Monday 30 April 2007

The League Of Bertie Strikes Again - Mahon Tribunal Hearings Postponed Until AFTER General Election

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern: Photograph by Mark McCall.

It transpires that the Mahon Tribunal has postponed its public hearings until after the General Election. The tribunal was due to resume its Quarryvale Two module today; this being the module that has heard an allegation that an Taoiseach Bertie Ahern received £80,000 from Cork developer Owen O' Callaghan.

The tribunal will now resume hearings on the 28th May, not even a week after polling day.

Ahem... Machiavelli, meet The League Of Bertie.

How To Survive A Zombie Attack

What can this blogger say? He is somewhat of a geek. But it's ok, because geek is the new chic, thanks to the ridiculoulsy handsome Seth and co. on The OC; the show that makes Hollyoaks seem like a rogue's gallery of truffle hunting swamp donkeys (I jest). What's that? The OC was cancelled. But that means...

Check out this video. It's informative and humourous starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

While I'm On About It...

The previous post is of course about the comparisons (as this blogger sees them) between current Democratic primary candidate Mike Gravel, and 1972 US presidential election hopeful George McGovern. The post ended on a hopeful note. Allow me to rain on my own parade then, by following in the footsteps of the late Hunter S Thompson, and quoting to you - as he did in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 (p.480) - a magazine ad from the McDonald's Corporation, one the main contributors to the Nixon 1972 campaign:


Christ, and people thought Super Size Me was sinister. A prescient sentiment? Let's fucking hope not.


Mike Gravel '08 & George McGovern '72?

Due to the immediacy of today's bloggist culture, there are perhaps few among us who have not yet witnessed Mike Gravel's sensational turn in the recent Democratic presidential candidacy TV debate. Gravel, a man who has spent the last 35 years in the political wilderness, cut a remarkable swaithe through the normal banality associated with such debates. Although given a fractional proportion of air time, he made his mark. He was refreshingly honest and heartfelt, fortified by a real sense of conviction in his beliefs.

For those of you who missed it, Gravel is very much anti-Iraq. His manifesto is simple... Get out! It's their country, let them govern it how they see fit. Garnering choruses of derision from political counterparts and television pundits alike, Gravel went as far to state he would attempt to criminalise the war in Iraq. Bush? A "felon". Senator of Alaska for two terms, Gravel is most famous for his opposition to the second draft in the Vietnam war and for ending the testing of nuclear warheads in the 1970s.

Now, while it would seem impossible for a candidate with such extreme leftist policy to ever be elected president, allow me a historical comparison. Back in 1972, the Republican incumbent Richard Nixon sought re-election against the Democrat candidate George McGovern. Parallels between Nixon and Bush - vis a vis Vietnam and Iraq - should be easily apparent, but what of parallels between Gravel and McGovern?

McGovern began his campaign in the 1972 Democratic primaries something of a hopeless figure. Deemed excessively liberal - he wanted a cessation to US involvement in Vietnam, and an amnesty for all young man who fled the country to dodge the draft - his consistency of policy and ideals throughout the primaries stood him in very good stead. Standing against the meandering flip-floping of centrist candidates like Edmund Muskie, and the almost neo-con attitudes of George Wallace, the ideals of McGovern appealed to the delegates, with him going on to win the candidacy at the 1972 Democratic Convention. It was certainly tight, but the result offered inumerable possibilities for worthwhile change.

So what happened? Certainly unaided by an eventual move towards a more centrist agenda in an attempt to garner the safe votes of central America, McGovern was unmercifully hammered by Nixon in the election. He lost every state except one, and that was not even his home state of South Dakota. The Republican machine rumbled on for another term.

