August 31, 2004


Guess what guess what guess what?

I didn't even realize the Republican convention had started.

That's probably the best thing about moving out of the country so far.

How's the City That Never Sleeps, guys?


It must be like when the motorcade rolls through. For five days straight.

Heh heh.


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August 26, 2004

Semper Fi

I've been watching the Olympics over here.

I can't tell you how many times the phrase "Now here's an event with Irish interest," is followed 30 seconds later by the annoucer looking down, shuffling papers, and saying "Of course, it's an amazing achivement just to make it to the Olympics."

Or the number of times this exchange has occurred:

"So what are our chances in this event, Michael? Slim?"

"Extremely slim."

"But we might win a medal, right?"

Here's where the ex-athelete purses his lips and you can seen his neck muscels tensing, because he has to hold his head very still, in order to prevent it from shaking slightly in negation/disgust. Disgust because the anchorperson is quite obviously both ignorant of and uninterested in the intricacies of the given sport, when glancing knowledge of the rules would make clear the fact that the Irish are toastier than Satan's toenails. And the ex-athelete says, "It's possible, but So-and-So is going to have to perform at his best, and rely on other people to make the mistakes, at this point," all the while thinking, Mistakes like not showing up. Or keeling over from a drung-induced heart attack. Like that.

The 5,000 meter runner --- who had won a silver medal in the event in Sydney --- got lapped.

Two of Irish athelete had to withdraw beacause of injuries. Another was in a car crash at the games.

The poet laureate's weekley poems about the games have been getting ever more dejected. Last night's was an extended riff about how they should just let them take all the damn drugs they want.

(Yes, RTE have hired a poet to write a poem a week about the games, which he recites over either stock footage of the athelete or goofy footage of himself galivanting in a track suit. He favors rythmic ryhming couplets, in the style of the best doggeral everywhere. I know, man. Poets on TV. And nobody's getting inagurated. )

My own heartbreaker was the boxer Andy Lee. He's a young middle-weight with a jug ears and a cockeyed grin, tall for his weight class, and all in all a rising prospect. There were high hopes. RTE sent a camera crew to his family's house to film them watching his first match (commenting with an audible sneer that the Lees were members of the "settled Travelling community") and it was damn heartwarming. You could tell from the angle that the camera guy was sitting crouched on the living room floor with youngn'uns running around at lense height. He panned the room to catch reactions during the bout and Lee's mom (who must have been a beauty in her day) was going absolutely nuts: one hand curled around a cuppa, unconsciously shadow-boxing in tandem with her son, the way a little kid getting caught up in a video game will lunge left with his whole body as he taps a button to make his character jump from one cliff to another. He won the first bout (the RTE cameraman closed out with a shot of the chandalier shaking on the Lee family ceiling as they all cheered and stomped and clapped), and looked good for the second one. But his opponent, a Camaroon fighter who had brawled his way through his first fight, suddenly developed some sweet science when he went against Lee, and Lee went behind by three or four punches in the first round and had to chase him the whole way, tying it in the final seconds, and then losing the tiebreak.

I guess for now I'll have to pin my hopes on Fermanagh in the GAA and take my comfort in the breathaking pessimism of the color commentators, whose evaluations of the feild, both Irish and otherwise, do not partake of the relentless on-message upbeatness of their American counterparts. (Sample quotes: "You can see the pain in her face. I don't know why she doesn't drop out." "He hasn't a prayer." "I think you'd have to say that all hope of a medal is gone at this point.") The rowing commentator, in particular, is so relentlessly negative that my landlord commented, "Good lord, he'd make you want to jump off a bridge."

"And if you did he'd tick off your form for hitting the pylon," I replied.

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August 22, 2004

Can't Talk Now

The Illustrious is here. Computer's still broken. Lots of stuff to do tomorrow. Perhaps even updating. Made peach cobbler; came out pretty good.

Also, am not dead.

Posted by Diablevert at 03:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 18, 2004

Striking a Blow for the Chicks, Man.

I don't know why I keep writing about ads. I'll try and have more interesting thoughts.

So those new Nike ads --- they "you're faster than you think" ones? They're not bad. RTE2, the channel with the Olympics, has been playing them to death. It's sad really --- almost like when for some freakish reason you find yourself watching "The Outdoor Network" or some other waystation in the cable hinterland, and you realize they only ever play three commericals. Miracle Pasta Pot (With the Holes! In the Lid!), Sam Waterson Employs His Gravitas to Sell You Life Insurance, and Patent Your Million Dollar Invention, You Sad, Sad Little Man (or risk becoming an even sadder little man, as depicted by the Glum Snapper, sitting on his couch snapping his fingers and glowering about those chisling Clapper people and their fancy pants lawyers while his table lamp goes on and off in the background. Snap. On. Snap. Off. "It could have been me!") RTE2's kinda like that, at least with their Olympics coverage, although their advertizers are slightly less marginal --- Nike, Nutrigrain, and Champion Sports.

