Irish Politics in the New Age (PCT)

Yes, we are now in the Post Celtic Tiger (PCT) era. So what has changed? There are some good things like cheaper meals out and the promise that people will be nicer to each other. Time will tell. There are also many bad things, collapsing banks, rising unemployment, too many horror movies and the baffling popularity of Ryan Tubridy. What can ever save us? What about that gaggle of geese known as Irish politicians? Can we rely on our fearless leaders in this time of crisis?

But how do you pick one to ‘lead the way’? If this was a date I’d like to find out more about you before I asked you home.  The way things are going it could be just as reasonable to suggest a lottery as a valid way if we judge the quality of the recent slew of radio and television ‘debate’ ( note I use the word reluctantly).

Why?

Listening to Irish political debate is like prodding a back of amphetaminized cats except the screetches and cries make less sense. We have FF, FG and Labour, Sinn Fein (God help us) and Libertas (whatever they are), Oh and the Greens. The Greens are doing more to aid the advance of global warming and indifference to our planet than the guys who do the hip-hop ads for Mickey D’s. Disaster. As an aside I don’t think there should be a Green Party in the first place – all government should be Green from the get-go.

Anyway, if you are looking for sensible, measured debate, go elsewhere. I was so confused after a debate with Libertas on the Pat Kenny show a few weeks ago, that I ended up concluding that they may be the saviours of modern Ireland because the sheer amount of mud that was slung in their direction by every other party meant that by default I was impressed by them. This is bad. They look like the poster boys and gals of the new children of the damned. Unfortunately, maybe a shiny-happy-neo-right-wing-agenda would fit in nicely with the new Ireland’s materialistic solipsism? The rise of fascism is often associated with the cycle of a comfortable society, that descends into chaos necessitating the need for a strong leader to rise out of the ashes. We may not be in the ashes just yet but the loud voices scrambling for attention out of the blocks, may make you think otherwise.

Eitherway, we certainly need to move past superficialities, and mere local interest. Hunger whether spiritual or material will focus the attention. Yes, we need debate but we must give each other room to breath, think, measure and interact – not shout each other down. Lest only the loudest voice be heard, and we march to the beat of the loudest drum.. or else.

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Coraline: The Movie

This is a beautifully made fantasy from the pen of Neil Gamain and featuring the animation of the much loved (by me anyway) Henry Selick and his fantastic stop-motion animation that made ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ and ‘Corpse Bride’ such treats. On the surface, it is made for ‘kids’ but the cinema was full (so to speak) of graphic designers and wannabe animators – or they could have been unemployed. Either way, loved it. And it was a little scary. Well not for me obviously, ha ha, as that would be childish, and who could be scared of an evil skeletal mother archetype who gradually transforms into a vicious spider trapping the souls of lonely children? Well not me of course…

Yeah, it was a little scary, young kids, and aging kids may look away from time to time /and/ it was in 3D, so the scary bits were really jumping out at you – which was great.

Also, I didn’t like having to sit through the Jonas Brothers in 3D, having to watch the trailers in 2D is bad enough, thanking you.

But I digress. This is a finely crafted film, that captures the quirky world of our herione Coraline as she tries to fit into a new house and discovers a secret door that leads to a parallel universe that mirrors her own, except the food is better and her parallel universe parents are interested in her and have time for her. She is surrounded by quirky neighbours; like the fading stars of the stage who live downstairs with their collection of scotty terriers and calcified gobstoppers and the acrobatic circus performer who has yet to hang up his top hat. There is also a cool cat who acts as a much needed bridge between the two universes, but I have said too much!

The film also deals with many weighty themes from a child’s loneliness and parental indifference, to life & death in a way that doesn’t patronize children, kids know when you think they are stupid and don’t understand stuff don’t you know. Recommended.

The “Angels and Demons” movie

Avoid. Why?

1) Poor quality Angels, and pretty thin “science as demoniac force” low rent demons.

2) You won’t be able to get a snooze in, as every predictable car chase is accompanied by very loud Carl Orff type exhortations and the banging of drums.

