Wednesday, December 28, 2005

days between Christmas and new year

Always mean to do so much with these few days between Christmas and New Year. Plot some new course for the new year, come up with new ideas before the old year ends. But I always end up watching old movies on TV and going into town to see if there is anything in the sales I might need. That’s how I spent today. Didn’t buy anything, watched a bit of an old “Dad’s Army” movie on TV. I always loved the TV series but movies seemed to stretch the idea too much and exposed all its weak points.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

March of the Penguins

Went to see the film “March of the Penguins” yesterday. I was sort of avoiding it because of the way it has been appropriated by the religious right in America for their own purposes. I thought it was an amazing piece of work, the film itself and also its subject. I knew nothing about the life of the Emperor Penguin and its harsh strange life. The creatures themselves are so strange to look at, so alien and so lifelike at the same time. Their existence and reproductive cycle seems so harsh and impractical and yet at the end of it all I would have to agree with the filmmaker and say that the emotion that comes through is something akin to what we call love. I know they are birds and that it can be dangerous and foolish to attribute human feelings to other species, but I suppose that’s the only way our own species can begin to make sense of the universe. I looked in awe at the whole thing, couldn’t even begin to find reasons. What Bertrand Russell once wrote comes to mind: “The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

my new ipod

I bought a new ipod recenty. Although my 3g one is still working perfectly, I couldn’t hold out any longer when I saw the new video 5g ipods. So I bought a 60GB black one. It’s absolutely beautiful and I don’t feel as guilty as I was expecting to - €450 for an ipod I didn’t! I’ve used the other one every day since the day I bought it nearly 3 years ago. I always tell myself I could have worse, and more expensive, habits and addictions?Here’s a photo I took of the ipod in my bag, with my M&S food . The sun was shining through the red Dixons bag, the photo reminds me of a rose in bloom when I look it from a distance!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pavee Lackeen

Went to see the movie “Pavee Lackeen” this evening. Didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. It thought it would be too much in the “be nice to travellers” school of drama. Instead, it was more like looking at series of living photographs (it was made by the photographer Perry Ogden) tender in a realistic sort of way that ended up making me feel more human and humane in some way that I can’t put my finger on. I honestly think it was “art” in the best sense of that word.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

excepting the dog

We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet: and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us.
- Maurice Maeterlinck

Sunday, November 06, 2005

animals and middle age

Nuala O Faolain said this in an interview in the Irish Independent today:
"I hope I don't sound like some kind of crazed old English spinster but the fact is that animals are the great discovery of middle age. They have taught me about my parents' limitations. They had no spare heart for animals and for along time neither had I. I've felt more tender about that dog than I have about anything ever, and I know that sounds completely mad because she's only a dog. But it's true."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

supervised burning

They had a parade and a “burning” in Smithfield Square this evening.It was a bit of street theatre with supervised burning of made up “baddie” effigies to try and appease the local kids who are not allowed by law to light their own private bonfires anymore. They could have made a bit more of it all, included some music maybe. There was a short deflated sense about it all. Still, let’s hope it full fills its objective.The use of colour filters on three of the Smithfield brazier lights was interesting, I think maybe they should leave them like that, take a bit of the clinical look off the place?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Happt Birthday LUAS!

The LUAS (Tallagh Red Line) is one year old today. Took this phone photo at Smithfield.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


and here's a picture of the new Guardian, taken from the blog site they are running.
Can't wait to get my hands on the morning edition. I'm a net junkie but still a newsprint junkie too, especially when a change like this happens. After all, I'm a middle aged middle class European!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Guardian

“The Guardian” newspaper published its final broadsheet edition today. It’s being published in a new format they call “the Berliner” from next Monday. I’ve been a fan of the paper for many years but recently find myself buying the “Independent” more often since it became a tabloid. Looking forward to seeing what the new format will look and feel like.

