Monday, September 2, 2013

Electric Picnic 2013

One thought before I let the photographs tell it all:

Mindfield (The literary and reading section) was duller, apart from a couple of exceptions, lacking the oomph of previous years, minus a few familiar faces or even some new ones I thought should/could/might have made an appearance. Perhaps the new management are pitching the festival more towards the music/younger end of the market - the selling out of 35,000 tickets would indicate a commercial success. If Mindfield continues to shed dynamic in terms of variety and calibre of writers/performers, they will lose at least ONE punter - and that should really worry the management-(as the younger generation would say) LOL.

Inch by inch I got there - thirteen thousand extra punters does make a difference to the journey.

On the way to the main arena, red umbrellas instead of red carpet.
Stradbally Hall, in the near distance, allows the Cosby family (owners of the land) to keep an eye on proceedings.
Stuart Carolan (creator of RTE crime drama Love/Hate) and actor Aidan Gillen held court on Literary Stage. AG read a Seamus Heaney poem. They talked about their working life -AG said he often felt like "walking away" from it all.
 A question to SC - "Have you had any reaction to Love/Hate from the criminal world?" SC shifted around on his seat and after at least 20 seconds averting his eyes told the spellbound audience he had indeed got 'enquiries' as to whether he had inside information, so accurate was his portrayal in Love/Hate of a particular crime.
The Poetry Divas strutted their stuff on Sunday morning, telling us about shoes so high and narrow, they gather your toes and cause you to totter, about the Irish using swearing as punctuation, about shopping for jeans and seeing "an infinity of huge arses" in the boutique fitting room angled mirrors, about a passion for a red headed man. In the row in front me, three young men snoozed and rested, obviously recovering from the night before. Watching their reaction as they woke up(open mouths, wide eyes and eventual guffaws) to the sight and sound of a poem about breasts and the various names they are called - hooters, brad pitts, fried eggs, melons, with photographs to illustrate, was as entertaining as the poem itself.
Musical highlights were English band and performers of the classic "Five years Time": Noah and the Whale
Daithi - a finalist in the All Ireland Talent show - proving once more you do not have to win a competition to go on to a successful career. The Strypes, a hugely praised young band from Cavan, showed their talent - even though their sound was a tad over-produced and frantic for me.
And the Dublin Gospel Choir who fabulously roused the Sunday morning crowd with songs such as BeyoncĂ© (Crazy in Love) David Guetta  (Titanium) and Queen (Somebody to Love)

 The washing machine installation to remind me of all that work building up at home while I was off roaming the fields in Stradbally.
As before the weather obliged - blue skies, thankfully, most of the time.
The weekend was overseen by the loftiest and most influential participant of all.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

No Added Salt, Sugar, or Fat, Bread

Recipes are not my forte. I am not one of those lucky people who derives comfort and pleasure from culinary activities. Cooking and baking are duties, not hobbies.  However, in these days of salt, sugar and fat-loaded EVERYTHING, I really want to share a recipe.  (Makes FOUR loaves at the one time, so you are also saving on electricity.)

 Two Pounds of Wholemeal Flour
8 Ounces of Pinhead Oatmeal
4 Ounces of Wheatgerm
4 Teaspoons of Bread Soda
4 Large Eggs
40 Fluid Ounces
 of Buttermilk

 Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Centigrade

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl

Rub out all lumps from the baking soda before adding.

Add all the wet ingredients and stir well.

Pour the mixture into four greased loaf tins and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Bake in the middle shelf of oven for 55 minutes

Wrap in a tea towel and allow to cool for a few hours before wrapping in cling film and placing (three loaves) in the freezer.

Of course, you keep one out to sample immediately.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Love YouTube

Since February 2005 when three former PayPal employees created the video-sharing website, YouTube, the way we view has utterly changed.

As well as its massive popularity as a way to access music videos (YouTube clip of South Korean Psy's Gangnam Style has been viewed 1.7 billion times)

 YouTube is now proving more popular than television as it allows selective viewing.
So for those of us who would rather do just about anything than sit through some of Ireland's so-called chat shows (sorry, RTE) the best bits can be viewed on good old YouTube.
 instead of having to sit through a full programme.

So when I heard that the Saturday Night Show had featured Linda Martin doing a version of
Daft Punk's  fabulous summer hit Get Lucky

and better still, she was getting roasted for her version, I had to see for myself.

If there's anything I like more than being able to select the bits of telly I want to watch, it's being able to select those bits of telly that show women of  a certain age refusing to 'go gentle into that good night.' 

Okay, it's not a great version of the song, but still....

You Go, Linda!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Saying 'Goodbye' to my car of thirteen years

A relationship of thirteen years spans a range of life events. Parting is sorrowful. Okay, so my car is not human. But often I felt as if my little Suzuki Swift was a physical extension of me.  Another foot maybe. She even had a name - Suzy.
A special privacy was achieved in the solitude of my car.
In the quietness of my little space, worries were analysed, plans formulated, stories hatched. Suzy saw the arrival of my daughter, now twelve, as well as family bereavements.  She was my reliable steed during house moves, as I stuffed her little interior to the brim with furniture and fittings. She loyally transported me to readings, music sessions, meetings, festivals, supermarkets, job interviews, study days, book launches, visiting relatives, hospital appointments, schools, football matches, weddings, funerals, holidays. A constant in my life for thirteen long years.
Together we sped the roads of Kildare.
And now as she leaves me to start a new chapter in her life, I say 'Goodbye' to Suzy.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gone Girl: Super Yarn, Dud Ending.

