The truth about tattoo removal
So you’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo removed for a while now. Google has brought you to youtube where you’ve ended up watching lots of cool videos of tattoos getting zapped by laser. Viola! All gone! That looks easy!
Although a picture can speak a thousand words, and a video can speak a million, the thing with words is: they can tell you about the stuff that you don’t see on videos which can be very deceptive. Here are those words.
1. A lot of the tattoo removal videos are done in laser clinics in the US where it’s more prominent to use some form of anaesthetic. But they don’t usually bother with that. Not in Ireland, and not in my experience. You just have to bear the pain like you did when you had the damn thing done. And it’s just as sore, maybe more so. Though it was only after I had a new laser technician that I discovered the first one was a sadist, and it’s not so painful when you a more caring technician who occasionally pauses the LASER THAT’S BURNING YOUR SKIN OFF.
2. These videos make it look like you have one session and that’s it, your tattoo is gone forever. And that is even more deceptive.
- It takes many many sessions to remove, at least a dozen depending on tattoo.
- The first session is the most effective and most noticeable reduction. Subsequent sessions may have ZERO visible effect. I had several in a row where there was no reduction.
- When you see a tattoo magically vanishing in a video, what you don’t realize is what you’re really looking at is a skin coloured blister. When your skin calms down, the tattoo re-emerges almost as strong as it was.
I’ve been going every 6 weeks for a year and a half now, and recently my mum pointed at my (slightly faded) tattoo and said “I thought you were going to have that removed?” oblivious to the fact that I have just finished my full course of my tattoo removal. In fact, I had to have many more sessions than I was told would be necessary.
It was maybe 14 or 15 sessions in all. I stopped counting. And the final result is that the outlines are mostly gone. Pretty much failed at removing any of the fill colour. I have to make an appointment for another round of sesssions with a different laser clinic, who have a machine that might do better at removing the fill colour. Which will obviously cost more.
So – the moral of the story is: be prepared for a much longer haul than those videos suggest.
Here’s the most recent one that I’ve seen:
There’s nothing quite like a very bad tattoo to remind you just how stupid you were when you were younger. I wonder just how many stupid acts I’ve been able to forget over the years. But there’s no forgetting this one. Only excuse I can give my self for such a stupid tattoo is that I was way under age (no one in the tattoo shop batted an eyelid though). I didn’t want to just pick a tattoo out of a catalogue, I wanted something different and for some bizarre reason, I somehow thought it would be a good idea to have a tattoo of an Adidas logo with my name instead of Adidas. Would love to go back in a time machine and ask myself what the hell I was thinking.
I’ve wanted to have it removed for years now. I’m forever pulling my t-shirt sleeves over the stupid thing which might as well read “Yes, I am an utter moron”.
So I finally scrape together a few quid and make an appointment and a year and a half later, after a lot of sessions, a lot of which had no effect, I just have a more faded tattoo.
Here are some photos taken just after some of the laser sessions.
Before any treatment
Half hour after first session. Some of the lines are faded:
After third session
After Fourth session
Insert 4 sessions here that had such little effect, that I didn’t bother taking any photos.
Directly after 8th session
After 9th session.
And here it is today. After a total of maybe 14 or 15 sessions:
Here’s before and after
I’ll write an update in a few years when it’s gone altogether!
Quincy M.E. and Cameron Diaz doing the La Bamba
Pun intended : you may or may not remember that I have a particular interest in memory. If you read this post you can see why my interest would be piqued by a review of a book called “Moonwalking with Einstein – the Art and Science of Memory“, as it’s a very similar story to mine; someone with an average memory (or in my case, a terrible memory) discovers amazingly effective memory techniques, then spends a year memorizing all kinds of obscure things with ease, but ultimately, realises he still can’t remember where he left his car keys, or his car! and also realises that even though these techniques are very handy for some things, it’s still far easier to write down shopping lists and stick people’s numbers in your phone. The one big difference with my story and this is that I didn’t end up entering a national memory competition.
Joshua Foer is a journalist who began writing an article about the U.S Memory Championships, and then a year later gave as good as the other memory masters. “Moonwalking with Einstein” is bookended by those two events; his attendance at the 2005 U.S Memory Championship, and his entry into the 2006 event. What you get between the book ends is a fascinating exploration of the science, art, and history of memory, mnemonics and memory techniques.
When I first heard of the book, I thought it may only be for people like me who have an interest in mnemonics but it’s selling by the truckload and getting great reviews everywhere. The title “Moonwalking with Einstein” is a reference to the kind of mental image that’s all too familiar to anyone who uses these techniques. When the missus asks me for one of my numerous pin numbers, or the WiFi code, or similar, I say something like, “let’s see that’s a bear on a bike trying to eat a cat in a shell…. that’s 94977165.” So I found reading about someone else’s experience with all this stuff a fantastic read. Though everyone else seems to be enjoying it just as much.
- – -
And from a different angle, but wholly related, about a month ago I came across a website called Memrise. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while, rather than the usual quick tweet when I come across a site I like. Memrise is a really well thought-out site designed to help your learn, or rather, memorize the vocabulary of various languages. I’ve been on beginners Spanish for the last month. I’ve been on/off trying to learn Spanish for years.
Memrise is by far the best tool language tool I’ve ever used. There’s the usual stuff: english / spanish phrases, with audio snippets. But every phrase has a mnemonic suggestion, a mem. It’s crowd sourced too, so you can add your own mem. For example a Fortnight in Spanish is Los quince Dias. My mem for this is: “Picture a fort at night, and on top, Los lobos have Quincy M.E. and Cameron Dias dancing to La Bamba.” How much easier is that to remember than repeating the phrase over and over and hoping it sticks? I’ll never forget that image, another phrase memorised with ease. And at it’s most basic, that’s all the memory champions do, and to some degree Savants too. And Memrise utilises the technique quite well, you don’t even have to come up with your own mental images.
What other language courses fail to do is give you the tools to learn. It’s a bit like buying a wardrobe from Ikea but they don’t give you the tools to build it. Memrise supply the phrases, and the tools to memorise them. By the way, I swear I have absolutely nothing to do with the site, I’m just very impressed by it. Oh and it’s also free. Completely free, as in no ads either. It also works quite well on an iPad. It’s as good as an app, without having to install an app.
The site also uses gamification pretty well too, something else I have a passing interest in that’s growing in popularity. Memrise gamifies language learning by daily quizzing you on your phrases. You get points for every correct answer, and creep up the league table. It becomes quite addictive, like in any game, always wanting to improve your high score and go higher in the league.
They also employ the metaphor of a memory garden, which works quite well. You have to plant seeds (new words), and harvest plants (add them to the quizzes), tend to your garden (practise new words) and water your wilting plants (practice old words). I guess it’s a bit like Farmville, except, instead of annoying everyone else on Facebook, you learn a new language. I’m just so impressed by the level of thought and execution that has gone into this site, without any profit in mind.
- – -
And the thing that ties in “Moonwalking with Einstein” with Memrise is that over the course of the book, there are a few characters who coach Foer in his memory techniques, members of the K7 memory masters, whose initiation is memorizing a deck of cards in a minute, drinking two beers and kissing the knees of three women. Or variations thereof. And it is these two guys Ed Cooke, and Ben Whately who have setup memrise. So I feel like i’ve been surrounded by these guys for the last few weeks.
