Thursday, September 30, 2010

I just woke up

The feeling of coming home from lovely sleepy Issum and being tumbled from the last languid dregs of summer into this past month can be summed up crudely but succinctly in the first two bars of this song (aaww, remember The Rakes?)

Back in college, part-time staff have been axed. All of a sudden (as it seems), just as we were starting to forget the whole sordid business a little bit, the country has again been sucker-punched with debt that's hard to fathom - imagine being suddenly saddled with full UK university debts, for a course you never chose, never attended, and didn't even wangle a decent hoodie out of.
Most of the world think we're spanners run by a drunk, and it seems like we might agree. (An aside - why, when googling Angela Merkel, is the first suggestion "angela merkel cleavage"? ...Oh. Yes, I see.)
Essentially, woe. Woe is us.

There's a certain attitude that seems to me to be the prevailing wind to a certain degree, and it boils down to this: "feck it". In a way though, I didn't expect it to make a hideous economic downturn this... Cute. Now it seems like you might as well just run with that ludicrous business idea you were too busy holding down or paving the way for a respectable job during the boomtime to entertain. Now, you might as well go for it - who knows what might grow from all this seriously turned earth, and if it all goes belly-up, you can just blame it on the hostility of the (altogether now) current financial climate.
I mean, there are FOUR different new milkshake shops in the city centre! There's a leprechaun museum! Crepe emporiums! More floral-patterned boutiques than you can shake a cloche at! Oohh, let's all just hold hands and skip down the cobble stones.

In other mad-eyed topics, this month I've been watching and thoroughly enjoying Boardwalk Empire. First impressions were that I can entirely understand how the pilot alone cost $15 million. It's all such a carnival of weird detail (the boardwalk incubator exhibition, anyone?) and at least to my kind of eyes looks to have been exhaustively researched. It's clever, it's funny, and it's damned handsome.

And the clothes, the clothes. Nucky's shouty ties and tack-sharp suits. The drop-waist heaven of dresses. The hats.

It's so richly shot. They really make full use of Buscemi's Slavic goblin face, having realised that it's shown to best advantage when looking a) sardonic or b) noble despite itself. I notice that his chameleon character has also been granted, intentionally or not, the rather unfair advantage of careful anachronism - when someone goes off on some stagily dated rant, there he is to slip the merest little frisson of modern-day smugness into his snappy retort, or, say, neatly lever Kelly McDonald's too-good-to-be-true feminist Madonna into a debate on women's suffrage against two big bad patriachs.

True, maybe they self-consciously leave in realistic awkward pauses that just seem too HUGE in HBO format, and maybe Buscemi lacks a certain necessary menace, but whatever. I'll be watching.

And finally, this blog has broken my heart. It's just.. Too good.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


On Sundays here, Lidl and Mercedona close early (I say early, I mean sometime before 5) but Oysho, Women's Secret, Pull and Bear, and €2 tackmarket type things do not - essentially, you can buy lingerie and teddy bears, but not groceries. WOE

(I'm bound to do a proper freakout post about the first two sometime - the wine section alone is enough to send the average Irish student into palpitations. TOO MUCH, TOO CHEAP, AAAHHH)

Mad mad mad(rid)

I have now been in Madrid for five days. I arrived at a bright and sunny morning hour last Wednesday after no sleep and launched straight into a day of apartment hunting with two equally bemused coursemates, which was a little painful.

Thus far I have learnt that spaniards/Madrileños are mad for:

Fur. There appear to be a greater concentration of middle-aged women with cigarettes in fur coats here than in any other city I have visited.
...And I've been to Riga.

Cautious road-crossing. Being a naturally meek crosser from a nation of happy-go-lucky jaywalkers, this suits me down to the ground. This seems to be a city designed with pedestrians in mind - an arthritic suptugenerian can be half a street away when the crossing alarm (which generally sounds somewhere between a sci-fi lasergun shootout and a nest of baby cyborg birds tweeting for food, very satisfying) sounds, and still have ample time to get across the road before it turns red. Lovely.

Preventing identity theft. Whenever you pay for anything by laser, you have to produce government ID. Which is a hassle and a half for one as scattered/fearful of theft as myself - do I LOOK like I got it together enough to either apply for a Garda age card (it's only been, oh, two and a half years) or learn to drive before I left home?

Unfortunate hair.
Now, to be fair, the vast majority of folk I've seen actually have quite acceptable hairstyles, and there's hardly a lack of profoundly stupid-looking hair back at home. There's just a sliiightly greater tolerance for liberal gel application/unfortunate fringes/strangely elaborate hairpiling here. And this is the first place I've seen a new and hideous crossbreed stalk the streets (well, metros. Well, one metro.): The Dreadmullet.
It's pretty much exactly what you're picturing.

Putting milk in juice. Pascual and all those juicy-type companies seem to sell juices with added skimmed milk- and to my bewilderment it's actually not that bad.

B-cup bras. According to Oysho, an underwear-and-confusing-sleepwear vendor, every Spanish woman must wear a B cup, as it's quite literally all they stock.. Puzzling.
Not as puzzling as their clothing however, most of which can't seem to decide if it wants you to wear it to the shops (by Tesco's rules, that is) or to bed.
I'm pretty sure the dungaree-pyjama combo has yet to catch on at home.

However, Madrileños are apparently not mad for:

Cats. In five days I have seen an unusually short human in a cat costume, cat teddies, cat décor, but nary an actual feline in this whole sorry city. Those are disgraceful odds.

Stable internet connections. A world of impotent rage has been mine.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy new year!

...To celebrate the new decade, the nation has decided to warp back to 1960.


Monday, December 7, 2009

What a woman.

It's easy to forget among all the prevalent doom and gloom that actually, not everyone in the big bad world is in it purely for themselves. There are still incredibly courageous people out there.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not 'alf

This about sums up my current mindset.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Lisbon Debate (/Debacle)

So here we are, on the eve of voting, at the Cowen-alleged end of the road.
The broadcasting moratorium is well in place, and polls close in seven hours.
And what a ludicrous road it's been.

In the blue corner, the Yes campaign, suppliers of wishy-washy "We belong" posters, buoyed by the yuppieish BESS poster children that seem to make up the bulk of Generation Yes and saddled with the dubious privilege of Michael O'Leary's support.
In the red corner, the No campaign, whose posters seem in the main to be churned out (and I do mean churned out) by Coir, purveyors of the fear-mongering, the petulant ("no means NO") and the downright offensive (apparently an eerily similar theme was used in campaigns opposing Ireland's joining the EEC in the early seventies- go figure) and whose recurrent figurehead is of course the incorrigible Declan Ganley. An unsettling figure at best, he raises numerous concerns for the Irish public, which can be boiled down pretty simply.

The mud-slinging motored through amusing to arrive at depressing fairly quickly, especially on round two, and offered no help to a nation blankly staring once again into the same clunking (and clunky) cement mixer, unsure whether it was more likely to smother our ailing island altogether or build us the famed "better europe".

By ten tonight the die will be cast in what has boiled down to what amounts to an eenie-meenie game of chance for a (probably unsettling) number of voters. The spectre of this telephone book-sized doorstop of a treaty seems about to lift at least partially from over Irish heads- it's out of our hands now, we're set to cry. The ball would appear to be moving to the Czech court.

Put on the popcorn.