Monday, August 29, 2005


This photo is on thefront page of the Irish Times this morning. What they describe as a "skirmish" between Cork's Brendan O'Sullivan and with Kerry's Séamus Moynihan just before the end of the first half of the All-Ireland senior football semi final at Croke Park yesterday.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I installed an extension toolbar called “Stumbleupon” into Firefox this morning. It’s really good, gets you random pages on subjects you are interested in – it can be as wide or as narrow as you like. I’ve always liked the idea of randomness as there is always something in the back of my mind questioning the whole notion of randomness. And yet, for all its perfection, sometimes it seems that the whole of the cosmos is random. But then it can’t be, can it? Anyway, I just clicked on “stumbleupon” and up came this page :

the home page came up and I randomly chose chapter 73 which was this :

Chapter 73

A brave and passionate man will kill or be killed.
A brave and calm man will always preserve life.
Of these two, which is good and which is harmful?
Some things are not favored by heaven.
Who knows why?
Even the sage is unsure of this.
The Tao of heaven does not strive, and yet it overcomes.
It does not speak, and yet is answered.
It does not ask, yet is supplied with all its needs.
It seems at ease, and yet it follows a plan.
Heaven's net casts wide.
Though its meshes are coarse, nothing slips through.

I like that line about the brave calm man. It’s a hard thing to do and to be, calm and brave.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Great photo in the papers today of two firemen saving a baby from a fire in a Dublin apartment building. The flip side of Edward Bond's old play, "Saved" is what came into my head for some reason.

Friday, August 19, 2005


A statue is to be erected in Dublin today in the memory of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

busy woman

I love this ad from the ESB in Dublin in the 1950s.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

reminder 2 me

the demise of the dinosaurs

From today’s London Independent……..
Did double whammy of volcano and asteroid wipe out dinosaurs?
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 16 August 2005
Volcanic eruptions may have triggered the demise of the dinosaurs.
Many scientists believed that an asteroid caused the mass extinction 65 million years ago. However, a new study points to a more complex event that began with a series of eruptions which took place in what is now north-western India. The Deccan Traps in Maharashtra state are flows of lava resulting from huge outpourings of molten rock and ash. A mile deep, they cover about 200,000 square miles. Vulcanologists have long thought the eruption, dated to about 65 million years ago, could have caused the extinction.
However, the Deccan Traps resulted from a series of eruptions that occurred over perhaps a million years. This would have given the global climate plenty of time to adjust. But the study shows a major part of the eruption occurred over a short period.
Scientists from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Pariscalculated that at least 2,000ft of lava was deposited in 30,000 years, which could have greatly altered global climate. They have also shown that the Traps were erupting when the asteroid crashed into what is now Mexico. This was a spectacular and almost unprecedented double whammy for Earth.
Mike Widdowson, a vulcanologist, said it seems the end of the dinosaurs may have begun with climate change brought about by the eruptions and ended with the asteroid. "The eruptions pre-conditioned the global environment toward a catastrophic tipping point before the impact occurred. The asteroid was the coup de grâce," he said.



Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking film was released 30 years ago this summer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

There are times when I wish that my camera phone had a better lens and more pixels. It was very hot yesterday afternoon in Dublin. I went for something to eat and sat watching people coming and going on the bench a level down. I couldn�t have taken this photo with my Nikon D70, didn�t have it with me and even if I had I probably wouldn�t have used it in such a public place. I love the way this group of people sit there, together for a short time never to sit together on the same bench again. The four young guys, the young woman with her child, the old woman with the Dunnes Stores bag. I hope none of them mind being having this moment immortalised.

Friday, June 10, 2005

took this in Grafton Street today with my Nokia phone. Warm and sunny all day.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Apple goes Intel

So it’s true. Apple have just announced that they are switching to Intel chips in their machines. I think its an interesting move for all sorts of reasons. They obviously learned many lessons from the popularity of the ipod which exploded when it became possible to run itunes on a PC. I’m in a strange position here, my soul has always been Apple , I love the design of the OS system and the look of the machines but at the time I began buying computers I couldn’t even think of affording to buy a mac. That was back in the mid 1980s when the only computer I could afford was an Amstrad 8512.

