Archive | July, 2010

A film I would like to see

16 Jul

Twilight. It doesn’t exactly send out a glorious message to young women does it? Oh forget about having a life. Forget about any hopes you might have to travel, ideas to do something with your life that is only for you. It’s all about love. Never mind what you want, don’t even concern yourself with the future, your super hot but unfortunately rather controlling boyfriend is going to be making all the decisions. You’d just better go along with it or things between you might not work out, that’d be a fate worse than death (oh by the way, you don’t mind being offed to facilitate the relationship do you?).

I get why Twilight is popular. It offers a very appealing fantasy- this intimidatingly handsome super being has been hanging around for decades without ever finding anyone who ignites his interest and suddenly ordinary gal Bella comes along and life is complete (well except for all the conflict and obstacles that seem to come up in the films, but you know their love never wavers). It offers hope to gonky teenagers (and post teenagers) who have yet to find themselves the object of someone’s affection: Don’t worry- not only will love come but love will be with someone you feel totally unworthy of. I just wish that instead of making films that act as temporary anaesthetic to these girls’ insecurities,  studios would consider making one or two that might actually help them feel good about themselves? If the Twilight franchise has proven anything it’s that they are a very profitable demographic, I mean each installment has smashed box office records all over the place, so seeing as young females are so very bankable when a film that excites their interest comes along why not branch out a bit and make something that sells them something more than a hot guy with a promise? Bella is at school, but she doesn’t go through any of the things a normal girl would be experiencing. Unless you consider her weirdo relationship normal. Maybe I’m mad but I reckon a film that actually dealt with the experiences of a normal teenage girl would be a hit.

It’s so rare that girls are shown to be funny or interesting in films, that’s left to the boys, but girls are hilarious! When I was a teenager the most important thing in my life was my friends and all of my best memories are of the stupid adventures we got ourselves into, the dodgy underage nights and the hilarious conversations and schemes and ridiculous business ideas. Obviously boys figured in our interests as well but they weren’t the be all and end all. Juno is an example of a great film with a female heroine who isn’t some boy obsessed twit or salacious stereotype, there was a love interest, because that’s part of being a teenager but it isn’t all she thinks about. But she had to get pregnant to have a film made about her, all the Superbad guys had to do was be on their way to a party. Well girls go to parties too. They get into trouble, they agonise about what they want to do with their lives, they mess with each other. It’s not all Mean Girls backstabbery. It would be really nice to pop into the cinema some day and find a film which reflects that reality.

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Recipes for fun on rainy days. Including a cake recipe

11 Jul

Eventually the luck had to run out and some bad weather had to elbow its way back in. It’s been spilling rain all day, which kind of puts you off cycling to town or walking to the beach. It even makes me glad I didn’t mortgage one of my lungs to escape to Oxegen, I’ve been there in this kind of weather and it’s not an experience I’m impatient to repeat.

But since outdoor activities are not an option (without catching pneumonia) the house has to be my playground. Having fun inside is a lot easier when you are 8. You can play hide and seek or make believe or invent new soap opera storylines for your Barbies. When you’re twenty this sort of behaviour isn’t really the done thing. The obvious diversion is to watch a lot of TV…but then I find I get bored even as I’m watching it and drift off to do other things (read make sandwiches….lots of delicious sandwiches, and that’s only fun for so long…). Then at around eleven o’clock when I’m really too tired to start anything even mildly productive I inevitably remember that there are a million things I could have done with my rainy day that I didn’t get around to because I was watching repeats of Come Dine with Me. Looking at it like this it seems mad how much time I waste with it.

So since the weather has decided to act like a complete female these past few days (you know unpredictable, changing its mind every few minutes, getting into drawn out periods of gloom for no apparent reason)  I reckoned it would be a good idea to think up a list of activities (as in things that require action, not watching action) that are best pursued on rainy days, I mean God knows we get a lot of them in this part of the world, so many that they can’t all be bad. In fact rainy days are perfect for doing a lot of rather brilliant things. An obvious one is reading a book. 100% of the people I’ve surveyed agreed that curling up in bed or on the couch in pyjamas (or similarly comfortable attire) , with a good book and a cup of tea is one of the most pleasant experiences that life has to offer. But when it’s missing its key element- the sound of rain falling hard against a nearby window, it is only half as wonderful because a large part of the satisfaction comes from the smug feeling that you are safe and protected from the manky auld day outside-both by your warm, dry surroundings and the different climate you’re escaping to with your book.

