Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Song of the Week

has to be Reconnect by Director, a band from Malahide.
You can hear it (and watch video) at their myspace site or their main website, where they stream a few more songs.
I downloaded a few weeks ago after myspace slowed up after about 12 listens.
Didn't listen to again until this morning and according to itunes am now at play number 34 (in 6 hours).
Must buy album in next few days before I overdose on Reconnect.


Monday, May 29, 2006

GROLIES? or SIROLIES? Which one are YOU?

This is the sort of thing that has me tossing and turning at night, punching pillows and counting sheep.
Thankfully my sleep tonight will be blissful, oiled by the conclusion that I am neither.
GROLIES was introduced to me by Dr Phil Hammond on tonight's repeat of last weekend's Have I Got News for You.
He first heard it from a medical guy (otherwise known as a doctor, but because I'm still I'm on holidays, I shall not refer to him as such) who used it in relation to the sort of people who partake in alternative therapies.
It stands for Guardian Readers Of Limited Intelligience in Ethnic Skirts.
SIROLIES is my version for people who read the Sunday Independent. But off the top of my head the only SIROLIES I can identify now are the blondes who write for the Sunday Independent, Siobhan O'Connor in particular. Perhaps her skirt is not so much ethnic as epigrammatic.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Did you ever get the urge to defend an Archangel?

It's a question I never thought I'd ask, but after reading The Irish Bulletin, a new Irish blog I came across via, I suddenly have the urge to grab Saint Michael the Archangel, wrap him up in some bubble wrap and whist him away to some undisclosed location.

Their political policies encompass the Christian, the conspiracist and the cracked.
I even feel uncomfortable calling it Christian.
The Irish Family seems to serve as the newspaper of the disenchanted, nationalist Catholic who holds a hodge podge of barely formed anti-war, pro-life/pro-family, anti-EU views, with a nostalgic view for the way it was before Vatican II.
I guess this blog is attempting to serve the internet in the same barely coherent way.

It continually amazes me how this particular species of Irish Catholic holds all these things together with such anger. I have met too may of them in real life to understand - for the more you know about them, the more confused you become.
From the EU to the illegal state of Israel to the great bogey man of Freemasonry, their politics run the spectrum from shaggy haired socialist to conspiracy theorist back to your local parish priest. No one is safe from their deluded world view.

Saint Michael the Archangel is asked to bless the site as the "armour of Truth in a world full of lies". The only way the Archangel could do that is to smite the site.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Tempest in the Teapot Blues

The totally unnecessary protest at Minister McDowell’s speech at the Equality Authority’s conference causes EWI to ask the question “The Catholic Church protesting against gays or Law'n'Order? Such a dilemma!” with regard to which side Richard Waghorne will take in this debate (he also describes Richard as an uberCatholic and is on tenderhooks waiting for the answer – if only the rest of us bloggers had such a loyal following!).
Speaking for myself, as a someone who opposes gay marriage, an ordinary practising non-ultra/uber Catholic (and who once held a tendre for Michael McDowell) there is really no such question. There is no dichotomy that pits one against the other.
It’s quite simple - people who throw jugs of water, copies of the constitution and pens at anyone should not be taken seriously and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Every movement, every ideaology, every issue that inspires activism inspires some form of extremist. The kind of extremist that foams at the mouth everytime their “issue” is mentioned and somehow manages to integrate and relate their seemingly disparate crankologies in to a conversation about the weather. The anti war gang have those who attack airplanes, those who oppose gay marriage have protestors who are not only wrong in their actions, but lack the imagination to do anything else except use whatever was beside them in a conference as projectiles.
According to Suzy, who live blogged the event, it was a combination of Mother and Child and the Ancient Order of Hiberians.
Mother and Child have long been at the fringes of every single issue that they allied themselves to. While they have right to do whatever they want as Catholics and as citizens of a free democracy (even though they’ve yet to grasp the accepted democratic behavioural norms), they speak neither for the Church nor those who agree with them. Youth Defence/Mother and Child/AOH are well organised small groups of people who get a thrill out of being the martyrs persecuted for their views in, what they no doubt describe, as the “so-called liberal Ireland”. To gain the respect of their fellow travellers, no event is too small not to warrant some spotlight grabbing stunt – the more random, aggressive and utterly pointless the better. Results make no difference to this small group of activist-tourists, it’s the fight that counts. And once their little stunts are publicised, they clap each other on the back – they need do no more now. They need not actually educate themselves or anyone else properly. They need not make coherent submissions to the relevant State bodies that investigated whatever the issue of the day is. They need not discuss their concerns rationally with politicians or the media or those that disagee them. Their work is done.
I really hate how these sort of lunatics colour everyone who broadly agrees with them with the same dark shade of crazy red.
Dossing Times wonders if those who normally love to throw stuff at McDowell will stand up for him now that he is being attacked by their opposites.
I normally agree with a lot of what McDowell says – the civil partnership idea is not something that I’m going to excited about. Part of me agrees that certain rights (property, inheritance, next of kin issues etc) should be extended to all couples in long term relationships but I disagree with marriage being anything other than 1 man, 1 woman.
I have yet to throw a jug of water at anyone (I think, I’m trying to remember all the water fights I’ve been in – mainly balloons or hoses) but I doubt the quiet questioning of the many more who don’t want gay marriage will ever be described as how the “Catholic Church” thinks or acts.

