July 31, 2004

After a while you're gonna think I'm making this stuff up..

Another in the series of whacked out television ads --- I didn't even tell you guys about the one with a group of teens in a car, where the announcer intones, "Today, Ben will beat his girlfriend so hard she'll have permanent brain damage," and you're all, "Gasp!" But the ad isn't about abusive relationships; Ben's sin is that he didn't wear his seatbelt. Shock! Horror! Vivid liquidy-looking slow-mo like in that one Portishead video, depicting a car crash in which devil-may-care Ben's devil-may-care noggin clocks his girlfriend in the temple like two bighorn sheep in a tussle! Fortunately, Girlfriend was wearing her seatbelt, and so she lives to reproach poor, stupid, inconsiderate Ben. Or she would reproach him, except for, you know, the permanent brain damage. Plus, Ben, he daid. As we learn when we cut back to a shot of the crash site by night, where the EMT's are zipping up Ben's body bag while a wise cop stands by, shaking his head grimly, muttering, "Another one who didn't wear his seat belt." Is that a wise cop tear trembling in the corner of his wise cop eye? Or just a trick of the red ambulance light caressing his grizzled cheek…

But the ad that inspired me to post today was a little different. It begins with a close-up of a lamb's head. The lamb baas and tries to look adorable. Then the announcer says, crossing-guardishly, "Look left. Then look right. Now left again," while the lamb stands there with about as much expression on its face as sheep ever have. Then the 3:14 from Clonakilty comes barreling through from the left hand side of the frame, a blur of iron wheels and spark. Now, having been exposed to a couple of these Irish P.S.A., you kind of expect them to cut back to the lamb's mangled remains spread out across the track, his entrails shaped into a frowny face. (Irony!) But no, we see that the lamb is alive and well.
We pull back to see that the lamb is standing with its head poking through an aluminium gate like they use to close off private roads, with a sign on it saying "Level crossing," which seems to mean a railroad crossing that's flat. Then the announcer comes back to plead with the general public to keep the gates closed at level crossings --- "Because some of us don't know how to cross safely," or something. Up floats the logo in the corner of the screen: Iarnród Éireann.

Iarnród Éireann. The Irish national rail. The national rail company has sprung for nationwide television ads to persuade passerby to close the gates behind them at railroad crossings, lest they be accessories before the fact to widespread sheep-i-cide. This is the country I have come to.

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July 30, 2004

Munster for Beef

The all-Ireland championships are on and I've got to say I've been enjoying them. They're kind of a huge horkin' deal. See, back in the Victorian day the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) was created to revive traditional Irish sports, namely hurling and Gaelic football. It was all part of a push to revive Irish pride and nationalism and ethnic identity and whatnot, and a some of the people involved in the early years, being prideful, nationalistic, ethnic Irishmen, were also involved in rebelling against the English. When Michael Collins (the 1920s I.R.A. guerrilla leader) assassinated fourteen high-ranking cops and spooks during the Anglo-Irish War, the English response was to roll tommy guns onto the G.A.A. grounds at Croke Park and strafe the crowd, completing the action of the first Bloody Sunday in Irish history.

Once Ireland got its independence, the G.A.A. became more of a pure sporting organization, not really connected with politics, but the games remained hugely popular. Each of the 32 counties fields a team in each sport, at junior and senior levels. They compete in divisions based on the ancient divisions of Ireland: Ulster (the North, including Northern Ireland but also some counties in the Republic), Leinster (East, including Dublin and the surrounding counties), Munster (South, including Cork and Kerry) and Connaught (West; Galway, Sligo, et cetera.) There's a division championship, and then the All-Ireland tournament, which are separate I guess, though I admit the rules of the draw are unfathomable to me.

What I think helps make 'em so popular and what I like about them is the inter-county rivalries and the sort of amateurishness of the whole shebang. Ireland is not a big country---6.5 million including the North; divide its population up into 32 different little sectors and you're not talking a huge pool of talent to draw from to field these teams. Even though they're competing at a national level, these are people who have jobs, they're not in that sense professional athletes, and it's not like there's millions of dollars to be made in doing it, or a draft or any of that stuff. A county's team is mostly made up of guys who actually grew up there. There's some circulation with the coaches --- there was a match last week between two teams coached by Kerrymen, neither of them Kerry --- but it's mostly a pride thing, a rivalry thing, and I dig that. I also like how attainable it seems; clearly it's not every kid who's gonna get to play for his county, but it's not like the Gods of Genetics have to descend from Olympus to anoint you with a body that's 6'5'', has 3% body fat and can run the 40 in 4.5.
These factors together make people feel a real local interest in their teams, and in their players. Not that people don't do that for the pro teams in the U.S, but there's not that sense of expectation, and bitterness, and disloyalty that comes with professionalization ---- We are paying you a lot of money to play a game for a living, and if you respond with petulance, we will hate you. If you do not play well this season, we will both hate you and fire you.

It's a bit like if New York City had a tournament with teams from each borough --- in fact, now that I think about it, that would be awesome, and I hearby demand that it occur. Can you imagine going to MSG to see Brooklyn take on Queens? Or even better, do it by neighborhood --- Bensonhurst v. Jackson Heights. Chelsea v. Inwood. The South Bronx v. Greenwich Village.