So they keep showing these Nike ads, which are pretty entertining. For some reason I keep revolving the tennis one around in my head. I assume y'all have seen it; Nike ads are like unto the rays of the sun --- HQ busts out with a new one every 8 minutes, and in 24 hours they've covered the globe --- but if perchance you metaphorically live under a rock, the tennis one features a bunch of pre-teen (are they officially tweens now? that sounds like something awful to call someone, like "twerp", but then the span of years between 11 and 14 are indeed awful) girls huddling around a locker room window, on the lookout for the arrival of their scorchingly hot tennis instructor. They bust out of the locker room in a wave that crashes at his feet, then proceed to stare at him moon-eyed and giggle as he gives them instrcutions. Then they line up for drills, stealing sly glances at him out of the corners of their eyes as they move to serve or return, and each girl, as she enters into motion...suddenly transforms into Serena Williams, lunging and grunting with a ferocity awesome to behold, until finally someone gets a little overenthused and send a fuzzy yellow missle thumping into the instructor's immaculate coif, knocking him on his ass. Blushing instructor stands up as the girls stand awkwardly simpering, and up comes the tagline, "You're Faster Than You Think."

It's a cute ad. (It's got especially cute background music.) But what I keep thinking about is whether it says good or bad things about feminism and girl power and such in 2004. Because on the one hand, the young girls imagine themselves as fierce, powerful, and athletic, all of which things Serena Williams undoubtably is. This is a lot better than them imagining themselves to be limp-wristed, uncoordinated butterfingers in order to entice Tall Blondie to encircle their hips and show them that forehand-thingie one more time. And they imagine that this will be impressive to their instructor --- that fierceness, power, and athleticism will appeal to him, rather then vulnerability and weakness bringing out his protectve instincts. And yet. All this effort is still directed not at being good at tennis as such but at impressing the instructor, or more importantly, at attacting male attention. Not trying to be good at tennis because you want to be good at tennis but because guys think jock chicks are hot. On the one hand, I feel that that's kid of fucked up. On the other hand, the tweens of my acquaintence (and the tween I was) do in fact simper and preen and try to impresses cute boys (and the tennis instructor was, I must repeat, scorching.) So I can't really get huffy at Nike for depicting teen girls acting pretty much how they actually act, huh? Still, it bugs. The only unmitigated good I take from it is that 41 years after the Feminine Mystique guys are now encouraged to think jock chicks are hot. (Especially those beach volleyballer players, eh, fellas? I saw the ads for Xtreme Beach Volleyball Spike TV was running a while back.)

It's sort of related to the whole Chickickass phenomenon in movies and TV (From Xena through Buffy to Kill Bill.) Maybe I'll write something more about that someday, when I have my thoughts together.

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August 13, 2004


What was the muppet that said meep? Was it one of the alien ones? There was that Sesame Street skit with the one monster with the bell on his head and the other one with the squeaky nose, but I don't think it was one of them. It definitely wasn't the one with the six really creepy magenta monsters that made that weird high pitched noise. Was it? Is it Beaker who says meep?

I ask becuase I feel like doing a little meeping; it's a noise that easily communicates, sadness, confusion, uncertainty and anxiety, in a way which is amusing to the innocent bystander. See, I broke my computer. I almost knocked over a glass of iced coffee, managing to right the cup but splashing my keyborad a little in the process. Immediately, I yanked the power cord and turned it over so that the liquid could drain out, then left it for twenty-four hours before trying to turn it on. I was cool and collected. I handled it right. I spilled some water on my keyboard once and that had turned out okay. It was all gonna be cool.

Yeah, so. Not cool. I plug it in, no power light. I took it to the repair shop; the guy's like "Well, with spilling, 80% of the time you're just completely screwed, but sometimes we'll open it up and find out it's just a particular component that's shorted out, the disk drive or some such, and that can be replaced and it'll work fine."

"Oh, really?" I said, full of hope. "Becuase it didn't short out immediately when I spilled the stuff, and I slid out the battery and the CD-rom drive and they seemed bone dry, so I think I was able to contain the spill right here, right under the arrow keys. What component is that?"

"Your hard drive."

