It’s not you, it’s me…

Things have been slipping in NGFMR Towers and I haven’t been posting much recently. The outcry has been similar to when Princess Diana died. One reader (yes, a whole one) left a comment a while ago advising me to get my act together. I feel the need to explain. I haven’t been on extended holiday or on a cider binge or in the throes of an emotional breakdown or caught up in a diplomatic crisis…unfortunately.

The truth is I’ve had some health issues culminating in major surgery to remove a brain tumour in late April. For once, there’s no politically incorrect punchline! I think the technical term is a ‘left-frontal awake craniotomy’. I know what you’re thinking. MY GOD, THE HSE CAN’T EVEN AFFORD ANAESTHETIC THESE DAYS!!!! Don’t panic; I was conscious for a reason. Many thanks to the team down in Cork University Hospital, who took good care of me. I’m not going to bore you with the gory details. I’m recovering one day at a time. So, excuse me. I’m a little shell-shocked at the speed with which something the size of a golf ball has hijacked my life like an ardent jihadist. Funnily enough, the effect is like crashing into a building at speed. But enough about me, how ‘bout them Yankees?? I suppose I’m saying that I’ll try harder to update the blog. Call off the letter-writing campaign and the protests.

I’m outraged at quite a few issues but, since it’s the weekend you’ll have to settle for a review of ‘Sex and the City 2’. Cue title music (and blatant Apple product placement) and Carrie typing, ‘I couldn’t help but wonder if the only reason for making a sequel is the money?’ Carrie Bradshaw might know good ‘Sex…’ but this wasn’t it. It was, oh the irony, a total anti-climax.

Okay, there were some cracking one-liners that offered a glimpse of how good the writing in the series was. Like the first film, Kim Cattrall had most of the best lines. There were some funny scenes like any with Charlotte’s Oirish nanny and Liza Minnelli performing Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ at the gay wedding. Liza looked like she was brought back from the dead especially and pickled in Martini, but still… The costumes and the locations looked amazing. The soundtrack was okay. The leading ladies (and love interests) turned in solid but predictable performances.

At nearly 3 hours it was wayyyyyy too long…not the kind’ve thing any woman would normally complain about. Boom boom! (Note: Many jokes fell flat like this one). It took the same amount of time to win the battle for Middle Earth. They could’ve easily fit it into two hours or less. The plotlines were a bit laboured because the material just isn’t there. Samantha is going through the menopause; Carrie and Big are becoming ‘smug-marrieds’ and staying in too much; Miranda’s boss is an asshole and Charlotte finds child-rearing challenging. It’s not exactly re-inventing the wheel, is it? Many women have all of these problems and aren’t hitting the cocktails just yet.

And then they all go the Middle East for some reason and it descends into ‘Carry On’ style farce, with plenty of semi-offensive stereotypes (Carrie On Spending, maybe). Carrie kisses an ex, Samantha gets arrested for indecency and Charlotte/Miranda have a big chat. And an eternity or so later, they all live happily ever after.

‘Sex and the City’ was a clever book that was developed into a great tv series. It was in and of its time. It ended at just the right time and after a few years, they made a hotly anticipated, decent film version that wrapped up everything satisfactorily. This sequel is as flabby and redundant as ‘Jaws 4’…the one that’s set in an aquarium where the police chief’s son incidentally works. How does the shark even get in?? Don’t get me started…

For all the age-defying magic, the SATC girls look tired. The smiles look stretched and forced. The zeitgeist has passed. The game is up. In one episode they reference the great romantic film, ‘The Way We Were’. I think the formerly single ladies about town would want to be remembered the way they were. They say sex goes hand in hand with death; here’s hoping that the ‘Sex and the City’ franchise is set for a dignified end.

Belltable Unfringed Festival: Theatre you can sink your teeth into!

A good antidote to the January blues this week is the Belltable Unfringed Festival, running until Sunday. It’s got theatre, readings, comedy, music and street performance. There are some free events but for the premium content, all tickets are €10-a bargain at just over the price of a cinema ticket. I’ll be attending most of it so I’ll try to blog as much of it as I can during and after.

The first of the proverbial crop was ‘Cirque De Legume’. The show does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a circus performed using only a chair and a box of vegetables. Sound bizarre? Well, it is.
The show is a madcap hour featuring cabbages barking like dogs; knife-throwing with chillis; tricks by a ‘seal’ being fed carrots from a jar; hypnotism by radish and an joyous ‘a-peeling’ display of affection for an onion. Not to mention the musical finale with a brass section of scallions. If you’d get a kick out of watching someone appear to swallow carrots whole and take bites out of onion like it was an apple and spit/hurl it at a live studio audience, your (somewhat odd) ship has finally come in.