The sports themselves are entertaining to watch, even for me, who's not too clear on the rules and has made no effort to obtain clarity. Gaelic football is way different from American football; it's closer to rugby, but again, there are significant changes...like, um.... you can dribble, for instance. And the ball is round. In equally my gawping ignorance of hurling, I will state that it looks a bit like what would happen if you issued sticks to a bunch of people and told them to play field hockey without explaining the rules. They whack the ball along the ground occasionally, but most of the time they just sort of tap it and go, "aw, fuck it," pick it up and throw it to their teammates. Except when they want to get some real distance on the thing, (or they're attempting to score a goal) in which case they toss the ball in the air and take a massive swing at it, as if playing baseball. The games moves very fast, and high sticking, collisions, and sharp elbows to the face are not only tolerated, they're strongly encouraged. In fact, rather than me trying to explain this to you, check out this picture:


Gaelic football is just as fast and almost as violent --- I mean, take away sticks, you're bound to have a little less blood --- I caught a few minute of the Westmeath-Laois football match the other day and saw two guys get laid out when they were both so far from the ball the T.V. crew couldn't find any footage of the collision. With both sports, the announcers have a breathlessness you generally get only with horse races.

The games are similar in many ways; you might say they have the same bones. The scoring systems are the same; in both you can take a few short steps before you must pass, attempt to score, or dribble (bouncing the ball off your stick in hurling and off your foot in football); both encourage a player to attempt to score from what seems a long distance away to American eyes --- near midfield in some cases. That's because the scoring is sort of half like American football and half like soccer. There's a goal with a net at the end of the field, topped by a set of goalposts, as when the same field is used for football and soccer in an American high school. Sending the ball between the posts is worth a point, sending it into the net is a goal and worth three points. Goals are much more difficult than putting the ball over and the scoring of one can mark a turning point in a match; perhaps that's why they note them separately. When you look at the score box in the corner of the screen it might read Wexford 1-8, Clare 0-10, which actually means Wexford is winning, because that's a goal and eight points --- 11 total --- to Clare's ten points.

That's about all I've figured out about the rules so far. I haven't decided who to root for yet. My mom's ancestors are from Galway, but my Dad's peeps are from Cork; I've still actual cousins there whom I've visited. On the other hand, from what little I've heard it seems like Cork and Kerry are the 300-lbs. gorillas of the league, and I don't want to end up rooting for some hurling version of the Yankees. The Dubs are a hardily plucky/pathetic perennial depending on your point of view; they've got a vast population in comparison to the other counties, yet the size of their pool of talent is not reflected in the standings. Also, their traditional chant is apparently "Up Dubs," which, no. So at the moment I'm down to shirt color….

Posted by Diablevert at 09:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Stupid Comment Spam

You may notice some..odd...comments. It's spam. I'm going to delete it, but attempting to do so on this creaky dial-up literally takes hours, so it'll have to wait until I can by hook our by crook get DSL. I'm very sorry.

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July 29, 2004

The Rubber Duck Flies at Midnight

Huh. I just got a response from a job I applied for --- one that I really hoping I'll get, as I think it'll make for a few interesting blog posts, if nothing else, and that's all I say about it for now. I emailed them yesterday; a letter from them dropped through the post box this morning. It reads, in its entirety,

"Thank you for your application in respect of the above positions.
I can confirm that we will be in touch with you shortly."

Yours faithfully, ect., ect. It just strikes me as a bit of a head-scratcher; there is adequate room on the line for the phrase "to set up an interview" to follow "shortly." Yet it does not. But if they aren’t going to interview me, why not send a letter that says, "Thank you for your application…We regret to say that the position has been filled," or "Your qualifications, while extensive, do not meet our needs at this time. Best of luck," blabbity-blee-blah-bling. I mean, it's nice of them to let me know they got the damn thing, but it would seem to run them a fair amount in postage just to say that, and then to have to call or send another letter to let me know whether I get to interview. Gets your hopes up a bit, too; now I can't help but imagine picking up the phone to hear, "Hello, this is Mr. So-and-so from the institute, we said we'd be in touch? Yes, well, I'm just calling to say, Psyche! No job for you, sucker! Kindergarten baby, stick your head in gravy, put it in a jelly pot and sell it to the navy…"

And the only redeeming feature of the dressing-down will be the mellifluous Irish brogue in which he's sure to deliver it…

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July 26, 2004

Strunk Might Be the Only One Who Appreciates This, But...

....they're reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem every night at 11:30 on RTE 1. No, they haven't said why, they just are.

(It's a book of essays by Joan Dideon written in the late 60s about the hippie movement and other bric-a-brac of that era in Southern California. Taking its title from here, as it does, you'll be unsurprised to note it takes a rather dim view of the phenomena described.)

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Tea leaves

I don't want to turn this into a political blog by any means, but it is interesting to listen to the coverage of the U.S. elections from here (Interesting, and a lot more pleasant.)

I listened to a report from the field from RTE's reporter covering the U.S. election this morning. Poor bastard had to get up at 4 in the morning to file live. He was in San Antonio today, touching base with the Pres on the trail before heading to the convention tomorrow. One of the focuses of his story was a get out the vote drive directed a single moms; apparently they voted in much few numbers proportionally than their married contemporaries in 2000. The reporter ran a clip of an interview he did with a group of Republican single moms, asking them their impression of Kerry. Their response --- this is a paraphrase, of course, but a fairly close one --- was something like: "Y'know? I mean, what's he ever done? What's his plan? He never been a war president. He's never had to deal with a major terrorist attack. But he doesn't tell you what he wants to do instead it's just negative, negative, negative."

