Country Girls

“Take what you can get from Ireland and scoot… Leave before it takes your belief from you, or worse, buries it within you.” So says Finn, a down on his luck poet living in Dublin, advising our main character Kate to leave the Emerald Isle and seek pastures new. His appearance and announcements coincide with the bleaker view of Ireland we see in the latter parts of the play. At first we are told of the haunting beauty of the lakes and the bogs, learning later that even Irelnad’s rugged beauty can not keep someone whose heart is broken by the people and the place.

Edna O’Brien’s debut novel, The Country Girls, was published in 1960. Like the rest of her work in that decade, the book was banned, as were the two sequels, The Lonely Girls, and Girls in Their Married Bliss. On viewing the play last night, one can see why it was banned in the Irleland of the time; Full of sexual innuendo, some playful scenes, a hint of a lesbian relationship and full on mockery of nuns, the crowd would have been up in arms!

Kate and Baba are our two country girls. After Kate’s mother dies in a boat accident and needing a place to stay away from her drunken, abusive father, she goes to live with Baba and her parents. The two girls go to the prestigious convent, St. Enda’s, where Kate excels in all things studious, while Baba is content to study her body and not much else.
Following an incident at school, the country girls make the move to Dublin. The vibrance and non-stop clock of the city life will set the girls on two different paths; Kate on one of heartbreak; and Baba on one of self-discovery.

Instead of drawling on about the different acts and scenes of the play, I think a good indicator of how good this play was was the ending. After Kate says goodbye to Ireland and her past the whole cast comes out and performs a small dance number, with Kate finally running towards the back of the stage as if towards her future. The stage goes pitch black and you’re left to wonder how will she get on in London? I audibly gasped, which I take as a good sign.
The set design was innovative and enjoyable. Every prop was suspended above the stage, ready to be released down when needed and pulled back up again when the scene finished.
Catriona Ennis who played Baba, the foul mouthed and wayward friend, was hilarious and a joy to watch. She commanded the stage when present, generating healthy laughs from the audience.
While the rest of the play was full of life, music, dance or movement, the scene between Kate, played by Grace Collender and Mr. Gentleman, played by Steven McCarthy fell a bit flat. In contrast, the fantastic Collender was a giant in the scenes with her father.

As the play opened, we saw Kate and her mother dancing and running around the stage. I immediately sank into my chair, preparing myself for two hours of an Irish novel told through interprative dance. I’m very glad I was wrong.

The Country Girls is playing in the Opera House until this Saturday the 20th.

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.

 

The Doorman’s Daytime – Week 3

The one constant thing in a night shift doorman’s daytime is the easy access to programs on every streaming device, as well as movies, podcasts and articles. The odd sleep schedule that accompanies the job is a tad annoying. The reduced time you get to spend with friends is another grievance but once you are engrossed in a new show you stop feeling sorry for yourself and continue to vegetate. Episode after episode is consumed. Season after season is watched through increasingly aching eyes. You should really take a break, or at least use your phone for something more productive, but that’s too much effort. The only time legs are used are to swing your arse from the couch to the other part of the couch so your back doesn’t hurt anymore. Enough about my Tuesdays!
This week, I started going to the gym again. All summer long I used the excuse of the GAA season to not stay active. I played a handful of games and skipped the rest for work. So I decided that enough was enough and that I would eat healthier and cut out the eating out. The drawback to this increase in activity is the lack of time for binge-watching T.V. shows and movies. I can’t concentrate on podcasts when I exercise so I listened to Eminem’s new album.Let me tell you, that guy is angry! I didn’t watch as much this week because of this. I also didn’t read as much because I left my bag with all the books I’m currently reading in a friend’s house after an almighty session. I did use my night shifts to binge a few things instead of working. So let’s have a look.

Bojack Horseman (Season 5)

Image result for bojack horseman

I couldn’t remember much of the specifics of the first four seasons of Bojack because I binged them all separately and never together. I loved the show before and remembered the basics; Bojack is an asshole who sometimes redeems himself but always manages to ruin his life and other people’s lives; Diane is the book smart friend who may or may not have feelings for Bojack while being with someone else; Todd is the zany, typical comic relief who slowly develops into a rounded character; Princess Carolyn is the unlucky in love agent turned manager who can’t have kids while always batting for Bojack. I was not prepared for how much of their awful, sad lives that I couldn’t remember would come flooding back as I watched.
It is a truly fantastic show that is tough to watch because each episode packs a lot of jokes and comedy around a seismic gut-punch of emotional growth or regression in a character. The fourth season especially dives into Bojack’s childhood and his mother’s reasons for being cold and unloving. It was tough to binge that season because, while the episodes were marvellous and some are ranked in the top echelons of IMDbs top rated episodes, each one left me feeling emotionally drained.
Season 5 is no different. I’ll have to watch it through again to fully appreciate the season. The writers pull no punches, really plumming the depths to which we, the viewer, are willing to go to keep rooting for Bojack. He is plagued by demons even more so in this fifth outing and his past indiscretions are coming back to the surface.
Princess Carolyn spends the season putting out more fires and trying to adopt a baby. Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter have split up and are trying to wade through life without each other. Todd, now crashing on Princess Carolyn’s couch, finds himself in another wacky adventure as one of the top dogs at a website that tells people the time. This show is just fantastic.
Special mention goes to Episode 6, “Free Churro”. The entire twenty-five minutes is just Bojack delivering a heart-wrenching eulogy at his mother’s funeral. Television gold.

