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The Late Late Toy Show November 30, 2007

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The veritable institution of Irish television that is the The Late Late Toy Show is on tonight … so now you know !  It has to be seen to be believed …

The Tanks November 30, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish.
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Unfortunately I feel the need to share this story with the world – and you see why I started the paragraph with the word “unfortunately” as the story rolls out …

It concerns a group of twenty something burly lads from England who call themselves “The Tanks” and appeared the other evening on one of these mind sickeningly boring reality TV shows called something like “Britain’s Booziest Bingers” or some such … can you see where this is heading ?

Well “The Tanks”, suitably clad in white t-shirts adorning their names, have to be the most disgusting group of individuals I’ve ever seen. They didn’t just get drunk and behave loutishly – they became violently ill from drinking and behaved in a way that if a sober person had done it, they’d be lifted within minutes. They were destroying their own lives and you felt from looking at the program, that if this was to be the pinnacle of someones hopes for the weekend, then we are living in a very dangerous society indeed.

One scene in particular captured the horrific nature of their behaviour … now everyone knows that any decent and honest lager lout cannot turn down a mate when he is dared to do something, lest he be seen as less of a hero or God forbid, gay * !  So Tank 1 dares Tank 2 to drink a pint of his piss ! Tank 2 gleefully accepts his dare and takes the steaming glass and downs it – riotous laughter from everyone and even more riotous puking from Tank 2 ensues … and then the master stroke ! Tank 2, in an effort not to look hopelessly inefficient in the face of a challenge, dares Tank 1 to drink the contents of the bucket he just threw up in ! And I won’t tell you what happened next …

What are the underlying reasons some people will do that ? I’m sure they all have normal, respectable homes and jobs and families and support normal football teams and walk their dogs and stuff – but is this the most enjoyment that they can perceive having ?

Western society has a bigger drink problem that it could ever realise – it goes to show that the ones in authority are not “drinkers” as the term applies to those idiots mentioned above, so therefore do not get the whole of the pitcher picture. Not only do we have a drink problem in these islands but we also have a bravado problem … as is borne out on the streets of Cardiff and Dublin and Glasgow and Kilkenny etc. every Friday and Saturday night …

Tanks ?  Planks, more like !

Note : Refusal to drink urine does not constitute homosexuality !

Facebook is taking over November 27, 2007

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I happened to mention at a dinner party the other evening that I had a blog … “You have a wha ?” was the most common reply. I went on to explain what a blog was and how this one was (of course) one of the most wonderful in all the world and how each of my friends should take the trouble to log on each day to see what I had to say about the state of the world.

And then one of the smart ones said “Could you not like, just do Facebook ?” and that was the start of it.

So I logged on to Facebook and had a look and then someone (the smart one from the party) sent me a friends request  and from there on I was hooked ! So much so that my blogging is falling by the wayside ! “No way” I hear you all scream …

But fear not – I am big enough of a technie junkie to maintain the 2 sites … and besides it keeps me in contact with long lost friends and out of the pub !

Ireland drawn in tough group November 26, 2007

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Jaysis will the football team ever cop a decent break and get drawn with a crowd of bigger muppets than ourselves ?

Eh … no … when you consider that our own muppetry is the cause of us getting drawn in hard groups.

And so it was yesterday for the World Cup 2010 qualifiers, when Ireland came out of the pot and into Group 8 along with world champions Italy, Bulgaria and our old friends Cyprus … as well as Georgia who gave England a good run a couple of years ago and minnows Montenegro … who a couple of weeks ago beat our U21s !

All together now … we’re all part of Staunton’s ar ….. wait now a minute !

Need a character name ? November 24, 2007

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Have you budding writers out there ever been stuck for the name or a gallant hero or heroine when writing your literary masterpieces ?

I’ve often thought that this is one area where the hordes of spam emails that we all get sent can help enormously ! Take the pure and utter drivel I get sent on a daily basis … you know the sorts ! Need a bigger penis ? Buy drugs ? Buy rare and illegal animals ? whatever you’re having yourself …

The thing is that the senders of these emails – none of which are real people – have the best and most perfect novel hero/heroine names I’ve ever seen ?

