Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Exams are over. Time for Holidays!

Right, exams are over, relaxation has been very much had; I think it's time for a return!

As it turned out the much vaunted "stress of exams" turned out to be not very stressful at all. As soon as you sit down in your chair it's as if all the pressure has been released, you know what you know and accept your faith, whatever it may be. A surge of adrenaline brings details you never thought you could remember to the forefront of your cortex and suddenly, you realise, you can do this.

So exams went well but that's all over, the important thing is Summer! And a strange feeling this Summer is. I am no longer a pupil, I am not yet a student. I have no idea what the end of this Summer will bring except adventure. So to make the most of it, 9 of my friends and I are heading west next week for a week-long holiday in The Maharees of Kerry for sun, surf and sand.

Of course the above image and hopes are a bit idealised. What we'll probably end up with is clouds and rain, some very cold surfing (still extremely fun) and many evenings spent in the local pub drinking to our hearts delight. But what we're looking forward to most of all is the simple craic of freedom. I'll try to post updates while we're down there but even a simple internet signal is very much a luxury we probably won't be getting.

But who cares, there'll be stories to tell when we return, stories of drunken escapades, wetsuit rash, sociopathic pranks and "genius" ideas. Until then I leave you with this, make the most of this Summer, it may be the last you ever spend with all your friends. Make it last a lifetime.

Over and out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Game Of Thrones Pre-Finale Review

HBO have struck a goldmine with Game of Thrones. No network has ventured seriously into the realm of fantasy; but this first attempt could set a trend for years. Sex, gore, foul mouths and more sex; HBO have stumbled upon the perfect recipe for getting viewers to tune in, and we're just happy they've started a nerdy show guaranteed to last for years.

Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin's award winning series "A Song Of Ice And Fire", is coming to the conclusion of it's second series next week and is one of the most successful shows of recent years. Nominated for 13 Emmy's for it's first season alone, the show has impressed critics and viewers alike. Viewership frequently approaches 4 million for each episode premiere (an outstanding number on cable television) it looks set to run for the full span of the 7 books with ease.

So what's the secret to the show's success? Most say it lies in the raw sexuality and violence of the show, which is currently unmatched by anything on American television. Most notable is it's frequent use of the method of "sexposition" which is when a character gives away vital information and backstory ("juxtaposition") whilst having sex with a lowly prostitute. For some reason (can't tell why) this engages the viewers on a new level that most shows don't. There is always something to look at in game of Thrones, whether it be the outstanding Maltese or Icelandic scenery, the plethora of in-your-face breasts or the spray of blood as another red-shirt bites the dust. It's impossible to look away.

What of the storyline? There is war in the seven kingdoms and everyone and their dog is trying to get their hands (and paws) on the Iron Throne. The story revolves around the 4 main families in the land of Westeros; the noble Stark northeners, the royal but proud Baratheons, the rich and powerhungry Lannisters and the vengeful, hell-bent Targaryens. The game of thrones has begun and it has spiralled out of any one man's control. The show rapidly splits into following many different story lines all running at once. Currently we have the stories of Robb Stark's war in the North, John Snow's travails North of The Wall, Daenerys Targaryen's exploits in the city of Quarth, Theonn Greyjoy's fight to prove his mettle in Winterfell, Bronn Stark' fight for his life in the same city, Tyrion Lannister defending his home of King's Landing, also following Queen Cersei and Sansa Stark inside said walls, and finally Arya Stark as she makes her way through Westoros. And these are just the main characters, not to speak of the tonnes of smaller roles that flit between episodes. It is a testament to the writers (of which Martin himself is a part of) that they manage to tell the stories they do in their 10, 1 hour episodes a season.

The acting is magnificent, Sean Bean may have departed after the first season but Peter Dinklage has filled his shoes considerably and his charcter Tyrion is an enigma, not quite a hero, not quite a villian, and you can tell he doesn't know which he is himself.. The supporting cast is magnificant, with particularly strong performances from Lena Headly and Maisie Williams.

If you aren't watching yet then I strongly recommend you start, and if you're going to then start from the very start or else you'll get very confused, very fast. But at least try, even if you've never entered the genre before, I promise you, you won't regret the spectacle.

Winter is coming.

Over and out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Essential Listening - Little Green Cars

This was before the crowd moved in.
Bit of a party as you can see.

So for Summer 2011 3 of my friends and I went to Ireland's largest music festival; Oxegen. 4 days of sun, rain, mud, music and madness in a field in Kildare and certainly one of the greatest experiences of my life. During this time we saw all the big acts; Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys, Weezer and so on, but on Saturday afternoon we walked into one of the small tents and were graced by the presence of Little Green Cars on stage. We hadn't planned to see them but we stayed and listened. And what a show it was, intimate, lyrical and personal, the small crowd gathered and stayed to witness them.

A Dublin based 5-piece band, they draw heavily from acts like Arcade Fire and White Stripes, but with their added magical element of 4 and 5 piece harmony vocals. This choral effect is backed by a rock/folk fusion of semi-acoustics, electrics, excellent use of mixed percussion, and (like White Stripes) knowing when to be silent. All this and more can be heard on the debut single "The John Wayne" which can be heard here.

The band on Other Voices

2012 is set to be their breakout year, following appearances at Oxegen, Electric Picnic and Arthur's Day they have plans for an upcoming album and are headlining gigs of their own. They've appeared on both RTE's The Cafe and Other Voices (which can be seen below). So if you like them then help spread the word and get them into the public's vision. I firmly believe they could grow to be one of Ireland's best exports in years. Their subtlety, lyrical nature and great fusions deserve to be heard and I hope you'll love them as much as I do.