Then they played a clip from the ads the Kerry campaign has been running in Texas. To be fair, it didn't mention anything about his policies, but it wasn't particularly negative, either, just a "Here's a Our Candidate: John Kerry, husband/father/hunter/soldier, all around swell guy, verging on good ol' boy." The clip from the Bush campaign was, however, very negative --- "John Kerry is skipping votes and not doing his job! On the other hand, you don't want him doing his job, since he's objectively pro-baby killing."*

RTE's angle on it was a bit ham-handed: See, Kerry can't get his message out, he's still widely unknown, yadda yadda. But these were self-described Republicans; it's not surprising that people would more readily accept and internalize the arguments of the side to which they are sympathetic. But what struck me about it was the implied concession in what the moms were saying; in asking "What's his plan?" they were asking "How do we know he would do better?" and the unstated assumption underlying such a question is George Bush isn't doing very well. And remember that these were single mothers, a group by necessity young, female, and single; nationwide, young unmarried women tend especially Democratic. That they were Republicans suggests either heartfelt conviction or staunch, ingrained-from-birth conservatism ran very deep in them. This makes them extremely unlikely converts to the Democratic cause, and yet, even as ardent supporters their posture was defensive ---- "Your guy can't prove he'd do better," not "Our guy is clearly superior." This bodes ill for Bush. Unless Kerry proves himself a candidate so deeply unlikable that he can't convince moderates to vote for him rather than a candidate they already think is doing a crap job. Which is what they must think, if even the Republican single mothers of San Antonio think it…

* No, really. The ad highlighted his votes against requiring parental consent for teenagers to get an abortion, for allowing school nurses to distribute the morning after pill, and against the Laci Peterson law. (I wonder what that entails, anyway. Anyone know?)

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July 25, 2004


Heh heh heh.

"Red Sox Take Victory in Fight to Finish."

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July 24, 2004

Ahhhhhhh! Don't Look at Me!

I'm hideous!

I dunno, dude. I don't know why the picture is all poking out of the banner. I don't know why, and movable type responds to all my questions like a buddhist monk, with unflappable impassivity occassionally punctuated by a sharp rap on the ear, executed with blinding speed.

It'll have to wait till morning, that's all. In the meantime, if anyone swings by, politely avert your eyes, okay? Or at least look through your fingers.

Update: Fixed.

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I gots my gmail

So, y'know, nyah-nyah ne boo boo.

I sent out emails to alert peeps of the changeover, but in case I missed you inadvertantly, send an email to my old address or leave a comment or summptin, okay?

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July 21, 2004

Get On the Mystery Train

So, no update for a bit; not much interesting has happened, I'm afraid. Got my ipod working, finally, though attempting to download music on a dial-up connection is an experience akin to Chinese Water Torture. Looking for jobs, slowly exploring Dublin. Haven't made any new friends yet, but give it time. I have to work on my chatting-up-strangers-in-bars skills, an expertise I know my parents would be proud to hear I've attained. (By the way, my Mom reads this blog now. Hi Mom! The package came today! Thanks! The rest of you, you'll have to wait until you see me in person to hear about the Norwegian sailor.*)

I'm listening to the Mystery Train as I write; I've kind of fallen in love with it. It's a program on RTE Radio 1, Monday to Thursday, presented by John Kelly, and it's the most random collections of songs in ever. Not all of it is to my taste, but a lot of it is, and a good two-thirds of it I've never heard, or heard of, before. But more so than the specific songs he plays, it's the pervasive sense of pleasant anticipation that makes the show: you wait in the gaps between songs to see how he'll surprise you this time, and how this next song will resonate with what came before. Let me see if I can give you a sense of it by telling you what he played tonight:

First off was "Same as It Ever Was," by the Talking Heads, then one by a group called Avalanche whose title I didn't catch, then "Do the Hustle," "Very Superstitious," by Stevie Wonder, "Yali," by Uma Sangari, "Assoule," by Tanaruwen --- those last two being from Mali, by the way, so god only knows if I've spelled them right --- then "You Know, I Know," by John Lee Hooker, a funky little harp number by Dorothy Ashby, "Teenage Kicks," by the Nouvelle Vague, which is just as French-poppy as it sounds, "Spaceship," by the Gasmen, "Bring Me the Disco King," David Bowie, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," Chris Mindoke, and finally, "Far Away," by Freddie Hubbard, which, regrettably, he had to cut off in the middle of the trumpet solo.

He has a different regular segments, too. Monday's Relaxation Suite started off with the intro from a 50's self-hypnosis album, and commenced a varied series of instrumental numbers, the last by John Cage, which, if you've heard of John Cage, I should hasten to add, was actually pretty good. All of them sounded like something you'd hear in a movie over a montage of people traveling by moonlight. Thursdays he has Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow --- that might be Arse now I think about it --- which was rounded out the other day by a ten-minute spoken word piece by none other than --- wait for it --- Muhammad Ali, taken, it seemed, from one of his pre-bout press conferences back when he was still Cassius Clay. Between stanzas you could hear the laughter of the sports reporters and the phwoombp of flashbulbs.

You can listen to the show here, and I hope you will. It'd be live your time about 3:30; other times you can hear yesterday's show. (Never mind the show; after reading the bio on that page, I think I might be a little in love with John Kelly.)

In other news, I met some nice people the other day when I went to my first Ladyfest meeting. (Of course, now that I've mentioned the name of the festival, Google will probably spit up this page every time someone searched for it, so if I wanted to snark on the people involved, they'd probably find out in minutes. Fortunately, they all were very nice. Really.) If that sounds vaguely consciousness-raising, it kind of is. It's basically a festival to highlight the work of local women artists and other good stuff. The first one was in Olympia, Wa. in 2000; since then the idea has spread and there's been Ladyfests in New York and Austin a bunch of other cities. The Dublin one is gonna be a three-day event in November, with bands and films and a crafts fair and whatnot. I'm on the workshops committee.

