded to join in.

Thanks to all who minded me and did my share of the washing up while I was writing. And to Google, without which none of my half-assed "research" would have been possible.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I have a chest infection. How bad is it? I'll tell you how bad. I actually went to the doctor, which for me means it must be bad. And now I have antibiotics, steroids, and an inhaler. Most importantly, though, I have a sick note from school work and so I can stay on the sofa and watch Pebble Mill Firefly for the rest of the week. And finish my novel.

Here's a top tip for you. If you, like me, often choose to accompany your blog posts with random pictures you find on the Internet, do not ever conduct an Internet search using Google or some other search facility (because Google is not a verb, let's remember that, kids) for images of chest infection. MY BLASTED EYES!

Instead, I have found you these lovely puppies. Aw.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Consumer tips for winter

Hello everyone. Regular readers of this blog (all four of you) will remember the only time I ever gave consumer advice before, which was when I advised people living by the seaside in the winter to stock up on their Silcock's Base. Well, now I have another piece of winter advice for you, and it is this: do not buy Kleenex anti-viral tissues. They are so rubbish! Here's why:
  1. they cost €4.20 for a box
  2. they're so fat there's only about thirty tissues in the box
  3. the middle layer of the three balmy layers is covered in these stupid blue dots (they're the anti viral!) which, if you're particularly ill, you don't notice until you've blown your nose and then you think "oh shit, blue is coming out of my nose, I have space tuberculosis" and you become convinced, in your less lucid moments, that you will die
Mister Monkey kindly struggled down the chemist in the teeth of a howling gale to get me these tissues yesterday, and they are already nearly gone. Useless. Do not buy them.

As an added, supplementary piece of advice, can I suggest that you do not start reading a book about the great influenza outbreak of 1918 either? It does not make you feel better.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Heroes, the best way to take your mind off a bad cough

It's just great. It's got comic book stuff and sci fi stuff and crazy paranormal stuff and it's creepy and gory and full of people who make you go "don't trust him, he's very bad" and full of stuff that makes you go "holy crap." We are loving it, here in the Monkey house.

The most fun thing we've learned about it is that the dude who plays Hiro still works part time at Industrial Light and Magic as an animator, which presumably makes him a huge enormous geek.

Here is better whingeing

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Phear my speed writing skillz

41,001, bitches!

This is the best book EVAH!

Five days to go

You eejit. Oh noes, the Brain Science man on the Panel last week was right! Women can't do hard sums!

Man, I wanted to punch that guy in the nose. Typical woman's response, get all emotional.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Four days to go/four weeks to go

37,000 words written. But my cough is so bad that I can hardly write. If only I was in a garret somewhere. Still, Molly and Archie are back on track, bless them. They are fun, I wish I could do them better justice.

Still, at least I still have my favourite Saturday night programme to console me. There was a lovely atmosphere on Strictly Come Dancing tonight. I guess everyone knew Claire and Brendan were going home, and everyone just seemed really cheery. The sad thing is, I don't really have anyone I'm cheering for in the finals. Naturally, last year I wanted Zoe Ball to win, but this year my underdog is Carol Smillie. Not really for her, necessarily, more for Matthew. He's such a pro. He always looks at her like he's madly in love with her, which is exactly how your dance partner should look at you.

Although I reckon Louise and Vincent will win. He is also top class, very funny, and she is genuinely a really good dancer.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Six days left

NaNoWriMo finishes in six days, and I have 20,000 words left to write. Fun, huh? Luckily for me, two of those days are weekend days, and today I am sick in bed with one of those awful colds that has gone to my chest and so I sound like I'm breathing through a bowl of thick soup, so I don't have to work. Molly and Archie have let me down a little, or I've let them down, in that I've left them speeding through Europe, Molly at the wheel of a car belonging to a classical pianist, and Archie in the boot of a car having been kidnapped by a Hungarian film director. The Hungarian film director's girlfriend, who was driving, has just crashed the car into the wall of a furniture factory outside Eferding in Austria. They have been stuck there for a couple of days now, because I wasn't sure what to do with them, but I think I've got it now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Buy me this!

I have never seen Antony and Cleopatra , and the RSC are running what looks like a wonderful production of it in London in the new year.

Oh, I want it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Of Human Bondage

I read this book on the recommendation of several people on ILB. It was wonderful. It is the story of an orphaned boy with a club foot who gets sent to live with his parsimonious vicar uncle in the south of England during the latter half of the 19th century, and tells of his life there, in public school, and trying to find his way as an adult. He has a disastrous love affair and lives in almost constant threat of running out of money. Along the way he learns about art, philosophy, people, love, hate, responsibility, religion, and all the Big Things in life. It's very funny, warm, epic, sprawling, terribly English, and I loved every single bit of it. Maugham is, I think, deeply unfashionable, but shouldn't be.

New album at last

I downloaded this last night off iTunes. I should probably have gone out and actually bought a physical copy of it, but hey, it's instant gratification.

I don't know if I like it. I loved Pulp so much, and it's easy to think that the reason you love a band so much is because you're hopelessly in love with the front man--and who can resist him, really--but you forget that all those other people moving around out there on the stage are doing their important things too. And gradually, as they dropped away, the Pulp sound changed, and then, gradually, Jarvis got older and his politics changed too. So everything's different now. And it might take me a while to get used to it. Nobody gave We Love Life a chance, but it is a truly great album. Perhaps, after I've listened to it incessantly for many months, I will love this one as much.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hey, who wants to hear my Yves Klein joke?

"I study at the Yves Klein school of Judo."
"Really? What belt are you?"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More nano talk

Mister Monkey correctly pointed out that if you're going to write a book about SPIES who are also ACTORS, then you have to have them both SPY and ACT somewhere at the beginning of the book, rather than just talk about it. He came up with the great plan of having them start with ACTING in a film, and then, after a day's shooting, head off to do some SPYING. This is what I have now done, and I am so stupidly pleased with the new and improved first section of the book that I am putting it here:

Somewhere off the coast of Chile, a ship of His Majesty’s fleet bobbed like a cork on the sea. Had there been any qualified observers, they would have noted that it was beam on to the swell, and that at any moment, if it did not right itself, the slightest change in the weather could have it over, sails flopping in the water like washing in a puddle.
The captain of the ship was all too aware of his predicament, but at just this moment he had not the luxury of doing anything about it, for he was trying very hard not to be stabbed in the neck. A vicious prisoners’ mutiny was underway, led by a hellion they had picked up in Chile and were bringing back to England to undergo a show trial which, it was hoped, would put women everywhere off following her example. The woman in question, it turned out, knew how to take a hostage, and knew how to climb. She also knew how to inspire her followers, and as the captain fended off his assailant with some considerable skill, he saw her shrug the outer layers of her garments and proceed to swing herself aloft.
“Mister Bragg!” he shouted for his first lieutenant, finally managing to unbalance the mercenary who had been lunging at him and deliver a sharp stab to his upper thigh which would lay him out but hopefully not kill him before the doctor could get to him. His first lieutenant looked up at the rigging to see the young woman slithering up it as lithe as a leopard. Both men sprinted for the ropes and began to follow her. The captain gained on her after very little time, for he was an athletic sort, much given to races with his subordinates on feast days when there was time for sport. Fast though she was, the young woman could not outclimb him, and she realised it as she drew closer to the maintop. She left off climbing and shinnied out to the end of the yard, wrapping her hand and foot in the clewlines and turning to face the captain with a brandished short sword, a flashing smile, and panting breath.
“Give this up,” the captain said. “Your fellow prisoners have made a sorry show of things below, and there is nowhere to go.”
She cursed him.
Somewhere below them, the captain’s crew had regained control of the wayward vessel and turned her to run before the freshening wind. The sails began to belly out, and the captain and the woman found the rigging a lot livelier, and their movements more greatly hampered than before. The ship began to move. The captain was now on firmer ground than the woman, as the whole structure they stood on began to sway and pitch with the roll of the ship. The woman looked less sure of what she was doing. She looked anxiously at the deck below.
“They’ll kill me,” she said eventually. “You know they will.”
“It’s no more than you deserve,” the captain said. “You killed twelve people.”
“They started it,” she argued. “They came after me first. I was minding my own business. I was a missionary, and they came after me. God abandoned me, so I’ve abandoned him and his laws.”
The captain’s feet edged ever so slightly closer to her, and the blade came up again between them.
“I’m not a judge,” he said.
“You could plead for me,” she said.
“After what you have done here?” he said. “You did things nobody should do.”
Her face took on a wild look. She dropped the blade. “And them?” she asked. “They did things to me that nobody should ever do.”
“I know it,” he answered. “And god help you, they have made you mad.”
“Mad is right, captain,” she said with a wild sob. She turned from him and without warning, launched herself from the end of the yard toward the glittering sea. She seemed to fly, and at least had the good sense to jump out as far as she could.
The captain barely had time to understand what she had done before he had followed her. They hit the water within a split second of each other with an ungodly smack. The captain could swim well, however, as was part of his competitive nature, and he pulled himself to the surface like a seal and immediately began to search for her. From the ship he heard a cry of “there, cap’n, she’s behind you!” in among the frantic ringing of bells and cries of “Cap’n overboard!”
He allowed himself a second of relief that she had survived, and struck out after her. Even here, even after everything that had happened, she still fought him. As he came up beside her she kicked out at him. As he pulled himself up along her clothing, hand over hand towards her head, she lashed at him while struggling to stay afloat. She was not as strong a swimmer as he, and she was already starting to tire.
“You are a fool,” he said. “You could have been killed.”
“So could you,” she said.
They bobbed for a moment in the ocean and the captain looked back to see the men lower the jolly boat and pull towards their position. In a last, desperate bid to be free, she kissed the captain. “Please don’t let them kill me, Edward,” she pleaded.
To her immense surprise, he passionately returned her kiss, holding her head with one hand even while he held them both afloat with the other. “They will not have you,” he said, “not while I am alive to defend you.”
A shout of “CUT!” came from somewhere to their starboard side, and they could hear the sounds of an outboard motor. Archie squinted upwards towards the hot, Mexican sun. “Good this, isn’t it?” he said, continuing to hold on to Molly. As the zodiac buzzed towards them over the sea, they trod water and spread out their arms to the side to enjoy the warm sea. “I can’t believe how clear the water is,” said Molly, looking down.
“Did you remember the plan of the plantation?” Archie asked.
“Yes,” Molly answered, just as the zodiac reached them. “Don’t worry, we’re all packed. You just need to get dressed.”

C'est le fromage, no? But fun.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And we're off...

Here are the first 445 words. I will not be posting any more of the book until at least the beginning of next week (unless it somehow turns out to be amazingly good). But I'm pleased to have got started.

Molly felt the ladder slip out from underneath her. She had, of course, overstretched, which Archie was always telling her not to do, for this very reason. She tried to hook her trainer around the top rung and hoosh the rickety steps back into place, but they were too far gone, and if she tried too hard she would go with them. She let it fall. Dangling from the cross beam, she sighed heavily and waited for her legs to get themselves settled long enough for her to think about pulling herself up. She could already feel a tingle in her hands from the not-quite dry creosote (or whatever it was) on the cross beam, and she realised she hadn’t got a great hold and might start to fall soon if she didn’t do something. Her belly was suddenly cold. The zip of her hoody was stuck up under her mouth and she tried to spit it out but couldn’t. So she bit down on it, steeled herself, and tried to pull herself up. It was a really long time since she’d done anything like this. Her arm muscles weren’t quite sure how to pull her, and her joints weren’t quite sure how to lever her, and she found herself wondering if she’d put on any weight, or if her hands had lost their strength, and as she thought, with great effort but no noise, she managed to haul herself up so that she had her elbows hooked over the beam. From there it was easier to swing her legs out a bit in order to swing the rest of her up until she was stomach down over the beam, poised for a smack, but safe and willing to wait for someone to come.
It was half an hour before anyone did. She flattened herself against the beam a little in case it was Archie, making the split second decision not to let him know what had happened. She couldn’t bear to hear him complain about the whole thing one more time. It was a terrible idea. It was a stupid way to spend your life. When he had agreed to spend two years doing whatever she wanted, he didn’t think it would be anything like this. It was pure stupidness. He would say stupidness as well, and even in her impersonation of him in her head, she corrected him.
But then it was Fergus who came into the church, and although she was relieved to see someone who would just do what he was told with no argument, she was disappointed that he wasn’t Archie.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Studio 60 update

The gossip is not good.

Countdown to Wednesday

This year I am taking part in NaNoWriMo, which is an American contest in which the participants each attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Everyone who writes a 50,000-word novel in November wins. It's a nice contest. For those of you who think that 50,000 words is short for a novel, you're right. But if you think that there are no 50,000-word novels, you're wrong. According to the good people at NaNoWriMo, both Of Mice and Men and Brave New World are 50,000 words long.

I will not be writing anything like either of those books.

I will be writing a novel concerning a couple who live in Leitrim who are SPIES! and also B-LIST MOVIE ACTORS! I don't know anything about SPIES! so their spying activities are going to be more at the Charlie's Angels end of the spying spectrum than the George Smiley end of the spectrum.

I do know quite a lot about B-MOVIE ACTORS! so the story will probably concentrate more on that aspect of their lives.

People have asked me why I am doing this. Will I get published? Represented? Seen by an agent? No. I will not get any of those things. I will get the fun of writing a novel in 30 days, just so I can say I did it. Also, the site accepts donations. Naturally, there are costs to running a contest like this, so half of any donations that people make go to running the contest and the site, and half goes to building libraries for children in Vietnam. So if you feel you want to help me in my endeavours and offer some support, you could make a donation. You don't have to, though. Comments and emails of encouragement will work quite well to shame me into getting the thing finished.

