Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It's very windy out and about here today. In this photo, Ozzie is not shaking or moving her head at all. That's the wind, that is.

Looks like the weather will turn icy again tomorrow, so it's time to order my Yak Trax so that at least the dogs don't pull me off my feet when we're walking.

Did you have a lovely Christmas? I did. I seem to have cornered the market in Burt's Bees lip salve, though, so if anyone needs any, do let me know. No exaggeration, I think I have ten sticks of it. I did also get a pile of Lush stuff from youngest Byrne, which included a fantastically bracing salt and vodka facial scrub. Almost as good as a long walk on a very windy day by the sea.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh, did you have best-laid plans, did you?

Well, now they have changed.

To get the new year off to a rollicking start (all the extra two seconds of it, or whatever it was we actually got today), Lulu gashed the pad of her paw on a piece of glass or something on the beach. Not the part of her paw she actually walks on, more the ankle bit. But she sliced that pad pretty good. So off to the vet on the frozen road we went, where she got sedated and stitched and bandaged.

She's fine, but she has to have two kinds of medication for several days, and the medication might make her sick. And she has to come in on Christmas Eve to have her dressing changed and a new bandage put on. So it means she won't be going to kennels with the others tomorrow. I feel bad for poor Ozzie that her very best playmate won't be around to do kennels with her over the next week, but in another way I feel like Lulu's time has come. After all, she did have to spend two weeks in kennels, alone, when we went to Derbyshire in June. Now she gets to hang out at the parents' house with us in comfort over Christmas Day and Stephenses Day while the others are all in kennels, freezing their asses off.

In other news, two of my photos were chosen for the vets' calendar this year. And Blakey is the only cat on the calendar.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy new year

Today is the winter solstice. Which means that tomorrow is the new year, astronomically speaking. And astronomically speaking is good enough for me.

While out walking the dogs today--I saw the sun come up at about 8.45 and was out again when it got dark at about 16.30--I had that feeling you get when you are at the very bottom, or the very middle, of a very long tunnel. You feel stifled, and then you feel that lift as the carriage or the car starts to move out of the tunnel and you find yourself leaning forwards in the hope it'll get you out faster.

Not that I'm particularly going anywhere. Next year might just be the same as this one. For me, that's pretty much okay. (Your experience might be different, in which case I wish radical change for you.) Although I do wish I could have stayed in abstracting. I miss spending my work days finding out what was going on in the world.

Anyway, when I get up on the dunes with the dogs tomorrow morning, there will be that delicious, childish, primeval holding of my breath while I discover whether the sun is going to struggle up over the horizon or not. I don't know what we'll do if it doesn't. Go back to bed and wait to see what happens next, I suppose.

Good thing Mrmonkey isn't going to work tomorrow. We can wait and see together.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is nice system, but please, where is heat?

We recently spent over €4,000 on a new heating system for our house. It's a very clever system that adjusts itself in line with the temperature outside and can be set to heat just your water or just your radiators and no water, whichever you prefer. However, it turns out that you can't just turn it ON when it's cold out. You have to fiddle with the settings to reprogramme its start and stop times. There's no "boost" setting that turns the heat on for an hour and then turns it off again.

There is NO BLOODY ON button that just turns the effing heat ON.

So stupid. See, that's what happens when you don't ask anyone for feedback before you start production on something.

Let's focus group this mother out

As I believe they say in the publishing trade.

I've decided to actually try to produce a workable second draft of my book. If you read any of it, I would like you to tell me what you thought of it, if that's not too much trouble. One thing you did like and one thing you didn't like will be sufficient. Also, if you didn't finish it, when did you stop reading and why? And if you did finish it, did you like it all the way to the end or did you think it got rubbish somewhere along the way but you finished it anyway because you're bloody minded like that?

I've already decided on some of the broader changes I'm going to make and some of the character relationships I'm going to rework (mainly the two lead characters, who I like better as semi-robotic loners who've found their niche in life as zombie killers than as nice, regular people who fall in love with other people ever), but it would be nice not to make the same mistakes twice.

So, if you can be bothered, please comment. I realise there's nothing in it for you except that book-group feeling, but you would be helping me with my project. Thanks.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The End of Innistown

So, Google Docs doesn't allow me to upload the whole novel in one go. Stupid, huh?

Here is a link to the first part of the novel.

And here is a link to the second part of the novel.

I don't know if this will work. If it doesn't work, I am sorry.

Usual Disclaimer: Please remember that this is a first draft that was written in 30 days.

Personally I think it lacks the charm of my previous nanowrimo novel, which I greatly enjoyed writing and still think of very fondly. But it's done now and that's zombies officially laid to rest. So to speak.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Accentmonkey, just how sad are you?

Here's how sad I am. I finally found a website where I can buy a proper deck-scrub broom, so I can wash my kitchen floor properly instead of just sweeping and mopping it.

And I am excited about this, because I have been looking for one for months.

And that is the story of how sad I am.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I won!

Look, I did NanoWriMo and I won!

I don't like this year's novel as much as I like the one I wrote a few years ago, but it was still fun to do it.

In April I'm going to do Script Frenzy. I am resolved.

So now I have some extra time on my hands. I really should do something useful with it. Yes. Something useful. I will get right on that, Taoiseach. I certainly won't, for example, spend my time propping up the bar in my local pub shiteing on about football and getting free tickets for stuff. No, because that would be wasting my time. Wasting it. See?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Best laid plans, eh?