So there you go if you’ve any interest in memory or learning new language, there’s a 5 star book and a 5 star web site.
p.s. I was discussing this with a colleague, very recently, who happens to speak Spanish fluently, and he asked me “why don’t you just remember Los quince Dias, instead of dancing on forts and shit?” and I guess some people can, but he’s just reinforcing my idea that a lot of people make the terrible assumption that everyone else learns, and thinks, and remembers exactly like them.
Different folks, different strokes
The response to Facebook updates always reminds me of some topics that I get to thinking about now and then:
- Different people learn new things, and adapt to new things, in very different ways.
- People are as different to each other on the inside as they are on the outside.
In technology upgrades, two types of people always surface; those who embrace change, and those who resist it and want to stay in their comfort zone. Two valid responses. Two different personas.*
Though there’s also a third type that’s easy to miss. People who couldn’t really give a shit one way or the other.
Years ago, part of a job I had, was to try and make everyone else’s job easier. You know, automating tasks and tweaking processes. But when I sent out updates, there was always a few groaners. And I found that really surprising at first. I couldn’t comprehend why anyone would groan about something designed with the sole purpose of making their life much easier.
Again it all came down to learning something new and implementing change. Even though the learning something new was ”Just click this, instead of 5 minutes doing that” and implementing the change took just a moment. Some people are naturally inclined to resist change, regardless of the reward. That’s mother nature fucking with your head. As she does in many ways.
I also discovered, that if I researched various methods of carrying out a task, and found one method infinitely easier than the others, there would still be people who preferred another method entirely.
And therein is my point. And I think it’s a big one. I think it’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in the last decade. People are very different to each other. More different than many people allow for regardless of the well known idiom in the title of this post. That’s the problem.
There’s as much, if not, much more difference between you and me in how we think than how we look. The way you think, learn, work, interact, enjoy, hate, feel about something is quite different to other people. Your brain took a completely different path to arrive at you being you.
Keep that in mind, either with colleagues, family, or friends, and some shit will be easier … either for you or whoever you’re interacting with. Life lesson 101 over and out.
*some updates are just shit, regardless of your persona – because of design by committee, or a lack of basic UI Design principles, aka common sense, or again not recognizing different personas – but that’s a different debate. I’m neither arguing for or against the latest Facebook update
Please don’t say you drive a Morris Minor
On census day PLEASE don’t say you drive a Morris Minor unless you really do. Because then you’re forcing the rest of us into Morris Minors whether we like it or not. And a lot of us really don’t want to be forced into buying a Morris Minor just because most of the country SAY that’s what they drive. In reality most of them don’t drive at all any more, and really only take the odd lift in a Morris Minor at weddings, and funerals.
“On the question of religion the enumerators have been instructed to guide people to fill in the form to reflect their background rather than their current position. How does this help us plan for Ireland’s future?”
“I’ll use an analogy: imagine a survey on car ownership. The question “Do you have a car?” is not asked; the survey goes straight to “What type of car do you have?” And then, someone who has no car is encouraged to say they have a Morris Minor because, way back, it was the traditional family car. What use would this information be?”
BRIAN WHITESIDE – Think carefully before answering census question on religion
Lunch time. Full tide at Clontarf bay. Spotted lots of fish; large Roach right in against the wall swimming in couples and threesomes. Busy shoals of silvery fry trying to stay away from the Roach, and even some jumpers farther out clearing a few feet out of the water and making a big splash like something from an old irish coin.
I can’t quite remember which came first. Being obssessive about trying to spot wild fish whenever I’m near water. Or those weird recurring dreams where I’m obssessively trying to spot wild fish whenever I’m near water.
I honestly can’t remember whether some memories, like spotting a big carp in the Liffey, are actual memories or just memories of dreams. But spotting fish is a bit of an odd experience these days; I have so many strange dreams about fish-spotting that when it actually happens for real, like at lunchtime, I feel a little dizzy, as if I’m half transported back to dreamland for a few seconds and have to look away from the water to get head back to reality. But I never can tear myself away, and have to wait for the fish to swim away before I come back to reality.
Yes – definitely one to be filed under waffle.
The Dimiyagi code
Degas trotted off to the ballet school once more. He’d sketched the dancers hundreds of times now. And crafted many paintings. But to say he was infatuated with the dancers was a façade of sorts. It was the dance teacher who intrigued him most. He didn’t know anyone quite like him. He was not from Paris that was clear, but he didn’t even seem from this time. Though that thought might have been suggested by the tall tales that he would tease Degas with. That he was a man who traveled through time and place to teach his ways. That he was a man who traveled from country to country and from one century to another. He traveled from when and where so he could treat lucky individuals to his unique teaching style.
And his teaching style was unique. He often took the dancers on strange trips to perform bizarre chores for days on end. They would never question his methods and would spend days carrying out these strange tasks before returning to the dance class. Degas would humour the teacher always asking for more stories of his past, and he almost believed him, the detail of the stories wove a convincing tale.
Most intriguing of all was that the teacher said he never taught the same subject twice. And never lived in the same country twice. And never lived in the same time period twice. In 1924, he taught bullfighters in Spain. From 2040 to 2042, in Peru, he taught robots to play football better than humans. Of these tall tales Degas had a favourite; of the America boy the teacher thought to fight. Degas asked the teacher to tell that story again. And smiled as he heard it once more.
It was later that day that Degas painted one of his masterpieces, La classe de danse. The dancing class. This time he made sure to include their very special time travelling teacher. Mr Miyagi. Wax on, Wax off Daniel San.
Mi padre está muerto
If the sun on my face wasn’t good enough reason to be sprightly, having an appointment, some business to attend to, while hurriedly strolling down a dusty backstreet in Spain, felt quite good. You could almost imagine I lived there in Sitges, hastily checking my watch as 9am approached. That is, if it weren’t for my pasty skin buttered in factor fifty, and the plasters on my ankles where my new sandals chaffed.
We’d decided it’d be a good idea to take Spanish lessons for one week at the start of the holiday. A week in Sitges then up the coast to Barcelona by train for the weekend of Sonar. I’d never learned a language. Unless you count nine school years of Irish and three years of French. But that didn’t count. Then I didn’t want to learn, and now I found I couldn’t learn.
Two idioms merged to become truisms. One involves old dogs and new tricks. And the other, a slightly lesser known fact; it’s much harder to learn a new language if you haven’t already learned a language in your younger years. So trying to teach an old dog a new language is quite the battle.
The first thing I learned in Spanish class was that I was the only person in the dunces’ class, the absolute beginner’s class (the missus just needed some brushing up, and took the expert’s class). The next lesson I learned quite quickly too; they don’t speak English in Spanish school. I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish. And my teacher wouldn’t speak a word of English. Well, I had the holster of usual phrases but that was it, so this impasse was a major inconvenience. It was though they never actually expected an absolute beginners in the absolute beginner’s class. Not really. Surely everyone would have some basic Spanish at least? It was a very slow start. I stared at her blankly as she made funny sounds and gesticulated. It was like a game of charades but even if I’d know what she was mimicking, the answer in my head would merely be in English.
A phrase I learned quite early, and one that has stuck with me since is “no entiendo” (don’t understand!). I used this phrase many many times that week. It was my deflated sigh of defeat. Uttered with the familiarity of an aging Señor with long white whiskers. But despite being on holiday I worked hard, and did my homework, and made some progress. On the last day we were ending on an exercise that was going quite well, though still quite basic in form. I had to describe my father in short phrases.
While elsewhere in the same building, the missus discussed Spanish politics and perfected her imperfect tenses, I sat there like the village idiot and pronounced : Mi padre es feliz (My father is happy). Then scraped the barrel of my soggy memory for some more words I could use, true or not.