If you are also doing NaNoWriMo, you can look for me in the participant section. I'm Accentmonkey.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The hairdresser

Until yesterday, I never really understood my relationship with my hairdresser. I knocked off work early to go and do some shopping, and arrived into Brown Thomas (a shop I hate) to buy some Aveda stuff (a manufacturer I love). They were having some kind of hair advice promotion, which I ignored, partly because I don't need hair advice ("what lovely hair!" is usually the advice I get), and partly because it was Friday evening, my layer of protection from the outside elements was proving to be an indoor liability of almost menopausal proportions, and my hair had not been washed in five days, not cut in almost six months, and was tied back with a 15 cent hair elastic which could snap at any moment if touched.

It was only natural, therefore, when I should be looking my very best, that the immaculately cool, well-dressed, fragrant, and very sweet man doing the hair advice promotion should turn out to be my old hairdresser from Whetstone, the lovely Paul. I haven't seen Paul in about two years, and when I saw him, I fell that tiny bit in love with him all over again.

We chatted for a bit, Paul and I and the women who work in the Aveda section in BTs (who are very nice ladies, by the way), one of whom used to also be a customer of Paul's.

"Who does your hair now?" he asked me.
"No-one", I said, miserably and truthfully. "I haven't had a decent haircut in Dublin since you left."
The other girl said the same thing.
"You should go back to Joy, you know," Paul said. "She's really excellent."
"Suppose so."

What could I say? I did go to Joy, once, after Paul was gone. And I'm sure she's lovely. But the fact is, and I don't know why I didn't say this to him, that I just like having a gay man cut my hair. Because for an hour every three months or so, I can feel fabulous. Like a film star. Like how a man would feel if you gave him a good suit and sent him to a casino and told him he was James Bond for an hour. and when you're me, and the only magazine cover you're likely to ever grace is Blimey, She's Let Herself Go A Bit monthly, or You Don't Think You're Embracing This Country Living and Telecommuting A Bit Too Enthusiastically quarterly, then you like to have someone fuss over you and make you just feel amazing and glamorous just every now and then. And, you know, a gay male hairdresser is just better at that than a heterosexual female hairdresser.

Don't get me wrong, apart from the, you know, *blows out cheeks to indicate largeness*, I'm perfectly happy with the way I look. But just, you know, sometimes, a little bit, well, you know.

Anyway, Paul is apparently planning to leave hairdressing behind him for ever. Which I think is the most appalling loss to hairdressing. If I had loads of money, I would hire him to fly to Dublin to cut my hair three times a year. I didn't realise how much I missed him until I saw him.

Ooh, or maybe I would fly Gabriel over.

I am such a tart.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I did read a book at the weekend, though, when my brain was too sore for hard facts about the past. I read this Sarah Waters book. Affinity is sort of Waters-lite. It's Victorian, it's lesbian, it's eerie and gothic and moody and melancholy and full of thieves and the seedy underbelly of things, but it's a quicker read than Fingersmith or Tipping the Velvet, and less substantial. Still v. good and ripping fun though.

Also, according to Amazon, you can SEARCH INSIDE! it, which has to be the most useless thing they've introduced (apart from all those kitchen scales). I don't need to search inside it. As long as it's got print in it, then it's a book, and that's kind of what I was expecting. Er, the print's quite big. There. Now you know.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No books

So, why have I not posted anything in two weeks? Why have I not read any books? Because I am currently slogging my way through The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham, which is HUGE, and I am limbering up for NaNoWriMo in one week from tomorrow, and I am sick.

And, it is the winter, when the stars come out for walking in the morning, and for Strictly Come Dancing in the evening.

More of both of those things later. Now, tea and Lemsip and telly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Firefly and Serenity

Did you see Firefly when it was orginally broadcast? I sure didn't, and I'm not the only one. Cancelled after just 14 episodes, it was going to be Joss Whedon's next big move. Only no-one watched it. And I can kind of see why. It's not an easy sell, for one thing. A science fiction western! Yes, we know that many science fiction films are basically westerns, and that Star Trek was famously described as being Wagon Train to the stars (I don't know what Wagon Train is, but I'm guessing manifest destiny appears in there somewhere), but this one really plays up the connection. Oh, and it's not teenagers, it's adults. Yes, that's right, it's nothing like Buffy. I suspect it may also have been tainted a little by the rubbish that was Enterprise.

Oh, but it's great. It's funny, and exciting, and has cute sayings, and great acting and the ship is just a superb design (Mister Monkey made me say that. Although I agree that it has a nice table in it) and it's fun and rollicksome and they've done a lot of work to make it look good. The 14 episodes just fly by.

I didn't think the film was much cop though. As a film designed to wrap up a telly series for the people who had watched the telly series, it spent too much time on recap, and if you had never seen the series, you would wonder what purpose some of the characters serve, exactly, because there's very little for them to do.

I love it so. Shiny.

Only 19 more to go!

Hey, remember this? In fact I was wrong about how many there were to go. Because I am good at my job, and because the place I work is populated with nice, reasonable people, I have been told that I can go home for good on November 20th.

So, taking into account Bank Holidays and actual holidays, there are only 19 more 6am starts to go. This is good news, because it's starting to get dark and cold, and I can see Orion in the mornings now.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

According to NBC, with this programme Aaron Sorkin is doing for television "what he did for the White House", which is what, exactly? Give everyone the impression that everyone there is funnier than they actually are? Make viewers feel they know more about it? Those things might be--and for most of The West Wing's run, were--fine and admirable when you're talking about the U.S. government, and by extension, the country, but they're not so important when it's a telly programme. Of course that wouldn't matter if Aaron Sorkin knew the difference, but there's not a lot of evidence in here that he does.

We're three episodes into Studio 60 now, and here's what I think:
  • Telly isn't as important as government. I know you're shocked to hear me say that. Believe me, I'm shocked to be saying it. Maybe I should clarify by saying that this television programme isn't as important as government. Maybe some are.
  • Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are an excellent double act.
  • Amanda Peet should wear either a hair elastic or a hair band, but not both at the same time.
  • I don't care about anyone on this programme who isn't Matthew Perry or Bradley Whitford, and I only care about them because of who they used to be. For god's sake, The West Wing made me care about Rob Lowe inside three episodes. Rob Lowe! I didn't even think he was still alive when the series started.
I hope it gets better. I've a feeling it won't, but I hope it does. Even as it is it's not terrible or anything. It's still a lot better than most other things on telly. Just not as good as I wish it was.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Blue-footed ones, naturally.

I am such a nerd for anything to do with the Galapagos Islands. The BBC has a new documentary about it which looks absolutely beautiful and features some of the most gorgeous footage of boobies and sea lions and tortoises and albatrosses, but sadly has a script that's almost as dull as the one for Planet Earth. Too much imagery, too little information, portentously narrated by Tilda Swinton and with music that makes you think Elijah Wood is going to drop a ring into the middle of the caldera on Fernandina.

Part of me would love to go there. But part of me thinks it would be wrong to fulfil such a fantasy. I would never want to come home, for a start. And it does seem a bit stupid to pour so much carbon dioxide into the air to get to somewhere where everyone's so concerned with conservation.