I had big plans tonight. Oh yes. I was going to go into Dublin and meet people in the pub, something I haven't done for months. Honestly, months. My own animals are all packed off to kennels, I am going to Glasgow tomorrow, and I have a full day's work ahead of me.

Then I got a text about an older dog someone found in our estate. The woman who found it picked it up off the road outside the estate yesterday, and she can't keep it because it cries a lot and doesn't sleep. It's kind of deaf, and it's kind of partially sighted, and it can't walk properly because its back legs are wonky.

So I was asked would I take it for a while, and I said I could keep it until tomorrow. So he's here now. He has a fitful wander around every now and then, and he's obviously extremely confused about where he is, and probably a bit distressed about this change in his situation, but he's quiet enough. He really likes to be in physical contact with a person, though. He had a nice nap with me on the sofa earlier, stretched out beside me. So now I won't be going out, and I've to go to the vet later and see how he is and what we can do with him. He'll need to go to a reasonably quiet foster home for about a week, where there's someone at home at all day to mind him.

It would be great if he had just wandered from somewhere and we found his owner. It would be just great. I'm not holding out a lot of hope, though.


Owners found!

His name is Max and he is 18. He lives in the village, and usually when he goes out the back for a pee, they attach him to a line so he can't wander off (he has had four strokes). But the line wasn't securely attached this time and he wandered off. He was only wandering for a few minutes when he was picked up, though. Poor old guy. Still, at least they'll be more careful in future.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jane the cat

After only a year of living with us, Jane died. She was sick for a long time. Months, really. It turned out that she was FIV+ and possibly had been for ever? Who knows. Estimates about the prevalance of FIV in outdoor and feral cats vary wildly, and there's every chance that she picked it up during the years she basically lived as an outside cat.

In any case, I now have to decide whether or not to get my other cats tested for FIV. On the one hand, it's expensive to get them tested, and at least two of my cats really, really hate going to the vet or being put in their boxes or anything like that. On the other hand, if we have it in the house we need to know. We can't, in good conscience, take any more cats in to live here if we have FIV in the house. FIV in itself is not that contagious if there's no fighting or sexing or open wounds around the place, so the cat most at risk of catching it is Linus, because he goes outside, and that's the only place where fighting might happen.

I don't want to have to stop Linus from going outside. The whinging alone would be too much to bear.

Although I miss Jane, I don't miss how ill she was in recent months, and the constant visits to the vet, the upset of her being ill all the time, and the cleaning up after her. And Blakey does fill that sitting-on-me-even-when-it's-not-really-convenient-to-have-a-cat-sit-on-me niche that Jane used to occupy so well. Blakey has even taken it a stage further and will crawl up the sleeve of the Slanket and attack my armpits while I'm trying to type.

So cute. So inconvenient.

Poor Jane. I'm sorry there wasn't anything we could do, and I'm sorry we didn't know that sooner, or there might have been more chicken and less grumping at you in your end times.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Psst, want a pedigree cat?

Despite my five cats, I think of myself as primarily a dog person. This is because I think of myself as being largely sloppy, sprawly, mucky, and willing to eat just about anything if it's served in a bowl and someone makes yum yum noises while they pass it over.

However, the nice lady in Laois from whom we adopted Lorelai aka Rory aka Smidger Fee aka The Smidge contacted me yesterday to say that she has a posh breed cat who is looking for a nice indoor home, and she thought of me. I was simultaneously aghast at the idea of me as some kind of crazy cat collector person who fawns over her beautiful long-haired tortoiseshell kitty and would love to have a house full of long-haired tortoiseshell kitties, and highly flattered that when a valuable cat comes into someone's possession, they think of me as an ideal home for it.

(She probably would not think this if she heard me telling Jane last night that she better make her mind up to get well or die soon, because I'm not spending any more money bringing her to the vet or any more time and energy cleaning up her puke off the floor every time she eats.)

Anyway, six cats is a bridge too far, so I reluctantly turned down her Norwegian forest cat, but said I would keep an eye out for a good home. So if you have a good indoor home to offer a really beautiful cat, let me know and I'll pass your details along. If I think you're good enough.

By the way, the cat in the picture is just some random Norwegian forest cat, just so you can get an idea of what they look like. It's not the one on offer.

(Obviously I will continue to look after Jane. Come on, like.)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

And we're off

Day one and I've got over 2,000 words written. Maybe I'll make it this year. First couple of pages are a bit boring though, so I might not bother posting them. If I write something exciting I'll post it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More Blakey cuteness

Oh, and did I mention that Blakey thinks that Lulu is her mother? Well, she does. Lulu has to bat her away when she tries to suckle, but she is happy enough to let her curl up beside her and sleep.

We went on holidays

To Markree Castle in Sligo.

The plan was originally to go to Cuba, but that turned out to be very expensive and a massive hassle, so we decided to have a cheapish reading week in Ireland, which wouldn't involve flights or luggage allowance or any of that crap. Markree, as a bonus, let us bring the dogs, so we didn't even need to worry about that. Just chuck everyone in the car and off we go.

From that point of view, the place was a dream. The dogs were very welcome, and the room was big enough for all six of us to bunk up together, spread over two beds. There was plenty of space to run them across the (as advertised) rolling parklands and formal gardens. Nobody disturbed us, and we didn't disturb anyone else. We took them out for a long run in the mornings, then spent the afternoons sitting around reading while the dogs slept. Then another run in the evening before dinner, and another short walk in the moonlight before bedtime. Top notch. And we saw a stag one of the days. It was all very Regency.