3) While the book “Angels and Demons” was a better read than the “Da Vinci Code”, this does not say a lot, and sadly, nor does it translate as a better movie. This is a terrible movie. With every square inch of celluloid being crammed with more “Catholic conspiracy 101” and “Symbolism for Mystical Tourists” than you could shake a tambourine at. This movie is also choc-a-block with tiresome exposition.  These revelations and mystical jigsaw puzzles should be exciting and draw the viewer into a sense of ever intrique and fascintation –  however in this case it is often patronising or just plain dull.

4) Is it all bad? There is one good bit (a short dialogue on the nature of faith) but I won’t tell you where it is.

It’s Star Trek Jim, but not as we know it

I ambled in to see the new Star Trek movie yesterday. I was initially quite skeptical as I have seen the much loved sci-fi franchise mutate more times that a morphing Morpholite from planet Morph. The movie kicked in and I did spend the first 20 mins or so mentally humphing about it and setting myself up for some in-advance disappointment (time is precious don’t you know).

“James T. Kirk did not listen to the Beastie Boys in my day” – the humph went along those lines but alas I could not maintain disappointment for long. The story unfolded and I was captivated by it, forgetting minor quibbles and loving the newness of some of the old Star Trek set pieces. Bones is still grumpy and kinda neurotic, Spock is dapper and bears a striking resemblance to an old friend of mine and Uhuru is a total fox.

The Romulans resemble what I always thought members of the band “Mars Volta” probably look like (apart from the singer who sounds like a girl Romulan) and have a space ship that resembles a rather neglected mother-in-laws-tongue, that can hop through the space time continuum, don’t you know.

Anyway, as someone experiencing aging through the lens of rehashed much loved sci-fi TV shows – I found this one invigorating and fun – and even weirdly in harmony with the original. I didn’t like the “Next Generation” as they just didn’t look right to me and the next one was a bridge too far altogether, so I surprised myself that my enjoyment genes lapped this new version up so readily.

A Shopping Center ate my Sovereignty

There is a lot of talk on the wires about how the price wars between Tesco and its competitors over the border in Northern Ireland are having a negative impact on not only the exchequer balances of the Republic but also on our identity as a nation.

It is certainly true that Irish suppliers will need to cut costs if they want their products to be prominent on the shelves of these multinational cuckoos, and in these times of lean margins and leaner profits, they may be hard pressed to do so.

I empathise, and agree.  Some kind of Irish protectionism is needed in order to preserve jobs and sustain industry in Ireland.  The government should lead the way, some chance you say. They couldn’t seem to find their way out of the Dail bar at the moment. Nonetheless the question of our national identity being under threat is simultaneously a chimera of both nonsense and total gravity.

On one hand we as a nation seem to have sold ourselves to the highest bidder to the extent that what is “real old Ireland” only comes now on a DVD, or stock piled from tat in the “build your own Irish pub” warehouses that are springing up to feed the global thirst for the Irish pub franchise. On the other hand, we /are/ being absorbed by the pervasive international nature of business, but so is everybody else.

On one hand people complain there is little sense of organic, real Ireland anymore – and we have lost it, as such. I don’t know if that is entirely true as surely identities are always in flux anyway? We are only experiencing accelerated change and therefore take shelter in the past. The past is its own place and over time becomes so elastic – asking three people about an experience they all shared will make you wonder if any of them were there at all.

People have lost faith in Church, State, the market and lastly each other. It follows that the vacuum needs to be filled – but we need more than X factor and Simpsons repeats for a staple diet, lest soon that rumble in our stomach leads us to believe there is an existential hunger that needs to be addressed when the superficial distractions of modern life fade with the dying cathode.

Personally, I still want to believe in people, in each other – that the demands of our time will bring out the best of us and that we may look at the worst in ourselves and each other with only a passing fancy and realise that we are not alone. It is healthy to be part of an organic whole rather than dazzled by flickering self interest. And that is the rub. Self interest vs. the communal interest.

Maybe falling markets and collapsing housing prices will be for the best if we can collectively learn to appreciate what we /do/ have and each other, so we can be of support to our communities and the wider world in times of need. If we come away from these dark times with a sense of real value, then it will all have been worth it – but alas we may forget..again.

So will Tesco eat my sovereignty? Dunno, I don’t shop there.