For example, there’s the lovely and strikingly beautiful Emily Salazar who, when she’s not trying to peddle me illegal software, would make a most serene maiden in need of rescuing !

Or how about good old Elton Mays , currently a representative of a large pharmaceutical setup, who when he’s got any spare time, plays saxophone at the most famous jazz club in New Orleans … which is where Carlos Yu – powerful and cool detective from the Louisiana DA’s office is investigating the murder of his former muse Wanda Lee Boggs (both of whom have a small but profitable email based sideline in snake pelts !) .

There you have it novelists … start a random hotmail account and get spammed to death only to use the names of the spammers as prize winning novel characters !

You heard it here first !

A Late Walk November 23, 2007

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1913 A Boy’s Will
A Late Walk

by Robert Frost

WHEN I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.
And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.
A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.
I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

Phrase of the Day #191 November 22, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, Say it like it is.
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“He’s the most skilful, the most devious, the most cunning of them all.”

Said this fella, about this fella.

Two right funny men !  If only they hadn’t been / weren’t in charge …

A Young Lad in America #2 November 21, 2007

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PART 2 – Manhattan

When I stepped out of Newark airport and was hit by American air for the first time I took quite a gasping breath almost immediately … this was New Jersey heat and I had never experienced the humidity before. I am, after all, one of the most pasty looking people from one of the most pasty looking races on earth … Ireland just doesn’t do heat !

Our initial destination was a fairly reasonable looking “youth” hostel on the lower west side of Manhattan – Chelsea to be exact. 21st and 9th, if I am not mistaken. And so we holed up in the hostel for a while until the representative of the visa company came and gave us our itinerary for the next 2 days of orientation ! It was great, we thought, that there were some real Americans who were going to tell us the lie of the land and not let us come to any harm in the big, bad city …

And so we went out exploring, with fellas I didn’t really know and fellas I haven’t seen since. We did like every respectable and patriotic Irishman does the minute he gets the chance abroad- went to the pub ! And a tacky Irish pub with fluorescent shamrocks in the window at that – even the waitresses wore tacky tartan skirts and a couple had roller skates ! What is it that goes off in our Irish heads that activates a homing beacon in the nearest watering establishment ? Several pints later – and much braver – we decided to go looking for some more trendy bars and ended up not being let in to Hooters ! We didn’t even know what they did in there but we wanted to get in all the same.

Next morning, the J1 company had arranged a local beat cop to come to the youth hostel’s common room to give us a safety demonstration … what to do if approached by “a hood” sort of thing ! We had one day in Manhattan and then we were on our own ! Going to Virginia to work on a farm ? Tough – make it there yourself !

Anyway this cop was a class act – typical rotund, khaki panted, beer gut kind of guy who gave us a run through of what to do and not to do. Two things I remember – it was the first time I have ever heard a bag or backpack referred to as a “pocketbook” – I mean WTF ? It ain’t a book and it doesn’t go in your pocket ! but hey, as the man said, “summa yoo guys might notta bin to this state befoa – heck I think summa yoo might notta even bin to this ciddy befoa !” I didn’t tell him this was my first time in the country !

Anyway one of my most favourite photos of myself was taken on this day. See from when I was very young, I always wanted to be a New York cop (still do !) – don’t know why, just did. I even took the pre-qualification tests online and filled out forms and everything. You had to be an American citizen though – so close ! The picture shows me leaning against a NYPD pickup truck and simultaneously jumping up from its scalding hot bonnet such was the heat of the surface … the look on my face is priceless and my arms bear the marks still.

One of my favourite head images – you know the ones that pop into your head whenever someone mentions that they were in New York or wherever – is of a crosswalk near Chinatown. We had gone out for a gander and at this particularly busy street we had seen the typical New York crowded street scene where every other vehicle is a yellow cab and the streets criss-cross off into the distance. It’s an image that I still keep fresh.

