Tuesday, March 29, 2011

more than just a chocolatebar: the mouth of a grownup & some exciting book news

So I've blogged several times about my confectionery journeys, never really stopping to ask myself why exactly is it that I feel compelled to talk about them. I haven't even got that much of a sweet tooth. I'm more of a packet of crisps kind of girl. That's even a lie, I'm more of a croissant girl. Further lying, just give me a cigarette and I'll be happy, since I'm not allowed to smoke anymore technically they're the biggest, boldest treat, and they don't even taste of anything. Chocolate bars belong to a different era in my life, when I lusted obsessively after them as a 9 year old in the garage up by Tesco (before it was even Tesco) and bought box after box of Cadbury's Astros and kept said empty boxes because they looked deadly. I was a regular Charlie Bucket, only significantly less malnourished. As a teenage girl in Manor House I was legitimately never without a Freddo bar in my pocket, hoping the dopamine the sugar released would stop me giving in to my surging furious hormones and collapsing into a weeping mess on the floor. Yet as we age our sweet-tooth kind of goes into itself, urging us instead to go for more sophisticated choices. I'm a coffee-drinking olive-eating savoury mouthed GROWN UP but am still, somehow, compelled to at least try and find joy in little perfectly packaged blocks of chocolate.
Lately, I've moved on to oat-bars because they make me feel a bit less guilty. They're ok and all. Especially for breakfast but still I feel like I should be doing yoga or something eating oats as a treat.
Then around a week or two ago I realised, standing in Smokey Joe's on the concourse, that I had never in my life tasted a rocky road. I was looking at the oat bars feeling a bit like a 40 year old when one of these babies caught my eye:

yes that is my laptop keyboard, yes those are hello kitty letter stickers, stop judging

Gourmet Tart is a fab little deli and cake shop in Galway, they've loads of branches around the place, they're pretty hard to miss. They stock sambos and sweets to the college aswell, and I've eaten from there before so I figured that I'd take a risk on this 'rocky road' thing, despite it's daunting title. It appeared to involve chocolate and marshmallows and to be honest, marshmallows are a serious longterm passion of mine, no messing. When I was living in Holland I basically lived off them (I used to toast them with a lighter, like an utter sociopath). Main reason I can't physically wait to get to New York is to have a shot of the immense marshmallows over there - that'll be a blog - Candied Adventures in NCY (what poetry? phht)
So it was love at first eat. Even though that sounds kind if innuendo-ey, it isn't. Biscuit, hazelnuts, chocolate, marshmallows. Not rocket science. Hugely filling, clearly rotten bad for you, but hand crafted out of it and worth every cent of the two euro you spend on it. Win win win win. I've just eaten one now and it's like 9 o'clock or something ridiculous and I'm ready for sleep after it. Dopamine overload.

I have some other amazing non-chocolate related news also, I'm not sure if any of you lads read the really incredible webcomic/photoblog/poemblog creation, A Softer World (http://www.asofterworld.com) but I've been reading it for a really long time now, years and years like. Take a click at it there, the lad who writes the words for the photos taken by Emily Horne, is called Joey Comeau. He is also a really terrific novelist and short story writer. Some of his most recent work is published online through e-books, others have been published and distributed. He's a massive inspiration of mine and always has been. So, in 2009 during my 'ohmygod i have to start being a writer' breakdown I decided to send him one of my short stories to read, to see if he liked it. Approve me, approve me. He wrote back promptly, thanking me, but he couldn't read my work, because of copyright reasons: if it wasn't published, he couldn't read it just in case. But! He said hey when you do have some work published let me know, I'd love to take a read and let you know what I think.

So, with Follies arriving on my doorstep this Friday coming, I decided to cast all mad fate into the wind and send him an e-mail asking would he like to read it, did he remember me, would he write me a wee quote about it if he liked it. Another prompt reply. Of course he will, he'd love to, send him a copy. Fighting off mental fangirl urges, I will be sending him a copy with a typewritten letter of thanks as soon as next Monday comes. He lives in Canada. I am never, ever not totally wowed by how generous writers are with their time - Mia Gallagher who wrote the quote that currently exists on the back of Follies read the book without any hesitation and also got back to me promptly with a reply. I feel really lucky to be moving in circles with artists who give a shit about people who are just beginning to rise into the ranks. I'd buy each and every one of them a Gourmet Rocky Road if I could.

So here's a few of the Softer World strips to say goodevening on - I think I'll post a few more of my faves in the coming posts as an hommage to Joey for being so sound as to be interested in reading Follies and giving me his time. These are some of the earlier ones, there are hundreds and hundreds to go through, it's a gorgeous night's read! The first one actually is printed out and stuck under my sister's bedroom mirror, it always makes me smile. They range from unbearably adorable to laugh out loud hilarious to morbid beyond belief. Combo.

So on that, kittentits, I'm off to watch NewsRadio in a ball and try and combat what I'm really starting to think is late-setting hay-fever... (i am a snotbag)

More news on Follies during the week!



Sunday, March 27, 2011


I'm prone to exaggeration, fair enough, but sweet lord this is the greatest coffee table I have ever seen in my life. Even Ceri agreed, when we stumbled upon it at the Dublin Flea Market (which we have been frequenting basically every month since we got together) that it absolutely had to be a part of our poor little progressively more and more kitsch by the day apartment.

Pardon the poor quality of the photo, it was taken off my new swishy smartphone (HTC Wildfire, 79 blips on billpay, not too shabby) which is replacing my old decrepit flippy Nokia. I rang my Ma to tell her about it, 'It's got silver tiles with turquoise, yellow and blue flowers on them!' and she proceeded to make vomiting noises down the phone at me. She's can't appreciate 70s things because she was there the first time around, right Ma, weh weh weh
(but seriously she was horrified)

As you might be able to see in the corner of the table, there are some little brooches I purchased for 3 yoyos each, wee scrabble pieces:

Spelling out my favourite noise in the world, OH! (also pure homage to my favourite magazine of all time, Oh, Francis!) 