So does this mean this blogger thinks the freshness and vitality of Gravel's arguments assures him the candidacy? Furthermore, does this mean this blogger expects a landslide Republican win in the next election? No, and even more so, no. I just make the comparison because in a global political climate that can allow itself so easily to cynicism and spite, any opportunity for truth and honesty should be grasped with fervour. I applaud the man for his honesty, and I genuinely wish him the best in the upcomings.
In actuality, I think John Edwards will probably be the Democratic hopeful come January '08. This is slightly depressing however, as this is the man who lost last time out to John Kerry; a non-entity of a candidate, who Dylan Moran labelled "a chin and a wig flapping in a drawer somewhere" after his election loss to Bush. I possibly paraphrase the Navan man here, but, indeed.

To further my comparison between the two men, check out the following videos: Gravel at the recent MSNBC debate and McGovern during the election in 1972 in Salem, NH. Afterwards, allow yourself a hopeful smile.


Sunday 29 April 2007

LEGO - A Final Farewell

Lego. As children we built train stations and rocket ships. Lego built character. Who could ever forget that glorious joy of eventually viewing the finalised piece on your bedroom floor? A proud replica of the picture on the cover of the box. Yet the joy did not end there. It could not. Ney, it would not. After an appropriate period of pride and self-congratulation, one was required to pull said train station or rocket ship apart. Next, fling the pieces with reckless abandon into your Lego reservoir of dismantled previous accomplishments. Now the possibilities were truly endless. Train stations, rocket ships, racing cars, and tugboats all truly atomised and stewing in a pit of wonder. Alone or with friends, who knew what mutated genius awaited? A proud moment of my own... Successfully recreating the climax from Back To The Future III, wherein Marty and the Delorean are propelled to the future by the Doc in a locomotive.

Memories most sweet. Indeed. So it is with a heavy heart that I now feel compelled to berate the folks at Lego. For the past few years, the company has fully embraced technological advances, modifying and updating its offerings to children the world over. A good thing? Surely? In a word, no. The attraction of Lego was its simplicity and simultaneous complexity. Damn it, it actually was educational and fun. Today, it is so very different. When I see Lego games on PCs, replete with their own engineering programmes... When I see advertisements for this new Bionicle stuff, whose construction requirements fall just short of My First Soldering Kit... When I see kids complete the Official Lego Generic Star Wars Thing Ship, and leave it shelf-high for prosperity... When I see all this, I am saddened. Where's the joy? Where's the atomised pit of wonder? Lego, you have lost yourself a Customer of the Future. No child of mine shall play with your sullied goods.

Perhaps these are just the ramblings of a sentimental fool. Perhaps I should have stopped at pear cider number six last night. Perhaps all of this is extremely irrelevant... But I must show you what brought this gibberish on. A short while ago I came across the following disturbing image; a travesty with which my feeble mind could not cope. The Rossport 5 would not be best pleased.

Sometimes internet browsing is just too random.

Promotional Windows 95 Video Starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry

Amazement at the possibilities of the Taskbar and "minimizing". A skinny Matthew Perry. Simpler times...

Windows 95 Video - Part 1.

Windows 95 Video - Part 2.

Windows 95 Video - Part 3.

Windows 95 Video - Part 4.

Thursday 26 April 2007

CSI. Television For Idiots.

CSI Las Vegas. CSI New York. CSI Miami. The products of Jerry Bruckheimer's monstrously excessive ego, they are an omnipotent presence on prime-time TV screens the world over, and they are frighteningly plebian creations at that. Played out like pyrotechnic L'Oreal ads, they lack anything even approaching the simplest forms of self-awareness, wit, intelligence, dramatic tension or development.

"Now here comes the science bit... concentrate."

My argument is this: if you like CSI, you are an idiot. Hardly a revelatory statement to the more informed amongst you, but it is a preface to the following hilarious collection of Caruso one-liners. Wow.

