tag: Miscellanity

Oct 2008

Slogan question

Hi y’all. I was discussing politics with someone earlier and I came up with a slogan to explain my rather extreme position. Thing is, I’m not sure whether it’s original or whether I absorbed it from a song or a film or even a TV show. It’s obviously a variation on “demand the moon, to get the earth”, but if anyone knows whether there’s a more specific equivalent doing the rounds in popular culture could you let me know?

Here it is…
“Demand revolution and you might get reform. Demand reform and you just get ignored.”

Anyone heard it before? Or the same sentiment in similar language? Maybe I dreamt it?

11 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion

Oct 2008

Le Grand Content

Via Adam, in email, comes this pretty incoherent but utterly captivating clip. Don’t try to read too much into it. Just smile at the gentle humour, nod in recognition at those truths that are there, and let the rest flow over you.

2 comments  |  Posted in: Media » Video

Sep 2008

Raise a glass to Stanislav Petrov

… it’s the least you can do. He probably saved your life.

Via Chicken Yoghurt.

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Sep 2008

Head around the door

Hey y’all.

I’ve received a couple of emails (both within minutes of one another, oddly enough) from people wondering what’s happening with me and this blog. Have I given up on this place? Have I jumped off a building in response to the hideousness of everything?

Well no.

I’m still alive and well and I still intend to keep this place going. Thing is though, it’s now less than 3 weeks until my thesis deadline and when I sit down at this desk, I’m really not thinking about much else.

Expect a triumphant return soon(ish). Until then, check out my blogroll if you’re after something to read. It’s all good stuff. Alternatively get hold of Gregory Bateson’s Steps To An Ecology of Mind if you fancy visiting the weird and wonderful headspace I’m currently occupying.

Cheers for now………

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Jun 2008

George Carlin 1937 – 2008

Sad news.

I found out via Justin who has another great clip. Check it out after watching this one.

2 comments  |  Posted in: Announcements

Feb 2008

Happy St. Cyril’s Day

It’s the 14th of February, and as we all know, that means it’s the feast of St. Cyril.

Saint Cyril was born in Northern Greece, but took it upon himself to bring The Good Word to Eastern Europe and — along with his brother, Saint Methodius — is responsible for converting the Slavs. Saint Cyril also invented the alphabet that still bears his name (Saint Script, or as it’s sometimes known; Sanskrit) and used it to translate the gospels into Slavonic. The feast of St. Methodius is also celebrated today, as is the feast of St. Maro, founder of the Maronites and the first person to work out that food left to steep in a sauce overnight tastes much better when barbecued.

Interestingly, today is also the feast of St. Apollonius of Terni (the patron saint of purple rain), the feast of St. Ammonio of Alexandria (the patron saint of noxious fumes), the feast of St. Zeno of Rome (patron saint of logical paradoxes), and of course, it’s also the feast of St. Proto (patron of scale models and stuff that still needs testing).

I think that covers them all. Any suggestion that I may have missed someone will be met with a firm, but fair…

Bah Humbug in cyrillic

The idea for this post was shamelessly stolen from John Band.

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Jan 2008

Farewell Facebook

I’ve just deactivated my Facebook account. To be honest, I’m surprised it took me so long. Within days of signing up to the site, I’d set my junkmail filter to treat it as a spammer. Not an auspicious beginning. Somebody’s vampire attacked somebody else’s lieutenant zombie. And did I want to help in a fight between some people? Apparently I had a free “atomic punch” to offer. For a dollar I could send some bad clip-art to someone.

But the death knell was sounded late last year when I received an email from my new friend, Bono. Sending mass emails isn’t Bono’s style. At least that’s what the first line of his mass email said. But he was just so excited about his new song that he had to tell all his “friends”. I was his friend, you see. I’d used some facebook music-tracking widget, and then I’d played some U2. This made me Bono’s friend. Well, it made me his friend insofar as he treats his friends to mass emails about his new records. Something tells me our friendship doesn’t extend much beyond a marketer/marketed-at relationship. I probably can’t count on Bono if I need someone to help carry boxes next time I move house, for instance.