“Mi padre es gordo”
“Mi padre es inteligente”
“Mi padre es pequeño”
Just as I was beginning to run out of adjectives my mobile rang. It was my mum. “Madre” I said apologetically, eyes going up to heaven, then gesturing more seriously to indicate I should probably take the call. I found my next adjective in the call, but hadn’t yet learned its Spanish equivelant. I ended the call and finished the exercise in English.
“My father is dead.”
A legend dies
Derek “Crosaire” Crozier died over the weekend. I made sure to get a paper yesterday and was determined to finish it but alas I didn’t quite make it.
No other crossword comes close to the elegance of the Crosaire. But I stopped doing it a couple of years ago. I couldn’t justify paying 1.80 every day when I just went straight to the Crosaire, and often didn’t look at the rest of the paper. Except for some interest in the art page, the rest of that paper just puts me asleep.
It was such a ritual part of my morning, an OCD ritual; I had that fold down to a tee, black bic at hand (had to be black), all answers in upper case, and a diagonal tick over the number of every solved clue. Doing the online version just didn’t do it for me somehow.
- Tributes flow as ‘genius’ crossword-setter dies
- O’brien press have a Crosaire book.
- Derek Crozier bio on a Crosaire blog
Hooked on audiobooks
I’ve been meaning to check out audiobooks for years and now I’m hooked, obsessed even. I got a nice birthday present of an ipod nano and some itunes vouchers on a recent birthday, so I bought an audiobook instead of music. The convenience of it is fantastic, I’m flying through books much faster than I would have been able to with paper just because it’s hard to get the time (and the silence) to sit down with a book. But with a little ipod I can appreciate a good book cleaning the kitchen, out for a walk, or pottering around the house doing bits and pieces, or even minding the rugrats.
My attention wavers very easily though. Even with a regular book I could quite easily read two pages before realising I wasn’t even listening to myself. Always reminds me of that Laurel and Hardy scene:
Laurel and Hardy “Beau Hunks”
Stan: reads a long letter to Ollie;
Ollie: sighs and looks sad
Stan: What’s the matter Ollie?
Ollie: Didn’t you read it to me!?
Stan: Yeah but I wasn’t listening.
I’ve had much more of a tendency to drift off while listening to a book and doing chores, or out and about, so there was lots of rewinding.
And I fell asleep listening to it every night too. I’ve read myself to sleep for as long as I can remember so an audiobook on a nano is great. No longer do I have to get up and turn the light off when the book hits the ground. And if I’m not falling asleep listening to a book, I’m listening to a podcast. Yes I’m very late to the world of Pod and I’m a total convert!
Sometimes lately I feel like my life is just fleeting away before my eyes. Not getting much done, or at least not much that’s fulfilling, plonking myself in front of the tv more often than I’d like. Never dreamed I’d be an Apple fanboy but it’s given me a new lease of life.
So, onto the books. For my first audiobook I asked for recommendations on Facebook and bought the one that was mentioned twice. But then I got the next few straight away and ploughed through them too.
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
Didn’t really enjoy this first one unfortunately. I just couldn’t relate to it and didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t find much of it entertaining. I really should have gone with my gut because I saw Bolaño compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Garcia’s 100 0f years of solitude is the only novel I decided not to finish. Both of them are Spanish-to-English translations featuring more characters than my brain can process. I had to keep referring to Wikipedia’s list of characters. I get the feeling I just didn’t get it (Savage Detectives), maybe the joke of treating a bunch of poets as if they were the Mexican Mafiosa was supposed to be more entertaining than I found it.
Most of the reviews on Amazon are 5 stars but this one struck a chord with me:
The Savage Detectives, I agree with several recent reviewers, lapses into spectacular and permanent tedium less than half-way through. Bolano has never lost me, until this book. When I reached page 400, knowing there were still a couple hundred pages left, I experienced something akin, I think, to torture.
Life’s too short for just ploughing on with it but I was curious if it would all come together at the end, and it cost 26 fucking euros. So I stuck with it.
The book was narrated by different male actors, who put on appropriate accents and personalities for each of the characters. One outcome of this, with so many characters, is that it can be hard to tell what sex the character is suppsoed to be. At one point I read of a long love affair between two guys. Then, only towards the end, one of them pronounced to have her period. Doh!
I didn’t really expect the acting you hear in an audiobook. It’s a restrained form of acting. Somewhere between straight narration and a radio play but it does enhance the experience when done well.
Next on the list was The Road. I deliberately wanted something a bit more mainstream and Iliked the sound of The Road. Sounded nice and dark. And it’s impossible to avoid hearing little pieces about it, and a lot of little pieces add up to a big spoiler. Tom Dunne and his guest’s are the biggest offenders. And you don’t need to hear any more about it from me, but I really enjoyed it. Was 1/4 the length of the previous book too yet was 4 tiems more entertaining.
Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard book
This was apparently awarded audiobook of the year at some ceremony. All the reviews I read were glowing. But not one of them mentioned that it’s a children’s book! With some things I’m still a big kid but not really books. I need something a bit more. It was entertaining, amusing and very well read by Gaiman himself. So, entertaining enough but still a children’s book and not really in a way, I thought, that was universal to all ages, like The Curious Incident. So, back to the big boy’s stuff.
George Pelenecanos – The Way Home
Chris Flynn, a runaway Wigga on the right side of the tracks battles against the sobering onset of maturity. Written by one of The Wire writers, and narrated by one of The Wire actors (who plays a minor role thiugh). It’s similar in content; really good characters and a good story wrapped around social commentary. In fact I found some of the social commentary, mostly with regards to the treatment of young offenders, a bit forced onto the characters. Similar to how you might contradict dialogue in a movie for explaining a plot. But only a little bit. I mostly really enjoyed The Way Home; and will buy Pelecanos again.
I’ve wanted to try some nonfiction audio but some reviews I read, of Steve Pinker for example, is that it’s not really suitable as an audiobook. But I got something lighthearted. Notes from a small Island by Bill Bryson, who I love. I’ve justbought that, and that’s my itunes voucher gone now with the help of Gorillaz latest album. So I’ve joined Audible. Have these in my listening list:
Nick Hornby Juliet, Naked (Unabridged)
Stieg Larsson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Unabridged)
Remember to floss kids!
Not sure this makes for an interesting blog post but it’ll take my mind off it for the next ten minutes. I’ve had the most horrible few days and nights. Started getting a pain in my tooth on Friday. It got worse. Insanely so. It got me up early Saturday and Sunday. I think that’s the last time I slept.
I spent the entirety of last night pacing back and forth, moaning and groaning, trying to distract myself with movies when I could stay still, and the Wii when I couldn’t. I’ve never known such a severe unrelenting pain. I’m pretty sure removing the lower half of my face would be less painful.
I went through three boxes of painkillers over the weekend and they did nothing. I coldnt wait for the long weekend to be over. I got an emergency dentist appointment this morning, or make that yesterday morning if you’ve had a night’s sleep. Half of my mouth has an infection. So antibiotics and hardcore Ponstan are the order of the day, that’s more like it.
But even the Ponstan just take the edge for a little while though. This is fucking crazy insane pain. I can’t sit still or stop grimacing. Yesterday I seemed to develop Tourrettes; randomly shouting, clapping, banging my feet, pulling faces. Anything to try and distract from the pain. And exhaustion.