The League Of Bertie

An unforgiving maelstrom of lies, damn lies, and excess stamp duty descends upon the populous. Gerry Stembridge patronises Pat Kenny on the Late Late. Gift Grub audibly strains under the expectations of key demographics, their appetites for polite satire insatiable. Posters adorned with the chiselled features of Willie O' Dea already sit atop the lamposts and other assorted roadside bric-a-brac of Limerick East. A tired (possibly) Limerick City Council concludes that it has "no legal basis" to order the removal of these posters, up before an election is even called. [The Irish Times, Wed 25 Apr 07, p.9]

Yes folks, the General Election is almost upon us. Perhaps apt at this juncture is the buzzword of Elections Past... Transparency? Permit me a healthily sceptical chuckle. Allow the above image to get thee in the mood. Salvation awaits the brave/patient.

Pic found on the wonderfully monikered Potatriotique.

International Battle Of The Bands # 1: Sweden.

Welcome dear readers to the random first in a series of perpetually random polls. The premise is simple. This blogger selects footage from two bands, both from the same country, and asks you which musical troupe you prefer. Allow me then to bask in your infinite opinion.

First up, a decided favourite of mine, Sweden. The choices...

(a) Loop Duplicate My Heart - Suburban Kids With Biblical Names.
(b) Collection Of Stamps - I'm From Barcelona.

Tuesday 24 April 2007

Sporadic Album Review #1: Kajak - Benni Hemm Hemm

kajak - Benni Hemm Hemm.

The seemingly ceaseless flow of quality music from Scandinavia continues unabated - I'm From Barcelona, Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, Jens Lekman. Recorded in Sundlaugin, the studio of the mercurial Sigur Ros, "kajak" is a gem of an album from Benni Hemm Hemm, their second. On their sophomore effort, the band's eleven members have created a joyous and meandering cacophony, thirteen tracks in length. Warm and welcoming vibrations abound as the listener discertains kettledrums, trumpets, trombones, guitars and a glockenspiel. Emotional, insistent, shimmering and deep. This album is the soundtrack to the perfect summer's evening that always seems just out of our grasp. Pitched sonically in the midst of the aforementioned Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens and DeVotchka, there are moments of subtle fragility on display here and dexterous crescendos that bring the eardrums to climax, each extreme as rewarding as the other. "Skvavars", "snjorljossnjor", and "Stoffer" possess perhaps the most immediate impact of the tracks on show, but this is an album that deserves attention in its entirety.

Warm and instantly relevant, "kajak" melts into the consciousness of the listener. Perhaps the perfect band for a Sunday's evening at the Electric Picnic? Listen and make up your own mind.

Breaking News - Peter Sellers For New Richard Curtis Project

My sentiments exactly...

Monday 23 April 2007

This Page Cannot Be Displayed As You Need Some Fresh Air

Spending more hours at the computer screen than is medically sound? This error screen could well be for you...

Friday 20 April 2007

No. Stop It. - The "Link" Between Cho Seung-Hui, Virginia Tech and Chan-wook Park's OLDBOY

