The Sound of Music

With the release for the upcoming film, Yesterday, a story about how the world forgot the Beatles and one man’s cash grabbing journey to bring back their songs, expected in the summer, I began to think about how music plays a role in our viewing experience. Obviously this isn’t a new thought but just imagine watching Inception without the ominous tones in the background, or watching The Lord of the Rings without the epic orchestras in Middle Earth. There wouldn’t be half as much enjoyment.
While the strings, woodwinds and the bass have a special place in my heart when it comes to cinema, I believe there’s nothing more brilliant than a movie that has a beautiful soundtrack of pop, rock and indie songs. Especially when songs are used at the perfect moment.
The catalogue of Beatle’s songs would be enough for two films and another hour of outtakes. I am interested to see what songs are used where and if indeed the trailer didn’t just show us what songs will be used. I’m sure there’ll be a montage where the main character is having the time of his life and all of the songs are rolled into one long medley. Obviously this will then be followed by some crushing revelation from a loved one or a stranger and he will have to rethink his new career choice. Does he go for the money or the love? Oh yeah, it’s in the feckin’ trailer. Predictable? Yes. Will I watch it? Of course. Are you going to get a list of movies with great songs at the right moment right now? Yes.

Me Before You (2016)

Anyone who knows me knows I’m more than a sucker for a romcom; I actively go searching for them and wallow in misery afterwards at how alone I am… wow, got deep very quickly. What am I even doing with my life? Lol jk, that’s a whole other post. Anyways, this particular book turned film tells the story of Lou, a happy young woman with no real direction in life or money, but she has her family and a boyfriend, even if they do drive her up the wall. Enter Will, the posh, rich local boy who lost the power of his body from the chest down after an traffic accident. He has become a negative recluse and Lou becomes his endlessly positive personal carer. Cue fights, snarky remarks-cum-flirting and obviously romance. As Lou travels to Switzerland to see Will for possibly the last time she looks out the plane window and Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” starts to play. I can’t find the exact footage but if you saw the film then you know how gutwrenching the choice of music is and how much you want to cry when seeing it for the first time. But I did not cry for I am man, and man does not cry. We hunt and drink for we are men*.

 

About Time (2013)

What a movie. What a concept. What amazing performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams. What a fantastic use of the song, “How Long Will I Love You”, originally penned by the Waterboys in 1989 and covered in this film by Sam Sweeney, Ben Coleman and Jon Boden. The song plays as a montage of Tim and Mary shows their blossoming romance. Of course, the film has much more poignant moments and delves into the question of time travel and its moral consequences, which is prevalent in any romance! Shout out to Keli for reminding me of this scene and inspiring this post. Go on Kel.

 

Gladiator (2000)

A bit of a break from my romcom filled life but the inclusion of this song at the very end of this masterpiece was a sublime piece of filmmaking, editing and songwriting. “Now We Are Free” begins to play right after the climactic fight scene between Maximus and Commodus. He lies there, dead, his prisoners freed and this absolute tune plays as Marcus Aurelius’ foresight that Maximus would be a far better leader than his own son Commodus rings true. He was a soldier of Rome and if he were around today, would have been a banging DJ.

 

Eighth Grade (2018)

I’ve written about Bo Burnham’s directorial debut already. It will undoubtedly be a contender for film of the decade, not just because of the director’s vision and script but because of the performance of lead actress, Elsie Fisher.
“Orinocco Flow”, one of Enya’s many instantly recognisable songs, has been used in countless films and is a part of numerous people’s Spotify’s Most Played of 2018 soundtracks. It is used flawlessly in this film. Kayla (Fisher) is scrolling through Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram before bed, watching a host of different videos and taking quizzes to find out what imaginary character she would be in a different life. The whole time her face remains expressionless, not registering one piece of emotion, even when one of the mean girls in school who she so desperately wants to be friends with invites her to her pool party. The scene is a perfect contrast to the song, so full of emotion and longing while Kayla longs to be a part of the mainstream and the cool kids.