Anyways, I turned off all the various notifications and asked the site to stop emailing me. I disabled all the widgets and I upped the privacy settings. But then I found myself worried in case people were actually trying to contact me (about something other than facebook widgetry) and I’d be effectively ignoring them as I was automatically junking messages from the site.

By chance I intercepted an email from facebook before it got shredded as junk last night. It would have been a shame to have missed it. But I just can’t be dealing with the volume of complete nonsense generated by that site. It struck me that I’d much rather such messages didn’t get sent, than got sent and ignored. So I deactivated my account with immediate effect. My atomic punch forever unused.

3 comments  |  Posted in: Announcements

Jan 2008

Accentuate the Positive

I’ve just been tagged with a blog meme by Justin from his temporary home on blogspot. It’s a simple enough premise… list seven things of which you are in favour. And no tricksy inverting of negatives… no “I’m in favour of George Bush being [insert something nasty]”… after all, that’s just a way of saying what you’re against. This meme’s a sort of “let’s get those positivie vibes flowing in 2008” kind of thing. If I didn’t already know better, I’d have suspected that it was designed by a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (that’ll be funny to about three people, to the rest of you; “sorry”).

Be vigilant; guard your mind against negative thoughts.– Buddha

So yeah, in no particular order, here’s seven positives about the world in which I find myself today. I am in favour of…

  1. My course. I’m digging it.
  2. The Wire. Best thing on TV right now. Maybe ever. Though the jury’s out on that.
  3. West Cork. Just generally.
  4. Hot showers. When I think of things I’d miss most in a world gripped by an energy crisis, long hot showers rank high on the list.
  5. Dolphins. I’m very much in favour of dolphins.
  6. Smoking a little pot and watching a Marx Brothers film. Laughing ’til you cry is a good idea now and then.
  7. Kindness, compassion and basic decency. Sorry to go all hippy here on you at the end, but what can you do?

I’m now supposed to tag a bunch of other bloggers. Have at it, if you fancy it, Gyrus, Rachel, Zoe, L, Merrick, Rochenko and David (on the off chance).

3 comments  |  Posted in: Blog meme

Jan 2008

Three random videos

I’m just testing out the ability to embed YouTube videos in my blogposts (everyone else seems to be doing it after all). None of these are very long, but they’re all worth watching in their own way. Nothing unites them aside from being in my YouTube “favourites”. First up is David Lynch’s great iPhone subvertisement…

I’ve pointed people towards this one quite recently, but it bears repeat viewing, I give you: Pitch ‘n’ Putt with Beckett ‘n’ Joyce… all fecund in its nuttiness.

And last but not least, as mentioned in the previous post, I’m quite digging the music of Los Campesinos! at the moment. Here’s their latest song… Death to Los Campesinos! They’re playing The Village in Dublin on February 11th. I’m told they’re good live.


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Jan 2008

Two Thousand and Eight

Happy New Year! Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Yes, I know I’m a week late and most of you are already well into the swing of ‘Ought-Eight, but I’ve been off the grid (so to speak) for a few weeks. A strangely quiet place beyond the reach of broadband and mobile-phone signal. Eerily quiet in fact. Plenty of time for contemplation though.

Because of course, I don’t already do enough of that, right? All the same, it struck me as I looked back over the past twelve months, that from a personal standpoint, 2007 saw some fairly positive changes for me. I’m determined to keep that trend going for as long as possible… at least the next twelve months. So wish me luck on that.

Of course, just when I get a renewed sense of direction, the rest of the world seems to be going to hell. And only the most dedicated optimist would bet on humanity taking a less shambolic approach to its affairs in 2008. We could all use some of that luck I guess.

So as is traditional, before we plunge headlong into 2008, let’s cast our mind back to the best bits of 2007.