Let me state, unequivocally, from the start that I feel nothing but profound sorrow for the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings this week. It was an unspeakable tragedy and my thoughts are with their families and friends. I can only imagine the pain and hurt being suffered. However, there is a theory arising in America at the moment that links the shooting to a 2004 Korean film. That film is called Oldboy, directed by Chan-wook Park, the winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes 2004.
Two days ago, on its blog The Lede, The New York Times passed along a tip from Virginia Tech professor, Paul Harrill. He alerted The Times to the supposedly "startling similarity" between the most famous image from Park's film (captured in publicity stills) and a single image in the package sent to NBC by killer Cho Seung-Hui.
Both images show an angry man, arm aloft, hammer drawn back, poised to strike.
For those who have not seen it, Oldboy's basic premise is that an ordinary businessman, Dae-su, is one day captured and inexplicably kept prisoner for 15 years, until he is one day released, and given five days to figure out why he was initially kidnapped, or else. His methodologies in doing so are often quite violent. In the scene where the aforementioned still is taken from, he defeats a throng of adversaries with a single hammer, and a knife lodged in his back - yet he survives. Throughout the film Dae-su must battle all manners of inner demons and external persecutions. Bad vibrations.
However, this is what really annoys this blogger. I have seen Oldboy, as have many, many cineastes and moviegoers the world over. Furthermore, I enjoyed the film. Not out of some sociopathic sadism, but out of a keen love for cinema and a revelling in director Park's unerring command of story and technique. Oldboy is a quixotic and visceral feast, for those willing to engage it fully; a recommended course of action. Disclaimer for Morons: If you don't like violent films. Don't watch it.
So, Oldboy is a good film then. But, one could argue, this opinion alone can not discount the link between it and killer Cho. True, but permit me a dual retort... Firstly, is there even any link? There is not a single other possible visual link in Cho's NBC package to Park's film besides this picture. Nothing else in a package containing 28 video clips, 23-page written messages, and 43 self-portrait photos. Cho does not seem to mention or reference the film in any of his videos or messages. The link spotted by the professor is almost certainly an unfortunate coincidence.
Secondly, this whole argument should be irrelevant. Even if there was a link between the two. Even if Cho spoke directly of his admiration of Oldboy. What would that prove exactly? Nothing, except an illumination of the cinematic tastes of an alarmingly disturbed, mentally ill young man. As stated before, I have seen Oldboy, more than once, as have many others, and thankfully we have never acted as Cho did, and never will.
I fully realise that reasons and explanations are desperately sought by all in the aftermath of such a desperate tragedy. The questions pervading all minds are how? and why? Yet, playing the blame game thusly is just ridiculous. Park's Oldboy is a film; a single, independent work of fiction, completely autonomous of the damaged mind of Cho, or anybody else suffering as he. This instinctive impulse to accuse is symptomatic of a malaise permeating American society and politics - "He dunnit fellas. Let's get him." I should not need to elaborate this point further. Also, making the connection via the scene containing a hammer ironically misses the major issue completely... If Cho had carried ONLY a hammer, exactly how many people would have lost their lives that morning? Not many. Gun control anyone? Marilyn Manson & Columbine? Anyone?
Finally, I chose not to post examples of the two photos, as I feel this ridiculous thereom has had enough coverage thus far. If you really want to explore this avenue, it's only a Google away.
In conclusion, the sorrow. Let us not forget what is truly important.
Irish Independent, pg. 29. Fri 20/Apr/07.

For The Record... The New(ish) Journalism Can Not Abide Emo

Just for the record folks. This blogger can not abide emo. Due to friend related pressures - sorry Andy - I have tried to embrace at least a grudging indifference toward it, but I apologise, I am just too well adjusted. I do not hate my parents folks. I don't hate jocks. I like sport. If she doesn't like me, I get over it and move on to her less attractive friend. Misunderstood my arse.

"But mom, I really need the €12.99 for the new My Chemical Romance album in Tescos... Yeah, it's in the music aisle. Over by the eyeliner and microwavable dinners for one"

Wednesday 18 April 2007

You Thought Your First Day Was Hard? Spare A Thought For This Young Lad...

We've all been there. Our first day. Finding it tough. Unsure of what to do, at what time, and who to ask for help. Spare a thought for the following 17-year American youth old then. On his first day as a plumber, the young gent burned down a $12 million waterfront mansion. Initial indications are that the blaze was started when the blowtorch he was using in the roof ignigited expanded polystyrene foam.

Ouch. How embarrassing? Thankfully, I can not relate. My worst first day experience involved, unbeknownst to myself, calling my employer an "evil bitch". I had been told this by others and was unaware of who she was. Ah, memories...

Galway's Finest - The Cheerfuls.

The Cheerfuls are (L-R): Daniel, Shane, and Oisin Cluskey.

Sit children and take heed. For I am about to impart onto you, for those of you presently unaware, a piece of Wisdom. Musical wisdom, that is. It is about a band. A band who as yet remain inexplicably unsigned. The band is called The Cheerfuls. They are from Salthill, Co. Galway. They are three brothers, Daniel, Shane, and Oisin Cluskey. And they are really rather good. Impressively harmonised pop intelligence is their bag, allied with a healthy helping of white boy funk. Their offerings could be accused of being inoffensive, but I mean this in a very good way. Angst-ridden "How can I hate you, When you're being so supportive?" - thanking you Bill Bailey - emo-shite this is not. No. Instead, The Cheerfuls offer up intentionally upbeat and self-aware pure pop gems. Go on... I dare you not to dance.