(BTW, the post title is also the title of a song by Johnny Irion from his album “Unity Lodge”)

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Conservative Top 50 Songs

The New York Times cogs National Review's list, saving me money on resubscribing today. (which I'll do once I start earning money!)
I posted about the list here a few days ago and have gotten loads of google searches about it. It's the first time I've checked my stats in ages. There's some interesting search terms there that will probably merit a post when I'm back in the land of broadband.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Australian Winds Blow as Strongly as Ever

Treasa at Winds and Breezes is gallivanting around Australia. Unlike some other bloggers reading her reports, I am not bitter, merely jealous.
I am so glad she posted on Lyric FM (see last post). Like Treasa I have very broad taste in music and have attended as many NCH concerts and John Fields room gigs as I have alternative rock ones.
I wanted to post on the nature of music and snobbery but now I'm just going to quote Treasa.
"Richard has finally noticed that they occasionally play Irish traditional music on the breakfast show. I have to say, what in the name of God took you so long Richard? Because this is one of the most positive features of the station. It is not totally elitist. Sure I get annoyed when they play that Gilbert and Sullivan stuff I don't like, but 1) I applaud them for playing it 2) I recognise that no one else plays it and 3) the world does not revolve around my taste in music and frankly, I think mine is probably broader than most people's. "


What is the problem with many classical music fans? Why do they assume that only classical music is a valid and acceptable form of musical entertainment? What in the name of all that is holy would Richard do if classical music didn't happen? Would he be listening to the music of Hildegard von Bingen for his whole life because music only went in one direction?

I would also like, in the interests of transparency, to admit to owning CDs of Hans Zimmer, and having spent many enjoyable hours at the piano working through some of his scores.
I would also like to recommend Martin Hayes and Denis Cahill to anyone who's interested. Their concert in the NCH about 2 years ago was even better than Yo-Yo Ma's. And in Richard's eyes, given their nativist fiddling, this could be considered reverse snobbery.

Tall people, men to be precise

My previous post on My Broken Social Scenery offended some tall people.
I do not want to offend tall people.
I want applaud them, especially the men, and have them regularly meet up in similar concentrations as they did at Broken Social Scene.
At 5'7 and a half, I want to meet men taller than me. Most Irish men are too small.
They might annoy me by standing in front of me in concerts, but at least I know they reside in the country, even though they are not in my life.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Common Folk and The Conservative

One of the things I like about Richard Waghorne is his ability to take himself very seriously. Given that I agree with him a lot of the time, this blog has seldom anything to say about him.
Today, though, I'm laughing.
His blog Sicilian Notes tells us, with regard to Lyric FM , that “Those who consider nativist fiddling to be a taste of some sort could then listen to their peasant music on their own frequency without disrupting the balance of my carefully calibrated working environment.” (How can one express a catty screech in computer language? Is there a modified smiley to say "Ewwww"?)
Those little throw away comments from Richard are akin to Ann Coulter's trademark quotes - almost witty, but empty and sometimes downright intolerant.
Richard has disabled comments and recommends we email him. This is a public email. First off, I recommend that Richard buys an iPod or a CD player, thereby ensuring his work environment remains perfectly “calibrated” and free from those pesky peasants with fiddles.
Irish traditional music is not just peasant music nor does its worth an artform stem from its "nativist" quality. Calling it as such just makes Richard look uber-snobby and exclusive. But I think that's exactly how he wants us to think about him.
He's right about radio licensing here, but unfortunately his reliance on the old Tory image of conservatism just doesn't convince.