Intersections, yellow cabs, beeping horns, steam billowing from gutters, strange smells and sounds – I was on the film set of my youth … cop shows and murder mysteries – all happening in front of me !

It was close to this street that I had the famous Linguine alla Sinatra  at an Italian restaurant in Liddle Iddly  … the restaurant was just a small, musty tableclothed but homely looking room with a mammoth chef working away behind the counter and an annoyed waiter hurrying customers along – just the way it should be. So I had the linguine and asked the waiter why it was called Linguine alla Sinatra  … his curt reply without even looking at me was “cos that’s how the guy liked it when he was heee !” Imagine – my arse and Frank Sinatra’s arse might’ve even been on the same chair, fifty years apart ! 6 degrees of separation and all that !

Now on my own and with two days left before I had to be in Garden City, Long Island, I would soon have to forage for myself.

Binocular Soccer ! November 20, 2007

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Only in Japan !

A Young Lad in America #1 November 19, 2007

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A Young Lad in America #1 – Departure

In the early summer of 1998 and at the tender age of 21, I set out for a summer of fun in America, hoping to tread the many paths that generations of students before me had done. If I could pave the way with my happy tales and stories of (mis)adventure, maybe I could encourage the kids from the future to do the same.

I was recently bereaved having lost my father and felt as though I was standing on the precipice of adulthood without him, really wanting to jump. I wince now, looking back on the way my mind worked at that age and the way I reacted to being put in some strange and wondrous situations …

Suffices to say that I think everyone should try and spend some time abroad when they are young and impressionable and where better than the self styled “Capital of the World” – New York City. Its popularity has somewhat since been overtaken by the beaches and bars of Australia … but not for me … plonk me in the middle of Manhattan or on New Jersey’s south shore and I’d live there forever !

PART 1 – Departure

America is such a great and diverse country. Whilst waiting in the lounge in Shannon airport, homemade tinfoil covered sandwiches in hand, myself and my travelling companions were already immersed in its modern culture, way of life and even the way we talked. Except to us it was “our” culture too … we grew up on Huckleberry Finn, KnightRider and eating candy covered popcorn in badly lit Saturday night movie theatres.

The first unfamiliar hurdle we had to jump was the immigration at Shannon airport. We couldn’t believe that yes, the Americans came over here and set up an immigration bureau in our airport, just to save you the plane fare home if you were found to be in breach of some law or other …

I was ushered up, now stone faced for fear that laughing would immediately disbar me from entering the US, to the next available booth, where I presented the immaculately uniformed gentleman with my passport and visa documentation. I noted he had a cool looking handgun in his holster and I wondered did he ever have to use it in Shannon ? and jump out and shout “Freeze” at some poor unsuspecting (and very dangerous) Irish octogenarian … I actually believed such things happened and that they would throw you in the cells for looking crossways at them !

So my turn came and I chatted away to the immigration guy – all my paperwork was in order of course and I had a job prearranged to go to as well as a return ticket and so he was happy that I didn’t present a threat to national security.

I remember him asking me “Where ya headin’ fawa son ?” in something approximating a New York accent …

– “Long Island, sir” I replied, having been reared to call respectable members of the community sir or madam …
– “Where bouts ?”
– “Garden City, Long Island … I’ve a job in a country club”
– “Gaaden Ciddy huh ? Gonna scoa yesself a nice Jewish chick !”
– “Erm…”
And so that broke the ice and we chatted some more … we were buddies now !
And then he asked :
– “Whatcha got in de bag ?”
– “Oh just some travel stuff … walkman, book, sandwiches ..”
– “Any beeea in there ?” says he with a more serious tone
(Why would I bring beer on to the plane ? Those were the days you could get free beer on the plane itself)
Cue laughter from me at the question …
– “No sir, no beer !”
– “Why yoo laughin then ? Gimme that baeg !”

And so I hand him the bag when he bursts out laughing and hands the bag back to me with a nod to me to get out of his way and through the gate onto pseudo American soil.

– “Look out faa dem Jooish broads now kid, hear ?”