I have to confess that this is probably not something I would have gotten involved in back in the States; my knee-jerk contrarianism leads me to be a bit suspicious of all things theoretically empowering. (That cereal they came out with a couple years back still raises my hackles, "Estro-Os, the oatmeal for women," or whatever it was called. Jesus Christ, it's fucking oatmeal. I don't need my oatmeal to be ph-balanced and gender segregated. Eat the Quaker Oats, take a multivitamin, and shut the fuck up.)

But when I heard they were looking for volunteers for this it seemed like a good way to get involved with the local arts community and so far the people seem very cool, and they have some interesting ideas for stuff they want to do --- self-defense and sex ed and all that but also things like bike maintenance and home repairs and other cool stuff chicks miss out on sometimes. Anyway, it's still early in the planning and there's a lot of stuff to do for it. Say, Eclaire, you don't know any Billyburg bands that'll be in Europe at that time, do you? They're still booking acts. It's all very D.I.Y. but there's going to be fundraisers so we can cover basic expenses --- honorariums for people giving workshops, food and lodgings for the bands, possibly even travel expenses. If you know of anyone who's headed this way in the fall, put me in touch, maybe we can get them a gig.

Actually, that reminds me of another issue --- So far I've been using nicknames I've made up to refer to people here, mostly because Google is so often an evil oracle, plucking visions of happy and successful ex-es from the ether, and I didn't want to put anyone's name up here and allow them to be found if they didn’t want to be. But I notice some of you have used your real names in the comments, so maybe all my precautions are for naught. I plan, of course, to only relate anecdotes which show y'all in a charming light --- oh, let's be honest, I plane to ramble on about myself damn near exclusively --- but still, this is the internet, the unknown country from whose bourn the most bizarre jetsam returns, and generally at the most awkward of times. All of which is to say, should I keep on with the nicknames or not? Vote in the comments, would you? (I am a shameless comment-prodding hussy.) I should admit that I quite enjoy making up nicknames for people.

Wow, this is long, and there are one or two mild curios I haven't covered. Till tomorrow, then.

*Kidding, Mom, kidding.

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July 13, 2004

Damn, that would look good on a pillow

"God invented carbs. You think you know better than God, suit yourself. I'll be over here at the donut table."

Sars at Tomato Nation hates the Atkins, and her hate is hella funny, as usual.

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July 12, 2004

Less Talk, More Show

You want pictures? Do ya? Well, cram it sideways, ugly, you're getting pictures anyway.

Street Lamp Close Up.JPG

A Street Lamp

C'mon now, you bastards, all together with me: Aw.

Here follows a bunch of pictures of Dublin, scattered randomly across the page, accompanied by even more scattered commentary.

St. Stephen's Green.jpg

St. Stephen's Green

Looking leafy.



The coast by Sandymount, at low tide.


And Again

The coast by Sandymount, at low tide. With crazy guy, waiting for the bus.

O'Connell Street and Spire.jpg

O'Connell Street and The Spire

See that spike in the middle? They put that up for the millennium. In their defense, no one here seems quite sure why, either. "Well, London has Nelson's column, and now we’ve got…this thing. It's…tall." And so the spike stands, awaiting the day when the Hand of God shall emerge from the heavens, ding O'Connell's head and impale an order for a short stack.

Jesus in a Box.jpg

Jesus in a Box

"Created and Maintained by the taxi drivers of Dublin."

Parnell Monument.jpg

Parnell's Column

At the other end of O'Connell Street. Patron saint of those who like a little sumptin' on the side.

Go-Go Boots.jpg

Winnie Coopering It Up

This picture was taken about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The other blond chick in the hat was also wearing go-go boots, but hers weren't white pleather. Oh, and speaking of the local fauna, over on the right there --- not your type, but still, a positive sign, eh, Strunk?

Grand Canal.jpg

The Grand Canal

So I think, anyway. I was lost at the time. It might be the Liffy. Anyway, it's water. And it's pretty, damn it.

Georgian Ivy.jpg


Some of the Georgian manses you see just lying about the place.


A Traditional Irish Pub.

Foley's 2.jpg

A Traditional Irish Pub Website

Oh, by the by, see that little blue plaque over the awning? Quaint looking, ain't it? Discreet. Probably a historic marker of some sort, you're thinking. Perhaps something to do with a walking tour. Oh no, no my friends, that's the flippin' street sign. The municipality of Dublin likes to make a game of it, you see: How artfully can they conceal the very names of the avenues? In the example above, we see one of their more typical tricks, cramming the sign in between an awning and a real estate placard. They also like to place them just above slightly protruding lintels, rendering the sign invisible to anyone standing on the corner below. While I hope many of y'all come to visit me, I warn you now that I am constructing an utterly nameless mental map of the city, wherein directions are rendered something like, "You get off the bus by the park and go up that one sort of windy street and then go right by the fancy-looking brick buildings, you know, where the park is, no, the other park, the one with fields…"


And here is…a large, important-looking building.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Flame Ball.jpg

Iron Flame Ball

I know, you're thinking it's the entrance to some fetish club. But no, it's some sort of U.N.-sponsored human rights memorial. See, the flame struggles and is imprisoned by the giant ball of studded whips and chains, symbolizing mankind's struggle against oppression and …leather restraints….oh, who am I kidding, it's the entrance to a fetish club.

(No, really, it's a U.N.-sponsored human rights memorial of some sort. Swear to God.)