I had no idea there were 28,000 people living on Galapagos. Those crazy Ecuadorians and their wanting to make a living.


I am not a pill-taker. I know this might shock some of you, and some of you might say you know for a fact that that is not true. But I am not, by nature, one of life's pill poppers. First, I forget to take them. Forget the regimented having to take it at the same time every single day or you get PREGNANT, I can't even manage the every day part. Second, I don't seem to be able to get them in my mouth. The pills I have to take at the moment are tiny. Tiny! Sadly they are so tiny that they get stuck to the palm of my hand when I try to throw them back into my mouth, and so they fall on the floor instead. Or they drop off the end of my stubby fingers and fall onto the floor. Or they knock against one of my teeth and fly out of my mouth and end up on the floor. Even getting them into my mouth is no guarantee of swallowing them. Sometimes I choke on them and have to hawk them back up again. It's all very poor.
Anyway, I'm taking them to regulate my thyroid function and my blood pressure, one of which is way too low and helping to make me tired and fat and (and this was really the thing that made me want to do something about it) affecting my brain function and moods, and one is too high, which might give me a stroke.
And everyone focuses on the stroke part. You don't want to have a stroke, my mother and my doctor and my husband tell me, over and over again (as though, perhaps, I have already had one and cannot be trusted to do things for myself). So instead, I have these things: dizziness, nausea, bone-deep cold, and headaches. From the thyroid tablets I get these things: sleeplessness, temperature fluctuations. So I'm always roasting or freezing, I periodically throw up for no reason and then feel crap all day, and I get these dizzy spells a couple of times a day that make me unable to function properly and just sit there and watch the world spin around for twenty minutes or so because I know that if I stand up I'll fall down, and then I'll break my hip or something (apparently, since blood pressure was targeted as one of the things medics get worked up about, there has been a huge increase in the number of people admitted to hospitals with fall-related injuries).
It's annoying, particularly since the drugs are actually working in other ways, and I have more energy and so am reading more and would like to go out and see people more, but I just can't be arsed, because I feel like shit.
And before you ask, the doctor has looked through her Big Doctor Book of Drogs, and these are the side effects of all of the possible medications.
God, if I was proper sick, I'd be unbearable.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

These Are Our Lives

Or the all fiction issue of The Stinging Fly, of which I am now a patron because, you know, the arts and that. This book is a superb collection of 22 short stories plucked out of the submissions bag by editor Declan Meade. Declan's got a great eye for putting stuff together--you want him to make you a mixtape, in other words. The work in here is uniformly good to great, with only one story boring me with its show-offiness to the extent where I didn't finish it. The stories take in house parties in Galway, lonely farmers who've let life slip through their fingers, post-apocalyptic holidays in Spain, joyless voodoo-inspired sex in Dublin apartments, meeting Polish dreamers, and a bunch of other experiences worth putting down on paper. This is a beautifully put together book too, a very nice object all by itself. I'd recommend it.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin

It seems I am the last person in christendom to see this film. If you haven't seen it, you should. The fact that it has Steve Carell in it might make you believe that it's going to be like Dodgeball or Anchorman, so if you don't like that kind of film, you might have been put off. But this isn't like that. It's very old-fashioned, the people in it are real characters and they don't behave in a totally unrealistic manner that makes you wonder if they could actually keep themselves alive in a real situation. And although the film is, and I don't think I'm giving anything away here, about a 40 year-old guy whose friends find out he's a virgin and try to make him stop being one, it's not an all-out see-how-many-women-we-can-degrade-with-boob-humour jokefest. I really, really enjoyed it. And having seen some of Steve Carell's stuff on The Daily Show's ten-year retrospective, I have decided he is my new hero.
The photo, by the way, comes from this fun site. I like the modern Marilyn Monroe in particular.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hey, remember the summer, and how much fun it was?

Remember? Remember when I had my car fire? Well, Meath County Council would like me to relive those memories, by sending me a bill for the services of the Fire Brigade. A bill for €154. A bill I'm not paying. A bill that arrived after the insurance company settled the claim in full. A bill that I was not warned about in advance.

Good jesus I hate this fucking stupid country.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Impostor

We went to see this last night. Maybe I'm getting old, and can't pick up on subtexts in plays as well as I used to be able to, but see where it says this in the blurb for the play? Almost none of that was communicated to me. There was too much telling, not enough showing. There was too much running about and physical business that appeared to just be there for the sake of it, to show off the actors' ability to run about and do business, and to break up what otherwise would have been quite a lot of "and then he said..." "of course what he didn't know was..." and so on, which surely could have been put together differently.

That said, this is a beautifully performed five-hander. At one point, in fact, I was wondering if there had been a sixth person on stage because I thought I remembered one, but there is not. The acting is superb too, and the involvement and culpability of the audience is very deftly handled. Costumes, set, all spot on. Okay, I know that's usually what you praise when there's nothing else to praise, but in this case the set is actually quite a big deal, because it managed to communicate Art Deco luxury using only a couple of well put-together pieces, which isn't easy to do. Some of it is also very funny, and because you're kind of in the story, you have (well, certainly I had) no problem going "ewww" out loud when one of the characters started being especially lewd.

This is perfect theatre for middle-aged people who want to go to the theatre and feel like they've seen something terribly daring, when in fact they haven't really. I just wish more effort had been put into the writing. A really skilled comedy writing team could do something really excellent with this material and this cast. It could have been a huge hit, instead of there being only 19 people there on a Saturday night in the Sam Beckett. Ah well.

The Time it Never Rained

Some time ago, when William saw Flight 93, he said that it felt so real that when he came out of it, he wanted to ask people if they had heard about that plane crash that just happened.
When I finished reading this book about the effects of a long drought on small Texas ranchers, I was walking to work and it started to rain, and I felt a huge relief. At least the rain is here, I thought.
The main character in the book is Charlie Flagg, an old-fashioned (some might say slightly Libertarian) smallish rancher who works some leased land and some land of his own. He keeps a mixture of sheep and cattle and he has a wife and a son who wants to ride in the rodeo, and he's friends with his neighbours and the Mexican family who work for him, and everyone does okay. But then the rain doesn't come. And it keeps not coming. And latent tensions bubble to the surface. Racism, sexism, town against country, big farming against small ranching. And through it all Charlie Flagg refuses to take money from the government, refuses every handout, refuses to go "into the programme", and gradually the countryside dries up and a whole way of life starts to blow away.
There are elements of Steinbeck in here. And, for someone like me who has never even spent much time on a farm in Ireland, never mind a Texas ranch, it's almost like reading science fiction, because it's a totally alien environment. The book may as well take place on Mars, for all I know.
Sure, some of the lessons are delivered in a slightly heavy-handed manner. For example, the manager who works for one of the huge farming conglomerations may as well have a long black mustache that he twirls periodically. But on the whole this is a great, involving book. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friends have baby

I mention this on my blog because members of my family will be amused to know that they are calling her Elizabeth and shortening it to Lily. Which was Gaggy's name.