There were a couple of problems with the room. The shower was awful. Truly awful. With the shower head on, you were standing under a dribble of hot water. Taking it off produced a slightly more satisfying trickle, so we did that instead. Also the bed was broken on one side. Separately, the food was kind of strange, as if the proper chef was away and had been replaced by someone who had never cooked a vegetable before in their lives.

We still really enjoyed it, and looking at other people's photographs of the place on Flickr indicates that the food isn't always like that, so I would recommend it to someone else. Plus I read two novels while I was there, which was something of a result, because I can't remember when I last finished a book.

It has been an awfully long time

Things have been busy here on Waltons' Mountain. Life news in brief:

*Ozzie is doing better, thanks. She has stopped losing weight and actually might be putting it on a little. This is great news, because it means we've found the problem and it is treatable, which means that when she has her weight up to normal, we can start looking for a home for her.

*We have a new kitten. She is called Blakey. She is called this because she has kind of a Hitler moustache effect going on, but you can't really call a kitten Hitler, can you? (No, is the answer. The answer is no.) Blakey came to us from Roscrea, where we were attending the funeral of our friend's mother. At the reception afterwards, some people rescued her from a tree, but then she was just left there in the carpark, only a five-barred gate between her and the main Dublin road. So we took her away, leaving our details with the hotel staff in case anyone came looking for her (although given the worm load she was carrying, and the state of her ears, and how hungry she was, it seems unlikely that she strayed from a loving home). We are officially looking for a home for her, but there are kittens everywhere, it seems, and nobody appears to be interested. So that's five cats we have now.

*Jane has been ill, but she appears to be doing better now.

All in all, there have been a lot of trips to the vet, which has been expensive and time-consuming, and reached a nadir when I had to give Jane a suppository. Hopefully we're on a bit of an upswing now, because I can't manage much more animal hassle.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A poorly girl

We have a new canine house guest at the moment. Her name is Ozzie. She was originally picked up by our rescue at about ten weeks old, abandoned in a box in Drogheda, covered in fleas and totally underfed. She has been fostered by a single family since then, and did actually go to a new home after she was spayed a couple of months ago, but it didn't work out (the property just wasn't secure enough for her questing nature) and she came back into foster.

We took her when her foster family went on holidays a few weeks ago, and she's been fine in our house so we agreed to keep her a bit longer while they all got organized with getting back from holidays and getting back to school and so on.

She's a sweet girl and she fits in here extremely well. Apart from chasing Linus a bit (which all the dogs do, because he's so chasable), and the odd bit of power-supply chewing, she fits in here pretty well. She has many of the appealing traits of a labrador (likes to rest her heavy head on your lap and sigh, likes to go for a big long walk, loves a cuddle) without the insane food fixation we have seen in labradors gone by, and in a smaller, easier-to-handle package.

Unfortunately she's not well now. She's losing weight, not digesting her food properly, and having accidents in the kitchen at night. Today we went out for a walk and she didn't even chase the seagulls, which is a sure sign something is amiss. So we went to the vet, who gave her an injection, special food, several types of tablet, and some stuff that looks like Maalox that needs to be syringed into her three times a day, an hour before she eats.

She's down from 17.5kg when she came to us three weeks ago (and that was about 1kg underweight) to 15.65kg this morning. When she lies on her side you can see her heart beating under her ribs, and you can see all the knobs on her spine.

I hope she gets better soon. Looks like we might have her for a while yet. As I write this I am sitting on the sofa with her head jammed under my arm. I will be working like this for the rest of the day because I am soppy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This is a bad day

Everything's dark. Gloomy. It's the lousy tail end of a piss-poor summer in the weather arena.

We had to cancel a weekend away in England in July, and we've had to cancel our trip to Cuba in November. We've had minor dog complications. I've been eating crap and getting far less exercise than I should.

To top it all off, I've moved to a new position in our company, which takes me away from the world of periodicals and back into the world of writing marketing copy. On the face of it, that's fine, except when I can't think of anything to write and I sit here and stare at the screen just getting tireder and tireder.

And I have barely scraped fifty pages of reading the whole summer long. I seem to just sort of sit here. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow for more blood tests, just to see what's happening with the good old thyroid function.

On the other hand, we have found a new number 2 for the laminated list, so that's something at least.

We take our wins where we can.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hot SCD Gossip

So it is official. Arlene Phillips is being dropped from Strictly Come Dancing in favour of Aleisha Dixon. This raises several problems for me as a telly consumer, a woman, and a fan of SCD.

Ever since Aleisha Dixon started to do well on the show, even before she won, the BBC began pushing her, grooming her for something more. A core of telly types appear to think she is the British Beyonce. Bruce said it on many occasions, and I bet you anything he wasn't saying it off his own bat; he's a team player, is Bruce.

She got a new recording contract, her single was single of the week on BBC Radio, and presenters had to say they liked it, despite the fact that it sounded exactly like "Mambo No. 5," which nobody likes, not even the people who bought a copy. I'm not sure any of it really did any good, because I don't follow the charts, but it does seem to me that as soon as the song stopped being single of the week in its first week of release, I rarely heard it again. Contrast this with Lily Allen, who is on the radio every second of the day, seemingly.