I thought I’d be out cold tonight not having slept a wink last night. I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes open. But nope. Here I am again, day 5, in the house of pain, 3:50am, wandering around like a sleep deprived zombie. I’ve already taken two days worth of Ponstan tonight.
Oddly enough, I haven’t been out of work yet. I managed the best part of a day’s work yesterday when I got back from the dentist. The distraction of working, when I could bear it, was as good as any other. Of course I couldn’t handle this if I worked in a regular office and not from a home office. Imagine me in a regular office; walking around grimacing, randomly barking over the pangs of pain and rocking back and forth at my desk. No, that wouldn’t do.
And here’s the thing. I went to the dentist with the exact same complaint 3 years agao, and he referred me to a specialist to have it removed. I was on a waiting list all that time and now I’m back on it! Wtf!? So hopefully the Antibiotics will clear the infection up soon enough (again!).
Well that killed twenty minutes. Might as well publish it. Then I’ll get back to the zombie shuffle. Or I might writhe around the bed for a few more hours wondering if when I can take more Ponstan. Woe is me etc etc…
Smile of a stranger
Book in hand I open the front door and the sun burns a smile on to my face. I glance to the left as I lock the door and catch the eye of a guy walking down the terrace path. He’s young, early twenties, not Irish, maybe Polish. I turn to the right and head to the canal for my hour of solace. His footsteps behind me are silent, like mine, the Nike generation.
I cross the road, one turn left, one turn right and I am alone on the street that leads to the canal. As I cross a final road, a guy appears from the right and walks in front of me. He’s young, early twenties, not Irish, maybe Polish. He stops at a door and turns to the right as he inserts the key. He catches my eye and smiles. I smile back, and nod to acknowledge the joke of our mirrored exchange.
He’s younger than I thought I ponder. Give him a few more years and he’ll stop smiling at strangers. Strangers who will easily, and understandably miss such subtleties, and strangers who will think him strange for smiling. But I cherish the moment, and the canal is all the more soothing that day.
Total protonic reversal
"Aw shit I really should’ve gone before we left that kip" said Jay. "I’m gonna burst a pipe".
"Yeah nuthin’s open, no taxis, and no public jacks for miles" said Sean "No wonder this city smells of piss".
If that lane was two miles away, the lads would have held on, but it wasn’t far at all and the closer they got, the more their bladders felt like a pufferfish after swallowing a bath.
They started to run but it was a funny kinda run. You know the one; more of a dance, knees knocking together, fists clenched and their foreheads sweating piss.
They made it to the top of the lane: "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH". Like Lennon and McCartney, in perfect chorus. Then Johnner comes running up the Lane screaming at the top of his lungs. "N0000000000000000000000000".
"What the f….?"
"Oh for fucks sake Johhner have you been watching Ghostbusters again? You made me piss all over me jeans ya big muppet"
There really is something special about The Specials. To me at least. There’s no sound more nostalgic. Every time I hear them I’m brought right back there in a way no other music does.
On the edge of your teens, exciting times, a wannabe rebel, walking the streets, a gaggle of you, trying to look tougher than you are, school nothing more than an inconvenience, somewhere else to fly your flag, your school bag a blank canvas for two tone insignia, your big black marker a prized possession to mark your territory anywhere you can. Your uniform; a challenge, make it your own, skinny the tie; turn the trousers up tight, shine the Docs; Rudeboy?
Nah, no Rudeboy; skinny little white boy with fears of the world – but you hear that music now and you’re right back there, ready for it all. There’s girl’s to be fought over, lessons to be learned, teenage memories to be etched on your brain forever. Dance around the fire. Pass the flagon. Put you arms on my shoulders, and sing the song, a song that will bring you right back there twenty years later and still burn a fire in your belly.
Doctors can now feel what you feel!
You know all those whacky predictions you make as a kid? I can clearly remember three.
1. Life-like 3D first person games
There was one game I used to always play in the arcades; Kung-fu, a two dimensional platform game, where you made your way along some kind of stage kicking and punching 17 identical brothers before you got to kill the big boss. Great fun. And the one where you were a tank, which seemed mad-futuristic even though it was some green lines on a black background. I always had this crazy idea that someday, computer games would almost be like cartoons where you controlled the main character. Except even more realistic than that. And you could go wherever you wanted, not just left and right on some kind of stage. I can clearly remember saying that to a mate in an arcade one day and he thought I was completely deluded. Well how’d you like them apples!?
2. Watching / Recording other people’s dreams
When I was into sci-fi novels, I had one idea for a novel, not a fully-fledged story, just an interesting occupation for the main character; a world famous dream artist, filling huge arenas with people who would come to watch his dreams live. But then one day his dreams get hacked and everyone sees him on the big screen dreaming about a murder that happened that day. But it wasn’t really him. Or was it!? Aaaannnnyway. I always thought it would be a fascinating advancement, and again here we are; this is now possible. Almost. kind of; read all about it on Pink Tentacle.
(This isn’t exactly breaking news though. This post has been in a draft for two months!)
3. Doctors feeling what you feel
Then there was the one about going to your futuristic doctor. You stick a wire on your head and the other end on is and he shouts "Christ, that’s fucking sore! Here take three of these twice a day and don’t go to the toilet for two days" and you can be on your way.
Well I’m still waiting for that one. Some day though. You mark my word.
A very short story
“He lifted her bloodied head – eyes gouged out, bedroom door ajar, then looked inside, prised the knife from her hand and repeated the act.”
I thought I’d have a go at a twitter sized (140 characters) short story during the week. Though I did get one WTF?! reply on Twitter, thankfully the Dublin homicide team didn’t smash the door down; recently a friend of a friend of…. twittered about smothering her daughter, very obviously joking and in context. Soon enough the LA cops were banging the door down. Yikes.
I saw this logo today and I laughed out loud despite the fact that it perfectly represented one of my pet peeves. It’s a clever logo, yet at the same time I couldn’t believe a company were using a mark that perpetuated the king of misrepresented ailments.
Despite many cultural references that would have you think otherwise, Schizophrenia has nothing to do with split personality. Indeed the word is actually derived from a Greek word meaning split mind but it’s a name that just happened to stick, despite being considerably inappropriate.
Alas my quest to chastise said company was a bit of a wild goose chasing a red herring, or something. When I arrived at the original source of the logo, it turns out it’s not a real company name, just an idea for a logo by a designer. And commenters there have already pointed out that this logo is an exact representation of what schizophrenia isn’t.
The Blue Light
I can remember when I was much younger, entirely dismissing trad as fiddledy dee nonsense. How wrong I was, I’d like to go back and give myself a clip around the ear.
I was up in the Blue light last night. What a little treasure the place is. Perched on the hills of Barnacullia, not too far back from Sandyford, the view of Dublin is perfect.
Every Wednesday, musicians pile in one by one and join in with whatever is playing. Both elderly gents and young colleens with their fiddles. Artists sit by the crackling fire sketching the musicians and comparing their work. Lovely atmosphere, lovely place. It’s a bit of a bitch to get there and back but that just adds to the adventure of the night. Highly recommended antidote to the city at this time of year. And if you have any visiting yanks looking for somewhere traditional, they’d cream themselves.
Only in Ireland can you get away with religious morals to discriminate against people with physical impairments.
No doubt they’ll crank out some statistics about the kind of home married couples provide for children. Like this one:
“He highlighted the recent British Millennium Cohort study which found that children born to an unmarried couple have a 25 per cent chance of seeing their parents separate by the age of five. By comparison, only one in ten children born to married children saw their parents separate at the same age.”