I took some photos of the house, but most of them didn't come out. You are left with:

The House.jpg

The House.

See, somewhat scraggily rosebush and everything. I should probably water it. And also

Back Garden.jpg

My back garden

Complete with out of focus view of my kitchen windowsill.

I think that's it from me for now, folks. I leave you with



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July 09, 2004


I dunno, I just felt like saying oi.

Suggestions: Which edition of Ulysses should I get?

Strunk? DDK?

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Weekend Update

So here's the update --- text only for the moment, but I should get my pictures back tomorrow, and assuming I didn't blank the roll and can figure out the scanner, I'll put them up. There will be another email, but I thought I'd try and get you people while you were still at work and in need of diversion.

Ireland, Week Two.


Bought bicycle. Rode it home, which was a bit of an adventure, as bicycle-riding has been a strictly spectator sport for me for, let's see --- more than a decade, ever since I flipped over a hedge after coasting down a hill on my way back from the corner store, bending the frame of my ten-speed. (Remarkable, that ---I took the hedge in a clean somersault and walked out of the neighbor's yard without a scratch on me; I emerged to find the bike half-engulfed in the shrubbery, its back wheel spinning forlornly.) The clichés are all true, of course, but the fact that my muscles remembered how to ride a bicycle perfectly well didn't mean they didn't resent it. If my jelly-leggedness upon alighting was anything to go by, there are some muscles in my thighs that, after twelve years of anticipation, were this close to atrophying entirely. Worse luck for them, I suppose.


Went walking in Dublin --- this part's much better with pictures, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow. For now, I'll say only that Dublin seems to be a lot like Boston, in that you're wandering around, taking it all in with the bovine placidity common to tourists, when you look at something and go, "Hey, wait a second, isn't that really historic? One if by land, two if by ….something? Revolutionary what now?" Or in Dublin's case, "Say, that's a really big post office. Huh. A big stone post office. You don't think…? Well, I'll be damned."

Monday and Tuesday were boring.


Nearly died. Other than that, nothing of interest.

(Oh, really, I'm just being melodramatic. I was crossing an intersection on my bike when I was overcome by a coughing fit --- damn cold --- and had to pull off onto the sidewalk. By the time I was done hacking, the light had changed, but I thought I, being a slick ex-New Yorker, could surely just wheel my bike across to the other side during the next break in the traffic. And indeed I could, it was just that a city bus concealed from me a small sedan also taking advantage of the break to make a left turn. I booked it and 'scaped the fury of the oncoming fender, but he did nick the back tire of my bike, which made me stumble into the curb and scrape my palms.)


Phone was cut off this morning, which was more than mildly irritating. Seems there was a bureaucratic kerfluffle occasioned by my landlord's having the account changed over to his name while still paying the bill out of the probate funds, or something like that, and Eircom ended up mistakenly thinking it was owed 325 Euro. I think I may yet learn to speak of the Irish utility services with the same sort of weary distaste, occasionally punctuated by a sardonic chuckle, that my landlord employs when referring to them. Especially after I called the cable people a second time to tell them how eagerly I wanted to procure their services, and they said they'd call me back Monday, with a heavily implied "Maybe. If we feel like it." In any case, the phone was back on by later that afternoon, but the cessation of services meant I had to leave the house in order to get anything done --- a good thing probably, as I've just found out the grocery store delivers and that means there's nothing to bar me, really, from sitting here reading stuff on the net all day, letting my fingernails grow into spiral curlicues. Well, except the threat of poverty.

Anyway, the phone being cut off meant I had to go into the city and find an internet café to email my landlord at, which I did. Then I searched for jobs for a while, and then decided to go exploring. Wandering about with no particular destination in mind, I still managed to get pretty much hopelessly lost, and meandered for some considerable time in the south east section of Dublin, crossing Ringsend Park into Sandymount and passing for a while along the intermittently scenic Rock Road (which overlooks Dublin Harbor) before happening upon a DART station (the Dublin equivalent of the Commuter Rail or the Metro-North or the BART, o my sparse and far-flung readership). I had to go three stops back to return to the city center, where I promptly got lost again. Well, not as badly lost, anyway, as this time I managed to find O'Connell Street and from thence my bus home.

Though really, as I consider the question now, I suppose I can't really be lost someplace I've never been, can I? Especially if I go there without a map, and having no destination in mind. Lost implies a destination, or a least a sense of familiarity. To be lost is to be dis-oriented, not un-oriented; and I am a deliberately compassless traveler….That's definitely the Recommended Adult Dose of my inane nattering for today. Moving on.

Oh, by the by, the O'Connell Dart Station? Made of orange brick, with while tiles along the platforms, and the trestels painted green. Think on it for a minute; it sort of sneaks up on ya. Makes me wonder what Penn Station would look like if it was Red, White, and Blue, instead of Shit Brown, Concrete, and Accumulated Dirt.


Spent most of the day trying to make my shiny new iPod work with my old and cranky computer; my baby got the rheumatism somethin' fierce, and her old Win98 bones don’t want to bend themselves to welcome the iPod's lithe new software. Did a little job hunting. At this particular moment, in addition to writing y'all I'm drinking a Rock Shandy and ordering some groceries. Exciting, these travels in strange lands, eh?

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July 05, 2004

A Killer Spot....

So I saw this ad.