And now the BBC is replacing Arlene Phillips with Aleisha Dixon on SCD. Why replace Arlene? Because, even on a dance show that is primarily watched by women, only one of the four judges can be a woman. And it's convenient to replace Arlene, because she's older and a bit grumpy. Of course, Len Goodman and Bruce Forsyth are also older and a bit grumpy, but you can't take all the older people off the show, because a lot of the show's audience is made up of older people.

So off Arlene goes. What the hell does she know about dance anyway? With her years of choreography experience and dance coaching to the stars behind her, what the hell makes her such an expert? No no, much better to get someone new and fluffy in who will be nice and who doesn't really know anything about dance.

If they're going to replace anyone on the show with Aleisha Dixon, why can't it be Tess Daly? If the producers want to groom Aleisha for anything, why not groom her to take over from Bruce when he eventually dessicates under the strain of trying to pretend that the Sunday night dance-off isn't recorded on Saturday? She's peppy and personable and can sing and dance, and according to the BBC, everyone loves her. So why not take the big chance instead of the easy option of booting the old boot?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Would you like to hear a story about dogs that starts off sad and gets happy?

You would? Okay.

Early in 2009, I got a call from Drogheda Animal Rescue (the organization I sometimes volunteer for) asking me if I would help out with fostering two little old Jack Russell ladies. Lucky, 14, and Princess, 17, had been brought by their owner to the vet to be put to sleep because the owner had got a new cocker spaniel and the Jack Russells, who lived exclusively in the back garden, didn't like it. There was nothing else wrong with these dogs, as far as we knew.

So the vet called DAR, and the dogs were put into a foster home near me. I used to go round most days at lunchtime and take them out for a walk. They were always excited to see me, always happy to go for their walk, and I always hated leaving them, because, to be honest, I didn't really think they were getting proper care there either. Lucky turned out to have a heart condition and was put on pills. She eventually had a seizure and the dogs had to be moved from that foster home to somewhere where they could be more closely monitored. I was sad to see them go, assuming I would never see them again. Yes, I did have a little cry.

Fortunately, a lovely couple turned up close to Drogheda who took these two ladies in and turned them into part-time outside dogs, part-time sofa dogs.

Unfortunately, Lucky died a while later, and Princess was left on her own.

Can you see where this is going?

Yes, on Wednesday I delivered our wee foster (who we were originally calling Little, but whose name was later changed to Bijou) round to the house of these nice people, to see if she would make a good companion for Princess.

Their house is so lovely! There are lovely dog beds in the kitchen, and lovely kennels outside! And the dogs get to sit on the sofa in the evening! And the lady goes to the beach in the evenings for walks, so Bijou will be able to go for walks! And Princess did not hate her, so maybe she will eventually like her!

The best thing is that Princess looks amazing. She's lost loads of weight and she's had some baths, and she is lively and happy and waggy in her tail. She's bright-eyed and happy to receive visitors. These people have done a great job.

I hope Bijou will be happy there.

But we do miss her very much. And yes, I had a little cry.

Dog fostering is hard, as I believe I may have pointed out before.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More setbacks for pedigree dogs

Some time ago, a documentary maker called Jemima Harrison made a show called Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which basically scared the bejesus out of everyone who cares about dogs, because it pointed out how eugenics in the dog-breeding business have turned some of your favourite breeds into barely functional freaks that suffer from every health problem you can possibly imagine.

As a direct result of Jemima's work and the support she received from animal welfare groups, the BBC chose to stop showing Crufts, the world's biggest advertisement for this type of dog breeding.

But now More 4 have decided that they will start showing it instead. Bad news for dogs.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Little the dog

Last night some of the local kids (yes, the ones I'm always complaining about) brought a little dog to our door. They were accompanied by a parent this time, the first time I've ever met one of their parents.

They had found a little female jack russell wandering around the estate and she seemed lost and tired. Crucially, the kids didn't recognize her, and they know every dog in the neighbourhood. So Mammy had agreed that they could go around all the houses where they knew people with dogs lived and ask them if they knew the dog. But first they wanted to check with me that I would take her if they couldn't find anywhere for her to go by bedtime.

Nobody owned her, so now she's here. She's a sweet wee girl, and clearly very much a lap dog. She likes to be picked up and likes to sit next to people. We are very hopeful that someone in the estate owns her, or at least someone local. But if not, well, someone's going to get a lovely little dog soon.

I am calling her Little, for now. Because, you know, she's little.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

MJ's will has been filed

According to the BBC:

"As we work to carry out Michael's instructions to safeguard both the future of his children as well as the remarkable legacy he left us as an artist, we ask that all matters involving his estate be handled with the dignity and the respect that Michael and his family deserve."

So, none at all then.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Poor Lulu

A few weeks ago Lulu became lame in one of her front legs. This necessitated a visit to the vet to ensure that she was fit for the Great Camping Trip to Derbyshire. Sadly, the vet recommended that she be left behind, in kennels, for rest, medication, and no exercise for two whole weeks. The vet suspected elbow dysplasia.

For a dog owner, the idea of dysplasia is bad news. It can mean years of medication, physical therapy, restricted exercise, arthritis, and general misery for the dog, and high vet bills for the owner.

Naturally, we wouldn't want anything like that to befall poor Lulu.

