Friday, January 26, 2007

Sentimental Muck Alert

Siofra King and Daniel Fay, both born on Wednesday....good to have you with us. Yeah, yeah, so there's an ocean between you and all that, but I'm still going to plague your teenage years with lame jokes about matchmaking, ok? You can do the preliminary flirting on the bebo pages I've already set up for each of you.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Twenty in NY Lawsuit Scandal

Tch, turns out Twenty Major is just another of those fakes who blogs about Ireland while actually living in New York. Tax scam? Legal loophole? Failed screenwriting career? Hopefully none of the above, for not only is Twenty homeless and living outside a Manhattan antiques store, but he's currently being sued to the tune of $1 million in damages by the owner of the store, Karl Kemp, who says the sight of the bearded man and his filthy belongings is adversely affecting trade.

It seems Twenty has written almost the entirety of his blog from his grotty perch on Madison Avenue; he has been blogging for just over two years, which is also the length of time for which Kemp, according to his lawyer, has been plagued by Twenty's presence. Kemp says that the blogger, who is known on the street as "the Preacher" and often accompanied by up to ten followers, also homeless, can often be found "sleeping on the sidewalk,” “consuming alcoholic beverages from open bottles, performing various bodily functions such as urinating and spitting,” and “verbally harassing or intimidating the plaintiff’s patrons and prospective customers.”

But the real problem facing Kemp and other antique store owners, and the real reason for the staggering lawsuit, was revealed yesterday. It seems that Twenty has not only been "intimidating" would-be browsers of Kemp's goods, but he has also been running a sidewalk business in more modern, efficient, and interesting versions of such goods, which has, over the past year in particular, begun to siphon away Kemp's customer base. "We can't compete with the sidewalk traders," said another antiques dealer, who asked not to be named, yesterday. "They're plugged into everything that goes on in a way that we, surrounded by our mouldering antiques, never really can be. They get everything we do done more quickly and more economically. And while most of our most loyal customers do keep coming back to us, the sidewalk traders are stealing away the next generation. There is no next generation for the antiques dealers. Those homeless bastards - and it's not just Twenty, they're all over the place - have got us licked. I mean, look at them. They don't have any overheads, don't have any staff to pay, don't have any bosses to obey or pander to. Who wouldn't want to be homeless, the jammy bastards?"

The unnamed dealer did add, however, that not every sidewalk trader ran as successful a business as Twenty. Referring to the group of homeless people who often surround him outside the Madison Avenue Store, he said that the sidewalk industry had its share of inferior hangers-on and imitators. "That lot are just a merry band of wannabes," he said, prompting the ire of some of Twenty's followers, who at the time had been rooting through his "filthy belongings" and attempting to make them their own. "We say hilarious things about goats," bellowed one man, who seemed to be wearing a fake beard.

With the lawsuit, Karl Kemp hopes to compel the city to finally remove Twenty and his associates from the area outside his store. Homeless advocacy groups last night criticised his action, however, calling it "blinkered". "Regardless of where they pitch their camp, the homeless will still be out there, and their number is only getting larger," said a spokesperson for one group. "Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not there. They haven't gone away, you know."

Read more on Twenty's new found celebrity (much better than a crummy mention in the Irish Times): Gawker, New York Times


Thursday, January 18, 2007


...begins today. And the festival's website includes a number of the shorts which will be screened in Park City over the next couple of days. I think the shorts section of the site will be updated over the course of the festival (at least in terms of the given day's picks), so it's worth keeping an eye on. But you'll probably need a strapping bandwith - even my normally macho broadband connection is struggling to get going on this.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Poor Old Peter

While happily gorging on the Golden Globes live blog at Cinematical (I do love me a live blog...nothing like a second-by-second commentary on Angelina Jolie's bored facial expressions, or the contrasting post-break-up sartorial statements of Reese and Cameron, to liven up a Monday night), I found myself really rooting for Mr O'Toole. And feeling so sorry for him when he didn't win for Venus. He was nominated in the Best Actor category, and the feeling seemed to be that he might take it, but no. And, not to get too gloomy about it, but this probably means he'll never win an Oscar, either, since the Globes are generally seen as a dry run for the Academy Awards. He'll just have to do with the honorary "lovely bugger" (his phrase for the statuette) he initially refused in 2003, on the grounds that he considered himself still in the running for a real one. Someone had a word in his ear, though, and told him not to be such a silly bugger, or words to that effect, and he accepted eventually.
New York magazine is feeling gloomy about Venus, too, but not because of anything to do with the quality of the film; rather, its review says, it comes as a shock to see O'Toole, "once the most beautiful of actors," playing "a near-death version of himself". See? Depressing.