I’m so sick of idiots cranking out statistics while completely missing how irrelevant they can be. You can not take a statistic based on the general population and compare it to people in a very specific situation. A couple putting themselves through the pain, anguish, disappointment, crippling costs, and physical and mental intrusion of fertility treatment, make a far bigger commitment to a child than the ideal of marriage. People who are willing to go through this ordeal to have a child can in no way compared to a general populace who for whatever reason aren’t married and may or may not even wanted to conceive.
Argh. Effing Moral crusaders. Why can’t you just let people live their own lives?
It wasn’t the first time I’d woken up not knowing where I was, but it was the first time I’d woken up not knowing where I was! I’d experienced this odd phenomenon before where I’d wake up and have no idea who or where I was. No idea at all. And then a few minutes later, the cobwebs would clear and reality would kick in. But not today. I was lying in a pile of black bags somewhere in the city, using a pool of vomit as a pillow. My head ached, my body ached. Had I been beaten? Kidnapped? I had no idea. I had no memory of how I got here. My last memory was being curled up in bed with her. I longed to see her more than ever. I needed her warmth. I needed her loving hands to caress me. I needed to be at home feeling safe. That was all that mattered. The longing welled up and my tears trickled into the vomit.
I tried to stand. My legs felt weak and my head spun, but the dizziness passed and I was just about able to walk. I’d been able to wipe some of the sick from my face with a discarded carpet. The carpet stank but not as much as I did. I didn’t recognise this part of the city. I couldn’t even sense where the river was. Usually you can tell, almost subconsciously. Or maybe it was just the gulls hovering in the air. Panic kicked in. Was I even in the same city? The same country? My heart raced. And my legs picked up pace. I began to run up an alleyway hungry for the sight of a familiar landmark at the end. There was none. I kept running. I didn’t see the road, didn’t see the cars. They beeped, swerved and skidded. I kept running even though all my limbs ached.
I kept running until I came to a fountain in a square. I didn’t realise just how thirsty I was until I saw that glistening liquid calling out to me. I couldn’t help myself. I ran to the water and drank until my belly felt heavy. But not as heavy as my heart. I had to see her. Every ounce of my body longed for her warmth. But I still didn’t know where I was. I sat there at the fountain, still panting from my run. A saw a man approaching. I grew nervous. He was smiling and began to hold his hand out to me. There was something in his smile that seemed familiar and then in a flash it all came back. A smiling man approaching, the smile dropping at the last instant, trying to run, hands grabbing, another man, a van, dragged into the van, others in the van, then a sharp pinch at the neck as chemicals mixed with blood and I went unconscious.
I looked at the smile of the approaching man but didn’t wait for the smile to fade this time. I ran. I ran in a blind panic again paying little attention to traffic. Cars beeped and swerved as I ran across the road. But I wasn’t so lucky this time. I felt something the size of a small planet collide with my world. Although the immense pain was brief, before I passed out, I was still conscious of the man’s presence and knew he was upon me.
It wasn’t the first time I’d woken up not knowing where I was. But at the same time I experienced an intense feeling of familiarity. Like I’d been through this recently. Then it all came back to me, quickly this time. The pain I now felt was on a different level completely. I could barely open my eyes. But then I noticed a smell. A familiar aroma that made my heart soar. It was too good to be true. I had to get my eyes open. My heart sank as I noticed the man from the fountain. Then it almost burst. She was here too! I felt dizzy with relief and happiness. They saw me stir and came to be near me. She brought her face next to mine, happiness filling her eyes with tears. As much as it hurt, I couldn’t help but wag my tail. She rubbed her nose against mine and I licked her face. I was never so happy. She hugged me gently and whispered soothing words in my ear. But the only word I heard was home. And it was the sweetest word I ever heard.
Inspired by, and for Homepages – Stories From The Irish Blogosphere
There’s this theory in robotics called the Uncanny Valley. It’s now well acknowledged in computer graphics too. It’s when a human character looks and moves almost realistically lifelike yet not quite perfect. And this somethings-not-quite-right can be a bit jarring to watch. So in 3D animation, unless you can depict a human in flawless reality, you shouldn’t even bother. Take a step back.
Pixar know this. They can do perfectly realistic landscapes, seascapes, objects, hair etc – but they keep their distance from lifelike humans and instead have fun with caricatures. Many feature length movies have completely flopped because they dared to walk the valley, like Final Fantasy.
Now meet Emily.
The first question is has she climbed out of the valley. And the second one is, what’s the point? Why not use real actors? Unless you’re talking about actual in-game playing. That could be pretty amazing but I reckon it’d be fad you’d tire of quickly. Of course this technology will most likely be used for some weird-assed porn.
It’s a bit like photorealistic paintings? What’s the point? I still wow at the technical ability of photorealistic paintings but they’re a bit pointless really.
I do enjoy a good dose of twisted hypereality though. Like that Spanish guy who does it all in biros. Juan Franciscoasas, and of course Ron Mueck’s sculptures fucking rock. And there’s a huge photorealistic painting of an old woman in some gallery in Washington DC that I love – it’s made from nothing but thumbprints (and can *not* be found after twenty frigging minutes with Inspector Google).
But when it comes to straight up painting, give me Kandinsky’s bubbles, De Chirico’s dummies, a fractured nude descending a staircase, or Bacon’s twisted torsos any day of the week. Hell even hit me with some Rothko. And what do you mean you could paint that!? Well you didn’t! And more to the point, you couldn’t. Unless he picked out the colours and mixed them for you but you never even considered that monumental part of the process, did you dipwad!?
Way to go on a tangent AND state the obvious.
Overheard at the tail end of a 70th birthday party after much champagne and baileys on ice, a thirty something year old girl attempted a conspiratorial whisper in an effort to impart some new found advice to a new found friend. The resulting shout-whisper cut through an unexpected lull in the party banter:
“Get him to try it up the arse – it’s GREAT!”
To which, several elderly ladies nodded sagely. “It is indeed” they reminisced “It is indeed” while the rest of us cascaded into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Do you like to chat?
I have a confession. I’m an avid internet user but I despise chat. Am I alone? I dropped into Facebook a while ago and a chat window popped up. “WASSUP Dude?!” said a guy I used to work with but don’t know from Adam. “Gaaaaah!!” said I, in my head like. I wish Faceache had given me some warning so I could have turned off the chat option straight away. Which I did. Right after saying WASSUP!? or something.
Admittedly like many I was briefly addicted to mIRC 12 or so years ago, and ran up some scary dial-up bills. But the insane thrill of chatting to someone from a different country quickly turned into an inane trill. When the giddiness wore off, all that was left was mundane chatter and people slapping each other with trouts, which was then the equivalent of being bitten by a vampire, except back then then you actually typed
*Braines slaps VirtualGurl72 with a trout*. (Note: To be properly affiliated with the old school, you have to mention that you used to have to type lots of stuff to produce an action achieved by just clicking a mouse in this modern age). The attraction of slapping someone with a trout made about as much sense then, as virtual vampires do now. I have to admit, the Top Chat Quotes of All Time mostly gleaned from mIRC is well worth a gander now and then for some geek humour.
When ICQ was all the rage, I gave it a whirl but hated it, and uninstalled it quicker than you can say “Oh, I SEEK YOU! I get it!”. I briefly tried Instant Messenger some time after, thinking for some reason that it may be less annoying. It’s not just that I’m above the inane chatter in my lofty towers of deep thought. It’s those windows popping up all over the place when I’m trying to do something else of great importance. A disturbing attempt at doing a comedy sketch for example.