Anyway, congratulations friends, and new baby Elizabeth-shortened-to-Lily.

Who will be next?

Actually, who will be next? I should write these things down, really I should.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

There's always some poxy bloody thing

So, it turns out that my dogs are not the well-behaved little angels all day long that my neighbours on either side of me have always claimed them to be. I have asked them, on several occasions, to let me know if the dogs were making excessive noise, and they have always shaken their heads and said words to the effect of "you wouldn't even know they were there". Well, my neighbour over the back fence tells a different story. And he came round and told it to me on Friday evening. Now, in fairness to him, he was very polite, and he could have been rude and upset me by simply sticking a note through my door, which would have been unfair and unneighbourly and unkind, and would have made me cry, and equally he could have tried to bully me in some way, which he did not. He simply explained that he works shifts, and he tries to sleep during the day, and he has a new baby coming into the house on Tuesday (that's today) and that the dogs have been driving him mad now ever since I got them and could I please do something about it.

So now I have to keep the dogs indoors, and because I can't afford to hire someone to come and let the dogs out during the day when I'm not here, it means I have to get up at 5.50am, bring them out for half an hour's walk, come home, have a shower, throw on clothes, dash to 7.10 train, come home on 4.15 train (which is not Mister Monkey's train home, might I add, even though he very kindly comes in with me in the morning), so as to be the first one home, in case there is any disaster. And I came home today and there was no disaster, but when I went upstairs to get stuff from my room, Dweezil ran in under the bed, and he got stuck on something and couldn't get out, and when I lifted the bed a little to move it and see if I could get him out, my back went SPROING and I dropped the bed and I think I've broken the frame. And now I hate my neighbour and his stupid breeder of a wife because of this. Sorry, breeders. And I do not love my dogs either, because of this. Sorry dogs. I'm sure that will go away eventually, but right now I resent them enormously.

And now my ranting is over. Thank you for your time.

By the way, that is not a photo of my own bed frame. I did not take one.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

If you had to pick one...

...which of these celebrities would you rather have on your side if you were in trouble?

Naming your kids after DART stations: a good plan?

I should point out that the only reason I have these fantastic nuggets of celebrity information is that my Google homepage has a link to People magazine on it. I don't go looking for them, they just pop up.

Still though, bless them.


Love this.

Friday, September 15, 2006

And They Used to Star in Movies

I'm baffled by the Irish Times and their good review of this play (which obviously I can't share with you, because you don't have a subscription and neither do I). I was even more baffled before I read the blurb about the show and realised that it was first performed 30 years ago, and was written by Scott Campbell, a reaonably well-known author.

The play is about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse. Mickey and Minnie have split up, they're all washed up. Mickey hangs around a bar waiting on a call from Visconti in Rome, because Visconti is supposed to be doing a production of Baudelaire's later poems, and Mickey wants in on it. But the call doesn't come. And Mickey gets drunker, and he and Minnie reminisce about the days when they used to be somebody, and then Donald arrives, and he's a successful producer now.

I'm making this sound more exciting than it really is, honest.

Because I didn't realise the play was written in the mid-70s, I perhaps did not give enough weight to the film-making mood of that era, with its emphasis on realism and the decline of Disney cartoons. Disney was past its best for several reasons, and cartoons were not the big business they were in cinemas 30 years before that, or, dare I say it, today. The fact that it appears to take place around the time of the McCarthy hearings is more confusing still. But that's beside the point. I shouldn't have to sit around guessing when the play might be meant to be happening in order to enjoy it. If you're going to put on a play from an earlier time, you either have to do it as a period piece, or it has to be timeless. This was neither. It also isn't funny. and it's poorly staged. And the performances are waaaayyy too loud. Bewley's Theatre is a small space, kids. Rein it in. And your American accents are not so great that you can afford to take your sweet time over every single sentence. I think it would have been much funnier if, when being their public selves, they had talked in American accents, but then, between themselves, they had dropped it and just used their normal Irish ones. It would have been like a homage to Alexander, and could have brought the whole thing right up to date.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Phear teh kiten

Here's Dweezil now. He looks much better, and he and Linus are getting along famously, which means that Linus (who is at least four times Dweezil's size) completely ignores Dweezil at all times, until the leaping around his tailular area gets too much for him and he eventually smashes Dweezil in the face like James Cagney at breakfast time.

Good cat times.

The Golden Ocean

Some time ago, I talked about the voyage of Commodore Anson into the great South Sea. Here's what I said:

In 1741, Commodore George Anson set sail from England with five ships and a total crew of approximately 1400 men. He had orders to sail to South America, map some territories and harass Spanish shipping. He had a diasastrous voyage and returned with one ship and about 500 men. But along the way he captured prizes worth about £400,000.

Well, Patrick O'Brian thought it would be a capital idea to write a novel based on the adventures of two young Irish lads who sign on for Anson's voyage. Luckily, and I don't think it's giving away too much to say this, they have a fondness for lemons. This is a lovely precursor to the Aubrey-Maturin books, and it only makes me sad and wistful to have finished it so fast, bringing me ever closer to the end of O'Brian's works.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

This is a great book. James Shapiro talks about the English campaign in Ireland, the summer of the invisible Armada, proto-musicals, translations of Tacitus, the death of chivalry and the glimmerings of globalization, theatre companies composed entirely of little boys, the changes in the acting profession, the work of publishers, and the effects that all of these things may or may not have had on the work of Shakespeare, specifically on the plays he wrote in that year (which included Love's Labor's Lost, Julius Caesar, Henry V, and oh yes, Hamlet). He is very clear about where he's speculating and where he's employing facts, and he really opened me up to a fresh understanding of theatre of the time.
Just a great book. There's no point in my trying to recount any of the many hundreds of anecdotes, but trust me, they're in there.

Paper anniversary

It turns out that Dublin is not a bad place at all to go for the weekend, if you've got a bit of cash put aside. We both clocked out of work early on Friday and checked into our hotel. After a lovely nap, we stepped across the Green to meet MarkW and head up to Ranelagh to meet folks for drinks. We had dinner in McSorley's first, where I had truly excellent fish and chips, and then we headed next door to good old Birchalls for a huge feed of pints. Well, I didn't have a huge feed of pints, but everyone else did.
Next morning, we had breakfast in the Metro, then went to the Chester Beatty (because it's our paper anniversary, DO YOU SEE?) with Damien and Sinead. It was great. The ideal place to go with a hangover, and we even got to enjoy the ignorance of a couple of middle-aged American women who were determined "not to tarry" looking at Islamic artefacts, who thought that the fragments of gospel codexes in the exhibits were the real actual gospels, and who stared at our food in the Silk Road as if we were in some sort of zoo. And they wonder why people don't like them.
And we bought a poster with two monkeys on it. Very cute.
After more hangover clearing nap action, we met Simon and Caroline and Diana for cocktails in the hotel bar, and then went for our fabulous dinner in One Pico. I love it there. The food is great, the service is great, the room is pleasant and comfortable, and the sommelier is is helpful and not snobby and he suggested a wonderful dessert wine which I cannot remember the name of now, but Mister Monkey will. Expect to see the name in the comments tomorrow. Wonderful, wonderful meal. And plenty of lovely romantic chat. Amusingly, last week we actually went through our wedding folder, which still sits by the bedside table, with all the speeches and messsages in it, and read our vows again. It was a little like one of those review things you do in work, where you set your review your objectives for the past year and try to decide if you've met them or not. We seem to be doing alright*.
It was a great weekend. I recommend Dublin, if you've got the cash and a bunch of really nice mates to go and hang out with.

