The sweet, mild temperatures of Christmas 2011 are a real gift after the hassle of last year. Treacherously slippery footpaths, eight inches of built up snow and ice equalled risky driving and much reduced walking for Christmas 2010.
The milder weather is sure not as visually spectacular, though.
The Liffey river Christmas Day 2011
The Liffey river Christmas Day 2010
From my back window Christmas Day 2011
From my back window Christmas Day 2010
And while enjoying an ice-free stroll today along the Liffey, I spotted this heron, who opted to spend Christmas Day 2011, meditating in the centre of the river.
Whatever about the gloomy atmosphere around the country, Christmas had really arrived.
The largest children's choir in Europe sang at the Hallelujah Concerts 2011 held in RDS, Dublin, Monday night, 12 December. Two thousand children belted out a range of rock, pop and folk songs with some backing from The High Kings (it was the other way round - a minor detail)
and other international acts.
Over a hundred schools from all over Ireland participated, and favourites (for me) on the night were a knockout Queen medley (This thing called love, We are the Champions et al) and a rousing rendition of the 16th century Christmas song Gaudete.
Also, Labbi Siffre's Something inside so Strong received a magical makeover by Randolph Matthews and his two thousand backing singers.
And down here in the audience, one pair of eyes (me) anxiously sought out, and eventually spotted, a little ten year girl who had travelled there by school bus with her fellow students from St Conleth's and Mary's Primary School, Newbridge. Not an easy feat when two thousand Christmas hats flew frequently in the air like a flock of crazy birds, Mexican waves rippled tsunami-like through the crowd and the lights went out to reveal the Milky way sparkle of a thousand or so torches.
Shane Hegarty's article in today's Irish Times here got me thinking about the telly and how things have changed since I were a lass.
Gone are the days (in my house anyway)when the family cluster around the one and only box and watch the same programme.
In one room, I've this.
In another, this.
I guess I could come across all disapproving of this anti-social type screen viewing. There's surely nothing very sociable about each of us on our own private screen. But here's the thing: one of the most tired and worn telly programmes, the Late Late Show (RTE One, Friday nights)(Sorry, Ryan) is transformed by a 'modern' way of viewing.
You can now keep your eye on a bunch of internet hecklers, watching the same telly programme as you, who emit a running (often cruel but mostly hilarious) commentary on the show via your lap top.
It was Aaron Sorkin's name on the screenplay ticket what did it. He of The West Wing & The Social Network fame - I assumed one liners would come thick and fast.
Sadly, even Brad Pitt (Billy Beane)at his charming best (marred somewhat by his talking with his mouth full of bread all the way through or constantly spitting in cups-yeech) couldn't save this one dimensional, over long movie.
Okay, it had its moments. I did enjoy the mechanics around the picking of the team, using Jonah Hill's (Peter Brand) unorthodox mathematical formula to project how low priced baseball players with particular skills might perform and from that, forming a winning team of underdogs.
But the pace was not snappy or engaging enough to keep me from wishing Pitt would just get on with it. And judging by the squirming in the seats behind me by three twenty something men and the very audible sound of jaws yawning, I wasn't alone in my opinion.
I will give Aaron Sorkin the benefit of the doubt - he was sharing the screenwriting job with Steven Zaillian which may have curbed the injection of wit.
Here's a quote from Sorkin, showing that even someone with his breadth of talent can have self-doubt:
I love writing but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, "You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, giftless. I'm not your agent and I'm not your mommy, I'm a white piece of paper, you wanna dance with me?" and I really, really don't.