The best bits of 2007

  • In politics, Tony Blair limped off into history, the influence of the neoconservatives in America seems to have entered decline, and the Progressive Democrats became a spent force in Ireland.
  • It was another year in which the peace held in Northern Ireland. America didn’t invade anywhere new. Nobody nuked anybody.
  • It was also the year in which Climate Change became accepted as something real enough, and important enough, to drive public policy. That this acceptance is coupled with a refusal to actually act is the flip-side of that particular “high point”.
  • Culturally speaking, the best album of the year was Neon Bible by Arcade Fire (sorry to be so predictable). Other good ones… Saltbreakers by Laura Veirs, Memory Almost Full by Paul McCartney, The Projected Passion Revue by Dexy’s Midnight Runners (a re-issue of old material, but it’s classic stuff), and the Grinderman album. Oh, and check out You! Me! Dancing! by Los Campesinos! (discovering Los Campesinos! was the musical highlight of the year for me… fantastic stuff… kind of like Arcade Fire Vs. Stereolab at a Polyphonic Spree gig in Exeter… looking forward to seeing them in Dublin in February). Best gig of 2007 was Patti Smith at Vicar Street.
  • Although published in 2006, I only got round to reading Pynchon’s Against The Day in 2007. That it somehow managed to exceed even my extremely high expectations is miraculous. It’s impossible to describe the sheer breadth and depth of Against The Day. “Epic” is far too small a word. And yet, despite addressing the weightiest philosophical, social and political issues imaginable; it’s also at heart a surreal adventure tale filled with funny and bizarre characters getting up to all manner of silly derring-do. Almost every line of this very long book contains something that fires sparks in my mind. Sometimes it’s an idea, sometimes a joke, sometimes a beautiful description, a sharp insight or a perfect turn of phrase. Even down to his ability to capture the psychedelic experience in print… something that’s next to impossible; perhaps only Hunter S. Thompson has ever done it as well as Pynchon does it. “Somehow the afternoon just drifted on into the dinner hour, and Lew must’ve forgot to wash his hands, because next thing he knew, he was experiencing the hotel dining room in a range of colors, not to mention cultural references, which had not been there when he came in.” So begins an hilarious trip-report which succinctly demonstrates why restaurants are not the best places to come up on powerful hallucinogens. “… the details of his “steak”, the closer he looked at that, seeming to suggest not the animal origins a fellow might reasonably expect so much as the further realms of crystallography, each section he made with his knife in fact revealing new vistas, among the intricately disposed axes and polyhedra, into the hivelike activities of a race of very small though perfectly visible inhabitants who as they seethed and bustled about, to all appearances unaware of his scrutiny, sang miniature though harmonically complex little choruses in tiny, speeded-up voices whose every word chimed out with ever-more polycrystalline luminosities of meaning.” Look, I’m sorry… I know that lots of people just don’t get Pynchon, but ever-more polycrystalline luminosities of meaning!? If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine then you just don’t know good writing. There! I said it.
  • It wasn’t really the best year for movies. I’ve still not seen I’m Not There or No Country For Old Men, but I’ve heard good things about them (I’m planning to see them both over the next couple of weeks when they play at the IFI). Of the films which I did enjoy in 2007, a handful stood out… Hot Fuzz (arguably a wee bit too long, but any comedy that can deliver a solid hour of laughter gets a thumbs up), Reign Over Me (Adam Sandler doing what he does best… no, not screwball comedy, but fucked-up lonely person with severe problems), Zodiac (an average David Fincher film will always be better than most films released in a given year. And unfortunately, though it’s still an excellent film… let me emphasise that; it’s an excellent filmZodiac is indeed quite ordinary by Fincher’s extremely high standards. That said, the sweeping shots of the bridge are some of the most amazing visuals to appear in any of his films) and The Bourne Ultimatum (OK, so I like the occasional mindless action-espionage caper. So sue me. And the Bourne films do it so very well, despite the overly-frenetic hand-held camera in this year’s installment). Aside from that, I rewatched Kurosawa and The Marx Brothers several times and probably watched The Big Sleep at least five times (making it my most watched film of 2007). Every single time I see that movie, I see something new.
  • As for television; we saw the continuation of The Wire which just gets better and better. Battlestar Galactica ended the penultimate season with a Very Big Reveal indeed. And Dexter held my attention right to the end of the second season. This kind of surprised me, as a couple of the characters annoy me quite a bit. Still, the writing is very good indeed and — from a psychoanalytic standpoint — it’s by far the most interesting thing on television. Pretty much everything else on TV during 2007 was a waste of time. But it was ever thus with television. A speck of gold-dust in a planet-sized ocean of raw sewage.