*Oh, alright. Substantially better than alright, really. Even if we did make ourselves sad by breaking off to talk about bomb dogs somewhere in the middle of it all.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

They do not move

To restore something of a proper Saturday night at the movies feel to the evening, we then watched Inside Man, which is an interesting name because it relates, obviously, to the idea of having someone on the inside for a bank job, but also because it gives you some idea of what makes people tick. Money, naturally. Power, of course, and not just the power to order people around, but the power to hold secrets and trade information and rewrite history so that it all comes out the way you like it. In this film, as in real life, Whitey (or Wealthy, if you like) holds all the power, and although Denzel can get things done, he can only operate with the cooperation of Whitey, and can only advance to the next level on Whitey's say-so.
On the other level of the inside man, it's a nice little heist movie with a nice conceit, except that not a lot really happens. Although Jodie Foster spends the entire movie in shoes so improbably high that they make her legs look as though they are about to burst open, thus giving her the impression of being poised for action and ready to pounce at any moment, she does not really do anything.
On both levels, it's quite confusing and there are many questions I didn't know the answers to by the end of the film. Such as


How did they know to go after the box? I didn't get the answer to that one. Why was Christopher Plummer satisfied with Jodie Foster's assessment of the situation? Didn't everyone just seem to give up too easy at the end? I mean, I'm not saying they had to be all White and Exley about it, but a little more doggedness and wrapping things up, no?


It was an okay film, but really only okay. Because it's Spike Lee directing, he can assemble quite a cast, but no-one, not even Denzel, has much to do really. Will Spike ever get it together to make a truly excellent film again? I hope so.

Taking a chance on love

Yesterday was the Monkey wedding anniversary, and we celebrated by clearing a space in the drift of books and newspapers and LRBs on the kitchen table and eating a bowl of pasta by candlelight and drinking some lovely red wine that we brought back from Paris in May. But we were sad. Because when we sat down to eat we had just finished watching Brokeback Mountain, which is a very sad film. By rights, Mister Monkey asserted, it should have made us happy in way, because it is a film about people who want one thing but carry on living another thing and so never get the thing they want, but we did not do that and we set aside the censure of others in order to get the thing we wanted--


although admittedly it was most unlikely that anyone was going to beat either of us to death with a tyre iron


--and so now we are happy, unlike the men in the film. And the film made me angry too, because it seemed like a very modern story, of two people who want to pursue something that is slightly outside the ideal for modern American people, and so they would in some way be bringing shame on others, and so they must be suppressed and stopped by other jackasses in big hats, and it made me sad again to think that economic necessity ties people to jobs and situations when all they want to do is ride their horses around, but of course this is how it is for everyone, so why should they be any different? And of course it slightly annoyed me to see two white men who have access to much (well, one of them does anyway, and he did offer help to the other one) but because they can't have things exactly the way they want them, they have to mess it all up for everyone, especially the poor sheep who got killed by the coyote because they were supposed to be watching him and they weren't. Hmm, maybe it's a film about the evil effects of transnational corporations? You know, the white American men are too busy fucking each other to notice that the sheep are getting hammered out there?
I could go on. The main thing about the film is that you can cover it with any meaning you want, because it's such a huge space with so little dialogue in it (and only half of that is intelligible) that you can have the characters be anyone you want without fear of them saying anything to contradict you. The open spaces (of where? That's right, Alberta) are so beautiful, and the human spaces are so grim and awful, that at times you wonder why everyone in the film doesn't take off to Brokeback Mountain to go fishing. Of course everyone won't. But once in a while, when you do, it all works out okay.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fear it!

More teh cuetness in the Monkey house. Housemate Niall brought home a kitten that he found on a building site in Cavan. It was being kept in a mayonnaise tub, and the people who had found it were going to just turn it loose again, so he took it home. It is called Dweezil, and after three days of hiding behind things in the small room, it has been to the vet (it's a boy!) who pronounced him fit and well and just a little bit earmitey. A few more days will tell us for sure if he's got anything he's going to pass around, but otherwise we should be introducing him to Linus some day next week.
Hmm. The photos do perhaps make him look eviller than he really is. I will try to get better photos.

What are you doing at home?

I'm not well.


I wasn't well yesterday--breakfast made a run for it almost as soon as it was eaten--but I went to work anyway. This morning, however, my husband FORBADE me to go to work, because I am still sick. Forbidden! By my spouse!

Fair enough, like.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Illness update

ComedyB Jr is coming out of the hospital on Tuesday. He is much better now.

Bait and Switch

This is really quite a terrifying book, for several reasons. One, it really manages to knock home the idea that America's interior is largely composed of windowless rooms where people are either trying to convert you to religion, or extort money from you in some other way. Two, it reminds you again of just how stupid people can be: people in the job market seem to really believe all that enneagram crap that we used to do in the Theo for a laugh (which seems strangely at odds with their fairly serious Christian beliefs. I thought proper Christians didn't believe in all that stuff?). Three, it offers a view of the kind of dystopian future we could end up in here in Europe if we don't hang on to our employment laws for as long as possible. The next time I hear someone from IBEC moaning about the strict employment laws in Ireland, or the minimum wage, I'm going to send them a copy of this book.

The Seeds of Time

Why don't people read John Wyndham? I asked in the pub one evening. It turns out they do, so that's me wrong. There's not a huge amount to say about this charming collection of well-intentioned, funny, and ever so British sci-fi stories, except that I wish I had the edition pictured here, and that I am now really looking forward to reading The Day of the Triffids, which I also bought for €1 in my old shop.


Which I also read during my weekend of chick lit and rom com hell. This is a cut above, however. It's a bit like Flambards or Gone With the Wind, only with a much darker edge. The story follows a girl who is born onto the Wideacre estate and loves it so much that she learns every single thing there is to learn about it, its people, its crops, wildlife, so on and so on. But of course she is a woman, and this is eighteenth century England, so there's no way she can ever own or run her beloved estate. That honour is left to her ever-so-slightly rubbish brother, who is very attractive, but gullible, and cursed with something of a kinky streak that saw him getting kicked out of public school.