Also on my list would be writing. All kinds of writing. Maybe in your diary, or your blog, or a letter to a friend. The last one is my favourite actually because you get around to the other ones whether it’s sunny or not but writing letters well, it’s something I always mean to do, and something I enjoy doing, but it seems to take being stuck indoors to actually get me started. Today I wrote to my best friend who is currently living, working and generally having a mad laugh in San Francisco. Once I started writing I found I had pages and pages to say. Nobody could accuse this letter of not including the minute details of life in Sligo at the minute, as well as every thought that’s come into my head and managed to lodge itself there for the past two weeks. Whether it proves interesting reading for my friend is another matter but she needs to be kept up to date on these things if we are to keep our friendship at that ‘uncommonly close’ level.

When I had finished writing and decorating the letter I got a call from my Mum. We had visitors coming in the evening and she wanted me to throw a cake together. Baking is definitely high on my rainy day fun list. You get the pleasure of making something with the added bonus of knowing that other people will really enjoy it too. On this occasion I made the blueberry cake. It’s a fairly fool proof recipe and the end product looks pretty impressive. I found the original recipe here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1224/blueberry-soured-cream-cake-with-cheesecake-frosti but instead of the butter I use margarine (I’m a fan of butter in its place, but in this cake the flavour was a bit overpowering) and I like to add a punnet of raspberries to the mixture too if there are any going spare. Went down a treat with the relatives..although they kind of have to say that.

Right so I have to admit that despite the cake baking, letter writing, reading and blogging I did watch some TV on this rainy day. Well Frasier to be specific (in my defence channel 4 name it the best sitcom of all time). But I think today was at least a positive start. And though I didn’t get to do them today I came up with some other simple, cheap activities I don’t do often enough that could rescue future rainy days from becoming wasted days:

1) Cooking a meal for friends or family (it’s not the same as baking!), especially something you’ve never tried before.

2)Tidying out your room-this might seem like a dull idea but the last time I did it on a rainy day I ended up finding all sorts of items that brought me right back to hilarious moments in my teens: notes my friends passed me in class; old diary entries; homemade birthday presents that I actually fell down laughing at when they were first given to me and now almost make me cry because the memory makes me so happy. Beware the bedroom tidy- you can rediscover all sorts of things!

3)Putting things on your wall. And customising the auld room in general. Since I went to college my Mum has wiped my bedroom entirely clean of personality. Admittedly there were some rather silly things in there before. An entire wall devoted to Johhny Depp, bits of cutlery, shop displays and signs (my friends and I went through that sign stealing phase so common in youngsters). But since it’s still my room and will be for a little while longer I want there to be some indication of who lives here so I’ve been getting all my photos from college together, framing them, and putting them up around the place. And all right a sign or two might make it in there….but only really good ones, just to remind me of my colourful youth…Even if your room hasn’t recently been stripped of everything that used to make it unique there is surely a way that you could make it a more pleasant place to be, something you’ve wanted to do with it for a while, maybe run out to the garden in the rain and pick some flowers for the window sill?

4) Swimming. In the sea I mean, or maybe a lake or a river (or an outdoor pool if you live in another country, in Ireland they aren’t so common, stupid climate!). If you have the luxury of living in the vicinity of any of these then take a dip. Swimming in the rain is delicious and a perfect antidote to wet day blues since you’ve gone and made yourself wet by choice- lets the rain know it can’t bother you!

5) Go for a run. I know initially this seemed like it would be an indoorsy type of a list but I just went for a run in drizzle and it was exhilarating. You can’t stop me getting my heart rate up elements!

6) Listen to an album. Don’t just put it on in the background while you do something else. Really listen to it. If it’s an old one remember why you love it, if you haven’t heard it before it might become a favourite

It’s not a huge list so far, I’m tempted to put down more things but already I think it’s a list that may only appeal to a small group of people and if I continue I might narrow its appeal further! But more will follow. Necessity breeds invention and I reckon I’m going to need lots of rainy day entertainment over the next while.

Cirque de Legume and other amusements

9 Jul

Initially the prospect of an entire Summer in Sligo was about as welcome as the Joker at Batman’s birthday party (well…if he ever had any parties…he’s so sombre!), but I’ve got to admit, a couple of weeks at home have got me thinking differently. For a start there’s actually a lot going on in Sligo right now. The recession seems to have frightened all the local entrepreneurs/creative types into action; every week there’s some odd festival happening or a market or a gig. This weekend the ongoing event was the Cairde festival, an arts, music and theatre job staged in different locations all over town. One of the shows had immediately excited our interest- ‘Cirque de Legume’- our interpretation was that people dressed as vegetables would perform circus type acts. Now on a normal day I reckon most people would be curious to see such a spectacle, but we were particularly eager given the group’s past fascination with the theme of vegetables (see 2007-the vegetables from space party).

So tickets were bought and on Saturday night we converged upon McGarrigles to see delightful displays of vegetable virtuosity. Well we were short changed on the costumes- instead of dressing up as vegetables the two circus members came on stage with a basket of them and used them to perform typical circus acts: a cabbage lion was tamed; a knife thrower flung a chilli dagger at his companion, a lady peeling an onion while dancing around provocatively and leering at the crowd made for an eye-watering strip tease.