But if anyone has to put paid to your last hopes of an Oscar, it might as well be Idi Amin. Forrest Whitaker took the Best Actor Globe for his portrayal of the dictator in The Last King of Scotland.


Sunday's Media Stuff: The Good. The Bad. The Sindo.

The Good: Ambrose Clancy's riposte to the lazy sterotyping employed by Pico Iyer's New York Times review of Colm Tóibín's Mothers and Sons:

To the Editor:
In his review of Colm Toibin's "Mothers and Sons" (Dec. 31), Pico Iyer separates Toibin from the "typical Irish writer, if you associate such with musical rhapsodies, loquaciousness or blarney."
Typical? Who has he been reading? Jonathan Swift? Frank O'Connor? Elizabeth Bowen? Benedict Kiely? William Trevor? John McGahern? Not to mention Samuel Beckett, so I won't.
There's a long list of writers, many included in the Toibin-edited "Penguin Book of Irish Fiction," who are spare in their music, blade-sharp and ruthlessly to the point.

Good man, Ambrose! Though you might have told them that the fadas in Tóibín's surname aren't mere rhapsodic quirks either...

The Bad: Albert Reynolds, in the middle of a riveting account of his working relationship with the late David Ervine on Marian Finucane's programme, uses the phrase "the nigger in the woodpile". The silent horror of everyone else in the studio comes over the airwaves like a blast of cold air. The tension was palpable for minutes afterwards; RTE's radio dramatists could learn a lot about atmosphere from the clip, which should still be online here. Reynolds will likely get a roasting over it, and deserves to, for speaking like a silly old fool.

The Sindo: Loads of coverage on Ireland's coke catastrophe, most of it by hacks only too happy to come across like they know just a little too much how this whole cocaine thing works - and all of it, hilariously, filed under the "Analysis" rather than the "Lifestyle" section of the paper, when, almost every case, the "analysis" in question barely extends beyond the tip of the writer's nose, clean or otherwise. As you'd expect, Bazza is in his element on this subject; so breathtakingly close to the action is his exposé of "(literally) high society" that it dispenses almost completely with the notion of providing sources for quotes. Sources? "[o]ne or two Irish rock stars, restaurateurs, Bohemians, rock managers, famous wives, solicitors [and] models" are hoovering it up and you want sources? Tch, petty. The man's a genius; he knew it wasn't enough just to describe the coke scene in Dublin. No, he worked long and hard on his style to make sure that it replicated in dizzying detail the precise sensations of a coke high; the rambling, unsupported assertions, the delusions, the shattered focus, the peaks of hysterical aggression, the verbal slips and slurs (" The magazine rang a front cover issue on coke last mag called 'High Society"). Repeating himself, mixing his metaphors, composing memos to Kate Moss, drawing on Naomi Campbell, Oasis and P.J. Gibbons as cultural referents, launching into, and then abandoning, a treatise on fashion and its drug history...Bazza brilliantly imbues his words with all the tics and traits of an addict. At the end of his piece, when we read this passage...
"Unbeknownst to themselves, cokeheads talk a lot of shite; but in very quick sentences and in a hyper manner as if dispensing some all-important wisdom that needs to be heard before time runs out."
...we feel, somehow, as though we've already been there, as though we've already witnessed the exact scenario he describes. His writing is that good. It practically gurns. Anyone can write about cokeheads. It takes Bazza to to become one - in a purely metaphorical sense, of course. Give the man a Pulitzer. And make sure the prizemoney's in nice, crisp banknotes.