Fortunately, the x-rays we just subjected her to appear to suggest that she hasn't got it, or if she has got it, she's in the extremely early stages of it and a few months of gentle exercise could prevent it from developing. We won't know for sure until the radiologist has had a chance to look at the x-rays, and she won't be visiting for another two weeks. In the meantime, we have to proceed as if Lulu has got it.

That means that a dog who was formerly getting at least two hours of fairly vigorous exercise a day, much of it in the form of chasing a ball at high speeds and with much leaping, is now confined to three ten minute walks on the lead every day, and no more ball.

She has been home less than a week and has already eaten a book I was reading.

Except today, when she is the poorest yoke in the world, having been given a general anaesthetic by the vet. I don't know about you, but I find that when certain dogs come home after a general anaesthetic, they become tired and clingy, and don't like you to leave the room or they won't go to sleep. So instead of getting my afternoon's work done, I'm sitting in the living room with the dogs, or Lulu won't lie down, even though she looks as though she will fall down if left to her own devices.

Poor wee girl.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hot town, summer in the, er, housing estate

Summer is the time for serious reading. Partly because the days are long and you can get away with switching on your, frankly, inadequate bedside lighting later and later, and partly because there's nothing on the telly.

I really want to read something amazing right now. I really want to read something that I love as much as I loved The Time Traveller's Wife, or Oscar and Lucinda, or Ahab's Wife. I want something with romance and incident and longing and great passions of all kinds, and an impossible journey, and long ago (although a lack of long-ago is not a deal breaker), and I want it to make me cry.

If I can't find a book with these things in it, I will just have to go back to reading some Patrick O'Brian. He packs many of those things into his books, although he's a little too light on the romance for my current requirements.

Or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Where are you, book I want to read? Come on, it'll be the solstice in a few days and I'll have to start lighting the lamps earlier of an evening.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Watching Glen Hansard write songs

I never saw Once before. It's very pleasant, except for the fact that Glen Hansard is a Grafton St. busker in it. I hate Grafton St. buskers. I never liked them much, even when I was younger and just used to traipse around Grafton St. for fun. But as I got older and often had serious business to transact on the street, they became a positive nuisance.

In particular, I remember going for some counselling sessions in a second-or-third floor office on Grafton St. and having to listen to buskers outside while trying to collect my thoughts and come up with something useful to say about my life and my relationship with other people and the world. I remember wanting to go outside after the session and shout at the buskers in frustration, because they just make so much bloody noise.

I'm not often in a hurry when I'm in town these days, and I don't mind buskers so much. I'd mind them even less if they were all like the young lad who plays drums with a couple of plastic bottles.

Still not crazy about unsolicited music in some public places though. Particularly in the Long Hall. Fuck off with that shit.

The Office romances. (May contain spoilers for those watching on Comedy Central in the UK)

One of the things I love about The Office is that the characters in it who go out with each other actually like one another and have things in common. Just like real life! In most other sitcoms I have seen, not only are the friends constantly trying to fuck each other over in a way that makes you wonder how they ever became friends at all, but the couples have NOTHING in common. In fact in most cases it is from this lack of common ground that most of the "situations" that give rise to the "comedy" emerge.

The differences between Ross and Rachel, to take a popular example, are staggering. They're always trying to hide things from each other, get out of going to one another's work events, or avoid having to take part in each other's hobbies or pastimes.

Jim and Pam, on the other hand, support each other, laugh at the same jokes, and want the same things out of life. So do Michael and Holly, and Phyllis and Bob Vance. Even Dwight and Angela, when they were together (and they will be again) shared a love of Birkenstocks and being horrible to other people. Furthermore, the few times they have put incompatible couples together on The Office, it has worked out horribly, rather than with hilarious results. Mrmonkey still can't watch Melora Hardin in anything, because Jan Levinson gives him the fear so much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Local election special!

So, having busted his ass and spent a fortune on getting elected as our local TD, why is Thomas Byrne now trying to get out of national government and into Europe?

To date, I've had approximately 14 pieces of election literature put through my door (including one from the terrifying-looking Joanne Finnegan, who is running as an independent now, instead of as a Sinn Fein candidate, as if we might forget she ever was one), and only ONE actual candidate/canvasser calling to the door. He is local Duleek publican Seamus O'Neill, and he is, so far, my number one preference. Why? Because he is not a member of a political party, he told me he has a woman lined up to work for him who has 25 years of experience in getting stuff done in politics, and when I told him the things I would like to see done, he wrote them in a notebook along with my email address and phone number.

He also had the good grace to laugh at my joke about the annual ritual of the Placing of the Bin on Laytown beach, which happens on the first Monday in May every year. A JCB comes along and places The Bin on the path leading down to the beach. The Bin remains there until the first of October, when it flies south for the winter.

Yes, okay, I'm easily pleased. But I have to vote for someone, and it might as well be him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dammit Jim!

So, after looking forward to Star Trek for months and months and months, myself and Mister Monkey snuck out the other week to go and see it. Well, it kind of felt like sneaking out because we probably should have gone into the city centre to see friends, and because we drove for an hour each way to get to Liffey Valley, which contains Ireland's biggest cinema screen.