I’ll do my best to avoid the usual sexual stereotyping in saying this – but I am actually pretty useless at multitasking – and even more so when I’ve no control over the amount of windows popping up all over the place. I really don’t like lots of little windows. Not sure why. Maybe it was that brief stint in San Quentin. I also fret over chat etiquette much more than is necessary, which in itself is very distracting. “Can I close that window now?”, “How long do I have to wait?” “Do I say goodbye first?”. Nerve-shattering dilemmas I’m sure you’ll all agree.
When Gmail chat came along, I tried again. My list of contacts who were using chat was small enough so all was well with the world. People chatted to me with purpose. When the purpose had been purported, the chat was ended. Neat. But then the chit chatters began to emerge.“Yo John, what’s the story?”… “Well, I was working but I’ll be spending the next ten minutes wondering exactly how soon I can close this window.” (Apologies if you actually understand what the word purported means. I only looked it up after I abused it.)
I suppose a part of this is the fact that I’m not that good at chit chat in real life. I love a good old chin wag – and have friends I’ll happily listen to for hours. But bored hairdressers fill me with dread. And bumping into a co-worker I barely know on a long commute fills me with utter terror. An hour of small talk!!? I actually shivered just now. I also have a relative who, without fail, starts every conversation with “What’s the story?”. I’m never sure which story to tell. No – not good at the chit chat.
Myself and the missus have tried turning on chat now and then rather than sharing 40 emails to sort out some domesticalities, and profess our undying love of course. But we both get bombarded with chit chatters and run screaming, vowing never to turn chat on again, ever. It’s a bit like vowing never to drink wine then beer (in that order) – but not a fraction of the fun.
And the jury’s still out on Twitter. Ok it’s not live chat but it can get a bit chatty from what I’ve seen. Although none of it is directly to me, so that’s ok. It’s an odd sort of chatter. Like having a pint and listening in on the next table. A happy medium in both senses of the phrase. Maybe. I’m still trying to get into the swing of it.
By the way, I’m not talking about YOU in all of this. No no no. You and I had meaningful conversations. It was all those other guys firing up too many windows with the chit chat.
Living the life
Anyone remember [the.path]? You still out there Kev? [the.path] was a free Dublin zine, mostly handed out at clubs and record shops. There was a piece on the online version that struck a chord with me and I’ve often thought back to it. I know a girl who shed a tear while reading it. I’ve tried to find it over the years and today I finally succeeded. I found it on the good ole way back machine, in the 2001 archive for thumped.com. Have a look around. Here’s the piece I was looking for. Deep breath… and go….
[I love...] lasagna – having sex first thing in the morning – watching the clouds phase in and out on a sunny day, making it cold and then warm again – getting the fightlink home and striking up a conversation with strangers – listening to wanky jazz on a sunday afternoon with a shitload of papers and supplements fired around the kitchen table – the singing of a glass as you run your fingers around the rim – the local green – destroying abandoned cars – walking up the railway lines on a saturday evening – eating coleslaw with my hands – the end of the acid – the way the bass kicks in and turns my spine to jelly at 1.30am – train journeys – the smiles on my friends faces – travelling around – crossing the liffey – sitting in abra for hours and cleaning my rings with the handwipes – walking under the westlink bridge in the middle of the night – sliding on ice streaks in runners with flat soles – reading – having sex first thing in the afternoon – walking down supposed dangerous laneways and streets – the smell off my fingers after chopping garlic – the sweet sound of escaping gas as the sixth dutch gold can is opened – dutch gold, god bless our brewing cousins in the netherlands – sleeping on the floor of a strangers house – not knowing exactly what day it is when i’m unemployed – being unemployed when the weather is beautiful – shaded lightbulbs – having a double bed duvet on a single bed – the way that pizza burns the roof of my mouth when it comes straight out of the oven – the scream of the baby behind me on the bus – getting nettle stings – climbing trees – the observation tower in smithfield – low grade graffiti on lamps, shop shutters and buses – getting crossbars off the phillips head screwdriver down gardiner street, and breaking the lights at summerhill and sean macdermott street – listening to filthy techno in a small flat on camden street at 9am on a saturday morning, drinking wine from the spar – knowing where different numbered dublin buses go to – kebabs – scoring with the girl standing next to me in the queue for the kebab – not knowing exactly where i am – walking for hours – the mosque in clonskeagh – playing football on the road with kids ten years younger than me – writing confusing graffiti – the terminus of any bus – the rustle of the leaves at night – writing letters to people i havent seen in years – swimming my chips in vinegar – bumping into people – paved streets – the way traffic lights switch colour and don’t have any effect when the streets are closed to cars and crowded with people – the way fireworks make me laugh uncontrollably and make my eyes water – the M50 – the airport – early houses – talking with barflies in early houses – trying to find out the literal translation of peoples names in irish – friendly dogs – getting photographs back from the chemist, six months after you first took them – sneaking into stephens green at night – cycling along shouting abuse at people queuing for arsehole pubs – the way wilma makes toasted cheese sandwiches – the way i get involuntary twitches and tingles at the base of my back when a girl whispers anything in my ear – being in a car going over a speed ramp at 40mph – the view from the smithfield tower – the horse market – the roundabout in ballymun – finding out the history of street names – the roundabout at the M50/navan road junction – letting a watermelon drop from a height and seeing it burst – putting a tomato in the microwave – handing out freesheets outside tacky chart nightclubs – doing the rounds of record shops on a saturday afternoon – the shatter of a back windscreen – climbing into boarded up houses – staying in bed all day to have sex – losing count of how many orgasms she’s had – turning down the heat at the end of a shower to freezing cold – the noise of two snooker balls clacking off each other – exchanging glances with people opposite you on the train – that second glance from someone you liked passing by you on grafton street – christchurch bells on new years eve – slopes – curves – ellipses – ovals – sine wave graphs – stone buildings – talking shit with builders – taking sick days off work, and getting paid for them – pirate radio stations – envelope seals that taste nice – dimmer switches – the hiss and crack from the stylus as it connects with the vinyl – old childhood toys – candles lit during electricity blackouts – cracked mirrors – hot presses filled with warm towels – getting locked with my dad – getting locked with my grandad – the noise a computer gives off when a mobile phone signal comes near it – tia maria mixed with milk and ice – eating a lemon – bonfires – the ordinance survey of ireland map book of dublin – cushions strewn around the floor – having pillow fights, and then having sex afterwards – playing chess for extended periods of time – plush heavy sofas – oranges – mandarins – strawberries – peaches – pears – emmental cheese – heavy stolen cutlery – sandwich toasters encrusted with crap after post-usage non-cleaning – beef burgundy – going to bed naked – going to bed naked, after a shower, with clean sheets on the bed – sleeping for 16 hours – eating dry pasta very slowly – the almost inaudible pop from the speakers as the amp is turned on – the way wheels appear like they are going backwards when a car is travelling fast – the doppler effect – the drone of a lawnmower – the smack of wood on willow – streetlights in stoneybatter – buzzing off kids on shoplifting sprees on a sunday afternoon – sitting on the back seat on the upstairs deck of the bus – the smell of skin after lying in the sunshine – freshly cut grass – snowfights – sitting on