 

Sex Education (2019)

OK, not a movie but one of the brilliant Netflix originals that has come out recently. Normally, I wouldn’t click on a new Netflix release for a couple of weeks, or even months. I don’t know if it’s because I’m  a bit of a snob with tv and don’t want to be a sheep and watch something that everyone else is watching. Maybe it is because I get quickly bored with tv nowadays and didn’t want to have it sitting in my ‘Continue Watching’ if I wasn’t going to finish it. In reality it is due to the fact that I will continue to watch Friends, The Office and Parks and Rec while leaving new shows pass me by. However, this show drew me in straight away. Probably because the letters ‘S’, ‘E’, and ‘X’, were emblazoned across my screen and I am a young male.
The show is funny, topical and fantastic. It introduces some new faces that will be on our screens for years to come and Gillian Anderson of ‘X-Files’ and ‘The Fall’ fame plays a sex therapist. Do with that what you will, guys and gals. The scene below is funny in the context of the show but also it reintroduces you to an absolute banger. Skip to 1:05 for the song.

 

List done. Watch now. Share please. Validate me.

 

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Review.

 

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“Back once again.” The reviews are back! Ger Canning has uttered this iconic phrase in countless G.A.A. matches broadcast on live television over the last number of decades. I reached out to him to ask would he record it for me so I could have it playing whenever someone opened an article of mine. Ger, ever the joker, replied via his family, agent and the Gardai, and said, “For the last time, leave me and my family alone. I rue the day I stopped and talked to you in Tesco in Mahon Point. Legal action will follow unless you stop cold calling me in the middle of the night. I don’t know how you got my house number. I am a human being and you are driving me insane. May God have mercy on your soul.” Ah Ger, what a chancer. If you’re reading this, I’ll get onto you later around 2 a.m. Keep the phone on!

Now, onto serious stuff. The movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? caught my eye due to the many nominations the cast received across multiple academies and committees. Also, it was the only thing that I knew would be quiet at my local cinema, the Reel Picture Blackpool ( hashtag ad). I knew it wasn’t a comedy but with Melissa McCarthy leading and Richard E. Grant in a prominent supporting role I had a feeling there would be some comic moments.

McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a down on her luck author who has just lost her job for drunken behaviour, has a fraught relationship with her agent and is months behind on her rent. Israel does not have any redeemable qualities that we can see and is told by her agent that she, “…is not famous enough to be an asshole.” She has a sick cat that she cannot afford to take care of and the biographies that she is writing to stay afloat are on the sale rack. After selling a letter of a famous author toa bookshop owner played by Dolly Wells, she quickly realises that she could make a hefty profit by forging letters of other well known figures. She has made a living writing books about other people so she knows she can impersonate them in her letters.
She meets Jack Hock, played by Grant, at a bar in Manhattan, remembering when she first met him and he went to the bathroom in a closet (hashtag Jonny Melia, hashtag ad). Hock is hilarious, flamboyant and the perfect positive tonic to Israel’s cynicism and misery. After letting him in on her secret cash cow and after duping half of Manhattan’s bookshops and collectible dealers into believing her ruse, she and Hock come under the suspicion of the FBI. Sabotaging her rathionship with Anna, the bookshop owner and Hock himself, Israel is finally caught and sentenced to house arrest, probation and monetary restitution.
The movie ends with Israel and Hock reuniting in the same grimy bar they met in. They bury the hatchet and he agrees to let her write a book about their escapades, ever his funny, charming self. This never happened in real life but it was a good end to a fine movie.

The movie itself is enjoyable if a bit slow. The topic of literary forgery does not sound all that interesting but the revelations that there are seedy characters in the literary world such as Israel herself, made it an easy watch. The fact that the FBI were involved in her subpoena was amazing to learn. The dynamic between McCarthy and Grant was brilliant and really saved the movie from being a bore. That said, it dragged towards the end and I did find myself looking at the clock on my phone. While I know that with a film such as this the devil is in the details but if the movie was about fifteen minutes shorter then it would’ve been a small bit more enjoyable.
I couldn’t think of anyone that I would recommend the movie to after watching, but it wasn’t a total waste of an hour and forty minutes. If I was to give it a rating out of a number that I will make up right now, I would give it a 3.5/5. Some funny moments but I’m not sure if this book warranted a movie. That said, the performances of McCarthy and Grant saved this production and both, especially McCarthy, deserve their nominations.

 

The Vanguard

“Good Morning, Vanguard Chelsea, Cian speaking.”

