Thursday, March 22, 2007

Under Northern Skies Etc

So a weekend in Stirling then. Over Saint Patrick's, no less, with a big old rumble in the six nations for company. Never have I felt so heartbroken as when the French shunted their way over the tryline for the last time, and me halfway through eatin a lovely burger. Well, the remainder was bitter as all hell, let me tell you. No amounta cheese an bacon could cover the raw stench o undeserved defeat. That said, we've still a crackin team, an while I'm by no means expectin the Irish to go all the way, they could still give the best in the world a decent game of it.

Anyway. Stirling. My good pal Aaron, who recently turned 22 (see below), had largesse enough to provide a crackin weekend fulla drunken hilarity an pensive philosophising. That is, prank calls an talkin shite. It's always a revelation to take a look into the stage play o someone else's day to day life; to meet the characters, to warm to the drama and tensions between the players, and, for a while, to be a novelty in a few people's lives. They're crackin folks up there, I miss em already. Wee things like that make life worth gettin up for.

So Modest Mouse have released another belter. "They've got someone ridiculously famous now, haven't they?" says someone, possibly Amy. And yes, yes they have, the one and only Johnny Marr, once the guitarist of The Smiths. And their new single (above), is a sweepin symphony of a track, rockin and rollin with the best of them, with a nifty video and Isaac Brock's usual vocal spasmodia addin to the fun. Nice to see a band achieving popularity of a degree, but keepin their standards, even if they're much better produced these days than back in what some fans would call the band's heyday of Moon and Antarctica. They've certainly changed their style somewhat, but to me it seems more like a maturing process than selling out.

Even wholesale change is possible without compromising one's principles, or even without changing one's major motivations in life. Sometimes the goalposts move, and the choice is to change or atrophy. I like to think that that's never going to be much of a choice.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Self-Congratulating Shite. No, Really.

So the end of term draws close, and the time for appraisals, summations and the like is damn' nigh upon us. A tough job it is to nail down what to draw from the last ten weeks, or whether anything should be drawn; maybe a greater achievement would be to look at this semester as nothing unusual, as a job done, rather than well done. There certainly won't be any victory parades, nor celebratory nights out: the lesson to learn is that the greatest victories, the satisfying ones, come from a sense of completion that no-one but yourself can generate. No amounta back-slappin nor congratulatin - though well appreciated, mind - can replace a self-constructed feelin of accomplishment. I think I'm feelin it.

Perspective is vital. Knowing when to exert oneself, and when such investment is unnecessary, is probably the soundest discovery o the term; much as I've delighted in the pure theatre of Old English word-paintin, it all seemed like an exercise in education, rather than education itself. I'm braced for tougher challenges to come. Note to self: it's just a game.
Besides that, the journey, bein by far the worthier part, has been nothin shorta blissful. I've made friends along the way, lost touch with a few old ones, which o course wrenches at the heart like nothin imaginable; lettin go is often the hardest part, but rarely does one thing end without some kinda new thing beginning in its place. Moving on.

Moving on, next term, my second Yorkshire summer, is shapin up very nicely. Modern Irish Poetry is the soup o the day, wi Yeats an Muldoon for the aul main course, an wi only eight folks in the seminar group, includin myself, I reckon I can cook up somethin spectacular.So that was a great example of what can be done wi shitty metaphors, abstract nouns and generalisation alone.
Thanks for readin this term! See you in April.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Election Time, There's No Need To Be Afraid.

Pre Script: listen, if it be within your faculties, to "Radiation" by the Epoxies. Fo. Shizzle.

So the Assembly elections have come and gone. Bein on the wrong side o the Irish sea, I haven't heard from the emerald/tangerine isle in manys a moon. Not much has changed, but we've secured self-determination. "A farce," says my dad, "the UUP have bought it". And so they have. The only poor buggers who know how to run a country have gone and lost nine assembly seats to go with the all-but-one they lost in the election to the grown-up Parliament in Westminster. The final score was DUP 36, Shinners 28, UUP 18, SDLP 16, wi the Alliance gettin a respectable 7 an the Green Party, did you ever, pickin up a sly one in North Down, most likely down to the fact the candidates name is Brian Wilson, for let's face it, who wouldn't vote for him? If'n I could think of a decent Beach Boys pun, you could bet your bottom dollar I'd stick it right here, an by Jove you'd be fallin off your chair for the hilarity of it all.