an old piece of carpet on the local green at 5am watching the sun come up, fucked off my head – fireflies – red hot poker plants in bloom – sitting around the botanical gardens in glasnevin with cold cans of dutch gold bought from the nearby off-license – having mess fights with your friends – playing chasing – making up new games to play with a football – making huts next to the canal – sitting in the IFSC circle of seats at 3am after the funnel – gossiping with mothers on the road about the state of the world – the smell of petrol – ringing wilma at night – leaving obscure garbled messages for shanahap from the toilet – the repetitive beat of the street crossing beeper – crossing the road when you shouldn’t – sitting outside porno shops and laughing at the people coming out – going into porno shops – doing ‘genies’ with matchboxes – the way my ankles click when i walk – weekend country excursions – climbing hills – walking through woods next to a river at midnight – fondling – caressing – tasting – touching – arousing – tickling – sucking – kissing – waking up and doing it all again – eating in bed – eating out in bed – eating out – flaking out – freaking out – making out – making up – cracking up – cracking eggshells – cracks in a glass pane – stepping to avoid the cracks in the pavement – shaving peoples heads – the digitised tweak of a voice on a bad 087 line – falling asleep on benches – arm wrestling – knacker drinking in o’connell street – buzzing off gardai while walking around on a sunday morning while looking for an open pub – making up fake histories to tourists – the whirr of an old line printer – digging out splinters – the woman who dances in the middle of o’connell street (where have you gone?) – religious nutcakes with megaphones – klaxon horns at raves – dreadlocks – happy cycling – puking after bad food – running around the black church backwards three times – rummaging in skips – jumping off walls onto mattresses – trampolines – tom tay – edenmore aok – the sticky floor of the savoy cinema – trams and the noises they make – hearing through the wall the adolescents next door having onset-puberty-driven rows with their parents – playing hide and seek – waking up in the sun with drool on your arm – doyles shop in blanchardstown (rest in peace) – free reading in easons – using the records and decks in hmv to hone my ‘scratching’ skills – calling for people at 4am – the blessington street basin – the lingering imprint of a kiss on my cheek – giving people presents for no reason – having curry for breakfast – silver birches – maple syrup straight from the trees – cycling on kids bikes – sheets of lightning flaring up the night sky – sitting on balconies of flat blocks and watching the people go by – the sheer size of dunsink dump – handbrake turns – the ring of car alarms everywhere after a flash hail storm – the way you can almost feel the sky go heavy before it rains – playing football ankle deep in mud – doing amateur diy work around the house – jumping into an outdoor swimming pool on a hot day – taking polaroids of each other – swapping tapes – getting tax back – watching an old factory get demolished with explosives – giving it loads – standing next to the speaker stack all night and then waking up the next day with a high pitched ringing tone in your ears – bullshitting to taxi drivers about what you do for a living – making up incidents you saw on buses before to the bus driver – pretending to talk in your sleep on the bus, making obscene sexual remarks – painting the kerbs weird colours – vapour trails of perfume – the flow of a warm breeze in my hair – seeing old neighbours around and talking shit with them – sending birthday cards – making websites – going to trad nights – drinking in shithole pubs – imagining the world in different colours – learning a new language – talking in slang – basements – attics – conservatories – hearing sandra’s voice again on the phone – drunken tekken marathons with my friends – hanging about in arcades all day.
Your number’s up mate
I remember exactly where I was on 9/11; waiting to get an 84 to D2 to pick up my P45. I was 30 years old wearing 9 carat gold, looking forward to playing some 4 to the floor on my 1210s 24/7. There was a guy in the seat in front of me with his walkman set to 1 louder. 808 State’s remix of UB40′s 1 in 10 blasted back towards me. I moved to the back of the bus and tried to read my book, Catch 22. But I couldn’t concentrate. I had to do a number 2. I looked out the window but couldn’t see much. The window was clean, but my eyes were beginning to fail me. I’d been to the optician last week but his eye machine was 1/2 broken; he told me I had a 50/50 chance of 20/20 vision. I remember that day well, the optician was on level 42 but the elevator was out of service and there were 39 steps on every floor! I had to run all the way as my holiday started that day. I was going on a cruise to sail the 7 seas for 40 days and 40 nights, and then back again. Yep, around the world in 80 days.
The driver was doing 90 down the N11 in a 60 zone. I thought I could feel the bus slipping a bit, it was an icy day. Just as I was trying to convince myself that he knew what he was doing, the bus went into a big skid and did a 360, knocking some guy on a honda 50 a whole 9 yards into a girl on a 3 wheeler. 10 white knuckles gripped the seat in front of me. I no longer needed to do a number 2. I ran down the stairs. The driver was on his walkie talkie “One two. One two. This is car 54. We got a 10-42. And I’m injured. They got me bad. I repeat we’ve got a 10-42…….. 10-20 Good buddy Roger that……… hey I heard that Jimmy you 2 faced prick, 2 fast 2 furious me arse… could have happened to anyone… “.
The downstairs of the bus was full of unhappy campers, 1/2 of them thrown from their seats and sprawled on the floor. There were 12 Angry men, 2 fat ladies, 3 men and a baby. All screaming at the driver, who was the image of Desmond Tutu. He got out of his box and held his palms up towards the passengers trying to calm them. “Please forgive me” he said “and lest we not forget Luke 22:14, Set your spirit free, it’s the only way to be. I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha“. A rivulet of blood appeared on his forehead, trickled quickly down his face and he collapsed. “He’s gone to 7th heaven” muttered one of the ladies. “On Cloud 9 if you ask me” said one of the men. I got my mobile out and rang 999, heard a satanic voice and realised I had my phone up-side-down. I rang again and got put on hold. I couldn’t believe it. I had to listen to Beethoven’s 9th symphony on an emergency line. And some 90210 ritch bitch was yelling into her mobile “I SAID I WAS, LIKE, IN A CRASH!”. I told her to shut up and knelt beside the driver to feel his pulse, the fat lady was right. I closed his eyes and muttered under my breath, “Your number’s up mate, your number’s up”.
Does anything strike you as odd about selling a toy like this in 2008?
I went for a walk at lunch and ended up rooting through the ice cream fridge in the local garage, fine day that’s in it. The rack of toys over the fridge caught my eye. This Cassette changer is a tape that transforms into a dinosaur. “4 to collect!”. Was only two quid so I bought it just to see the expression on the little lad’s face.
I’ve got a surprise
Oh what is it!? What is it!?
Eh what is it? what is it?
Well it starts off as a cassette…
Look over there!
Hey look, a T-Rex!
Ooooh A T-rex! Where’s the cat set gone?
Next week I’m getting the floppy disk that turns into pterodactyl.
Pottering through butterflies
I found myself with a day off midweek that I didn’t really need in the end, but I took it anyway. It just seemed too complicated to unbook it! So I got to potter around town. I can never decide what to do with precious moments like that (if you don’t have children, you won’t be able to relish just how precious they are – those moments, not the rug rats).
I remembered an announcement that the Dublin Improv Movement were looking for secret agents to turn up with some travel money and that sounded like a great adventure. But when I checked it was Thursday morning (anyone know what happened there?). Very dissapointed I resumed my pottering. Walking along Grafton street, I tried to figure out why people gave money to a woman who did nothing but paint herself gold. But at least the Spanish Goatboy with the wooden mouth wasn’t around, that thing gives me the creep. I don’t know if it’s rooted in some Spanish folklore or what – but it should never have been allowed off the Ramblas. Please don’t feed it silver. He might just go away forever.