Did I like it? Hmmm. It was obvious from the opening minutes that in order to enjoy the show the audience would need to suspend all disbelief and take joy in all the weird and hilarious stunts the Cirque’s stars had to offer. Unfortunately it wasn’t always easy to remain convinced. The male performer was fantastic, I had no difficulty accepting him in every guise he offered us- animal trainer, circus horse, magician. However his female partner let him down. While she showed flashes of genius (see above strip tease, we laughed until the onion in the air made us cry) for the most part she just didn’t seem at ease. They are appearing at a couple of other venues across the country so check them out, I wasn’t 100% mad about them (on top of everything else the show is very short) but it’s still a pretty unique performance, I mean how often do you see two people make a star out of a cabbage? Follow them around on this yoke if yeh want to see them elsewhere http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cirque-de-Legume/363324652563

Cairdeas Festival also gave us a free day of gigs on the Sunday at the Peace Park and even with the festival over McGarrigles is still a brilliant spot, after being away last Summer I’d forgotten how much I used to love going there, the atmosphere is really relaxed, the people are of the very soundest sort and it opens late. After Cirque de Legume on Saturday we enjoyed these guys there for free http://www.myspace.com/thissideupireland, and in a stroke of pure genius the bar had them play in the smoking area, which is the most fun area of any pub/club anyway. Definite win for Sligo!

Sea Sessions

7 Jul

Just arrived home after Sea Sessions in Bundoran, quite the magnificent weekend! Myself and a couple of friends managed to get jobs in the Bavaria bar through a fortunate connection (thanks Liv!) and the plan was to work as many hours as possible, sacrificing fun in order to fund future endeavours. Luckily the weekend didn’t work out quite like this.. Instead of long days behind the bar I had shifts starting at 8,5 and 7, which meant my days were spent taking in all Fundoran and the surrounding areas have to offer. Saturday afternoon we was marvellous. A bracing swim at the beach in front of the festival arena. Swimming at Rosses Point makes you forget that a dip in the sea usually involves waves, so we went a bit mad playing in them-multiple bikini tops being lost in the process…or rather one was blown off by the force of the water, multiple times. After we started to get headaches from diving head first into walls of water we headed back to shore and went to the amusements where we won enough tickets for a ping pong ball. We declined this fabulous prize and ran around with our tickets like big shots instead. Then a round of Twisters were eaten and it was back to work. Sunday swimming was even better- we made the journey to Mullaghmore and I jumped off the pier there for the first time. My legs actually kind of locked when I looked down so I had to just lean forward and kind of semi fall to make myself jump the first time, but after that normal leg use resumed.

So daytime at Sea Sessions was full of healthy wholesome outdoor fun, other folks who were that way skilled went on surf outings to Tullan and other such beaches. Work at the bar added even further to the brilliance. I realised about half an hour into my first shift that it was the best job ever- the crowd were incredibly entertaining to serve. Girls dressed as bananas serenaded us, a rowdy Brazilian tried to set up inter-bar romance, excellent chats were had and there wasn’t a frown in sight. It helped that the rest of the staff were dead on. By night two the ice was fully broken and we were all socialising together. Every night after work we got two free pints each, plus we could have our way with any poured drinks that hadn’t been sold, and after several hours on our feet without food it didn’t take long to get into a carried away mood. Bonding activities included a trip on a fairly intimidating looking fun fair ride and about 4 hours of dancing in the staff tent after the festival ended Sunday. I’ve got to admit I was really sad to see the weekend over, if I weren’t planning on being somewhere far away next summer I’d make it my business to go to Sea Sessions again, and that’s without seeing a single band! Being at a festival in a town was a nice novelty too- when it got cold and wet and you were sick of crowding into tents for chats/shelter you had the luxury of escaping  to a bar for comfort. Best of both worlds really. The proximity to the sea didn’t exactly damage the experience either. All the activity and playing in the water during the day helped cancel out the negative effects of the messy nights.

After Sea Sessions (and yet another epic Rory Gallagher) I’m starting to look at  at festivals in Ireland differently and until I am set for life moneywise I really don’t reckon I’d venture to Oxegen or Electric Picnic again. Ok the acts at the smaller festivals may not measure up, but the adventures and the people certainly do, and isn’t that about 70% of the reason you go anyway? I would be really interested in going to a festival on the scale of Electric Picnic, with bands of that standard, which took place in a town. That’s something I’d happily pay my 245 quid for.