So the girl decides to do everything in her power to ensure that she and her heirs get to keep hold of the place she loves. Of course it all goes horribly wrong, how could it not? Interestingly though, the thing that undoes her is not really her shocking incestuous relationship with her brother, which after a while takes on the characteristics of just another chore that she must perform in order to get her way, but her lack of business training and her inability to deal with the mounting debts that are being incurred because she wants to buy out the entail on the property. As usual there's some excellently researched background detail, and even the irritating style that Phillipa Gregory sometimes has doesn't get too much. I wouldn't go giving this to your Mam for Christmas or anything, but it's a thumping holiday read. Much, much better than 90 percent of the chick lit I've read in my life. All the words are spelled correctly, for one thing.

My weekend of chick lit and rom com hell

So, I have been accused of some things. Some of you may remember the pirate issue. And the fun issue. And recently I was accused by a Dublin councillor and former Lord Mayor of not having any sense of romance. Well. A lady doesn't take kindly to such accusations. So, when all my housemates, and my husband, were out of town recently, I decided to make a girly weekend of it. I bought myself some chocolate and some ice cream, and settled down with a Mills and Boon book.
I saw Marriage Under Siege in the bookshop some time ago, and must confess to being surprised that M&B even had a line of books set during the English Civil War. Not, you would think, a sexy time. Not even really a romantic time. But of course, I am wrong. Family pitted against family! Divided loyalties! Puritans! What could be more sexy/romantic?
Everything about Marriage Under Siege is poor. The "story", the "characters", the interpretation of the politics surrounding the war. And the worst part was that the sex scenes weren't even any good. But of course that could partly be my own fault, because I kept imagining that the Witch Smeller General was going to arrive in at any moment and cauterize wounds and burn women at the stake or something, but he never did. Mills and Boon books are even worse than you think. They're not even a laugh. Avoid them.
Avoid also Heartbreakers, which I also watched on this weekend of NOTHING ON. As usual, Gene Hackman's got some great lines in it, but nothing on a par with his foliage speech from The Birdcage. Still, I don't think he gets to do enough comedy. And, while you're avoiding things, really, really be sure to avoid Alex and Emma, starring Luke Wilson (who does not make a good leading man. It seems to be difficult for him to talk, like the way it's difficult for Nicolas Cage) and Kate Hudson, who is okay normally, but awful to the core in this thing. If you have to choose between Heartbreakers and Alex and Emma because someone's going to kill you if you don't watch one of them, just take the bullet. It would be better for you.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Send in the Idiots

You'd be forgiven for thinking that I haven't read a single thing lately, but you'd be wrong. In fact I read all the time these days, at work. Why, just this week I read about how Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali banded together with Brazil to use the WTO to force the USA to cut subsidies to its cotton farmers. And about the interesting new situation with regard to intellectual and indigenous property in Africa, where state governments don't play that strong a role, and the possibility that windfalls to certain tribes or ethnic groups from transnational corporations (for a malaria drug, or oil, or ancient treasures) might exacerbate existing tensions between groups and seve to further weaken the state government's position. And about public administration and financial reforms in Uzbekistan. And about acculturative stress in Korean and Indian immigrant adolescents in the US.
And it turns out that I'm not bad at reading lengthy articles and creating 150 word summaries of them. It turns out that I can skim them pretty well and then pass the salient information on to someone else. And it makes me very happy to be in that kind of job.
But I have been reading books. Honest. Why, here's one now.
Send in the Idiots is a book about autism by a man who was diagnosed as autistic when he was a boy and sent to a special school in New York. In this book, he tracks down some of his classmates and spends time with them in order to write about what it is like to be autistic. Now, most of the people he hooks up with are pretty functioning autistic folk. They have jobs, and they live away from their parents, and some of them even have relationships. But the autism is always there and it informs everything about them. And not all of them make it. There's a definite air about them of being aware that they are the lucky ones. There's even a story that proves it. It's an enjoyable book. I don't know if you can really take much away from it except some people's experiences of living with a particular condition; I wouldn't use it as a basis for claiming to know all about autism or anything like that, but it's a good book, well written, with some interesting broader theories about the condition thrown in. The marketing is quite creepy, though. The copy I bought was an advance readers' one, and on the back it says stuff about how the book is guaranteed to be a big seller because interest in autism is huge right now. It seems like such a calculating thing to say.

End of an era

The Perrier award is no more. Controversial in recent years, because of Perrier's connection to the evils of the world, thankfully it's now being sponsored by Intelligent Finance (no chance anything bad can be associated with them, right? I mean, a financial services company, always squeaky clean, right?).

So, new award, new name. The Comeddies. Because they're sponsored by Clever, no?

Anyway, Accentmonkey interest in the awards rests on David O'Doherty, or Phil Nichol, or God's Pottery in the newcomer category. It would be so great if once, just once, the person I wanted to win actually won. Surely by spreading it around three of them, I've got to have a chance.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shows we saw at Edinburgh

This year, we had possibly the best balance yet between loads of shows and loads of hanging around with people. Aside from the usual desperate Saturday night scramble for something decent to eat, we remembered all our own rules and avoided overcrowded, really cramped, basement pub-style venues. So that cut out The Stand, sorry Eddie Bannon and friends, and also The Tron, sorry Glenn Wool. However, we did see a lot of stuff. Friday night we went to see Matt Kirshen. He's very funny. Clever, pleasant, likeable, witty, personable. A good comedian. But there were fireworks on Friday night. ComedyB was presenting Best of the Fest in the Abbembelly Booms. It was a typical late night audience. One stag party in, many of the more middle-aged patrons were asleep (it starts at midnight), and the comedians were having to work for it. Glenn was reasonably popular, if a little rambling. And then Rhys Darby came out, and he was also very good. He does sound effect stuff. Then Richard Herring. I was quite looking forward to seeing Richard Herring. I was wrong. His material was alright, I guess, but the drunken element of the audience didn't appreciate it and one of the stag party started a slow handclap. Richard Herring did not appreciate that. First, he berated the drunk bloke for not appreciating his very clever style of comedy. Then, he had a go at the other comedians. "Sorry I can't make silly noises", he said "or be casually racist like Glenn". There was an argument, and he eventually left the stage. Luckily the next act on was Phil Nichol, a man who could make people laugh during an air raid, I'm sure. He pulled his pants down, pulled his t-shirt over his head, and sang songs very loudly and with a kind of frightening energy. Relief all round.
Saturday, we saw Hoodwinked, a kids' film, CGI and all that, you know. It's fine, as these things go. Some amusing jokes, some nice songs, some nice homages to computer games, but something lacking to make it really great. However, it does feature very positive potrayals of both young girlhood and old womanhood, and there is no innuendo, and not a lot of violence. So it's a parents' dream of a film. We had great intentions to do other things on Saturday, but we were very tired, having been up drinking the night before till ever so late.
Sunday, we saw the loveliest film. It was called Into Great Silence, a two and a half hour film about a particularly ascetic silent order of monks and their daily lives. Sadly the director didn't have enough money to shoot the whole thing on lovely film, so a lot of it is filmed on digital video, which gives it too much grain, but otherwise it's superb.
Sunday night we saw ComedyB's show, which was up to its usual high standard and has a Special! New! Opening! which is very flash and swish.
On Monday we saw a children's show, as we usually do, called The Onomatopoeia Society 2: The Etymological Conference, which I thought had some serious flaws: largely, it was too difficult to hear some of the dialogue, and the bit where the Kissing Horse would run out and sing a little song to cover up lazy joke writing was an awful admission that there was lazy joke writing. Why not just write better jokes? ComedyB pointed out that he was annoyed about the show's definition of the word "alliteration"; he claims it only applies to consonants. I confessed that I thought alliteration was when two or more words in a sentence started with the same letter. It turns out that Webster's agrees with me, while other dictionaries agree with him. So everyone's right. Or only some are.
Later we saw God's Pottery do their Concert for Lavert, which was a very moving show in which Gideon Lamb and Jeremiah Smallchild sing songs and try to bring us all closer together (even the Jews and Muslamics), and raise money for a young boy called Lavert, who has cancer. They don't know what kind he has, or who he got it from, but they're going to help him beat it. Great show. I felt affirmed by it.
Then we went and did a lot of drinking, because it was the launch of ComedyB's DVD, his first ever, and we had to help swell the crowd at the party.
Then, much later, we saw some boys trying to jump over things in the street on their bikes and everyone stood and applauded, because we were all so used to being an audience by then that we had to react to them in some way.
And today we came home, and the woman in front of me reclined her seat, so I stuck my knee in her back, and when she complained that I was sticking my knee in her back, I said "No, I'm just getting my magazine out of the pocket", and waved my magazine at her, but really I was sticking my knee in her back. Fuck her.