I love the Flea, it was pretty quiet today though. That's one thing I really miss about Dublin, the amazing markets: between the Flea, The Ferocious Mingle Market (which I used to work a tarot/clothes stall and busk at every month) the new one in exchange, the new one in the Grand Social, the one in the Shaw Sweet Christ it's second-hand city down here. I can't imagine why Galway just doesn't have that kind of thing. I'm only there for another month or so now (can you believe it?) so I guess it's too late to get my hands dirty and set up one there. There are so many perfect spaces for it too!

In other news, I tweeted yesterday about how I got an e-mail from Lapwing about my book, Follies: the first batch is getting bound on Monday and will arrive at my house by Friday! Pure fall on the floor excitement, and terror, of all shapes and sizes. Lapwing distribute from their website, and I'll be doing some distro myself, so in a week or so I'll put up a link to Lapwing's website where you can get it if you're interested. Lots of gigs coming up too, tonight I'll be doing some poetry at the Irish Writer's Centre Little Floorshow, and on the 4th of April (my kid sister's sixteenth birthday) I'll be doing the same at Testify! at the Roisin Dubh, a new spoken word and music night set up by my new friend Laurie Leech. 

As soon as I have proper details of the Dublin/Galway launches of Follies I'll put details up here too! 

Lots of other bits and pieces of news coming along too, will keep yis posted over the week.

Going out to the parents house now to wreck their heads for an hour

party on

Saturday, March 26, 2011

a poem i wrote on thursday night

Hello all, good Christ where did that sunshine go to, it's very upsetting. I'm in the process of writing a blog post which details in a list the components of my first day of springtime, similar to my list of things to do to entertain yourself when you're awake all the time ever, but until then I thought I'd put up another poem because everyone was so receptive to the last piece. I actually like this one a good deal more than the last, it was written during a writer's meeting in my apartment on Thursday night as part of an exercise where we all had to describe the moon, avoiding terms usually used to describe the moon (I cheated a little).

yet untitled

i don’t know what draws you to me
tiny pale babyface
makes you pace me in circles
eyeing me and my darktime activities
do you love me
do you
suspended at a stellar arms length
i think you’re too young for me
too pock-marked
introspective quiet
too distant and when you come close
i feel my blue skirts pull away

you’ve been with me as long as i’ve known
before i knew all i know now babyface
more a brother than a bedmate
though bedmate i suppose
you are to all the sleepy eyed mites who pace upon me

Would now be the right time to say that everything I post up here is copyrighted SarahGriff 2011 and forever? Trying to get my bag of 20 poems packed for the Patrick Kavanagh Award too, which will be the first big competition I've entered in print with my work. It'll be worth the experience no matter what happens!

So on that lads, I'll hit yis with another post tomorrow. I've been swamped in a scary way lately but am definitely going to try and make more time to blog.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

a brief snapshot of something that happened just a moment ago

sarah and lisa’s flat: chatau du victory gin

lisa: drink this
jo: what’s this

jo holds up perfume bottle, confused

lisa: it’s perfume
jo: why would i drink this?
lisa: just to see
sarah: to see like
jo: what would i get if i drank it?
lisa: a shot of fat frog
jo: but i bought the fat frog
lisa: that’s not the point

sarah and lisa continue previous conversation about how awful fat frog is
jo silently puts the perfume bottle in his mouth and squirts it

sarah and lisa notice and applaud

jo pales slightly and blows at lisa

lisa:  that’s the most beautiful thing i ever smelled
jo: yeah but my mouth is burning

jo leaves and goes to bathroom to drink water
vomiting noises ensue

sarah and lisa laugh silently
jo reappears with a swagger

jo: it’s grand i drank a load of toilet duck on my 18th birthday



half an hour later a conversation about poetry quickly turns to us listening to tupac

party on

Sunday, March 20, 2011

i don't normally post up poems, however, consider this an exception

Heyis so, I've been writing lots of poems this week. It's strange not having a poetry class or group to workshop with anymore, or many people to chat about poetry with regularly. I don't usually post my work, because you can't submit anywhere for publication if a piece has been previously published, no matter where that is, including a personal blog. I also amn't too sure how I feel about releasing art into the internet. However. I wrote this little thing two days ago on my phone, while pottering through town, and thought I'd share it. This post may disappear at any time, but I hope you enjoy it anyways. It's a fresh work in progress that could probably do with a bit of cleaning up, but whatevs. I'm real aware that this is meant to be a writing blog but I usually just review chocolate bars and complain, so here's some literary-ish stuff to compensate. So consider this a prelude to Follies, and the kind of stuff that can be found in there.

from a long text message

you know them kinda bags
them kinda pop seal line along the top bags
the kinda bags we’d take buds of green from
in your unknowing older sister’s bedroom
if we’d been cooler at fifteen well

as i come home after a blind blind day after a
blind black night on sweet dark rum
i stare down at the ground as i move
past the big white statue of virgin mary
just at the end of our street

across from the place where all the babies are born

and the grey of the concrete soothes my sore sad eyes
until they meet one of them kinda bags
them kinda pop seal line along the top bags
just at the spot where that plaster cast mother of god stands
with her hands clasped in a way i barely recognise

and that pop seal kinda bag is full
of small white flowers
not small green buds
some bright new kid who lives here in this
maternity hospital street
filled it up with petals

i hope they didn't do it in some bleak blind imitation
thinking that pop seal bags're where bad things usually go
i hope they were maybe just trying to capture nature
in a pop seal bag
and not knowing
nah not knowing any better

Thanks for the read lads
love city


Saturday, March 19, 2011

two sound things you should do this weekend: submarine, and the best deli in the world

No messing, I'm legitimately writing from a burgeoning food-coma while Ceri is lying unconscious on the couch because he's so full, and so happy. Our lunch today cost 11 Euros, but I'll get on to that (where it came from and why you should get in on it) later on.