It's starts off very sweet. They've got the gauzy filter on, there's tinkly music box music overlaid with echo-y giggles, a young boy and his sister playing in the backyard. The girl swings on her swingset, the boy kicks a soccer ball around. Mom and Dad smile benevolently from afar. The boy kicks a goal into the corner of the net and does a little hip-wriggling, I-totally-rock dance. Aw.
Cut to a young guy, mid-twenties or so, cutting toward the goal in his club team match. He shoots, he scores, he does a little I-totally-rock hip wiggle. Obviously the same kid grown up; this must be some kind of commercial for life insurance or something, right? Maybe laundry detergent; let's see if he does a sliding tackle. Nope, instead it's off to the pub to celebrate with his friends. Much cheering, backslapping, the clinking of pints. With a cheerful wave our victorious goal-scorer hops in his car to go home.
Cut to the little kid fooling around with the soccer ball. Okay, this must be for life insurance; it's well past time to introduce mud as a theme.
Cut to an extreme close-up of the car speeding down a slick, slightly foggy road.
Kids again; the girl swings away, turning over her shoulder to make a teasing remark to her big brother.
Cut to the car again, then to a close-up of the forehead of our goal-scorer, suddenly creased with worry and beaded with sweat.
The little kids picks up his soccer ball…
…and the driver looses control of the car, skidding, tumbling, taking out a hedge and heading straight for our tow-haired, cow-licked junior athlete….

No! Not….Surely not? Surely, at least, they'll discretely cut away at this juncture?

Aw, hells no.

Dude, it was freaking AWESOME.

He just takes the little fucker right out! Two metric tons of GTO roll right over the little bastard, and they show the kid lying there in a three-inch deep, kid-sized dent, with arms and legs pointed in directions arms and legs don't go. Meanwhile, the driver pops out the window and hauls himself out like an upside-down Duke boy. He dusts himself off and looks up to see…Consequences? I'll show you consequences, you callow drunk! Look, look upon what ye have wrought as the grieving father, breast heaving, lifts his child-sized crash test dummy to his bosom, while you stand there with one tiny nick along your hairline providing that crucial artistic trail of blood down your cheek, along the path whence a tear might have traveled, were you at all capable of human feeling, Damnable Rummy! Think of the Chiiiilll-dren! Think! Look, I'm waving one right in your face! And he's dead! DEAD, I TELL YOU!!


Posted by Diablevert at 08:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

….and the Chevy Nova of Pot Noodles

Then there's this other ad, with a group of tourists havening dinner on a romantic, moonlit Mexican plaza. A Mariachi band approaches one smiling couple, and after getting the nod, commence a song that goes something like --- forgive me here, I didn’t tape record the damn thing --- "Oh beautiful English girl, / Here in Mexico with your lover" …the lovers smile and clutch each other's hands …"Little do you know you are not enough for him," Distressed, the girl pulls away and glances at her man…"Late at night when you are sleeping, he sneaks into town /And heads for the back alleys…" He draws back and looks freaked out and guilty as all hell. Cut to tag line, "Sometimes you need a little something more: Seedy Sanchez Pot Noodle." Picture of the boyfriend huddled by an ally, slurping noodles out of one of those little plastic containers, his mouth ringed by what, according to the Seedy Sanchez ingredient list, ought to be salsa.


I mean, that's got to be deliberate, right? Part of me wants to write a concerned letter to the Mexican Embassy: "Hola, Muchachos, listen up, I think you should be made aware that…" But I don't know if I want to them to have my return address, if I have to write them a letter in which I explain the term "Dirty Sanchez." Do you think there's an Anti-Mexican Defamation League? 'Cause seriously, dude, that's naaasty. And yet, somehow someway, it's supposed to make me want to buy --- and eat--- salsa-flavored pot noodles.

Where's Rick Bayless when you fuckin' need him?

Posted by Diablevert at 06:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

July 04, 2004

Two short notes

As I was sitting by St. Stephen's Green --- y'know, as an opener, that sounds like it should be followed by some rhyming nonsense about cats and kits and sacks and whatnot --- there was a man who came through the park clanging a bell, calling out "Make your way to the exits, the park is closing." Aside from his neon yellow park worker's vest, it was all so medieval I was tempted to hang around for a bit to see if he'd bust out with "It's nine o' the clock, and awl's we-ell."

Also, a beggar rang my doorbell yesterday, accompanied by a saucer-eyed toddler in a stroller. She handed me a scrap of paper requesting funds to buy the kid nappies. You don't see that kind of initiative in New York.

Posted by Diablevert at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 02, 2004

Yipiee-Kai-Yay, Motherfuckers

So here is my Bridget Jones' Diary-esque sum-up of the past few days. It starts off okay I think but I'm worried that I've run out of steam a bit toward the end there; can you imagine the half-assedness of my efforts if I'd had to write all of you individually?

Oh, fine, I'm just a lazy bastard. And in addition, I'm pretty sure I'm all over the place with the first and third person and the verb tenses, but I wanted to throw this up before Friday was over your time, and frankly, I'm getting near the wire. Cut a sister a break.

Ireland, Week One

Monday, 3:00 PM EST

Arrive at airport.

Monday, 3:05 PM EST

While wrestling with wonky-wheeled hand cart, I fail to notice that my Ipod* has fallen out of pocket. A nice foreign man tries to point this out to me using hand gestures; I frown darkly at him and loudly announce that the cart is mine fair and square.

*NB, for those of you, and you know who you are: The old Ipod. You can breathe again now.