THE RORY GALLAGHER INTERNATIONAL TRIBUTE FESTIVAL- my highlights

2 Jul

The Rory Gallagher festival has always been a bit special.  When I try to explain its charm to people from far away who’ve never been I can never quite convey (or indeed remember) what exactly it is that makes it such ridiculous fun, I mean on paper a weekend of tribute acts playing various stages in a tiny Donegal town might not sound like a must experience. But then you arrive and you spend a few hours in the company of all the folks who make their way there every year and it comes back to you- because it’s not the music, or the blatant drinking on the streets, or the illegal off licence hours that make it fun-it’s the people: all the mad, hilarious, easy going, uncommonly friendly types going seem to be in Ballyshannon  come the June bank holiday and it gives the weekend this really perfect atmosphere, like nothing can go wrong and all you can have is adventures. I’m aware that this talk is making me sound like the ‘cake of rainbows’ girl from Mean Girls but honestly this is what the festival delivers. And I mean to add to the paradisey feel of it all it’s on right before the Leaving Cert so the weather ALWAYS  delivers.

All of this means that every year is fairly guaranteed to be a laugh but 2010 was particularly choice. It started on Wednesday, we arrived Thursday, planning to drink a few cans and proceed home on the bus before returning with our camping gear the following day. This was always going to be a bit of a fantasy plan. There was no way we were going to leave Thursday night. After a few hours of pleasant chat on the banks of the river and a bit of dancing to a tribute band we decided to spend the night in a friend’s car…in the car park of Bundoran beach.  At about 4 in the morning I was the unwitting star of my best friend’s very first attempt at an arty photo shoot, her method mainly consisted of following me around the beach (I was bopping up and down while wrapped in a duvet)  and taking sneaky snaps (to be uploaded some day I hope..).

After a quick trip home Friday morning we returned with a tent and the means to stay 2 nights. The absolute brilliance began in earnest at this stage. Putting up our tent in the dark and not having huge amounts of success we were rescued by Paul, a Dublin type and tent expert who knew before even getting a good look at all the bits and bobs how our tent should look and the exact steps we needed to follow to get it looking that way. Paul’s miraculous appearance was a perfect example of the fantasticosity of Ballyshannon, no sooner did we run into trouble with tent erection than we had a saviour! then it was off to town for sneaky cans and chats with people I hadn’t seen in years (and some I’d never seen before) before a return to the camp site and the commencement of my favourite festival activity- a wander and a gander. In other words a lap of the campsite in which myself and Paul (my willing tent erection assistant from earlier) targeted people we thought looked like a laugh and accosted them for chats/cigarettes/the exchange of cans. The wander and gander provided as always a merry few hours entertainment, ending with a very lighthearted discussion on the ethics of catch and release fishing.

Saturday we started early, by noon I was sipping Bulmers on the hill in Ballyshannon and dancing like mad to this lady

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgo30RxdMrQ&feature=related

the Mirenda Rosenberg Jazz band, Miss Rosenberg herself, as you can see was fairly electric to watch. Fantastic voice and confidence even girls were finding pretty irresistible…After that it was back to the campsite for chats and bants til my Broney showed up again and we made our way to town for evening two, the highlights of which I can summarise thus:

1. Being assaulted with face paint by my sister and her very drunk friends

2.Running into an auld skiing acquaintance and talking to him in an overly excited, high pitched manner for twenty or so minutes

3.Going on the big mental upside down type fun fair ride

The camp site didn’t let us down in terms of eejiting either, the early hours of Sunday were passed with a large group of Monaghan fellows (and one Dublin type) who had that lovely bordertown sense of humour- cynical and insult based- and educated us on the finer points of a Brazilian jujitsu move known as ‘triangling’. Yep as their poor lightweight Dublin friend began to fade the lads implemented the triangle- a stranglehold where you cut off breathing in the neck with your knees(!)- in order to help him pass out. Needless to say this was an unexpected development but the Monaghan lads talked about it as if it were as run-of-the-mill an action as pouring a cup of tea…It added a lovely hint of the bizarre to dawn.

The final hours at Ballyshannon were spent recovering in our spacious 2 door tent. After telling the girls all about the amazing 5 euro pizzas you can get made up in Ballyshannon Centra (one of my favourite Centras ever and conveniently located at the stop for the camp site shuttle bus) and Bronagh and I ventured off at about ten to get one only to find the pizzza oven isn’t switched on til one, so instead it was chicken fillet rolls, Roy of the Rovers, apple juice and Caramellos (I know-ewww but Kate likes them!). Several golden quotes were uttered including ‘a ham-induced coma’ in reference to the expected ill effects of eating the packet ham we had left out in the sun, which now more closely resembled bacon, ‘phonely’-for when you have no texts and your phone is lonely and well…many more I cannot remember because I took too long about writing this all down.

We finished off the weekend with a trip to sunny Rossnowlagh beach and a 99. A postcard ending to a perfect weekend. I won’t be going next year- I’ll be far away unfortunately, but if you’re in the country at all there is no excuse, the Rory Gallagher festival is not to be missed-I defy you to go and not have fun there!