You couldn’t make stuff up like that but to me it was like water off a duck’s back … I couldn’t wait ! On to the plane we went for the longest journey of any of our lives so far – a whole 6 hours. Destination Newark and then to a youth hostel on the lower east side of Manhattan. The orientation company had agreed with that hostel that we could stay our first 2 and last 2 nights with them as part of the whole J1 visa package … and so we did.

The Greeks are taking over spam ! November 19, 2007

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The Greeks are taking over spam ! It’s official … nothing but Greek names are now appearing in the reams of spam and other assorted shite I must wade through each morning. But its not the more modern Stelios or Nickolas or names of the sort !

No – tis the Gods taking their revenge in the modern era by spamming the hell out of us bloggers …

So Jupiter, Stylianos, Zeus, Ioannis, Aleximo and co … please foxtrot oscar.

Phrase of the Day #190 November 18, 2007

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“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money but you can’t get more time.”
-Jim Rohn

The Dead November 17, 2007

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The Dead
by Rupert Brooke

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; and those who would have been,
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.
Blow, bugles, blow! They brought us, for our dearth,
Holiness, lacked so long, and Love, and Pain.
Honour has come back, as a king, to earth,
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And Nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage.

A Young Lad in America November 16, 2007

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“A Young Lad in America” is my attempt to serialize part of my (mostly) misspent youth, 5 months of which was spent in the United States on a J1 visa. I thought – as all 21 year olds do – that I knew it all and that this summer was going to be nothing but thigh slapping bouts of alcohol fuelled merriment, joyous womanising and life changing experiences.

Some of those things happened and more didn’t but what sure did happen was that my eyes were opened to the wonders and strangeness of the grown up world, into which I was unknowingly about to make my first real foray !

So keep an eye out and I hope I don’t bore the pants off you with my ramblings – they are sure to be coated with large amounts of hyperbole, a little melancholy and a whole lot of rose-tinted American goodness … sure the pavements of New Yawk City haven’t been the same since !

Go ride your bike, son November 16, 2007

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“Go ride your bike, son” my father used to say regularly, usually in vain, as he attempted to get me off my arse and out of the house.

However, having seen what I saw when perusing the ether this morning, that phrase will never again mean the same to me.  Here is the article in all its lewd gloryahem

A spokes person (sorry) for the hotel where the offence ocurred gives the low down on the terrible ordeal. It appears a man in a Scottish hotel room thought it necessary to give new meaning to the phrase “ride your bike” when he – wait for it – tried to have sex with his bycicle !  That’s right – a man tried to erm, ride his bike !  Sort of … I mean how does one even go about trying to ride your bike in a non-riding-to-get-somewhere  sort of way ?  And so he was caught by “two distraught” cleaners who I’m sure got the shock of their lives …
Oh those funny Scotch people … it gives a new meaning to “Back in the Saddle” as well – do they not understand what they are doing to modern slang and Scottish ideolect phraseology ?

Read the article – it’s such a hoot !  And he was arrested and sentenced to keep the peace for 3 years too.  I hope she was worth it !

Curry sandwiches anyone ? November 16, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish, World Affairs.
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Not content with trying to kill us with kindness and calories (at least they’re kind calories) Tesco, in their infinite shopping wisdom have brought out a new product they think will hit the shelves running, so to speak …

Wait for it !  CURRY SANDWICHES !

Tis true for ya – read all about it here.

What’ll they thinka next ?  An Irish breakfast in a roll ?

Ever felt like this ? November 15, 2007

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Good old Dilbert !

Phrase of the Day #189 November 15, 2007

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“Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”
-Leo Buscaglia

Pissheads November 15, 2007

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If we didn’t know it already and boring fellows like me weren’t shouting it from the internet rooftops, a recent report has confirmed that the Irish are second top of the drinking leagues in all of the “Western” or developed world.

The report fails to say which country comes first – what an accolade – but it’s either the Finns or the good old Germans, I reckon.

If I was American … November 14, 2007

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Have you ever wondered, if you could vote in the US Presidential Election next year, who you would vote for ?

Well now you can find out – on paper at least by way of here, with thanks.