Submarine. The new indie English/Welsh type film directed by the dude who most people would know as Moss from the IT Crowd (Richard Ayoade). So I always kind of hesitate when about to write a film review because to be fair, I go in with a bias every time, because taking film studies of some sort each semester for four years in my degree basically destroyed my ability to just go in and be entertained. See previous joyous review of Disney's Tangled for the one recent exception to this argument, and see previous angry review of The Black Swan for a perfect example of this argument. Also I'm not going to spoil this one, because it's worth going on a journey with as a piece of cinema and finding out how it folds out by yourself. I'm aware I ruined The Black Swan (SHE TURNS INTO THE BLACK SWAN) but that's because it was terrible.

However, Submarine invited me in with open arms. Blurbs about it suggested it'd remind me of early Wes Anderson, it was kitchen-sink-realism-ish, it captured all the ugly awkwardness of being a teenager, etc, etc. I like films that capture awkward ugly teenage-ish moments, because it gives me one of those big warm 'thank fuck I'm not fifteen anymore' smiles. Mmm. Love that moment.

So, it tells the story of Oliver Tate's coming of age and quest to keep his parents from splitting up over his mother's feelings for her teenage sweetheart who grew up into a self-help and mysticism guru. That's it, no frills. Now, Oliver Tate as a character is not a far cry from Max Rushmore. In fact there are some remarkable similarities. The Welsh counterpart is little less cringey, which is good, a bit more haunting. Actually, importantly, quite a bit funnier too. The kid who portrays him, Craig Roberts, has a real haunting look about him. Facially he's not dissimilar from Daniel Radcliffe, but has this kind of buzz of being perpetually in fear of things. His eyes are huge, big scared glassy things. He has really limited dialogue but uses it well. There's really little dialogue in the film in it's entirety actually but it doesn't need it, where most people would throw in loads of stupid chat, Ayoade just shows with facial expressions and silences. To really strong effect and all. For a good example, keep an eye out for the bus-stop scene.

The girl he's into is unusual enough as a love-interest, pyromaniac and stocky. But again, funny, and has some of the most cracking lines in the whole film
Without context, you have no idea. But when she says it, you'll fall around laughing. Literally, everyone in the screen I saw it in laughed aloud. That's a brilliant feeling: when you and all these strangers are experiencing joy at the same moment. That doesn't count as a spoiler by the way.

This film is full of my favourite thing in the world: metaphor. Now, metaphor can make me really furious and pissy and sarcastic (SHE'S TURNING INTO A BLACK SWAN) or, when it's used with a really light and knowing touch, can be really moving and insightful. The film is set by the sea and there is a lot of watery imagery, as Oliver's father Lloyd is a marine biologist. This pretty clearly links into the title of the film, but again, when the meaning hatches, it really is one of those draw your breath moments. Their relationship is gorgeous and moving and funny, if not at the beginning of the film, when it seems ordinary and embarrassing, it grows into something very beautiful. And when the metaphors kick in, Christ they're like someone rubbing your shoulders and going 'See? This is how it's done. Now, isn't that satisfying?'

Not that Submarine is without it's flaws. It's an indie fest. Pure littered with silent references and a villain that has become such a contemporary indie cinema cliché that as Ceri pointed out, we have met him twice in iconic indie films in the last ten years. I'll just say Napoleon Dynamite and no more, because while Paddy Considine does a great job, the construction of that particular character could have been way better. He doesn't believe his own bullshit, as a psychic-self-help dude, or whatever it is he's meant to be. He has a hilarious van. But he clashes very violently with the soft aesthetic that the film achieves. Now maybe that was intentional, I don't know. Just sayin'. Also, it's not Napoleon Dynamite as a film. There's just an echo in the villain. It has a much gentler touch than Dynamite (and is also much, much funnier).

The other issue I had was that, again I don't know if this was intentional, but it had moments that felt a bit like a hipster's wet dream. All the duffle-coats, sunglasses at night, super 8 footage and Polaroid cameras, type-writers and jump-cuts and fireworks you would see scrolling through any fashionable kid's Tumblr dashboard.   Again Oliver's soft 70s/80s Welsh universe is punctuated by these things that have become a contemporary pop-culture obsession. Maybe that's popculture's fault and not the film's, maybe I just read to many blogs and  am over-sensitive to the appropriation of these things to make images and films look 'authentic' but I'm just saying that if you throw in a line like 'the super-8 film of my memory' JUST to show a reel of super-8 that showed EXACTLY what you've just shown in a lovely montage only one cut before, then you're dicking around. That's a very fussy issue on my part and could easily be ignored. I mean I have a typewriter and a fucking Polaroid and frequently wear sunglasses at night so who am I to complain? Just noticed. Just sayin'. The soundtrack is lovely, by the way. Might actually go out on a limb and buy it (I have not bought a CD or downloaded a new album in about 2 years).

So basically what I'm saying is you should go and see it, it's really good. Not without it's flaws but really, genuinely a gorgeous film that really does make you laugh, and relate to the character, and thank God you're not a 15 year old boy. It's surprising, and sad, and really aesthetically pleasing in a great many ways and I seriously fucking hope that Ayaode isn't just a one-trick-pony because it's a great film and I think he'll find his voice, because these first notes out of him are truly savage. Loved it.

SO that other sound thing you should do? Get down to the Fallon & Byrne Deli. I'm actually so close to my food-coma right now that I can't go into detail about how incredible my lunch was without fainting from being stuffed, but legit, this stuff is home-made and delicious and cheaper than McDonalds. Now don't be distracted by their cool American Food selection because it is imported and thus, shocker expensive, but just head straight down to the Deli and check out some of the incredible things they have there which are generally, around 5 or 6 euro to eat in or take out. They come with one salad too, or a carby thing, like their mashed potato. (You'd wanna see how much I flirted out of the Deli assistant today, shockin'). I know Fallon & Bryne get a bad rap and I'm not singing the whole establishment's praises (despite the fact that you can get Oreo flavoured Pop-Tarts there) BUT seriously? If you're looking for a cheap, healthy, filling lunch, hit that place up. I feel like that isn't really a review or anything, just a wholehearted recommendation. Fallon & Byrne is on Exchequer Street across from the Buffalo shoe shop where all the girls used to get their flame runners, remember that? It's also next to Uki-Yo Japanese restaurant/karaoke bar.
Just sayin'.