So he's gonna take a look at it and get back to me. I don't know what I'm gonna do if it's completely busted; I'll have to buy a new computer, but that might have to wait for a while. I mean, I've wanted a new computer for a while, but while Diablevert is green that doesn't mean she's made of money. This entry is coming to you from an internet cafe, as will all entries for the forseeable future. I'll try and keep them pretty regular, but it's gonna be a bit tougher. On the other hand, not being able to read the net might propell me out of the house to have more actual experiences to write about, so maybe this is all for the best.

Except for how it's totally not because I'm either paying the repair guy a medium chunk and getting it fixed or I'm paying the repair guy a medium chunk to give the ol' girl extreme unction and then paying a massive chunk to get a new 'puter. Meep.

Sorry that was boring. But, infortmaive, I hope.

Posted by Diablevert at 11:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

August 11, 2004

And one and two and ...oh. I guess that's it.

I hadn't watched it much the last several seasons, so someone will have to tell me --- what year was it that the entire cast of Friends decided to fake n' bake? I mean, I realize the glamour of pallor went out with grunge, but in these last season episodes they're running over here even Courtney "Glowing in the Dark" Cox looks like she's been lying on the middle rack of a 350° oven, being basted every half-hour.

I don't really like Friends that much, but I find it tolerable, and it comes on before Scrubs which I do like yet could somehow never manage to catch in the States, so sometimes I see it. Overall, though I haven't been watching that much T.V. With only two channels, the concept of "nothing on" takes on whole new dimensions. "Glimmer Man, and The Parkers;" yep, that is precisely, empirically equivalent to "the screaming void." Did you catch that, by the way? Considering a move to Ireland and fearful you might miss out on the crème de la crème of the UPN lineup? Not to worry, my friend: It's all part of RTE's "Throw it at the wall and see what sticks" programming strategy. After all, it's a small country; making a single hour's worth of television often requires days of labor on the part of anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred people. There's only four million of them here in the Republic; not all of them work for RTE. Seriously, they only have about 30 original Irish shows on at any given time. So basically they fill the hours with whatever they can get cheap. I mean, there's some of the stuff you'd expect, especially in prime time --- British and American and even Australian sitcoms, some of a vingery vintage, Inspector Morse, Law and Order, CSI, the Sopranos and Six Feet Under, ect., ect. But the rest is just totally random. One week the midweek movie is Raging Bull, the next it's Die Harder. Return of the Jedi was on the other night.

They're also big into the soaps --- well, the British and Australian ones, anyway. No, wait, I almost forgot --- they show Dallas on reruns in the morning. But mostly it's Neighbors and the Eastenders. It probably says something interesting that American soaps are set among the rich, Australian soaps among the middle class, and British ones among the working class. After all, you're pretty much de facto picking the milieu that you think will offer up the most opportunities for drama, right? I've got to say, the Australian and British daytime soaps are of a much higher quality than the American versions, or at least they're more like American nighttime soaps, in that they're somewhat more closely connected with reality. American daytime soaps have gotten to a kind of kabuki-theater like level where people act out these highly stylized betrayals and reconciliations, where no laundry is ever washed nor no toilet ever scrubbed. On the Eastenders, on the other hand, two of the main characters are old ladies who work in a laundry (one of them the actress who plays the younger shopgirl in Are You Being Served? which most PBS stations still pimp late at night. Let me tell you, it's weird to see the same familiar face in two different roles thirty years apart, with nothing in the interval --- like one of those stop-motion filmstrips that shows a plant growing, or more aptly, an animal decaying.) People actually do things like rent and watch movies. Okay, dude, I'll 'fess ---I'm getting a little sucked into the Eastenders. I've watched bits and pieces of like four episodes now and I've begun to figure out who's related to who and who slept with who way back when, ect., ect. In my defense: Two channels. But I swear the thing that really made me stick around and watch this one episode was the line reading the actress gave in this one scene where they're watching a movie: "They should'uv shot that 'Ulk. Look at 'im, rampagin'. Coo."

It still makes me giggle every time I think of it.

Posted by Diablevert at 06:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 09, 2004

A short, pretty random, note

I'm trying to get an PPS number, which is the Irish social security number. It's all part of a long, convoluted attempt to open a bank account; at the moment, and principally because my American bank is retarded, I'm stuck in one of those bureacratic catch-22s where I actually, do not in fact exist. Well, sort of; I can prove I exist and that I'm an Irish citizen, but I can't prove I live in Dublin. It's a long, boring story, and we're skipping it.