Karl Rove Indicted

Well, no, not really, as we all know at this stage.

The best response to Jason Leopold's original story and subsquent non-retraction (we erred in getting too far out in front of the news-cycle) is the most predictable, really.
Jonah Goldberg at The Corner
At about 11:15 this morning I thanked her for a fabulus dinner. When she looked at me funny, I simply explained I was out in front of the news cycle. By 1:00 PM I was already quite cross about my three year-old daughter's not taking her studies in college seriously

Goldberg links to Protein Wisdom who describes Leopold's reporting as - "advancing the Rove indictment story, which Truthout reported on in a way that has (to date) refused to correspond with either a) their enthusiasm for said indictment, or b) any ostensible connection to reality.
But—because there is always still the chance Rove will be indicted— Truthout reserves the right to re-claim the scoop, even if they miss the date by, oh, say, months."

Protein Wisdom offers complicated reportage on Carmen Electra's ultimate demise involving nipple rings and homemade raspberry scones.

Any takers for Irish before-the-news-cycle-reportage?
While I accept that "FF out of goverment" maybe a runner, "Enda Kenny is now Taoiseach" is going too far, even for non-traditional manipulation of time, space and the news cycle continium.

Update - United Irelander reports on a press release from Minister O'Donoghue congratulating Brian Kennedy on winning the Eurovision.
While that's definitely ahead of the news cycle, I don't think it qualifies as an example becuase truthout used the line in the hope that their story will someday be true. Brian Kennedy's innate musical ability, or lack thereof, ensures that a Eurovision win will never be on the news cycle.

Jesus = A Dead Rabbi with A Girlfriend?

The title is from Mark Shea's interview with Matt Cooper on the Last Word about the Da Vinci Code, where he rubbishes the notion that the Council of Nicea voted that Jesus was divine.
As a blog title it's useless, as it tells nothing about the post's content, but as a line it's fantastic.
I actually want to talk about the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time - John Miller lists them in this month's National Review.
I'm no longer a subscriber to National Review, simply because I forgot to renew my subscription. But now I'm getting increasingly bored with what passes for conservative analysis in the States - I feel I've heard it all before. I think this stems from relying on bloglines to read blogs more so than the magazines/sites that I used to. So I'm unsubscribing from a rake of blogs that are currently preventing me from reading (and blogging about) interesting things.
Most of my recent blogging output has been about music, but now that my life is slowly returning to a semblance of a routine, I'll hopefully have more serious stuff.
But the top 50, as introduced by John Miller - On first glance, rock ’n’ roll music isn’t very conservative. It doesn’t fare much better on second or third glance (or listen), either. Neil Young has a new song called “Let’s Impeach the President.” Last year, the Rolling Stones made news with “Sweet Neo Con,” another anti-Bush ditty. For conservatives who enjoy rock, it isn’t hard to agree with the opinion Johnny Cash expressed in “The One on the Right Is on the Left”: “Don’t go mixin’ politics with the folk songs of our land / Just work on harmony and diction / Play your banjo well / And if you have political convictions, keep them to yourself.” In other words: Shut up and sing.

But some rock songs really are conservative — and there are more of them than you might think

Number 1 goes to the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again".
The Volokh Conspiracy provides the dirt. Might re-subscribe to NR digital over the next few days to get the rest of it.
"The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naive idealism once and for all"


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bon Jovi to become the UN and Richie Sambora to take over