Design wise, and every other wise I guess, it’s a machine that was a long way from the Apple Mac. I thought about it a lot while watching Alan Sugar in “The Apprentice” on BBC television recently. On the one hand, it was a machine that delayed my introduction to what might be considered “real” computers, but on the other hand it allowed me and thousands of others to ditch the typewriter. It was a cheap(ish) beige bridge to the world of computers for many writers. The next computer I could afford was Dell 486. From there on in, my files became too “Intelised”to consider making the move to Apple, even when I got to the position where I could afford it. And also, perhaps I never felt entirely comfortable with Apple’s claims to exclusivity and all that “think different” stuff. I think I appreciate the finer things in life as much as the next man, and by nature, sex , native language i am in a minority. I don’t have to think different, I am different. Ah but maybe this is all about having a bit of a go at Apple because I couldn’t afford their machines all those years ago? And I have to admit that I’m one of those sad people who, from time to time. use Windows Blinds to make my windows XP look like the Mac OS. But then, maybe that’s not so sad anymore, maybe us intel users with our XP transformed screens were just a bit ahead of the pack all along. Anyway, I think a lot of interesting stuff will arise out of this move by Apple today. My favourite piece of computing equipment today is an ipod. I am fascinated by machines and the way we interact with them, the interfaces and the icons we create to talk in binary. If Apple released a version of Tiger that I could install on my machine would I do it? Yes, definitely. But I think I’m too long with Windows now to completely abandon it, I’d at least look for a dual boot function and see where that took me. I still have that old Amstrad in an attic, and last time I looked it still worked. All in all, what a great journey we’re on in this human/machine mating game!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

woody allen broke my ipod

I had a strange dream last night. I was making a movie somewhere, I was involved in the writing of it, and Woody Allen was there. He was the younger Woody Allen not the way he is today. Anyway, I had my iPod with me and he took it in his hand and looked at it.It fell to the floor and broke. I was full of sadness as I picked it up and looked at the cracked white face. Woody said that he would replace it immediately and he called to a young woman who came over holding a notebook and asking what my iPod cost. Woody told her to go out and buy me a new one right this minute. So I ended up really happy as we were working in America and I figured I would now have a brand-new American iPod at the end of it all!

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Denaissance

I loved this piece in the OBSERVER BLOG today ,

The Denaissance starts here

The blog was very taken with Peter Watson's comment piece in the newspaper yesterday asserting that the late 20th Century and beginning of the 21st have been poor for good new ideas.

We flatter ourselves to think that we live in interesting times, Watson suggests. In fact, we just live in hectic times. Not the same thing at all. He concludes:

The sheer lack of fundamental innovation now may explain the tenacity of traditional religion and why contemporary art seems so flat, banal and repetitive.

Apparently our times compare poorly to, for example, 1050-1250AD or 1750-1950AD -periods of real upheaval and intellectual ferment. It is an interesting thesis and one that deserves to be explored on the blog.

It is, we have decided, time for a new movement. Something to fire the imagination. A new school, like Romanticism or Modernism, that can be applied across the spectrum of human endeavour. But since we are not clever enough to come up with something entirely independent, we thought we might be able to cobble one together with some sticky-backed plastic, a few prefixes and suffixes and a little something from the intellectual dressing up cupboard.

And because it's Monday, and Monday is unofficial list day on the Observer blog, we thing we ought to present our results in that hallowed form. So here are ...

The top 10 new movements not yet invented but sure to rock the world in the 21st Century.

1. Denaissance - The undoing of the Renaissance. People reject all aspirations to emulate the cultural achievements of antiquity, or for that matter 16th Century Europe, and take refuge in blinkered Mediaeval certainty.

2. Neo-Luddism - Combining hostility to technology in the workplace as embodied in the apocryphal figure of Ned Ludd, but retaining it and worshipping it in the sphere of private life. So, for example, it is OK to have a mobile phone, but it is illegal for work to call you on it.

3. Obscurism - The inevitable backlash to our current obsession with celebrity. Complete anonymity will come to be regarded as the supreme moral virtue. Obscurist artists and writers will produce great works, but no-one will know about it.

4. Post-Ageism - Because of demographic changes in society, combined with constant vilification of young people in the media, old age becomes incredibly fashionable. Youth is despised and comes to be seen as physically repulsive. New plastic surgery techniques to artifically wrinkle skin become very popular.

5. Post-Conservatism - Conservatives realise that so much has gradually changed and evolved since they started being conservative that to get back to where they started they will have to become radical revolutionaries.

6. Masculism - Like Feminism, except instead of formulating a coherent analysis of the power structure in society the proponents just make lists of things in society they like and dislike the most.