Monday, 3:20 PM EST

While standing in the check-in line, I go to put on my headphones and discover the loss of the Ipod. After thoroughly searching through my carry-on luggage, I deduce what form my idiocy has taken this time, and am faced with a dilemma, to wit: I am now about halfway through the line. If I stay, I will reach the ticket counter in about ten minutes. If I leave the line and re-enter, my wait will probably be three times as long or more; the members of some sort of group tour (see below) have been swarming up to the Aer Lingus desk ever since I got here, and the line behind me has stretched far past the point where it was when I entered it. I could ask the people behind me to watch my luggage while I dash back out to the cart rack; but frankly, the creepily flirtatious conversation between Suburban Dad and His Coltish Pre-Teen Daughter was what inspired me to reach for the headphones in the first place. (Sample dialogue: "Don't try and compliment me. I'm still mad at yo-ou." Giggle.) I elect to stay in the line.

Monday, 3:35 PM EST

The Ipod is totally gone, as I knew in my heart of hearts it would be. I hang my head in shame and consider what a jackass I am. I realize with irritation that now I have no music for the plane. Briefly, I wonder what the thief thinks of my musical taste. Finally, I reflect that, because I have been blessed beyond deserving, I have a new Ipod, and this just gives me more reason to play with it.

Monday, 5:30 PM EST

I'm waiting for the plane to board, and there's a strange 14-year-old using my shin for a backrest. My shin is in high dudgeon, it's sending stern messages up my nerves to my spinal column, wants me to say something about how I'm not that kind of girl. But the rest of me is inclined to be indulgent. I've got sucked in with some kind of youth group --- there's about fifty of them in grey T-shirts, all about 14, I'd say, and they seem to be from all over, they keep announcing themselves to each other and I've overheard Colorado, Maryland, and of course and inevitably, New Jersey. The shirts don't mention any kind of church group, and they can't be performing since they don't know each other; I'm inclined, from the sprinkling of red heads and the predominance of freckles among them, to think they're on some kind of heritage tour. They seem to be a good hearted bunch, though giggly; about twenty of them have flopped down in front of my knee to play Bullshit. The ringleader --- the chick who thought to bust out the cards, and who keeps performing the introductions everytime someone new sheepishly wanders over --- is a hazel-eyed, smudged-nose kid with a devilish grin, who has fashionably modified her t-shirt by slitting the sides, snipping at them, and safety-pinning them back together to create a) an artfully tatty fringe and b) a noticeable tightening across the chest, whislt everyone one else sits there in their one-size-fits-alls, letting their scoliosis add to the sag and bag. If I were a chaperone, I'd keep an ear perked in her direction.
Ah, the anxiousness, the awkwardness, the hormones. The matched set of bitchy-looking chicks wearing vari-colored polos under their standard-issue T's, with the sleeves shoved up to the elbows and the colors flipped up. They look like something out of 1985, which, if I can count, is about five years before their births. (See? Do you see, America? This is what early exposure to VH1 does to your fashion sense.)

Monday, 6:01 PM EST

I have never seen a living child look so much like a shock-haired troll doll.

Monday, 6:20 PM EST

I advise that all the most momentous travel occasions of you life be accompanied by the bellows of a squalling infant. It admirably focuses the mind, wiping away all worries of what the future might bring and forcing one to be fully present in the now, e.g., Will it stop now? How about now?

Monday, 6: 25 PM EST

I hope it isn't the troll baby; she seems quite burdened enough.

Monday/Tuesday, Somewhere over the Atlantic.

Try and avoid having to watch Starsky and Hutch by crawling inside my hoodie and falling asleep. Fail; hoodie is too small to shut out all light and can only sleep fitfully. Spend about an hour rolling my eyes at the too-cool-for-school youth group kid next to me as he plots with his friends to buy cartons of Marlboro Reds off the duty free cart.

Tuesday, 5:30-6:30 AM GMT

Arrive in Dublin. Find ATM, find luggage, do not find coffee; get cab.

Tuesday, 7:00 AM GMT

Get lost. Cabbie is a polite and pleasant fellow who seems to be from Africa somewhere; he compliments me on my pronunciation skills --- marble-mouthed Haitians are apparently the bane of his existence --- but still cannot find my street, and the Cabbie's On Star system he's got installed can't find it either. I am of the opinion that we took a wrong turn back at the bridge, but he thinks we should continue on the way we were going originally, when lo and behold, we pass right by the place.