It’s a nifty little site, briefly explaining the pros and cons of the broad issues facing the American people. You choose whether you support the cause or not and rate it as a priority or not. It then matches you with a candidate.

Unsurprisingly, I was matched with the Democrats and my ideal president would be this guy – Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (88.40% !). Barack Obama was also high on my list. Neither of whom have a particularly good chance of making it …

Oh well … thems the breaks.

* Author prepared, gladly, to eat humble pie on this one !   Jan 08

Did the government censor RTÉ ? November 13, 2007

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Did the government censor RTÉ ? Or did RTÉ censor itself or the Late Late show because of outside influences ? This story is one that might well run awhile, as there seems to be little coherent argument coming from the Donnybrook state broadcaster.

To briefly fill people in on the story, Ireland’s premier  Friday night talk show – called the Late Late show – was due to have a serious and controversial debate on the state of our health services with particular reference to the recent cancer misdiagnoses that have blighted the lives of many women here over the past few months … so they formed a panel of experts, including John Crown – a very outspoken critic of the health service and a consultant medical oncologist. And so a representative of the Minister for Health, having confirmed that Mary Harney herself wouldn’t be available to go on the show, contacted RTÉ to complain about the panel’s “lack of balance” and hey presto, at 6.30pm on the night of the show, Professor Crown was told he would not be on the panel.

A number of questions abound for this strange run of events. The most obvious of which is :

– Did RTÉ capitulate to the obvious concerns (cough) of the ministry and pull the controversial panelist, lest the health service look -wait for it – worse  than it already does ?

– Why, if the minister says she knew nothing of the makeup of the panel, did someone from her department contact RTÉ to complain about that same panel’s makeup ?

– Why did RTÉ wait until the last minute – 3 hours before the show – to axe the man ?

Furthermore, in an article from the Irish Times, it appears even the top brass at RTÉ didn’t know that Crown was to be on the panel and presumably, therefore didn’t know he was to be removed from the show.

“Furthermore the director general (of RTÉ) did not know that it was proposed to have Prof. Crown on the panel. The decision to reconfigure the panel was made by the television division without any external influence,” said the statement.

For me the most pressing issue – other than the people dying from lack of proper treatment when their cancers have been misdiagnosed, is why won’t Mary Harney, Brendan Drumm, John Crown and a few more all sit down together on a panel and discuss the debacle in front of the nation ?

All were asked, as well as any other government representative, and none actually made it onto the show !  They all must be fierce busy spending their recent pay rises !

All the world loves carbohydrates November 12, 2007

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The world loves carbohydrates and so do I – but I can’t have ’em !  For a while now I’ve been on a heavily restricted non carb, high protein diet which isn’t the Atkins Plan but isn’t too far away from it and let me tell you – it’s a struggle !

Why ?  Because its never easy to lose weight and there are nasty carbohydrates in absolutely everything on the shelves of our supermarkets !  4oz of carbohydrates is all I’ve allowed per day and even that is just the recommended limit … so if I have toast for breakfast and a sandwich at lunchtime then that’s it.  Done !

So my request to you, knowledgeable readers, is do you know of any good website out there in the ether that have wholesome, easy to make, low carb but tasty food recipes ?

PS – Before anyone goes mad and shouts at me about your body needing carbohydrates – I know !  it’s just I can’t have anything like a satisfying amount of them …

Ozymandias November 11, 2007

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Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Phrase of the Day #188 November 9, 2007

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“A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world’s torrent.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Remember Enniskillen November 8, 2007

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On this day 20 years ago, the Provisional IRA set off a bomb in the Co.Fermanagh town of Enniskillen, killing 11 people and injuring dozens more. The civilians were attending a Remembrance Day ceremony for fallen countrymen who had lost their lives in the two World Wars.

One of the most poignant events to come from that terrible day was the words of Gordon Wilson and his now famous and most compassionate speech “bearing no ill will” against his daughter Maries’ killers.

More about the bombing can be seen here … keep the victims in your thoughts at this time.

PS : If any pro-violence, ‘RA head wants to flame me on the comments, don’t even bother.