It was completely worth the hassle. The film was AWESOME. The only reason I haven't blogged about it before now is that I don't really have interesting to say about it. I just sat there with a stupid grin on my face throughout the entire thing (except for that Willy Wonka bit with Scotty, that was just kind of annoying), which was exciting and fun and kind of sexy and... well, I have one reservation. And yes, it is a bit "Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film...", but I think it's valid. It was all a little bit gung ho, wasn't it? Just a tiny bit militaristic, maybe? The beginning, when all the cadets were getting on their different ships and they were all excited to be going out into space just seemed to be a little bit too much Starship Troopers and a little bit too little Wrath of Khan for my liking. I'm not saying I want 90 minutes of discussion about the Prime Directive in every single Trek movie, but it is that soul that has always set it apart from other sci fi, and I don't want it to get lost in among the frankly amazing action sequences and the whole, beautiful look of the thing.

Other than that, I loved it. Everything about it was bright and shiny and positive and forward-looking, and the cast was just wonderful, particularly Karl Urban as Bones. He really sets the tone for the others to follow, pitching the performance somewhere between impersonation and original interpretation. For once I even see the point of Zachary Quinto.

So yes. A resounding success. I welcome our new Trek overlords.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sweden, here she comes

On Tuesday we got our first bull terrier foster, a staffie cross called Kaya. Despite the protestations of the nice lady from the rescue about her lovely personality, I was initially apprehensive about her coming here. I am, I'll admit, a teeny bit nervous about bull breeds and their reputation and their physical strength. I was slightly concerned that she would accidentally hurt one of the other dogs, or that she would get loose and attack the cats, or something.

In fact, the nice lady from the rescue was completely correct. Kaya was a total sweetheart in every way. She loved her cuddles, she LOVED playing with Lulu, she stayed where she was put, slept through the night, made no messes, and was friendly towards everyone she met while she was here. She also has a slightly wonky face because her jaw got broken when she was a puppy (or an even younger puppy than she is now), which makes her even more adorable and highly drooly.

We will miss her tremendously, even though she was only here a few days.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Chuck me, NBC

Chuck has, over the course of its second series, transformed from being a mildly enjoyable show that contained a few pleasant geeky elements to being one of our very favourite shows here at the Monkey House. Everything about it is fun, light-hearted, just smart enough to be unpredictable, and incredibly geeky.

It's also built up quite a following on the blogs and so on.

Nevertheless, NBC have chosen to leave us Chuck fans guessing about the fate of our beloved Buy More employees and kick-ass NSA/CIA operatives. Oh sure, they've renewed Heroes, despite it being unwatchably bad, and Parks and Recreation, despite it being nothing but a pale imitation of The Office, but no word on Chuck.

A cancellation for Chuck would round out an already sucky week for us and our love of decent U.S. television, what with those losers at FX deciding to drop Colbert (one FX employee on Twitter said that it was because the show was expensive and didn't get many viewers. I say if you want viewers, don't bump your show from 11:30pm to 00:05am, IDIOTS).

I hope Chuck doesn't get cancelled. I do love it so.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

OMG! It's nearly time...

...for new Star Trek.

From via the AV Club:

Tonight Paramount pulled off one of the coolest stunts in fan history. Promoted as just a 10 minute preview of the new Star Trek to show along with The Wrath of Khan, tonight fans in Austin, TX were actually shown the entire new Star Trek movie. The event included surprise guests, including the original Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy.

And then, surprisingly:

According to a friend who called in to TrekMovie after the event, the audience reaction was very positive.
Gosh, really? Because I would have expected people to want their money back.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On a positive note

I have two pieces of important dog news!

The first is that we have decided to keep Lulu (because it's always good to make Important Life Decisions when you're depressed, right?). Some lovely people came to see her on Friday, but decided that she wasn't quite the right dog for them, even though they did think she was fabulous. In all of that, though, we realised that the upset we go through every time a dog leaves this house into someone else's care is just too much for our fragile spirits to bear. So we decided to keep her. The rescue was unsurprised to learn of our decision, especially since we had already rejected two perfectly good homes for her on the grounds that they would want her to sleep (gasp!) outdoors. No dog of mine sleeps outdoors. Unless it is a malamute or some similar breed that would bake if left in a kitchen overnight.

In other good news, the labrador we rescued off the beach last Sunday, with no collar and no microchip, was reclaimed from Meath pound on Monday. The dog went missing early last Sunday morning, so the next day the owners rang around the pounds and the warden said "yes, I've had a call about a dog like that, I'm collecting him this morning, you can pick him up this afternoon." Hilariously, however, the dog turns out to live in this very estate. Hopefully the owners have had enough of a fright that they will put a fecking collar on the thing. But see, sometimes it's okay if you have to send a dog to the pound, even if it goes against everything you believe in.

I have entered a period of depression

Not the personal, unable-to-get-out-of-bed depression (which is a relief), but the more broad what-is-the-fucking-point-of-people depression. This tends to be easier to live around, but worse overall, because I can't magic it away with tablets.

It is brought on by reading things like The Economist, or watching things like Darwin's Dangerous Idea on the telly, in which Andrew Marr gives a potted history of humans fucking up the earth in the name of profit, left right and centre, from the Industrial Revolution right up to the present day. You just look at it and wonder what the point is? What is the point of me recycling anything, or not driving my car, or cutting back on air travel? It's too little and it's too late and me and all the people who work even harder than me to actually live some kind of green existence are up against too many forces that just don't give a shit about anything at all other than making money for anything we do to ever make the blindest bit of difference at all.