7. Groucho-Marxism - Class struggle with a sense of humour.

8. Post-itism - A theory proposing that all worthwhile human endeavour is most accurately expressed on little yellow bits of paper with an adhesive strip on the back.

9. Neo-nlightism - A theory proposing that all worthwhile human endeavour is most accurately expressed in lurid coloured bright lights on Broadway. A schismatic movement focuses on Piccadilly Circus.

10. Schmism - A theory proposing that all worthwhile human endeavour is most accurately expressed by repeating key words and inserting 'schm' as the first syllable. For example: 'Shakespeare? schmakespeare!' 'Capitalism? schmapitalism!'

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Went to see Edward Albee’s “The Goat” at the Project tonight. At first, and even about almost half way through I didn’t think much of it. I thought it looked like what it was, an old man trying in vain to write something as startling as his “Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolfe?” But then, almost at a turn - well it was during a speech made by the central played by Bryan Murray, I fell for it. And by the time Susan Fitzgerald , playing the wife, walked on stage carrying the bloodied head of the slain goat , I think that I too saw the goat through the eyes of the man who loved her. There’s been a lot of talk about what this play is saying, some of it from Albee himself, about whether its possible to do tragedy anymore etc. But what I will remember from the drama is that speech where the main character tries to describe the indescribable, what is like to look into the living eyes of another and see love there. How that moment can set you off on a road that may put you beyond the pale. And how impossible it is to explain or to justify the fall that may ensue. And yes, I think we can still do tragedy.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

video days

Continuing my big Spring clean up, I tackled the living room yesterday. I unplugged the video recorder and put it into a cupboard. I hardly ever use it nowadays, I always watch DVDs and don’t really record any programmes off the TV anymore. I plan to get a DVD recorder later on this year, but I have reached the point of finally realizing that copying and storing programmes that I may never watch is a huge waste of time.
Still, unplugging the video was a big moment. Like the unplugged fax machine it had a short interesting life. I bought my first video recorder in the 1980s, it was actually stolen from my house – videos were expensive machines back then. We bought tapes and collected programmes like we were going to have them forever, the wonder of being able to go out for the night and have the video recorder tape the programme was the pinnacle of technology. It didn’t matter that you might never watch that taped programme, it was there – that was the thing. It demystified TV in some way and was the beginning of “lean forward” viewing and interactivity with mass media.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Bicycle Mark

I really like this picture of one man and his new computer. I came across it this morning on a blog site I sometimes read. Bicycle Mark describes his site as: “"The exaggerations of a Portuguese-American, radical, activist-journalist, pretend-academic, university employee, podcaster, blog fanatic, living in Amsterdam".” The photo shows him in bed with his brand new PowerMac G4, in love with a new machine. God, I know that feeling. Last January, while visiting LA I bought a Sony Vaio. I have a photo of myself in bed in my hotel room with my Vaio the morning after I bought it. Are we all mad or just evolving into something else?

Friday, April 15, 2005

O Comments

Not one single solitary person has left a comment on my site yet! This is not surprising; my blog is one of a million other blogs out there blogging about in cyberspace like a message in a bottle. Would a message in a bottle stand a better chance of being read? At least for a message in a bottle there is the chance someday of being washed ashore. Cyberspace, like the universe, just keeps expanding no shores in sight. Maybe there is a secret reader out there waiting with baited breath for my next note? After all, I visit many blogs and rarely leave comments. Too lazy, but I also have this feeling that I’m defacing them when I leave a comment. It was the same of course back in the 20th century when I was once a pen and ink letter writer. I used to love getting letters but didn’t look forward at all to sitting down and replying. Should I, dear reader, tell you more interesting and personal things about my life that might provoke you to comment? I could resort to the tricks of the trade to get my blog noticed. But why would I do that? Because we write to be read I suppose. But blogs are different, closely related to private diaries they have that same duality about them. The need to be private and the need to be exposed are two side of the same coin I think.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Pope

The Pope is dead. Hard to think of his life without thinking about the past 26 years, the prime of my life and how his passing in some way signals the passing of those years. Despite the fact that he was never really a friend of me and my kind, I feel sadness at his passing. I also feel in some way that this is the real end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