Crazy Rich Asians

Image result for crazy rich asians

I do love a good rom-com. I enjoy the comedy, the always over the top endings and the soundtracks. Movies like About Time, Me Before You and Love, Rosie are some of my favourite movies of all time. They have interesting plots and are just the right amount of corny and cringy. That’s why I was surprised that I didn’t like this movie. The cast are all generically handsome or beautiful; there were sad English songs sang in Mandarin/Chinese; one of the climactic scenes was so over the top it as surreal. Despite all that, it just wasn’t good. The dialogue was clunky, the plot kind of raced along without a whole heap of context and the conflict between the two leads seemed forced. That being said, the aforementioned over the top scene was absolutely fantastic.
Funnily enough, I used to watch Glee, up until the fourth season when the show about an unbelievably diverse group of teenagers running around and singing and dancing in public became unbelievable. Harry Shum grew into one of the main characters. I had seen he was going to be in this movie and he was promoting it pretty heavily online. The prick wasn’t in the actual movie, only a mid-credits scene that apparently sets up two sequels. I was fully sure I just hadn’t seen him on screen.*
So, anyways, the movie is not bad but it is not a great rom-com. I do think it is important for movies of other cultures to be seen in the Western World and I am probably in love with Gemma Chan so that was a plus. But I wouldn’t pay $14 again to just enjoy a wedding scene.
*Disclaimer: I was high as a kite watching this movie so it very well could be an absolute masterpiece hahahahaha

Following up on last week, I didn’t finish Jack Ryan. It just got too much for me. They kept going on about a second 9/11 and I thought there would be more of John Krasinsky and less troubled military guys. I’ll try and finish it this week. We’ll see. I might let ye know. Happy watching!

The Doorman’s Daytime – Week 1

As I mentioned in my last blog, I am going to up the effort on the blogs. I enjoy writing them but I’ve gotten lazy over the summer. The weather in New York has recently taken a turn for the wet but it was a mighty three months that was full of booze, craic and the odd bit of exercise. Plenty of time for writing but have I done much? Not in the grand scheme of things! With the move home fast approaching and what promises to be a tough academic year following fast in its stead, I realised that I better get the finger out.
The beauty of the night shift is that throughout the morning and early afternoon, when the lads are gone to work and before I go to sleep, I have the freedom of the T.V. and the house. This means that I can watch what I want and do what I want, which usually consists of Netflix and Playstation. Pornhub blasts solidly in the background. Lol. Kinda JK.
Anyways, the doorman’s daytime is just a fun little play on words. Look at us all having fun. We’re just a regular bunch of rascals! Daytime was literally the only word beginning with the letter ‘d’ that I could think of that related to this weekly series on my recommendations of movies, books and T.V. shows. We’ll see how consistent I am.

Eighth Grade

Image result for eighth grade

Bo Burnham has been one of my favourite comedians and performers for the past…12 years? Jesus. Time is a bitch. He first arrived on the scene when YouTube was still somewhat of a fledgling website. He sang funny, crude songs and was a flamboyant performer. He graduated to comedy shows and bit parts in movies, but his Netflix specials were a joy to behold. His blend of choreographed intros, hilarious and thought-provoking songs and almost alarming self-deprecation was his crowning glory. That is, until his directorial debut came out.
Eighth Grade tells the story of a shy, self-conscious girl named Kayla during her last week of eighth grade. She is awkward, an introvert and has a sever lack of confidence. In short, she is all of us at one point or another in our lives. She slowly grows in confidence throughout the movie but it ultimately almost all comes crashing down. An indie movie if I ever saw one, the flick is not for everyone, but there is a profound connection that I think almost everyone will feel to the main character or to a number of side characters. It also deals with a number of serious issues, not least sexual harassment and gaslighting. It will be on Itunes Movies in the coming weeks, I believe.

Dennis Lehane

Image result for shutter island

Boston-born author Dennis Lehane is a writer who I didn’t know that I knew. His novels, Shutter Island, and Gone Baby, Gone are two of my favourite films of all time. Shutter Island rocked me in the cinema when it first came out, the ending being one of the first times a twist had struck me to my core. I watched Gone Baby, Gone, for the first time about a month ago. I was speechless at the end. I couldn’t believe it.
I am a massive fan of IMDB and love going down the rabbit hole and spending hours trawling through actors and trivia of different films. It just so happens that both films were based on novels written by Lehane, so I bit the bullet and ordered the two novels from Amazon. I got them on the Monday and they were finished by the Friday. Both novels are gripping and the twists and turns are numerous. Shutter Island is a bit more faithful to the book than the Casey Affleck led film but both books have that tiny bit more that makes them a slight superior to the big screen. I have always been a fan of both literature and film and I couldn’t recommend both forms for these fantastic pieces of work. Dennis Lehane is well worth a look for all of his work.

Psych

Image result for psych tv show

Unfortunately, I have been slacking on my television binges. I still have to watch Ozark season 2 and I am currently rewatching the Office for the fourth time. I have a long list on netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime respectively to get through but at least I will have plenty of material for this series of blogs. However, a not so hidden gem called Psych, a show revolving around a young man with a good eye for detail and a skill for noticing obscure things pretends to be a psychic for the local police department, is in all its eight season glory on Amazon Prime*. The show was shown periodically for a while on RTE 2, but that was late at night or early in the afternoon, and it wasn’t always in order either. Like, what is the actual sense in that? RTE mess up so many shows.
The dynamic between the main cast of the show is brilliant and the show which is literally about a guy petending to be a psychic, doesn’t get old or tacky. There is a fresh storyline in each episode and there’s almost always a fairly attractive female guest star. She almost alwaays turns out to be a villain or an accessory to a villain, which is odd. But she’s hot so it’s all good. Right?

*Is Amazon Prime a thing in Ireland? It’s fecking class, lads.