Monday, January 30, 2012

George Clooney and the Descendants

The Descendants Poster

The yawning blue seas of Hawaii made a pleasant change from the non-stop rain in Kildare.
Private ranch on Kauai's South Side
Director Alexander Payne  allowed the camera to linger patiently on the heart stopping scenery while presenting a movie, with an entirely Hawiian composed backing track (adapted from the novel by

Hawaii author Kaui Hart Hemmings) that made me laugh and shed tears in almost the same scene.
The ever watchable George Clooney  plays attorney, wealthy landowner and detached father and husband Matt King, whose world is turned upside down when his wife suffers a tragic boating accident. The story twists when Matt discovers his now comatose wife has been having an affair and he heads off, two daughters and a friend on tow, to track down the adulterer.
 Slapstick and sadness weave tightly.
 The adulterer (played by Matthew Lilliard) is also married, with a friendly, attractive wife and two gorgeous young sons. Lilliard's  changing facial expression, from beaming smile to eye-widened horror, when Matt introduces himself with the words "I think you knew my wife", sent the cinema audience into howls of laughter. Seconds later when King updates him on his wife's comatose, dying state, silence fell again.
The scene where Matt says a heartwrenching goodbye to his comatose wife elicited a chorus of sniffing along my seat just moments after him generating laughs from a wry one liner.  A night of rollercoasting emotions.
Some nuggets of wisdom too:
 George Clooney's 
character, Matt King, on being the inheritor of large tracts of valuable land and the importance of being careful how you spend your wealth:
"You give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coffee shops I love

The ambience in some coffee shops makes the experience so much more than a cup of coffee.  There's the smell of baking bread and brewing coffee, the sound of chat and laughter, the luxury of comfortable seating while chatting with pals or even sitting alone, reading or writing.

My favourite is An Tearmann (pronounced 'On Charmin') Kilcullen, Co Kildare, where I spend half an hour most Saturday mornings -tough job but someone's got to do it - while waiting for my badminton playing thirteen year old.

You could say it's a bookshop and craftshop all rolled into one.

The scones are straight from the oven, still warm and melt in the mouth.

Another favourite is Cupcake Riverbank Arts Centre  in Newbridge Co Kildare.
From your table you can watch Newbridge pass by.

while soaking up the theatre atmosphere.

It's a pity more coffee shops don't open at night. Surely a more sociable and alcohol-free (and much cheaper) alternative to the pub?

Any favourite coffee shop recommendations?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Read Your Favourite Author Night

Once a year, it's nice to change the format and read a favourite piece from a favourite writer. Clane writers had a belated Christmas get together last night and a range of personally selected favourite writings were brought along. The great thing about this piece of sociability, as well as catching up with your writerly friends, is that you get to find out about authors who are new to you or to hear about ones you had (nearly) forgotten about.

American author and poet, Maya Angelou (poem Phenomenal Woman), Irish poet W.B.Yeats (Sailing to Byzantium) American travel journalist, Martha Gelhorn, Wilfred Owen (poem Anthem for doomed youth), Australian author and illustrator Shaun Tan (Children's story Tales from Outer Suburbia) featured.

My own choices: A Tale of Workers Michael Corrigan (from Prairie Schooner)
and Frida Kahlo visits Ballinasloe and Dancing with Paul Durcan from The Juno Charm
by Nuala Ni Chonchuir.
Reading out someone else's dazzling offerings has to be good for the muse. A bit like singing along to a brilliant song, you always sound like you're in tune.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Prairie Schooner, the 12th day of Christmas

Decorations stashed away in their usual, organised pile, awaiting next year,

I opened my copy of the prairie schooner.
Thanks to a blog post on Nuala Ni Chonchuir's blog I discovered that even in far flung locations such as the University of Nebraska, U.S.A., Irish writers are sprinkling their talents. In his introduction to the Winter 2011 issue, Professor of English at Nebraska and author, Stephen C Behrendt says:
"Irish writing today involves a "specialness" that is both distinct and different from any other.'
Love of nature, loss, loneliness, childhood memories, the creative process, frustrated homemakers and the changes wrought by economic woes, feature.
Some standouts:
Michael Corrigan: A Tale of Workers
"we turned up every day doing the menial things
that make it work for everyone 
as the clever classes played the credit lotto with the nation
then woke one morning to find our country gone."

Jean O'Brien: Moving on
"I have left my father's house.
In the evenings when dusk swallows the land
I feel the slow cooling of loss. Some days
I just long for my heart's home."

Richard O'Toole: The Woman who hated washing machines
(Full marks for great title)
"In the dead of night she would smash them to oblivion with a sledge hammer
All the while her family slept
And in the morning the clothes gleamed
Her husband loved her passionately
But thought she was a little hard on washing machines"

Ciaran O'Driscoll: Catch
"It is good for poets to take their notebooks
to bed with them, for musicians to sleep
within an arm's reach of their instruments"

My favourite was from (the uber-talented)
Nuala ni Chonchuir:  Peach
Told through the eyes of Dominic, a separated man "bent out of shape by loneliness," who strikes up a relationship with pregnant Maud, it grabs from the first sentence:
"A pregnant woman was getting drunk in the back lounge; I could see her through the hatch, from where I sat at the bar."
The turning point in the story which involves Maud's cat, is so perfectly written that I was in the room with them, watching the whole thing implode.

A nice way to round up Christmas.