So, the house. It's on a cul de sac --- which, I've noticed, are always marked very prominently; I just can't figure out why, it's not like you can take a wrong turn onto one and get lost --- and fronts a small field with a wall through it, across which can be seen the houses one street over. It's got a brick front, which pleased me; frankly, on the drive over all the houses started to blend together, as they're almost all made of a pebbly sort of grey concrete. Like the skin of a basketball, except, you know, grey and made out of concrete. Grey seems to be Dublin's default color, its background, at least what I've seen of the city so far. It's a bit like heraldy --- there are all these dashes of bold, sharply defined color, front doors and window sashes and shop fronts, saturated with blue and reds and purples and yellows, and it's all against this background of grey. Well, and green of course. Brick stands out a bit, and I think it looks nicer.
The house is what's called a semi-detached, meaning it shares a wall with the house next door. It's got a driveway/courtyard out front, surrounded by a low wall --- there's a grey hatchback parked in front of the garage, I assume it was my landlord's mother's. There's also a scraggily-looking rosebush to the left of the door.
Inside the house --- well, inside the house is a bit weird. See, me turning up looking for a place to rent in Dublin was as much a stroke of fortune for my landlord as him having a place to rent was for me. He'd been thinking about renting it out, but he hadn't done a serious planning or preparing for that; the house just got out of probate a few weeks ago. Which means that there's all this stuff here. He's supposed to be coming over in July sometime to go through some of the stuff, but in the meantime, there's photos on the walls and phone numbers on the corkboard and the good china still in its cabinet. I feel a bit like a cat burglar, as if I've sneaked into somebody's house who's on vacation, and they'll be returning any moment.
The house is decorated in a style that might be described as Modern Grandma. There's lots of cross-stitched throw pillows and doilies, a closet full of toys for the grandkids, lots of school pictures. It's a comfortable house, though --- neat, but lived in. There's a small hallway when you enter, with stairs leading up to the second floor, a hallway through to the kitchen, and a door to the left that goes to the living room. Living room has a tv, a piano, an overstuffed suite upholstered in yellow, and a gas fireplace. Kitchen has a small attached sitting room with another fireplace and a door out to the back garden. The garden is walled in, but the walls are concealed on the two long sides by box hedges and on the far side by shrubbery. It has a small lawn and some flowers and is quite cute.
Upstairs. When you get to the top of the stairs you can go left or right. On the right side, over the garage, is a large double bedroom and a small storage room. On the left side the hallway widens out a bit and there are three bedrooms, one small one over the hallway and two good-sized ones over the living room. Over the kitchen is the toilet and bathroom; I mean that literally, they're separate. I don't know why. I do know that the bathroom-has an extra-deep tub which is spectacular for taking long bubble baths in when you're jet lagged.
That's it for the house, I think. Oh, wait --- I forgot the Emergency Back-Up Toilet. Outside by the garage there's some kind of outhouse. It looks like it hasn't been used in years --- it's where they store the recyling bin --- but it flushes, by gum, so if in dire need, well. You know.
I've taken some pictures, and I might be able to scan them in a couple days; if I get them up I'll let y'all know.

Tuesday, 8:00 AM GMT

I explore the house a bit, and notice that Kind Neighbor Lady has left me a note, the back door key, and after reading the note and opening the fridge, milk, eggs, bread, margarine, tea, and bangers. Score!

Tuesday, 9:00 AM-10:30 PM GMT

Go to the hardware store and buy an adapter; return home, by lucky accident figure out how to get on the internet, dash off e-mail, take a nap, intending to get up at 1. Get up at 4:30. Kind Neighbor Lady stops buy around seven and offers to take me to the grocery store tomorrow as she's going up that way anyway. Sleep again.

Wednesday, 10:30 A.M. GMT

Go to Tesco, the big-ass grocery store 'round these parts. Discover that, other than the fact that the cheese selection kind of bites and cookies are all English, everything's pretty much the same here as it is in the states, same brands and everything. Oh, except it all costs 10% more, and you can buy liquor in the grocery store. Nominate new candidate for Three Most Terrifying Words in the English Language: "Store-Brand Vodka."

Wednesday, 2:31 PM GMT

I notice that Google automatically takes me to Google.ie, even when I type in google.com; I feel somewhat oppressed.

Wednesday, 4:17 PM GMT

Briefly watch a terrible Irish soap opera. It's a simple math problem, really. In a country of 4 million people, a) how many of them are going to want to be actors, and b) how many of them are going to be any good at it? Subtract b from a and you are left with a number large enough to populate a small soap opera.

Thursday, 2:30 PM-9:00 PM GMT

Unintentionally sleep 14-hours, waking up at 2:30. Realize whole "Getting a Lot of Stuff Done Today" plan kind of fucked. Walk to St. Stephen's Green; it's about 3 and a half a miles, but what with a couple hour long pits stops at a pub and an internet café, don't get there till about 8:30.

Thursday, 7:30 PM GMT

I think to myself something along the lines of, "Well, if I can't figure out the bus timetable, then I'm buggered."

Self: What the fuck? Buggered?
My brain: What?
Self: Quit that! It makes you sound like a pretentious twat.
Brain: Look, I adhere to a strict When-In-Rome vocabulary policy.
Self: I don't think they even say "buggered" over here! The accent thing I can take, but this is ridiculous. I've already caught you thinking the word "after" in the sense of "to seek," like, three times. Next thing you know I'll be using "your man" in the abstract.
Brain: You must adapt or die. Que sera sera.
Self: Just for that, I'm gonna get the Doris Day version stuck in my head for hours.
Brain: Piss off.

Friday, 1:30 PM GMT

Slept in --- again --- but finally beginning to feel normal. Unpacked, ran errands, fixed internet, looked at job websites.

Friday, 4:51 PM

Took a break from unpacking and turned on the TV for a sec. The lotto drawing girl --- they call it Telly Bingo --- is, from all appearances and especially the timber of her voice, a 6-foot tranny. Her name is Shirley. She's just been having a lovely chat with today's bonus game contestant, a 67-year-old granny to 14 from Wexford.

Friday, 6:30 PM GMT

Bought a mobile phone. I will give you all the number as soon as I figure out how to work it; after a titanic struggle, I located the on button half an hour ago.

The End. So Far.

Honestly, other than that I haven't done much. This cold is kind of kicking my ass. Most of the time I appear perfectly normal, but every twenty minutes or so I go into a tremendous fit of hacking coughs. Occasionally I make a funny squeaking sound as my body desperately tries to both cough air out and breath air in. Good times. I think it's getting better though, and I cough less when I'm out and about doing stuff than when I'm sitting on my ass at home. So tomorrow I'm gonna go buy a bicycle. And try and figure out how the buses work.
I just realized I've skipped the part about shortchanging the cabby, but I'll guess I'll just have to keep it up my sleeve for next time. Talk to you all soon.

Leave a comment, if you've made it all the way to the end. Besides, it saves you from having to write me back. For not only am I lazy, I encourage laziness in others.

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