Call Center

Saw this photo in the paper today. A call centre somewhere - India? And do you know what? no one looks sad or miserable in it.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

dr who

Dr Who

The new “Dr.Who” began on BBC last night. Written by Russell Davies, he hasn't made the good doctor gay but the sensibilty is there. But then wasn't there always a not so hidden gay streak in all the doctors? Look at Eccleston in a battered leather jacket outside the 1950s police public call box. Like some bit of rough trade outside a public loo in 1950s London? I’m sure a thesis could be written about this! Anyway, the show is good. Good for 48 year olds anyway, I wonder how well it plays for 8 year olds?

Monday, March 21, 2005

silver dream machine

De Lorean

John De Lorean died yesterday. I’m not a car driver yet I have always loved his De Loren car that was manufactured for a short time in Belfast in the early 1980s. Shiny, futuristic and hopeful it was everything that grey blood splattered Belfast was not. The enterprise failed under cloudy Belfast skies and cloudy financial dealings. It was a brief strange stainless steel image that seemed to try and drag the streets of Belfast out of the past if not back to the future all those years ago. And it still looks like a dream of the future. And if I ever did learn to drive a car I would love to drive it.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Went up on the roof tonight to take some pictures of the skyfest fireworks . I didn't think it was as good as it was other years, not as spectacular. This tradition really started in the boom years of the Celtic Tiger. It was an affirmation of our newly found self-confidence, it was as if we all stood there and said “ wow look at what we can do” Many of us did just that. And although that sort of thing had its detractors I was not one of them. I was fully behind this surge of desire to affirm ourselves and our place in the world. But I think we have moved on and need something else? That burst of fire in the same spot in the sky has become very predictable. Once you light up the sky in a spectacular fashion once, what can you do to better that? And although fireworks are beautiful they are very short lived. Then again, maybe that's the whole point.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Kate Kellaway interviewing novelist Alexander McCall Smith (author of the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books), in the Observer today writes, “The books, like their author, have charm. You cannot overstate the power of this - it's the missing ingredient in contemporary fiction.”

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Head Cold

I’ve had this bad cold for nearly a week now. In the head, the chest, the bones – all over. I often used to get colds this time of the year and part of me even looked forward to it. But I can’t seem to get much pleasure out of confinement any more. There’s always this feeling that life is moving on and that I need to keep up with it. There is so much stuff going on within us and without these days. And as one gets older the endless days are endless no more. Nevertheless, I tried my best to make my fluey down days memorable. I bought a collection of SEINFELD Dvds – Seasons 1 , 2 and 3, and focused my lethargic brain on them. Still good but I thought it was striking how dated they seem, wasn’t expecting that. The 1990s are fading fast. That stand up humour thing , while often very funny and perceptive, has a clear line that can be traced back to the 1950s. The ghost of Lenny Bruce hovers around all the time. and that's no bad thing but - Is it all a little bit too “straight” now or something? Anyway, the DVD collection is a credit to its producers, lots of extras and a very good one hour documentary that tells how the show began.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

falling out of love with paper

I’ve been a reader all my life. From the pulpy comfort of comic books to the addiction/ tyranny of the morning newspaper. Thousands of articles, hundreds of books have gone into my brain through the conventional route of words on the printed page. In the last ten years however, I have been reading more and more on screen. Although I would have always gone along with the notion that words on screen will never fully replace the ease and tactility of the printed page I have only recently woken up to the fact that I am now reading more words on screen than on paper. More importantly, I am only now starting to admit to myself that I think I get as much pleasure out of skimming a newspaper on line as looking through a hard copy. I still wouldn’t read a novel on screen but then again I think I listen to more books (via audible on my ipod) than I read. Most books, if read well, gain by being listened to. I’m listening to “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell at the moment. If I was reading it, I’m not sure I would have stayed the course but the different voices make the varying first person narrations very compelling.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

young americans

My first blog. Snowy day. Listening to the song “Oxygen” by Willy Mason. My God only in his early 20s and sounding as if he’s been with us since, oh at least 1960.What did Bowie say about young Americans? Nothing complimentary I think but you have to admit that no one does youth, energy, innocence and enthusiasm better than young Americans.