The worst bits of 2007

Actually, I have no intention of dwelling on the worst bits of 2007. The fact that humanity will produce ninety-nine dreadful films for every great one, and nine-hundred and ninety-nine unlistenable albums for every one worthy of repeat-play, makes it far too time-consuming and depressing to sort out the very bad from the merely bad. In the hope that I may save some unwary reader from needlessly wasting a couple of precious hours of their life, however, let me exhort you against seeing Transformers, Shrek 3, The Reaping, Ocean’s 13, Lucky You, Next, The Fantastic-4 Sequel, and Spider-Man 3. Not a single redeeming feature among the lot.

Our culture maintained an inexorable decline into nihilism as ‘reality’ TV and vacuous celebrity fixation continued to dominate popular consciousness. Rampant consumerism got ever more rampant, and meaningless materialism ever more meaningless. Our politicians remained self-obsessed, craven and thick as pigshit for a record year running. Meanwhile, as if to demonstrate just how representative of the general populace they actually are, half a billion of us around the world became obscene voyeurs for six months as the story of a young blonde girl kidnapped in Portugal played out in the media.

And all the while The War Against Terror continued. As did The War on Drugs. And the hidden Third Great War that’s been ravaging Africa almost since the end of the last one. Oh, and let’s not forget the War Against The Planet that we’ve been waging all these years. We ramped that up a couple of notches during 2007.

And what about 2008?

Well, I don’t know what this year will bring. Climate Change and resource depletion are the twin crises facing humanity right now, but they’re unfolding over longer timescales than a single year. And for 2008, sadly, I predict continued inaction in the face of them both.

Economically I think we’re entering quite a serious recession. And it’s a downturn that may last for several years. But I don’t see it as the final gasp of consumer capitalism just yet… I get the feeling there may be one last ride left on that particular carousel. Such a seductive idea won’t die easily in the hearts and minds of we willing consumers.

In fact, I don’t hold out much hope for any significant positive change in 2008. Beyond the personal that is. For myself, I still hope for it… fall in love, finish writing at least one of those three bloody novels, qualify to work in a field that actually interests me this time! Stuff like that. And I hope the same for you too, dear reader. There’s no inherent reason why individuals can’t find personal fulfilment and achieve positive change in even the most chaotic and hostile circumstances.

For the world at large though… I fear we’ll only be capable of making the social, cultural and political changes that I believe are necessary when we’re forced into them. And for better or for worse, things aren’t likely to get bad enough in 2008 to force that change.

On the other hand, the television will be as shit as ever. And I say that with a supreme certainty. There will be a handful of albums released that make me feel glad to be alive, and perhaps one (two if we’re lucky) that will enter the category of True Classics. Similarly, there’ll be just enough good cinema amid the dross to make all this hypermediated culture of ours worth putting up with. For 106 minutes anyway.

Pynchon is unlikely to publish another novel (there’s an average gap of about 8 years between them I think, and frankly he must be getting on a bit now, so I’d be mighty grateful if he could write a wee bit faster), but I’m a book behind with William Gibson and he’s becoming increasingly Pynchonesque with each novel. As is Jim Dodge… I wonder if he’ll publish something this year… hmmm…

Overall I suspect if viewed from outside by some passing nomadic space-alien, 2008 will look a lot like 2007. Only slightly grimmer. Viewed from inside though… well, it might just be a good one. You never know.

3 comments  |  Posted in: Opinion