Having noted its aeons-long presence on the bestseller list and its ubiquity in the prime position on every bookshelf in the country and resolutely determined not to follow the crowd and just buy it because everyone else has, (a la Fifty Shades of Grey) curiosity eventually wore me down. The first line helped too: "When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with."

Gillian Flynn,  former Entertainment Weekly writer and critic and author of two previous novels, has not only created a bang up to date, financial crisis and all, study of the dissolution of a marriage in Gone Girl, she has also written a novel that while I was reading, I thought:
 If I was ever to write a novel, this is the one I'd want it to be most like.
Not just because it's sold millions of copies worldwide and is now being made into a movie but because I could see, hear and smell  Flynn's characters, the detail was so apt and accurate.  
Notwithstanding the dud ending that made me want to hurl Gone Girl against the wall, I remained glued and compelled until I got to its implausible, thrown together conclusion.
Gillian Flynn,
if you're reading this, I demand an ending re-write.
Before that ending, though, she mixes insights on the complexities of marriage into a tense thriller using an original, accessible writing style. Thrill-lit, maybe? 
Lines I loved:
"We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time."
Nick Dunne, husband, on the impact of the internet.
"I'd fallen in love with Amy because I was the ultimate Nick with her. Loving her made me superhuman, it made me feel alive."
Nick Dunne's on his wife when they got married. 
"She's a cool girl. Men always say that as the defining compliment, don't they? Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs into her mouth."
Amy Elliott Dunne's version of her husband's impression of her when they got married.
"Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to our spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you? That's how the hating first began."
Amy Elliott Dunne's diary entry on the day she disappeared.
"Most beautiful, good things are done by women people scorn."
Amy Elliott Dunne on the family 'menial' jobs done by women such as planning holidays and children's birthdays
If you're one of the millions who read Gone Girl, what did you think?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Waiting in Orlando, Florida

A study somewhere suggests that the average adult spends the equivalent of a year waiting in a queue.
 I won't risk guessing how much of our one week visit over Easter to Orlando, Florida, USA, was spent waiting in line. Lines at coffee shops - fifteen minutes, fast food outlets - forty five minutes, restaurants - twenty minutes, restrooms - ten minutes. The most memorable, though,  was the line inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, on the way to

As we moved slowly along,

contemplating how Harry never had to wait this long to get into his beloved boarding school, I admit the two hours did fly.

When finally we got there, five minutes later, we were outside again.

All the queuing aside, you would have to be spilling over with mean spiritedness not to be infected with wonder at the spectacle of the Orlando Theme Parks.
The colourful underwater life
and the dolphin shows
at Sea World.

The madcap Horror Make up Show at Universal Studios that was more comedy than horror,

The Jurassic Park ride, which I sat out due to a fractured wrist(long story, for another blog post) 

While sitting out on a grass verge, I watched the world go by and eavesdropped (nosey person that I am) conversations, mostly people arguing about what they wanted to do next, such is the hugeness of activity  choice.



The hilarious Simpsons ride, on which I did venture, only to be mistaken by Maggie for a soother, and be vigourously chewed.
Fantastic break dance displays by Streetbreakz.

The stunning Aquatica,  where man made beaches and endless water slides entertained my fellow travellers and allowed me to do what I enjoy most -

put my feet up and savour the greatness of Lorrie Moore's Birds of America


Monday, March 11, 2013

Feminism - RIP?

If Feminism is about equality and choice, then why are young women more insecure than ever? I would have thought that by now, the whole how you dress thing would be the very least feminism would have sorted out. As never before young girls are being targetted and influenced by images giving them the message - the less you wear the more attention you will get and your looks are the only thing that matter about you - whah?
The message in a Dove (skin products) clip posted on Brigid O'Connor's lovely blog here
has been going around in my head for weeks. (Just in case you can't access, it highlights images of perfect female bodies, cosmetic surgery and the pressures imposed by the beauty industry as witnessed by a young girl) 
And if I needed convincing just how up close and personal this pressure is, my recent experience of my eleven year old daughter's venture to the local GAA junior disco, certainly did the job. "But everyone dresses like that," was the response to my protest at the micro shorts and t-shirt. Sure enough, a queue of bare, shivering, calf-like legs lined outside the clubhouse entrance. Each young girl dressed (or not, if you prefer) identically. The starkest contrast was the young male apparel - everyday jeans and football shirts - pressure certainly not equal here.
In Raising Girls, Australian author Steve Biddulph writes a chapter on 'Too sexy, too soon'

"The aim of advertising is to attack your mental health - to worry you and make you discontent. If you want to sell products to a girl, whether she is 4 or 14, you first have to make her insecure - about her looks, friends, clothes, weight, skin and hair. Everything about her is an opportunity to fail."
Biddulph offers sound advice to mothers for helping their daughters resist the onslaught of commercial interests, including no telly in bedrooms and talking a lot to them instead of them relying on soaps and rom-coms for influence and information.
Mind you, I need a bit of a reminding myself on how to stay strong in the face of it all.
I'm hoping Clarissa Pinkola Estes'  much praised book will help.