It is 1:30 AM on another typical night shift in the Vanguard; quiet for the most part with the odd noise complaint, or someone asking to be let back into the laundry room because they just had to finish their delicates at midnight. The odd homeless person stumbles by the doors and I can feel them staring at me out of the corner of my eye. They give little trouble and can be moved on with a dollar or a threat of a phonecall to the police. Drunk residents may come back later and chat about their night for a while, keeping me awake at least. The New York Times delivery guy will stop by at around 3 in the morning to drop off papers for the residents. The Wall Street Journal lady will stop by around 5 to do the same. After my break at around 4, I’ll step outside, have a cigarette and get a coffee, three hard boiled eggs and a butter roll. It has been the same routine for about a year and a half now and it’s not too bad. My sleep schedule is all over the place but sure look, it’s quiet work.
The building comes alive again at around 6 AM. Certain residents leave much earlier then others but it is usually this time of the morning that people leave to go to the gym, others leave for work, personal trainers arrive for other residents and me and the porter on duty start to realise that we’ll soon be free of work for another day.
This happens every Monday and Tuesday night and today is no different, with one slight exception. This is my last night shift as a concierge at the Vanguard Chelsea.

Your last day at any job can be bittersweet. You are happy to be leaving and hopefully moving on to bigger and better things but a part of you is sad that you won’t see some of the people every day. I am personally delighted to be finishing and getting on with things but I will miss a lot of people that I’ve worked with, along with many residents of the building.

I’m going to miss the guys at the front desk, my brothers in arms. It’s obviously not that serious, but we have each others’ backs. Recently, there was a big shift in management and we were without a super for the last four months. At the front desk, we didn’t care. We knew we had it down and if there were any problems then we would sort it out ourselves.
I’m going to miss Freddy the porter. We’ve worked many a night shift together and shared laughs about the other handymen or porters and their quirks. Plus, he is big into his football, so we had a lovely time watching me slide into a mental breakdown over Mourinho the last six or seven months.

I’m going to miss the guy in the coffee cart who sells me my eggs and coffee on the night shift. I don’t know his name and he doesn’t know mine. We call each other ‘brother’, or ‘boss’, and we are the best of friends. He doesn’t know a thing about my life and I don’t know a thing about his. That is why he was the best man at my wedding.

As soon as I started the job the resident manager informed me that it was fine to be friendly with the residents but you could in no way be actual friends with them. He claimed that it would work against you as some residents may take advantage of you for your kindness and friendship. I quickly saw what he was talking about with some people so I steered clear of them. But, I would say that I was on very good terms with a lot of the residents. I would go as far to say I made a few friends who lived in the building. If not friends, then acquaintances for the future whenever I may return.

Billy and Debbie on the 23rd floor are a fantastic couple. Every evening, Billy and I would talk about what was new on Netflix, Hulu and the like. When we found out that we watched the same sort of stuff, we had to figure out what Debbie could watch with him as she wasn’t fond of gory and dark television! They’re getting married in the near future and I’m delighted for them.
Randy, TIffany and baby Zoe moved out recently but they were a delight. Tiffany and Zoe were constantly happy and Randy was like one of the lads. We’d constantly be slagging each other off, although he had an advantage as I couldn’t keep shouting after him when delivery guys were waiting for me to do my job.
Christine on the 16th floor is hilarious and provided me with company and laughs on dreary Sunday afternoons as I wished I was anywhere else. We’d talk crap about whatever carer she had with her at the time and give out about how slow tourists walk around the city. I know she reads this blog from time to time so Christine, if you see this….BUY A PRINTER AND STOP USING OUR PAPER!!! Jokes, jokes.

There are many other residents who I’ve bonded with over Game of Thrones, theatre, football and most importantly, drinking. I know I won’t miss the crazier, more pedantic residents but I’ll look back on my time here fondly. I made some money, some memories and learned a lot about myself. I came to New York to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and this building and the night shifts gave me the time to do that. If I wanted, I could stay here and become a resident manager and live in New York for the rest of my life, and maybe that’ll happen because who knows what will happen, but I doubt it. I’ve done the job and am happy that I’m finishing, but I will forever hold the Vanguard dearly in my heart.

My movies of 2019

Happy New Year, one and all! A number of people online, as well as publications, have released their favourite movies of 2018 online. I was very tempted to steer away from any creative ideas of my own and just hop on the bandwagon. In the end, I decided to just leave a little list of what my favourite movies were of this year and then start talking about what’s coming up in 2019. Usually I’d have some witty little anecdote or fictional story here but I’ve just told you what I’m going to write so I might as well just do it. Yeah. Read on, I guess.