So party on lads I'll talk to yis soon
I'm clearly not doing college work right now



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

things to do when you can't sleep because there's a party upstairs and you're uncool and not 18

(would like to point out before i begin that blogger is acting the maggot a bit at the moment and for some reason is showing my posts in weird colours, sorry bout that, i'm sure they'll fix it....) (they'd want to...)

So yeah. Those utter bastards - my upstairs neighbours know how to have a good time, apparently. 
It hit 7am this morning with no sleep, I slept til 9 ish then woke up with Lisa heading out to work then got up and went to stuff envelopes for Cúirt (I intern there, even though I'm knackered envelope stuffing is so soothing). Now that job is done and I have a little time to burn before my bus back to Dublin, I thought that as a thank you for the 2,026 reads I've hit this week, I'd treat  my lovely readers to a little list of 


important details:
you are not drunk 
your housemate is not available to keep you company because she is drunk and having deep conversations with hipster workmates in the sitting room
you have a headcold and the only lemsip you have is loaded with caffine

1. Try and be sociable
The first thing you do is go outside to your housemate and try and join in her chat with her workmates. They are hammered and have brought their glasses and some cigarettes from the Roisin Dubh back to the apartment. Smoke all of their cigarettes while they are too drunk to notice. Enjoy this small triumph but feel kind of sick. Also turn down the music really, really discreetly (you do not know what band they are listening to because you are not cool). They will have no idea as they are too busy talking about James Dean.
2. Fail at being sociable

Retreat in shame because INTERESTING FACT: drunk people repeat themselves. A lot. Especially you, but right now you are sober and repetition stopped being interesting to you when you were around seven. Conversation does not move from James Dean. You however, move to bed.

3. Assume FOOLISHLY that you will go straight to sleep because you are all tuckered out. Time check: 2:45am

Get into bed. Realise you are totally wrong. Remember the kids upstairs are having a rave and apparently re-arranging all the furniture in the process. Remember that smoking makes you feel shit. Feel shit. Drink Benelyn, take Lemsip. Feel worried you might die from taking too many cold remedies.

4. Consider going upstairs to terrorize said neighbours

Change your mind. The last time you went up to yell at them you ended up getting drunk with a pack of seventeen year old first-year undergraduates from Clare (one of them even came out to you, you were very supportive). Softly plan their murders. Reconsider. Remember you want to be a writer, not a murderer. Worry that you're not able to identify what music they're playing either. Feel very uncool.

5. Read (as if it's some sort of antidote to feeling uncool)

You becoming irritated, surprisingly, with Douglas Coupland, as not the right time to be ironically talking about the forthcoming pollination crisis. Get bored. No attention span. Time check: 3:00am.

6. Youtube

Listen to the 70s radio show of Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with headphones in. It doesn’t drown out the continuing James Dean conversation in the sitting room or the relay race that is apparently being run quite violently upstairs. Watch part one of a BBC Horizon about Parallel Universes. You have seen it before. It does not drown the noise out. Watch part one of the recent film of Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Remember that it’s bollocks three minutes in. Listen to the ENTIRE Super Smash Brothers Brawl Orchestration Playlist. Again, it does not drown out anything. Headphones are shit, get angry at them and get rid of them. Then realise you had forgotten to turn the volume on your laptop all the way up. Time check: 4:30am.

7. Decide that now is an appropriate time to start complaining to your boyfriend (who is across the country) about how bored you are and that the stupid cat you fed ONCE back in SEPTEMBER is looking at you in your window

Send three text messages knowing his phone will be on silent but the vibration might just wake him up. Know that he is in work in the morning but decide that it is alright to be selfish because it is now 5am.

8. Wikipedia James Dean

This does not help: you still don’t care. Go on Tumblr and scroll down for approximately an hour. Eat some Marks and Spencer Jaffa Cakes. Text boyfriend several more times.

9: Housemate and workmates appear to be going asleep. Time check: 5:30am

Party upstairs subsides. Feel relieved but very much awake. Consider walking to Salthill to look at the sunrise then realise that you saw a sun set there once thus it would be impossible to watch a sun rise from there and probably very cold and no Centra nearby would be open to buy sausage rolls from.

10: Watch entire new episode of House

Feel slightly let down but very glad he broke up with Cuddy and is an addict again, he’s way more interesting that way. Feel sorry for the chubby new girl doctor. Miss perving on Olivia Wilde. Wikipedia Olivia Wilde.

11. Boyfriend replies, obviously sleepy

And less pissed off at being woken up by your complaining than you thought he would be. Quite supportive actually. Feel grateful that your boyfriend isn’t a dickhead. Feel amazed that he doesn’t prioritise sleep over answering whingy insomniac text messages. Wonder what the catch is.

12. Watch very old episode of House and SLOWLY, VERY SLOWLY, START TO FALL ASLEEP

There is silence and you don’t dream about anything and this is fucking perfect. You have earned this with your incredible patience. You are a champion. Champion.

Then proceed to get woken up at 9am by housemate and her workmates going to work. Lie face down. Resolve to sleep on the bus back to Dublin. Resolve to write a blog about it.

Paddys day tomorrow bitches
Isn’t that going to be disgusting

see yis rafter


Monday, March 14, 2011

warren ellis came to speak at my college last week, you know that?

It’s always real strange experience to see an established and popular writer right in front of you. I don’t suffer much from being star-struck, but I’m also aware of the difficulty involved with becoming an established writer and meeting a person who has climbed that ladder successfully. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of getting to sit in on a Q & A with Warren Ellis.