Sunday dinner in Edinburgh hospital

Yum yum, huh? This is, sadly, what poor ComedyB Jr. had for his dinner last Sunday. He is in the hospital, you see. Apparently last Tuesday he started doing the throw up thing, thought he was just getting "Edinburgh flu", and kind of ignored it. Then on Friday night he was admitted to hospital because he couldn't stop being sick. He has been in hospital since then, with a huge rash on his hands and feet, some kind of abnormalities on his liver, and continued vomiting. He's a lot better now. The doctors think he has some sort of extreme version of streptococcal bacterial infection and have been treating him with antibiotics and have him on a constant drip. He may be in till the weekend. The Mother of all the Byrnes is with him, as is his friend who is also (handily) a nurse, and OldestB lives not too far away. A bit of a blow for ComedyB Jr, who is supposed to be running at least three shows at the fringe. Wish him well, won't you?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Look, Ma, I'm on Myspace!

Here I am!

This is mainly because ComedyB is on Myspace now, and I want to be his friend.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Warp Spasm!

Few things can send me into the berserker rage like people who say "very unique". I know that Mother Monkey and I can be very exacting about our language, and we have our little phrases we'd rather not hear, but honestly, "very unique"?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Man, summer is LOOONNNG

When are all my stories back on? When will the relentless mugginess cease? When will all the people go back to where they came from and leave our beach alone?

By the way, people who go to the beach, you do know that dogs spend their mornings peeing all over the sandcastles you made yesterday, right? So don't, whatever you do, go back to them the next day for some remodelling work. Seriously. My dogs leave no castle unbaptized.

In the meantime, I have found It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a low-budget sitcom from FX. It's no Entourage, but it's funny. Plus it's legally available on your iPod, if you want to go down that route.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


An Fear Moncai sent me flowers, because he is far away and it has been a trying week. The great thing is, I sit way up at the end of my office, so the flower man had to walk past all my coworkers to get to me. Hooray!

Ahab's Wife

Now this is more the thing. An enormous modern take on the epic 19th century novel. A woman's perspective on whaling, a companion piece to Moby Dick, a book that takes every living thing that whaling stories of the time exclude - women, dwarves, dogs, cats, children, slaves, Indians, and openly gay men - and crams them all into one big stove-by-a-whale, ate-my-shipmates, lived-in-a-lighthouse, married-not-one-but-two-nutters, met-Frederick-Douglass-and-Nathaniel-Hawthorne romp. You know the kind of thing. This is a superb book. I recommend it unreservedly.
And I really want a print of that picture on the front, too.

To Hell or Barbados

Perhaps it is that I have finally read everything there is to read about the sea, but more likely it is that Mr. O'Callaghan is not the best writer of narrative history, but this is not an interesting or particularly enlightening book. It tells you in 250 pages that Cromwell sent somewhere between 12,000 and 50,000 Irish people to Barbados as slaves.

And that's kind of it. If you've never read a book about slavery, or transportation, or colonialism, I guess you might get something out of this, but even then it's not very well put together. It is not necessary, in a 250 page book, to repeat information. It's even less necessary to repeat the gory details of the 17th century slave trade, but he does. Lazy editing? Padding? Either way, not the most impressive. I'm sure a really good narrative historian could do a lot with this material, but... you get my drift.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More car news

I've just had the helpful guards from Laytown station on the phone to let me know that if anyone hurts themselves on my car, I will be liable, and so I better get it shifted as soon as possible.

Very useful news at NINE O'CLOCK AT FUCKING NIGHT.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Warning! Contains swearing

Look who's got a myspace page.

Rude Italians

My blog does not get a lot of visitors. I do not have fun stories to tell about Mr. T, nor do I have photos of children with paint all over them. Which is fine and as long as my friends can keep up with my news (in a vague way, with all names changed to protect the innocent), and see that the books-with-pictures-of-ships-on-the-front obsession is still going okay, I'm happy.

Nevertheless, like everyone else who has a blog, I'm always curious to see who the strangers are who wash up here. For some reason, the query that seems to lead people here most often is "rude+italians". I know that this is because I once blogged about a book that claimed that Rome was full of rude Italians. But I've no idea why this is something that people would go looking for. Is it a band name? A play? A pron film? Lazy journalism?

Luckily, idle speculation without the interference of facts or subject knowledge is something at which we excel here in Accent Acres, so I'll get right on that right now.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A good walk spoiled

I get up this morning at my usual time of 6am, determined to get out in the lovely summer sunshine with the Milo and the Cody for a nice walk.

I take a picture of some lovely people who have been camping up at the wall opposite Mosney train station. How lovely for them, I think.

The dogs agree to sit for a picture, as long as I give them a biscuit. Just so I can show everyone what a lovely morning it is, on our lovely walk.

Milo even has a little swim. See how warm it is, even at 7am? Lovely. How happy Mister Monkey will be to see what a nice time we had while he was away.

Oh look. How lovely. My fucking car is on poxy fire. Someone has torched it. At 7.45 in the morning. How nice.

And so the firemen come to put out my car. They do not talk to me or acknowledge my existence. They are busy putting out the fire. Cousin Housemate notices that one of them lights up a fag on his way back to the bee baw.

And now my car is left sitting in the car park, all melty and scorchio. As are my glasses, which were in the car at the time. And the ball throwers for the dogs. And my shopping bags (a carefully assembled collection).

I suppose it's my fault for having such a lovely car in the first place.