I bring it up only to explain why I was looking for the Social Welfare office, Mom and Dad, getting slightly lost, and realizing that it had closed and I had time on my hands. I wandered through the Duvlania exhibit --- obnoxiously taking pictures throughout for y'alls benefit; we'll see how they come out. And then I went for a walk, at the end of which I wrote this:


Slaking my thirst with a half of Smithwick's at a pub called Nash's, which has what you might call character. In other words, it looks like it was loosely nailed together in something-aught-something. Its decorative theme consists of a half a dozen beer mugs hung from the ceiling and pieces of paper tacked randomly to the walls wherever somebody felt like it --- funny newspaper clippings, crinkled foriegn bills, an orange neon half-sheet over the bar with the legend "When the floor's full of cigarette ends, try the ashtrays" --- with new additions plastered over the old only when the old have gotten so brown they've faded entirely into the wall. The mise-en-scene is completed by clutch of regulars who look like they were tacked into the bar stools back in something-aught-something themslves.

I'm sitting here because I wanted to jot down something about this neighboorhood I was just in, what it felt like before I forget. I was trying to find the office and the street I was on was supposed to change, after a while, into another street, and it did, but not the one I was looking for. I walked down it for a while fruitlessly, then decided to head back to the center of town. I shortcutted down a side streets for a block or two, and then my eye was caught by a picturesque arrangement of colored doors --- the doors here are a rainbow of laquer --- and I wandered over to take a picture. And thought, here is a place I have never been before. Each block was made of tiny brick row houses of one storey, with small peaked roofs. They couldn't have been more than four rooms apiece, perhaps an attic; a whole neighborhood of them. I've never seen anything quite like them before; I have drawn their like, as a child: Window, door, window, chimney, crooked. Even as a child --- an American child --- I think the houses I drew had two storeys, the windows set high in the wall, eyes to the door's mouth. With these the tops of the window sashes were about even with the door lintel, the eaves of the roof a mere foot or two above that. They seemed old, these houses, 19th century at least. For they were family houses, you could tell, there were kids running about even now, and I can't imagine anything so small being built for a family in our lately past last century. But perhaps that demonstrates only the limits of my imagination.

What was funny about it was that you'd never have guessed they were there. They were tucked just behind a main street, but that street was fronted entirely by a block of modern apartments, with names like "Harcourt Plaza," and "Sterne Place." There was no way to get from the busy main road to the neighborhood except by a narrow close. To get a car in or out you'd have to snake out the back ways, the same way I, wandering, had found them. The apartment blocks were five or ten years old, I'd say, fifteen at the outside. They were made of brick and concrete, with wide windows and a balcony to each, the balustudes of which were curved steel tubes painted blue. Six storeys, with a penthouse atop, and presumably a sun deck. The new Dublin walling off a slice of the old, overlooking, overshadowing, protecting, preserving. The parapets of the ancient city wall would have been quite near here, quite similar.

Posted by Diablevert at 01:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

August 05, 2004


Rogan: This album, Nouvelle Vague by the Nouvelle Vague? You'd dig it. Check it out. Their cover of "Too Drunk to Fuck," is my favorite, but you may differ.

A-L: Have you heard of this Lush store? I stumbled on one in Dublin, but there's one in New York, too, apparently. They sell homemade, all-natural cosmetics. You might like it; might give you a few ideas. You walk in, there's cakes of soap as big as a cheese wheel propped on dais, wire-sliced into asymmetric hunks. You can see the flower petals and springs of herbs sunk within them, like twigs frozen beneath the surface of a prismatic pond. A bed of ice lies off to one side, a fishmonger's display case, where fresh masques made of cucumber and honey and green bits of grit lie gently chilling in aluminum bowls frosted with condensation. They have bath salts the size of a baseballs, with rosebuds embedded in them like bellybuttons. Bubbling vats of tallow-honey soap sit on display in galvanized buckets. It feel like a cross between the local medicine woman/midwife's cottage and the Gap.

In Other News: Started reading Ulysses. (This one.) I confess, I anticipated it would be a bit of a slog, but it seems surprisingly readable so far; on the other hand, I'm only forty pages in. Stephen Dedalus is a bit a twat, though, huh? Oh, he's so sensitive. So spiritual. I think I agree with Black Mulligan when he calls him a Jesuit, and this makes me like Black Mulligan more than I'm supposed to. Considering I have 800-odd more pages of this to go, I thought I'd install a little ticker in the sidebar. I figure Strunk will want to yell at me when I'm slacking, and this'll help keep me honest. Or allow him to yell more frequently and accurately. One of the two.

Coming soon: A real post. I'm working on something a bit longer, but I've got errands to run at the moment, so for now, I depart. Je suis désolé.

Posted by Diablevert at 07:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)