Top Movies of 2018 – M’List (tips fedora)

  • Molly’s Game – I was sent this by a resident in the building. Impressive leading cast with Jessica Chastain supported by Idris Elba and Michael Cera. It’s about Molly, an Olympic skier who, following an injury, naturally becomes a poker Queenpin and rakes in millions from her underground games. Of course she is then targeted by the law, the mob and disgruntled celebrities because of her money and, more than likely, gender. 4/5.
  • Black 47 – I wrote a review of this in an earlier blog but the Irish famine inspired tale of the deserter soldier who returns home and exacts his own war of vengeance on the British would send any man into a patriotic frenzy. Luckily I was on my own in the cinema and the adrenaline died down after the credits. 4.5/5.
  • A Star is Born – A friend and I watched this again last week in a hungover stupor and both were fairly emotional after it. The film holds up the second time around, as do the songs, both lead actor’s performances, and the intense hatred I felt for Allie’s agent when he practically kills Jack. Prick. 4/5.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – I also wrote a review of this in an earlier blog. I loved this movie. A lot of people gave it crap reviews because of the gaps in the history of the band or the lack of context and background info about certain incidents. For me, it was brilliant. Rami Malek was Freddie Mercury, and the supporting cast were fantastic too. It helps if you love Queen but the movie is solid. The last 20 minutes in Wembley are sublime. 4.5/5.
  • Eighth Grade – Another one I covered, Bo Burnham’s directorial debut was perfect. Telling the story of awkward 13/14 year old Ellie, it encapsulates what it was like to be that age again; awkwardness of crushes, being invited or not being invited to parties and trying to ‘fit in’. Despite being set in the modern day, I think that anybody who watches this movie would cringe at their past selves, but also really enjoy the movie. 5/5.

 

What to look out for in 2019

2019 is going to be the year of sequels and spinoffs with the odd remake thrown in for good measure. Toy Story 4, Men in Black: International, How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World, Star Wars Episode IX and Hobbs and Shaw are just some of the titles of instalments in film franchises over the next 12 months. On top of that, Hellboy is getting remade, as is Dumbo and The Lion King, albeit in live action form. I will watch all of these and probably enjoy all of these, but it is just the way cinema has gone. Although there are a few other films I’ll be looking forward to see.

Us will be Jordan Peele’s second horror offering. His film Get Out was hailed as a masterpiece and rightfully so. It is a magnificent film that combines the thriller and horror genres. Jordan rose to fame with Mad TV and the Key and Peele show. The horror stuff came fairly out of left field for me but thankfully so as he’s killing it. The trailer for Us looks intense and will be a must for most cinemagoers this year.

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There is no trailer yet for The Irishman, Scorcese’s gangster epic starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano. This film marks the 9th time Scorcese and DeNiro have worked together and the first time that Pacino and the great director have done so. It tells the story of Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) and his bodyguard ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran (DeNiro), and the latter’s involvement in the gangster’s assassination. I can’t wait to see it, as Netlfix reportedly bought the rights for $105 million, and the budget has risen to $175 million. It’ll be epic, and hopefully it gets released in cinemas too, as that would be worth the whole year.

I know I was harping on earlier about sequels and spinoffs and yes, this film is a sequel and also a collaborative film between several different stand alone characters in the same universe (that sentence is confusing and should annoy anyone who reads it), BUT, and it’s a big but and it cannot lie, we have all been following this journey since Ironman (2008). We’ve gone through all the Thor movies, the Captain America movies, the Spiderman reboot III, the Avengers movies, the Guardians movies, AntMan and we’ve arrived at Avengers: Endgame. What a time to be alive! Following this I expect there will be a reboot in the casting of the titular heroes so this one will be very special.

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There’s also no trailer for Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarrantino’s latest epic, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Margot Robbie also features alongside Al Pacino and a host of other stars. I’m not entirely sure what the plot of this movie is but if it has Pitt, DiCaprio and Robbie in it then I don’t care.

Finally, Glass, the third instalment in this sort of anti-superhero trilogy, looks very good. Jackson and Willis reprise their original roles of Mr. Glass and Mr. Unbreakable, respectively, while the supremely talented McAvoy returns as the Beast. Or Patricia. Depends on his mood.The trailer looks class without giving too much away, and it also has Sarah Paulson and I’m in love with her so it’s already great!

