Monday, July 28, 2008

Louis CK at the Carlsberg Comedy Carnival

Did you have a chance to come to this gig with us and then not come? Man, you were wrong to make that choice. This was one of the funniest comedy gigs I've been to in years. I was laughing so much I was crying and whimpering and, yes, I was almost relieved when Barry Murphy came on halfway through to read (for about the millionth time) some of his fake poetry, because it meant I could get a little break from laughing.

I had not been to the Comedy Carnival before, assuming that, as an event organized for Irish people to go to en masse, it would be dreadful. When we got to the Iveagh Gardens last night, however, we found a peaceful, sunny place where the fountains were still running and nerdy looking guys were sitting around with women far too beautiful for them, and everyone just seemed to be having quite a nice time. Plus, it wasn't very crowded (I think going to the very last gig on the very last night of the festival probably had a lot to do with this). It seemed a magical place. Even when the venue opened and we went inside, there was a rush for the seats at the front, and everyone sat politely through Barry Murphy's opening two minutes (as some ker-azy German dude! Fantastic!) although everyone really just wanted him to go away so we could see Louis CK.

Who is shorter than he looks on television. On television he looks like a giant, but he clearly must surround himself with tiny co-stars, because in person he just looks like a standard bloke-sized person.

We had been told by the security guy on the way in that CK had died on his arse on Friday night and some people found his stuff really offensive. I can only imagine that such people must live in some kind of fairy world where normal people don't live and nobody ever has a bad thought about anyone or anything, because there is nothing that Louis CK said that I haven't heard expressed by another person, somewhere, at some point, and thought "wow, you must be in a very bad mood today", but not, "wow, you're an offensive person". I just never heard anyone express these things so very well, and all at one time, and quite so vividly. He doesn't just tell you stories about a funny thing that happened to him or something he saw or how his marriage didn't work out and now he has shared custody of his two daughters. He builds you a picture of his whole life and where it all went wrong and how very angry and sad he is about it, but he makes this condition seem normal, and you feel okay because sometimes you feel like that too. For all that he spends the first ten minutes complaining about fat, white people, he then goes on to talk about stuff that only fat, white people can really identify with.

The meal is not over when I'm full, he says, the meal is over when I hate myself.

Truly, it was an excellent night of comedy, and it's always lovely to see R&D ( ha ha, our friends are Research & Development), so it was an all round great night out.

Also, the mystery of such an excellent comedian dying on his arse is explained in his blog, so perhaps we were very lucky after all.

Anyway, Louis CK is playing in London throughout much of August, with a brief stop over in Edinburgh on August 15th and 16th. If you have never seen Louis CK live, and you are a grown adult with some experience of the world and the people in it and you would like to hear someone feel your pain on these topics, then I urge you to go and see him.

You will not be sorry.

Except about the shambles your life has become.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Black Book

Ian reviewed this ages ago, and everyone has been saying that it's a good film, so I recorded it off Film 4 months and months ago, and it's been sitting in the Sky Plus menu for all that time. Given the reception this film got when it was released, as if somehow the technically fine but resolutely shlocky Verhoeven had finally made a worthwhile film, I was concerned that it would be lacking the bonkers full-tilt Verhoeven approach, and that it would somehow be worthy and a bit boring.

Worthy yes. Boring, certainly not. Exciting espionage! Handsome resistance folks! Brave young women! Bad, bad, bad Nazis! Some good Nazis too! An absolutely amazing performance from the leading lady! Typical Verhoeven attitude to having people get their kit off!

One of the things I really loved about the film is the fact that the lead character, Rachel (or Ellis, to give her her alias), has to do a lot of unpleasant things in order to try to find out what has happened to her parents, who has betrayed them, and how to stay alive. This involves a lot of lying and sleeping with people she doesn't care about, which is par for the course for attractive ladies in films. It does, however, also involve other things, like running and shooting and hiding in rivers and other action things that blokes get to do in films. Also, at no point does it look as though the film itself is taking a prurient interest in her. This is simply what a gal had to do to get by in occupied countries, and there are worse things that could happen.

Both Carice van Houten and her co-star (and, I think, real-life partner) Sebastian Koch, are excellent in this movie, and I look forward to seeing them both in the biopic of South African poet Ingrid Jonker, which is, according to the IMDB, to be released some time this year.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Stop press: entire point of Wii Fit discovered

After you've been doing your exercises with the other Miis for a while, you can unlock "free jogging" and "free step", which, in the case of step (because I'm not exactly ready for "free running" yet) means that you can do ten minutes of stepping, keeping your rhythm using clicks from your hand controller (FNARR!), while... drumroll...