I wish.
The highlight of last night’s Croke Park gig was Richie Sambora’s solo version of “I’d Die for You”.
Not being a Bon Jovi fan at all at all, until last night I always thought Sambora was a mildly unattractive and rather good guitar player. After seeing pictures of him on the beach with Charlie Sheen’s wife Denise Richards last week, I revised that impression to “rather unattractive and mildly good guitar player”.
Now I’m on the brink of organising an internal Bon Jovi shake up. Let Jon and his nice teeth show his dancing skills to one side and the keyboard player shake his golden curls as if he was in a Pantene ad – but bring Richie forward, give him a mic (and a haircut and maybe a mask like those Finnish guys at Eurovision) and let him entertain us.
It’d be better than Jon Bon Jovi’s profoundly astute theological and political insights – that God is a woman and the UN should move home to a Bon Jovi concert.
Actually, given the UN’s appalling record in recent times, they might learn something from such classics as “Bad Medicine” (oil for food scandal?); “Wanted Dead or Alive” (oppressive dictators?) and “It’s My Life” (the US response to International Courts).
The Heritage Foundation has a new Progress Report on UN reform that’s worth a read.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

My Broken Social Scenery

Like some other bloggers, I spent last night in Vicar Street at the Broken Social Scene gig.
For the BSS fans out there this might border on heresy - I barely enjoyed the gig. It could have been that I was jetlagged and hadn’t slept in ages and was standing in the back being rugby tackled by every rude BSS fan who seemed determined to leave a little bit of their pint on me.
Bitterness at the tiny woman beside me who kept whacking me and screaming into my ear aside, it wasn’t that great a gig. Perhaps if I had listened to BSS in the last 2 months I might have appreciated them a little more but I didn’t. Listening to the albums again this afternoon (after an impressive 17 hours non-stop sleep) I still like them a lot.
I brought 2 friends along – they said “I like songs” and “I like melodies” respectively and found BSS deficient in both. I didn’t, but wasn’t overly impressed.
I was amazed at the amount of tall guys at the gig. Where do these guys hang out when Broken Social Scene is not in town soliciting 300 people massages?

Related musical notes – have gotten a free ticket to Bon Jovi in Croke Park tomorrow which should be fun, I suppose.  

Album of the week goes to Shooter Jennings’ new one – “Electric Rodeo”.  (mp3 here)
His first one “Put the O Back in to Country” was a little hit and miss, but this is hard and solid.
I’m loving his Southern/country rock and have a tremendous urge to tie my blouse tails under my chest and hit a honky tonk a la “Some Rowdy Women”.
Despite my outer conservative appearance (and inner conservative thoughts), I’m a sucker for cigarette smoking, long haired, funky sun glasses wearing, guitar playing country singers with upside down American flags in their liner notes. This album inspires me to get to a greasy bar stool in Carolina with a large bottle of Jack Daniels before driving away in a beat up pick up truck with Shooter beside me and playing loud on the stereo. “You can’t see the tears behind my aviators” and his heartfelt admissions of caninicide – I’m in love. Or lyrical lust or something.
My holidays are over, so I’ll have to settle for the next best thing.
Men of the Red Cow Inn watch out

Monday, May 08, 2006

Summer Holidays

I have been thinking about you, my valued reader in my small cohort of valued readers in recent days while I have not been blogging.
This is in part due to the lack of Broadband in my small town in the Midlands (check out Damien for coverage map and other stuff )but mostly due to my new daily routine which involves a tiny bit of farming, some reading of frivolous non-medical books and a lot of languid lounging on the couch.

But I'm off to the Big Apple now for some sightseeing, shopping and baseball. Thanks to Eagle's recommendation I going to see the New York Yankess and the Boston Red Sox tommorrow in Yankee stadium.
I will not be blogging from New York because it would be a mere gushing about New York and a sharing of my ignorance of baseball - I told an American friend that I was going to see a baseball match between the New York Sox and the Boston Yankess.

I'm off now to download some podcasts and listen to them on the plane - the Leviathian podcast, an tImeall (obviously not bringing the little blue and orange Irish dictionary, so I'll be free-interpreting - which is so much more fun), Virgin Atlantic's New York podcast guide and maybe some of the Irish radio stations I never listen to.

But when I come back, I'll be all up for blogging loads.