Apologies for the lengthy post but hopefully you’ll see some of these movies also in 2019. I also am looking forward to Captain Marvel because I love Brie Larson too but Sarah Paulson’s OK with it so we’re all good.

Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again, the hazy and confusing end/start to the year where people try to transition from eating and drinking whatever they want to imposing strict and unforgiving rules on their lives. People want to give up their aul sins but also want to enjoy themselves. This often leads to several New Year Resolutions that more often than not are given up by the second week of January. Some remain pipe dreams forever, being given up on before the year commences. Fitness goals are attempted almost too eagerly at the beginning, leaving one burnt out and fed up with the whole process. Some people try and quit their vices cold turkey, such as smoking, drinking or eating crap. The beginning of the year can be a stressful time with lost loved ones, kids going back to school and work only around the corner, so maybe cutting down on the fags in the morning would be a better approach. I can’t really talk because I’m in the process of stopping smoking cold-turkey, so I’ll let ye know how it goes!

I read an article online recently about how new year’s resolutions are all bullshit and we shouldn’t subscribe to this ideal of making ourselves into the ideal version of ourselves overnight. I can understand the argument and agree to a certain extent but still, that’s very generalised. Most people make their resolutions because it helps them throughout the year. Even if they don’t succeed in all or any of their attempts at least they can look back and say they started with great intentions.
I myself have never really made any resolutions. I wait until Lent like a good Catholic boy and then give up on everything I enjoy! However, this year, I’m going to make a list of things I should really give up on, mostly including drinking and smoking, and mostly because there’s some funny stories associated with these two vices that are ripe for posting. So rest your hungover head, read my resolutions for the year of Our Lord 2019 and don’t worry if you don’t keep yours, because there is always next time.

New Years Resolutions 2019: A Fool’s Errand

  • Cut down on the binge drinking. By all means, go out and throw back eight pints and a few Tully Dews, maybe a few shots of Sambucca followed by a Vodka Red Bull to level it out every once in a while but not twice a week. O.K., three times a week.
  • Slow down on the smoking. I don’t smoke much really but sure look, no harm to stop smoking fags. Ah, but they’re so nice with a coffee, or after a meal, or after a few pints….we’ll see how it goes.
  • Get back in shape. Not in terrible shape but I could stand to shed a few pounds and get back to full fitness. See above resolution.
  • Start enjoying sport again, and not just enjoying a game because I can’t wait for the few too many pints afterwards.
  • Read more. I made a fairly good effort this/last year and read some fantastic books but I’m gonna try for a book a week next/this year.
  • Don’t punch holes in any more walls. It happened once, everyone had a good laugh because I was still drunk from the night before but if it keeps happening that’ll become my thing. Then people won’t invite me over, I’ll lose all my friends, become homeless and die with no walls around me! A harsh but a fair truth.
  • DO NOT LOSE ANY MORE PHONES!!!! If I lose a phone this year then I am never buying a phone again. I’m going off the grid and I will write my blogs on pieces of paper that I will then set alight and release them into the night sky!
  • Try a job that has a set Monday to Friday, eight hour schedule. Hang on, didn’t I have that one summer in an office and was bored beyond belief? Wasn’t I so excited to finish? Do I secretly enjoy working odd hours and having some week days to myself? I’ll have to revisit this one around Lent.
  • Write more. Up the effort for the blog, try and get some articles published in papers and get prepared for college. Just become more disciplined and have a schedule, not just the odd post every once in a while.
  • Text people back lol.

Despite the number of resolutions it has been an exceptional year. I would go as far as to say it has been the best year of my life so far, or one of them. The drink flowed, the craic was great and I traveled to some places in the States I’ll never forget. I’ve made some lifelong friends in New York and will more than likely be back in the next few years. Although I missed home, birthdays and holidays, I’ve kept a positive outlook on things and look forward to all that 2019 holds for me, my family and friends. Thanks to everyone for reading the blog and the kind words. Here’s to a fantastic year! Don’t @ me.

 

On the Banks of My Own Lovely Lee

It has been 375 days since I’ve last been in Cork. A year and ten days. Prior to this, the longest I had stayed away from the Rebel County was for four months when I studied in New Paltz, upstate New York. I was home that Christmas and didn’t really miss it as I was studying in this new, exciting environment. This time, up until the year mark I hadn’t really missed the People’s Republic at all. I missed the people, my family and friends and the craic we have, but I never really thought about the place that much. It was almost as if a switch was flipped on the 365th day. All of these fond memories came flooding back of places around the city and the countryside. I realised I missed Cork more than I let myself believe, and there is plenty to miss.