The sun was shining, so a I bought a book and went to Stephen’s Green. That’s what has me halfway through a gazullion different books and to the end of none. A woman and her mother sat on the bench beside me to feed a Twix to the pigeons. One of them surprised me by perching on my shoe! I asked her to get off…and stop creating diabetic monster-pigeons.
I had a hankering to see some Art but Kilmainham was too far without car. I pottered around the Original Print gallery and then onto the Temple Bar Gallery. Niamh O’Malley’s a situation, a situation, and a story was on show. I tripped over the first A situation, didn’t know what to make of the Second but liked A Story. The first piece (A situation) doesn’t work in the sunlight, it’s a clouded image with coloured slides projected onto it. I’m sure it was great on the opening night but they need to black out the windows or move it into one of the back rooms. A story is a simple but elegantly executed allegory of butterflies and time.
From one butterfly to another, I went to see The diving bell and the Butterfly (Butterflies have to be the most common metaphors in art). It’s a wonderful film, but unlike some reviews would have you believe, I did not leap from the IFI imbibed with the zest for life. I just fancied some soup. (Cafe Café Irie spoiled the run of things by not having any butterfly soup but their replacement was still yum). I found the camerawork in The Diving Bell as fascinating as the story though. They seemed to use the same kind of tilt-shift method that can be used to make fake-model photos. Like the ones I did here. In the The Diving Bell, the effect you get is a realisticly claustrophobic first-person view.
I accidentally typed castrophobic there at first. I think Freud is trying to tell me something. The family jewels will be well-guarded this weekend.
You scumbag, you maggot!
Time is rife for something that’s been rambling around my head for a very long time. I don’t really do topical posts – but I do like a good rant and this one happens to be topical. So here it is; I’ve had a problem with the word scumbag for quite a while. To me a scumbag is the lowest of the low, scum of the earth, like someone who’d stab someone in the head with a screwdriver! But in the last few years people all around me have been using scumbag for anyone with a thick Dublin accent or who dresses in a certain way.
Ever since I stopped working in factories, got myself a (very late) third level education and a decent job I’ve felt like some kind of spy. I’m constantly shocked by people around me referring to people they know nothing about as scumbags or knackers. “Did they they really just say that in front of me!? they must think I’m one of them! I’m not! I’ve been in groups of people, smugly referring to some group of scumbags and I’m there thinking “I know lots of the people you’re talking about and they’re more honest, clever, and witty than you’ll ever be“.
Quite often people who I really wouldn’t expect it from really surprise me with the stuff they come out with. “I wouldn’t go near that shop/pub/park/beach. Full of scumbags!” You mean people who weren’t as privileged to get as good an education as you? You snobby fuck?! I once heard a friend of a friend of a friend telling some story in a pub which was interjected with “Who’s that knacker comedian again? Brendan O’Carroll! Yeah that’s him….” No one batted an eye lid. I winced.
And let’s be clear here. I do despise actual scum. I’ve absolutely no time for hard men, or people smoking on buses, or bullying, or vandalism, or violence, or racism or anything like that. But I’ve also little time for people who judge people they know nothing about other than their accent or clothes.
And another thing – I’ve often found when I’m in trouble and relying on the kindness of strangers, these are the folk that couldn’t be more helpful. Like the time I broke down at traffic lights. While several respectable members of society sat there beeping at me, it was a gang of lads in tracksuits that suggested pushing me across the road out of the way, and then did so.
There. Done. Said. Chest cleared. Ignore at will. Normal service resumed. I guess this post will be just as popular as that time I mentioned being thouroughly bored by the constant anti-englishness over here. But that was a public forum, so I suppose I was being a bit preachy. At least this is my own soapbox, which I’ll now get down from.
Digital Media Awards
Congratulations to The Missus for winning ‘best in blogging’ at the Digital Media Awards. We almost didn’t even go. Couldn’t afford neither tux nor tickets. But we were afforded free tickets at the last minute, and found a tux I could borrow. Then to her shock and horror she actually won the award. The look on her face was priceless.
But all that isn’t the point of this post. And none of the above is going to stop me from saying what I’ve been meaning to say since I heard of these awards; their website is a disgrace. Most of this is from memory.
- Flash is very badly and unnecessarily used in places
- The overall UI is terrible
- The navigation is all over the place and inconsistent
- They commit several web design mortal sins, resizing images in the code (thus making them pixelated) and underlining text that isn’t a link.
The reason all that is from memory, is that ever since the awards the site has been inaccessible. A flash movie loads and stays at 8% or doesn’t load at all. Sure there are plenty of bad web sites out there, but someone calling themselves the Digital Media Awards really should have got professionals to build their site.
Views from above
How come you hear people going on about everyday views, like the view of Killiney bay from the dart, yet no one ever talks about the absolutely amazing views you often see from a plane. I sometimes think everyone tries to be too grown up. You hear kids on planes going “Wow – look at all the clouds!” while the all-so-grown-up folk snort and tut at their unsophisticated excitement. Planks.
I’m currently botched up in a hotel room for one week only, in the middle of not very much in Sunnyvale California. The eagerly awaited peace and quiet isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Aaaaaanywaaaaay… on the flight over, passing above Greenland, I saw the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. Miles and miles and miles of snow covered mountains, seas full of icebergs, and lands covered in pure undriven snow, for as far as you could see. I spent ages gazing out the window trying to spot a polar bear. Which was ridicilous. As it would have been the size of a teeny weeny freckle from that height. A teeny weeny white freckle on white snow. Didn’t stop me from looking. Especially when the alternative was a movie as dull as ‘Shoot Em up’.
I’ve had a look for other people’s photos and here’s what I found. Needless to say a photo of an amazing view captures about as much as a movie of a book. But if you look at them very closely, you might just see a polar bear standing on a block of ice eating a mint.
Dissection of a favourite web video
I got sent this clip years ago, pre-youtube. I downloaded it and watched it again and again. There’s something strangely addictive about it. I think its got less to do with the surprise of a buttoned-up choir boy being able to dance like that, and more to do with the power of that infectious bassline. The whole clip reminds me of a really good house night and those perfect moments where no one can resist the urge to smile and wiggle their ass to some ass-shaking bass.
Now that it’s doing the rounds on youtube, I noticed in the comments that someone has ID’d the track. I’ve been humming that for years wondering what it was. Go Web 2.0! It’s Hollywood Swinging by Kool & the Gang
Like most follow-ups to accidental internet fame, Jon Arons (aka “The Trombone Guy”) fails miserably in his attemempts here to include any of the elements from the Steve Harvey show. There’s no crowd interaction, he *doesn’t* look like a straight up card-carrying christian, there’s no crowd interaction, and there’s no kick ass track. Actually there’s nothing but Jon Arons looking way too cool for cats.
Having said all that (and all that being a lot more than I intended to say!), Trombone guy isn’t a patch on my favourite web video ever, Robotboy dance…
I’ve since watched LOADS of David Elsewhere Bernal videos. And I’ve got Elsewhere’s Detours DVD. And there are some amazing clips on both but none of them give me the goosepimples that the Kollaboration video does, even after hundreds of viewings.
Next week, the man, the legend… Jesus, and just why he chose to appear on a dog’s arse…
- My top 10 Irish Movies
- The Blathering
- Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease
- Top 10 books of 2012
- The truth about tattoo removal
- CABBAGE CONTROLS – some thoughts on Prometheus casting
- Power’s Short story
- Books of the (last) year
- Pruning your feeds
- That other time I went to the States…
- Quincy M.E. and Cameron Diaz doing the La Bamba
- Different folks, different strokes
- Family cinema design