Now. Before people start throwing bricks at me for being a philistine, I only follow him on Twitter. I really love Twitter, I mean I know a lot of people don’t and that’s grand but I find it really interesting. My engagement with him is that he posts interesting quips, and I am quite fully aware of his massive celebrity as a comic book writer and novelist. His novel, in fact, Crooked Little Vein, is sitting next to me waiting to be read.

I started following him because I literally, Stumbled across a photograph once upon around two years ago, that had a quote written over it of his, that simply said something to the effect of:

Journalism is like a loaded gun. It’s only got one bullet in it, but if you aim it right, you could blow the kneecap off the world.

Sold. The man’s clearly a genius.

So yeah I’m a philistine and just went along to see what he had to say for himself, out of curiosity, not too much of a crime. Sure I knew I’d be surrounded by die hard comic books nerds but sure when has that ever deterred me from anything?

It was sort of hard getting through the jargon of a lot of the questions that were asked of him, real specific stuff that I wasn’t sure I understood. He’s infamous for his cruel sense of humour so if anyone tried to get too nerdy at him he generally shot them down with a one word or single-line answer. It’s clear to tell he’s kind of sick of certain questions. It was, however, really interesting to hear first-hand about the politics between Marvel and DC, both interior and exterior. How it feels to write about a character for years that you didn’t even invent – that was an interesting debate. The point for me was clear – that a lot of the dudes in charge of the comic-book world aren’t comic book nerds in love with the characters in the books: it’s a job, get on with it.

From what I can gather of his work a great deal of it deals with dystopia (Transmetropolitan, his most well known graphic novel series, which he didn’t seem too arsed talking about during the session, probably because he wrote it ten years ago and is sick to death of it following him around) and that’s something that really interests me. Especially in conjunction with the internet. The internet’s a weird place, I’m not so in love with it at the moment. When the time came for me to ask Warren a question, I simply asked how he felt about the death of print, what that was going to do to comic books. He quipped back that image files are pretty big, so piracy would be pretty hard in the field he works in so he doesn’t feel threatened.

He made an excellent point in conjunction with the Twitter thing aswell, about how condensed the internet has become. Forums to blogs to Facebooks to status updates to Tweets. Smaller and smaller.

The other point he made about the internet was about the death of the vaudeville and the arcade: where to kids go to dick around? Where do they go to learn things that they wouldn’t learn in school or at home? The internet is the new vaudeville, the new arcade. That’s something that utterly fascinates me.

I think my favourite snap-back of his of the evening was on the subject of writing in general. My pal Nick asked him what he did when he got writer’s block. Warren Ellis simply replied, “If I got writer’s block, I wouldn’t be a writer. Punch the keyboard until something works.” I completely agreed with him also when he said that if you’re working on several projects at once, chances are you’re going to be interested in one of them any given day. And if you’re not interested in that one, you’ll be interested in one of the other four.

His final piece of advice to writers, when asked directly for that, was that he can’t tell anyone anything about getting into the industry because things have changed so much and continue to change so much since he started. He did say, however, to get your work into print. No matter how. Then, sit down a day later, and hate every bit of it, you know nothing until you see it where everyone else can see it.

That chilled my fucking blood, I tell you that much.

            So there’s my Warren Ellis buzz, it was lovely, went back to the hotel for the free drink I earned with my question and ended up at a lock-in. Mr. Ellis wasn’t there, he was knackered. However, he did sign my notebook and give me a drag of his cigarette. My day to day notebooks have been signed by a lot of artists I've met: cabaret geniuses Camille O'Sullivan and Amanda Palmer, and one of my favourite short-story writers of all time (he writes a mean children's book and graphic novel too, even if his regular novels aren't my thing) Neil Gaiman. It's just nice to have a little piece of experience, and the pen mark of someone you look up to's hand in a notebook you use every day, that's what I think anyway.

            So now here I am, back in the west after a weekend of supposed resting, with a relapse of that horrible tonsillitis knocking at my door. I have decided to spend the night curled up eating M&S ready meals and Jaffa Cakes and everything else can piss off. Not sure what to watch though. I’m thinking some good old fashioned House re-runs. Because I’m a deeply exciting person. 

party on


Saturday, March 12, 2011

the cure to the day after a rough night?


I have no idea why I keep resisting silly cuddly kids games, I really don't. I can't pretend I have a seventeen year old male shut in's taste in video games to make sure that people think I'm authentic and cool. This game takes place in a world of fabric and wool. I know I haven't blogged about my crochet and stitching buzz yet, but I'm one of these crafty stereotypes at heart. And this game appeals to every single inch of my crafty heart. It's almost a throwback to Yoshi's Story on the N64, anyone remember that? (My Da got it for me when I was sick one day as a present when I was around 12, I'll never forget the pure surprise of it, sheer lovely little game)
But like, it's legitimately a really good platformer. I resist a lot of contemporary games because first person shooters make me travel sick and I'm just not interested in blowing the face off other people in a warfare game like. It's just a fancier version of toy soldiers, it's never rang a bell for me. Also, obviously the most heavily produced contemporary type of game being the adaptation of a movie. I won't start ranting but basically what I'm saying is my patience is pretty thin for contemporary games.

However, here, it's just touching all the bases. We've got really oldschool side-scrolling gameplay that doesn't get boring, because the physics of the universe Kirby and Prince Fluff are making their way through and literally, stitching back together, are incredible. Kirby's traditional move of sucking people into his belly and robbing their powers is gone, and replaced by a really unique and adaptable (and more often than not, adorable) process of literally, stringing himself around. He's made of a piece of wool. If he's in the water, he's a submarine. If he's in the air, he's a parachute. Savage.

If you don't believe me, just watch the trailer. It's pure love, all of it. The level Ceri's playing while I type is on a beach and involves BECOMING A YARN DOLPHIN. Here's the trailer!