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I miss living a thirty second walk from the G.A.A. pitch, climbing over the fence to go smash footballs and sliotars wide of the post.
I miss living a ten minute walk from the local pub, the Country Squire, putting pints away until the wee hours.
I miss playing Championship in Ballinlough with Rathpeacon, especially when we beat Whitechurch in the football six years ago.
I miss going to town with the older lads on the team, getting into the Secret Garden at 18 years old because you knew someone who knew the bouncer. That was a great feeling.

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I miss going to the Woolen Mills in Blarney and looking at the Americans buy about twenty Aran sweater vests for their family portraits later in the year.
I don’t miss working there, though, for the exact same reason!
I miss seeing all the old school friends as we drink together in the Muskerry Arms, old stories retold, as funny as the day they happened, especially the ones about drinking underage in the GAA woods.

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I miss Dino’s potato pie meal, Hillbilly’s chicken tenders meal, but most of all, I miss Sloppy Foley’s from Murphy’s chipper in Blackpool. Pure perfection.
I miss walking through Blackpool to the city, passing by the Heineken Brewery and smelling the making of my favourite drink.
I miss the view of the Opera House as you come upon the Christy Ring Bridge.
I miss going to plays in the Cork Arts Theatre, the Opera House and the Everyman.

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I miss grabbing a coffee in Gloria Jean’s in the Savoy and then walking toward Grand Parade. You never know who you’ll see on your travels but you will see at least two people you know.
I miss walking up Washington Street, looking in all the shop windows before you see the gates of U.C.C. loom in the distance, and the beauty of Fitzgerald Park not too far behind on the other side of the road.
I miss grabbing a nice pint of Heineken in the Mutton Lane, the nicest bar in Cork, in my opinion, before walking through the English Market, smelling the fish, the cakes, the vegetables and listening to the chat.
I miss sitting in Peace Park watching the pigeons startle themselves in the water of the fountain.

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I miss going to Mahon Point and spending an absolute bomb in the food court and the Omniplex. Also, the Reel Picture in Blackpool is better which is a true fact.
I miss going to the cinema on my own, too, in fairness.
I miss going to the Guitar Shop on MacCurtain street and Pro Musica on Oliver Plunkett street, playing for a while before realising I’m broke.

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I miss the bars in Cork. I know the bouncers can be a bit tough to deal with sometimes but I can also be a drunken ass, so let’s call it quits when I’m back, yeah?
I miss the carnage that appears on Oliver Plunkett street on a weekend night. Good carnage, but carnage all the same.
I miss the taco sauce from John Grace’s, especially after a feed of beer.
I miss the music in the Oliver Plunkett or the Crane Lane.

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I miss my family and friends too and will probably mention them in different posts but this is just about a place. It’s also about mainly food and drink huehuehue. A place my family moved to when I was nine years old. It is the place that made me into a more confident young man and is the place where I made my best friends, bar college and woodlwan of course. I will be back next month for a while. Who knows how long for? I certainly don’t. It is funny that these thoughts only came into my head since the year mark passed. I don’t know how my friends out here who literally can’t go home have been able to do it for three years and some change. Fair dues to them. I think I could manage it but I can only imagine how tough it must be. I am lucky that next month I won’t have to miss it as I return to the banks of my own lovley Lee.

Angela’s Christmas

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This 30-minute wonder of a film is on U.S. Netflix and is perfect for small kids, parents (the 1st time), and people who work the night shift. Now, if you’re not a kid, not my cousin Bridget who has been forced to watch it hundreds of times by her two-year old, or me on the nightshift, maybe you won’t want to give it a chance. But I promise you, it is only half an hour and a nice story with only a small dash of sadness and death. Just like any other Irish film!