But spare a thought for those who weren't so lucky. Those who didn't find themselves on the right side of the party lines. Those who were caught receiving a 'sports massage' in a Belfast hotel in the middle of an election campaign for the most socially conservative political party since Ian Paisley could sit in place for more than a half hour without urinating uncontrollably. Nevertheless, Paul Berry's valiant effort to convince the nation that ability to govern and sexual preferences were unconnected fell some way short, though picking up over 2000 first-preference votes in Newry and Armagh district is not to be sniffed at. Northern Ireland: We're Getting There!

So that's it! Another election under the belt - the Northern Irish have more politicians and elections per head than any country on the earth - and things have more or less panned out as expected. Trimble and Hume retired to international diplomacy, Paisley can only eat soup, his son's a bollickin fool; it won't be long til Gerry's the only piece left on the board since '97. Strange how these things pan out.

And as if that weren't enough! Today the Langwith College Volleyball legends, nay, ubermensch ass-kickin allgunsblazin KINGS AMONGST FRIGGIN SERFS kicked all manner of posterior cross the aul court in a stunnin three-set thriller wi more twists than a book wi a lotta twists in. FUCK YES. Every man (and woman) jack o us played out their gorram skins the day, all wi Albi's Napoleonic leaderships skillz teachin them there clowns exactly what time it is. Hammer Time, is what. We Hammered Yez Time, is more specific. A bloody marvellous end to the term was had by all. Albi, Steve, Dan, Naomi, Simon, Raph, Lou, Lucy, Phlip, Lou's fella, Naomi's mate, Joelle (we miss you!), we gave 'em a helluva fight, an never stopped believin. And that makes us goddamn mighty. Like ducks. Like mighty ducks. All our ancestors are lookin down an goin 'here, they've got some mad skillz, this lot.' An then drinkin an debauchin an discussin fine arts an whatever else they do in the great beyond. More power to em. But you take your victories where you can, and hold em close, for there's few things warmer than a win well won. Except maybe a fine lookin lass lyin next t'you. Hard to quantify, in concrete terms, though. Certain assumptions must be made. Certain posts must be ended.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Pitch 'n' Putt, Human Kindness, and a very special birthday greeting

Two great writers out on a Sunday afternoon in bloody terrible weather, playin the most infuriating game on the planet. Are there literary possibilities in the game of golf? The purity of a dash to the finish, where only strength of mind and clarity of thought count? Massive forearms help, I guess, an $3000 drivers, an havin the free time to turn professional... nevermind. Golf is the closest thing to chess you can do standin up. Nothin like three pairsa waterproofs, a wooly hat an a bout o hypothermia to take y'away from the world for a bit.

Beckett ain't all that bad, either. Havin actually seen his work performed, it suddenly makes sense. Studyin the text is pointless, an it takes a certain kind of genius to pull off such a seamless transition from written word to performed art, maybe performed reality. Endgame an Waiting For Godot in the right hands make for some transfixin viewing, that strikes its mark wi the greatest force when you recognise the players as aspects o yourself. Not only that, but it manages to keep a sensea humour about itself, somethin Joyce alternately struggled with an captured perfectly, dependin on whether he was composin for that intolerable bastard Stephen Dedalus or not. Ulysses is a crackin book, no matter what mantle o greatness might be thrust upon it, just because it gets the point so perfectly, inhabits the character o Leopold Bloom so entirely, like no one has done before or since. 1922. Unreal. An o course, seein him fuck up a drive on the pitch 'n' putt is comedy gold. Jimmy woulda approved.

So Fusion was on last night, a show o highs an lows. There's some extremely talented folks out there. Woulda liked to have seen more of em. But it turned out to be when we got home that the best story emerged. After orderin Efe's (lovely pizza), we told the delivery guy that Amy said hi, all of us bein slightly tripped out by hunger. He remembered seein Amy a couple weeks previous, huddled in the corner in a similar fashion. The conclusion was obvious.

"You are pregnant!!"

Before rushin back to the van. He reappeared seconds later with a handful of strawberry flavoured lollies for the newly expectant mother. People are wonderful.

But not as wonderful as this dude here, who recently celebrated his twenty-second birthday. Here we see him in earlier times (on the left), recoverin from a nasty bouta sunburn, as was his wont. Happy Birthday Aaron! You are the wind beneath my wings.