The cast is two clowns, one male and one female, who inject the ‘circus’ with manic energy. Their expressions meant that they also got plenty of laughs when they were standing still. The musical accompaniment is lively and most of the dialogue consists of ‘How bout that?’ and loud exclamations of ‘Cirque de Legume!’ The performers are “graduates of the prestigious Jaques Lecoq School in Paris-a school that specialises in clown, boufoon and burlesque physical comedy”. That’s right, they’ve been to clown college!

It’s definitely straddling the line between madness and genius. Depending on your temperament it could probably go either way but it’s family friendly and good fun. It runs at different times every day until Sunday.

Even though the ‘Cirque’ is totally different, it reminded me of going to see a performance called ‘Loud, fast and out of control’ with dancers from the Daghda Mentoring Programme a few months back. Highlights included a man walking around wearing a papier maché pig’s head and doctor’s scrubs; ‘nurses’ cupping your ear and singing you a song before prescribing glow-stick ‘love pills’ and fake strippers doing dances and making the audience shove money-sized strips of newspaper inside their underwear. Perhaps the funniest moment was a scene in which people were simulating sex on and using ripped up issues of the ‘Limerick Independent’. I asked the guy filming it if I could get a screen grab…for our Christmas card or to display in reception. Oh, and there was a lot of very skilled dancing in it. I genuinely couldn’t decide if it was brilliant or terrible. It was just nuts…best €3 I ever spent!

If you want to take a chance and go to see something, the Unfringed programme is in the local papers, including mine own, and online on There’s a very diverse selection of events and there is stuff on at lunchtime and in the afternoon as well as at a few different venues.

Tomorrow, hoping to get to ‘Spinal Krapp’ (see this week’s Limerick Profile on for an interview with the playwright); the rehearsed reading of ‘For the Birds’ and ‘Pure Sketchy’ with Choke Comedy Improv (there’s a review of a previous performance by them on this blog somewhere). To the Batmobile!…

Latest camera club stuff

It’s a New Year and Limerick Camera Club is back. One of the resolutions is to keep at the photography and maybe even get better at it.

Just a snap of the bridge near the lock at the start of the Park Canal. The result of the one afternoon I took pictures in the sub zero weather. My hand kept freezing and I literally couldn’t operate the camera. Got a few nice shots but nothing special.

The black and white is of the front of the opera house in Nantes in sunnier climes— converted from colour. Love all the lines in it but the experts tell me I have a problem with ‘converging verticals’. As if the hypochondria wasn’t bad enough!! Goin to check out the suggested online tutorial, ‘Getting it straight’, to try to solve that.

Great feedback as always and at the first competition night of 2010, the pics came third in Beginners’ Colour and first in Beginners’ black and white. Unfortunately there were only four and three entries in each category respectively ha ha. Back to the drawing board…

Christmas 09-The Easter bunny’s funeral and the day after tomorrow…

Despite numerous attempts at trying to do myself in with alcohol poisoning, I survived Christmas. It was a good one. Notable mentions include Limerick Races on St Stephens’ Day. Last year passed in a blur of queuing for the bar and making jokes about a horse called ‘My Fella’ and although it was quieter this year due to the big freeze, we passed it in a blur of queuing for the bar and making jokes about a horse called ‘Some Dude’. I also had my annual good night in the Icon. To think it only requires 10 hours of drinking beforehand!

Another great night had to be the fancy dress New Year’s in Ballybunion. Snowmen, Snap/Crackle/Pop, rollerskate Barbie (she even survived on the skates)…it was like the Easter Bunny’s funeral at the house party. Inspired by the races, five of us dressed as jockeys (we got some serious mileage out of those jokes), complete with hobby horses with sound effects. It was the first time that horses were allowed in either The Exchange or JD’s so we made the most of it.

Christmas is generally quiet for news but 2009 was fairly eventful. I know we’re always talking about the weather in this country but it gets more and more like ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ every day here! Ireland’s not equipped to deal with any kind of extreme. Maybe they could have gritted the roads with the sand from all the sandbags lying around. I reckon we should be ready for a heatwave this summer or or given the recent destructive trends, a tornado/hurricane.

Also, another furore over TV3 reporting that Brian Lenihan has cancer. As a journalist, I think the self righteous tone of some complaints is a bit much. The report could have been a little more sensitive and it would have been preferable to have waited another few days but I don’t think any news outlet can ignore a story like that if it has the info. Would it have been more palatable if RTE broke it?
I’m not sure if there was collaboration/consultation with the minister but that would have been an important element. It would have eventually been revealed one way or another. Nothing is sacred anymore and that’s as much down to demand and the people who consume news media as those who produce it.

It’s easy to say that someone being sick isn’t news but the fact is, if a public figure/celebrity is seriously ill, it is. Jade Goody? Many misdiagnoses/treatment stories about ordinary people have been front page news. The minister has issued a statement and is entitled to privacy but I think his humility and determination will actually be inspiring to many.

Anyway, the festivities are over and it’s back to the national past-time, all day, every day=complaining!! Stay tuned for plenty of that on the blog for 2010. It’s as close to a New Year’s resolution as I’ll get.