Angela’s Christmas, based on the novel ‘Angela and the Baby Jesus’, by Frank McCourt, is a beautiful little tale about Angela, of course, and the adventure she gets up to on Christmas Eve night.
Angela, her two brothers, younger sister and mother are heading to Christmas Eve mass, and Angela is holding them up while getting ready. Her older brother Patrick is complaining about her and incessantly whinging. Straight away, we see that Patrick is suffering from middle-child syndrome and just unlikeable. Ugh, I wanted to punch the screen. Feck off Patrick, the movie’s called Angela’s Christmas, not Patrick’s Day.
On the way to the church Patrick and Angela bicker back and forth, with Patrick maintaining his annoying personality. After finally sitting down, Angela realises that the baby Jesus in the manger does not have a blanket or a jacket on. Being five, she doesn’t realise that he is a statue and he therefore cannot feel the cold. She formulates a plan, and when her family leave mass to return home, she steals the baby Jesus so she can keep him warm.
On her own way home, Angela bumps into a blind, one-legged beggar, a kind policeman and a bar full of elderly drunks. Once in the door, she tucks the baba into bed and sings ‘Angela’s Song’, a lovely little lullaby. Unfortunately, Patrick the prized pr*ck rats her out, and she fears she may be in trouble. Thankfully, her mother, instead of getting annoyed and punishing Angela, tells the story of Angela’s birth, and how important it is to be together as a family at Christmas. Angela, apparently being able to understand subtext at 5 years old, knows she must bring the baby Jesus back to the manger.

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The whole family set off to return the statue, the world not seeming so scary for Angela on her own anymore. Despite returning 8 pound 6 oz, newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, but still omnipotent, baby Jesus, the family are caught by the priest. He calls a guard over to throw the thief in jail but, lo and behold, it is the same guard from earlier! He shows more kindness and lets them free to be together on Christmas Eve.

A truly heartwarming tale, I was shocked to find out that some people wrote to me and said that there is a popular fan theory that Angela, in her quest to first steal the baby Jesus, hits her head on her fall from the pew. The rest of the movie is actually in Angela’s head as she survives in the hospital. I would just like to say that that is not true and those people should never, ever contact me again. Freaks. No better than Patrick in the movie. Although he had a sweet redemption arc.
Dolores O’Riordan sings Angela’s Song during the credits and it is worth it for that alone, seeing as it is almost a year since she sadly died.

Catch this flick on Netflix or get it on cheap blu-ray at the flea markets in Chelsea.

The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.

Anal Beads

Part 2 of the Instagram Sessions, coming to you live from a secret location in Chelsea. Today, I delve into the history of a topic brought to my attention by a delinquent friend of mine, who I will not name today. Amidst all the lovely suggestions of writing about beer, Doon G.A.A. and mental health, a certain someone suggested writing about anal beads. I originally planned to have the title in all caps and just write “NO”, under the heading and that would be it. I’d get a laugh out of it and maybe others would get a cheap laugh too. I’ve since thought about it and yes, I will write your post. I’ll play your silly game by my rules.

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This reporter is delighted to bring you an exclusive story fresh from the international creative scene. The American National Artist Liaison, founded in 1975 by Hugh Jass, has announced a partnership with Binge Eating and Excessive Drinking Session ltd, founded in 1993 by Richard ‘Dick’ Butt. The aim of this partnership is to send artists from ANAL to the European headquarters of BEEDS in Dublin to examine the Irish relationship to excessive drinking, binge eating and then drinking again to get over the fear. ANAL and BEEDS have flirted in the past with regards to a similar venture but this time there was no pussyfooting around. Straight in, as Hugh Jass said at the press conference in Anus, France.
“We don’t want to be behind the times,” said Dick Butt. “We want to dive straight in, as Hugh just said, but gently. It’s not like starting a lawnmower. You have to be gentle with the Irish lads, or the beeds as I call them. They might have severe cases of the fear or man flu, and we feel deep in our guts that the artists from America can showcase the plight of the Irish male and his need to binge eat and drink.”
“We are setting up centres for the artists all over Ireland and America. Muff, Co. Donegal and Slickpoo, Idaho, will be our two main thought-centric and idea-haven places where the artists and subjects can get together and really get to the bottom of what’s going on with us males.”
“We’re really excited about this,” continued Jass. “When I made Dick my no.2 on this project I had a feeling that it would all go well. We know that it sounds outlandish. I mean, when you think of the two companies, do you really think anyone will volunteer for this project. Surprisingly, many people did, even outside the businesses. The two main centers in Muff and Slickpoo, as well as numerous support centres in other towns in the two countries, will host hundreds of Irish males in the throes of the fear, as well as artists from across the states who will be attempting to depict our unique ability to soldier on through the fear and the gut you accumulate from a day’s drink, only to do it all again.”