Hello Reilly, Ace of Spies

Mrmonkey and I were flicking around the telly stations one afternoon a few weeks ago when we came across an episode of Reilly Ace of Spies on UKTV Drama. I remembered watching this programme when it first came out (although, in that great way of people, I thought it had first been aired a lot longer ago than was actually the case), and mentioned that both I and my mother had been very, very fond of Sam Neill in this show.

Mrmonkey turned out never to have seen it, so we decided to watch it, more for fun than anything else, and because there was nothing else on. Since then, I have to tell you, it's become something of an obsession with us. If you've never seen it, or you don't remember it, I can tell you that it's based on the real life of adventures of Sidney Reilly, a Russian-born secret agent who worked for the British, the Germans, and the Russians during his long career. Although he didn't really do anything you might have heard about, unless you care a lot about British attempts to steal German military secrets before World War I, attempts to secure oil rights, and the abortive attempts to overthrow the Bolsheviks after World War I, his methods are legendary. He was ruthless, cunning, smart, and incredibly attractive and irresistible to women. Moreover, his methods are credited with changing the game of spying from a gentleman's arrangement to an actual scary-ass profession.

The TV show conveys all of this extremely well. Sam Neill is totally convincing as Reilly, and is surrounded by the best and the brightest of British talent at all times during the 11 episodes. The stories are exciting and compelling, and you actually have to pay attention to what's going on. They don't tell you everything ten times to make sure you get it, although there is a handy voice over (kind of important, given that they cover 24 years in 11 hours of telly).

It's interesting, though, that for a hugely successful show, it doesn't seem to get trotted out as an example of the greatness of telly as often as it should. Shame, that.

Now though, as happens when the best telly ends, we're a little bereft. Fortunately Season 5 of the Wire has just started on FX. Hooray!

Weekend update

Ammonite said: I'm beginning to get worried about a Wii/Demonseed situation.

This had occurred to me too; the other week, while out for dinner with some friends, I lamented that of all the Julie Christie films my life could have chosen me to be in, I end up with Demon Seed, where she gets shagged and tormented by a computer, rather than Dr. Zhivago, where she gets shagged and tormented by a young Omar Sharif. I have no luck. (Ha ha, I have compared myself to Julie Christie).

Anyway, two weeks into the Wii programme, I failed to reach my goal. This might have something to do with eating Chinese food and, on one occasion, three Magnums in two days. What do you think?

Despite this setback, my actual training programme has increased from 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise to 30 minutes of feeling like I might collapse. It's hard work, but I'm certainly still enjoying it. I realised yesterday that one of the things I love most about it is that I can get up, put on my dog-walking/Wii fit clothes with the dog slobber on them from yesterday, walk dogs, come home and do Wii, then have a shower and get dressed in proper clothes. I don't have to start looking even vaguely respectable until all the exercising is done and out of the way. I don't have to cart around a kit bag with me to work or anything like that. And I walk faster now when I'm out and about.

My balance and agility are still v. poor, though. I still trip up a lot when I walk. But, you know, Carrie Bradshaw trips up at the start of her programme every time, and she isn't dead yet.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who will run the dog hospital?

It looks as though Cody's dressing can come off on Friday, which is good news. However, he will have to wear a buster collar for about a week to ten days afterwards, which is bad news. It's particularly bad news because Woody turns out not to have a bite on his foot after all, but instead has some kind of growth, which is probably benign and will almost certainly go away, as long as we don't let him chew it and get it infected. He definitely has to wear a buster collar, starting today.

For three weeks.

I am unhappy about these developments and am keen to eat the entire Toblerone that's currently lurking downstairs in the fridge. I won't, though. My Wii believes I should eat more healthily.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Weekend update

Cody is still hobbling about on his bandaged leg, and wearing a waterproof covering over the top fashioned from a long-life shopping bag and some duct tape. Crafty hen strikes again.

Also I have unlocked the boxing rounds on the Wii Fit. Hooray! Punchy punchy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wii fit interruption!

Bless me, readers, for I have sinned. It has been two days since I did any exercise. Yesterday I was too tired, after only having four hours sleep the night before. Plus I knew I was going into town in the afternoon to meet an old friend for lunch, so I didn't want to be completely knackered when I met her, so I gave it a miss, telling myself I would exercise in the evening when I got home.