Also, as IMDB just told me and Ceri, the dude who narrates the UTTERLY ADORABLE story parts of it, is  Paul Vaughn, who did the voice-over for BBC's Horizon for the guts of 17 years! (Horizon is how I learn things about the world now that I'm in a creating type course not a learning type one) The narrative sections are gorgeous. Real sweet.

(THIS boss is called Hotwings and I milled the face off him and it was deadly)

We haven't tried out the two-player just yet, but doubtlessly that's going to be deadly too. We're on world 4 already after only having bought it this afternoon. Shockin, that's what being knackered after a night of legging it around an event which facilitated the partying of around 450 people does for you. Hope the rest of our team are resting up too.

Also, lasagna is an incredible cure for a rough night. Communally made lasagna. Lasagna hint of the year: cheese sauce made with Dubliner, and sneak in some grated carrots and peas into the beef as well as onions and mushrooms. Now. You can have that one for free, lucky you.

So that's kind of it really just checking in, barely alive, spent all of AD2 sober as a judge and I still feel like I've been hit by a car! It was probably all the running up and down the queue outside with cookies to keep everyone waiting to get in happy that knocked me out a bit, it was pretty chilly and I was dressed up as Sloth (pyjamas). The theme was the 7 Deadly Sins, remember? But it seems like all the guests had a deadly time, and we had a good time bringing it to them. Hopefully the feedback'll roll in over the coming week: sure this was the biggest thing Milk & Cookies have done yet so with a bit of luck we'll learn a lot from it, and there'll be something even more epic next time!

so party on lads
talktyis in the week


Tomorrow I'll write up my review of the talk/session Warren Ellis gave up in NUIG last Thursday night! It was real interesting!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

well i know what i'm doing this coming friday...

I always rant on about how volunteering with Milk & Cookie stories was one of the most formative moves of my career, and we've a massive shindig going down this Friday coming that I sincerely wholeheartedly recommend everyone attends. Not only do these guys really care about contemporary storytelling and great great baking, they seriously know how to throw a party. Not a tea-party for your granny. The kind of messed up in the dark hot basement of an office building burlesque poetry stories funk jazz bring your own booze parties that I'd kind of forgotten could even happen. And all from the providers of such a wholesome cuddly event as Milk & Cookies? Oh yes, oh yes. After Dark 1 was legitimately pure rock and roll with a queue down the road until 3am, but this time we've a bigger venue to facilitate EVERYONE'S mayhem. It's still BYOB, it's still depraved... in fact, probably even more so. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, Milk & Cookies AFTER DARK 2

DANCE! We're back. We were back last month. But now we're back with the other thing. It's that time again. The lights go down, the curtains come up, and we reveal what goes on in our minds After Dark...

Six months ago some of you queued around the block from the Clarendon Basement for 7 hours of music, spoken word, dance and balloon animals. And stories, obviously. While cleaning up the mess of all those minds we blew at the fir
st After Dark, Milk & Cookies had a thought: BIGGER. Magazines may say different, but we at M&C know that Bigger is Better. Share with your friends, post on your wall; this is going to be the biggest thing Dublin has seen since the Pope, and this is inside and it doesn’t even involve the Pope.

On Friday March 11th, Milk & Cookie Stories is taking over The Complex, Smithfield, and dragging it straight to hell for After Dark 2 - Seven Deadly Sins. Yes it's back again, quite possibly the best party EVER (and so soon it's sinful), with two stages of the most amazing bands, poets, storytellers, dancers, comedian and general performerie that Ireland has to offer. And some weirder stuff too, but you'll have to come on down and get rowdy with us to find out about that (that's the surprise of the thing). Doors are at 6pm, show at 7pm, we all go home as damned masses at 2 minutes past midnight. It's €7 in AND it's BYOB. We suggest you bring your dancing shoes and your Amazo-Goggles, to stop your eyes from falling out.

Line it Up!

Jazzberries (the funky soulstepping jazz minxes who wowed with their renditions of some classic Jamiroquai and N*E*R*D tunes at the first After Dark)

Roger Gregg's Crazy Dog Audio Theatre (known for their live radio theatre, you may have caught them at After Dark 1 - they have an extra sinful surprise in store for you this time around!)

The Brownbread Players (Dublin's wittiest sketch comedy troupe of the famed Brownbread mixtape)

Noise Machine (an eclectic bunch of madmen known for their extremely energetic live shows and bizarre sense of lyrical humour)

Three-o-Troupe (darling burlesque act who titillated with their show at After Dark 1)

CAH-44 and Ambiencellist (one of Dublin's finest performance poets paired with one of Dublin's most innovative musicians... magic)

The Giraffes (a folky, piano-driven, soulful pop band whose music will make you feel like you're trapped on a tropical island. possibly the island from Lost)

Colm Keegan (award winning performance poet and organiser of Nighthawks, one of Dublin's best arts nights)

Gareth Stack (quite possibly Dublin's most controversial comedian and organiser of comedy night, Marshmallow Ladyboy Jesus)

Inklude Collective (hot and happening artist's collective known for their mad live illustration skills)

Stephen James Smith (performance poet, organiser of the awesome Glor sessions)

Valerie Lynch (young happening comedienne)

Andrew Hozier Byrne (wonderful solo musician)

DJ Pipboy (of Live or Dead Promotions - www.facebook.com/djpipboy /www.facebook.com/liveordeadpresents)

... and a whole bunch of both TBC and completely different super secret stuff (think sinful) to keep yourself occupied if for whatever reason you’re not into music, stories, poems or sexy, sexy dancing. Our standards are still stupidly high. Believe us when we say that this is going to be special, because we have no interest in throwing a party if it’s not any use. If you haven’t heard of someone on this bill, it’s because you are about to, soon. Still need more info, check our Facebook page!