The project will officially be launched in Poo in Spain, allowing the artists and the subjects one last session to tear the arse out of it, but gently.

This has been Cian Dalton, reporting for Rambling House News, on the ANAL BEEDS partnership of 2069. Slan go foill.

Big Brother is Watching

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Looking back on a wonderful year (so far), I can reveal that I have almost no regrets. I’ve had my fair share of fun, visited places I’ve never been, made new friends and caught up with old ones. The only regrets I do have are tied to social media and my tendency to forget to write back to people. I have a built-in function to receive a text, read it in full, process what I will say back to that person and then put the phone down and carry on with my life without completing the interaction. It’s happened so often that I jokingly say to myself, “Jaysus you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed onto you, hah! You forgetful prick! How can you treat people who want to interact with you like this? You’re going to be alone because everyone replies to each other and you don’t have the decency to even send a thumbs back. Why in the name of all that is good and holy do you even bother talking to people if you’re not going to message them back? I hate you! I can’t stand being your voice of reason because you won’t respond. You sicken me, and more than anything, I pity you. Go on now, go and watch Parks and Rec for the fourth time and forget to RSVP to your cousins’ birthday party.” In an unrelated note, my subconscious is a dick! Great singer, though.
The point is, social media and social sites have allowed us to keep in touch with what is happening in the world at any given moment. Not only that, we willingly give our personal data and money to sites that have publicly admitted to using our data illegally. We can also keep in touch with each other 24/7. Big Brother is watching, and so it seems is everyone else.

  • Snapchat allows us to see when messages are opened.
  • Instagram allows us to see when messages are seen.
  • Messenger allows us to see when people are online/read a message/are typing a response.
  • iMessage sends read receipts and shows when someone is typing.
  • Whatsapp shows two blue ticks when a message is read and allows you to see if that person is online.
  • Viber does the same thing.

These features are fantastic for a number of reasons.

  • Families can interact internationally without paying exorbitant amounts of money to call.
  • Group messages make planning nights out and events easier. The same can be said for projects in college.
  • Meme growth has never been higher! Send your memes now!
  • Catch ups with old friends has never been easier.
  • This is starting to sound like a click-bait ad.
  • Drunk message your ex: You won’t believe what will happen next!

While these are all fantastic upsides to instant contact around the world, we have lost an element of the past that I still hold dear, sometimes without even knowing what I am doing. There used to be a time when you could just say a rhyme and wouldn’t have to worry about one of your people dying….what the fuck just happened? I couldn’t stop the nostalgic flowback to Toy Soldiers. Spooky.
Anyways, before our time, people weren’t so accessible. The advent of smartphones and technology has made us slaves to our phones and slaves to acknowledgement. As soon as a message is sent to us it pops up on our screens. You can delay in replying or even opening it but not forever. Eventually you will have to read the full message and reply back that you will definitely be at the event, or let the person know when you will be in town next, even if you have no intention of doing so. That’s another aspect of instant gratification by way of smartphones. Ghosting and backing out at the last second has increased dramatically in the last few years because instead of agreeing to a time and place and showing up, you now have this handy little tool in your hand that you can send messages on mere hours or minutes before the event where you can back out. Fantastic.

The reason I am rambling on about this is because I am guilty of leaving people on read. I have done this wothout meaning to but I still feel bad afterwards. I feel bad because I have let a friend down and not contacted her when she was new to the city. I feel bad because I let another friend down and didn’t message him back for weeks. I let my cousin down by not letting her know I couldn’t make her son’s birthday party. I let myself down because it’s not polite to ignore people, whether it is intentional or not.
At the same time though, I value my space and if I don’t message you back right away just let me know. If I ignore you after constant messaging it is best just to leave me be. I’ve moved on.

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I’ve been called many things in this short life of mine. Handsome. Devilishly handsome. Stupidly handsome. Champion. Concierge extroardinaire. The King of Prussia. A poor man’s Prince Harry. A rich man’s Jesse Plemons. A premium athlete. Spartacus. Almost All-Star hurling wing-back of the Junior Shield competition in New York. The King of Prussia again. But to call me a bad texter and a bad friend would be erroneous. Please don’t be facetious when dealing with me. It borders on malevolence. I do truly apologise for the hurt I’ve caused over the years.