So I leave you with their performance on Other Voices from earlier in the year, doing a great rendition of "Them". Be sure to also check out their songs "Harper Lee" and "Love Took Me Down To The River To Silence Me".

Over and out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Avengers Review! - Not

Okay I know I should be reviewing Avengers Assemble right now but I'm simply too tired so I thought I'd give you a quick update instead. That review will come soon.

Leaving Cert Construction Studies Day Practical was today, basically a four hour practical exam without power tools and a whole lotta stress. The piece looked simple enough but unfortunately I ran out of time and my project remained unfinished, but in a reasonable state. I found the time constraints to be unreasonable as such a rush seemed inadequate for a delicate piece as which we were making. But I digress, it's done now and it's up to next year's poor bastards to complain.
Looked a bit like this, but then again they look a bit like this every year.

Exams are fast approaching and I think I've just realised that now, updates may become sparse over the next month as I dig in for some hopefully successful cramming, although I suppose my readers will be doing the same. Good luck to you all by the way, it's been hard going and we all need a break, but the rewards will come for our actions now. I just want to see the first one to crack and go bonkers. Offering odds of 2/5 on Mark Ennet ;).

Over and out.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lying In Bed Drunk In A Galway Hotel

So yes, I have had a few drinks as I lie here in bed in this Athenry hotel. Yes, I probably chose the wrong time to blog. Yes, I have work at 7 am in the morning.

But yet I lie here contemplating my life as usual, only this time it doesn't seem as dark as before. A new light has been brought into my life by a girl I really like. Her name is Sophie Warren and she has picked me up and fixed the pieces back together. Her smile is unbridled joy and she does everything in the name of care and affection. I just wanted to take the opportunity of this short post to tell you a bit about her and to update you on my well-being.

Thank you Sophie, you're the shining light in my life right now.

Over and out.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Breaking The First Rule - Let's Talk About Fight Club

In everyone's life there are a couple of life changing experiences brought on through media. I've had a couple of my own, through music - my first hearing of Tubular Bells, television - as I lay in a hospital bed and experienced Band of Brothers, literature - Chronicles of Narnia, and film.

Film is where this post comes in. There are movies which have gripped us, thrilled us and ripped us to emotional shreds over the years. Personally it's been movies such as Ned Kelly, Instinct and The Matrix.
None have affected me quite so much as Fight Club though. It's cynical, it's gritty, it's smart and it's bloody entertaining.

Our unnamed 'hero' (psychotically played by Edward Norton) has reached the bottom of the pile, an insomniac, he starts attending support groups to release his emotions and find some peace. All this is interrupted by the intrusion on Marla Singer; a live-fast-die-young harlot played by who else other than Helena Bonham Carter. Our hero's life is completely thrown into chaos by the explosion of his apartment, upon which he decides to move in with a sociopath soap merchant he met by chance on a plane journey. This man is Tyler Durden. This man is anarchy incarnate. This man is portrayed by Brad Pitt in a role which should have gotten him an Oscar. Tyler teaches a new way of life to our man and soon all hell breaks lose after they form an underground club in which they beat the living hell out of each other and plenty of willing participants in testosterone fueled battles of primal fury. But this is not a movie about a fight club, it is so much more.

This is a movie about abandoning the system, starting your own, and screwing the rules to do what you see fit to form your Utopia. It is incredibly smart too, you simply will not see the twist coming until it's too late, by then it's a whole new movie. It will provoke a deep passion in you, it will stir you, it will thrill you, it will challenge you, it will educate you, it will entertain you. Fight Club has it all. And trust me, without it, you can't really be sure whether you have anything yourself.

You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

 It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

Over and out.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

F.C.J. Orchestra - End of an Era

On Friday the 13th (true story), an era came to an end in F.C.J.; the last students to have bared witness to the manic genius that was Mr. Gearoid Grant played their final concert in the uniform of questionably green taste.

The concert was undoubtedly our best performance, not necessarily for the orchestra, but for the several side projects put together entirely by us the students, such as the fantastic Choral Group; singing Dog Days by Florence & The Machine, which was put together by the magnificently talented Hannah Deacon. (Bonus points for us learning that song in 2 hours the day before surely?)
Next up was the Jazz Group, arranged and sort of conducted by Chris Redmond, with our 'alternate' interpretation of Nina Simone's Feelin' Good. A (small) mention for the Trad Group too I suppose.

But this night wasn't really about the performance, this night was about the 6th years, who shall soon be departing and separating. I have the pleasure of truthfully saying I got to spend 6 years with a group of outstandingly talented and versatile people, I've beheld rip-roaring sax groups, hauntingly beautiful Irish airs and had some amazing jam sessions with the Drum and Bass section. It was never always about the music though, it was about the time spent together and the laughs we shared on those weekday evenings.

We were a group of distinct people in those far off days of first year, but heralded into a small music room by the chaos incarnate Grant, we soon melded together for fear of him singling us out, we were the last of such groups to be hazed in his amazing way, I pity the next couple of year groups behind us, they never had that shared experience, they appear worse off for it.

We went halfway across the world with each other and not a bad thought was shared between us, we're one great big, slightly weird, family. We took America by storm (okay maybe a strong breeze), but it was our time together there that made the trip, that picture on Time Square, Bohemian Rhapsody on the bus, Paul the bus driver. The memories will live forever.

So I guess this is a lament, a eulogy, a goodbye, we may never share the performing stage as a group together, but I hope though we go our separate ways we may always be a special group on that ever changing stage of life. I'll miss you guys.

Over and out.