That's if his colleague Liam Collins doesn't win, for his first-person account of the horrors of coke - all of which seem related, for some reason, to lovely girls and the weddings they either attend or intend to have. Liam's piece includes the story of a couple who last year died a Romeo and Juliet-style death in a Dublin hotel - after a wedding, naturally. It's incredible. No, really. Not a source or citation or a name or a date in sight. But look, the man says it happened. Isn't that enough for you? Bloody cocaine classes, always wanting more.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Once I Had a Bunch of Time (To Blog)

Well, hello there, faithful readers. What you you doing, still hanging about here? Didn’t you know that after that last snide post there - that Lohan-bash which disregarded the whole meaning of Thanksgiving - I suffered a Lohanesque breakdown of my own (read: got blogblock) and had to go into rehab? Except it kind of looked like my parents’ home in the Irish midlands. And instead of having Pete Doherty to look at outside my window, snorting coke and groping Kate Moss in the clinic’s salubrious gardens, I had for my viewing pleasure the time-honoured elements of the fragrant midlands countryside: the Old Black Cow (the cranky one who insists on getting hurriedly knocked up at unsuitable times of the year, the old-fashioned way, without the help of the AA man); the New Housing Development (knocked up at a similarly hurried pace, also without the help of the AA man but with plenty of help from the WPP [What Planning Permission?] man), and the Two Roads Diverged in a Scraggy Wood, neither of which I could take due to my continuing, really-embarrassing-at-this-stage, inability to drive.
I also had at my disposal the slowest, patchiest, most sputtering internet connection outside of the Comoro Islands, with which I could try, I suppose, to excuse my blogging silence of the last two months, but I won’t lie to you. I was only home for three weeks: I could have been frenetically blogging all of the rest of the time. Out of the loop I fell, however, and here is my pathetic attempt to muscle my way back in. Wish me luck. It’ll probably be the 12th of April (happy birthday, Miglior!) before you hear from me again.

So, to kick off 2007 chez ESV, below are some lovely youtube swipes which pretty much sum up the world I’ve been inhabiting for the last few weeks:

1. My Native Place (or near enough):

I don’t know who made this (I swear to god it wasn’t me), but as far as I’m concerned it’s the greatest work of art to come out of said county since Castle Rackrent. The suspicious cattle, the time-stained bungalow, the novel approach to “landscaping” in said bungalow’s front garden; this skatebop guy has it all. I hope he’s at least getting some Local Authority funding.

2. My social life over Christmas:

I ventured all the way to Leitrim. Again, I am not the artiste behind this tape, but I live in hope of the day some Carrick-on-Shannon lad will shout “howya horseboxes” at my retreating skirt. (I hope they don’t speak to Mary McAleese like that as she’s going about Carrick doing her shopping, as she recently told Marian Finucane she likes to do.)

3. What I saw on my daily rambles down to the banks of the canal:

This is always happening, you can’t go for a walk anywhere in my neck of the woods without stumbling over proof of the county’s traditional song and music heritage, and what a hale and hearty state it’s still in. Honestly. All the energy there goes into fiddle-playing and sean-nós dancing, not into breathalyzer-avoidiance and anti-Latvian mutterings.

4. My new standard of excellence:

No, really. I thought Shay Healy’s documentary on Foster and Allen (which skipped over the whole matter of the boys playing in South Africa during the Apartheid-protesting boycott by practically ever other musician in the world) was kind of brilliant. In an accidental way, mind. But still. You can’t beat quotes (only slightly paraphrased) like these:

Foster: “I don’t think I’m famous at all. I don’t get treated too famous around here anyhow. Sure didn’t I come back from a world tour there one time, and I was only in the door before a neighbour rang to know would I go up to him and help him to pick a few stones out of a field. And I went.”
Allen: “No, we never see each other when we’re not on tour. No, never.”
Foster: “I built this huge complex for me horses. And I have pictures of horses everywhere in it. And this oul' Native American Indian wall hanging. It has a horse on it too, see?”
Allen: “I built this patio so that when I come home from tour, I can sit out here on my own. On my own. Do you understand me?”

I can’t wait for the director’s cut with behind-the-scenes coverage of the boys’ obvious mutual resentment.