IMPORTANT BITS – We will not be selling alcohol at this event, however it is BYOB, so please be responsible. Between that and some of the acts; we reluctantly have to make this 18+. If beer is your poison, please try and make it cans instead of bottles. We will have some open mic slots available, so if you have a story or a particular insane talent – especially if they’re a little outré for our regular show – bring them along. No music or stand-up comedy rehearsals though please – as sins go we’re particularly fond of WRATH. And of course, we’re still bringing the COOKIES. (GLUTTONY!)

Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust, Wrath, Envy + Pride - these are a few of our favourite things...

...and yours too. You know how we know?

Because Milk & Cookies 's ♥'s you!

Could use a party? We know you could. Come get damned with us

Monday, March 7, 2011

sneaky peek at the cover of FOLLIES yo

Even back when Helena Egri and I met and basically instantaneously became connected at the brain, around ten years ago in the blue and soul-draining corridors of Manor House, she always promised she'd design the cover of my first book.

And she did.
Here's a peek:

A lot of the poems are set in and around beds, hence the bed. The fairylights that frame the piece are adorned with bits and pieces that re-occur in a lot of my writing, like umbrellas and ladybirds. The background is squared because, as she well knows after our long creative partnership, I'm more than slightly ocd about writing on squared paper. All my notebooks and moleskines are of the squared variety. Not too sure why, I just can't really focus as well when I'm writing on lines. So the squared background is basically an image of the background that all my poetry would be written on. 

The title of the book, obviously enough, Follies, basically means that I'm well aware that everything I do at the age I am at will, at some point later in my life, seem absurd to me. I've heard  many other poets mourn their earlier publications, mortified at how terrible they were. I've even been told it's more appropriate to hold off until you're older to publish a collection. So my response to this is in the title: this is a book of poetry about love and youth and being drunk and sleepy and silly, with a small collection of surreal flash fictions as a coda. It's a tower built that might serve no purpose who's to tell yet, but for me, it's an achievement, even if all it'll ever be is a monument to my early twenties. I finished my acknowledgements, finally, today, and wrote my dedication line. These were extremely hard, getting them right. I have an extended 'thanks' written which I'll read out at the launches of it and put up here for people to read as well. Dennis from Lapwing has been an utter joy to correspond with about the process, and I'm really excited to see the finished product.
The lovely Mia Gallagher, who gave me some advice that I would seriously be a different writer without, read a draft of it and wrote me a quote for the back that honestly nearly drew tears out of me. And now the cover: Hels texted me when I was on the bus to Galway to tell me it was in my inbox. I think it's gorgeous and I feel like the book's a real thing now. 

Helena's an animation final year student and a life-long collaborator of mine. When I was fifteen I used to ring her up and read her what I'd been writing and she'd paint or draw a sketch of what I was reading her. I still have the pictures, and they're still stunning. I won't gush about her, she's just pure heroic. Her twitter name is nee_nar if anyone fancies following her. She's also the co-creator of Narcolepsy/Sleep Skips my Heart, but that's a whole different epic tale (again, it's amazing what an oppressive convent school will do for two creative young minds)

That's it for now, I'd a really amazing few gigs over the weekend which I'll write about tomorrow or the next day,

til then
party on

Saturday, March 5, 2011

feet feet feet

So I have like four pairs of shoes. Docs, River Island going out half- flat shoes, grey Cons, and Toms. Oh, and a pair of heels I've had for three years from Penneys which are, oddly enough, signed by Amanda Palmer.  I moved out of home and legitimately donated, sold, swapped, evacuated, every stupid pointless pair of wear once to match a frock, uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoes I had. There were about thirty. (I was basically a hoarder.) Don't get me wrong now, I think shoes can be incredibly beautiful. But if they impair my motor-skills in any way, shape or form, I am not wearing them. I never wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw when I grew up anyway, bet her feet were real sore all the time.

So basically now I have four. I'm happy with my four. Especially my Toms. Well actually, now I have five, because yesterday I bought a second pair of Toms. These little dudes are really big in the states, like proper big. They're something of a hipster-shoe, admittedly, but I read about them and they looked soft and comfortable, so I went out on a limb and bought a pair. They sell them in Scuch, not in as many awesome colours and patterns and fabrics as you can get them online, but it's better than having to sweet talk a credit card out of a parent/boyfriend. I also like plain things because I am fundamentally very dull, so I got the grey ones. Now, keep in mind, I live in Galway approximately half the time, so it rains a lot. And these are espadrille-esque little canvas dudes. But now that the weather has gotten warmer, I literally don't feel comfortable in anything else. The way the sole is built on the inside gives really subtle support, and the fabric is some mad mix of soft and stiff that doesn't actually cut the flesh on my foot the way every other pair of shoes I've ever bought in my life has. Not even when they were new. They don't take any breaking in. 

When I was in the shop I asked the girl who was working there did they have a specific colour (this one actually, it's herringbone and I'm sort of in love with it) and we got talking about the brand. She was half kind of laughing because one of the other staff members there was mad into his Toms as well, and had never worn them herself so didn't really understand exactly how comfortable they were. I don't normally vouch for products, ever, it's not my bag, labels aren't my thing, but these shoes are literally the only pair I've ever owned that hasn't made it difficult for me to walk around. My feet are real delicate, despite the massive tattoos on them, and the bones in my heels are slightly displaced (something to do with tendons? a med student explained this to me at a party once) so it's quite hard to get shoes, especially pumps, that fit. As mentioned above, never a moment hassle with these lads. But the girl in the shop was a bit like, oh, another Toms head. I was like, here, you wear them around the shop for an eight hour shift and tell me if your feet hurt afterwards. They're only forty euro as well, actually, 36 with a student discount. Realistically, I've worn mine well over 36 times, so in terms of a euro a wear? Winner.