In my absence, I urge you to read my favorite New York magazine - the City Journal, and think of me, a poor hapless tourist navigating the streets of gold of the Big Apple.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bruce Springsteen – This is NOT an Objective Review

There are at least 2 things that this blog simply can not be objective about.
The first is Cillit Bang, cleaner extraordinaire that actually works (I know it sounds like I’ve been sucked in by those happy people on the ad saying “Cillit Bang it really works” but it does, honest).
The second is Bruce Springsteen’s music. Just his music – I will always say it’s brilliant, even the songs I don’t like are brilliant in their own indomitable Springsteen way (Born in the USA and Dancing in the Dark). I’m not a big fan of the Bruce-as-John-Kerry’s-supporter-numero-uno nor the posting entire 3 million word Al Gore screeds on his website phase, but other than that everything the man does can be classified as perfect in my book.
Last year I thoroughly enjoyed my Springsteen in the Point evening, which is becoming a delightful annual event.
Therefore, the 2 and half hours I spent in the Point listening to him tonight was perfect. Made more perfect by the presence of both Dr Cox from Scrubs and John Kelly in the balcony to my right (well, they didn’t actually improve my listening enjoyment at all, but a girl’s gotta do some name dropping)
We Shall Overcome is an amazing album – the kind of album that you just want to keep listening to. Every song is uplifting, multi-layered and thoughtfully arranged and fantastically compelling. It still doesn’t reach the lofty heights of “Auds’ Favourite Springsteen Album” which remains The Ghost of Tom Joad but it’s catching up.
I listened to We Shall Overcome before each of my clinical exams last week and was inspired by lines like “Keep your eyes on the prize / Hold on”; “We shall overcome”; “Brothers and sisters don’t you cry / There’ll be good times by and by”; “we’re climbing higher and higher”; “My Oklahoma woman blowed away / Mister as I bent to kiss her / She was picked up by a twister” (giggle); “Pay me my money down” (after 6 years of unpaid undergrad-ism that should be self-explanatory) ; “Low bridge everybody down” (it’s not inspirational as such – I just like it).
There were moments of lyric-induced panic – mainly to do with Old Dan Tucker’s unfortunate demise – I was afraid I would diagnose an ulcer or something as a “toothache in his heel”.
Anyway, the album’s great. And the Boss is the boss live. He owns the stage, strutting, swinging, singing, strumming. The man’s a genius.
Bruce is the sort of man that pleases a woman early on and keeps her there for the rest of the evening – last year I said I love my music and love evocative lyrics that I can really relate to and my emotional involvement in a song reached its zenith with Reason to Believe. Using Tom Waits type vocal distortion and harsh mouth organ accompaniment, Bruce transported my soul to a Depression era Mississippi church with a wizened preacher demanding relief from the dead dogs and hard earned days (not that I've ever been to Mississippi and at 22 years of age didn't get must Depression action!) His shiny worn cowboy boots raising dust from the plank of wood as he stomped in perfect time was just amazing. I felt like I was involved in some American Gothic Flannery O'Connor novel.....I had a reason to believe after this song and could have left the Point fully sated.....but I didn’t!
Well, this year, a stunning arrangement of Johnny 99 from Nebraska left me similarly fulfilled, only this time the Mississippi church was home to a foot stompin’, heart pounding, hand clapping revival where the congregation was high on the Lord (or something stronger). And the night was only getting started.
All the new songs were played roughly the same as the album (all except Shendadoah and Froggie which weren’t played). And it was the oldies that got me going – along with Johnny 99, Adam Raised a Cain was superb. Also from Nebraska, Open All Night was unrecognisable save for the lyrics – it became an Ooby Dooby, jivin’ rock n’roll extravaganza. From the Rising, City of Ruins got a good spin (I cried when he played this in the RDS, so my emotional involvement in the song had peaked a few years earlier) My sister was particularly chuffed with “You can Look, but you better not touch”.
Patti Scialfa (Mrs Springsteen) got a few lines at the mic for John Henry’s “red headed wife” and Bruce also acknowledged his fairly crap prounuication of “Mrs McGrath” – the only complaint I have is that he didn’t banter more.
“Erie Canal” is probably my favourite song from the album and it was done superbly, as was “When the Saints go marching in” – last song, wow.
Last year’s review had a dedicated curtain discussion – multicoloured with blue chandeliers and a movable scene thing which got a moon for “Buffalo Gals”.
I’m going to stop gushing now, it’s not very ladylike. I love Bruce. And it wasn’t me you saw til the wee hours standing outside the Merrion hoping to catch a glimpse of the great man. No, it just looked like me.

Check out my blog-twin Chris at alt tag, who like me enjoyed Springsteen@the Point and blogged about it late Friday night AND is in New York this week. And we're probably the only 2 Irish blogging gals who would have voted for Bush.....