HOWEVAH! In the evening when I got home, I put on my beach clothes and took the dogs down the beach for a run. I was standing chatting to some people next to a small entrance to the beach, when a guy in one of those little jeeps came up off the beach and Cody ran under his car. The guy didn't see Cody and drove over him. Much screaming from Cody, but when I got the guy to reverse off him, Cody was basically fine. He had to spend the night in the hospital on a drip and have a load of x-rays. He has to wear a big bandage on his leg and is an extremely poor soldier, but basically we got off very lightly. Funnily enough, the people I was talking to when the accident happened told both sides of the argument very well. Yes, Cody did run right under the guy's car, but on the other hand, a dog should be able to run around on the beach without having to watch for traffic. (Note that this was not one of the usual traffic entrances to the beach, which is why I wasn't really watching for traffic). Also the guy in the jeep, when he saw that Cody was not dead, just fucked off. Thanks, guy.

Really though, it was just an unfortunate accident and no major harm was done, except to my exercise programme. But it did give me a shock, which is why I spent most of the day today either eating Maltesers or sleeping rather than exercising. I'm not sure I can explain that adequately to my Wii fit trainer.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ray's regrets

I'm sure there are a few, but one of the things I suspect Ray might regret is asking me to blog my Wii Fit experience. Because, you know, I will. In detail.

Today I had a 20 minute workout which included
  • hula hooping
  • jogging
  • leg extensions
  • torso and waist twists
  • a lecture about my crappy balance (screw you, machine! I'll show you!)
  • step class
  • slalom skiing (which involved letting down my tiny Mii skiier, because I am unbalanced)
Life lessons taught today: I should visualise my ideal body while doing my muscle exercises (this is actually true, I should do that).

Conclusions come to about Wii today: I am going to ditch the male trainer in favour of the female one, because until now I didn't notice he has a stupid tiny ponytail and his smug gob makes me want to kick him.

Favourite exercise: Running, because it gives you nice backgrounds to run past so you feel like you're making progress, and you have a pacer Mii who runs just in front of you. Also, tiny Nintendogs run up to you periodically during your run, thus mirroring REAL LIFE. I believe it will not be long before Nintendo make a Wii Fit/Nintendog crossover, where you can bring your Nintendogs out for a run on your Wii Fit. Perhaps this has already happened.

I am thinking of making a new blog, which will just blog the Wii Fit, so that people who couldn't give a crap about my exercise "program" can avoid reading about it. I predict my enthusiasm for it will last approximately six months, though, so maybe it's not worth it.

The thing is, I do feel like a bit of a tool for having this latest gadget and getting all excited about it, but the thing is that it fulfils a long-held desire to be able to do a bit of running and training and so on without anyone seeing me.

F**k you, I won't do what you tell me

Apparently I'm old. According to the (presumably) young woman on Morning Ireland this morning who was talking about Oxegen this weekend, the fact that Rage Against the Machine have reformed is "good news for older rockers".

There's something about the phrase "older rockers" that conjures up images of... well, geezers in Sabbath t-shirts who complain about all this modern noise and still wear their hair long even though they don't really have any hair. Or, if you're a woman, Suzi Quatro.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do you trip up a lot when you walk?

This is what my Wii Fit asked me when it had finished doing my balance test. It also tells me I have a Wii Fit age of 54. I am actually 38. Bastard.

On the good side, it did not say "one at a time, please" when I stepped on it. It also knows that I am a "friend" of Mister Monkey (because it asked me when I was registering), and so when I had finished my exercise program this morning, it asked me if I had noticed any change in his posture. When I chose "no" from the menu, it suggested that maybe I'm not paying enough attention to him. It went on to recommend that I try to build on our relationship a bit more by making more eye contact.

Yes. Life lessons for only €89.99.

The bloody thing is obsessed with "balance" and has a whole section of games just to improve your "balance". I'm beginning to think, however, that it's mistranslating the word, and what it actually means is a kind of combination of balance and reflexes. Because I can balance just fine, but it turns out I'm SHIT at heading footballs. Oh yes.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cold blow and the rainy day

Our walk this morning was heap o'fun. We walked up towards Mosney, where the army was shooting smaller things at bigger things. A couple of soldiers were posted at the perimeter of where the shooting happens to make people turn back.

Except that Woody did not turn back. Oh no. Woody ran up to the soldiers, gave it the double-time wags, then robbed a cling-film-wrapped packet of sandwiches out of a haversack on the ground and noshed them down in two seconds flat.

I apologised wholeheartedly, but the soldiers seemed unconcerned. "He's about the only one would eat them," one of them said.

At least this is unlikely to happen to them in Chad.

When questioned about his actions, Woody said, "I like to eat all things."