Not only this, in terms of comfort and all, these dudes have a 'one for one' policy, which means for every pair of shoes you buy, a pair goes to a child in a 3rd world country who otherwise wouldn't have any. Now, there is some debate on this issue, because 'handouts' and whatnot are somewhat frowned upon by international charities etc, but I think the heart of this idea is definitely in the right place. A bit like a hippier Nike, Toms are kind of selling you a lifestyle. They have wedding styles, which look pure awesome as far as I'm concerned. Maybe Galway has just turned me into too much of a hippie, but I really like all this. 

Also, when you get your shoes in the box, they give you a little flag with the Toms logo on it, and a sticker too. Free things? I love free things. Especially stickers. It feels a little strange to do a review of an item of clothing, or even a brand like, but having bought my second pair yesterday (in a lovely chocolate brown colour) and with summer sweeping in on us, I just felt like I had to recommend them. They're unisex as well. They haven't really become popular here yet, but I feel like they're kind of just on the cusp of it. They've been around for years like, and I kind of sense that perhaps there might be an Ugg-boot like uptake on them, purely for their comfort and plain design. Luckily these little duds are max going to cost you around 40 blips, instead of 200.

So there's been loads going on, but I'm learning how to blog properly and specifically. I'll whip up a post about some awesome news I've been getting lately in the next day or so. Also, expect a retrospective of Boardwalk Empire, which me and Ceri finished watching the other day. It was savage. 

party on

more later in the week


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

eh boardwalk empire? yes? every day. every DAY.

So I'm a television snob. But not your regular, excuse me I only watch Sopranos, Madmen and The Wire type of high-class viewing television snob. I only watch what I like, nay, what I love, as opposed to what's deemed classic or groundbreaking, the usual. So I'm a little out of the loop because I'm still snuggling over repeats of early X-Files and House because they're easy to watch, really repetitive like, and when I get the time to watch television (mostly late at night before I go asleep) because I lead a stupidly busy life, I want to know I'm going to be gently entertained in a way that I understand. Cuddled. Familiar, attractive characters. Nice easy storylines that resolve themselves quickly. Mild drama.

I reserve challenges for books and games normally. Being a viewer is really hard for me post taking a degree that was founded mostly in critical theory, because you sit there with your big feminist sledgehammer or your twelve-point story arc guide going 'WRONG WRONG WRONG' about everything. Poor dialogue makes me want to get sick. I was just carved into a nasty little critic over four years, and my tastes have been really closely refined. Mind neatly narrowed. Spare time, diced. So when I choose to invest in a new series, say the way I briefly did in Madmen (which slapped me with an ugly distaste because everyone in it is so, so malicious and not even in an interesting Battlestar Galactica type way), I have seriously high standards. Like proper high standards. As in if you take me halfway through a season one, have a handsome protagonist, compelling drama, then you dim the lights and say something that jars with me in any, way shape or form or even begin to bore me in the slightest I am so out of there like a bat out of hell you should just consider your number deleted and the DVDs loaned to someone I know will never give them back. That's how high.

So people have been preaching Boardwalk Empire to me for a while. I'll level with you. I don't watch things based on who directed them or who's in them, because that's what people kept on at me about. Martin Scorsese? Don't care for his films particularly, not going to rant and rave like a film-nerd about how important they are, whatever. Steve Bruscemi? Totally thought he was someone else until I saw him in the title sequence, hadn't a clue who he was. I'm not a pop-culture nerd, I'm a life nerd, the specifics of actors and directors concerned me when I was fifteen, and maybe when I was in my undergrad, now not so much. IMDB was designed for people like me who have chronic celebrity name/face/general remembering issues.

I gave in to it last night when I was kind of reaching a state of relative normality and ability to maybe engage with something that was slightly more stimulating than Ace of Cakes or Jamie's 30 Minute Meals. It's good. It's really, really good. Visually remarkable, like particularly the pilot episode, so maybe all this talk about Scorsese might be true. The setting of it is in Atlantic City, 1920, and Christ does it cover the glamour and the squalour all at once. The party scenes revel in decadence and then go straight to scenes in the humble tiny homes of small Irish immigrant families by the sea. Some atmosphere on it.

Speaking of Irish, the lass from Intermission, Kelly Mac Donald (who, IMDB tells me, is apparently going to play Helena Ravenclaw in the last Harry Potter movie, lucky her) plays this misfortunate youngone who's story I can sort of predict, and has one of those godawful turn of the century Sean O'Casey Irish accents. I know she's meant to and that's probably what Irish people talked like but it's kind of making me angry. She's very compelling aside from that and the two children who play her kids are pure adorable.

As a central protagonist, Bruscemi is spot on. He has a great face. So unlikely looking. His character. Enuch 'Nucky' Thompson has some really terrific moments (one or two are a little obvious but most of them are great) where you can legitimately see in his face that he understands that there's a lot of fucked up things going on in the society of the 1920s. He wants women to vote. He seems uncomfortable with slaves. Now I'm only two episodes in, so this might change, don't know yet. But we really are shown his discomfort at a lot of the things in his society - despite him being a blatant total gangster, he's kind of supposed to be a hooker with a heart of gold type. I think I'm with him for the long haul.

There are some terrific historical landmarks in it, in terms of characters, I won't drop any names but Jesus there's one point in the pilot when a driver introduces himself and you nearly leap off your seat with excitement because that was a real person in the real world! Very effectively done, the script is excellent. I mean there are moments where as Ceri pointed out, I was having Black Swan-esque frustration fits, because there were a couple of really blatantly over-drawn THIS IS A METAPHOR, DO YOU UNDERSTAND METAPHORS? moments but, dare I say it, I forgave them quite quickly. There are some moments in the plot where I'm like yeaaahhh x or y is blatantly going to happen here but I hope I'm surprised nicely. I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my recovery lying in a ball and watching the next ten hours of the series. However, if it puts one foot out of line it's getting deleted then it's on to Sons of Anarchy or back to Carnivale for me, hype may precede it and it has done well so far, but if it makes me want a second series... it's sound in my book.
I'll keep yis posted. I'm off to watch another two episodes then apply for a job (ugh being an adult ugh)