Yes, this blogger can personally testify to their crowd-pleasing nous, having seen them support Swedish joy-hards I'm From Barcelona in the Roisin Dubh a few months back. Rarely has a support act keyed up a crowd so perfectly, and on their own merit.

Upcoming shows? May 14. Roisin Dubh - Nokia New Music Tour. Galway. & June 11. The Old Oak. Cork.

Want to learn more? Check them out for yourself on...

Bebo - A Casual Observation By A Casual Frequenter.

Let us consider for a moment the precious few amongst us who continue to denounce the phenomenon that is Bebo; one of the most "exhilirating trips" available to today's average man/cyberseptic junkie.

These ignorant fools are alien to the sensation of your entire nervous system fervently alive with the anticipation of that next glorious page view. 1597 views... Lord, please, make it 1600. Decree me worthy to taste from today's Bebofied grail of social acceptance! Let joyous conformity be mine, if only for a brief ecstasy.

These ignorant fools know nothing of the excited uploading of drunken, out of focus, cringingly repetitive photographs onto a Bebo page. Some of the most precious moments are when Pesky Anticipation rears its head most inglorious... I demand more page views... No... ALL OF THEM... The adrenaline courses, and the whole riot engages, and the steaming shitfire rains down from on high, spread over the lands by the ceiling fans of Bebo's callous grasp - no more page views. How can this injustice be? You comb the chaos ensuing for the details, desperate to source a nugget of Wisdom, however shitcaked. Nothing. Nothing. But my pictures are hilarious. My flashbox unparalleled. My Me, Myself & I section without peer? The boy releases his intense grip. The wings viviously snapped off life's dreams most dear, by the remorseless five year old of Bebo/chance. A grudging acceptance pervades the innocence of holiday snaps. Saturation reigns. Nobody cares anymore... What?

Who are these people to ignore? Life is unkind.

Sunday 8 April 2007

The Picnic Returneth...

One of the many reasons Electric Picnic wipes the floor with the competition. Pun unintended.

It returns once more, 32,500 capacity intact. Yes, it is a pity that brave souls among us must endure the wretched diatribe that is Oxegen to witness the majestic Arcade Fire. Stradbally is where they belong, yet they chose to follow the money and 80,000 Northsiders to the racecourse. Let them off. Jaded anti-capitalist polemic will not follow. Easy now hippies.

It is of course of Electric Picnic which I speak. Tickets are still on sale and there are many other reasons to part with the requisite funds. Bjork, LCD Soundsystem, and the Beastie Boys are quality headliners. Lesser known acts such as the delightful Fujiya & Miyagi - check out their electronica/Krautrock buzz on last year's Transparent Things, Ratatat, !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk), and the willfully bizarre Deerhoof should also be checked out. One can only hope the Dublin Gospel Choir and The Polyphonic Spree sit side by side on the finalised schedule.

Frankly, it astounds me that people are still willing to go to unadulterated shite like Oxegen when we have the Picnic. Perhaps it is just a nonsensical quirk of mine, but I think a festival can only be aided by a lack of tent burning, mugging, random beatings and numerous rape allegations. Don't even get me started on the toilets...

Seeing as the line-up is far from being confirmed, allow me to proffer up an act or five from mine own wish list: I'm From Barcelona (giddy Swedish festivalised euphoria, with 29 band members), Subtle (deftly quixotic 'hip-hop', using the term lightly), Ninja High School (shouty agit rap), Final Fantasy (the man makes Rufus Wainwright seem butch, but He Poos Clouds is wicked), and in an ideal world, Sigur Ros.

Oh, and Sufjan Stevens.