People say that important movements are built from the grassroots up. Anti-slavery movements, feminism, children's rights, and so forth. But these movements took hundreds of years to develop and very few of them have actually achieved their final ends yet. And environmentalism doesn't have the luxury of time. The world in this picture is not womankind as a whole, or children as a whole, or black people as a whole, but an individual person who is going to die unless someone does something really drastic really right now. But nothing's being done. Or rather, not enough is being done.

On a more focused level, there's all this business about Jade and Dunblane and so on. Normally I get to ignore this kind of thing by not reading the papers, ever, but now here it is, and it's all part of the same cycle, and it makes me, well, very depressed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I am so mature!

Yes, 39 years old yesterday, and still happy to laugh at this line from The Economist:

President Obama spent much of his first week trying to push his gargantuan stimulus package through Congress.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Why I may not be watching Watchmen

First off, I never read the book.

Having got that out of the way, let's proceed.

Well, you don't get to see Billy Crudup much.
And ever since I saw Little Children and its incredibly disturbing masturbation scene, I can't ever look at this guy again.
Also, one of the lady Watchmen highlighted one of my problems with superhero comics and movies when she pointed out that high heels, corsets, and latex are very uncomfortable, and that if she was an actual superhero she would wear running shoes and sweat pants.
Oh, and I hated 300.

(Also, while I'm watching Film 2009, why can't Sarah Ferguson open her mouth when she talks? It would make her ever so much easier to understand.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Last night, I dreamed...

... oh yes. Just as every newspaper columnist eventually gets round to writing a column about how difficult they found it to write their column this week, so every blogger eventually gets around to telling you about their dream they had last night.

Well, last night I dreamed I was having an affair with David Attenborough. Proper David Attenborough, as he is now, like, not some dream version of him where he is labeled "David Attenborough" but actually looks like Jon Hamm. I can think of several reasons why this is appealing.

First, who doesn't love David Attenborough? Would his voice not bring you out of a coma, if you were in one? And he's taken on a new, battling persona since the news emerged of the hate mail he receives from creationists. He's also the guardian of all animals in the world, as we know, and is on personal chatting terms with many endangered species, many of whom I'm very worried about at the moment.

David Attenborough is also the king (inasmuch as we believe in kings) of the non-speciesist humanists. He is always at pains to point out that although we appear, to ourselves, to be the pinnacle of evolution, we're nothing like it. It's this kind of talk that makes me more convinced than ever that people like Giles Coren are wronger than someone who answers "fourteen" to "what's ten plus two?" when they express the belief that pets are unnecessary and should be discarded.

I can get behind the point of activists like Peter Singer that it's wrong for their sakes to keep animals, but I am sentimental about animals (which I realise is a stupid trait, but hey, some people believe in God or football teams. We all have our coping mechanisms). I also believe that it's good for people, and indeed, other animals, to live with different types of animals. I believe it teaches you something. Even if all it teaches you is that you don't like people very much sometimes. Particularly when they send threatening mail to David Attenborough.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Word to your larium

Some of you may remember that I spent the summer of 1991 in Berkeley, California, living in a shared house with a bunch of Berkeley students, getting stoned, and watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is a summer that retains a very special place in my heart, even though, obviously, I can't really remember a lot of the actual details. Indeed, three or four years later, when myself and Older Brother Monkey went to Berkeley for the weekend, I couldn't find my way around at all.

In the last couple of weeks, I re-engaged with a couple of people from those days through the magic of Facebook. Even more excitingly, it turned out that one of these lovely people was going to be in Dublin for the first time ever for a brief visit this week, so he asked me if we could go out for a pint. Of course I agreed, but then, also of course, spent the time leading up to seeing him worrying that I had remembered everything all wrong and he was going to ask me for money, or even that I wouldn't be able to recognise him when I saw him.

Neither of these things turned out to be the case. He remembered that summer much as I did, and we told Mister Monkey some stories. Then we spent the rest of the night talking about Middle Eastern politics, American foreign policy, and behavioral science. Plus we had some good food.

All in all, it was a top night. Now I know how people who actually liked the people they went to school with must feel when they go to their reunions.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Glinner's right, you know.

Why is this story not enormous? A 12-year-old is accused of prostitution and assault, having been beaten to shit by some police officers? WTF?

Lulu update

I know that many of my younger readers only tune into this blog to find out how my dogs are doing. So, for those younger readers, here's the update:

Lulu is still completely adorable. She does still occasionally pee on the floor in the living room, and she will still shred cushions or whatever else you've got lying around if she's bored. But since we came back from Glasgow and took them out of the kennels, she insists on sleeping in the same bed as Milo, so we've had to take his small bed out of the kitchen and replace it with a larger bed so she doesn't crush him. She wrestles with Marvin, she's the sweetest girl to Mrmonkey, and she still comes back whenever you call her. We do NOT want someone to adopt her. EVER.

She particularly likes kids. Just in case any of you younger readers would like to make friends with a dog.

Economy's crap, isn't it?

Some friends of mine, who are married to each other, were recently laid off by a company they have worked for pretty much since they left college. This company is not in any financial difficulty whatsoever, it's just a slave to its shareholders, and it's gotten greedy. Bunch of tossers. That's the last one of their phones I'll be buying, that's for fucking sure.

Here in Monkey Mansions, however, things look a little bit more solid. Mrmonkey was informed that it is highly unlikely that his company will close its engineering office in Dublin, and I've actually got overtime on! I know!

We are celebrating this fact by getting some work done on the house before we do get made redundant, because I know if I do get laid off, I'd rather spend my period of unemployment sitting in a nicely landscaped back yard than in some scrubby back garden. Mrmonkey was slightly concerned that our neighbours would think we were flaunting our employed status (our next-door neighbour got laid off from his construction job some months ago and is now working a shitty night-time delivery job, which he hates). But if nobody hires anybody to do any work, then the economy will never get going again.

(I am right, right? How would you feel if you lost your job and the people next door to you were having their garden landscaped? I think I would only care if I was a garden landscaper and they hadn't asked me.)

No snow over Edward's house

It has been a cold winter here on the flat shores of Laytown. We had a lovely spell there where it was crispy cold, like I imagine it to be in more impressive countries that are something more than the plaything of the North Atlantic and its zephyrs. Now it is snowing everywhere, it seems, except over our house. While Dublin airport closed down and the radio predicted "heavy snowfalls and severe weather warnings over the north and east of the country" I would stare out my window and see only trees bent double in the ever strengthening wind. Because you can be sure, if you're having snow, we're having a knifing wind here in the 'town.

Secretly, of course, I'm glad. The only thing to recommend snow is that it makes for good photos, particularly if you're the kind of person who has turned to making her own cards because she doesn't knit and is therefore always looking for a good photo to put on a Christmas card. Actually, there's one more thing to recommend a heavy fall of snow, but it's slightly lame. And it is that it would keep mrmonkey at home from work and we could spend the day together, because I like that.

Also, the dogs bloody love snow.

Okay, so there are a lot of things to recommend it. But we haven't got any, so there's no point in delighting in the fact that there are no snowballs for the local kids to throw at us, and there's no chance of me wiping out on the path while walking down to the beach.

Sadly, however, our lovely crispy cold has been replaced by a horrible, typical damp cold that chilled me so much today that I had to stand under a hot shower for longer than is probably good for the environment.

I would take snow over this.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More crime books

I believe I may have pointed out before that I don't read many crime books. I had another go a couple of weeks ago with Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace. Eoghan gave me this book for Christmas 07, and I just got around to it now. That gives you an idea of the rate at which I'm ploughing through books.

Anyway, I didn't like Tokyo Year Zero. His writing style irritated me. It was too sing-song and repetitive; too much poetry and not enough prose. I know that's the point. I know it was probably supposed to signify something about feeling trapped and the claustrophobia of the destroyed city and the endless grind of being a police investigator, but it was too much style and not enough content for me. It also had that feature of crime novels that I hate, when there's some really important and pertinent piece of evidence that will tie the whole case together, and it's hinted a lot, and everyone knows what it is except the reader. That always seems kind of lazy to me, like using pure coincidence to drive a story forwards all the time.

So I gave it up after about 100 pages, and I decided that I would give the George P. Pelecanos book that I bought months ago a shot at the title. If I don't like this, I thought, that is officially it, I will officially give up on crime books.

And now I'm wondering why I'm sitting here blogging about this, when I could be READING GEORGE PELECANOS.

Friday, January 16, 2009

It seems we have bought a bank

This is great news, given that we are currently €50 overdrawn after Christmas, and will have to buy this week's shopping on the credit card.

Oh, hang on a minute...

I've just been informed that this is not how it works.

Still, what could possibly go wrong, eh?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ukulele update

Last night I learned a new chord, and acquainted myself with three others. That's four chords I have full knowledge of now, and can play and everything, even though moving between them still takes a little longer than is decent in polite society.

I can now play "Happy Birthday" and "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" and can slowly finger-pick my way through part of "Wipeout". This is the most proficient I've been on a musical instrument since I learned the tin whistle in second class (aged seven, for those of you who don't know what second class is).

Now I want to learn grown-up songs, but I don't understand this tablature thing, and I still can't read music, so I can only learn to play songs I already know. I'm thinking that "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" would be a good candidate, because it's actually got a pretty simple beat, even though the melody is quite complicated. If anyone knows where I can get the ukulele chords for this song, please let me know. If you also know any songs that just have C, C7, G7, F, and Dm, please tell me, because these are the chords I know best.

Wishful Drinking

ComedyB and BuntyB bought me this for Christmas. I wanted to like it very much, for two reasons. a) I really love Carrie Fisher and think she's a good writer; b) it's a long time since someone bought me a book that I'd never even heard of, but that would be so much up my street.

Sadly the book's not great.

It grew out of her one-woman show of the same name, and as such is very conversational and breezy. She talks about her family life, her addictions, her bipolarism, her marriages, and, of course, being Princess Leia. Many of the stories are very funny, and her confused style of writing (which she attributes to the fact that she's had electric shock treatment, which has messed with her memory) is enjoyable. However, none of the Star Wars stories she tells are new, and there's too much gushing and recapping for a book; this might be fine on stage, but in a 115-page book (maybe she wrote it as her nanowrimo book?) it takes up too much space.

In other words, it's a book that makes me wish I'd seen the show. But I'm glad to have it. I'm glad to have Carrie Fisher.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Resolution update

I got last week's work all done in the allotted time. It was great. I spent the whole weekend ARSING ABOUT with Mister Monkey instead of scrambling to get work done.

And I got all today's work done in the allotted time also.

I reckon if I keep this up I will deserve a holiday somewhere nice. Perhaps in June sometime. Perhaps.